Depersonalization and derealization disorder

the_scream
Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ is thought to have been inspired by depersonalization disorder.

I originally posted this article in 2007. At the time, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my story online. Over the past few years, I have been amazed at the number of people who have found this post and either commented or emailed to let me know about their own struggles. Although I try to reassure them things will get better with time, I feel like those words would be more meaningful if I shared my own experience. With that goal in mind, I am rewriting this post from scratch almost seven years later.

I should probably point out that I have never been officially diagnosed with this disorder. Based on the symptoms I have had over the years, the commonality with so many who first experienced DPD after drug use, and various articles I have read online, I definitely believe I have had or continue to have depersonalization/derealization disorder.

Wikipedia describes the symptoms as follows:

The core symptom of depersonalization disorder is the subjective experience of “unreality in one’s sense of self”, and as such there are no clinical signs. Patients who suffer from depersonalization also experience an almost uncontrollable urge to question and think about the nature of reality and existence as well as other deeply philosophical questions.

Individuals who experience depersonalization can feel divorced from their own personal physicality by sensing their body sensations, feelings, emotions and behaviors as not belonging to the same person or identity. Also, a recognition of self breaks down (hence the name). Depersonalization can result in very high anxiety levels, which can intensify these perceptions even further.

Common descriptions: Feeling disconnected from one’s physicality; feeling like one is not completely occupying the body; not feeling in control of one’s speech or physical movements; and feeling detached from one’s own thoughts or emotions; experiencing one’s self and life from a distance; a sense of just going through the motions; feeling as though one is in a dream or movie; and even out-of-body experiences. Patients suffering from depersonalization disorder have also certain visual stimulations such as hallucinations and rapid fluctuations in lighting. While the exact cause of these hallucinations has not yet been determined, it is generally accepted that patients suffering from them is caused by previous drug usage. These hallucinations differ from true hallucinatory phenomena as they are closer to being optical distortions or illusions rather than psychotic breaks. Individuals with the disorder commonly describe a feeling as though time is ‘passing’ them by and they are not in the notion of the present. These experiences which strike at the core of a person’s identity and consciousness may cause a person to feel uneasy or anxious.

First experiences with depersonalization may be frightening, with patients fearing loss of control, dissociation from the rest of society and functional impairment. The majority of patients suffering from depersonalization disorder misinterpret the symptoms, thinking that they are signs of serious mental illness or brain dysfunction. This commonly leads to an increase of anxiety experienced by the patient which contributes to the worsening of symptoms.

My experience with some of these symptoms started one evening after smoking marijuana and having a panic attack while still under the effects of the drug. I freaked out, vomited, took a cold shower, and went to bed. From that point, it felt like time stopped. I literally thought I had died and entered the afterlife, because it felt like I had been suspended in time. I would look at the digital clock beside the bed, close my eyes for what seemed like forever, then reopen my eyes to discover a single minute had passed.

I was distraught to still have the same feeling when I awoke the next morning. Over the next several weeks, I had severe issues with depersonalization/derealization. My body felt foreign to me. I felt like I was living inside of a dream. I felt completely disconnected from the life that was continuing around me.

Several days after the initial onset of symptoms, I sought medical attention at the emergency room. The doctor there sent me for evaluation at a local rehabilitation facility. After explaining my symptoms, they recommended that I enter an outpatient program immediately or they felt I would be hospitalized within two weeks. I decided to try medication instead.

My doctor placed me on Paxil, and I believe it saved my life. I had never even heard of depersonalization/derealization at that point, but I remember reading a sentence about feeling disconnected in the informational brochure the doctor gave me about Paxil. I felt so relieved to have a description for what I was going through that I wept.

Although some of my symptoms lingered for a few years, they gradually subsided. The problem that hung on the longest occurred when I was driving at night. I would suddenly get a feeling that the world outside my windshield existed only in 2D, like playing an old-fashioned video game. It would cause such a surge of panic in my body that I would have to pull over and let someone else drive. Having conversations about eternity and space would often have the same effect.

The first time I ever heard of depersonalization disorder was while watching the very disturbing film Tarnation several years ago. I immediately knew there was a relation between what the director was experiencing and my own symptoms. It was nice to have a name for what I was going through, and it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone.

Today, I have little to no residual symptoms. I usually don’t even think about it. That’s why I wanted to take the time to update this post and let visitors know that even when it seems overwhelming and impossible to endure, there is hope. Talk to your doctor. Talk to your parents. Don’t suffer in silence. You will get better!

A quick footnote about marijuana

Much as been said in my post and in the following comments from others about DP/DR starting after use of marijuana. While it is easy to make the assumption that the two things are connected or that marijuana played some role in causing depersonalization, this article by Ronnie Freedman, Ph.D. concludes that marijuana is simply the trigger. He believes a combination of personality, fatigue, worry, and other mental/physical problems are the true cause of depersonalization/derealization disorder. I wish I had found his article a long time ago, because it makes a lot of sense.

