What does depersonalization feel like? (or DPD) With all the mental health talk out there, the mental health disorder depersonalization doesn’t get talked about very much. This means that it can be hard to find good information on what it feels like, if you think you or someone you may know is experiencing it. In my own experience, I suffered with depersonalization for years before I even knew that the way I was feeling had a name. Because I was clueless, I had a really hard time explaining to others how I was feeling, and this made me feel even more isolated. So what exactly does depersonalization feel like? Well, it can feel slightly different to everyone, but from what I’ve read, and what I’ve experienced myself, I wanted to put a post together to give you a thorough overview.
The depersonalization I experienced came from anxiety. This disorder can be brought on from anxiety, depression and PTSD. It’s not something that’s uncommon, but it can be really hard to pinpoint what is happening to you at the time when you’re going through it.
If you think you’ve experienced it before, read on below, as see if you recognize any of these;
1. You Feel Like You’re Going Insane
Depersonalization is scary. When you’ve never experienced it before, it can feel as if you are losing your mind in only seconds. I remember when I first felt as if I was not in control of my body because of it, and I felt as if I was going genuinely crazy. I literally had no idea what was happening to me. It initially felt like I was drunk when I looked around me, without the pain numbing effects of alcohol. I had never experienced a loss of control over my mind and emotions like that before. I had felt depersonalization for brief moments in the past (without knowing the disorders name) but it became more and more until it was finally constant. This lasted for months and months with the depersonalization varying in aggressiveness. After a few months without it disappearing like it had done before, I felt as if had finally lost it.
2. You Feel Like You’re Looking At Life Behind Glass
Depersonalization makes you feel like you’re detached and cut-off from a world that is happening around you. Feeling like you’re stuck behind an invisible pane of glass is a common description of depersonalization, because it’s the most accurate. Have you ever seen the episode of Black Mirror where the consciousness of another person is taken from their body and placed into another persons mind? (It’s super creepy) The inserted consciousness cannot control the body of the host, but they can talk to them and look on from behind their eyes. Instead of having someone else planted into your mind, depersonalization is like you’re the one inside your mind watching from behind the glass eyes. It’s misty, and you feel like you’re in a dream world.
3. Depersonalization Feels Like A Fine Mist
As well as feeling like you’re looking on behind a pane of glass, depersonalization feels like a mist that you can’t clear. For most of my life with anxiety, I’ve spent years feeling like I can’t clear my eyes from a fine mist that covers them. I know that this is not an optical issue because I’ve had my eyes tested by opticians. This is purely brought on psychologically by anxiety. I would often be disturbed by this ‘mist’ in the afternoons when my mind and body would get more tired as the day rolled on. Again this ‘mist’ is not the typical physical mist we all see on a foggy day. It’s more like viewing the world in fine pixels instead of HQ, almost as if you are seeing the objects in front of you in their atom form.
4. You Lose Control Over Your Thoughts
When depersonalization sets in, it’s like you have lost control of your thoughts. When I experienced this disorder, I remember feeling an overwhelming amount of thoughts crashing through my head, even more so than everyday anxiety. It was like an avalanche of thoughts that I couldn’t control or direct. Although you can see your thoughts come and go, depersonalization feels like you cannot process them and instead you are just observing them going berserk. Crippling thoughts and worries are bad enough with anxiety, but DPD takes it to another level.
5. You Can’t Process What Is Happening Around You
DPD can also make you feel totally detached from your surroundings, as if you can’t register what is going on in your environment. This is especially dangerous if you’re about to cross a road for example. Because the passing cars don’t seem like they are really there in their physical form, you might not take the threat seriously. That’s why it’s important to remind yourself that your surroundings are 100% legitimate and you are really there yourself, in your physical form. You might also be talking to someone but you can’t seem to register what that person is saying, and you find yourself forgetting what they said a short time after the conversation.
More concerningly, you may find it hard to take what someone says to you seriously. Because you’re preoccupied with trying to pierce through the mist that blocks your view, it can be hard to take in information and then store it in your mind to remember.
6. Depersonalization Makes You Feel Like A Robot
Depersonalization is quite literally the opposite of being in a mindfulness state. You are so far from present moment thinking. You find yourself feeling automated like a robot, going through the motions without thought of what you’re doing. You can understand that you are walking down a street for example, but you may end up at your destination without remembering a single detail of your journey.
7. You Don’t Recognize Yourself Or Others Well
Often times, you can find yourself confused over the reflection of yourself, or the sight of people you know. You know that it’s you looking back in the mirror, but somehow, something doesn’t seem quite right. Something seems like it’s missing. Your sense of identity can feel as if it has disappeared. You may also have trouble recognizing faces of people you know well.
How To Step Depersonalization In It’s Tracks
All of the above symptoms of depersonalization are scary, and it’s easy to see how you might feel like you’re going insane. As I said at the start of this post, I had this disorder for months on and off. It totally freaked me out at the time. By managing anxiety, I also ended up shutting down any DPD that came with it.
If you’re feeling any of the above symptoms and feel freaked out, try the below to bring yourself back to the present moment;
- Touch something nearby and notice how it feels
- Count 5 different objects you can see around you, then start again until you feel more present
- Touch something warm then touch something cold
- Right down any pleasant memories that bring you joy
- Socialize and make sure you’re not isolated
- Break up your routine and do something new
Much of depersonalization can come from anxiety induced cabin fever. That’s why it’s important to talk to others and not shut yourself off.
Please feel free to leave a comment below on any tips you may have for halting DPD in your own personal experience.
Here’s to your success
This post was previously published on Projectenergise.com.
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