=July 28th, 2015 I was just joking around at work when my boss walked in at 5:00pm. It was moments after she walked in that I realized I had completely disconnected from my body. At the time I had no idea how to describe it, or put any kind of words to it to let people understand. The only thing I could say to my coworkers was that I immediately felt high. I obviously wasn’t. I had been at work a few hours already with no problem. It was a good day, too. It was my last day of the summer because I took the semester off from work so I could focus on school. I wanted the entire month of August to prepare and get ready for the semester as I’d taken on new challenges. I was voted President of the Active Minds Chapter at SUNY Potsdam and so that opened a whole new wave of responsibilities that excited and terrified me. I was enjoying my last day feeling fierce and ready.
I remember walking over to another coworker and sitting down because I couldn’t wrap my head around what happened. I felt so lost… so disconnected. I couldn’t catch my own breath. I was asked if I was okay to which I replied with a solid no instead of I’m fine. I had to run to the back and sit in the break room. I tried to explain to my boss and coworkers what was happening to me but I didn’t have any idea how to put words to it.
I ended up having a full blown panic attack as a result of the onset of the Depersonalization/Derealization (DDPD[Originally I knew it by just DPD thus the name of the blog]). I had minor panic attacks in the past from time to time, but being at work amplified this one and it was a traumatizing experience on its own. My boss ended up calling the pharmacist over (I worked at Walgreens) and she tried to calm me down. I ended up on the floor not able to breathe properly and eventually they called my parents. My father and Mother came up so that one of them could drive my car home for me because I couldn’t drive. I went home that night trying to figure out what was going on, and hopeful that if I slept it would be gone when I woke up. My parents suggested I was over-tired, or my blood sugar was low, or I was stressed. I was hopeful it was any and all of those things.
Unfortunately, it never went away. I woke up the next day only to start crying all over again and have another panic attack because I didn’t feel right still. I couldn’t feel myself. I couldn’t recognize myself. I went into my parents’ room and begged them to take me to a doctor because I couldn’t figure out what was happening to me. So we went to the Emergency room. After tons of tests and scans, they concluded it was psychiatric. They set me up an appointment for the next day at the mental health clinic and sent me home. That was the most terrifying answer to receive. To find out that it was nothing that was physically wrong with me, but that my mind was in control without me letting it be. There could have been comfort in knowing it was one specific thing that was wrong and causing all of this, but instead I was told it was all in my mind and as a psychology major in college I knew that was going to be a lot harder to figure out.
After my appointment with the mental health counselor, she told me it sounded like I had a dissociative disorder. I didn’t really know what that entailed. I wasn’t sure how accurate she could even be as I had all of these symptoms and no way to describe them. Even I thought I was crazy.
Imagine if the entire world was colorblind, and never has seen color before in their lives and then one day you see color. Imagine trying to explain that to your friends and family. It’s not easy. So I started doing research. That’s how I like to cope with things is by finding out as much information as I possibly can about something. That’s when I found the definition of depersonalization and all these stories of people who experienced EXACTLY what I was. They were putting things to words that I couldn’t. It was the biggest relief I had, had in days.
I self-diagnosed myself with DDPD. As renamed by the DSM-V as Depersonalization/derealization disorder.After a couple different therapists, they agreed. DDPD. However recently it was suggested that perhaps my symptoms of DPDD are caused by major depressive disorder. So we’re on a journey figuring out if that’s the case or not and trying to alleviate the symptoms regardless. Though they haven’t written in the official diagnosis spot, they have it on my file as a possibility. ***So until they make a decision on what they think my proper diagnosis is I’m going to be referring to myself as having the two disorders separately throughout my blog.
My symptoms, since today I can put words to most of them, include the following:
-I can’t feel myself talk. I feel like a robot who’s not in control of my own speech and movements. I’ve trained myself to just keep talking, or keep going to appear normal.
-I can’t recognize my own reflection, my own hands, my own body. Putting my hands together, or touching my leg is the strangest sensation. I feel so disconnected from my body.
-My memories and emotions get disconnected from each other. I have a hard time keeping up with them, too.
-My concept of time is warped. I can’t process five minutes vs. five hours differently.
-I am thoroughly exhausted often as it’s a fight to stay with it all, all of the time. I look normal. I act “normal.” to anyone who doesn’t know, I fight with everything in me every day.
-I know that I have feelings, however,I just don’t feel them like most people do. I’m conscious but not with it, if that makes sense.
-When I hear people talk, it’s hard for me to register it as quickly as someone not suffering with this does. So I can seem spacey sometimes if people talk to me for a long period of time.It’s as if there’s this veil over my ears sometimes.
-I feel as though I’m watching my life from a screen behind my eyes.
-I have a hard time waking up in the morning or from a nap because my awake state still feels like a dream and it takes me a while to process reality for what it is. I can’t connect to it. It’s like being half-awake.
-Any stress or trauma amplifies the disorder. As it is, it never stops. I haven’t had a second free from it since July 28th, 2015. I have days where it’s better than others.
-Anxiety. My anxiety has gone through the roof since the DDPD started. I started intensely self-monitoring myself as everything I experience is different now. I created a fear of fear. Social situations terrify me half the time, whether I show it or not, because of how hard it is for me to pretend I’m connected.
-And the worst of all of these symptoms is that I‘m completely aware of them all. I’m aware they’re feelings and sensations and not reality but I can’t stop them. I can’t change them. I can’t do anything with them.
I’ve had to come to terms with the way things are for me now. I’ve had to deal with it. I’ve had to learn to keep going. It’s insanely difficult, and the struggle I still can’t put words to. I go on autopilot where I let my mouth keep talking, or my body keep moving but I don’t control it. It’s as if it’s just happening.
The perfect illustration to depict this disorder is this:
Unfortunately, I’m unsure of who the artist is to credit. Though I thank them for this image. It’s perfect.
So every day is a new fight for me. It’s been over a year so far, and I’m getting help trying to figure out what’s caused this mental wall and this disorder. Prolonged stress and anxiety can cause it. Trauma can cause it. Depression can cause it. There are so many possibilities that could have put me down this path, and trying to figure out which one is rather difficult. It could be anything from my life that happened at any point that triggered it finally that one day at work. The therapists also have leaned towards MDD, Major Depressive Disorder. I definitely believe that’s a possibility when I reflect on my life as well.
It’s a new adventure for me, but I’m finding the strength and silver lining to make it through every day. I now have something to help me to connect to other sufferers that helps to assure them it’s okay. I have new insight into something that can help me help others. I’ve been able to show myself how strong I really am so I know if I can get through the days of this, then i can get through anything. This is my recovery blog.
Until the next post; light and love to my readers.
***I’ll be going through EMDR therapy in late September and I plan to blog my progress with that. My goal is to provide comfort for anyone else struggling with something they don’t understand yet. This disorder impacts so many aspects of my life and I’m not going to drone on and on in one post about them all. So as I add more and more posts about random things to this blog I’ll be making the connection to my disorder and my recovery. I’ll post ways I’ve found to help and things I’ve found to make it worse. I’ll be providing insight to my mind as a way to help myself and to entertain or help others.