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time and memory existential thoughts

3559 Views 17 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Al_pk
Hi everyone

So I am about 2 months down the line in my wonderful journey with dpdr - most of the symptoms have cleared up, I feel in my body most of the time, things look real enough which is progress - but at the moment I am really struggling with the Existential thoughts.

I have really struggled with whole Solipsism thing and stuff to do with the universe - how big it is, how it could end at any second, you know all of that fun stuff. I am pretty much over that now, it still gets to me sometimes but I can deal. I've also dealt with being trapped in first person view, not being able to understand the "self", not recognising myself in the mirror. The focus of my thoughts now is about how the brain works and understanding time and memory. I just can't get over the fact that this moment is all we really have and after each second it just becomes an intangible memory in our heads - we can never be sure if anything actually happened. It is really hard as I will look back at how far I have come from when this shit all began, but then question if any of it has even happened at all. Call me crazy but this whole experience has made me think that my existence is some kind of experiment, I've just been created and put on this world that doesn't make any sense at all and whatever has put me here wants to see how long I can take it until I go insane. Seriously, though - it is really hard because whenever I actually enjoy doing something, I'll come back home and immediately start questioning if it happened at all - and the fact I will never get that moment back. It's like I exist with all of these happy memories but they're almost there as a form of torture - I can never fully appreciate them as I will never be sure they are real. For example I'll be having a conversation with someone and they'll ask how my day was, and as I'm recalling what I've done my mind is constantly doubting everything I am saying. So much of our day to day experience is built up from recalling memories - the physical world would make no sense without them. I'll wake up in the morning and hear a car outside - but the only reason I know that is from memory... I know it seems like common sense but there's something about it that scares me? Has anyone else dealt with and got over stuff like this? I guess if I've gotten over the whole Solipsism syndrome I can get over this - but then again, did that actually happen? Again - the problem with it is that all the things I use to reassure myself rely on memory, things I have read, conversations I have had etc.

I used to love my life so much and love talking with my family, boyfriend and friends about memories we share - but now everything just seems ruined. I can't just enjoy the moment without thinking about how it's going to be over soon. The concept of time freaks me out so much. I feel so sad and broken and I just want to be able to embrace my life and not doubt everything constantly. I want to be able to wake up tomorrow morning and just think "Yesterday happened, lets get on with today" instead of analysing if me and all of my memories have just popped into existence. I feel like I'm far too self aware of my thoughts - I'm worried that one day my brain is just going to collapse in on itself - brains aren't supposed to turn inwards and start interrogating themselves, right?

To help with the thoughts about Solipsism and stuff, you could say I used my own kind of Exposure Response Prevention therapy, I just kind of accepted that the thoughts were unfalsifiable by nature - I gradually accepted them and even told myself they were true, and as my brain stopped over-reacting to them my logical brain was able to kind of take over again. I'm pretty sure I've always had some from of Pure O OCD, ever since I was little I've had periods of obsessive thinking about various themes; Existential is definitely the worst one. It's just so exhausting battling my mind all the time, there are so many contradictory thoughts in my head every second of the day. It honestly just feels like every little thing I thought I knew about life is slowly being unravelled - the nature of the self, the nature of time, space and everything. I feel like I'm discovering some kind of profound truth about everything - but it's so damn depressing instead of enlightening. It's so sad because these topics used to really interest and inspire me, but now they're just terrifying and make me want to never leave my bed. Although I still do - every day.

Any help would be appreciated.

Alice xx
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Hello Indigo-alice,

I am sufferring exactly the same with time, memory, the universe and death.

Time is my biggest problem, and I find it hard to describe exactly how freaked out by it all I am. I have come to exactly the same realisations with it as you have... so much of life just exists in memory. Every action we take is just a fleeting moment that will soon turn to nothingness. Honestly this is all on my mind all day, and I have the same thing going through my head about this being a solitary moment that will be over soon, whenever I'm doing anything.

I had a full on mental breakdown over this, it has not left my mind for a waking moment in 1.5 years. I felt trapped by time. I take medications which have helped me get rid of some of the worst symptoms.

The biggest problem I've found is that these realisations are correct - i had solipsism before and at least with that you can say it's bullshit, but not this. What you're freaked out about is all real, it's the true nature of the cosmos. It is the nature of time

I was so bad with it all my mind became frozen solid with terror and it was completely outside of my control. Over time i have managed to regain control. But I haven't yet regained my emotions to allow me to enjoy things.

It does get better but the timescale depends on how bad you are. I focused on getting as much rest as possible.

