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The Frustration of Living With Depersonalization Disorder

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Knowing what is wrong can be a struggle, and accepting is even more of a crux. Mental health is a stigma — it can be something many frowns on, see as an excuse for dealing with a few worries or problems you’re having, so talking about it is often the last thing we want to do. The spectrum is vast and daunting to comprehend, and when you’re trying to make sense of what’s wrong, it can be a hole you get swallowed up in, losing your grip on reality, happiness and the safety you felt before it all came crashing down.

Acceptance was always the hardest part for me. I felt my “normal” life slip away — the feelings we take for granted becoming a distant memory, and every glimmer of happiness and heartache transcending into numbness. It started with a series of worries built into something much bigger, much more intricate. Stress turned to anxiety, and worry turn to chaos. After a string of health scares, constant tiredness and the belief I was losing the one I love, a switch in my head flicked off, turning me into a dream — a memory I lived in. A ghost.

Depersonalization started to break me down and turn me into a movie I watched from the worst seats in the house. I watched my life from a distance, unaware to grasp the feeling of control, or to feel like I was living in the moment — experiencing it rather than watching everything unfold from the sidelines. Reality escapes you, and everything that happens… doesn’t, at least not to you anyway. I’ve read many articles about it, describing it as feeling foggy-headed, lacking emotion, watching your life happen whilst not playing a part, and they all fit.

I’ve been to various doctors since experiencing it for the first time back in September 2017, but nobody seems to be listening to me. Whether there’s a lack of knowledge about depersonalization disorder (DPD) — a type of dissociation disorder — or that they simply don’t acknowledge it as a condition, nobody has attempted to focus solely on helping me rid the constant hell I’ve found myself in. Every time I go, I feel myself screaming but nobody will listen. “Get more sleep,” “cut down your hours at work” or “take walks in the countryside” seem to be the favorites. None of them have helped to get rid of DPD and they never will. Hell, nobody has even diagnosed me with DPD because it doesn’t seem to be recognized.

I’m not coming down on the doctors here, I’m just frustrated. Depersonalization has been debilitating, affecting me every single second of every single day for the last nine months, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. The best I can do is talk about it, hopefully find others who struggle with it, and fight it together. Anxiety and depression have grown from its roots, and most days I’m worrying about the littlest things, praying I don’t lose myself forever, finally disconnecting and dissociating with the things that make me who I am forever. I worry I won’t feel happy again, or I’ll not get excited when my daughters tell me they’re getting married. I worry that, one day, I won’t get excited to come home after work, and I worry I won’t be able to do my job, failing to provide for the family I love more than anything else.

Confusion seeps in to everything; tiredness debilitates me; reality is something I’m aware of rather than something I experience. I am not giving up, but I am losing hope. Knowing what is wrong with me is difficult to comprehend or understand, and if it wasn’t for finding others and reading their stories, I’d feel more alone than I do right now. I haven’t given up and I never will, but getting help for it is something I’m starting to count out. Depersonalization is something I wouldn’t wish on anybody, and if you’re struggling with it yourself, I beg that you speak out. Find others, read stories and know you’re not alone. Antidepressants might help the anxiety you circulate around your body like the blood that keeps you alive, but understanding you aren’t the only one believing you’re going “mad” will help. If you want to talk, or even want to say “Hey, I get it. I’m going through that too,” I’m right here, ready and willing to listen and talk about it.

We’re not alone. People can be great, and talking through what you’re going through can help so much, especially when the world may seem to lack understanding.

Photo by Emmanuel Bior on Unsplash

Originally published: September 30, 2018
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