Story by "Jerry"

 

I haven't had any episodes or feeling of DP for a very, very long time! Later in my letter I'll explain how and why I found this site. (How would one who's not having symptoms end up here?)

Some think it's important to note that I had a very harsh childhood. I have yet to meet and talk with a person who has had as traumatic a childhood as I
have. I'm not sure I agree it's a component to my DP experience. Although I think as a defense mechanism, it did leave me somewhat emotionally
desensitized for quite some time. 

I've read most all the stories and forums posted here. I can relate to all I have read. So many have similarities to what I USED to experience. I now
feel compelled to add my two cents, hoping it will help others.

I had my first depersonalization experience when I was in my early twenties. I was stressed out and someone convinced me to smoke some weed to calm down. That sent me in to the scariest day and night of my life. The next day was the second scariest day and so on. The acute depersonalization itself lasted over a year. That night after I smoked some of the joint, I started feeling really weird. Given that I did not have much experience with smoking dope, I thought this awful feeling was normal and I would just ride it out. It was taking forever to go away. Up until recently (after I found this site) I
thought the joint could possibly have been laced PCP or angel dust. It seemed the more I tried not to think about the weird feelings and sensations
I was experiencing (in an effort make it go away), the more I thought about it the worse it got. I was in the worst state of panic. Similar to a car
motor with the throttle stuck wide open. My mind was racing so fast I was sure it was going blow and the inevitable result would be death. But no, it
continued all night and most of the next day. There were times when I was actually able to process the incredibly fast paced information my brain was
receiving. I remember trying to watch TV as a distraction. I was changing the stations as fast as the TV would allow. I could actually recognize and
process what I was seeing even though it was only on for a split second. That added to my freaking out. There seemed to be no way to slow things
down. I lay down on my back on the living room floor trying to relax and slow my mind down. Well things got even worse! I was stuck in this
tail-chasing loop of thought (hard for me to explain). The more I tried not to think, the more obscure and fast paced my thoughts became. The rest of
the night and through to late morning I dwelled on thoughts of life, death and if I was in fact already dead. I spent a lot of time thinking of infinity and what was just on the other side of infinity. I was wigging-out on how there is an infinity in-between all objects by dividing the distance in half, then in half again, and so on and so on (yet another mind boggling viscous thought loop).

The scariest part of all was somewhat of an out of body experience. It was the early am; even though I was in this horrible state, I was coherent
enough to realize that enough time had passed where the drugs shouldn't have been effective any longer. I was desperately trying to stop the state of
confusion I was in, and at any cost. I strongly contemplated ending my life to get it to stop. Since I was incapacitated, I didn't know how I could
physically meet the challenge (glad there were no guns in the house). Then I considered if I did kill myself, would I be in this dreadful state for all
eternity? I wasn't willing to risk that! I just went deeper and deeper in to this awful state. I felt like I was flying through space, watching the stars
quickly pass by, trying to get to the end of the universe. Finally I reached the end; the stars had stopped and all that was left was darkness. I found a
place in the darkness that appeared to be some a means to the other side. I poked my head through to the other side and found more of the same
(infinity, time without end, eternity).  As I wigged out even more, I just gave up the fight I had been battling and conceded to whatever is was that
was affecting me. Then, for the second time in my life (the other was when I was sunbathing as a teenager), I left my body. I started heading up, away
from my body, higher and higher then into space (heaven I was hoping). Finally, all I could see was total darkness with a bright, white light ahead. Typical to what I've read and heard people discussing, regarding seeing God or being received into heaven (I have never been a religious person, then or now). I've read about people just getting there and deciding they were not ready to die and returned to our reality. Seeing the light was comforting. At this point I felt at ease and ready to make the transition to whatever was ahead. I just couldn't go back to the altered state I was in.  As I continued to get closer to the light, I realized it was a small hole. The hole appeared to be a means of access to "the other side". Cautiously I poked my head through and witnessed something terribly horrific.  Absolute, complete, black, hideous nothingness! Way worse than the darkness I saw before, really creepy! I did not want to go there! So like others I've read about, I too wanted to return to my life, or whatever my life was. I opened my eyes; it was like being jolted out of a nightmare. Thankfully, I found myself back on the living room floor. Though infinity, forever, death and religion were still very much on my mind; it wasn't as intense as just before. Now I was left with this feeling of detachment. I didn't go to work that day, hoping it would pass. The next morning and for the next year or more I was left in this weird state of depersonalized, unreality and thoughts of death, religion, and eternity still. I had most all of the classic signs
posted on this site. When it hit for the first time I was convinced that I was going insane. I felt a sense of absolute terror and desperation. My mind
was always a million miles away although I didn't act or look strange in public, at work or while talking to people. My acute panic became less
pronounce as time went on. I had feelings of anxiety rushes all the time.  Familiar people and places seemed foreign, as did all objects. I perceived
the world through a bright haze. Seemed as if I were, or the rest of the world were, in a movie. I felt this sense of hyper-awareness, like being too
sane. While outside or driving things seemed too bright. It was very hard to concentrate while driving. I couldn't stop the fast paced thoughts running
through my head. Felt disconnected from my self and others, in a dream-like state. I was void of all emotion, unable to cry. I felt meaninglessness to
all other existence. It was weird to see myself in the mirror. The sensation of the water hitting me while showering was strange (a comforting good
strange). Felt I was dead and in some weird parallel universe and the universe I left was mourning my death and the one I was currently in was
some sort of afterlife or transitional place. At times I felt mostly alive in the real world, just waiting and hoping to wake up.


