It started when I felt myself telling my mom how I felt like a ghost. I was too young to realize it was numbness at the time. I would speak and not be heard, I would show up but not be seen. Making a big deal out of something for attention became routine. The funny thing about routine is you never really realize what your norm is until you look into other people’s attitudes and schedules. I was raised in chaos so running to the chaotic was just… normal for me. It was almost like I could have been asleep and made the same decisions, life was so dreamlike. I floated through life, watching myself make mistakes and saying “this isn’t me, I don’t feel like myself, what’s wrong with me?” In my free time, I stared off into space and thought about nothing. Then I would self medicate, go to sleep, wake up, and do it all again. It got worse the more I tried to push it off; I could disconnect from my emotions now. I could say things I didn’t mean and let it not bother me, I could be selfish and not care. “It all feels very robotic..” I hear myself saying to my therapist, “sometimes I don’t think I’m real anymore”I had a detachment to my identity and myself, for someone normally so introspective, how could I miss that this was clearly dissociation?
There are two types of dissociation; pathological and non-pathological. Somebody who’s going through non-pathological dissociation may feel like they have no reason to feel the way they do. It can be easily overcome rather than pathological dissociation which means the dissociation came from a set of circumstances that cannot be prevented. It was easier to be disassociated until it turned into depersonalization. Suddenly the numbness felt sharper, I didn’t know who I was or what I believed in. I lashed out, unaware of others and excusing myself for it.
My therapist told me that we all have an idea of where we want to be and who we want to be. When we make decisions that lead us further away from that image of future-us in our head it can cause depression. Not dealing with your depression can lead to these symptoms of dissociation and depersonalization. Depersonalization can also BE a symptom of a different underlying disorder, and an episode of depersonalization can last anywhere from minutes to years. It’s important to be aware of your memory, consciousness, identity, and perception. When something happens to disrupt these things, symptoms may occur. Even as self-aware as someone who may have depersonalization disorder may be, it’s often mistaken for anxiety or depression. Now, most of the time, with just positive self-reinforcement this disorder can go away over time. Some people may even be able to psyche themselves out of it! But what do you do when it’s become long term? When you don’t want to leave the house because nothing is real anymore? When it’s affecting your relationship with others and yourself?
Don’t worry, complete recovery is possible for many. Whatever stressors caused the feeling in the first place you face head-on. Either with a support system or not, it is important to try for yourself. You deserve to be that best version of yourself in your head. Reflect on the stressors, the trauma, the circumstances, and realize being a product of your environment is a choice. If you have trouble identifying where these feelings of illusory came from, seek professional treatment, or find someone you trust and talk it out. Make art, make music, try some form of self-expression, the bare minimum we can do on this Earth is at least to try to be better people. If medication is needed, so be it! take it as prescribed. Without treatment, more dissociative episodes can occur. Remember, treatment doesn’t make you weak. We are all born strong. It is your duty to yourself to be present, happy, and kind. With these 3 easily learnable qualities, I fully believe anyone suffering from this form of dissociation will reach a clearer and more realistic image of themselves and the world around them.
Written by Sunny R