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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
John's Story

Hi everybody I am new here. So this is my first post.

I have suffered off and on again from DP/DR for over thirty years.

i have been given a wide assortment of diagnoses from schizophrenia "undifferentiated" to "depressive Personality Disorder" with a tendency to become psychotic under stress, as well as Schizotypal Personality Disorder" The last therapist I saw a few years ago said that he felt a more acurate diagnosis to describe my condition would be "intermittent, transient, stress related dissociative disorder".

I have in general never really been that bothered by feelings of depression, it was the panic attacks and the ongoing intense anxiety that caused me the most suffering. It was the feelings of depersonalization/derealization that caused the horrible feelings of panic.

You may wonder why I used the word "was" in the past tense rather than "is" in the current tense and I am happy to say that for the most part my dp is no longer chronic. It comes and goes. And after nearly forty years of dealing with it I know that when it comes it will also run its course and pass again like it always has usually after several minutes, rarely more than an hour. Of course while it lasts it is as frightening and horrific as it was the first time.

For me it began with full intensity when I was around 19 years old. I began to feel that everything looked "unreal" and the borders of buildings and facial features of other people seemed blurry and often lack the three dimensional quality. Sometimes my body felt as though it was melting into the chair I was sitting on or it was difficult to sleep because of the feeling I was sinking into the mattress of the bed and i had to keep turning. Going outside and walking anywhere was almost unbearable as my arms felt as though they were going to fall off of my body and my legs felt as though they were vanishing or sometimes as though they were on backwards, feelings of falling caused me to drop down in public as though I was tieing my shoe laces. personal hygiene became difficult as i felt I would be wash dwon the drain along with the shower water. On a certain level I knew this was not really true but it created horrible panic feelings and the fear of out and out "madness."

In desperation I had myself voluntarily commited to Norwalk State Hospital. This was back in the sixties.

When I described my symptoms to the admitting physician he believed I was psychotic dosed me with large amounts of thorazine and placed me on a locked ward. The thorazine greatly intensified my symptoms
and complained that i was feeling worse they simply upped the dose. This went on for some weeks and i started experiencing muscular rigidity so they took me off the thorazine and put me on Stellazine. This drug wasn't quite so bad although it did little to aleviate my symptoms. I spent most of the days pacing from one end of the hallway to the other, take a drink of water from the water fountain and walk back in the other direction. When the ward psychiatrist went on vacation for a week I was so desperate I pleaded with the fill in doctor to give me ect (electro convulsive therapy i.e. shock treatments) I recieved three before the regula shrink returned and put a stop to them. They did little good anyway. They were quite scary in the "old days" they gave a shot that paralyzes all your muscles and you then you can't breath then a bolt of electricity shoots through the front of your brain feeling like someone pushing a baseball ball through your head before you are knocked out by the shock.

By now i was terified to leave the ward because of the intense dp i would experience. The only relief I ever got was sometimes when the panic got really intense they would give me a shot of sodium amytal.

After being there for about a year I began seeing a psychiatrist (a Fruedian) for talking therapy. He talked with the ward doctor and I was taken off all meds I had been taking and started taking valium. Right away i started feeling better, less panicky. i still was experiencing the dp but it wasn't being exasperated by the anti psychotic meds any longer. I was soon transferred to an "open ward" and after a few months I was given a job on the ward stocking the clothing room mopping the dorm floors etc. In a few more months I started going home for visits on "day passes" and before long I requested and was granted discharge from the hospital. It is interesting that the staff had been trying to pressure me into leaving for several months as I was not psychotic but because of the ongoing dp/dr I was fearful of leaving the protective environment of the hospital.

With the valium to modrate the panic attacks I was able to get by and began therapy a short time later. I worked off and on the dp would sometimes make work very difficult so in the mid seventies my Psychiatrist applied for me to recieve psychiatric disability SSI which I have been recieving for almost three decades.

I am able to stay fairly comfortable from the meds I take. (Xanax and a beta blocker that also helps control my blood pressure) They say Xanax is addictive but I heard a lecture on tape by a Psychiatrist from a Medical teaching University saying that for some people the benzos are the only drug category that works well and he just informs this group of patients that they will probably be taking it for the rest of their lifes. I have been taking Xanax for twenty years and i average about 2mgs per day. rarely do I go as high as 3mgs. I take it in divided dosages three times a day. Some days when i feel pretty good I will take less and this helps reduce my tolerance. All I can say is it seems to be working well for me. I know the beta blocker also helps though. I have tried Paxil and a couple other drugs but they seemed to worsen the dp/dr.

Anyway I am glad i found this site I know how hard it is to find anyone to understand what you are going through with dp but I sure understand first hand. I have read some fo the other posters symptoms and many of them were exactly like the ones I experienced.

I remember one feeling/idea that has really stuck with me and that was that the wind was going to suck me out of my body or i was so empty inside that the wind was just passing through me as though I had no skin.

I will close for now. I hope my posting all this is in keeping with accepted protocal for this site and i didn't know where to start so there you have it.

sincerely john

Discussion Starter · #2 ·

That's quite the horror story regarding the hospital. Yep, I always say that if someone is NOT in immediate danger of harming themselves, stay away from a hospital.

I'm recovered now, but was ill with horrible dp and anxiety from 17 to my early thirties, so I know it well - living day to day in this nightmare. Our tales are similar re meds, I took valium for nearly 20 years. It was the only thing that took some of the edge off the horror.

Anyway, welcome and loved your story. Are you still in therapy treatment?


Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your welcome Janine. I am trying to figure out how this site works as far as the format et. I am used to htlm format so this is a bit different. And to answer your question, no I am not in therapy any longer. There are almost no services provided by the Public mental health system where in live. And as you probably know it is very hard to find a good therapist one who is knowledgeable about dp. I found one a few years ago but he was "unlicensed" and a "Jungian". He didn't prescribe meds, but I learned a lot from him. I would see him once a week on average and did work exchange in return for the therapy sessions. Mostly I did gardening and landscaping work for him. He moved out of the area and I can't afford to pay the high fees of most therapists I have encountered. I find the study of Philosophy helps me to keep things in perspective. Fortunately like I said my dp is no longer constant like it was initially which makes it much much easier to endure when it comes. I would like to be in therapy as I feel that the dp has warped my personality minimizing much of my capacity for finding satisfaction in activities like work and freindship etc. Also i recognise that I have other issues I would like to address that I feel contribute to my anxiety and Panic disorder. I am glad I discovered this site which by the way I found links to here from the dreamchild site.
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