Derealization / Depersonalization

Have you ever gone through a day where everything seems like a dream? I remember this happening to me when I was a child. I remember saying to my parents that I felt like I was dreaming. I had started to check out from reality at a very young age, I just wouldn’t realize it till later on in life. I checked out from reality without drugs for a long time. When I found the drugs it made me feel good, really good. I could check out from reality a different way and I could feel great doing it.

When I kept saying this to my parents as a child over and over initially they thought I was making it up. I know it’s hard to make sense of something you simply don’t understand. Years later I would find out about a disorder called Drealization and Depersonalization

Derealization; A distortion in how the external world is perceived. Depersonalization; A distortion in how one’s own body and self feel. What can be more frightening than feeling as though you are detached from yourself? This is the central feature of depersonalization. It is a feeling of being outside of yourself without any sense of control. Some sufferers often describe the sensation as observing themselves from outside of the body. Other sensations of depersonalization may include:

  • Feeling un-human or robot-like
  • Feeling foreign or unrecognizable to oneself
  • Feeling invisible or unreal

Where depersonalization focuses on one’s sense of self, derealization focuses on one’s sense of his or her surroundings. Sufferers often describe the sensation of derealization as being in a dream-like state where the environment seems unreal, foggy, or hazy. Other sensations of derealization may include:

  • Feeling cut off from one’s surroundings
  • Feeling like being trapped in a glass bubble
  • Feeling like surrounding objects are unreal or cartoon-like

I’m not entirely sure how common it is, but I know a few people who experience the symptoms. I had related it to anxiety. It was too much to bear so I blocked it out the best I knew how when I was young. When I discovered drugs; it was just another way to run. It was another way to escape. Now that I am sober, I am still finding moments where this feeling is present. It can be anywhere from 5 minutes long to a couple days, and I’m not going to lie, it freaks me out. At least now I know what it is and I can make sense of it which means I can look within myself to see what it is that might be causing it. My biggest obstacle at this point is most of the time I don’t even realize I am thinking about anything, I have gotten so use to bottling my thoughts that I don’t realize that I stress myself out. For example, I thought I was going to die about a month after getting sober, 6 months ago. I was convinced. So I rushed to the hospital only to be told that I was having chronic panic attacks. It had gotten to the point that I didn’t even know that I was thinking, the thoughts are constantly running through my mind and I’ve become an expert on ignoring them. This is something I will need to work on, and part of that is finding out why I was checking out from reality when I was just a child.  I can’t go on ignoring everything because that would mean I am taking steps backwards instead of forwards. Like I’ve said in the past, live and learn. The learning part is the most important.


4 thoughts on “Derealization / Depersonalization

  1. I have been experiencing depersonalization since I was about 8 or 9. At the time I had zero idea what it was. I too tried to explain it to my parents but they just said “Oh, everyone feels like that”…because obviously an 8 year old can’t truly articulate this feeling. I experienced a really horrible bout of it a few months ago and thought I was going crazy – only to google it and realize this is a thing that a lot of anxiety sufferers deal from.

    Anyway – Just know you aren’t alone! This feeling is scary and weird, but it’s something a lot of us go through.

  2. Hey there. I am pretty sure I have been going through depersonalization lately, and in a way derealization too. I think it probably is a coping mechanism. I feel like it won’t go away though. I think I am in a 2 week run of it right now, with some small lucid moments here and there. It’s horrid :/ But hey! Keep truckin’, right?

    • Ever since I wrote the post I’m finding out that it’s a lot more common than I thought, and it can be scary. From what I know it is a coping mechanism, the mind has a way of drifting when it wants to. But like you said, keep truckin’ lol
      All the best!

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