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This is probably going to be long, but I'd really appreciate ANY response.

Today is my first day off school and work for a while, so, as per usual, I've used it to sulk in self pity. I've been listening to Tori Amos the majority of my day, her voice is actually (cheesiness>>) one of the few things that reminds me what living is. It's sort of ironic because it was during my sister's first major episode that I listened to this cd (Little Earthquakes). I have a distorted memory of the events of that period - it was last year around this time. My sister sat on the bed and talked about how Tori Amos was singing about her life and, while I sat with my back to her, on my computer, I listened as she talked about how my dad was experimenting on us since we were born and that we were really just his lab rats. On his birthday, she just kept telling him, "We're not monkeys. We're not fucking apes," then looking at me and saying, "You understand."

Flashback 3 or 4 years ago. An acquaintence of mine from my high school died of leukemia at 16. The whole thing seemed unreal... but of course this was normal. She died due to medical error, and though we weren't friends, I was best friends with both of her two best friends. I hated talking to my parents about anything, but the day of the funeral, I told them that a girl from my school had died. I guess word was passed to my sister, who was away at school. My sister sent me an email telling me I could talk to her if I needed anything and that she was so sorry to hear about my friend. I replied back saying that I was hardly acquaintences with the girl, that I didn't need her help and that I had my own friends.

A couple of years prior, my sister had written me another email telling me how she felt awful that we were sisters and barely knew eachother and included some comforting advice in facing the next few years of my life. I don't remember what my response was. I think maybe I didn't respond at all. She was probably somehow intoxicated while writing it, but it was really genuine and I'm almost positive that I ignored it.

I know I'm looking like a pretty awful human being at this point, but it's hard to explain how distant my family has always been. My sister and I have been able to form close relationships with people, but within family lines, things have always been so weird. For me, a simple conversation with my parents feels awkward and intrusive.

Flashforward again.
My sister's diagnosis: schizoaffective disorder/drug-induced psychosis

There were so many times when things seemed slightly "off" with her. When I was a senior in high school, she and my mom took the family cat in to the Humane Society in part because my sister thought he "was evil" and "always looking at her funny." I was horrified when I got home from school to find my cat had been put to sleep. My sister later apologized saying she had been drunk off cough syrup when it happened. I constantly pushed these things out of my mind refusing to see anything she did as really abnormal.

She started seeming really childish during the earlier part of last year, too. She was always asking for rides to her boyfriend's (and drug dealer's) house. I would take her and she would babble cheerfully, but she seemed to have given up hope of ever doing anything with her life. My parents knew about the drugs at this point and they got mad when I took her over there. I saw her as merely a drug addict at that point and it's hard to make excuses for myself, but at the time, I really didn't see that as a big deal. She'd always just say, "The greatest thing about us is that we have SO many brain cells to kill, we can do all the drugs we want and I LOVE drugs." I thought this was intruiging and I thought she was a genius so amazing and invincible she could never be destroyed. So I kept taking her there, thinking she'd get there somehow anyway. Now I hate myself for it.

I ignored her when she needed me in college. I pushed her out of my life entirely. I ignored her as she started to slip away. I was never warm or caring in conversation. I let her do drugs in front of me countless times. I laughed at her crazy new ideas, I encouraged them.

After her first episode wherein she rambled incessantly about the significance of toothpaste in some weird delusion of paranoia, I started to notice my own memory loss. I stopped thinking as much as I did before that time, specifically: I stopped thinking about her. I forgot things she said to me. I lost my sense of chronology. I started feeling totally disconnected from everyone.

Before that point, I felt disconnected, sure. The things that we all speak of in this community were all there. Things often seemed surreal. I felt tired all the time. Pot made me feel more disconnected. After I broke up with my boyfriend, I felt an increased numbness.. disorganized thought.. and I forgot a lot of the events of the months before. This was about a year before everything with my sister. I thought it was repression.

At some point during high school, I remember reading this girl's research paper on dissociation and there was a paragraph on dp. I couldn't believe how much it described how I felt, but this, again, was before all of the stuff with my sister. At that point, I was able to dismiss it all and try to live a normal life.

Unlike most people in this community, I had no "turning point." (not marked incident) Sometimes I think it's always been here. I think it's been here for at least 7 years, but in the time I could still be happy in relationships and look forward to the future, I was able to ignore the fact that I lieved in a different world than everyone else.

