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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may cause yet more uproar, but I'd be interested in scholarly responses.

Now, first of all - disclaimer time. (Why didn't Rev add the Disclaimer button?). I do not have DR. I do not have DP. I rarely have panic attacks anymore. My anxiety is, er, managable. But this is my question, and I'm sure it has a very easy explaination.

I've always yearned for 'peace of mind'. Since my problems began, that's all, at least I thought, I've ever wanted. I don't really care about anything else. In 15 years I've never really felt completely 'relaxed', or rid of some little buzz of anxiety. Never. Ever. Not once, and not just because of the rigors of normal life stresses which pass me by most of the time. But recently, for certain reasons, I had a small window where I felt completely at ease. And yet, I felt empty. And when I 'realised' this, I went and did something boringly reckless, as usual.

Could this be because I've been smeared with misery and anxiety for so long that 'peace' has become an anathema to me ? Janine, when you've got time, - I need an explaination. :)
 
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I'm always happy to offer some psychological theory as you know, grin...but there isn't an easy answer to this.

I understand what you mean - the near 'phobia' about too much tranquility. And DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER - please everyone else, I am NOT saying anyone wants to have DP/DR because they're bored, lol

Martin is a very specific case here and he is NOT talking about intense DP experiences at this point.

VERY often for DP type folks, we share a common unspoken fear (with or with DP) of a "gulf" or "infinite emptiness" at our core. We may or may not ever put that idea into words, but possible indicators of it are constant DOING of things, obsessive needs to stay busy or engaged in something.

Other possible ways we run from that inner emptiness include living ENTIRELY in our own fantasy world (we still DO some things in the real world, but telling ourselves they "don't really mean anything" and putting all our real emotional energy into IDEAS and Fantasies of things we WILL DO one day, or memories or daydreams.)

At the ROOT of all that is often a deep fear that "I am really nothing" (and I do not mean that as a metaphor - but LITERALLY nothing, a No Thing, an entity lacking a true identity or core self)

Clearly, you can see where those kinds of fantasies/fears might turn into full-blown DP states as the stakes get higher (we grow up, face the world and freak out).

My point is that it is VERY common for us to fear that we are empty, and that "quasi awareness" (because we're afraid of looking right AT that idea out of terror) keeps us brimming constantly with an unacknowledged Annihilation Anxiety. We keep busy or keep THINKING at a racing clip to keep ourselves under the illusion that we are okay/alive/full/real. The fear is that if we stopped, we'd vanish. Or worse - we'd realize once and for all that we really never WERE to begin with.

Then add into that horror show some of the delusions and bizarre ideas some of us harbor...fantasies like The Matrix (this is not the REAL universe; it is only an illusion/lie/facade), or paranoid ideas that we are already dead or insane and only IMAGINING this existence, or The Fight Club type stuff - where we feel like the very fabric of human reality can be ripped out from under us like a table cloth being yanked out from a set table.

Same stuff, different format.

We are creating delusions and bizarre obsessions about scenarios that revolve around yet again: what if I do not really exist? or What if there is nothing (no soul, no Person, no real essence) at my core?

That is the stuff of which Annihilation Anxiety is bred. Those are also thoughts common to DP types. And thoughts that originate in the deep-seated fear that TOO much genuine peace would reveal a horrifying truth. So we keep moving. Keep thinking. And "THINK" ourselves into near madness....to keep silence at bay.

Peace, (no wait....that's not good! Instead, I say to you
"Stimulation!")
Janine
 

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What you wrote resonates with me. I too try to keep busy, try not to be idle and fear that if I don't have the next hour planned I will fall prey to dp. I just have a question about how all this relates to so called enlightenment and especially the literature I read with regards to non-duality. The books I read are from western authors and one point they labour upon is that the ego is an illusion. The true essence of you is the no-thing, the no-self, the void, the ego-less observer that sees all and is all....the pure consciousness or simply this unity that was never born and will never die as it has always been (and I believe this unity is the basis of all religions but the teachings have been distorted due to the minds inability to grasp this idea). When I feel the dp I really start believing that this must be some precursor to this unity and it scares the crap out of me. My shrink said that dp states can come from meditation but that is when you need a good teacher to get you past that state (he also said that I should never meditate and I've adhered to that advice). On one hand I'm trying to convince my self that I have a 'self' but on the other hand I dread that there really is no self and I'm only delaying the truth. I also have some literature on fear and enlightenment which is not widely written about. Any thoughts?
 

