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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

This is going to be a rather long post, so I apologize in advance, but I think it will be worth the read if you have the time. I lurked on these forms for years without ever posting, so I thought it would be right to share my story. Hopefully it helps someone.

My Story
My first experience with dp/dr began just before my 16th birthday. I had been having some panic attacks, and then (as I’m sure most of you can relate to) smoked weed and had an absolutely massive panic attack where I thought I was gonna die and was begging my two friends to take me to the hospital. I then stupidly smoked again a couple of weeks later, and had another panic attack, although this one was less severe. Not long after that I started having short bouts of dp/dr which quickly turned into constant, 24/7 dp/dr hell. In terms of my symptoms, I felt like I was in a dream, like nothing was real, the faces of my family and friends looked alien to me, I felt like I was high all the time, I felt like I was in the back of my head looking out instead of the normal flow state which non-depersonalized people experience reality, constant obsessive thinking about if I had a brain tumor or was going to develop schizophrenia, ruminations about the nature of reality, and so on - needless to say it was absolutely miserable and in the beginning I broke down hysterically crying on an almost daily basis. I was utterly terrified - it felt like my world had been flipped upside down, and that I would never be okay again. I didn’t want to go to school because I felt like I couldn’t make it through the day, I didn’t want to hang out with friends, etc. However, with a lot of support from my parents, I forced myself to continue going to school, as I knew that falling behind and isolating myself from my friends would only make things worse. Fortunately, there were these forums and information on dp/dr, so I was able to learn pretty quickly what it was and how people had gotten over it. In the beginning, I could barely stay in class. Just sitting there and doing nothing without running out of the room was a nearly impossible task. But somehow, I managed to force myself to stay in class, do my work, take tests, socialize with friends at school and after etc. I’ll cut out a lot of the rest of my experience as it isn’t really that relevant and if you’re going through this then you already know the struggle. I don’t know the exact date when it really went away, it was such a gradual process over a few years, that I can’t give an exact timeframe (not that it matters, everybody is different and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others). It lasted extremely acutely for maybe 6 months or so, and then it slowly slowly declined over the next couple of years to the point where I almost never thought about dp/dr. After that first 6 months or so though, it didn’t materially impact my life in the sense that I lived almost completely normally (I didn’t drink much or do drugs for obvious reasons), but besides that I was able to cope and function without breaking down or failing school or anything like that. I managed to finish high school with a good gpa and get into a prestigious college which I recently graduated from last year. This was something I never thought would be possible in the beginning of my dp/dr experience, I really thought it was over for me, but I would say my college time was spent nearly dp/dr free. I would still have moments where I would get minor feelings of dp/dr, but they were fleeting and I hardly paid attention to them, which should really be the goal. I think once you have open the door to dp/dr, you’re probably going to feel it in some way, for some amount of time, in some situations, but it won’t bother you at all and you’ll almost smile at it like an old friend from the past paying you a visit, and then it will go just like it came.

How You Can Recover
Now, let’s talk about the road to recovery and how to get back to normal. First of all, it’s important to understand what dp/dr is. Dp/dr is a symptom of anxiety and panic, it is a way for the brain to protect itself from danger. Over 50% of people will experience an episode of dp/dr in their lives, so the feeling itself is actually incredibly common, even though most people probably don’t really know the name of it. The understanding, as far as I know, is that your brain puts you in this state because it’s trying to protect you. But, the symptom of dp/dr itself becomes extremely anxiety provoking, and so now you are anxious about your dp/dr which then makes it worse, which makes your anxiety worse and so on as a vicious cycle. The key to escaping dp/dr is to break this cycle, and the way to do this is by radical acceptance. You need to accept your dp/dr instead of trying to fight it. Now, this is obviously much much easier said than done, but it really is the way. I know it can be terrifying, but you have to realize that it really is just a feeling, it’s harmless, and it’s just an illusion of your mind. Everything and everybody is the exact same way it was before you got dp/dr, you’re just perceiving things differently. Bask in your dp/dr instead of pushing it away, invite it into your reality and let it sit there. Go a step further, ask for more - I want you to give me everything you have and don’t hold back, do your worst. This is the mentality you need to cultivate, and alongside this, you need to get back into your life, your school/work/friends/hobbies/relationships as much as possible. Please please do not sit isolated all day feeling bad for yourself and waiting for your dp/dr to go away. All you're doing is giving it more power and more fuel to torment you. I know it’s not easy, it’s nearly impossible, it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done or will ever have to do, and I’m sorry you’re experiencing this I really am, but it isn’t permanent and it isn’t inescapable, just remember that. So that’s the crux of it, accept the feeling and go and live your life as best as you can despite it. It won’t happen instantly, but over time the feeling will lose power over you and start to fade away. Stop watching videos, reading forums, books, talking about it and so on, these behaviors are just part of the OCD nature of the disorder (a need to check, to find answers, to control, etc) and will stunt your progress. Very importantly, DO NOT let the posts from people who have had this for years and years terrify you. The reality is that this is the minority of people, and most people who get this recover just fine, it’s just that they don’t come back to talk about it because they’re living their lives and not thinking about it. I’ll lay out the various components that are helpful in recovery:

