I had been suffering from depersonalization (DP) disorder for 9 months. Now it’s over – I no longer experience it. Here’s how you can recover from depersonalization too.
What is depersonalization? Depersonalization definition, according to Wikipedia, is the following:
“Depersonalization (or depersonalisation) is an anomaly of self-awareness. It consists of a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no control over a situation. Subjects feel they have changed, and the world has become vague, dreamlike, less real, or lacking in significance.“
It’s a very hard task to describe it to someone who never experienced it. Even I, after recovering from it, find it difficult to relate myself to the above depersonalization definition, because I do not suffer from DP anymore.
Depersonalization is more of a feeling, a state your mind gets trapped into. If you suffer from depersonalization disorder, you may feel like:
- You are not you.
- Your body is not your own/Your hands are not yours.
- It’s like you don’t think from the first-person position. It’s like you observe your thoughts, as well as your actions and reactions.
- You may feel like you are ghost, that you consist of eyes only. Sometimes you may feel like physically disappearing.
- You may experience distortion of time (and of space, if depersonalization disorder is accompanied by derealization, what happens quite often).
The one mistake everybody, who suffers from depersonalization, makes when looking for how to get rid of this dreadful state of mind and soul, is trying to think his/her way out of it.
It will not work. You cannot ruminate over the depersonalization symptoms you’re suffering from and go through possible causes of the disorder in your mind over and over again, and then suddenly come to some solution that will cure you at once.
What helped me — is that I began doing what I love.
First thing I did – I admitted that I am feeling bad, and that I will not get over depersonalization in the near future. Perhaps, I will never get over it.
Secondly, I decided, that if I’m going to suffer from it further, and, perhaps, it will get even worse (I was scared that it’s going to manifest into schizophrenia), the only thing I could do in this situation is to start doing what I love. My reasoning was that if I’m going to lose my mind, I’d better begin doing something worthwhile right now, before it’s too late, so I could leave some legacy, before things get really bad.
Since I wanted to create computer games since childhood, the next step was clear to me: start developing some computer game. That is how my recovery story began.
So here are the steps I recommend you to take in order to stop depersonalization:
- Do not resist it.
- Identify what you love to do, what you are passionate about, and begin doing it.
I know, your immediate answer to the last recommendation may be something like: “You offer me to do something I like, but I cannot do anything because of depersonalization! I cannot think about anything else but it. I cannot focus on anything. I cannot distract myself from these thoughts. Moreover, I doubt that I can feel anything in this state, I haven’t experienced joy for ages.”
I am not asking you to distract yourself, you are free to continue ruminating over your state of being in the back of your mind, suffer from physical symptoms and mental anxiety.
I just ask you to think of something you can do along with it. Some activity you’re passionate about (or the one you knew you were, because when you’re depersonalized, I know, it is hard to feel any joy).
I remember that feeling of detachment from the world when it seemed like I was not interested in anything at all. However, somewhere in between anxiety attacks, an idea of creating a computer game came to my mind.
I rejected it for the first time. I believed I could not do it. However, it would continue to show up, so finally I payed some attention to it and decided to give it a try.
Remember: perhaps, you experienced a spark of creativity recently as well, but you, like me, denied the thought that you could do something about it in this state. Oh, believe me, you can! Next time when you are “struck” with a creative idea, try to work on it a little bit. Or write it down and come back to it later, on the weekend for example.
Spend a couple of hours (or just 15 minutes) to explore your idea. Draft a simple plan of action how you can implement the idea.
I know it will be hard to get going. Just remember the following: you don’t have to cure depersonalization disorder before you can work on your idea. You can work on it and suffer from DP at the same time.
When I began working on my computer game, DP did not go away. I still suffered from all those terrible depersonalization symptoms I described above. While programming the game I was still ruminating over how I was feeling at that moment: “Are hands, which are typing the code, my own hands?”, and so on. I just kept on developing the game.
You can’t get rid of DP at once. It’s a gradual process, during which you train your brain to think more about other things in your life than how much you suffer from this disorder. That is why I cannot tell exactly when I got distracted so much, that I actually stopped experiencing depersonalization at all.
Now, if I think about DP and try to remember how it felt – yes, perhaps, I may feel some tension inside. However, questioning my state (If I feel like I am me, etc.) does not provoke instant anxiety and fear as it used to. I’m pretty sure that my today reaction to existential, solipsistic and suchlike questions is no stronger than any other highly-sensitive person’s response.
I’ve tried many things on my quest to find ways to overcome depersonalization: neuroleptics, church, homeopathy. However, I found the remedy in a simple act of doing what you love. So if you ask “How do I cure depersonalization disorder?”, my answer will be – do what you love.
Read more on depersonalization from Sociable Introvert: What is Depersonalization disorder? Learn the Depersonalization Cure