I'm going to keep this as my little thread to post my progress. Hopefully you guys might be able to find some of this useful, as I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on my DP/DR, and I've learned quite a few useful things.
I am an anxious thinker. Not only that, but I am a NEGATIVE thinker. If there were two possible outcomes for a situation, the positive one having most supporting evidence (even my a landslide) and the negative one having not much at ALL, I will still take the negative side just because it has .000001% possibility of being true.
My mind is always going. It's always trying to answer questions and solve problems. I always said math was my favorite subject because everything had answers, there was a way to solve everything.... now I realize, the reason I love math is because that's how I wish my LIFE was.
I have always been self conscious, mostly on a social side. I feel like I'm extremely social awkward, and not very likeable. I don't have many hobbies, because I knock myself down every time I get up to try one by saying I'm not good enough at it. A lot of this stemmed from a four year relationship that I was in with someone who did NOT respect me very well (name calling, manipulation, lots of mind games, LOTS of breakups, even more fingerpointing at me.. etc.) I was VERY young, and it left a HUGE impression on me.
I love making lists. It's not a need, or a compulsion that 'calms me down', but I just love when things are planned. I also LOVE having a clean house. It will definitely affect my mood negatively if I'm living in a house that is not clean.
I have never smoked marijuana or experimented with drugs of any kind... side affects are a HUGE fear of mine, especially after a bad reaction I had with Celexa which caused a lot of PTSD. Now I try to take the alternative approach and use home or holistic remedies before anything else. I do drink occasionally (MUCH less when I'm anxious) and smoke cigarettes (more when I'm anxious).
My first experience with DP/DR.
This all started after going on a generic form of a birth control. For those who don't know, generic forms are the ones that are 'cheaper'. With birth control prescriptions, there are usually one to three generic forms available to save you money on your prescriptions. For the brand that was written by my doctor, there were two generics. One was the one I was on... and the other was no longer produced because it drove women absolutely bonkers. Well, I didn't figure this out until long after it did it to me... basically crying spells, anxiety, panic attacks, and if I can remember right, my first experiences with DP/DR.
Anyways, after being on this for a while, but failing to put two and two together between the stress and the pill, I talked to my mom who suggested Xanax. She had me try a VERY small dose, which seemed to take a lot of it down and make me feel a LOT better. A couple weeks later, I went to the doctor to describe what I was going through, in hopes of attaining a prescription to Xanax, so I could just take it when I needed it and not take it when I didn't. This is what my mom did for panic attacks... it ended up stopping them completely for her, because just knowing she had the Xanax made her feel safe, which stopped the panic before it built up into an actual attack. I was hoping for the same thing.
My doctor listened to me for about two minutes and prescribed me Celexa. (This is where a bit of PTSD sets in for me). I took the Celexa at 11:30PM with my crappy birth control and eventually went to bed. I woke up somewhere in the middle of the night, got up to use the bathroom, came back into my room and got a cold rush from head to toe... like numbness and tingling all the way down my body. Then, of course, I freaked out which made everything worse. Suddenly I was trembling, and then came the nausea. Which was actually quite painful... but anyways, I am NOT cool with getting sick to my stomach. It actually scares me a lot, but I think it scares me much more now because of the reaction with Celexa than it ever did before. I told my mom I was going to be sick, which she replied with "no, no you won't", then of course, right after that I was. For some reason, this stuck out with me... this was kind of when I realized that I was terrified, but no one could help me. It made me feel alone..... kind of sounds like a major part of DP/DR.
The next day, I woke up, saw the trash can I threw up in, saw the same clothes I changed into after I got sick... basically all the signs that last night wasn't just a nightmare, and it did happen. Thinking about ANY sort of stress sent me over the edge and made me feel sick again. Even thinking about calling my boss to take the day off work put me over the edge. I called my doctor to see what I could do to stop the effects of the medicine, researched online like a MANIAC about when it would end, what the signs were, what my diagnosis was between serotonin syndrome and just a bad reaction... I still don't know. I would obsessively look it up, much like a lot of us obsessively look up existential questions (I'll come back to this)
. I went back to the doctor that morning, who then told me that I "will suffer with this for the rest of my life", and then prescribed me a STRONGER anti-depressant, this time with klonopin on the side to ease the side effects. Needless to say, I threw it away and never looked back.
Over the next few weeks, I felt hopeless. I felt like I ruined my life with one pill and I would never be able to enjoy it again. I felt the heaviest weight on my shoulders. I felt guilty, like I was hurting my family. Eventually, I felt like I was inevitably going to lose control and kill myself, even though it was the LAST thing I wanted to do, which made me feel even more guilty for the pain that would cause everyone who loved me. This caused distance between my family and I. Which caused me to eventually feel like they were different then me, which eventually caused me to feel like EVERYthing was.... which of course made everything feel unreal. My life felt like a nightmare. Like it was never going back. Ever.
Looking back now, I have no idea what gave me the motivation to fight through that. I was not only dealing with DP/DR, major hopelessness, 24/7 panic attacks and SEVERE depression, but I was also living with nausea every single day... which was by then, my worst fear because of the reaction from Celexa. My life was an ABSOLUTE nightmare. Then the unreal feelings set in. Things looked weird, sounded weird, I questioned reality... but not much existential stuff. I just had the general feeling that everything and everyone around me was not real. A dream. Which made me feel terribly alone and sad, like I lost everything. This makes it tremendously hard to eat for me. So I had trouble keeping an appetite. I also experienced some DP... I would look at things I did as a kid, or pictures of me before Celexa and feel like I was looking at a different person.