It’s the same story over and over again.  Someone smoked marijuana with a group of friends and within 24 hours, usually sooner, they begin feeling unreal, depersonalized, foggy and detached. They are convinced that the marijuana had to have been laced with something that created this uncomfortable and distressing sensation. They worry that some sort of  “damage” has taken place inside their brain. When they contact the people they partied with, they are amazed to learn everyone else is feeling fine. Now they become very confused, worried and fearful…

…There is a simple explanation for this chain of events. Once understood, recovery is not difficult. It requires a simple yet specific process.

Continue reading Dr. Freedman’s full article on marijuana and depersonalization disorder here: http://www.anxietybustersblog.com/?p=344

Updated 11/22/2014

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 11 years and three fabulous felines.

225 thoughts on “Depersonalization and derealization disorder”

  1. I’m 15 and started high school this year, maybe if It was 3 years back I would actually be excited or feel something other than.. emptiness?.. I used to be an over achiever in school, but at the end of my Freshman year I legitimately failed all of my classes, and yet I don’t care. I thought this ” I don’t care” stage would pass, but it never did. I read a lot of comments here, but they don’t stick, I’m just glossing over them, yet fully reading them.? This is very frustrating to talk about since I don’t necessarily feel all my head.? My teacher made me try to visualize myself in 10 years and I drew a blank, nothing came to mind as everyone around me knew exactly what to write. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, but I just could think about it?? My head felt.. blocked? Or heavy?I feel emotionally detached It’s so maddening, yet I couldn’t care less. I’m not very close with my parents, and I’m too terrified to talk to anyone else about this,(not because I don’t want to, I really do) it’s just I can’t get myself to open up and talk about this to anyone. I don’t feel like I’m in my own head, I’m not even sure I’m thinking for myself, but yet I’m the little voice inside my head, on the outside watching..? I constantly have to reassure that something is real by touching it, since I’m so out of reality at this point I feel like I’m floating in time and just kind of existing with not much point. I almost never go out of my room and I dont ever study or read, I loved playing video games and now I rarely do, I have a guitar I got not to long ago and yet it seems like a hassle to learn to play, I don’t even like listening to music that much anymore, Maybe I’m just depressed with very bad anxiety?I’ve never liked talking and felt the need to cry when I had to talk to a teacher or someone about a problem, but never felt the emotion that goes with it? I thought I had that combo for a while, but now I’m not sure since my body doesn’t feel like my own.. I know I have anxiety, I will sometimes wake up having a panic attack but I’m to scared to get a doctor to diagnose me, but was clinically depressed when I was 9 and even though I got help, it never really went away, maybe it just got worse to help cause whatever I have? I’m confusing I know,sorry.

    1. Dear Tiffany,

      I find this very sad to read, and at the same time can identify with everything you’ve said at some point in my life. I’m 18 now, but when I was 15 I recall feeling the very same way. I didn’t see a future for myself even though I was sure I had one, and life just felt like a mixture of using time and wasting it – existing but not being fully present. At sometimes although I was ‘totally fine’ I’d break into a panic suddenly- my heart would race and I just wouldn’t feel ‘right’- I would feel wrong in every sense of the word and then I would continue to live choosing to ignore it. ‘Not giving a damn.’

      Those are warning signs I believe. ‘Not giving a damn’ was probably the biggest warning sign of all.

      I hope I’m making sense… you need help and you need to GET help.

      I think the biggest hurdle is knowing that this is not all in you head, and that it is a *legitimate* issue.

      And that secondly it is NOT ALL YOUR FAULT.

      We may not know what caused this, but after my experiences I hope you can take my advise and not have to go down this road.

      Sincerely,
      Zee

    2. Seek God. You may be more spiritually connected to the heavenly world than you think. God has chosen his people out of this world. We are only here for a breath of eternity. Your soul realises it more than your mind but once your mind registers that u will fly by in your life. This is what people mean by finding your calling. God is calling you. Use your experiences to help others and bring the good news. You are very blessed that your soul is recognising you belong to heaven.
      John 15:19
      If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world
      I used to think perhaps I belonged to another galaxy, maybe I was an alien along with so many others. I though perhaps we were all in groups so in another life we will all be reunited with out kind or something. But when I found God it all made sense to me. Hope this helps x

