The Mighty Logo

In the Mind of Someone Living With Depersonalization Disorder

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Imagine waking up one day and feeling tipsy or hungover. Your head is heavy and your eyes are wide open, but things are fuzzy and everything is speckled and pixelated. You look down at your hands and you can see and feel them, but they don’t feel connected to you. You rub them and examine them, but they don’t feel like yours. You get out of bed and your balance feels off. You look in the mirror and you’ve seen this face before, but it’s not you. You don’t recognize it as you because you don’t feel like a person. Who are you? You put on clothes and look down at a body that you’re uncomfortable in.

You look at photos of good times to reassure you that you are real, but it just makes it worse. You overanalyze it all — the memories are too far away and they aren’t yours. They feel like an entirely different life that you never lived. You look at your family and they seem empty. You can see them and know that you’ve grown up with them, but there’s a connection lost between you. It doesn’t feel like they are the people you’ve always known. They almost feel like robots to you — like they’ve been replaced.

You look up at the sky and see a fuzzy, 2-dimensional painted picture instead of the white, fluffy clouds and blue sky with a warm sun beaming down on you. You know how to read, but you can’t take in any information because you can’t focus. Because if nothing’s real, then nothing has a point.

You analyze even the smallest things. You move your arm and think: how am I doing that? Why am I doing that? What’s making me do that? How does my brain do that when I haven’t told myself to? Are my thoughts real? Are they my thoughts? I don’t know how any of this works. This can’t be real. I don’t feel real. Nothing around me is real. But if it isn’t real, what is? How is this happening if it’s not real? How is what happening? How am I thinking all of this? Who am I? How did I get here? I don’t understand anything.

You spend every day in bed staring at the ceiling. The days blur into one. You eat all day and don’t remember what you’ve eaten. You desperately want to feel real and see the world for what it is and not what your brain has twisted it to be, but your perception is off. It feels impossible to motivate yourself to do anything meaningful with your life because it’s hard see a future when you’re not even living in the present. You don’t see it moving forward. How can you when life is so unreal?

This is what my experience living with depersonalization disorder (derealization) is like.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via freddiesfabdesign

Originally published: August 24, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home