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Hello, all.

This is my first in what I hope will be a series of many blog posts dedicated to my efforts toward recovery from (and in some cases, the management of) my emotional and mental struggles. I suffer from generalized anxiety as well as panic attacks, OCD, and of course, depersonalization/derealization. I've suffered from OCD and anxiety from childhood, although it was only within the past few years that I really came to understand that my childhood quirks were classic OCD. I'm closer to the "pure O" end of the spectrum, although I do have some compulsions, as well. About ten years ago, I started suffering from episodic DP/DR. Of course, I didn't know what it was at the time and thought I was going stark raving mad, until I read a description in Dr. Claire Weekes' book, "Hope and Help for Your Nerves," and realized it fit my symptoms perfectly. My DP/DR has continued to be an off-on issue in my life since then, and with each recurring episode, I have merely tried to muddle through until it released its grip on me. I've always wanted to try CBT to try to deal with my issues, but I didn't feel strong enough to attempt it when I was in the depths of DP/DR, and once it was gone, I was afraid to even think about it, even in the sense of treating it, because I was afraid it would aggravate the condition, so I just left well enough alone and was certain I'd never have another episode, until, inevitably, I did.

This time around, I've been suffering for about a month. I think it was brought on by a number of stressors in my life along with the unresolved problems with my thought patterns that I'd been dealing with in the past. In addition to medication (I'm currently taking 50mg of Zoloft and an antihistamine called hydroxyzine thought to have anti-anxiety properties, for the record), I'm determined that this time, I am going to make a concerted effort to face my DP/DR and the thought patterns that cause it head-on. I'm sharing my journey in hopes that it will resound with my fellow sufferers, and will hopefully give you some solace in trying to deal with your own challenges. I've got a few books that I'm going to work through, the titles of which I'll share in future posts, but the one I'm currently working on is called Overcoming Depersonalization and Feelings of Unreality by Anthony David. For the sake of brevity, the book abbreviates "depersonalization and feelings of unreality" as DPAFU, which I will also be doing in future posts.

I'm about halfway through the book, and so far, I'm optimistic. It brings up psychological terms such as emotional reasoning - believing something to be true simply because you feel it is - and cognitive errors - errors in the thought process that eventually lead to emotional distress and continued DPAFU. The mission of the book is to help the reader to overcome these cognitive errors and to challenge their ways of thinking. Simply reading the book is not enough - the reader must invest time and effort into their own recovery. This is where I believe I have failed in the past, as I have a tendency to give up on things when they're no longer easy to do or cause even a small degree of unpleasantness (I'm looking at you, piano lessons, dance lessons, flute lessons, trumpet lessons...). This time, I am determined to make a fundamental change in my personality - I will be the sort of person who plans things and sees them through. It's not easy, and it takes work, but just because it's difficult doesn't make it impossible.

I hope you'll join me on this journey to finding a delicate balance between accepting myself and improving myself, both of which I need to learn to do. I wish I could tell you how this is going to end, but the truth is, I really don't know, and I'm trying to be accepting of the uncertainty. It may very well be that I'll post two or three times and abandon the concept as I have so many other things in the past, but I truly hope not. This is, after all, too important. I want to be "well," whatever that means for me personally. I want to feel connected with the world again, to enjoy life and accept it at face value without conjuring up a bunch of philosophical questions that I can't answer. I'm eager to hear feedback from anyone who may have read the books I'm reading or has attempted some of these techniques, and I'll try to answer any questions as best I can, asking you to keep in mind that, of course, I'm not a doctor or an expert. I don't have all the answers, but I do have some big questions, and a desire to know more. That's a good start.
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