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I, of course, cannot offer a scholarly response to your question. But I would like to say that I felt an "ohhhh, that's me" feeling when I read:

"VERY often for DP type folks, we share a common unspoken fear (with or with DP) of a "gulf" or "infinite emptiness" at our core. We may or may not ever put that idea into words, but possible indicators of it are constant DOING of things, obsessive needs to stay busy or engaged in something."

I hate that infinite emptiness thing. I don't react with reckless abandon to it, but instead dig deeper into myself. This, I imagine, is the exact opposite of what I should be doing. Of course the other thing I try to do to "fix" it is take care of and "fix" others.

So, thanks for posting the question, which ended with a reply that I need to reflect on for myself. One just never knows when they will find a little something on here that helps them move just one step closer to knowing themselves a bit better.
 

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I can relate well to that fear as well, and I have verbalised it many a time. I can just sit and watch myself staring with abject horror at a core that is completely empty - like an all consuming black hole.

The solution? To accept that possible emptiness and stare into it without fear?
 

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Cutting close to the bone now. This is completely me. I may not respond to this anxiety by always being physically active, but I do try to stay mentally active. I'll try to set up an idea or goal or fantasy that helps me hold off the feelings of nothingness a little longer.

For instance I'll use a TV show, or a future event and focus on how I want to watch something or engage in an activity in the future as a means to making myself feel real. Its like I have to set small goals for my life (these goals may seem insignificant to others) or else my life has no meaning or purpose at all. I constantly need to have a sense of control and be able to control my emotions about a given situtaion or place, or else my mind will feel lost and I'll ruminate on the lack of meaning I perceive, and then my own lack of a self.

I have to reinvent my world through different thought patterns and always be ahead of the curve, or it seems as if things around me will start to fade away.
 

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All this analyzing always makes me ponder whether I really even have DP/DR.

Negative, and maybe false but that's how I feel. :(
 

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In the absence of an undercurrent of anxiety (which is extremely rare for me), simply being is always just not enough.

I feel like I need to get up and go do something, but I can never think of what.

Even if I find an activity to absorb myself in, it's just a flat, robotic sort of experience that is never any remedy.

Things like reading and what-not always feel more fulfilling if it's to take my mind off anxiety.

But if I'm doing something just to be doing it, it feels almost pointless.

Maybe it's the emptiness you're talking about.

e
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for your replies everyone, Janine especially. And Enigma - you posted exactly what I feel. Exactly.

simply being is always just not enough. I feel like I need to get up and go do something, but I can never think of what.
I'm not sure if I'm completely sold on this Annihilation Anxiety idea, but I think there is truth in it somewhere. Speaking for myself, I'm not scared of Annihilation - in fact, I'd welcome it. I'm also comfortable (at least I think I am) with the knowledge that I'm just a chemical machine, an animal ( :wink: ) with awareness, in a universe that is completly indifferent to me.

Hmmm. Strange. Maybe that's the problem. Janine - you might have said this in your reply, but I probably misunderstood. Awareness of the void...as you put it. Intruiging. :?

Martin is a very specific case here
Ha, ain't that the truth. :( (Disclaimer, etc)
 
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Remember, Martin, when I use a term like "Annihilation Anxiety" (aside from the fact that it amuses me to know it annoys you to no end, lol), I am not talking about something as literal as you imply above. It's not that you are walking around with a FEAR of being annihilated, as if you had a massive Death Phobia or something. The concept of annhilation (even the word itself) holds a key to the more sinister/dreaded meaning it has deep in the psyche.

Death is one thing, but hey, we're all going "there" one day. Since we are ALL dying, there is at least a shred of comfort in the community of it all....we're not being singled out to die, etc.

