Story by "Anonymous"
I am so glad that I found this site. I had been reading some of the experiences and some of them are carbon copy descriptions of what I have been living with.
I remember my first experience as a child. I was about 10 or 11, I was sitting up in my bunk bed looking towards my encyclopedias when all of a sudden this feeling comes over me and I ask myself "Am I alive, am I really living?". I suddenly felt like the most familiar place to me, was suddenly unfamiliar. As if I could have accepted everything around me if it was a dream, but unfortunately I was living and extremely detached to everything around me, but worst yet, detached from my self.
When I was a child, I used to think the feeling was ok, since I lived with my parents and subconsciously I reminded myself I was safe. But as I got older, the feeling would make me more annoyed than scared. During classes in high school, if the feeling came over me, I would just repeat my name and address just to find some kind of grounding back into reality. It really disrupts action and mental processes I needed to have to study or pass tests. During this age, I was mostly scared of being outside or on the street or on the train by myself and had the need to ask "Am I alive? Is this real?" to myself. I feared getting trapped in this state on the street and not being able to communicate or survive or get home.
During college, is when I started to get really uncomfortable. Mostly because I lived by myself and no longer had a safety net of my family home to fall back to if these episodes would return. I remember sitting during lecture listening and writing notes when all of a sudden the professor was unfamiliar to me. People were laughing but they were unfamiliar to me. Suddenly I asked myself "Am I alive? Is this real? Have I really been here the whole time??" I still retained some ability to snap out of it. Recite my address (which by this point had changed a few times). Keep myself mentally preoccupied, or socially busy... to busy enough to prevent falling into the episodes. It was during college that I had learned how to snap into the episode of detachment and Depersonalization.
After college. I had been working a lot. Doing fine, episodes were few and far between. But then I suddenly got fired. I had a lot of time to myself. That's when my depersonalization took a nasty turn. I had never done drugs up until that point. I smoked weed for the first time. It was during that first time that I realized the experiences were similar, but not completely the same. Except under the influence of weed, you cannot snap out of the feeling. That is when the panic attack/anxiety attack took over. I had become extremely paranoid by weed and felt like I was trapped in my depersonalization and would never get out. I feared that because I smoked pot, I had triggered something that I had worked my whole life to avoid. That made me feel totally upset and insane.
In the months that followed, I could no longer easily snap out of my depersonalization that I had lived so well with since I was a child. The scariest moment was recently, when I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream into my depersonalization state. Even though I knew I was ok, and that I was in my apartment...I suddenly had NO FAMILIARITY WITH MY APARTMENT. Everything felt detached aided with the sense of panic. My heart was beating out of my chest I was running around trying to calm myself. Even though I was home. Everything felt completely unfamiliar. I started to have an anxiety/panic attack.
Sometimes I wondered if my experience meant that one day I was going to be trapped in Alzheimer's. I am still not sure but I really really hope not. During college, when I felt the safest, or if I was home I used to snap into the episodes for fun. Basically I would repeat my mantra of "Am I alive" a statement that I used to say as a kid because of a result of the episodes... and turned it into almost a mantra.
If I wasn't living alone, I'm sure my depersonalization would not occur so much. But my advice to anyone who experiences this is don't do drugs, it only makes the feeling worse cause it introduces paranoia and panic attacks. Which basically is the only thing I'm afraid of now.
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