But the things with my sister seemed to supercharge the dp and make it unbearable. Ever since then, my brain feels like it's rotting more and more each day. Every day I feel less and less like myself. I can't imagine what my own face looks like. I know the color of my eyes and the shape of my nose, but I feel like I machine. I'm operating myself every day. I don't know why I feel so much pain, because I'm not even me. I'm really nobody. At one point this year I read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. That totally screwed with my mind. I started thinking that I could work against my desires like whatsherface, and live my life as if I'm an author expanding upon a character.

When I was about 14 years old, I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, "I can't BELIEVE that's me." It happened all through my childhood, but on this day I remember thinking, "The worst thing in the world would be if I felt as I do in front of the mirror FOREVER."


Maybe it's not forever, but it's constant. I can't feel my presence. If I were religious or spiritual in any way, I'd be convinced that I've lost my soul. Of course, I'm not religious or spiritual. I'm really nothing but a piercing generalized emotional pain. I'm so depressed my whole body aches. :cry:

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fingertingle... don't know what to say really except I feel for you. I wish I was able to express myself like you do with your words. My thinking is so choppy, I want to say so much to you but it's just not coming out.

"I know I'm looking like a pretty awful human being at this point, but it's hard to explain how distant my family has always been. My sister and I have been able to form close relationships with people, but within family lines, things have always been so weird. For me, a simple conversation with my parents feels awkward and intrusive."

... same here. The thing is though they all seem to have gotten over this awkwardness and are all chummy with each other and tryin' to be with me too and I'm like what...? They weren't like this before. I mean we were all close when I was real little.... but then there was this distance and awkwardness and it's like they all got over it and I'm stuck here. They just try to make conversation and I feel like I'm being interrogated. I give them one-word answers and roll my eyes and feel like a fucking bitch later for it. My sister called me a few weeks ago and left a message sayin we never see each other and we should hang out. I never called her back. Why?! I love my sisters... I just feel like they're strangers. Even though, like you mentioned, I can form close relationships with other people just not people in my family. I cringe when they hug me, even though I do love them.

My cousin wrote me a letter a few years back. We used to be best friends when we were little. She wrote me saying how we lost touch and she wanted to know me again. I never wrote her back. I've been meaning to... for years.

You don't look like an awful human being to me.... but you're probably like who cares what she thinks she did the same shit.

Ok I'm sitting here, thoughts running through my head, and I'm trying to choose the best ones and write them down. I just sat here staring at the screen for like five mins. after that last paragraph. Well I think I'll go now. I've rambled enough and it probably has nothing to do with what you were trying to say.

I'm sorry about what happened with your sister, but it's not your fault.

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Normally I skip long posts, but I read all of that.

I found it pretty interesting, all that stuff with your family and all. I'm the same. I don't have much of a relationship with any of my family members, nor did I when I lived back there. I don't think it makes you a "bad person"; there are far worse out there, and it seems from the whole way you've written that that you care a hell of a lot about the people concerned.

You said something about feeling guilty for your sister turning out as she did. Again, that's not your fault. Really, there's very little you could have done, even if in retrospect a number of hypothetical "what ifs?" poke up in your mind.

I don't know if all the events you've described are the source of your DP. But they certainly seem to be making it worse.

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funny about reading the fountainhead, rand helped me at one time...heh...her stuff on not giving in to guilt (in atlas shrugged), personal responsibility, not rationalizing things, discipline...those were all good elements. going against desires and such, can be taken two ways. one is going completely against yourself (being out of touch with what you feel, etc, pleasing others) but I think the type that Rand meant was going against the "instant gratification" type desires...she takes it a little too far, with her characters being workaholics and all.

there is a balance between the idea of going against ALL your desires and giving in to EVERY desire...neither is particularly good, and the real thing is picking them out.

