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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I just discovered this forum and I can't believe I've found people that know what this is and even have a name for it. I'm so lucky compared to some people here -- I've only had it as an adult a few times for a few days each time. I experience the DP, the panic, the feeling that everything is so huge and terrifying that I can't function -- I have friends that say "Why didn't you call me?" But finding the phone is just too much to cope with. I want to hide in bed, but I have a compulsion to pace and sob. But I've been obssessed with finding out the why and wherefore of it. I've read descriptions in the forums and I know that I have this. Ironically, I'm a psychiatric social worker and getting my Masters in Counseling and there is NOTHING about this in the books or anywhere.

Questions:

Is this an "anxiety attack'? I'm confused because everyone I've spoken with who claims to have anxiety attacks say they only last for a few minutes, while I go on for days.

Is there a relationship to PTSD? In studying the syndrome, I find the symptoms are much closer to what I've experienced than anxiety attacks. However, I can't really say I've ever undergone anything remotely as traumatic as people on this board.

I went through a period as a child when I was irrationally terrified to go to bed. I was obsessed with it -- why it was happening, what could stop it. I started dreading bed the moment I woke up and the panic just got worse as it got closer to bedtime. I feel some similarities to the depersonalization, in that I felt the overwhelming panic that couldn't be stopped, the fear that I was going crazy, and the loneliness that I was the only person in the world that felt this way. If suicide had occured to me, I think I would have tried it, but I was only 9 for heaven's sake. Eventually I started creating alternate worlds and stories in my head and "lost" myself in them as a coping mechanism and eventualy the fear and panic went away. I then spent the rest of my childhood fearing a return of it, like I do with my DP experiences. -- I had a therapist that seemed to think that this screamed sexual abuse, but I swear, I have no memory or consciousness of anything remotely like that.

I'm bipolar, have severe ADD and am a recovering drug addict with 10 years of abstinence from drugs, primarily pot. I know that I experienced DP several times during my using days and it still haunts me. Has anyone else experienced this?

I'm sorry to ramble so long. Please help me understand this better. I'm so grateful to have this site. I feel like I'm finally going to "get it" after years -- 28 years if you start at the beginning -- of obsession.

Thank you so much.

Susan
 
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Hi and welcome. Love your quote (love Carrie Fisher!)

First, it's not really an anxiety Attack. What seems to happen to folks like us is that we have a constant undercurrent of anxiety that is fueled by obsessive thoughts...we are "watching the self" all the time, almost without intending to.

We live on "alert" so when the "needle" goes up at all and our anxiety increases, we freak out. The "freak out" (technical medical term, grin) for us involves dissociation, i.e., dp. That kind of state can go on and on, you're right - it's not time delineated like a panic attack which HAS to subside as soon as the adrenaline rush subsides.

I call our mental state a form of "cerebral panic" because our heart beat and breathing might be all nice and calm and we might LOOK calm, but inside our minds, the thoughts are going wild. We continue to self-monitor during the worst of times, and that ultimately makes the entire production last longer and more likely to return.

There is alot written about dp states, but it's nearly all in the psychoanalytic literature, not "regular" psych books.

And if your therapist is telling you that he/she thinks you have some hidden sexual abuse trauma, I'd change therapists. Yes, the idea of being afraid to go to sleep, etc. for a child MIGHT indicate sexual abuse, but that is a slim possibility, not the norm. I'd suspect that the fear had much more to do with a terror of death, of self-annihilation. Being all alone in bed, at the mercy of your dream states, might have activated an internal Self terror - "do I exist?" "what is infinity?" "who am I" etc.

Peace,
Janine
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much for answering some of my concerns. I was starting to feel that I wasn't "sick" enough to merit any comment. I really really like your analysis of my childhood sleep fear -- it rings very true and I've never heard it described that way. So it probably felt alot like the DP I feel now because of the whole existential angle, huh?

Have you ever attempted to drive while in DP? I try to force myself to "act normal" during these states and made this mistake. It was awful. That invisible wall made it all seem so unreal and the 2-dimensional effect was not a good addition either. Guess they don't have a DUIDP?

The odd thing about my DP attacks is that I don't consciously feel any more stressed than usual when it occurs-- which, granted is plenty, but it's odd when it comes out. I also get attacks of fibromyalgia when I'm stressed and I'd MUCH rather have that!

Anyhow, thanks so much for making me feel welcome!

Susan
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
DUIDP? LOLOL...I had to read that a couple of times to get it. Very clever.

I couldn't drive. That's simply the fact. I did try during the beginning of my worst symptoms and one day I remember having my grandmother in the car with me (who was not a driver) and the entire world got so bizarre and so unreal, I was convinced "this is it!" and that I was finally losing my mind entirely. Stopped the car IN TRAFFIC, lol...and could not make myself drive it across the street to park it. My grandmother couldn't drive, I got out and sat on the edge of the median, trying to "will" myself into staying sane. My grandmother started telling people the car broke down and I was upset (not bad, actually, grin) and eventually we called my uncle who took the bus to us and drove the car home.

The worst with driving was that I believed any second I was going to totally lose reality and lose control - terrified I'd just let go of the wheel, believing I was dreaming....or lunge the car into oncoming traffic. Naturally, I never did it, but the fear/delusion was based in the fear and wish of losing total control.

Hideous. THat's all I can say - hideous.

Peace,
Janine
 
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