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No sense of self

5321 Views 23 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  ThystaBoy
Going to keep this brief.

I know a detachment from the self is a common symptom of DP. But I kinda feel like I don't even exist anymore. I literally can't tell. I feel like I am just experiencing everything consciously, emotionally, and somatically, but their is no "me" that is experiencing it, its just my brain. Its terrifying. Most people seem to say that DR bothers them more than DP. I definitely disagree, It's easier for me to acclimate to DR then DP. A loss of self is so much more threatening to me then my surroundings looking fuzzy.

Just wondering if anyone can relate to feeling like there is no actual person inside their brain.
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Dp definitely sucks more than dr. No sense of self paired with a blank mind is screwing me over currently. Very much on autopilot. It eez what it eez.

You kind of are your brain, but more than that you are also your experiences. Since you have thoughts and are experiencing things consciously, emotionally, and somatically, "you" do exist. The fact that you find this experience terrifying proves that you are still here, there is a person inside your brain, you still have a mind, you are still you, you exist.

Why do we exist? I don't know, lol, let's not think about that.. but being that we are built to have emotions, be self aware, and have thoughts has to mean something? Maybe? You're not just organs.

It may not feel like it but you still exist, I promise.

Hang in there.
Hey, thanks for the reply. Ive seen that you've been on here quite a bit recently and I just have to say I appreciate the sympathy and advice you've given on here. You seem to have garnered a wealth of wisdom about all of this lol.

Unrelated but I thought I would ask you here. From what I gathered you have had DPDR for around half a decade? And I think maybe you're in highschool? How has your disorder changed over time- if it all. How have you coped with it?

Lol I'm not wise at all, but thanks.

Low-key don't know how to answer so this is gonna be long and probably have no sense of structure...

I've had dpdr for about 5 years; started right before 8th grade and now I'm in 12th. To be honest, I can't completely remember what this disorder used to be like for me regarding symptoms. I'm not even sure I could tell you anything astonishing in terms of how I've coped with it..super helpful, I know.

I'm as calm as I've ever been about this disorder. I mean, I would kill to look at the sunset with clear eyes just one more time, but, I still think I am doing better than any other year I've had this. My symptoms haven't changed much over the years. I'm still constantly derealized and depersonalized, and I've got a blank mind. Some days are horrible, my body feels like a hologram, everything looks like its in my peripheral vision and I do feel hopeless. Though, compared to the first year/ two; I'm not as paranoid, the severity of my dissociation does not fluctuate as dramatically, I'm not as existential, and I'm not too worried about the meaning of the world or the meaning behind my existence anymore.

I think what has gotten me to this point is that I accept that this is a dissociative disorder, I have a clear understanding of why I developed this disorder and still have this disorder, I am actively trying to increase my psychological flexibility (look that up if u haven't heard of it it's pretty rad), and I'm trying to view this disorder as something conquerable, a mere obstacle.

For me, a critical step for developing good coping would be recognizing trauma, anxiety, or anything that may have caused the dpdr. Personally, this took so much time to figure out, a lot of recalling/reliving memories, a lot of emotions, and some therapy sessions, but I think I've finally got it down. A reason why I've had this disorder for so long and why I think you can overcome it quicker is because one; I was super young when it started and didn't know jack shit about mental health, and two; I was minimizing the impact my trauma had on me and felt like my problems weren't important enough to ever be addressed. I've just recently learned how to cope with my emotions instead of repressing them.. haha.

Um, I'm also on Lexapro. That's probably calmed me down. I know people who've experienced depersonalization and derealization for months from bad meds, having too high a dose, etc. so that's something to think about uhhh

I guess just try to have a positive outlook, but don't suppress your feelings under the guise of positivity. Find peace and comfort in knowing we constantly change and there is no final version of yourself. This disorder isn't a death sentence. Focus and do things that make you happy but also know that you need to have a willingness to experience a range of sensations, emotions, and thoughts in order to grab dpdr by the throat and to live a rich life in general. Don't suppress your emotions, you aren't dumb for being hopeful, and uhh friends and talking to people is always good.

I'm obviously not recovered nor am I some enlightened master of life, so... take my advice with a grain of salt. I can't think of anything else right now but if you have anything else you wanna know or just wanna talk, I'm here.

Thanks, I genuinely appreciate the detail. I'm really curious in the nature of long term cases. Btw Im in grade 11 so we are at a pretty similar stage in our lives lol.