    3. I dont think anyone could understand the nightmare Im in. Ten years. Non-stop. Theres so much and too much to say. Triggered by a drug very similar to marijauana. Years of alcoholism, drug abuse, and then getting on criminal doses of every drug you can think of in every class from psyche doctors, which Ive spent the last two years getting off of and still have a ways to go, but am about 65-70 percent there. I have no energy, no drive, I dont feel awake or alert to my surroundings, I refuse to accept life on lifes terms, Im terrified. No relationship with any woman has ever worked out. Im actually really good looking so Ive had countless girlfriends but Ive lost countless relationships after the woman realize this dude is not going anywhere. Im in one right now and I frankly dont even care. After ten years of rejection Ive even lost my ability to love or to care about anything. I try and find meaning in just about anything. 30 years old, I look to deep human emotions from cinema, art, and music just to feel. I like to cry multiple times a day just to be able to feel SOMETHING, even if its just listening to music and thinking about hugging jesus, and Im not even a christian, literally anything just to have a emotional response out of this flat affect. I lay i bed all day long, I dont even think Id know how to function if i could, Even walking to another room puts me on edge, so I just lay in bed all day and close my eyes and shut myself off. My family has abandoned me, my friends have abandoned me…I wish I had something to live for, some higher ideal to put value in to live for, as everything just seems meaningless. For whatever reason, I never feel I fit in, I feel different all the freaking time, and can never just rest easy. I cant just let my guard down and be myself, unfettered, unobscured from my true self, which is really nothing to be ashamed of. Im scared of people, Im scared of getting a job, Im scared of everything. I feel like a worthless fraud waste of space, I could go on,,,and on, and on.
      But i will say I feel like England during Churchills “fight on the beaches speech” I have an uncanny ability to express how I feel through quotes at any time, anyways…””if this island, or a large part of it, were subjugated and starving, then our empire, beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in Gods good time, the new world with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.” In many ways I feel it will take an act of god to get me out of this, and I wonder if the whole world could even liberate me if they tried.

      1. Hey I hope you have started to look for a solution. I wish I could help. I can say that eating whole foods veggies, and getting off all junk and processed food and soda and work at
        Getting a full nutritional evaluation. Your body may not be able to synthesize some nutruents or the may be low in consumption. I feel for you and the others who write. Seek help. Keep trying. Don’t give up.

    4. Hey Tiff,
      So i know this is from a few months so,but i still felt compelled to reply. I was in the same boat as you…almost exactly. I couldn’t picture living beyond 25 and honestly was ok with that. I mentally checked out of school,from b’s to f’s (i got a 27 in algebra. And a 32 in English,my previously best subject).
      It used to feel like I was “listening to myself talk’,I guess? Like I knew it was my voice, but just didn’t feel connected fully. Same went for my body parts and even thoughts.
      Turns out, as much as i didn’t want it to be, it was prob from weed. I started smoking at around 15, it was every day til around 19. After I joined the Navy and had to quit,it subsided a bit.
      Of course,as soon as I got out,I started smoking again and the feelings returned. I remember telling an ex gf one time “Oh my God,I actually feel like my self! ” It only lasted a second…but before then I didn’t realize just how bad it was.
      Tl;dr…it’s now been a long time since I smoke regularly (or even much at all) and I’m me finally. All the time. Those feelings of being some weird robot version of myself are gone. It took a while…but it’s passed.
      I’ve read some studies recently that suggest that using mj in adolescents and teens is likely the cause,although more and larger studies need to be done still (btw i ended up going to school for neuropsych research, in part because of this! )
      I just want to let you and every other young mj user out there know that you are NOT “crazy”,this is mostlikely temporary and most of all,you ARE NOT ALONE. There are cases of that aren’t mj related, there can be other causes. But if those can be ruled out…your life will be “normal”,happy and productive. Best of luck to all struggling with this. XO
      Steveap

    5. Ever since I was little sometimes when I stare into the mirror too long I start to not feel like I’m me anymore and that my family is not my family and that I’m just acting a character kind of and it never lasts longer than an hour I didn’t know anyone else ever felt that way until now I’m 15

    6. Hi everyone, I became DP a little over a year ago, I was smoking weed with a friend just like I had a hundred times before. I went back to my dorm room and my roommate was kind of a weird kid. I started to trip…bad. Not to mention I take medication for epilepsy. However my seizure disorder is very mild I’ve only ever had 2 seizure in my life and I’m 20 years old. Anyway after this episode I began to freak out in public like could not be in the same seat or in the around a group of people for too long without having a panic attack. I was able to get myself over the mental part of the panic attacks by forcing myself to stay where I was no matter how afraid I was. Probably in about May I started to get physical symptoms of DP, I feel like when I use my hands its not really me using them or when I walk I feel like I have to try to walk right …Idk I put off doing things and I spend way too much of my time on the internet diagnosing myself with diseases that I do not have…My family doctor thinks I am a nut case..my blood tests are perfect and any X-ray he orders looks fine…the numbness in my hands and arms, feeling like I’m not using my body haunts me still…Does this sound familiar??

