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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was talking a friend last night and, as usual, I found myself in somewhat of an esoteric conversation about things. It seems as though, every couple weeks or so, I tend to get into a conversation with someone and I mention the word "normal"; and the average response is "What is normal?" Usually people ask the question in a rhetorical fashion - assuming everyone will go, "Yup, you're right - nobody is 'normal'". However - I piped up last night and said, "I think I can define normal", and I attempted it and she (my friend) agreed to it. Well, this morning I went to my counselor (I started seeing him after my divorce and continued because I enjoy him) and I brought up the fact that I was a bit nervous about my upcoming trip to Florida (business), because I have, on a occasion, had some pretty bad panic attacks when I am away from home - and the depersonalization has a tendency to follow. He sat back a bit, looked at me and said something quite ironic "The problem is that you don't have something that makes you feel normal when you're out there - something that reminds you you're okay?". I stopped, dead in my tracks, nodded and, well, that was that - and I felt I should probably share my thoughts on normality with everyone here because it coincided so well with his statement.

For those who know me a bit, I was without depersonalization ("cured") for about two years of my life - mostly during my marriage. I can only describe the difference between then and the occasional moment now where I get depersonalized as simply without DP I just followed my patterns and my usual way about things; but with DP I am completely detached from that routine and simply become hyper-vigalent about my environment. To me, when I'm "fine" the environment seems usual, predictable, comfortable and - well, "normal"; and when I'm DP'ing out it seems counter-normal. Okay, so, what is normal?

To me, normal isn't "everyone being the same", but normal is the state - that many people achieve (and have in common) - where they are doing life by routine and pattern, without giving much thought to things and simply living. I feel that when you look back on the day and it just "zipped" by - you lived it "normal". Now, not everyone's normal is the same, but the fact that people find their normal way of living IS normal - and so, one layer of abstraction later, we see that it's normal to feel normal - make sense?

Everyone talks about wanting to feel normal again - but, normal to us is living life without really thinking much about it, kind of doing it in a trance, really - totally detached from thinking heavily about our place in the universe, our own existence, etc. The consistency in action MAKES us feel normal, but in reality we have always been where we are, we just never thought about it.

Now, whether it's drug induced, hormonal or "whatever" - we are no longer watching the television program but watching the television itself - kind of "distanced" from the things we used to trance in on and just do by habit. Everyone feels deplaced now and then or "out of it" - and they immediately seek their original patterns and fall back into "the way". Something woke us up half-dream, and now we are thrown back into the stratosphere, watching ourselves in this highly bizarre world act and live the life we did before, but now aware that something else persists outside of us.

Culturally we have lots of things that help us to feel normal and have our patterns - we have seven day weeks, 12 month years, a birthday once a year, an anniversary, a television program, or whatever. It is these things that touch with us a sense of normality.

The problem is simple for us - we have this different scant on our world (for whatever reason) and we all want to feel normal again, but can't seem to forget our new view.

If only I would have known, I would have taken the blue pill.
 

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Ben,
I enjoyed reading that and I agree with your concept of "normal." I think the problem is somewhat simple as well, to get better you have to forget this feeling/view.

Because of not feeling "normal," I stopped living my life. Yet the way to feel normal is to get back to my life (from what I understand), therefore I am stuck. :roll: I am my own worst enemy.
 
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VERY good insights/descriptions there, Ben. (and by the way, I also think your signature is hilarious! made me laugh out loud)

The only thing I'd disagree with is your last line. You imply that now, with dp, you are under the influence of the RED pill (a Matrix metaphor for anyone who thinks we're nuts, lol). What you're seeing now in your illness is not Truth, but another more personal and private matrix.

We FOOL ourselves into thinking we've tapped some universal truth, by discrediting meaning and refusing to find value in the "ordinary" petty illusions of regular day to day reality. All we've "found" is another illusion that is predicated on destroying all meaning.

There is a THIRD choice that Morpheus didn't mention: that of taking no pill at all, but walking off into the Unknown, not terrified of it because it has no map or guide, and being wiling to FIND yourself as you all, in all your extraordinary AND ordinary components.