I still contend that rand had some postive stuff in her books that saved my ass, because I was very much the OCD/magical thinking/irrational/guilt type. Problem is I took what she said TOO seriously, and combined it with arrogance and some of the NOT so good traits that she also supports (overwork, arrogance, black and white thinking)...I went too far to the extreme with it and later on dropped ALL of what I learned and eventually broke down (don't worry, you're not gonna experience had very little to do with Rands books)

see the thing is, especially with a controversial author like Ayn Rand, is that she really does have many credible things to say...hell, even weird religions have bits and pieces of some very useful, very life-saving, very credible information in them. I think the main issue with me was that once i feel someone has said ONE thing that is right, then EVERYTHING they say must be right. so i took her very literally.

now, as far as guilt, that's one of the desires you have that you want to give into that you're going to have to turn your back against. it feels counterintuitive NOT to give into guilt...but it's the only way you can improve that area of your life.

also, maybe that book didn't necessarily screw with your head in the sense that now you are supposed to go against desires you rightfully had...see, sometimes we have TOO many desires that we give in to as well. sometimes cutting ourself off from people that supply us with what we consider to be our "real feelings", feels like we are cutting ourselves off from our feelings. not true. the thing is we are also kind of addicted to feelings, we are addicted to creating situations that will produce happiness OR sadness, pleasure OR guilt, or any other emotion. and when we stop creating them we think something is wrong because we don't have those emotions for a while. but the thing is, those weren't real, spontaneous emotions to begin with.

ok that was a tangent.

anyway, the ayn rand thing caught my eye. i remember reading a biography about her and she very much had the Eastern European Jewish (which she was, by birth) type of neuroticism that involves high amounts of guilt, OCD, self-annihilation, self hatred, a type of self esteem based only on personal achievements and public appearances, and a very distorted view of reality (at least that's the impression that i have gotten from my eastern european jewish family. apologies to the jewish religion if i'm placing the blame in the wrong place). I think, when she shone through with a brilliant point in her writings, she was trying to break through some of that and took it to the other extreme (atheism, complete detachment from family, etc) and her writing style probably messed with your head because the branch of neuroticism she had is very similiar to ours on this board, and the way she writes is so understandable for some of us that we almost see it as the way life really is. I wouldn't be surprised if she had some mental disorders similar to ours, because someone who perceives reality in that way, and seems to catch OUR eyes and mess with us DP types, would have to have gone through those feelings to really understand it.

to say everything i've said but in different words:

The problem she had was a view and reverence of the way life "should be", idealism, etc. Her characters are unrealistically attractive and capable, and that really speaks to the DP narcissism that WE are really special, SMART, capable, GENIUS, and drop dead gorgeous (well, we are actually a really hot bunch if I should say so myself...everyone who has submitted a picture beats the national average in looks IMO...or is that some kind of group narcissism on my part? :))

to really understand this, I would almost say you have to grow up Jewish. :) I remember listening to Loveline one night, and a young woman called in saying she always felt this underlying terrible guilt, and the hosts of the show asked her some questions to figure out the source:

Loveline: How old are you?
Girl: 19.
L: ok, what's up?
G: well, i've been feeling horrible guilt lately, and i don't know why...
L: anything going on in your life?
G: Well I just left NYU to go back to LA and work..
L: do your parents live there?
G: yeah
L: what do your parents do?
G: Well my dad's a publicist, and my mom's in the film industry too.
L: ok, so you just left NYU, your parents live in LA and work in the film industry?
G: yeah.
L: can I ask you a question?
G: sure
L: are you Jewish?
G: how did you know?

I really laughed when i heard it, because it is so true...not offensive or stereotypical IMO.

Now I don't know if you experience overachievement and guilt, but the point is this: if Rand has THAT much of a bad resonation with you, I am wondering if you have a self image that is built on outward appearances, or a self worth based on achievements, or an idea that "you" are this image that you give to the world rather than a human being, that you feel you cannot show the world your mistakes or faults...anything of the sort? anything that would prompt you to want to see the world in the way that messed with your head? Anything in you that wants to control reality (why else would you want to be the author of life?)

Just wondering...hope i made sense...sorry about the long rambling.

Tingle and Person3 and anyone else: Why do you think there was distance in your families? Was there any kind of dysfunction, like alcoholism or a mental or personality disorder, or some family trauma or secret? How many of us grew up with distant families? I did, due to personality disorder and a mild case of alcohol abuse by my father. My siblings were always hostile to me, right from the time I was born. It never changed. The others are closer to each other than to me, but their relationships suck anyway. I wonder if this could be a commonality for many dp sufferers. Who out there has a warm, loving family? (and give me their address!) Beachgirl.
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