Lesson #15: Depersonalization is not forever, Part III

[I’ll add pictures later, I promise. WordPress was being a dick…]

The worst thing about depersonalization is believing that it won’t ever go away. Until it finally does. Time really is the best medication, but the thing about time? You can’t control it.  Unless you can see the future, you can’t count on it. You just have to wait and see. 

I had made the mistake of researching depersonalization (DP) online, where of course, I found people who were equally as freaked out as me. They talked about having DP for over 20 years, how it would never go away, how it had ruined their lives. It’s easy to believe that kind of stuff when you can SO relate. It felt like DP was forever–maybe it was…

And then I decided I needed to stop reading all that negative stuff. I didn’t need that. If you believe it’s gonna turn out fatal, you’re setting your fate. It WILL turn out fatal.

So I looked up DP recovery stories, where I found loads of different stories online from people who had somehow gotten past DP–oftentimes, just by keeping a positive attitude. Taking care of yourself. Changing your diet. Finding your passions. Exercising. Most importantly, stop thinking about DP so much.

So I tried all that, and it took a while. Longer than I wanted it to. I wanted immediate results after all. Don’t we all? And then I practiced patience. I sought out volunteer opportunities. I started writing more, specifically on this blog. I got a cat–my precious little Peter Pan kitty. I took Yoga classes at the encouragement of a friend. I confided in people who cared. I found a new therapist. I’m now teaching tap classes. I. Took. Action. That’s the most important thing. Be patient. Give it time. And take action FOR YOURSELF. Learn to love yourself. Learn to love what you have. Take time to meditate. BREATHE. SLOW DOWN.

DP is a defense mechanism. If you don’t slow down, your brain will stay in that place, where it thinks it’s safe. Show your brain a world where you can BREATHE, where you have TIME to love your life.

That’s why I’m where I am today. Not depersonalized. Excited about possibility and life! I can’t promise you or myself that it won’t come back. But knowing that I’ve gotten through it before, I can rest somewhat easy knowing I can do it again. Depersonalization IS NOT forever! It may feel like it, but it’s not. But YOU HAVE to take action.

I won’t say I feel blessed for going through what I did, but I did learn a lot about myself in the process. I was forced to better my attitude and my life. I might not have done that otherwise. So, yes, I’m thankful. Use those challenges in your life that you think you’ll never get over to learn valuable lessons and better yourself. And then, one day, you’ll wake up in the morning feeling so much better than you did two months ago. Not perfect, mind you. But better.

I won’t tell you how long it took for me to get over my DP, because everybody is different. The worst thing you can do with DP is compare yourself to other people. Your healing period will happen as it needs to. It will take as long as YOU need. But please email me if you have questions or need help. Reach out if want support!

Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. Be healed. 🙂

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Lesson #15: Depersonalization is NOT forever, Part II

In Depersonalization is NOT forever, Part I, I told you about how I came to know depersonalization. I told you about the mysteries it created in my life. I told you about the fear I experienced, at simply not having answers. And then I found my answers, in this article.

And I believe that’s where we left off.

This article helped me simply because it gave me a name for what I was experiencing.

Do you not feel real? Yes!

Do you almost feel like you’re dreaming while awake? Yes.

Do you feel like you’ve been dropped on another planet? OMG YES!

Does it get worse when you focus on it? HOLY COW, yeah!

CONGRATS! YOU HAVE DEEEEEEEPERONSALIZATION (DP)! 

Learning that DP is simply a defense mechanism in response to “recent trauma” or “cannibis” took an immense weight off my shoulders. I urged my mom to read it, as well as my boyfriend. I finally had answers, and the whole world ought to know!

The article goes on to console those people like me who think depersonalization is forever. It gave me tips for “getting rid of it.” For instance, to stop thinking about it, by not talking about it, being aware of it but not giving it my attention. It all seemed so easy! The solution is easy yes, but it’s just applying it that got so hard.

After reading this article, I felt good…for a week or so. I still felt my little friend DP on my shoulder, whispering strange existential questions in my ear, but instead of freaking out over them, I simply reminded myself that this was just my mind’s way of coping with the scary world.

And then it got harder again. I thought maybe this whole DP thing WAS forever. Suddenly, I didn’t want a name for my issues! I just wanted them to go away. I was angry at myself for smoking the pot. I felt like a virgin having sex for the first time and then finding out she contracted HIV. I felt like one decision has ruined the entire rest of my life.

Journal entry from 4/29/15: Anxious. Anxious. Anxious. Feel trapped. And scared of feeling this way forever. The world seems so scary & dark when I’m like this. I can’t deal with death. Thinking about it, it makes me wonder what the point of it all is. I feel hopeless right now, but I know it’s not forever. Everything just feels so distant from me.