  2. Hi, I am a 63 yr.old woman who has suffered panic, ocd ,depression and depersonalization all my life. pot made it exacerbate terribly. when i found prozac, most symtoms went away, now im on anafranil ,ocd is better but i had that derealization feeling last night like my arms weren’t there. It has scared my that it’s either from the new meds, or the new meds aren’t blocking it The feeling . comes as a symtom of extreme anxiety. .but i wasnt feeling anxious last night. although i had had a stressful day. Now im checking to see if i feel it

  3. I feel blessed to find this article. The same thing has happened to me. While high, not only was I extremely paranoid but the man who was my “dealer” raped me in this state of mind. This depersonalization has been going on for about 2 years now (wow). The biggest thing for me is that I used to be such a feeling, emotional person, and now I feel as if I only feel way DEEP down inside. Like, I know I am not heartless but I just…can’t feel anything with my heart. Also, it fucked up my memory A LOT. I can’t remember shit. I’ll have to think really hard about something in order to remember. Even things that have happened like.. A week ago. Reading this has given me hope that I will be my “normal” self again some day. Thank you.

  4. Hi my name is Brian i felt the same things as the article like you said it all started with marijuana. I ate half a cupcake of THC and it all happened since i got a panic attack during the effect, this panic attack was cause since i saw my cousin getting bad i thought i was going to start doing stuff like “Hallucinating ” and started to panic. Also the thoughts of me dieing and not sure if i was alive or not did enter my thoughts. Literally the same thing happened but havent gone to the doctor or anything , its been over little less than a month. what would you recommend me to do? I do feel better day by day. one of my cousins told me its probably just me still being a bit scared because of the moment i had gone through.

  5. My DP/DR was rooted in childhood trauma, but my experience was still much the same. The part that struck me particularly about your story is driving at night. Although I am mostly symptom free I too struggle with driving when it’s dark. I instantly feel that the life beyond my windshield is somehow altered. I avoid it at all costs.

    1. That is EXACTLY how I used to feel while driving at night. Everything outside was like a projection or a video game. It did get better with time, though.

  6. What caused depersonalization for me was being put on bed meds from my doctor, and broken sleeping patterns. The detachment started, didn’t know what was going on, researched it, made more sense. It just really hit me the other day when someone told me that 2014 was two years ago (this is when the depersonalization happened) It made me feel like “Wow I’ve spent two years obsessing over this disorder, when I could have been enjoying my life.” It also makes me kind of sad on the things that could have been. The only thing that breaks the depersonalization for me is distracting myself with really challenging work that requires a lot of thinking. Or even moments of great humiliation or someone yelling at me for something I did wrong.

  7. I googled a phrase to try and describe what I’m feeling and it led me to this page. I’m sorry if this is long but I want to get my feelings out somehow. This article totally speaks to me. I’m not sure when this whole thing started. There are three points that I can think of. I was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD my sophomore year of highschool but my mother and I knew that I’ve had it ever since I was a kid. Once they started me on meds like vyvanse and Ritalin I started feeling different. I would do bad things and find that my conscious and sense of guilt were missing. Sometimes I would do minor bad things (like liter) and I would feel and immense sense of guilt and the world would weigh down on me. A lot of the time I would feel very sedated and peaceful as I would look down on myself and reality from outside of my body. Once I realized that I wasn’t in my body my heart would start to race very heavily and that’s all I would be able to focus on. Often I would find it too much of a challenge to socially interact with other people in a socially normal way. I use to be such a talkative, social child but now I feel as if I am visibly able to see the cracks and flaws and borders and barriers and hierarchy of the society we live in and I feel helpless to advancing. Sometimes I would find myself empty of all feelings and other times I would find that I am experiencing wrong feelings based on specific situations, like society would feel one way about something and I wouldn’t. I always question myself if everyone else in the world feels this way. Eventually I began to feel these things off and on meds. The second point in my life that told me something was wrong was when I had an abortion at 16. I was forced to tell my parents and they went through it with me and very supportive and emotional but for some reason I didn’t feel as emotional as I think I should’ve. I think that I am so good at denial or confusing myself or blocking out as much information as possible to allow me to not be heavily affected by things like this. I read stories and I’ve heard stories and in a majority of them the people who had abortions felt depressed, or guilty, or sad, normal stuff like that. But me? I didn’t cry. I didn’t bat an eye. I don’t think I ever let myself process what was going on. I just denied that it ever happened and I still do to this day. I haven’t come to terms with it because I haven’t even realized it happened. But for some reason if I hear a story of a refugee making it to America, or see a homeless person, or anyone or anything die in a movie or anything similar my body becomes so overly filled with emotions that I will feel a huge pressure and emptiness in my chest and just start crying (I cried at the non sad parts of Finding Dory). My third possible cause is marijuana. Since freshman year I have been smoking weed, not actively every day or even every week but a significant amount which could have caused me to feel what I’m feeling. Ultimately to sum up my feelings I just feel as if I don’t belong in society and I don’t have true close friends, I get complete anxiety when thinking about death or the universe or space or time or the human race in relation to the galaxy or the unknown frontier. I feel outside of reality and outside of my body. I feel like I feel or think a certain way that no one else does. I can be overly self conscious and have a fear that people are constantly looking at me and judging me so much so that I’m not able to go to the cafeteria alone without a friend, without makeup, or without going to the mirror and making sure I look pretty enough. I feel as if my perception of myself is totally wrong and different from everyone else’s. I’m in a relationship and I’m unable To distinguish correct behavior from incorrect behavior and I struggle with being faithful (yet I feel no guilt or remorse but I do love my partner). I personally feel like sex is not a big deal and neither is cheating but I would be upset if I were the one being cheated. I was also adopted and my birth parents and nationality are unknown so I constantly feel like I don’t fit because I’m too white to be black and too black to be white and I don’t speak Spanish fluently and I don’t know my identity because I don’t know where I come from so I make up stories. I can often focus on little things like chewing, breathing, posture, hair, movement, anything really and I feel become very easily irritated and annoyed with people that I know and people that I don’t know if I feel like they are performing innate human behaviors in a wrong or unattractive manor. I just want to feel normal and I haven’t talked to anyone about this
    (Ps currently writing this while I’m high but it’s wearing off. I feel the most profound and mentally clear when I’m high so it’s easier for me to explain my convoluted mind.)
    Please tell me I’m not alone

