Story by "Terry"
I've experienced Derealization since I was a kid - back then it didn't cause me a great deal of panic, I didn't worry about it and it passed.
As an adult, I've experienced this odd sensation at times of great stress in my life. When I was 28, I had a period of major depression that lasted about 12 months. I began to experience Derealization about six months into this illness, and it soon became the main focus of my anxiety. I visited psychiatrists, psychologists and hypnotherapists - all of whom didn't really think Derealization was a serious phenomenon. I tried several anti-depressant drugs, but the side-effects (confusion, poor concentration) only compounded my anxiety. It was only after a visit to my family doctor that I began to develop some coping strategies. I was in a great panic, felt I was going mad, worried that I might be a danger to others - I told my doctor this and he said 'don't worry, everybody experiences this, it's called the human condition. It's just that most people aren't intelligent enough to realize it's happening to them.' he then assured me that I wasn't going crazy, that Derealization is a neutral thing - it's our reaction to it that makes it a problem.
In time I recovered from my depression and the Derealization symptoms disappeared. It occasionally popped up over the next few years, but I was able to ignore it - sometimes even laughing it off.
For the last twelve years I've been very happy. However, I'm forty now and I have been suffering from a mild stress related depression since March. I'm coping much better this time, however my Derealization symptoms have re-emerged. Sometimes I feel as if I've had, maybe, three beers - I'm tipsy but not drunk. I sometimes look at myself in the mirror - I know the person looking back is me, but something is not right. My wife and kids seem somehow different - as if an emotional bond has weakened. This hurts. But I know it will pass as my life changes for the better. I coping without medication, because I really need to feel 'sane.' I have tried St John's Wort - it's a wonderful anti-depressant - the best yet. But it also creates a foggy feeling in my head. I've stopped drinking coffee and alcohol and taking pain-killers. I dose up on vitamin B12 and Gingko every morning. These vitamins and herbs are terrific for concentration.
I'm hopeful. I believe if we can get ourselves into a positive frame of mind, Derealization is something we can live with.
Incidentally, I studied European literature at university. My thesis compared Camus' embrace of the 'absurd' with Sartre's rejection of existentialism. I passed with honors. ( it's easy to write about existentialism and depersonalization when you have access to a primary source - yourself)
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