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Repersonalisation/Rerealisation: a Recovery Guide to dp/dr.

3454 Views 7 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  jonobe
There are many threads on this site that will help and encourage you to make a good recovery. Some of them are really good and offer sound advice and the writers get my respect. I don't claim this thread to be any better. But I think I can claim it is different. Perhaps not - I haven't read every thread.

The difference is because the advice given in many of the posts relate to your attitude, the way you see the world, your approach to others, and suggest you should 'be positive' , 'learn to accept', 'don't think too much,' for example. Fair enough, it's good stuff for anyone, let alone a DP/DR sufferer.

But let's be honest: if you went to a doctor with a broken leg and he looked you up and down, prodded you about a bit, then declared, 'ah, yes, what you need to do is to 'accept yourself' or 'let your past go,' or 'learn to face reality', or the worst: 'pull yourself together!' ..!

Well, would you accept that? Would that really help you? You've got a broken leg, you're in terrible pain, can hardly function, and the doctor is trying to tell you to look at life differently! Would you take him seriously for a second? What would happen to that doctor? Well, I hope such a doctor would be struck off and forbidden from practising again.

So why do we talk about DP/DR with less seriousness than a broken leg? It's just as serious, and it is just as real. The fact that the medical establishment has not put enough research in to finding a medical answer does not mean it is any less serious than a broken leg. Just because others can't see it or understand it or even imagine it, doesn't mean it is any less important than any other disease or injury . I believe it is more serious than most. I hope you can agree with this. There's nothing wrong with you 'as a person'. You don't have to 'change' who you are. You need to heal.

I'm not going to waste your time. I believe you, as a dp/dr sufferer deserve better than that. You have an awful affliction that one day will be properly recognised rather than pigeon-holed as 'anxiety' or some other vague term. Let's face it, you're battling mostly on your own with practically no useful help at all. The fact that you're reading this means you are trying to get yourself better from this thing. And you're not even a doctor (probably!) . You deserve anyone's respect and you deserve the best because of the difficulties you face. I really believe that.

I'm going to describe to you some 'cognitive exercises' - some 'brain training' if you like, which I believe will give you a fighting chance against this awful disease. Just like recovering from a broken limb will require physio-therapy, these exercises are equivalent to that.

The aim of doing these is to considerably speed up your recovery and help you to help yourself by beginning to understand what's going on and doing something about it.

They are not about changing your attitude and such like. They are real 'brain' exercises that you can work with in a solid concrete way. And they leave your personality, belief and way of life alone - that's your own business. Not mine.

They will not directly help you with your difficulties you have in your life other than DP/DR. Of course, by getting rid of DP/DR you will be able to function better and deal with other problems more easily.

Be gentle on yourself. If it was a broken leg you were recovering from, you wouldn't start running as soon as you put your feet on the ground. You know what I'm saying.

If you are going to try these series of 6 cognitive exercises then do them seriously. Half-hearted will get nothing - you will just waste your own time. I welcome feedback. Feedback is also useful for others to read. Please, don't bother feedback if you aren't interested in actually trying the exercises, but just want to air your opinion about.

[One final thing. The only condition. If you are doing marijuana or similar then DON'T while you're following these exercises. Seriously. Tell your mates you're going to 'de-tox your brain' for a while and put away the weed. If you can't give up the weed for a few weeks, then don't start the exercises yet. Wait for a better time.]

Good luck. (exercise 1 in comment below)
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Exercise 1: Coming out of the Background

Aim: this exercise is for those who find their visual world is disturbed. If you experience, 'surreal', '2D', 'unreal' 'behind a glass' type vision, this is an important exercise.

To think about first:

Normal healthy vision has two 'modes' of viewing the world. These can be described as 'background' and 'focus' modes. It allows you to focus on one thing while ignoring everything else around it. These modes channel information and meaning in very different ways to your brain.

Look at an object in front of you. Notice things about it. Describe in words (can be internally) what you notice,(eg 'it's green/brown/red, it is shiny, it is smooth/jagged...) Stay focused on this object alone while you do this. Extend your 'noticing' to the history of the object (who, where, why) and it's purpose - even imagine a future for it.

Notice that while you are focused on this object, all other objects are just 'background', 'unimportant', 'just a part of everything else'.

Now find another object and repeat this, again verbalising what you notice. Just like before, think about it's shape, colour, purpose, texture, and other visual attributes. Then consider its history (how old is it, what's happened, what will happen).

Notice that during this, the FIRST object is now way off in the background and no longer focused on, that it now has become 'background,' 'unimportant', 'just a part of everything else.'

Continue this until there are four objects in the room you have focused on in some detail. Compare them (are they similar/different, etc). Notice if they seem more 'real'/'3D'/'stand out more' than other objects in the room now.

How has this affected your sense of visual reality?

Do this exercise regularly, in same and different places at different times, for a week.

