With regards to daily life with depersonalisation and derealisation, to you, the observer, I am me. I smile. I laugh. I function. I can hold a conversation, whether that may be for a limited period of time, and I still bear that same old (cheesy) sense of humour. My hair (mostly) looks nice (we are all allowed off days), I wear makeup and I have a pretty impressive clothes and shoe collection for an agoraphobic whom rarely goes anywhere. My mind, however, tells a different story for it is as if I am trapped inside a locked, invisible box; I am unable to break free from the chains keeping me from stepping back into reality, alone, scared and vulnerable. During a heightened episode of depersonalisation I lose all ability to function, to communicate with those around me. I can hear conversations taking place, see their mouths moving, but I am unable to process what is actually being said, nor form a sentence as a means of involvement. My speech becomes slurred, my breathing shallow and my vision distorted as I can feel the chains tightening. I have even, on a few occasions, been left unable to consume solid foods due to my mouth not feeling like my own, as if I am chowing down on cotton wool (one of the most difficult and surreal sensations to explain). My body will become 'psychologically' numb, as if I have been transported into another person's being. I will very often believe that I am not supposed to be this person. That, without my knowing, the infamous 'Freaky Friday jolt' has taken place and I am a trapped soul waiting to be returned to the correct body. That is just how scary these disorders can become!
Have you ever tried to get a non - sufferer to understand just how depersonalisation makes you feel? Yes they may try. They may tilt their head at the right time and they may remind you that you are 'not alone', but that does not help in the slightest. The level of fear the illness carries can never be put in to words. Trying to get a supposed 'mental - health professional' to understand the effects of depersonalisation and derealisation is like banging your head against a brick wall. Throughout my 3 1/2 years living with depersonalisation and derealisation I have spoken to six therapists and nine doctors and I can honestly say that not one of these has been able to empathise with how I am feeling, with most choosing to overlook it as being yet another symptom of anxiety. A 'symptom of anxiety' makes it sound so 'inferior', does it not? Heart palpitations and dizziness are 'symptoms of anxiety' that can be dealt with and forgotten about but depersonalisation and derealisation, really? Well I will tell you 'professionals' something for nothing - you will never understand the strength and courage it takes for a person to go on while experiencing this. While the intrusive thoughts, the vomit inducing fear and the isolation as you struggle to gain an understanding of not only who you are but where you are is something that us sufferers will never be able to explain, we would give everything to hear those four simple words "I can help you".
However, despite all of this, the most emotive factor of depersonalisation is that my brother no longer feels like my brother and, each time I meet up with my 'friends' or those I am supposed to 'know', feels as if I am meeting and getting to know them again for the very first time. In a sense, I have had to create a new world for myself (maybe this is why I am such a pro on The Sims). I have had to get to know my brother as those surrounding me again, as this 'new Krista person', while constantly reminding myself of the fact that they are indeed who they say they are, regardless of it not feeling that way. I will experience numerous debilitating panic attacks and heightened 'out of body' sensations while browsing through old family photos, or speaking to old friends and family. While it takes every ounce of strength and energy I possess to hold down a conversation with said people, and put on my 'everything is okay' mask, that familiar OCD voice of self - doubt will be screaming "Get out!! They're intruders! They don't really know you. They're lying to you!" It kills me to say this but while my Mum may 'only' have been passed for fourteen years and a very close friend for just over two and a half, I no longer recognise them when I look at their pictures. Were they actually ever really here or have I instead dreamed up this whole fantasy world and will instead wake up tomorrow?
I just want to feel like me again. I just want to feel part of the real world. I want the old Krista back, even though I am no longer sure who she even is anymore.