Im really glad to hear that you are improving your mindset towards this disorder, that is how one recovers from it I believe. I like to imagine that is the most reasonable future for myself; to be in a calmer state, not thinking about it as much, even despite if it hasn't gone away. I am not gonna lie, It is very hard for me to convince myself that I won't have this for the rest of my life, it just seems so severe. But that mentality alone would certainly contribute to its longevity. I have to try to force myself to believe that I will recover soon I guess. I still experience a degree of emotion, and throughout the day I still find these random organic impulses to do things that I would normally do, that is kind of all there is left of me, hopefully its my ticket to recovery.

Are you taking therapy? Assuming you haven't that would certainly assist you in processing trauma. Im happy to hear that you've addressed it though :)

I've always thought I never had any trauma. And its technically true. But I realized that the depressive episode and consequential anxiety that caused my DPDR certainly wasn't random. My entire life has been a me vs me battle. Ive always convinced myself pragmatically that I was inferior, helpless, and ultimately life was meaningless. I've had this quiet desperation my whole life to be someone and do something; and being in my teenage years that really manifests as having a fulfilling social life, garnering some sort of online attention for my creative work, being validated, and feeling special. This has all caused me to live with a perpetual sense of melancholy throughout my teen years. I constantly felt like something was wrong, something was missing. It felt so inappropiate to be where I was in my life for no reason. Eventually, three months ago, It was all too much. And thus my spiral into mental illness began. Its so funny when I think about my goals for this year. I wanted to get jacked, make new friends, lose my virginity (to be blunt), go to more parties, ace my classes, and finally be happy. Now, all I want is for my sanity to still be intact by the end of the school year. Oh well, shit happens.

I take zoloft, its worked wonders for me anxiety and depression wise. Unfortunately recently my DPDR has gotten worse, so its a little harder for the medication to cut through it I guess.
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Yeah. You know whats so funny about what caused it for me; its completely normal. Most teens feel inadequate, depressed, friendless, unaccepted, its all part of growing up. It's my hyper-sensitive-hyper-analytical mind that conflated it into a non stop identity crisis. Id pace back and forth in my room for hours, pondering every little moment and every little facet of my little life. Thinking, what went wrong? Can I be better? Did I already fuck it all up? The part that killed me the most was, for a period of time I couldn't even tell why I was unhappy anymore. I couldn't even pin point what I even wanted to feel better. It wasn't until the months leading up to my disorder that I looked inwards at myself deeper than I ever have before. And I could finally understand to some degree what was fucking me up, and it was basically all the things I listed earlier, but the overarching theme was simply feeling inadequate- a nobody. For the longest time I guess I thought feeling like a nobody was a symptom of whatever was making me sad. But I eventually realized feeling like a nobody was the exact reason. The single greatest thing Ive gotten out of this disorder is I now know what I need to do to be happier; stop thinking, stop worrying, accept your reality, and live. And it's quite curious how that is the exact same thing that people say is the way to recover... kind of poetic, dont you think? I've just now realized that what I just wrote isn't really relevant to your reply at all, um whoops.

I can agree, but I feel like it putting it under the same term I feel undermines what other people went through I guess. But yeah, at the time I remember thinking to myself, this is by far the worst Ive ever felt in my entire life. It was hell. But now I am battling a whole new monster.

You know its funny that you mention that, I for one am a sucker for coming of age films, it honestly makes me feel like a girl hahaha. But when you put it like that honestly you're right; they do over romanticize the shit out of the teenage experience. I think the reason why I like them so much is an extension of feeling like my life is dull and boring. What we do when we watch movies we are essentially imagining as if we were experiencing what the characters in the movie do. So I am essentially fantasizing the romantic experience of a coming of age movie to over compensate for my lack of a fruitful life.

Damn, do I ever relate to that. I feel like every day I spend in this state is another opportunity wasted of trying to have a meaningful teenage experience to look back on. Now I feel like when I look back it this time in my life I wont feel nostalgic but rather feel shivers run down my spine. But yeah, I hope I can make up for it in my 20's I guess.

Its okay. It's not new to me. My DPDR has been getting worse ever since it started three months ago. I have hope that it will stabilize tho, I mean if it doesn't then thats rad.
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You know what's actually funny.. most teens don't feel this way. Sure, a lot of teens feel sadness, want to have friends and want to fit in or whatever, but, the majority of teens aren't depressed and don't feel inadequate on the regular. I have a feeling you don't see your emotions as justifiable. Your thoughts, feelings, and emotions are legitimate and as important as anyone else's, k?

Sheesh, how you described things it really seems like you have had low self-esteem for a while. Same here. One doesn't really just wake up one day and decide that they're a nobody. Rather, that belief is ingrained into us slowly through many experiences like rejection, bullying, pressure from our (patriarchal) society, *cough* media warping our ideas of self worth *cough*, and also through dysfunctional families. I'm sure you're working through this, you know what you're going through better than anyone, so good luck, I understand that you've done more than enough introspection lol. I could honestly go on longer but imma stop myself here, you're informed on this stuff and I'm sure you've been trying shit like more self love which in turn helps the dpdr or whatever so imma not annoy you lol. And I still said it. Sorry, it's 3am rn, idrk what I'm doing.