Why? (for those of you who are interested in the 'psychology' behind the exercise)

If you have done this exercise, you will have started to notice that things can be viewed as 'in the background' or as an object of 'focus.'

The 'focus' is where interest,meaning and contact with reality is. The typical background lacks interest, is not paid attention to, secondary, lacks purpose, not important, is not contacted with any direct sense.

You may notice that the descriptions of typical 'background' are similar to descriptions of general symptoms of DP/DR. In fact, DP/DR perception is operating as if EVERYTHING including any focused object belongs to the background mode. This needs to be addressed.

Your DP/DR visual experience is operating as if the focused things you look at are in the background. Your background/focus switch is not kicking in properly (there are emotional reasons for this you can look at in later exercise). So when you look at an object of focus, it appears just another part of the uninteresting, flat, not alive, background. You need to prompt your brain out of this and return it to its proper switching between modes.

This exercise will prompt your brain to start using the 'switch' again. Just like learning to walk again. This can be extremely tiring at first. It gets easier and easier. After a while, it becomes second nature and your brain will naturally start separating the two modes again. You are aiming to reach a point where you no longer see things as 'flat'.
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@jonobe , im still not sure wether i have dp/dr , but my vision, is exactly like, when u get high from weed, and your perspective of things changes, everything kind of looks like they have more depth to them, if u have smoked weed, u will understand,

also, i have become very sensitive to lights, and some colours, are more saturated to me (especially red). i get halos from some lights and starbursts from car headlights.

and, i kind of have a cross eyed type vision if i stare at things for a long time.

along with a whole lot of other bodily symptoms and of course anxiety.

do u think these are symptoms of DP/DR ?

ill try out your exercise anyway though. thanks

also, i forgot to mention, i overdosed on some very potent weed, and from then on, these symptoms have started showing.

please reply if u have any answers
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@jonobe , im still not sure wether i have dp/dr , but my vision, is exactly like, when u get high from weed, and your perspective of things changes, everything kind of looks like they have more depth to them, if u have smoked weed, u will understand,

also, i have become very sensitive to lights, and some colours, are more saturated to me (especially red). i get halos from some lights and starbursts from car headlights.

and, i kind of have a cross eyed type vision if i stare at things for a long time.

along with a whole lot of other bodily symptoms and of course anxiety.

do u think these are symptoms of DP/DR ?

ill try out your exercise anyway though. thanks

also, i forgot to mention, i overdosed on some very potent weed, and from then on, these symptoms have started showing.

please reply if u have any answers

some of your symptoms sound like dp/dr. The halos and starbursts MAY be from over staring - your eyes can literally dry up from staring and this creates the patterns.

It is also possibly unrelated, so you should see an optician to check for keratoconus or other problem. 'Anxiety' is also commonly known to create these effects: the above link from Dr B may be helpful (I haven't had a chance to see it yet).

Practise this exercise - there is a later exercise that you should find very useful and will help regarding your 'potent weed' starting point. But you need to be familiar with the earlier exercises first.

Thank you for your comment. I hope this helps.
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Exercise 2 Here and Now

To think about first:

[All our experience is in the 'here' and 'now'. When you remember your past, you do it in the present; when you plan the future, you do it in the present. Everything is here and now. Painful memories, hopeful dreams, thoughts of what you're going to say to someone later, images, anxieties, numbness, warm feelings: they all can be found only in the present moment.
In dp/dr, awareness of the here and now can be blurred and indistinct. This is for similar reasons to the 'background/focus' issue explained in the earlier exercise. You need to send messages to your brain to revitalise this. This cognitive exercise is aimed to do just that.]

For a few minutes at a time, start sentences (in your head) with 'Here and now I am aware of..'

for example, 'Here and now I am aware of the wallpaper, here and now I am aware of my feet aching, here and now I am aware of my thumb tapping on the arm of the chair, here and now...'

you will soon lose track of this and go off-track, 'here and now...oh, wasn't I going to send that...'

but just return to the sentence, 'here and now I just lost track of doing this, here and now I am aware I'm trying this exercise, here and now I'm aware the window has marks on it...'

You can do this exercise as often as you like. Other sentences to try:
'Here and now...'
'Now I'm aware that...'
'At the moment...'

While doing these brain exercises, you may feel a sense of calm, a decrease in anxiety or symptoms, or you may react by feeling more tense, have increased symptoms. Don't worry if you feel more uncomfortable. Let these pass and move on, 'here and now I feel I am aware of visual disturbance..., here and now I am aware of the shine on the table...oh, tomorrow, I'm going and now I'm aware I am thinking about and now I am aware of a cup...'

Don't delve too deep or start trying to question/answer your present experience: don't do 'Now I'm aware that the reason I am feeling bad is...' . Leave the reasoning out! Stay in the moment and stay near the surface of your experience during this exercise.

