Story by Amanda
It seems like ever since I was a child I have thought that there was something unreal about life. As young as six, I considered life to be one big stage full of actors. Just like the credits that roll at the end of a movie, I would write down the names of every person in my life. Their names would be their character names, and across from that I would write their "real names." I don't know where I got these "real names" from, I guess just made them up in my head.
I've experienced panic attacks ever since my teen years, and to some degree still do. Growing up I always felt different. I never had very many friends, as it just seemed like I was not the same as everyone else. Not in a superior way. I was always pegged as a snob, but that wasn't it. I just always preferred to observe other people.
Even though it is evident that DP is not the result of drug use, since some have never used any kind of drug, it seems like some drugs can strongly trigger it. I have never been a fan of marijuana, but have smoked it occasionally only because my boyfriend and some friends do it regularly. The strangest episode was this past fall, when we were on vacation at the beach. It was night time and I walked down on the beach toward the water. I was suddenly hit with a strong feeling (almost a knowledge) that I was dreaming. It was so weird. I felt like the whole scene was not real, I was not really here on this beach. It threw me off balance, as I spent the next several minutes wildy scrambling to figure out if I really was dreaming, or was indeed physically on the beach.
But my worst experience was on New Year's Eve. I had given up drinking for good on Christmas and was smoking a little bit of pot each night to calm myself down and attempt to deal with not drinking anymore. Bad idea. On that night I smoked a little more than I usually did. I was already slightly on edge from having taken a caffeine pill earlier in the evening. As soon as my high came over me, my boyfriend's roommate came stumbling home dead drunk. He was so scary looking that I completely flipped out. I went into the bathroom and did not come out for four hours. I honestly thought that I was going to die. It is tough to explain...I felt like I was losing it. I had no control over myself. It was the motherlode of all panic attacks. As much as I tried to talk to myself and tell myself I was fine, somehow I could not believe it and panicked that I was going to slip away into unconsciousness, that there was nothing I could do.
Ever since that night though, I have been dealing with daily panic attacks and attacks of depersonalization. I will be somewhere surrounded by people, or just in the car with my boyfriend, and suddenly everything seems to speed up, I feel like I am outside of everything that is going on. I am not really there, not part of what is going on around me. I don't know who I am. I have had to go as far as pulling out a piece of paper and writing down facts about myself - my name, my age, what physical characteristics - in an attempt to connect myself back to myself, to reality. Or else I have to touch an object, or place my hands on a table top, telling myself "Look, this is real, you're real, you're really here." I really feel like I am slipping away from people, and it makes me panic. I have never had a near death experience, but the experience of DP almost feels like you are starting to die (which I know is not happening) and you are starting to feel yourself slipping away, almost like a memory of dying (from a past life, maybe?).
I also wanted to add that I am also strongly effected by bright lights, especially fluorescent ones. They bring on depersonalization instantly, especially the bright lights inside a convenience store or office.
I am really intrigued by the mind-body connection. Since it seems like others with this condition have undergone extensive medical tests with no findings, then maybe there is possible connection with unconsciously tapping into another dimension, where our souls are separated from our bodies. I personally have had an OBE experience and part of me believes that are souls do in fact live on after our bodies die ...very interesting to think about.
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