I read about different people locking themselves away and basically throwing their lives away and refused to do this to myself. I pushed myself to go out, socialize, and enjoy life. EVERY day I would get friends together and go do something. It helped tremendously.
I also kept researching and ended up on a path of different nutritional answers. I quit my birth control, which helped SIGNIFICANTLY. Then I gave up refined sugar and caffeine which also helped significantly. From there on out, I was doing great. Every single day was better and better. My panic attacks spaced out from 24/7 to once a week, to once every couple weeks, to once every month... etc, etc, until I had learned to deal with them so well (mostly by accepting that they were just panic symptoms and were not going to hurt me) that I was now able to shut panic off right when it started.
I went on to move out of my parents house, start and end a few lengthy relationships, deal with normal young adult social drama, care about stupid stuff like what color my hair was and why my best friend was mad at me.... in April of 2012, I even took a leap and moved out of state by myself for the summer. I made new friend and I had a BLAST out there. DP/DR was still lingering here and there (especially in the colder months... cabin fever seems to cause it for me), but it was only there when I thought to myself "am I feeling unreal again?" the constant checking is the only thing that brought it back. Otherwise, it was no where to be found.
My progress continued. I moved back home after losing my job out of state (which was a LOT of stress, but I was still able to manage). I was without a job when I moved back for several weeks. I went on to start a new relationship, rekindle old friendships, see all of my friends, enjoy myself, etc. The DP/DR was still becoming less and less common. When I moved into my new place with my boyfriend this past December, a little bit of it would come back here and there, which was to be expected.. winter (cabin fever) brings it on. So we'd go out to fix that. Then after a while, I started noticing that I didn't have to go out as much when the weather warmed up. Being at home all the time other than work wasn't bothering me as much. I felt great! DP/DR was the least of my concerns at all. Again, the only thing that brought it up was the occasional check-in to see if it was still there.
Back in the DP/DR game.
Suddenly, stress picked up. Work caused a lot underneath everything, but I had also been dealing with lots drama with the circle of friends my boyfriend and I had for a few months. Most of it was centered at me, apparently, because at the end of it all, every single one of them turned away from me. At the same point, I was helping my brother get through a breakup... it was a ton of stress. over stupid stuff.
Going back again a little bit, I noticed that a lot of my anxiety centered around the idea that eventually my mom would pass away. I always thought about it, and was sad over it... but never let it go to extremes. My mom's father had passed away right around the time all of my panic attacks (pre-celexa) had started... I guess it was hard for me and I never really got past it. This is what kicked up my DP/DR this time. One day, after being at my mom's house (which usually makes me think about her eventually being gone more, since she's right in front of me, and how much I will miss her when that happens) I started fearing her being eventually gone again. That thought led to, in this order:
"Will I ever see her again?"
"Is there an afterlife?"
"Is there proof that there's an afterlife?"
"Is the end of our existence just blackness and darkness... nothingness?"
"None of this makes sense... how is any of this real?"
"Is anyone real?"
"Is this world real?"
"What is reality?"
Which then... if you google that last one, a lot of what comes up is "reality is just an illusion" or "reality is just our perception".
Then I fell into thoughts of solipsism.... and found out about how it's "irrefutable".
"Am I the only conscious one here?"
"Is this whole world a figment of my imagination?"
This went on for a while, until I basically refuted it (in another thread on here, I can link later) by saying that the proof the solipsism isn't real IS actually that it's irrefutable... basically that you would need solipsism to be real to prove it right or wrong, and since you can't becoming solipsistic, it doesn't exist. Anyways... it's in another thread.
Then after that, since I still felt unreal, I started thinking more along the lines of me being in a giant game, or something like the Matrix. Where I am the only conscious one HERE, in THIS world... in MY reality.
Basically, these thoughts are still stirring just because I cannot prove that anyone else is actually real... despite the fact that all evidence supports it, my DP/DR keeps just focusing on the idea that its "irrefutable"... although, again, with the solipsism thing... it being irrefutable is also what proves that it isn't true that no one is real, because for us to all be individuals requires that we cannot get inside eachother's minds... which would be the only way to prove that. But still, I'm stuck on it.
I have good moments and bad moments, right now is probably a bad one because I went through everything to write this.
Right now, these are the things that keep me from really recovering:
- If I just calm down and be happy, I feel like I'm just being happy, but everything around me isn't really here and I'm just being fooled.
- Otherwise, I think that I'm going crazy, because then in a sense, if everything IS real, I'm accepting that it's NOT, which is false, which would make me nuts. Make sense?
- I feel like I will never be comfortable with the fact that I can't DISprove that everything is fake.
- I feel like I will never be able to look at my loved ones, especially my boyfriend, the same.
- Sometimes I get scared because I can't tell whether I actually believe that everything is fake and that's why I'm scared... or if I'm having all this anxiety just because of a bunch of really strong "what-if's"
- I feel like now since I've thought the existential thoughts, that they will just keep being there because they can never be answered and put to rest..... although a lot of recovered people on this forum have said that they eventually just stop.
- I really just want some sort of proof that everyone IS real. Of course, I guess that's right in front of my eyes. Maybe I just need to keep being reminded.
I went to the bar with friends last night, ate a pretty full meal, kept my mind off of a lot of it. And when this happens, everything just FEELS real and I don't question it... I guess that's recovery. A healthy, happy human mind doesn't question reality, it just knows it's there because its a solid part of it.
I guess that's what we all need to work towards. I've been there before, I just need to get there again.
I'll post my progress from here in replies. Please ask any questions or offer any remarks.