Explaining what I was experiencing to my wife and others was just impossible, so after a short time I stopped. I'm sure they thought I wasn't
having any more symptoms. It's so hard for people without DP to grasp, as I' m sure you all have found (thank God for this site.). At the time I didn't
know how to put into words what I was feeling. I'm not the best communicator, written or spoken. I recall using terms like "I feel weird, I'
m freaking out, can't control my thoughts, feel as if I'm in or watching a movie". Having found this site and reading the eloquent renditions of other
people's experiences has been enlightening. It sure seems to me that DP was most certainly what I HAD! My point is, if I shared all these symptoms
listed for over a year, then how have I been symptom free for so long?

I wouldn't be surprised if people who read my story are thinking, "man, if you actually had all those symptoms listed above, it's only a matter of time
before DP returns". Well, I have yet to find a letter/story that tells of the writer being DP free for as long as I have. I am confident it will never
return! (Yeah, I know-strong words) I have tested myself with various stressful situations. For instance, reading all these familiar sounding letters and forums, worrying about my kids, the death of a young, close family member, being stressed out and overwhelmed at work. While camping two
years ago I thought I was having a heart attack and going to die. Weeks later having my heart rate crash to 26 bpm and 4 doctors standing over me
with defibrillators saying, "we need to shock your heart to stop it, (basically kill me) then we'll restart you!!! A year after the heart episode, having doctors go into my heart and try to correct the defect. And most recently, the hardest test of all and the reason I found this site,
learning that my son tried pot, and as a result is experiencing some symptoms of DP.

I did start to feel a little symptomatic (typical anxiety I think) talking to my son and reading his story. Also reading other DP stories and forums.
Again like the other times listed above, I was able to stop it before it really started.

The method that helped me spontaneously snap back to a more clear reality was somewhat of a three-step process.

1 Embrace the DP

2 Build a mental wall

3 Physical activities


After a year or so of being terrified and fighting back the rushes of anxiety (many, many times a day) and the feelings of unreality (24-7). I
decided I couldn't live in this state any longer. I then made up my mind not to fight the feeling and just let it take me. I thought it would be
incredibly scary and the process might return me to the white light and hideous nothingness or possibly death. Still, I was prepared to take the
chance, given the fact I couldn't live in my current condition any longer. I spent a lot of time thinking, "my mind got me into this, my mind CAN get me
out". But how? I contemplated how the pot pointed the way to the mind games and my mind followed. I needed to go back there, but this time find the way myself.