You've got to try and live your life as normally as possible whilst allowing your brain the rest to get rid of the anxiety

I wish i could go back to before this all began but I'm much better than when this first hit
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Alice i suffer exactly the same and I know full well how much mental torture it is. I completely understand when you say it is hard to say 'used to'. I find it hard to talk about what i was just doing, what i was doing yesterday etc. I have a very real fear and phobia of the past. Of course, i know what I was doing just now or yesterday, but the knowledge is uncomfortable. I can no longer just casually reminisce on my memories and knowledge. It's like it all carries danger and it is dangerous to access it.

I don't even know who i am anymore because who i am is just a collection of behaviours and memories spread out over time that now exist only in the annals of memory.

I have known of two others aside from me who have suffered with the time thing. You are the fourth.

It is the worst thing imaginable to overcome. it is life, you can't exactly ignore it.

It all started for me when I had DP one day and I was looking at my phone in my garden. When i put it away my brain thought - where did that go? From there, my brain completely melted and absolutely everything became associated with this fear of time and memory. Around the same time i went out on a night out, and when i came home i casually started looking back on the night out but my brain was like "ugh" - i tried to sleep it off but it got so much worse in the coming weeks. How did it happen for you?

I will say all is not lost. The thoughts are torturous but the mechanics of your mind are still working. Your old brain is still in there, as is mine.

It's been an incredibly long and drawn out process for me, 1.5 years on and I have a job interview this week so I am just starting looking for work. That's 1.5 years of life and experience i have completely lost to this.

They say no pain can last forever and I am now just waiting for my noggin to reorganise itself into something comfortable which it has been doing. I'd say I'm about 60% recovered now which is uncomfortable with bucket loads of pure o still but it is enough to function.

I'm not sure it's a door that can ever be fully closed. For me, it has been a huge thing and I couldn't imagine being happy again. but, if you are willing to fight you can reclaim your life.

Without time and memory, life couldn't exist. That, and telling myself time doesn't exist sometimes helps

And Ps. Your written explaination was excellent. I am often at a loss of how to describe it but you hit the nail on the head.
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If you feel you are getting worse and it becomes unbearable I am always here Alice. It's a horrible thing but I've been through the worst of it, and I'd be happy to give you help and support in any way possible as I know what it's like
With solipsism and the cosmic existentialism stuff, it was like my brain was too weak to handle the concepts when I was in DP, but as i got stronger i could handle them better again and they became curiosities.

For some reason, time has been altogether worse and i'm a little way off feeling good about life, but my approach was much like yours in that I've been forcing myself to engage with my day as a kind of exposure therepy. That means it's now at a 4-5 on the ricter scale, rather than a 12.

You are absolutely right about appreciating our place in life and what a mind boggling improbability it is. And yes, it's about re growing a tolerance for uncertainty but for me, i have to be realistic and think about my recovery in years rather than weeks or months.

We're certainly not alone. Despite how all consuming it feels, there are people out there who have taken this on and won. It is a rare theme though, i've been skulking about on this forum for about a year, i see solipsism 2-3 times per week but you're the first to mention the time thing in all that time. Thanks for reaching out.

Thank you, yes i could do with less time to myself nowadays. It does somewhat help with the thoughts but not 100%. Good luck back at uni. I still have a degree to finish off when I'm well enough too!
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Ah thank you for the vid, that's excellent
Emptyflask how long did you suffer? And how did you get out?
I wanted to ask how you are doing. I'm glad you've been feeling a bit better about it. It's a really pernicious theme to get caught up in. Time and memory are probably two of the most fundamental cornerstones of human life and you do not realise this until you have anxiety over it.

It took me 1.5 years to reintegrate into normal routines after suffering this. Relaxation still eludes me.

It is the normal human experience but it's also meant to be subconcious and fluid. No amount of logic has made my mind happy
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All you can really do with this is experience enough normality to show your body and mind that you are not afraid. At my worst point I had panic attacks and very real physical doom barriers that stopped me in my tracks. These have gone now and so I've definately had some success. It's more mental ocd for me now.

Nowadays I just feel like I'm always looking over my shoulder and a bit freaked out that I was there now I'm here.

I hate how quick the brain is to do negative things with our lives. Like it never gives you permanent euphoria disorder. No. It just wants to show you the problem with time. I loved my life before all this. Now my only aim in life is to feel at true peace in time and space.

It's good that you can see some positives, for me it's all at such a level of discomfort that I do find it hard to see anything of value.

Yes I have spoken to others who have suffered with this and the general concensus is that time will be your friend in the end

Good luck with uni Alice
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