So, you have depersonalization...
Do you really think you have lost your mind?
Well, take a breath and try to relax for a minute because I can promise you that you have NOT lost it! Just think about it, if you had really lost your mind would you even be concerned about the word "depersonalization" in the first place? No, you know why?
Someone who has lost their mind does not think logically.
Simply stated, the very fact that you are seeking information about how to deal with such feelings of unreality is clear proof that you've still got it!!
The next logical question is:
What On Earth Is it?
Lets start by identifying what it is.
Depersonalization is the sensation that one is outside of himself looking in, as if you are only an on-looker in your own life. Or some describe it as feeling as if their own body is fake.
Depersonalization is closely related to what is called derealization which is described as feeling like your surroundings are not real, like your are looking through a fish bowl, or that life around you seems "cartoonish". And if this describes you, you are definitely not alone!... I've experienced it many times and I thought I was loosing my mind, too! So, the next logical question is:
Why does it happen?
The mind has a interesting way of protecting itself. Let's illustrate it this way, if an athlete overdoes his exercise routine how does his body let him know? Well, a big indicator would be if he pulled a muscle.
He has just pushed his body over the limit and he needs to slow down and make some changes. Well it is similar with depersonalization. While you may be completely unaware that the stress in your life is mounting higher and higher, your mind is fully aware.
So it sends you a signal that your are overdoing it and need to make adjustments to try to stop anxiety . Your brain is basically saying:
"I'm still functioning here
but all systems are in survival mode!"
Think of it like this: Your brain is sending you a big signal that
you need to stop stressing and find a way to reduce that anxiety level!
Things such as a very heavy workload, family problems, and traumatic events (such as loss of a job, chronic illness, or the death of a loved one) can be triggers. The constant worry about such things can send the brain into overload and the result is depersonalization.
So the BIG question...
How do I stop it from happening?
Time to make changes. You can do this! Start by figuring out what is causing YOU so much stress. Is it job related, sickness, obsessional thinking, is it "anxiety" itself that has got you flustered and frustrated? Do a little anxiety self help by putting it down on paper.
So, get a pen and paper...
ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS
1. Am I being realistic?
Chances are: You have gotten caught up in a world of "what if" thinking. Stop that cycle. And let tomorrow's concerns BE tomorrow's concerns. Just worry about today. Tomorrow will be tomorrow. I have always found that focusing on one day at time helps tremendously and is more realistic. Besides, tomorrow will probably be better.
2. Am I being positive?
Chances are: You are already assuming the worst. You have to tell yourself to stop wrecking things before they even happen. Although you cannot control the obstacles life presents you, you can control YOUR attitude about them. See the bright side of things. I know it's hard, but you CAN do it! Try to look at what is good about a situation instead of looking at what is bad.
Example: If your are chronically ill why not view your sickness as a way to encourage someone else to cope. They may very well need a friend. Show them ways to be positive, help them laugh and not take things so seriously. Have a sense of humor and help them do the same. Helping another person produces a happy sensation in our brains... It really works, try it a couple of times!
Consider this: Imagine you had a friend that was dealing with this and they came to you for encouragement. You care about this person. Now, think of the encouraging, upbuilding things you would say to this friend... now say them to YOURSELF. Tell yourself it will be ok, give yourself reasons to see the positive aspects of things. Don't beat yourself down, build yourself up. Do this over and over again...
3. Am I piling too much on my plate?
Chances are: You are the type of person who puts his/her heart and soul into everything. Which means you probably pile things on yourself just to see that they get done right. Well, it could very well be time to lighten your load.
Example: If Depersonalization is job related you can start by trying to delegate some of your responsibilities. Or if a lot of family responsibilities fall on your shoulders such as caring for a relative, seek out the help of other family members. Don't be ashamed to ask for help. If our family and friends don't know what we are going through, they can't be there to help.
Whatever the case, paste it to your forehead "I am only one person". Do what you can reasonably do and the rest will just have to wait. It is not worth more anxiety. Very few issues are life or death situations.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
By being determined to make changes in your attitude and lifestyle you will be taking concrete steps to prevent the symptoms of depersonalization. Whatever you do, don't give up! While trying the advice mentioned above do NOT allow your mind to over analyze it and swallow you up.
Get on with your "balanced" daily routine, act as if the weird feelings don't even exist. Those weird feelings should gradually subside. Sometimes it can take weeks or even months to feel yourself again. And remind yourself that the feelings themselves cannot hurt you.
If you have made the changes mentioned above and you still can't shake the feeling, a mild anxiety anxiety medication may get you where you need to be.
Depersonalization was my BIGGEST obstacle and in my case lasted several years without treatment. Read my experience with my anxiety disorder here. Changing my thinking and along with a daily minimal dose of SSRI medication has helped me greatly. I still have periods of derealization but they are few and far between. The techniques mentioned above help me to keep those feelings under control. If you prefer the natural route, click here for options with anti anxiety herbs.
Whatever you do, realize that depersonalization and derealization are JUST symptoms that can subside with time. So my motto is
"Ride the Tide Until it Subsides"!