Depersonalization is a word I'm sure many people are unfamiliar with, only a small amount of people suffer with it and it's rarely spoken about. I've been afraid to write this article, afraid to shine a light on it because it's so strange, so hard to describe and even harder to live with. Unfortunately I've been worried about what people will think of me if I tell them all about this brand new side of my depression. Oh quick you owe me ten pounds because Molly's writing another article about depression, does she do anything else?
In some ways I hate that this is what I'm known for, known as the girl that writes online about mental illnesses. I wish I was the girl that wrote about happiness and world peace, maybe one day I will be, but this is what's happening right now in my life and I believe it needs talking about. I worry that when I write these articles, friends and family worry about me, if I'm truly honest about my current mental health I'm flooded with sympathetic messages and texts asking if I'm 'alright.' I assure you I am fine, there's no need to worry, but please do read this and you might learn something, that's all I want to do. I want to educate people on these mental illnesses, break down the stigmas and maybe even help someone along the way
So what is depersonalization disorder I hear you cry, let's just pretend that you care and you really want to know, it's good for my ego. Medical journals describe the disorder as
'Depersonalization disorder is marked by periods of feeling disconnected or detached from one's body and thoughts. The disorder is sometimes described as feeling like you are observing yourself from outside your body or like being in a dream'
My depersonalization started at the beginning of this year and has been constant ever since. I wish I could say it's eased up, that some months I have been free of it but no. I've felt spaced out, dazed and like I'm in a dream all year and It's scary. When I've told some friends and family about this, they say things like 'maybe you're just tired' or 'are you eating properly?' I assure you I am, but I've done extensive research on this and I know it's not my routines that are throwing me off
When I'm having a really depersonalized day, I don't feel like I'm actually in my own body. It feels like I'm having an out of body experience, I'm watching myself from above. And I go onto autopilot, I can still walk and talk and eat like normal. So, from an outsider's perspective, I'm fine, I'm normal. But I feel like I'm in a dream. You know when you first wake up and you feel groggy, half asleep and not really there, I've felt like that all year
And like I said, writing this scares me a lot because I know I sound crazy. I know people will read this and worry about me, maybe that's natural. But I'm being honest, I'm laying my cards onto the table and telling you how I've been feeling. It's brave of anyone to speak up on mental health, to share their experiences with confidence is a truly powerful thing. If I can help just one person who's also going through this then it's worth the fear I feel
As far as I can tell, through research and speaking to doctors there's not much anyone can do about depersonalization. It's basically an extension of my depression, often therapists and psychoanalysts suggest that it's a coping mechanism. Often people who have experienced extreme trauma (for me my mental health breakdown) go through spouts of depersonalization, your mind shuts off as a result, as a way of coping. That's what my brains done and I can't really fix it
I've developed ways of dealing with it, on days I feel extremely spaced out and out of my body I do little things to ground myself. I pinch my leg or scratch my face. It's small and it doesn't cure it entirely, but it helps
I haven't ever really told friends and family about this, they don't know what it is or what it means but I'm hoping through this article they can understand a bit better. If I'm ever seeming quiet or not all there, this is why. It's best to do things to snap me out of it, maybe don't run up to me and slap me in the face. But talk to me, touch my arm and make eye contact. These are all things that can snap me out of my episodes. Every day I'm learning how to deal with this and it's so hard, so strange and completely new to me. But minds are stronger than we give them credit for, I will bounce back from this. And whatever you're going through, you will too