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Not recognizing your own image in the mirror is one of the most classic signs of true depersonalization and one where ever time I read it as symptom in someone it breaks my heart. I know this feeling well and I hope to explain the reason.

BTW, nothing tells you more about what has happened to you this observation. Nothing.

Okay. so you're depersonalized. Maybe for months, for some years. You know it and it sucks. You want it to just go away so you can feel normal again. Then one day when you're doing your hair or shaving or maybe just walking past a mirror suddenly you're face to face with someone you don't know and don't recognize. Why? Because you don't associate yourself with that image. So what happens? You either panic and remove that scary weird person in the mirror or you stay with the image and wonder just who the fuck is that guy? (or gal). If you're asking who are you that's an excellent question. The fact that you see her/him is actually a very good sign. It implies that there is something within you trying to tell you to wake up and be aware. Its one of the telling signs that DP may not have the hold on you it thinks it does. I know its scary but that stranger's image IS actually YOU and it's the reason your perception has changed. You lost contact with that person. You do not have a personal relationship with your self so much so you don't even recognize you anymore. You have disassociated from it. If you understand nothing about DP, then understand your perceptional changes are not the cause of DP, it is the consequences of not knowing and feeling just who you actually are. And when you see that stranger in the mirror, it is the beginning to your answer of being cured....

The best illustration of this concept I can think of is the beautiful and old woman optical illusion (I've attached it here). I don't mean to be condescending but it's a beautiful analogy. Ya know the one that's used to describe perspectives in art or how the brain perceives images? If you open this up its likely that your brain will perceive one or the other. Maybe you better identify with the beautiful woman (And why not, whose wants to be the old bag? LOL) which is the point. The old woman isn't very attractive, she's old and doesn't like herself, maybe some aspect of her body causes her shame. Maybe she doesn't feel pretty or lovable. Or maybe she remembers how hard her life was, maybe she was abused terribly or felt abandoned and WORSE maybe feeling that way is too much for her to bear. So how does she get rid of feeling that way? I mean there's no escape from being you right? so how do you do it? Escape when there is no escape?

You remove the old woman from your awareness entirely.

But in order to do that there are consequences. And the consequence of scarficing a part of yourself is to feel removed, divorced and disconnected. In a very real sense this is what depersonalization is and the heart of what dissociation does to help you cope. You use it to get away from psychic and emotional pain. A depersonalized person is only able to see one side of the image of themselves but that image isn't the whole story. DP doesn't allow you to feel or know all the hurtful parts of yourself.

This is why it's a coping mechanism or a solution. Again, it's a bad one.

So which are you? The hot chick or the old bat? lol Well here is where our analogy ends. The truth is they are both but they are integrated. Meaning they don't have full knowledge or awareness of one another. And the person who is not depersonalized is intergrated. Those of us who have pushed those hurt parts of ourselves out of awareness so we can cope have not. And getting back in touch with the old bat is how we will regain our normal perceptions.

But that's not going to be easy because the old woman wants to remain lost to you.

Why do you do it all ? Well this is why I am a big advocate for understanding your own development. It's very likely that your ability to attach as a child was interrupted and became disorganized. This is not the way its suppose to happen but it has. And now as an adult you don't realize that learned to disconnect as a means of solving problem or conflicts within yourself.

The better you focus on DP as a copying skill instead of the possibility that you are crazy, demented, schizophrenic or psychotic the closer you will be to reuniting those images of yourself. And when you reunite you will not be depersonalized any more.

Hair Arm Eye Jaw Gesture

Mar 17 2014 01:56 AM

This is where Im at in my dp symptoms. I cant look in the mirror because i will automatically begin to have a panic attack. I used to ALWAYS look in the mirror and fix my hair and do my makeup, but now that is a farrr distant privilege im awaiting to have again.

As I walk around my house I feel dpersonalized, I constantly try to remind myself who I am or who I was. I question myself why have I forgotten my identity and my role in life. This sucks its a constant state of hell. Leaves you feeling completely hopeless and full of despair.

On the other hand, I wonder if facing myself in the mirror head on and allowing myself to feel this panic and disconnection from myself would help to suppress it or possibly make it go away?

Hair Nose Hand Arm Eye

Mar 17 2014 08:28 AM

My friend. I know what you are going through, I do. It is hell but all people with DP are very lost on some level. This is what you are. Lost not crazy. First, I hope that you are getting some professional support. If you aren't then this should be your first order of business. This is absolutely crucial to help get your anxiety or depression under control so that you and your therapist can begin to do the work necesary to help you get in touch with that stranger. I know this is frightening. My suggestion isn't to try and force yourself to meet the stranger (she'll show up when she wants to) but ask yourself how you feel or felt when you do see her. If you try to stay with the panic, it might subside but it's more likely that it may confuse you more because there is a part of you that probably doesn't want to be her. You're conflicted on a mass scale. So a more productive way of thinking is when you see her, what's your opinion of her? How do you feel (I mean outside of panic) about her? These are better questions. Chances are you don't like her much. For me that was an understatement. Like I mentioned above you ousted her for a reason. One of the things that helped me was the know that how you feel isn't your fault. And it's true, this isn't your fault! Getting yourself back however is your responsibility and this road may be difficult. Don't let that discourage you. Almost all things worth having are hard. This solution happens when cirumstances in your life made them so and finding out what those circumstances are is the first step to feeling like you're you. Start with professional support Lola. You won't find all the answers on this forum.
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