I laid in bed, staring at my ceiling, feeling alone, thinking about morbid stuff like death. Good, clean fun. Nothing felt real, and it was isolating, living alone in my own little world, separated by the rest of the REAL word by a thick veil. I read message boards (BAD) about people who had had DP for 40+ years. Oh God, I thought. That will be me. Of course, it was THAT kind of thinking that kept me trapped in DP-land…

I was still able to work and go about my life, but without fail, at 6 p.m., I’d go to my room and brood. Again, nothing about this was helping me. Also, there was other stuff going on in my life that wasn’t making my healing process any easier.

I sought out a psychiatrist, hoping he’d have some kind of answers for me, but not many people know about DP, which makes it all the scarier. That’s really the main reason why I sought out answers online – because it was the only place I could find them. But, eventually, I realized I needed to stop. I needed to stop reading about people who were “ruined” forever from one stupid mistake with drugs and assuming I was just like them. I tried to be positive, and I relied on my boyfriend and my mom like crazy, but they didn’t understand.

My psychiatrist tried me on different anti-depressants, which didn’t seem to help with the DP. Quick tip: Changing your meds won’t help with DP. DP is a state of mind, and it’s foundation lies in anxiety. So yes, I suppose it could help a little, but really, time and a positive attitude are the only two real therapies for DP. Realizing that can be hard. I’m a control freak, but knowing that it was up to me to get rid of DP intimidated me. It was easier just to assume I’d have it forever. But that’s a defeatist attitude, and it won’t get you anywhere, folks! Patience is a virtue–truly.

It looks like I’m going to have to do a “part III” for this topic, because it’s getting to be too long.

In “part III,” I’ll talk about how I came out of DP, and how I’m thankful to have gone through it. Seriously. As corny as that sounds… it forced me to find peace within myself, which takes a lot of freaking time. I’m still in the process… but to be honest, DP essentially motivated me to start this blog because I learned SO MUCH “in my fight” against it, and I wanted a place to share it. So, with that being said, UNTIL NEXT TIME!

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…)

Lesson #15: Jack Dawson IS the King of the World

Turns out, Jack Dawson IS the King of the World. He knows his shit.

kingoftheworld

He knew exactly what he was doing when he took Rose to the front of that boat. He was well aware of the fact that if you stand on the railings and stick your arms straight out to the side, whilst rubbing your tush against Leonardo DiCaprio’s crotch, ANY girl will think they’re flying.

Now, my boyfriend, Tim, is, unfortunately, NOT Leonardo DiCaprio, but I love him anyway. He makes me feel like I’m flying in his own way.

There’s something you should know about me. I LOVE the movie Titanic. I was going to say I’m obsessed with it, but I don’t know if I’d go that far. But I do LOVE it (all caps). So, naturally, when I boarded the Freedom of the Seas last week for a one-week cruise, I planned on duplicating every major scene from the movie. At night, when I went to bed in our small little cabin, I imagined a Model-T car to be sitting idly five decks below, just waiting to get steamy. When I went to dinner, I whispered to Tim that I wanted him to slip me a note that read, Make it count. Meet me at the clock. And then, I wanted to meet him at the clock, where he’d ask me, “So, you want to go to a real party?” And then I wanted the scenery around us to magically morph into a wild, Irish music, below-deck dance party where we’d dance all night and I’d drink beer in one gulp and stand on my tip toes and impress all the foreign men around me who assumed high-class girls can’t drink or stand on the tops of their toes.

Well, that didn’t end up happening. But we DID have access to the front of the boat… where this happened…

For the record, I hate fedoras.
For the record, I hate fedoras.

Some random guy took this shot. I think he may have a career in photography ahead of him. I mean, look at this picture. It’s incredible. Speaking of incredible, this experience, for me, was incredible. Not because I felt, for two seconds, like Hollywood’s power couple. But because I actually felt like I was flying! What did I tell you? Jack Dawson, I repeat, Jack Dawson is the King of the World. He’s done us all well.

I was a little embarrassed at first, being so cliche and all. “They WOULD reenact the famous scene from Titanic. Typical white people.” But surprisingly, we weren’t judged. In fact, the guy who took our picture told us his girlfriend just had him do the same thing. PHEW! I gave her a look that read, Jack Dawson, right? So hott. She returned the sentiment with a cocked eyebrow. Now that I think about it, she might have just been confused. But I digress.

not lame

I think Tim finds my love for Titanic cute, because he doesn’t criticize it too often. Conversely, I think it bothers him how frequently I accidentally call him “Jack” in bed. Well, Tim, it bothers me that you won’t call me “Rose” and paint me like one of your french girls! Take a damn art class, you uncultured sloth.

I’m not obsessed, I promise!

Ok, maybe a little...
Ok, maybe a little… Damn.

Tim, I love you. And you’re an amazing sport. Thank you for putting up with me… I couldn’t ask for a better adventure buddy. {End sap.}

Lesson learned? Jack Dawson IS the King of the World. He deserves some kind of award. 