    1. You most definitely not alone…I too got here by googling terms that I thought described my state of mind. I wish I had answers, but I am just as clueless aso everyone else! Fml

      1. I think it was cause of childhood abuse or shit in that category, and possibly mind altering substances. Me personally I kinda have depersonalization, although like I don’t feel it too often. I’ve done lsd twice now, I’ve drank a shitton, ive smoked weed alot, I’ve tripped on DXM cough syrup, drank my share of lean, done a decent amount of prescription opiates (oxy, morphine, hydro) and adderall, yet I started this drug life 12/18/15 and it’s not been a year yet. The only person I love (as a brother, I’m not queer) is the guy who got me into this life. Let’s call him J Gar. J Gar and I had both been abused up til 12-13. Our 8th grade year we were hella close friends. 9th grade year he got me to smoke. Over and over and over. Then drink. Then trip. After all that I seemed to be able to return to a sense of… Reality. I didn’t feel too if at all effected by the drugs. I feel it was when I almost overdosed on DXM. That motherfucker blew my mind so far gone. Basically DXM 60mg is DXM Hbr 60mg. I thought I drank 888mg dxm, it was really double that. 1716mg. 2k mg to OD. I had a BIG ASS panic attack and thought I was gonna die, my heart was pounding 2-4 beats a second. That was my cause I think. Will I ever go back to the Christian pothead I was? Or wonder if my brains been permanently affected. God knows.

        1. Thanks for sharing. I’m pretty sure that mass quantities of weed and alcohol gave me DPD. I would do them both and start thinking some very weird thoughts. Also, I had lots of ECT (shock treatments) when I was 14, and I feel like that affected me mentally, only because I didn’t need them at the time (I’m pro-ECT now). Mind altering shit. They caused me to forgot most of my childhood prior to that point. I also didn’t recognize my brother when he came to visit me in the hospital. I had my first DPD “attack” when I was 26, at which time I looked in a mirror and I almost didn’t recognize myself – sort of an out of body experience. Very scary shit. I now have those attacks on a daily basis, but I always tell myself that it’ll go away, and that it’s just some weird stuff – sort of looking at it objectively.

  8. Sorry there’s one more thing I forgot to tack on. Sometimes I also experience extreme anxiety and procrastination when I think about completing meaningless activities that I turn into life or death activities. There are Things so simple such as responding to an email, responding to a text, going on Facebook, posting an Instagram picture, finding something to wear or making my bed/cleaning my room and I will experience awful procrastination or anxiety because I don’t want to do it or I’m nervous or I’m being too OCD about it (but I don’t even have OCD and if I do it’s very selective). I remember one time I was running late to class and I stopped by my dorm to change and I literally didn’t go to class because I decided that everything I tried on was hideous and it didn’t match and I felt uncomfortable in it and I felt like everyone was going to judge me and think that I’m ugly and hideous. I literally sat on the floor naked and panicked about clothes. Sometimes I think I might be a little Autistic or it just could be my Add/Adhd

    1. Nikequeen you are not alone, so don’t worry.

      It sounds like you’re a bit overwhelmed by everything. Reading your post, it seems like you are feeling kind of empty and finding it hard to experience emotions that you think are real enough. Honestly, I don’t think it’s a great idea to label things like depression and anxiety unless you feel like it personally helps you. It is a good idea to talk about how you’re feeling though, and to try and explore what you’re going through in more detail. I can relate to some of the things you talked about because I had some similar feelings a while back. I felt empty and emotionless all the time, but would have these episodes where I got incredibly upset and have difficulty pinpointing what had made me so upset. I think it was similar to what you’re feeling, although less intense (lucky for me). I thought I wanted someone to tell me what to do, and how to snap out of it, but in retrospect I wanted someone to listen. There isn’t necessarily a right answer, anyway.