Don't undermine what you've been through, developing this hell of a condition is proof that it was "bad enough". And 20's? Who said it'll last that long? You can still have some fun with dpdr, sure it feels harder to do, you'll zone out, but it's always better than staying in.

I just realized you said you wanted attention for your creative work in the other reply….you a soundcloud rapper? Lol sorry that's just the first thing that came to mind when I read it.
This thread is really long but I have to address your last comment hahaha. I am not a soundcloud rapper, although me and my friend fucked around and made some satirical rap songs for the website. I don't even know what I meant by "creative work" perhaps I was trying to find a more pretentious way of literally just saying I wanted validation for whatever I post online, photos, skate videos, edits, skits, memes, whatever. But, Im planning to start a YouTube channel and make short films, so yeah.

Yeah, I guess I definitely have self esteem issues. But I feel like the quote, "we suffer more in imagination then we do in reality" really applies to me here. Like, my life isn't exactly a shitstorm of being ostracized, bullied, disparaged, rejected, and unnoticed. But I have a tendency to over conflate things as I mentioned before. Thus every tiny misstep I made in the social arena felt like a catastrophe- thanks to my hyper sensitivity and over analytical mind. Eventually, my self esteem, my sense of where I placed in the social heirarchy, and my confidence was equivalent to an outcast. But really, as far as being an introvert goes, I am a completely average guy, kinda.

But damn maybe your right. Maybe I dont give any worth to my suffering, idk. It'd be great to practice self love, but its kind of hard when I dont even have a sense of self, but yeah.
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I remember trying to find the terms to describe the transition I had undergone at age 17. I finally hit upon "I lost my sense of self". I remembered thinking it
was something of a big deal to be able to describe my symptoms in this manner. I had never heard dissociation discussed in anyway in the early 1970s
I would discover it is one thing to be able to define a problem and quite another to address it.
Hmm interesting. Looking back do you think that was an accurate description of what you were going through? If so when did you get your sense of self back?
Have you found any way at all to deal with this? I used to think DP wasn't as bad as DR but it sucks, I'm honestly desperate for some tips at this point, can't seem to find any.This is exactly how I feel. Do you notice anything that helps?
Hey lost.

The only thing I can say somewhat alleviates the feeling of nonexistence is spontaneity. What I mean is, try to lose yourself in the present as much as you can. For me, this primarily consists of talking with my friends, playing video games, going on my phone, listening to music, etc. For some reason talking to or even being in the mere presence of my parents makes my DP so much worse, I haven't figured out why, I wonder if you can relate?

I know you didn't ask for this, but I am kind of intrigued by the reason why I think my advice works at least for me. I think that before DP, one isn't hyper aware or even aware at all of their existence. They don't perceive themselves as a distinct entity operating a person that interacts with the physical world. Rather, without DP, one is only aware of the experience of reality itself; they are not aware that they are a person experiencing it. So, to have spontaneity, means to only be aware of the experience itself, and it inhibits the hyperawareness of being a person. I truly think that, in day to day life, a person without DP forgets that they exist. And that's why you hear about the pop culture phenomenon of, when you suddenly remember that you infact are a distinct being, existing in a physical world, you feel that dissociative feeling. I think it's important to remember how you expeience the world without DPDR, and spontaneity is one way to do that.
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Sorry to be so long in replying as I lost touch with this thread. In answer to how I coped with loss of self at age 17, with no help from anyone?

Well, I guess you could say I still had half a self. I had lost positive emotions but I could still feel pain. I underwent an episode of major depression.

It was really rough. I lost 30 lbs and had terrible insomnia and anxiety. I was in full survival mode. I just held on until my symptoms subsided

enough to allow me to have some hope for the future.
Thats truly a very inspiring story, I admire your endurance to the adversity of mental illness. For me though, my practically absent sense of self isn't derived from anhedonia. In fact, I am the fortunate minority of people with DPDR to not feel depressed, I feel plenty of positive and negative emotion. I feel miserable sure, but the depressive episode I went through that actually caused this 24/7 dissociation was so so much worse. So my loss of sense of self seems so much more weird, like it feels like my ego has been dissolved.
Yeah I've actually noticed that spontaneity does work quite a bit. But what's been shitty about that for me is that after I've spent the whole day on auto-pilot and being social, I'm even more DPd when I go to my room at the end of the day. If I spend the day not thinking at all, just focusing on doing things, that's just pushing the problem onto my future self. Is that something you experience too? I've spent most of the days this week doing this exact thing, and yesterday I had the worst panic attack I've ever had. I don't recognise myself at all, it's like I'm in someone else's brain. I don't recognise my emotions, thoughts, myself, not anything. (I'm also currently sick so that doesn't help, I feel like I can't break the dissociation at all. Can't hear anything, hurts to talk, can't smell etc. Which makes it super hard to feel present). My parents are actually the only ones who makes it feel kinda better for me, talking to them is the only this that can calm me down somewhat.

