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I had what I experienced as dp for about 5 months before I came out of it. This happened to me when I was 18 years old. I'm now 25 years old and haven't had it happen again. For years I've wanted to go back and tell others what helped me, so I'm finally getting around to it. I hope that my story can help someone else.

At 18 I had a horrible social phobia, generalized anxiety, major depressions, etc. that I had been dealing with for years. But the dp started the night I went away to college to spend my first night in my new dorm. I had a five hour panic attack...and that's when it all began. When I woke up I didn't feel like me anymore. It was like everything had been replaced. Nothing mattered anymore. The world felt one demensional. I was so scared. I stopped being able to eat or sleep hardly at all. When I did try to eat I would throw up from anxiety. I went down to 93 lbs, a 10 lbs loss in that first week. I felt like I had the flu, I really wanted there to be some obvious reason this was happening that was easily explainable and treatable. So I went to the school doctor where I was perscribed Xanax....only I was too afraid to take it without someone to hold my hand. At this point in my mnetal health experience I didn't even know what Xanax was...I thought I could end up losing it even more. Although in hindsight I think taking it would have done a lot of good. I also went to the school therapists, cried my eyes out, only to have them ask me if maybe some of my new friends might be feeling the same way. It felt hopeless...I hid what was happening to me for three weeks before I decided to drop out of school so I could go home to feel safe again.

When I got home my parents were pissed. My parents thought I was going through normal young person fears....I tried my best to explain to them that I no longer had any normal feelings, that looking at my house, friends, dog, etc caused no normal feeling of attachment or memory. They felt like I was just trying to get attention by having an eating disorder, when really the throwing up was just a symptom. I felt like an imposter in my own life and like I was clinging to my last bit of sanity with all the strength I had.

For the first couple months I tried to maintain a normal life by going to community college and still seeing my friends. I even got my first job. But I just gave up after awhile. I didn't want my friends to see me the way I had become, and during class and work I felt like I was on a distant planet. For awhile it seemed like nobody knew anything was wrong as long as I didn't say anything about it...but then I did start talking, and that's when I realized nobody seemed to understand me.

Many people gave me advice, but none of it seemed to come from an understanding of where I was. I dropped out of classes, started sleeping next to my mom every night (or more like staying awake all night staring at the cieling), and sat in my mom's car all day while she was at work (so she could take me to the hospital if anything happened). I was able to eat just enough to maintain my 93 lbs. I was always on the verge of colapse. I also started accumulating more anxiety disorders: OCD, claustrophobia, hypochondria, and so many more problems. My thinking also became disordered...I was really scared of the concept of time...I could literally feel every second pushing me forward. My thoughts became really existential. My memory was so bad that I started keeping a log book to keep track of if I had eaten, gone to the bathroom, or drank any water. I weighed myself multiple times a day out of fear I could have lot more weight. I started resigning myself to the idea that I could die. The only thing that comforted me was religion.

Change came when I went to my general doctor...she decided I was bipolar. She perscribed me Zyprexa. At this point I had decided that things probably couldn't get any worse so I took it. I immediately started sleeping and being able to eat a little bit more. But it didn't get rid of all the strange feelings I was having. She also gave me the number of a therapist.

When I saw the therapist, she decided that I should seek emergency mental care...however my doctor talked her out of it. Instead she found me a psychiatrist. He said I was just having a mental breakdown, but he gave me strong doses of Wellburtrin and Lorazapam. He wanted to avoid SRI's because they can be related to making people more manic. Eventually it became clear that I wasn't getting any better. He told my family and I to start seeking a second opinion, however as a last effort he decided to chance the SRI Zoloft. It didn't take long before the zoloft started helping. I started to feel more hopeful. Then, after a bit over a week of taking it, I had a gran mal seziure.

My seizure lasted only about 45 seconds. According to my parents I was unconcious, my eyes rolled back, I turned blue. But all it felt like to me was that I had blinked. My parents were terrified...now they finally believed me that something was wrong. They called an ambulance. I was really scared once my parents told me what had happened and my heart was beating out of my chest. I didn't even know what a seizure was exactly. But although I was scared, things felt different. I wasn't claustrophobic when they put me in the ambulance. I was present in the moment. The oxygen helped and the saline drip put spit in my mouth the first time in months.

The verdict was that the seizure had been caused by the Wellbutrin which is known to cause seizures in anorexic women. So I was immidiately taken off that. They determined that I didn't have epilepsy. And after about four hours they sent me home. But I knew I was better. I recognized the drive home. I felt calm. When we got back I ate just fine. Then in the morning I called my friends to celebrate. And the day after that I went shopping with my friends...and did that everyday for the next couple weeks.

I can't begin to describe how good I felt. I could enjoy food, I could sleep, and everything little thing with my friends felt like a miracle to be doing again. I recognized everything in my life. I had memories.

The seizure had been like a reboot for my brain. I had been so worried that my memories and normal functionioning was gone....but it was all still there after the seizure.