      I think seeing a counsellor is a really good idea, and it did me a whole load of good. Even just going for a few sessions. The best counsellor I saw barely said anything, she just let me talk for hours. It’s surprising how different that feels from talking to a friend or family member, who always feels like they need to respond to whatever you say.

      I realised that underneath how I felt, what I was clinging onto was this belief that I had changed because of a series of things that had gone wrong, and that I used to be someone different who was better than the person I was currently. The best thing for me in the end was a change in life circumstances, which enabled me to prove to myself that I still had all the qualities of the “old” me. I had to prove to myself that I hadn’t changed and there was nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. It took a while, and there were a few more stages in between, but ultimately that was it. No more night sweats, no more heart palpitations, no more IBS, social anxiety, emptiness, intense emotional episodes…it’s really weird how many things, both physical and psychological, can hinge on one faulty thought process. Of course I’m not saying it will be the same for you, I couldn’t possibly know, but my experience really changed the way I understand my mind.

    2. I’ve not gone to many classes bc I would be a few min late and everyone would look at me when the door opened. I also feel I might be a high functioning autistic, my therapist does not seem to think so. It could be that we have some similar issues as high functioning autists caused by something else. Just taking care of normal tasks like replying to texts or calls etc is very very difficult. The thing the guy said about feeling frozen in time and like you are viewing the world through a TV screen is spot on for me. I had a heavy addiction to Synthetic Marijuana (JWH, very dangerous chemical) for a few years and then actual marijuana to help with the severe symptoms of the JWH addiction for many years. I also feel EXTREME emotions sometimes regarding the homeless etc, and feel almost out of body when I think about the universe, our place in it, the deeper parts of the cosmos, different dimensions etc. Same feeling when I say look at something on google maps such as a place I met someone who has left my life years ago, it almost feels like I get transported back there in my mind. It is very overwhelming when it happens.

  9. Thinking of extremely philosophical questions caught my attention from the get go. I’m a university student and I suddenly came across this while the teacher was taking attendance, my name is a pretty common name where I come from so I started to think about all the people that I know in uni that have the same name. When the teacher called my name I didn’t answer, my first hand reaction was “That’s not my name.” So she looked up and found me among the hoard of students and took my attendance. So I didn’t miss class (at least…), however I became curious since it’s not the first time that happens.
    I looked up “feeling that your name isn’t yours” and this came up. At first I thought it was that I didn’t like my name because it’s common, but as I said before the philosophical questions caught my attention and here’s why.
    At age 13 I started having really vivid dreams, most of the time they were horrible vivid nightmares where I met people I didn’t know and had names that weren’t “mine.” I talked to my parents about it but they said I was probably stressed by school work and stuff.
    After that there were many nights that I woke up because I started counting approx how many years were left in my life if I reached an average lifespan, how would death be like, it was scary for a young teenager like me.
    After that I made friends that distracted my straying thoughts, and the nightmares became a little less spooky. However, now I’m in uni (as I said) and there are weird moments when sudden waves of emotion take over me, mostly negative like despair or sadness.
    I’m not bipolar as far a i know (my parents are doctors they would tell), I don’t drink, smoke, and I’m perfectly healthy. So I can’t just help but wonder if this is the answer to everything.
    And if its not, what is?

    1. another thing is that there were days when I didn’t feel NOTHING. I was like a machine, no happiness, no anger, never annoyed, just THERE. Like I existed but didn’t feel at all…

      1. I am that way 24/7. What you see as despair is reality and the way I’ve percieved my life entirely. I’m 20. I see this type of perception as a sort of gift into the deeper aspects of true humanism. My advice is to embrace this idea in a healthy fashion. Use it as a positive tool to further your life and understanding of being a phenomenal existent. Think different. What is normal?

        1. I kind of agree but it seriously affects your life in many other ways. I haven’t been able to take care of business like I need to becomes I am so severely depressed and deeply internalize everything I see. It’s not healthy to let the bad outweigh the good 24/7.

    2. Wow, ever since I can remember I’ve had almost grotesquely vivid dreams and nightmares, I really wish I was a good visual artist because some of the things I imagined were incredibly unique and almost beautiful in how horrific they were. I also would lie in bed and figure out how many years I might have left in life with an avg life span, along with how long I might still have my parents. And ever since I can remember I have thought about parallel universes, life potentially being a simulation or an “experiment” by beings on a much higher plane than us, etc etc. Just a few days ago I experienced SERIOUS disassociation for a few seconds as I thought about how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the universe. I started to feel like my conscious or soul was separating from my body, it was incredible but very disturbing. Maybe I was experiencing what they call ego death for a few seconds or something.