NB Physical exercise, going down the gym or just doing push-ups/sit-ups/isometrics in your living room is excellent for dp/dr and helps you to 'ground' yourself alongside these exercises.
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Exercise 3 The Reality Instinct

We have a 'sense' of when things are right. How else would we know things are not right? We know how things should be in our head, we now how we should be experiencing things and we know there is a disturbance with that.


Imagine you didn't have DP/DR for a few moments. That you were just 'normal'.

How would things look and feel to you? How would things be seen and felt differently? Try this when you are out - particularly if you are seeing things 'flat' or 'surreal' or behind glass. How should they look? Imagine, for brief periods of between 2 and 15 seconds, how things should be at that moment if you didn't have DP/DR. What would things look like if they didn't appear behind glass/weren't flat/weren't surreal? Be true to yourself - don't fool yourself - be authentic and ask yourself, 'what would this be like if I didn't have dp/dr?'

Don't try to stretch this exercise to the point of stress. If you lose focus on it, return to it later. Pushing it isn't necessary.

Limit this exercise to the time periods given. You may be tempted to do more, but go slow with this. Limit to not more than about 20 seconds maximum, and not more than about 5 times a day.

Try it. What have you got to lose?

Good luck.
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Exercise 4 Digging for Gold

This exercise is mainly aimed at those who found their dp/dr started through drug use, and, in particular, when it was brought on at a particular time and place. For example, over the course of an evening or a festival when doing some strong weed.

If this is you, your experience will be that during this drug session 'something happened' and you went from being fine and secure in yourself one moment and then became anxious, insecure, worthless, confused, lacking identity and a general feeling that 'things aren't right.'

The Exercise.

Be somewhere safe, either on your own or with someone you completely trust.

Cast your mind back to the very moment when things started to 'crash'. If there is a particular image that springs to mind, then hold that.

Don't try to force your memory - let the time come back naturally by just staying with it. Where were you? Notice details of where you are, what you can see, hear, smell.

There may have been other people around. Who were they? There may have been things said - particular words used. What was said? Were you frightened of something going 'wrong'? What was happening? What emotions are you feeling? Are you wanting to hide your emotions from others? Let the memories rise to awareness.
When the uncomfortable feelings arise - then let them - feel them - if you hit on them, you may experience a sharp intake of breath. Hitting this is a sign of you hitting an emotional vein (like gold-diggers seeking gold). As you go back to this place, fully immerse yourself, but let all memories naturally arise. Don't go, 'oh, there must have been this or that, or 'god, I was stupid to feel/think, so let's ignore that bit...' just let your memory flow up and let your true emotions, warts and all (the ones you didn't want to be feeling or show to anyone), well up.

What are the feelings? Are you feeling embarassed, trapped, hassled, stuck, humiliated, tricked, exposed, attacked, stupid, laughed at, 'found out', mocked, in jeapordy...or what? Do you want to hide these feelings, deny them, even to yourself? Did you have to hide them in order to survive?

You are safe now, so you can acknowledge them. Feel them now. Get them out.

In your vulnerable (on drugs) condition, you could not handle these feelings so shut them down and panicked. You can let them back up again now - to let yourself feel them. They are your feelings. You may need to cry or scream or punch something (a pillow is ideal) in anger. If you feel this, then do it.

By re-visiting this moment or moments, you are re-integrating your lost feelings. Every time you re-visit, a little bit more of you will return.

Make sure you have a few hours after to recover from this exercise - sometimes it can bring up a lot of emotions and you need to rest and recuperate.

By expressing negative emotions (safely) they can be discharged and your energy is unblocked. If they're not expressed, they can fester and prevent you from moving on. Imagine a hose pipe with dirty water in it. You need to let the dirty water come out before the clean water comes through.

Remember, physical exercise is very good for dp/dr. It's also a great way to work through emotions.
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Exercise 5 Self-Awareness, Symptom-Awareness.

Monitor your dp/dr symptoms using a scale from -10 to 10. The scale could be calibrated like this, but you may prefer your own, tailored to your own symptoms.

10 Feel strongly alive, real, integrated, connected, complete.

5 Feel very positive about self in the world, good sense of reality and one's place in it.

0 Neutral. Not thinking about sense of aliveness/reality/self. No particular concerns one way or other. No issue. Involved in other things.

-1 some 'buzzy' sense of unreality around the edges. Annoyance/some anxiety.

-5 world as real/unreal feel equally likely. Unpleasant, anguish, can't help but question reality. Feel sense of loss of orientation in the world.

-7 -> -8 eg, 'floating eyeballs', arms don't feel your own, don't recognise you as yourself in mirror...

-10 complete sense of unreality, no link with the world or place in it, extremely distressed.

Use this scale at any time. Feedbacking your sense of dp/dr will strongly help you to manage your feelings better, and let healing take place. However, don't try to 'force' a more positive score. This scale is for use as honest feedback for yourself, not for disappointing or chagrining yourself. Be as honest with your score as is possible (only you will know).

Getting to know yourself (self-awareness) and your intensity of symptoms is a very healthy thing to do.
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