I’d smoked pot since I was about 16. I had resisted for a long time, being a total control freak even at that age, but once I tried it I just had too much fun. For a number of years I had no problems. I simply enjoyed myself and suffered the typical paranoia of being regularly stoned. At the age of 20 I broke down another resistance and decided to try LSD. I had no problem with pot, and I wanted a bigger buzz. Three times I took LSD. The first two I helped the experience along with alcohol. The experience was sometimes tame, but mostly just like being drunk and tense. I had some fun and again, no problems. The third time I made the mistake of smoking a bowl to bring on the LSD. It took about 30 minutes. It started as a restless feeling, which grew into nervousness.
I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. What exactly was I doing? As the LSD started to have a serious effect it started to dawn on me what I was doing. I had the idea that I really wasn’t prepared to lose my mind in a drug experience. I then suddenly knew that this was exactly what was happening. I was, in one way or another, going to ‘lose it’.
Once the thought entered my mind, that was it. The fear grew worse, which I noticed, which predictably set of a chain of panic and fear. Reading a number of people’s descriptions of DP I can piece together a lot more of what happened that night. I know that I immediately felt disconnected from my self, for the first time truly seeing that my thoughts and my sanity were in some way notunder my control. With the LSD there was no where to go, no retreat or safety. I think the fact that pot, panic and a sense of losing one’s mind and self are all very common to DP experiences. Anyway, since it was a drug experience, although it was horrible and lasted for hours, it eventually settled. As the LSD wore off I began to calm down. I distracted myself and eventually managed to get to sleep. But when I woke up the next day things were simply not right. People’s voices were different. Colours were different shades. Of course much of it was just typical of LSD after effects. It was the nervousness, the lack of anything familiar that was the problem. I made it through that day and continued to slowly calm down. But as I went to sleep that night, the experience returned. It wasn’t that I felt DP or unreal, but rather I had that recurring thought, the thought that I was going to ‘lose it’. Fear came with the thought and very quickly the panic attacks re-surfaced. This time there was no drug to wear off. This time I really felt out of control.
DP itself wasn’t really my main problem at this point. I was dealing with blind, raging panic. I could only stop myself from having attacks by being distracted. My concentration was capable enough that I could study or engage in various absorbing activities. But as soon as my mind had a second to itself the memory triggered what was happening and the panic attacks returned. It wasn’t really until some weeks later, when the panic started to subside and when I began to gather my wits again, that I noticed how strange things began to seem.
The view, looking down at my arms and legs, seemed very strange, not unreal, just questionable, as if it didn’t have to be that way, as if the true me didn’t really belong in the world and I was only supposed to be an observer. Looking back, I realize that it was, in fact, a defense mechanism. Being absorbed in my own thoughts was unpleasant, unbearable. The constant panic was my worst nightmare, so my mind had chosen to displace itself. My new view of the world was not being in it, rather being just slightly outside. In this way the DP actually progressed over time. The intense feelings died down but the perspective of not being directly in the real world developed and became a lot more permanent. Over the years, my concentration has become worse. I’ve become a lot more prone to stress and emotional problems. The world itself developed a sort of haze or fog. Nothing seemed entirely clear anymore and I couldn’t look at something and really ‘see’ it the way I thought I used to.
It was really as if I was still on LSD. Where every time you look at something, it seems new, different or interesting. As if there is nothing you can really grab on to. The intense aspects of my DP have certainly faded over the past two years or so. Being more distracted, my panic attacks are basically gone and my life is relatively normal. I am left simply feeling slightly depressed, constantly nervous and not quite able to really relax and let myself go. In some ways its opened up my mind to many different ways of looking at the world. This is actually not all bad although a lot of spiritual exploration can be incredibly intimidating. I am at the point now where any resistance I had to medication is gone. I’ve been like this for too long. I am more than aware that the symptoms are mostly to do with anxiety and I know that there is something I can do about that. I may also have found a therapist who is willing to work through things with me. In this way I am hoping to get back in touch with a more authentic version of myself. For me, DP has come about because something scared me so much that I have turned away from reality itself. I do understand that for many of us its easy to question that reality, but I don’t think its as flimsy as it sometimes appears. And while its good to be open to any interpretation of what is happening here, I don’t believe that feeling disconnected from your own thoughts and feelings is the right way to be. DP, for me, is a case of self denial, not self loss, or the loss of something created as an illusion to make life easier. I have become disconnected and put up some barriers. These barriers stop me from enjoying my life and feeling as if I am a part of what is going on around me at every second, even feeling as if ‘I’ exist at all. And while I sometimes think that this disconnection is closer to the truth than what I had before, I still know that DP is a step in the wrong direction. It gives us some interesting things to think about and experience, but ultimately it is a partial creation in itself and not somewhere where I think anyone wants to end up.