  10. Hi im 24 yrs old female . I started smoking wet in october /2015 and i cant think. All my thoughts are all blank im here but im not here i can see everything clearly like idk how to explain it im honestly never been that smart so this the best way i can explain what’s happening to me . I see everything HD my senses are really strong i blink a lot i can look straight into the sun and it wont effect me at all the sky looks extremely beautiful all the time dosent matter the weather . Nature look better than before im always crying because i feel hopeless my memory sucks nothings funny i dont watch tv or listen to music i cant focuse on anything everyday is the same routine . People talk to me i pretend to be interested in the conversation but all i hear is clear words i dont remeber the conversation moments later . Feels like im in a video game or something . At first i had this crazy idea that i was a alien or something but now i know that im just mentally fucked up now thanks to pcp. I feel stuck i have no goals in life ….money means absolutely nothing to me . Its like eveyone around me is living but im just stuck in my on little world .

    1. Hi Angelica, try not to worry as anxiety is likely to make the problem worse. You’re not alone – many people have experienced similar sensations to those you describe, but for most people it doesn’t last for long. You won’t feel like this forever – the first thing to understand is that whatever happened can be undone. If you haven’t already, speak to a doctor. Some research suggests that depersonalisation occurs when you get stuck in a fight-or-flight mode, which causes an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, as well as heightened senses and stronger emotion regulation (so feeling less emotional engagement). These are helpful responses in a life or death situation but can be confusing and overwhelming when there is no external threat. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depersonalization_disorder

      1. First of all I really like the name Angelica! Second is that your issue isn’t that you’re mentally unsound, you are who you are. The issue is that you are afraid of change. You must open yourself to idea of life purpose. Medication is only to sedate you from what you actually are. The ability to truly appreciate nature is something most people can’t do. You’ve found relaxation within that. Now fill the rest of the void with a purpose, you can do that, focus on yourself as if your destiny depended on that one moment you decided to take a seat at the park, look into the sky, and think “1 life, 1 planet, and I am the greatest person but how can I show other people?”

  11. Hey everyone! I’m a 20 yr old man who has gone through my entire life with this ‘disorder’. I’d also like to say that I am comfortable and happy to have such a detached outlook because of the amount of insight to what I actually may be. I am nothing and everything, stupid and brilliant, body and spirit, a universe. I’m a very simple man. I have no friends. I live alone. I work to survive. I read and pay for an education only so that I may crawl out of the minimum wage plateau. Time is money right? I am silent. Action is true. Only words spoken are polite and honest. I lead an honest life. I don’t own a TV, instead I prefer listening to music and reading, allowing my mind to paint the picture. I am very healthy and excercise regularly. Every thought in my mind is directed toward the future. I hate routine. I’ve gone through numerous jobs in the past year because I hadn’t the slightest amount of actual purpose in the work I was told to perform. I seek only to be an example. I search everyday to break away from the reality English and society have conjured for us in an attempt to find out what it means to be human. My greatest fear however is dieing alone. My greatest hope is to be a positive influence upon the fallen planet we call home. If you could see like me, you’d see, you haven’t won anything.

    1. Light – This is pretty much me … almost exactly … only I’m a female, 37 yrs. I feel stuck in time…or stuck in no time. Everything around me seems so pointless … but not in the way that I see no point in living … but in the way that I feel like society’s priorities are so unimportant… pointless … I feel like the only one who sees that everyone is missing the point of existence. I have no interest in the “normal” activities of the world. I have isolated myself and I just think and read and listen to music and I feel so chained by the things I “have” to do everyday…and the ‘routine’ that I’m forced into because of standards that others decided are important. I just want to scream. I usually end up just crying. sobbing, from a really far off distant place of despair and emptiness…from a place not of this dimension…a vast and barren void of nothing… but also everything… outside and above this plane of existence.

    2. I see like me, but I think I understand what you see also. There are similarities. I inherently know at this moment in time what you are saying in your final sentence. As I said, I see like me, I see there is nothing to win.

  12. I have a problem with DPD, but looking in the mirror triggers it. Has anyone else experienced this trigger? I get this overwhelming feeling that I’m literally realizing that I’m “in this body”. It’s quite unnerving.

    1. Yeah, looking in a mirror doesn’t trigger it for me as much as just thinking about the universe and possibilities of life etc. Also looking back at google street views of notable places to me or events I experienced triggers it pretty bad. It’s interesting and unnerving at the same time (sometimes just unnerving lol.)

  13. I have had this condition for 36 years . Its a nightmare. Everyday is like groundhog day. May have been caused by pot and mushrooms .i think exercise medication detox is the key stretching or yoga deepbreathing dont give up. Doug

  14. I have chosen to reject mental illness in all forms as symptoms of a sick society. I am the well one and society is the sickness. I do not accept anxiety, depression or depersonalization disorder as real or able to influence me in any way. I am 50 years old and when I was learnoing to fly at age 24 during my advanced training after having already become a commercial pilot and flight instructor I was flying alone from Orlando FL to Ocala, FL. Duriung that flight I looked down and saw an entire suburb of streets, yards and trees but NO HOUSES…it triggered me into my first panic attack. Well…I let myself have a few more panic attacks then I chose: I chose not to have them anymore. No fear, no panic, no sadness beyond that which is normal in the biological reproductive process.
    EVERYTHING we experience in our brains is biologically designed to propagate the species human. If something gets crossed in there and the fight or flight mechanism alerts too quickly or the sadness chemicals go on for too long after a loss or begin at just feeling a little stress I just stand back….disconnect myself from the reality that is me and assert to not accept it! I still fly…..I used to climb mountains and I would get near a cliff and almost poo my pants…but I would FORCE myself to crawl on my belly to the edge and to make myself be scared….and I would expose myself to it until it no longer scared me….I HATE ANYTHING HAVING CONTROL OVER ME…so…I simply do not accept my mental illness. Try it. Refuse to accept it. The Universe will listen to you.