Peace,
Janine
 

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Ben wrote: "Everyone talks about wanting to feel normal again - but, normal to us is living life without really thinking much about it, kind of doing it in a trance, really - totally detached from thinking heavily about our place in the universe, our own existence, etc. The consistency in action MAKES us feel normal, but in reality we have always been where we are, we just never thought about it."

For some people (like me, for example), thinking heavily about our place in the universe and our own existence IS normal! The only thing that's abnormal now is the fear associated with those things.

But I do think I get your general point. ; )
 

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The routine makes us sane. The continuous plodding on of days, the conversations with friends and family, the TV show, the dinner and a movie, the book we read at night before going to bed. We have to accumulate things and experiences and states of mind. We're collectors of objects, mental and physical, and when we've reached an adequate and satisfactory collection we say that we're normal. I dont think I've glimpsed a "truth" because in all honesty I think that word is irrelevant.

What I have seen is the world without the routine and without the layers we add to it. When you add nothing to it the world appears as it is. When nothing is added the world IS. When things are added the world is colored by the nature of the objects that are added to it, and our perceptions of those objects that we accept into our lives.

A natural state of being is one that allows us to best survive. But this natural state of being is a state and I firmly believe that the objects that create this state can and often are illusory. To say that they are not is to imply that one particular strategy of survival trumps all others. My illusion is better than yours. Regardless, you have to admit that there is a great deal of dishonesty, inauthenticity, and uncertainty inherent in our daily lives. We have to make believe and pretend and do whatever the hell is necessary to maintain whatever worldview we have, bullshit or other, that allows us to exist and flourish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
But I do think I get your general point. ; )
I might not have expressed myself as clearly as I would have liked, because what I was trying to get at, mostly, was saying that when you're in the DP state you typically are very hyper-aware of your environment and yourself AS part of that enviroment.

I should have said, "totally detached from the fearful and anxiety provoking thoughts and feelings we have as we look back on ourselves from afar", or something like that. Because, you're right - there are people (me included) that can think about existential without getting anxious, and then there are those (me included), who can sometimes.

I've rambled on about that point before, though.

The routine makes us sane.
In the simplest sense - I guess that's what I was trying to say, but I wanted to make sure I made the distinction between normal and the normality of feeling normal.

There is a THIRD choice that Morpheus didn't mention: that of taking no pill at all, but walking off into the Unknown, not terrified of it because it has no map or guide, and being wiling to FIND yourself as you all, in all your extraordinary AND ordinary components.
I like this statement because it is very accurate - it takes a very wholistic approach to the thing we call "ourselves". Personally, I'm sure that any particular angle I have on the world around me - and my place in it - is flawed somehow. But, one quote has always inspired me:

"I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn't frighten me."
--- Feynman, PBS Interview, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
 

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Now you may find this a little whacky, but the original post reminds me a lot of Terrence McKenna's idea of Novelty.

He postulates that time and experience are not linear at all but in fact ebb and flow with a quality he calls "novelty". That is, some times you "go with the flow", with what you call "normal". The world carries on as it always has and nothing eventful really happens.

But sometimes there is a quality to experience and reality he calls "novelty", which is when new things happen. You have new experiences, face new challenges and come to new understanding of your world, your mind, your self.

The idea is that this happens in "waves" (but I won't go into that), which is more or less similar to what you say in your post.

Now I am wondering here about what Janine said. I think we with anxiety issues tend to look at the novel times and think grandiosity. i.e. "Wow, this new idea is the best, the most fabulous, the thing that's finally going to crystallize all of this uncertainty into a grand sense of enlightenment" (or at least it has been like that for me in the past). But what it really is is a natural unfolding, becoming process that will never reach a climax or final crystallization.

So I'm wondering if I'm just babbling incoherently or whether its just a matter of how you approach this shift from normal to novelty. i.e. Do you think what I am describing as novelty is happening or is it just the fantasy world you talk about? Or is the novelty really occurring and instead of relaxing and taking it in stride we build it up to mean something it can't possibly mean and ultimately burn ourselves out (or something similar, I'm tired) by analysing and stressing over it?
 
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