I stayed on the Zoloft, but they eventually took me off the Zyprexa. I gained all my weight and more back. I've been on SRI's ever since, which is a small price to pay for being happy and healthy. Also I've never had another seizure. My current SRI is 40 mg of Celexa (citalopram) and I have Lorazapam if I ever have a panic attack, which is almost never and deffinately never like I had my first night of college. I also got a new psychiatrist that does cognitive therapy with me. I've been with him for about five years. Because my symptoms are under control I am able to utilize the techniques he teaches me.

The only time I ever even feel a hint of the feelings I felt before is if I'm having a bit of a panic attack... but now I know how to control them. He took me awhile to get over my fear of it coming back...I still have dreams where it's all happening to me again...but when I wake up I know that I'm okay.

And to be honest, I'm better off for having made it through all of that. My relationship with my parents got so much better once they could understand a little bit what had happened to me. I'm so much more happy with my life than I was before all of this happened, and I appreciate all the little things. I also got my BA in psychology and then left to travel the world...something that I never thought I'd ever get to do when I was going through all of that.

So my advice? Be brave when it comes to shock therapy...It's much more safe than what happened to me because they can control it and not let it happen to your entire brain. Also SRI's can make a world of difference. Hang in there because things can change fast. There is hope!
 

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Wow, this sounds so much like whats going on with me. I stopped being able to eat because I would constantly vomit and dry heave from anxiety. I've lost so much weight and on the rare occasion I do have an appetite, I forget to eat. I forget to drink water and go to the bathroom.

I'm so afraid of everything now and afraid to be alone that my fiance has to drop me off at my parents on his way to work every morning. For some reason this is the only place that looks most normal. My apartment and my fiance look so unfamiliar sometimes I just cry for hours over it. Its worse when we drive somewhere.. we live in a really small town so I know every street and everything is really close but when we go anywhere I cry because I feel lost.. nothing looks right.

So weird how similar our stories are. I've been on zoloft about 2 weeks. I hope it helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alnadine20: Having the seizure resembles shock therapy in that shock therapy causes a seizure. This type of treatment is used to treat difficult mental illnesses, often depression among some others, that are not responding to other forms of treatment. For me the experience was like rebooting a computer...my head just felt okay afterwards. I can't say that it works for everyone, but it did feel nothing short of miraculous.

Livingdeadgirl: I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through. I remember that feeling so well. It was so scary and sometimes it felt hopeless. But strangely enough, your brain can snap out of it and go back to normal... I wouldn't have been able to believe it if it hadn't happened to me. I really hope the zoloft helps and that you are able to find the right dosage. I know it's super hard, but hang in there as best you can. I also found that taking lorazepam made the experience more manageable when I could barely stand it. Remember though, if you're like me, it's not from a lack of will power or effort that you've haven't gotten better...it's a matter of finding a treatment that fixes whatever chemical imbalance is occurring. And for me, even though what was happening didn't feel like depression, my brain responded to the stronger treatments for anxiety and depression.
 

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I do have lorazepam for when I feel really bad, but for a while I was convinced it would "kill me faster" because I was convinced I was dying every day. It's like I developed so many fears and phobias overnight. Those have gotten a bit better. I even had a really good night last night where I only felt 30% dr/dp and I was able to eat and laugh and watch tv with my daughter. So far I can't tell how today is going to go.
I'm really glad to hear about your recovery though. It gives me some kind of hope. It is really weird though because you're right, this doesn't feel like depression to me either.
 

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The literature on electroconvulsive therapy for depersonalization is not consistent. Some papers say it does not work, while it worked in others.

My impression is that electroconvulsive therapy might alleviate depersonalization in some cases, but the chances are fairly low. The odds seem to be higher if there is significant comorbidity, especially depression.

In some cases electroconvulsive therapy might make depersonalization worse. It's unknown why.
 
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I'm not sure it is helpful to equate a seizure with ECT. I had hundreds of focal temporal lobe seizures that didn't do squat for my mental health. ECT does induce grand mal seizures in a controlled and targeted manner. ECT has evolved significantly since it was first used as a treatment for mental illness.

Anasthesia has also improved significantly.

ECT is the most effective treatment for major depression, but don't expect the pharmaceutical companies to advertise that fact. When utilized properly, ECT has very low to zero side effects. Minor short term memory loss is frequently noticed, but the memories are

usually quickly restored. If one loses 15% of body weight without dieting, it is considered a serious medical issue. I lost 30 lbs or more in conjunction with each of several major depressive episodes and my normal weight was 200 lbs. You are sick when you

are so sick you cannot eat or sleep. I lost 40 years of my adult life to major depression. I had ECT when I was 57. I should have had it when I was 17. Better late than never. I had 8 or more induced grand mal seizures, and never looked back.

As for comorbidity, I think isolated DP/DR is the exception, rather than the rule. ECT saved my life.
 
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