An annihilation anxiety is a fear of TOTAL vanishing, or even worse, a "nothingness" so profound that it almost seems to have the strength to destroy the fact that we ever DID exist....it's the erasing of an illustrated character, the dissipation of a hologram, the implosion of a Black Hole, the fading of an after-image....the fear is of vanishing and KNOWING we are vanishing into an oblivion of Infinity. That's the core of the "emptiness" that is so dreaded...as if we would spiral through black space for eternity, annihilated but somehow "Aware" of our non-existence. Insult to injury, we are nothing AND finally forced to acknowledge fully that fact.

Existing without a central ego.
Breathing and flexing without a soul.
Being. But finding out there was no ME in the first place.
sound famililarly scary?

And when we fear Peace or calm, when we keep our mind busy 24/7 even with obsessive self-monitoring, it is as if we are POSTPONING what we believe is an inevitable revelation - we constantly feel/sense that "it's coming" - that awareness of our true empty core...and we push it back, one more day, one more hour.....terrified to confront it because we know it will drive us mad.
 

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It is interesting, even when "cured" of DP/DR symptoms, we still can be totally obsessed with trying to "frame" the experience. Even though the DP is in our history, its still alive and we feel the need to Name it, Define it, Understand it, put it in a box and Label it. Perhaps that way we can keep it at bay, we can control it, we can keep it from ever coming back.

I applaud your term and definition Annihilation Anxiety Janine. I think its good to begin building a general concept that's running underneath the entire experience of DP.

What's my concept, my "frame"? (Last acute DP state 7 years ago)

DP for me is the absolute elimination of concepts, UP DOWN, IN OUT, VOID MANIFEST, SPACE MATTER. Nothing makes sense. But somehow I can use words in my mind to define my emotion, I can say I'm FRIGHTENED, I'VE LOST MY MIND and NOTHING MAKES SENSE.

This is fundamental to me. Experiencing the foundation of all meaning as being completely RELATIVE. Knowing this deep underneath my skin, not as an intellectual concept. There's a big whole of NOTHING in the middle ? everywhere I am because that's what actually is there when everything drops away.

So everything drops away suddenly, without my even asking it to, and nothing of my own humanity is left, except intense FEAR. I don't understand what my own hands are or what their purpose is. I don't understand what a chair is, what time is, and GOD what the hell is sleep and why do I have to do that every night. Every night, day WHAT IS NIGHT DAY. Downdowndown I go, concepts fragmenting apart at excellerating speed... then its "over," as suddenly as it began.

My mommy and daddy never said anything about this. My priest, employer, lover, newspaper and television never said ANYTHING about this. Nobody said anything about THIS.

So I became the lucky discoverer of THE BIG LIE.

And the fact is that I will never be able to erase this experience. I will go to my grave with it.

SO HOW DID I REBUILD MYSELF?

Well, certainly something is happening out there, and certainly my hands move and do things on their own, without my conscious control. Is perhaps my mind only a tiny fragment of my entire being? So all concepts are relative to each other, I know this. So there's no good/bad, just harmful/beneficial? Okay, what effect does this have, etc...

Thinking is my natural state, but learning just how to be, is huge and unfamiliar. I had to believe this is a benevolent universe. That harm more often than not comes from misguided and inner-thwarted humanity, and this is just the state of evolution at the moment. This is HOW IT IS.

I gradually came to see more and more of the entire world and all of its occupants as an unbroken whole. The relative "good" and the relative "bad" all as one whole Holy Unity. Sure I slip out of this mode all the time, but I keep trying to come back to it. It helps me to understand my mistakes and how I hurt people, and how and why other people hurt me. This whole universe is ONE PERSON. Nothing is separate, only our MINDS tell us we are.

The most difficult DP-related thought that keeps coming up occasionally even now ? what if THIS UNIVERSE WASN'T? What if there was no UNIVERSE? And I feel it in my gut, I feel everything vanish. NOTHING. Terrible. What's behind the THOUGHT? What's behind the UNIVERSE? Who is THAT behind the CURTAIN?

