First off, I just have to tell you what an amazing encouragement your site has been to me. 
When I found this website and read about DP and others experiences with it, I couldn’t stop myself from crying.  I kept wanted to say “YES! YES! I FELT THAT WAY TOO!”  I can’t even explain how relieved and excited I was to realize that I wasn’t the only one out there who felt this way.  The worst part of the “sickness” is to believe you are alone.

I remember my first experience with DP.  It was in 5th grade.  I was sitting in my living room across from my mother while she was watching a movie.  Suddenly I started crying.  I remember running to her and saying over and over “I don’t get it.  I just don’t get any of this.”  After that I suffered from panic attacks and a fluctuating sort of quasi-depression that I didn’t understand.  The doctor recommended breathing into a paper bag and my mother had no idea what I was talking about when I would try and explain it.  I gave up and the next three years it was off and on… more often than not, off.

Then in the 9th grade it came on full-force.  I don’t remember exactly when it started… sometime during the beginning of the year.  I would be sitting in class or in the car or walking through a store and it would hit me.  
I constantly tried to analyze everything… thinking in circles about existence and reality and trying to justify what I was feeling.  Everything I said and did seemed outside myself… like I was walking out a scene in a play.  I couldn’t grasp time or the fact that I was “actually there”.  During the worst moments, I would wonder if everything around me wasn’t just some kind of a dream and I would wake up completely alone in some kind of a void.  This terrified me.  I would act normal around friends and family, only talking about it to my mother because, even though she didn’t understand it, she would give me a temporary comfort and calm me down after attacks.  Eventually I stopped talking about it altogether.  But it was still there.  I felt like I was past depression… that this was something a million times worse.  Not just a sadness or general boredom that would go away.  It was something that haunted my every thought.  I would find myself in cold sweats, my heart racing.  I was hopeless in feeling as though there were no solution.  Every minute I felt like I was completely alone and losing my mind.  It was impossible to be genuinely happy because any sort of happiness or good instance in my life wasn’t real… nothing was real. 

I felt like every emotion was just a hollow impulse buzzing on the surface and underneath it there was this cavern of confusion, emptiness and indescribable loneliness.  It was like watching myself in a movie.  I moved like the air was liquid and sounds were far away.  I got to the point where I was convinced that there was no hope… everything and everyone I loved was just a figment of my imagination and that joy was just a facade and that no pill or shrink could ever make it better.  I really, truly wanted to die.   I wanted to stop BEING.

Sometimes I would be able to ignore it and function like normal.  But in the back of my mind I constantly was searching for the answer.  I wanted to know WHY.  I wanted to be able to comprehend whatever it was that I couldn’t… but then I was so terrified that once I did, I would go crazy.  It was overwhelming.  In restaurants or while we were visiting relatives or 
walking in a public place I would break down crying.  My mother would tell me to stop making a scene.  She didn’t understand.  Once while out to dinner with her and her friend Wanda I had an attack.  They were both making fun of 
me, assuming that I just wanted attention.  I retreated to the bathroom and cried and cried.  I couldn’t explain it to anyone.  No one would understand.

After that I got extremely good at putting on a front and pretending I was fine. I could have intelligent, believable conversations with people when really I was somewhere else… a million miles inside myself with a huge knot in my stomach.  I envied anyone who was “normal”.  I would envy people with the worst of problems… anorexia, bipolar disorder, massacred families… convinced anything was better than what I was going through.  I wanted so much to be able to feel.  I felt so numb and hopeless and alone.
Then, towards the end of my freshman year of high school, I was sitting in my study hall class talking to a group of friends.  Trever was talking about how he didn’t think he’d live past thirty.  Someone asked him why.  He said that he didn’t think he could handle it… that none of this was real.  I instantly changed the subject.  I didn’t know what to make of it.  I avoided him constantly after that.

I’m now a junior in high school.  A few weeks ago I decided to try pot for the first time with my friend Renee.  I had wanted to do it for a long time… just to get the experience over with.  My curiosity was eating me alive.  At first I didn’t feel anything except minor lethargy.  We left her house and started to drive to the gas station where her boyfriend works.  She offered me a cigarette and I accepted.  Suddenly it hit me.  I felt like I was hearing my voice from another room.  The sense of awareness and panic was intense and immediate.  My heart started racing and I wanted to jump out of the window.  I was erratic and terrified and I almost screamed at her to take me home.  Luckily I’d had so many similar experiences, I was able to calm myself down before she knew anything was wrong.

I have my own personal theories on what causes DP.  Whether it’s a psychological disorder or really is a glimpse of what we cannot comprehend isn’t known.  I personally think that it’s just our minds doing what they have always done… searching for a higher knowledge.  Perhaps we are seeing something outside what we know that is so different and vast that we cannot comprehend it.  Or maybe it’s just a chemical reaction.  Whatever the case, WE ARE NOT INSANE.  I was never abused physically, emotionally or sexually as a child; had a traumatic occurrence; or did any drug previously, and I 
still ended up with DP.  That just shows that it can happen to anyone.  

It’s a blessing and an incredibly horrible curse to crave an understanding of something we can’t quite touch.  People learn to cope with it in different ways.  The depression is agonizing, but it’s the greatest gift to realize that you aren’t the only one.  That it is, statistically, “normal.”  I’ve learned to accept what I am and what it means to be alive.  I no longer obsess over it and drive myself to the edge of insanity.  I can finally feel a lucid happiness and worry about teenage things like weight and 

It’s much like the old saying about the tree falling in the forest… a reality does exist in some substance SOMEWHERE whether we can feel it or not.  If we never do in life, then perhaps in death.  As Shakespeare said:

“Who would these fardles bear
To grunt and sweat under a weary life —
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought…”

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