    1. I am truly happy for you that you have the mental strength to do what you do. I really covet your ability. However, most sufferers of mental illness don’t have this resolve. We simply can’t stand up to it like you described. I certainly don’t, that’s for sure. ‘Nuff said.

    2. Thank you for this comment…a very accurate description of the misplaced despair I was experiencing. I’m not one to point fingers, but I have to agree that the way we have structured our modern day society may be responsible for my “symptoms”. Fiat currency, deadlines, and small talk can all kiss my a**! There is SO much more to this reality than people are choosing to acknowledge…we are all ONE. Therefore, as long as one person on earth is suffering-WE ALL SUFFER AS THE RESULT. So c’mon guys, we have a MORAL OBLIGATION here because we’re the only ones who even see a problem!

      1. I am 23 years old and I recently started to get anxiety/panic attacks. Never had I had them before and after my first two panic attacks I stared getting Dp/dr which I hope that’s what it is. But I feel very detached from my body or as if the world is not real. Or it’s all a dream. Or feeling like if my. Rain is just going to shit down. Or I’m going to faint and not wake up. I constantly get the feeling that I’m going to die. Idk why. And it sucks. I just want to feel normal again

  15. I can’t believe what I am reading.
    Every day for the last few months I have felt like I’m not me. Like what is going on isn’t actually happening to me. It’s so horrible and I often think I’m going bad. My doctor reassured me and said if you can say you’re going mad, you definitely aren’t.
    It’s so hard to describe. I have had anxiety and panic problems for four years and after having my heart broken, things have just got worse.
    Does anyone have any tips to help relieve the depersonalisation?

  16. I’ve never smoked marijuana, never done any sort of drug or been on any sort of medication. Yet I have the exact same symptoms as many of you in the comments. I’ve had this for a good 4 years. I used to think it started from late nights on my phone, or too much time devoted to gaming that gave me this TV screen type feel. I remember a time when I did feel, although vague, it is there. I’m fourteen, so it started for me around 6th grade. My guess is because of depression/anxiety. I’ve questioned reality so many times, and never been truely happy since. I try, day after day to bring myself back. To wake myself up, but I just can’t. I seem to have this feeling that time is slipping past me without me noticing. One weekend, I almost stopped it. A weekend at the beach with my best friends giving me one of the happiest experiences in my life. But ever since then it’s gotton worse. Sometimes I even use it to get through school days, something I hate myself for doing. I’ve decided I’ve suffered too long. I’m going to talk to my counceler and see what I can do about it. I’ve always been emberessed for the reason that I thought it had something to do with electronics (and perhaps it does), but I’m done. I’ll be able to drive soon, it’s time I get this sorted out and seek help, and I advise anyone feeling the same way to do the same. And it comforts me knowing I’m not the only one feeling this way.

    1. You mentioned “I seem to have this feeling that time is slipping past me without me noticing.” I seem to be watching time “fly by” so fast. I’m wondering if it’s part of DPD. It seems to be more than just your typical “time flying”, like “time flies when you’re having fun”. No, this is much more “accelerated”. The weeks are just a blur. The weekends are also a blur, even more so. I would appreciate if anyone here has the same issue. Maybe it’s part of DPD, I don’t know.

  17. Um hey guys. I don’t quite know if I have something like this but. I feel like I’m not really living and am not conscious most of the time. I often console myself by saying I have bad memory but that’s not the case. It really feels like one day I’m going to wake up and be like “Woah that was all a dream”! For some reason, I feel so lost that I don’t seem to be able to remember most things that happen to me through the day. Even some of the harshest events in my life, I remember them, sure, but I don’t really remember how I felt at that time. It’s like it was all a dream. Yes I have done marijuana a few times over the past 2-3 syears but thi phenomenon has been going on for.. well I wish I could tell you but I don’t even remember since how long I’ve had this feeling. It’s just been really long! No one has told me it’s a medical condition. They’ve always said that I just need to figure out myself and asked me to start on a spiritual journey. Even right now, I don’t think I’m in my complete senses when I’m typing this. I often tell myself “DUDE, WAKE UP. STOP BEING A ZOMBIE”. But it never works. Any idea what’s happening? And any advice as to where to go from here?

Join the conversation!