And I've also thought about what you're saying, before this no ones ever really that conscious of themselves (I mean I definitely was when it came to how others perceived me and what I said everyday, but it was never like I questioned myself and who I was). But like I said, to me, ignoring the problem throughout the day hasn't at all worked it's just made it worse. I'm glad it seems to work for you tho! What you said actually does make total sense. Without DP, you never question yourself as a person, and analyse your whole existence and experience of the world. If you try and stop questioning it maybe living becomes more natural? Idk, I just can't wait for this to be over (if it ever does go away).
Yeah I experience that too. My DP is at it's worst during the five minutes I spend getting ready for bed; that's when im at my most fatigued and burnt out. That's really good that spending time with your parents helps! Family is very important with these kind of things.

I guess id have to respectfully disagree. I don't think what I define as spontaneity is the same as ignoring the problem the whole day. I think it is a form of remembering the mode of being that existed before DPDR. I think that is essentially what recovery is; the first step is remembering how one used to live their life before DPDR, and then living as close to that as possible. Initially, it is only an intellectual memory with no clear feeling, but I believe over time it can allow one to repair the bridges inside their mind that were burnt down by DPDR. This process will allow one to get back in touch with emotion, and then to hopefully feel integrated within themself.

For me, it has seemed to work. I don't do any mindfulness or grounding exercises, or journaling, or any form of trying to directly address and combat the DP, I just live as much as I can, and since then, my DPDR hasn't gotten better admittedly, but it's stopped getting worse, and it sure as hell doesn't bother me as much as it used to.
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I guess my DP doesn't peak just when I'm going to bed. It's anytime I spend alone, from 1am-3am when I can't sleep, or when I have to study and be alone, or even just going and getting something from my room in the middle of the day. It doesn't really have anything to do with how I feel or my anxiety, it just happens for no reason which makes me feel like I have no control over it whatsoever. I feel like there no reason to keep trying to feel better, because it's literally like I'm living someone else's life everyday. There's no "me" at all, it's freaking me out a lot.

But I do agree with everything you're saying! I think you've figured out a really good way to feel better with the DP (or at least moving towards a normal-ish life). And as I said, that's what I've been trying to do and it works really well, until 5 days have passed and I've restricted my feelings for too long. And I know that going on as usual doesn't exactly mean "ignoring your feelings". But to me spontaneity is to not think and just do, and that's why I end up with all the thoughts later. I've found that Monday-Thursday is alright, but when Friday hits I'm panicking again. Idk maybe it's just me overthinking a lot. Maybe it takes some time getting used to, like I have with the DR. I just feel like I'm consumed by anxiety, like that's literally all I am.
I used to have that same problem. Having to go to my room, take a shower, take out the trash, or do anything that isolates me with my thoughts would be the most painful part of my day. But now--I can't really say how it happened at this point-- but I underwent a huge shift and now being alone in my room makes me feel the most safe.

The first few months with my DPDR was very turbulent compared to now, I'm more or less at a deadlock with my illness, of course not completely, there's still a bit of a mental fight going on. Like I feel like I have multiple modes of thinking and perceiving that I shift in and out of. Like right now, as I read the words that described how you are freaked out because it feels like there is no "you" I felt very comforted because I have the exact same problem, but then I think, "why should I feel comforted? I literally don't even exist, human emotions are absurd, none of this is real" and the DPDR feelings set in. I feel like DPDR is drowning me in this horrible state of perception and I am just trying to keep my head above the surface, thankfully these past few months the waters have seemed to calm down.

But yeah, like I mentioned before, I feel like I have sunken into my brain, I don't feel outwardly present, and I don't feel like a unified self within my brain. As I write these words, it's so hard to connect to them, but I know intellectually that's whats going on. I just feel so damn confused, my life is so damn confusing. I feel like there is a huge part of "me" that is being blocked off from experience. Like my consciousness has been shifted away from myself, and I am experienced a greyer world with no sense of self. I can't believe that the eyes I am seeing this screen with are mine. It's so confusing and I don't know how I can understand it
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