I would lie in bed at night, not fighting or resisting like I usually did, but rather allowing the DP full control of my body and mind. A sort of "meet
your demon" or self-exorcism thing. My plan was to experience its full power. I had been fighting it back for so long I really didn't know its full
potential and what would happen if I stopped resisting. I wanted to know how much control it had over me.

I was so used to the feelings and felt strong enough to take it on. I would lie in bed at night (typically the worst time) and try to relax and open my
mind to feelings of anxiety and DP. I was trying to simulate how the pot expanded my mind. At first it felt as if I were going crazy again or to a
place of no return. Although this time nowhere near as bad as the night it all started. It was too much to handle so I found myself backing out,
thinking next time I'll go further. I engaged myself with this routine for a few nights before finally making it all the way in. I would totally invite
and embrace the DP letting it intoxicate my body and mind. One night I was brave enough to go all the way, I remember saying to myself "come on, is
that all you got?" taunting the DP not t hold back but rather to unleash. As it turned out I was at the worst point or just about during the other times.
I just didn't stay long enough to convince myself it was at its extreme. After that night I felt I could handle anything it had to offer.

My next process in trying to recover was to build a mental wall in my mind. I new I could withstand the worst DP could throw at me, so I didn't feel a
necessity to self induce the symptoms any longer. Instead I started laying the foundation to my mental brick wall during times of lucidity, when I was
distracted my some activity like watching TV or involved in something at work. I knew the symptoms were gone during those times, now I had to keep
them gone. After what ever activity it was that had me feeling somewhat normal and before symptoms started to return, I'd start laying bricks to get
ahead of what I knew was coming. The rushes were coming at the rate of about one an hour (this is a year or so in to it) the DP 24-7 except for these
times of distraction. As the days went by I worked on not letting the feeling of detachment and unreality through after these distractions. As
some of the DP would splash through, I would build the wall higher and higher so next time it wouldn't make its way over. I knew what its
capability was and how I proved to myself that I was stronger! Everyday was a little better as my wall got higher the symptoms decreased. It seemed to
be at an exponential rate. Then finally I was symptom free for a long time (months). I felt it was time to finish the wall. I had a mental picture of a
brick wall ascending to a ceiling, with one layer yet to be filled in. I laid the last row of brick and new the DP wasn't ever going to return! I
knew I would hear some knocking now and again but I also know my wall is strong and it can't penetrate!

Around or just after that timeframe I started incorporating exercise in my life. I was working out at the gym, and then transitioned in to distance
running. 

So do I have any residual effect from DP? That's a tough question. What is it to feel normal? We are all such individuals and have such different life
styles. I believe if you were to take all the people in my age group, consider all their life tribulations, stress levels and other variables, I would be somewhere in the middle. Would that put me at normal? I think so. I still think it's too bright outside, but then again I have sensitive, blue eyes (normal?). I have my share (average) of stress. My memory and concentration has never been great. I had lots of trouble in school. I believe (self diagnosis on the internet) that I have ADD and Dyslexia (thank you spell check). The memory thing is a little worse now, but hey, I'm over 40. Again, probably average. I absolutely remember the important things and function in society and work as a Public Works Manager for a large city with a staff of 50. I got married at age 20 (1980) (before DP) and we are still together with two kids, 12 and 17.

I don't know what the outcome would have been had I found a site like this before I got healthy. I may have read the stories of people having DP for
5,10, 20, 30 years and not have tried as hard to free myself. I think there are lots of people who could benefit from a similar program or some
variation of mine. I really don't think is has to be as brutal as what I went through. I think it's a matter of coming to terms with ones self,
regarding life and death. Part of my coming to terms may sound a little cliché. I try not to worry about things out of my control such as death or
my mortality, same for other stressful things in life.

I wish you all good luck in your battles. I really feel that there are others like me out there. I hope they too find this site (in some positive
way) and share their healing stories like I have and give hope to others!

 Enjoy life for what it is. Don't over think it!

Jerry


 

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