I don’t know what I am looking for by posting. I wouldn’t dare self-diagnose myself, and I am not prepared to seek out a diagnosis from an expert. I know the implications of having this sort of diagnosis listed on my PMH. I am a medical professional working in a field that encounters a wide variety of illnesses, both mental, physical, and neurological... and I know how people with these disorders are treated. I suppose I am looking for similar reports.
My first memory of depersonalization happened in my grade school years as I was walking home from school. I felt as if my “conscious mind” was pulled through the back of my neck and separated from my body. I could see the back of my head. The only thing I could hear was ringing in my ears. Even though I felt disconnected from my body, I felt as if my body were tilting forward and about to fall. I was watching my body walk and trying desperately to get back inside to stop myself from falling. It was over in a matter of seconds.
I remember thinking that this was not the first time it happened, but I do not recall an earlier event.
I also have had numerous incidents related to reading. When I was a child, and up through graduation, I was an avid reader. I consumed piles of books. The librarians at my high school told me in my last week of 12th grade that if I had checked out four more books throughout my high school career, I would have broken the record. I used books as an escape from my unconventional upbringing. Back on track. I began noticing, the older I got in middle and high school, that after reading for hours at a time I felt as if my life/reality was the fictional story and the book I was reading was reality. I had this feeling long after I would set the book down. My world felt scripted and unreal. I felt as if I were a character. I felt disconnected from my own life. These sensations were brief (seconds to minutes long) but frequent and unsettling.
Now, I rarely experience those two scenarios, but they do occur occasionally. More often, I feel a different sensation that unsettles me. With no warning, I will feel an overwhelming mental rush, as if I an being granted an epiphany in which I am a tiny figurine under a painted-black dome. My figurine-self realizes suddenly that my small, snow-globe world is not the real world and looks up to notice a small scratch in the black paint. In that second, my figurine-self catches a glimpse of something that is hard to describe. I feel if I were to stretch my hand upward, I could grab the sky-painted cloth covering my cage. I feel as if I were briefly given an insight to the real world which exists far beyond my small mind’s comprehension, granted by the people whose coffee table my snow-globe sits upon. I mentally reel from the reality setting in that I have been looking at the ground for years and believing that what I see is all there is; in that moment I feel close to epiphany. But I also feel terrified at the impending thought of what is outside; I get scared and look back down to my snow-globe world. And the moment is gone. I remember what I felt but no longer can catch the sensation of feeling elevated or close to understanding the real world. This happens in a matter of seconds and ask in my head. Even more, re-reading this, I feel as if I have done an injustice to my experience due to my inability to put it in to words.
I didn’t know the root of these depersonalization and derealization episodes, or even what they were called. For a long time, I thought I was crazy. I recently started looking into it and while I had been educated in psychiatric disorders of which DP/DR manifested (as part of my professional training), I did not receive detailed understanding of the individual definitions. We simply received a one sentence definition of “feeling disconnected from one’s self or reality” and was often associated with drug use and/or schizophrenia. So I never thought any more of it, as I knew those weren’t my issues. I stumbled across this potential explanation after doing my own research. I have migraines but these sensations do not occur in tandem. I also have had CT and MRI testing for unrelated reasons and no structural abnormalities of the brain were noted. SoI feel as if it isn’t neuro-based, but rather emotional. I am a very anxious person, prone to feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. I feel as if everyone who is whispering is whispering about me, and every perceived slight is intentional. I immediately suspect that most people I know/encounter dislike me. But I also realize that I am not the main character in anyone else’s reality, and that these thoughts and feelings are irrational. There are far more examples of my anxiety, but I realize as I write that this post is extremely long-winded so I will end this section. A final note - there is sexual trauma from my early childhood affecting my sex life/thoughts to this day, as well as extreme religious oppression most easily summed up as an extreme conservative cult based in keeping members ignorant and in fear.
All this to say, has anyone experienced those sensations and been diagnosed with DP/DR? And has anyone had issues with DP/DR stem from anxiety, trauma, or repression? Or am I totally off the mark?