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Hello all,

I have never been part of a support network, so hopefully this will be a step in the right direction. I was recently diagnosed with DP/DR and PTSD (along with ADHD, which was diagnosed last year).

My Diagnoses:

I went back to school at age 24. I am working on a b.s. in mechanical engineering with minors in aerospace engineering and mathematics. I noticed early on that homework assignments that took my classmates 1-2 hours would take me 10-12 hours to complete and I could never finish tests in the allotted time. I struggled through the basic classes though. Three years later, one of my engineering professors finally pulled me aside to find out why my test scores weren't reflecting my understanding of the material. I was referred to the student health center to assess the problem. After about 8 hours worth of intensive neuropsych/IQ testing, I was diagnosed with ADHD/EFD.

Then, last semester (about a year later), I started getting severely overwhelmed with deadlines. I was taking 6 upper division engineering classes, each with simultaneous group projects. I was sleeping 4 nights a week trying to get everything done. Stress would build to a peak, then crash into total apathy in a constant cycle. I felt like I was working all the time and never getting anything done. I couldn't figure out where my time was going, so I started seeing a therapist to try and work on my time management skills.

My therapist couldn't figure it out either. I kept a meticulously organized notebook where I recorded yearly, monthly, and daily tasks, homework assignments by due date, exam dates, etc. When she asked about my life, I was an open book. I explained that whenever I had a particularly bad experience, I just replayed the memory in my head until I got bored of thinking about it. Evidently, I had been unknowingly been giving myself exposure therapy for 8 years. It was easy for me to talk about even the worst details of my past without feeling anything. I was so convinced that I had already dealt with my problems years ago, that I convinced my therapist I was fine too.

At some point, I started to notice that my eyes would start crying for no apparent reason. Sometimes, I wouldn't even notice until I saw tears smearing the ink on my notes, which only confused me because I felt fine. I assumed that it was some sort of weird stress response to school. I started missing a lot of classes. I would plan on going to class, then freeze at the edge of the bed/couch/shower. I kept willing myself to move, but it just wouldn't happen. Over winter break, I started having nightmares about past events (along with a random recurring one about having pins/needles embedded in the inside of my mouth). When I was awake, I couldn't help imagining scenarios where someone from my past would just show up where I was and try to kill me.

My therapist wanted to revisit the trauma conversation in more depth. She gave me a chart that explained what the basic emotions were and how to identify them by the physiological sensations they caused. My depersonalization had been built up so much that I no longer recognized whether or not I was experiencing emotions at all, and I realized that I hadn't for a long time.

Since I started trying to fix this, my life has spiraled out of control. As I've been working on identifying/focusing on emotions, I've found them harder to ignore. As they get harder to ignore, the world around me seems blurrier and less real. Freezing up and trying to will myself to move has been mostly replaced by losing gaps of time that I don't remember. I stopped brushing my hair because apparently untangling it was somehow too stressful. I'd find myself sitting in the same position hours later still holding the hairbrush and feeling like I had just sat down. It devolved into a rat's nest of horrors, so a kind stylist friend cut it off and fixed it.

I haven't been to class in about a month now. Was supposed to graduate this semester, but I'm failing everything. I've been so tired, that I just sleep for days at a time. I can't forget to take the Prozac though, otherwise I feel super shitty and disoriented. I know you're not supposed to, but when I'm awake, I alternate between alcohol and weed. The weed makes me feel pretty ok (in moderation), but the next day I feel like a pit. I can't smoke again when I feel that way because it turns bad quick. So I drink, which makes me feel nothing, which is better (and more familiar) than feeling bad.

It's hard to explain, but when I have feelings, it feels like falling from a plane. When somebody holds a knife to your throat, it's the split second when you have the impulse to jerk away before you realize you need to be calm and still. That split second is how I feel all the time now, and I'm not sure how else to deal with it. I feel like I'm losing it.

TL;DR: this DP/DR has worsened to the point where I involuntarily dissociate anytime my dumb lizard brain senses even a mild amount of stress/pressure/danger, which apparently is most of the time due to the hypervigilance from the PTSD. The ADHD just provides that extra layer of executive dysfunction to ensure that I don't accomplish too much whenever I'm conscious, present, and sober. Seems kind of dumb since my situation ended like 8 years ago and I've been comfortably not caring about feelings until recently when my brain decided to start randomly shutting down and pulling me out of reality.

Symptoms:

-Losing gaps of time w/no memory

-Very difficult to feel/identify most emotions

-Surroundings don't feel "real". Dreamlike quality.

-Blurred vision, things sound far away

-Feel like I don't have control over my body

-Hypersomnia/Insomnia. Sometimes I can't sleep. When I do, it's for 12-30 hours.

-No time perception (increments of time all feel the same)

-Flashbacks

-Adrenaline surges (increased pulse, shaking), crying, etc. with no emotional feeling

-No motivation (to eat, get dressed, get out of bed, etc)

I've been trying to withdraw from 3 classes for the last several weeks so I don't fail. Haven't been able to get myself to school to get them to sign the paperwork. Haven't been able to email them about it because every time I start the email I shut down. People tell me I just need to "accept the things that happened", but I did that years ago. The problem is that the memories of events are not connected to emotions. I accept the sequence of events that occurred, but how am I supposed to "process my feelings" about them when I can't even feel them/tell what they are?

Anyway, I hope to meet some people who can relate. Maybe we can learn from each other.
 
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