Lesson #16: Depersonalization is NOT forever – Part I

It’s true. Depersonalization is not forever.

This particular lesson means a whole lot to me because it hits close to home. I’ve touched on depersonalization in a previous blog post, where I claim it’s safer to assume you can’t be cured of anything because, if you lead yourself toward false hope, then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.  I still stand by that statement. Things in life always have a way of coming back when we least want them to. What’s that old saying? “Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best”? I respect that idea. It goes without saying that life is not perfect, and it’s certainly not predictable. The best we can do is prepare for the worst, and hope the worst doesn’t happen. But wouldn’t you rather be prepared if it does?

I developed symptoms of depersonalization after a bad high. I’d call it a “trip,” because that’s what it felt like… Believe it or not, I had made it through both high school and college without smoking a single ounce of pot. My parents always told me, “Honey, you won’t like it. You’re an anxious person already.” But I was always curious. Besides, as an aspiring writer, I figured I needed to experience all there is in life. Typical writer excuse. So I tried it, and it was okay the first couple of times–nothing special. But I had my boyfriend monitoring my intake to make sure I wasn’t doing too much. And then, one night, he handed me the bowl and I took a hit, a much bigger one than I intended. To make a long story short, I spent two hours on the floor that night feeling like the room was spinning and wondering why my voice didn’t sound like my own. It was an absolute nightmare. From that night on, I vowed never to do pot again. And I haven’t.

A month or so later, I started to feel generally uneasy. I felt vulnerable, scared. Mundane thoughts began to throw me for a loop. I remember my brother asking me a simple question about numbers and me feeling a sudden rise of panic as I pondered the significance of numbers inside this small reality and why we operate by them. Real existential shit. I remember going to an amusement park and looking at chickens, wondering how it was possible that I happened to live on the same planet as “the Chicken.” REAL EXISTENTIAL SHIT. Almonds! I questioned the lines on an almond! Let’s just say I was high without being high. Naturally, this freaked me out. Life began to feel unreal, as if I were floating above it… I couldn’t connect quite like I had before.

Journal entry from 3/17/15: While do I feel like I’m losing touch? With reality? Am I just anxious? Is this just normal anxiety? Everything–well, not everything–but most things seem wrong. What’s the matter with me? I don’t want to be like this forever. 

When I looked out the window of my apartment, everything outside looked like the backdrop on a stage, sort of 2D. And all the while I grappled with big questions like: Who am I really? What’s my purpose? And the worst… What’s the point?

I had no idea what was wrong with me. I’ve had bad anxiety since I was 17, but this felt different. This just felt wrong. I felt like an alien dropped onto a foreign planet. Half my brain lived on Earth; the other half had floated away, and I had no idea how to bring it back. There were times I looked at my parents and felt like I hardly knew them, as if I hadn’t spent 21 years under their roof, as if they weren’t my best friends!

Journal entry from 4/6/15: Why do I feel like the world isn’t real? Maybe I’m just too focused on that. Maybe I’m just letting it get to me. Everything in front of me is real. I think I’m just scared of it, because no one else will understand it. Hell, I don’t even understand it. And that’s what’s so terrifying. If I don’t understand it, then how can I fix it?

I remember writing that. I remember because I had a REALLY bad panic attack right after. Everything around me felt like it was falling apart. That night, I ended up going home to my parent’s house. I had to work from there for a week, because I was too freaked out by what was happening. But amazingly, I kept it together. A part of me wondered if maybe I was feeling the aftershocks of my horrible high, but I didn’t put two and two together until I started researching online. The best and worst thing to do, folks.

That’s when I came across the word “depersonalization.” This article to be specific. I encourage you NOT to read the comments on ANY depersonalization/derealization forum; it won’t do anything but freak you out. I know because that’s what happened to me. And it caused a WORLD of hurt. Lucky for me, and lucky for YOU, that hurt is NOT forever.

(To be continued…)

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