I don't know. But it sure keeps me wondering.
 
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Oh, I a woman POSSESSED by obsession, lol...but at least now I'm not suffering the symptoms and I've managed to turn my obsession into a career of sorts (writing and studying to be an analyst)

Also, just to clarify: Annihilation Anxiety is not MY term (wish it was, lol). It's a conceptual term used very very frequently in psychoanalytic writing.
 

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Bright,

I know exactly what you mean in your long and beautiful post.

Personally, I think what you wrote about so well is just another way of looking at the world. I think the fact that it is accompanied by fear means that it is part of a panic attack.

The viewpoint itself can be consciously controlled. I can visit it for a flash when I am in therapy, for some reason. I think it helps put perspective on what I feel and think about my life and everything else.

The fear within it is unnecessary, though, and the experience itself can sometimes be just one of awe and wonder, like looking up at the stars at night.

I think if we open ourselves to "what is" in the universe as we look around, that "what is," will communicate peace to us. If we desire peace, we will obtain peace.

In the end, I think our fear is just that -- our fear. We close off "what is" and turn to our fear because we are afraid to let go. We are afraid there is nothing there to catch us.

Ah, but there is. Even if you don't believe in God, "what is" will catch you. Try it!
 

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One thing I forgot to say -- the idea that depersonalization (or I'd prefer to say what you specifically described in your post) can also be looked at as an insight into the nature of knowledge itself, and human perception, in particular.

You see and understand in your body and soul that language is a convention, and that human beings construct a so-called "solid" reality even though they know that what they see as a chair is not "solid" at all, but is zagabizillions of atoms writhing to their own music. It always gives me the sense that human perception, which sometimes exalts itself, is so limited. We have yet no clue as to what "matter" is. We know that relativity is true, even if we cannot understand the equations, because we know what the difference between looking at a pencil held perpendicularly to our eyes right at eye level and looking at a pencil in the same location that is parallel to our forehead.

The wonder and shock of it all, particularly if it is a NEW experience, may well be frightening, but I think the larger sense, once the source of the fear is addressed, DP itself can be just another state that we may choose to visit for the pleasure of it and the deep appreciation it gives us for all the beauty in the universe. It's also an opportunity to learn to do what humans do naturally -- something we have stifled in us or something others have tried to kill in us -- to trust, even if you don't know who or what you are trusting.

I hope this makes some sense (to somebody).
 

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Sojourner ?

It sounds like your recovery is coming along really well.

"The wonder and shock of it all, particularly if it is a NEW experience, may well be frightening, but I think the larger sense, once the source of the fear is addressed, DP itself can be just another state that we may choose to visit for the pleasure of it and the deep appreciation it gives us for all the beauty in the universe."

Very wise words ? this has been the course of recovery for me.

Though I must differentiate between thinking in a DP kind of way (where you say "choose to visit..." above) and being subjected to a DP state, which can be mild or severe, can be brief or long in duration.

A little over a month ago, before I found this site ? I was in a Bikram Yoga class, that's Yoga practiced in a heated 105 + degree room, and at the end of class, laying on the floor, completely relaxing and my eyes closed, I DPd for a few seconds. The bottom completely dropped out of everything, all concepts, and then I solidified again.

It brought everything back, and within days I find myself typing "depersonalization" in google.

And voila!
 

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Sojourner just described exactly my universe, anyway...

I have more good than bad experiences of that kind of insight, but I worry about the fact that when I deliberately induce them I become more likely to have them happen to me as well. And get more weird visuals in between.

And there is something so amazing about the real world and the feeling of believing in it. Better than any high.

I'm still trying to work out if the two are compatible or if I have to really choose at some point to put away all the dp/r-y experiences if I want to feel human. Any thoughts anyone?
 

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What bright23 wrote was extremely descriptive and accurate, and it chilled me to the bone. You guys are so good at describing these feelings and states. I might have to give this thread a miss for a while (but I will most likely not). Bright you should stay away from the meditation as I do, it may not be for you. Also you said that you are Dp free and have been for 7 years, but above you mention that the DP is back?
 
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