Story by Jolene


My name is Jolene and I am 25 years old. I have been afflicted with this disorder for about 8 years. I had my first episode when I was just 16 and it was the most terrifying experience I feel a person could be put through. Like most DP sufferers mine I feel was brought on by drug/alcohol abuse. I have never been heavy into either of the above because every time I used them I fell into an episode. It all started when I was 16 and peer pressure and curiosity got the best of me. I smoked a joint with friends and immediately felt detached and unaware of my surroundings. I (thank goodness) have a very close relationship with my mother and told her what happened and had her rush me to the hospital. They didn't help me feel any better and actually made me feel worse. No drugs were given to me and nothing was set up as far as getting me in to talk to a professional. At this point I felt very alone and felt like I was going to go insane and die. My family was very patient and supportive. They helped me find a professional to talk to and he got me on meds. It was an anti-depressant and an anti-anxiety mixture. I took it everyday. The DP was debilitating and made it impossible to function. My mom forced me everyday to do just one thing I didn't do the day before. Between (I believe) the meds and the fact that I was forced to face this made me get better. It was an extremely long and excruciating 2-3 months before it started to get better. But I did get back to myself in time. I didn't touch marijuana again! But everyone I associated with did. It was about 2 years later when my boyfriend was smoking it and blew the smoke into my face. I felt ill immediately and went to lay down. This time it was different. I didn't smoke it myself and the feeling of DP wasn't immediate. While I was laying down I remember staring at a wall and it seemed as if the wall began to melt. I became terrified and anxious and made my boyfriend take me to the hospital. This time they gave me an IV of saline because I was dehydrated and asked if drugs were involved. They sent me home. I was living away from home at the time and decided I needed to move home with my parents. Again I saw a Doctor that prescribed somewhat of the same mixture of drugs. This time things were worse. It was Paxil and it made me feel very ill which I feel upset the DP. I asked to be put back on the anti-anxiety med that I was on before (Clonazapam) and started to feel better. It again took time and was a painful process. I was working at the time and ended up resigning from my position due the stress of dealing with the DP.
I in time began hanging out with friends and resumed my normal activities. It was about a year later when I experienced my next encounter with DP. This time it wasn't me. It was my mom. She in her younger days had experimented with drugs but was never a heavy user. One night while at a high school reunion party some of her old friends talked her into smoking a joint. She was set to go on a trip to see her sister that was over 700 miles away and she was going to drive the distance. She thought it might relax her and get her ready for her trip. She to this day has no idea HOW she got there! I drove to get her because I felt I was the only one who would truly understand her and make her feel comfortable. I felt so bad for her because I knew there was nothing I could do to help her out of this. She did recover about a month later with the help of Alazopram.
Today I write this in another DP fog. I have stayed clear of any drugs or alcohol since my last episode and felt very good since. But last week I made a HUGE mistake. I spent the weekend drinking and have sent myself back to where I never want to be. The first night was fine and I felt ok after drinking so I thought I could do it again. NOT SO! I drank 4 drinks the next night and got just past the "buzzed" point and into the I'm wasted and things are spinning and strange stage. As soon as I felt like I was NOT in control the DP symptoms came on. This time has been tolerable. Which I have never experienced before. Unlike other episodes which completely disabled me I have been able to drive, take care of my son, go to interviews, and sleep somewhat soundly this time. I feel better during the evening than in the day which is also foreign to me as I have always had it worse at night. I have also had a real problem with fluorescent lighting and dimly lit areas. I have always had agoraphobia with my DP and now I feel better in outdoor open places. Once I'm in a small space or in front of mirrors it makes it worse. This time I feel like I "black out" for 30-60 seconds. I know that I'm real this time and can talk myself into doing things and that I will be just fine. I feel like my mind is cloudy and that my contacts are dirty. I'm constantly rubbing my eyes or holding my head which makes me feel temporarily better. I am debating taking the Clonozapam???

The way I see it is this. There is something (for me) that triggers this response in my head. Thus far it has been a substance. If there is something that triggers it there has to be something that turns it off. My thoughts have been that I am very sensitive to drugs and that once I get to a point where most people get relaxed I have the opposite. I get anxious and irritable and ALL of the DP symptoms are there. I don't like feeling out of control. And that's what happens when I drink or smoke. It makes me feel as if I'm not in control of my body and I panic which sends me into the DP. When you drink or smoke pot you get to the point of being "high" or "drunk". For some reason when I do it I feel like I stay in that "high" or "drunk" state. So far all of my episodes have gone away in time and I can only hope that this one will go away also. I never would wish this on my worst enemy! I just want others that are new to DP to have faith that it will go away. You have to be strong and have courage. Face the situations. I know the fear. You are not alone in this and aren't going crazy. You will have better days!


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