  • Therapy/CBT
  • Radical acceptance
  • Trying your best to not fight the feeling

  • Socializing: this is honestly one of the most helpful things you can do. It gets you out of your head and I encourage you to do it as much as possible. Laughter is nature’s medicine.
  • Exercise: exercise is clinically shown to reduce anxiety and was always helpful for me, as it would make me feel better and just generally provide a bit of clarity and lessen the dp/dr feelings temporarily. I got some of my first moments of clarity on nights after intense exercise for soccer. You should be doing vigorous exercise almost daily, and on the days you don’t do it you need to at least get out and go for a long walk. I personally love to lift weights, and I would encourage that as well, but if you only want to do one then I would recommend cardio (running, biking, sports, etc).
  • Do the things that you enjoy and that will distract yourself, play video games, an instrument, watch a show you like, draw, read, whatever your interests are, try your best to engage yourself as much as possible.

  • I personally did not take any medication except for a low dose of Klonopin for about a month in the beginning when I was super super anxious and was having trouble getting through school. If you can, then I think it’s better to go without medication, but if you’re totally unable to function then you’re much better off getting on something that will at least help the anxiety so you’re a bit more stable and can get on the road to recovery. Unfortunately there are no meds for dp/dr, although people have had some success with different drugs, so that decision is up to you.
  • Obviously don’t do ANY drugs, and as far as alcohol I wouldn’t go crazy. It’s probably not the worst thing, I started drinking a bit maybe a year after my dp started, just start slow and see how you do. Also, avoiding stimulants like caffeine is probably a good idea, as these increase anxiety and throw you off center even more.

Concluding Thoughts:
I know that you feel scared, anxious, uncertain, alienated, and just generally dommed, but I promise you’re not. You’re more than likely in your teens or early 20s with your whole life ahead of you, and one day you’ll look back on this time and you won’t even really remember how you felt. Trust me you can do this, you just need to keep pushing on. Now, are you going to look back at this time and smile and feel nostalgic for how wonderful it was? No, of course not, you’re going to say holy shit that sucked, but sometimes in life we’re only given two options: bad and worse - and we just have to choose bad. Choosing bad is doing your best to commit to the road to recovery and engage yourself in your life, accepting the feeling as best you can and getting on despite it. Over the past 7 years, I’ve finished high school and college, had relationships, traveled the world, had tons of friends and fun, and so on - just like you all will too. If anybody wants to talk or ask questions, I’m happy to give my discord, just let me know or send me a message. I’ll leave you with a few quotes that have been comforting to me over the years, and maybe they will be for you too.

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
“I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy - ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness--that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what--at last--I have found.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.
Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.
This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.” - Bertrand Russell
“To progress again, man must remake himself. And he cannot remake himself without suffering. For he is both the marble and the sculptor. In order to uncover his true visage he must shatter his own substance with heavy blows of his hammer.” - Alexis Carrel
“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” - Carl Jung
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.” - John Lennon

Hang in there.

Peaceful Journey,

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What about diet? What you used to eat?
And the last question : before completely recovering, have you had a lot of deja vus that gave you the feeling that the dp dr is ending and you are returning back to normal? Because this is what I m currently dealing with. There is this big confusion when you feel as you first got into it and then that deja vu comes when you are 100% that it s ending and it s nearly over. Can you describe a little bit the symptoms before recovery?

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
As far as diet, I personally didn't change that much or do any kind of crazy diets. I'm sure that eating healthier would be beneficial to how you feel though and so I would recommend that to anyone. I doubt that any kind of special diet would cure dp/dr, but it may help reduce your anxiety and improve wellbeing.

As far as deja vu, I don't remember experiencing any more of that than normal - although it makes complete sense that that could be intertwined with dp because it's another sort of inexplicable and subjective human phenomena which is perfect territory for this disorder. I would definitely say that as I recovered I just sort of felt weird a lot of the time, it's really hard to explain how but I sort of felt overwhelming emotions of things like nostalgia - it was also around the time I was going into/in college so a lot of that was normal, but it blended together with the dp to form this really potent feeling. With that being said, I wouldn't worry too much about these sensations like deja vu, dp has a way of playing with the mind and our perception, so I just wouldn't give much credence to the feeling or thought. Just kind of take it as another one of dp's strange effects, accept it, and continue on with your day.
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