Ooohh... awkward
Ooohh… awkward

Lesson #13: There’s nothing more pretentious than cruising

There’s nothing more pretentious than cruising.

And when I say “cruising,” I don’t mean riding along with your four best buds around town, throwing empty beer cans at the elderly, and rapping to Fresh Prince of Bel Air. 

Hey, why not?
Hey, why not?

By “cruising,” I mean getting on a  gigantic boat with a bunch of rich people and exploring the world, preferably the warmest parts.

Well, I’m just the type of person who enjoys being more pretentious than everyone around me. That’s right, I’m cruising tomorrow–Royal Caribbean, brah. From Florida, to Haiti, to Jamaica, to Grand Cayman, to Cozumel, and back to Florida. I think I might have gotten the order wrong, but whatever; I’m just along for the ride.

The best part? I’m going with my boyfriend, Tim. (Yes, my boyfriend, Tim, has the same name as my my dad. What of it?) Tim is my best friend, and just the kind of person I want to explore the world with! Makes dating him a little more convenient. That, and because he likes cheese dip almost as much as I do. He would argue he likes it more. That’s a lie.

Anyway, I’m incredibly excited! From relaxing on the dock, to chilling out with stingrays in Grand Cayman, to endless cocktails, there’s not much more a “more pretentious” girl could want.

Awww
Awww

How have I prepared?

Well, I put off packing until today. 99% sure I packed my entire wardrobe away. I’m sorry, but I need options. My anxiety can’t handle the concept of under packing. I MUST be prepared. And that’s why I got myself a manicure and pedicure today with my mom.

Hell yeah
Hell yeah

Because God forbid I get on that boat with gnarly toe nails. Sounds like blasphemy to me. Or I’m just digging myself an even more pretentious hole. #ownit

[Disclaimer: Do not do a Google-image search of “girl in hole.” You won’t like what you find. Lesson #14.]

I don’t know if I’d call this week’s lesson a REAL lesson, but I needed a way to tell you guys I’d be MIA for a week. But don’t worry; when I get back, I’ll have TONS to tell you about! I’m sure I’ll make countless stupid mistakes and learn a whole lot, like Lesson #14: Do not attempt to take the sting ray home with you, or Lesson #15: If the hypnotist calls people up on stage, stay firmly planted in your seat where it’s safe, or Lesson #16: Put the drink down. Maybe I should just go ahead and preemptively write that last one…

My journey begins at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!! And don’t worry, if you think I sound pretentious now, you just wait. I’ll sound even more pretentious upon returning. HUZZAH!

pretentious

Lesson learned? We’re all more pretentious than we think we are. But especially when cruising.

 

I’ve got BIG NEWS

Guys, I am super excited and I must share it with you… well, only because I’ve only blogged once this week, and I promised I’d aim for twice a week… I actually don’t care about you knowing at all. I don’t give a SHIT. Ha. Ha. I’m just kidding. I actually do want to tell you… (to brag. wut?)

Okay… so I have been presented with a wonderful opportunity. Here’s the backstory: I took a Fiction Writing class last semester, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the teacher (he looked like Louis Tomlinson) and he had us do exercises like “Rewrite the dialogue in this page in Twilight because it’s crap. Fix it.” But anyway, I wrote two short stories for that class, and I ended up meeting with him to put him on the spot, and ask him if he might want to get married and start a family. HA. No, I asked him if I had potential as a writer, because I don’t want to strive for something, and waste my life doing something I’m not even good at. Anyway, he told me I had potential, and gosh, my heart darn near skipped a beat. I immediately called my mom. “Mom, guess what? I’m pregnant….with glee.”

So that’s the backstory. Now to the real story.

I got an email over Christmas Break from a Dr. Paul, head of the Honors Program and an English professor. This is what it said, “StephanieDr. Rodden has recommended you for the Juniper Summer Institute (creative writing) at the University of Massachusetts. Over the years, the Honors Program has helped support such opportunities. I’d very much like to meet with you about the program–and some funding for it.” That is exactly what it said. I copied and pasted it.

So I freaked, duh. I immediately called my mom. “Mom, I’m gonna die.”

Basically, you go there and get partnered with a professional writer, and attend seminars, and just grow as a writer. OF COURSE I’M GOING TO DO THIS. AND I’M GOING TO BE FUNDED! HOW IS THIS A THING?

I met with Dr. Paul yesterday, and he said only two people were recommended by Rodden, and according to Dr. Paul, Rodden pointed to my name emphatically. I can’t get over that word. Seriously, I feel elated. Emphatically elated. It’s nice when your parents praise you for the things you accomplish, but when a professional points at your name emphatically, it’s feels completely different.

Medium-lengthed story made short: I’m gonna go, and they are going to pay half my way. You guys? The future doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

Below in the comment box you may praise my good name.