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Experience With Sleep Paralysis and Derealization as a Kid With Trauma

When I was young — perhaps 8 or 9 years old — I started to have a recurring set of nightmares that felt different to any other. The features were always the same — a garden; flower beds; children; some kind of accident; people screaming. When I woke up, though, the nightmare would continue. I’d be unable to move in my bed, and I could hear a cacophony of voices all talking at once, overlapping each other, right next to my ear and in my head but so clear that I could almost make out their conversations. They were mostly calm apart from one or two; those were screaming in fear or fury, it was hard to tell which. It was so terrifying; I was desperate for it to stop. At the same time, although my eyes were open and I was by every description awake, I could still see the nightmare playing out, almost superimposed on my vision. I didn’t see anything or anyone in the room, but it was like a double-exposure photograph; I could see both. When it finally began to fade, the world felt… wrong. Things felt either too big or too small. I was the size of a pea and my bed was an ocean, stretching beyond the horizon. Then I was too big; I could grasp the sheets in my giant hands but they felt minuscule, or I could feel something small in my hands that wasn’t actually there, quickly changing, again, to something big. All the while, I was absolutely awake, trying desperately to grasp onto some semblance of reality. “I almost believed something supernatural was happening to me.” The final aspect was how everything looked; depth was warped, everything looking too big or too small, too close or too far away, or somehow all of these things at once. Everything looked too vivid, like someone had turned up the sharpness of my vision, making everything seem brighter. Eventually, the experience would fade and I would lie awake and terrified until finally, exhausted, I’d fall back to sleep. This went on for most of my childhood and teen years, happening maybe several times per year. I don’t know why, but it’s been a long time since the last episode. I tried talking about it to my parents. They didn’t listen, so I stopped mentioning it. I told a few friends, but they had no answers. It’s only in the last decade that I’ve discovered what I may have been experiencing, and in the last few years, I discovered the possible reason. It seems, to the best of my knowledge, that I was experiencing a combination of sleep paralysis and derealization disorder, a dissociation disorder common in trauma survivors but which can occur regardless. I have no official confirmation that this was what I was experiencing, but while it can happen to anybody, Marlene Steinberg, M.D., author of “The Stranger in the Mirror: Dissociation — The Hidden Epidemic,” once told The Mighty that: “Dissociation is an adaptive mechanism promoting survival within a severely stressful, inconsistent, or chaotic environment … People who have experienced repeated severe emotional stress or traumas during their childhood or adolescence are most likely to experience recurrent derealization episodes. Derealization can also arise in those who have experienced profound acute trauma.” As you may know from reading my work, I previously discovered that I was (probably) sexually abused by someone for whom my mother worked. I was also experiencing daily emotional abuse at home, bullying at school, and other aspects of an unstable household, like my wayward half-brother who had a drug addiction and a tendency for violence. Looking at everything I was experiencing, it’s no wonder that I was having these episodes of derealization. I can’t quite put a finger on the sleep paralysis — which likely caused the auditory hallucinations — but it was so scary to experience all of this without the language to describe it or seek help. I wish I’d been taught about sleep paralysis, dissociative disorders, or any of the ways my mental health might have been struggling. I wish I could’ve communicated this in a way that made sense. Or, maybe it wasn’t entirely on me. Maybe it was on the adults in my life to listen to my cry for help and try to delve a little deeper beyond “he had a nightmare.” It just stands to show why mental health education is so important. We need to listen to children when they experience something odd, and we need to get them the help they deserve — the exact help that you and I, as adults, deserve — and the answers they need. I felt so utterly alone in my experiences, but it didn’t have to be that way. In the absence of answers, I almost believed something supernatural was happening to me. It made those experiences all the more terrifying. Remember: dissociation disorders are common for abuse survivors, but anybody can experience them. They exist in a spectrum of dissociation from everyday daydreaming to dissociative identity disorder (DID). If you believe you’ve experienced depersonalization or derealization, please talk to a mental health professional.

Community Voices

Disclaimer: I am not asking for any medical or professional advice.

This is something I have been struggling with for most of my life and I thought this was a good place to learn something at least. I have never been able to truly tell anyone about “myself”. Whenever someone asks me I always draw a blank. Same goes for if someone asks me what my favorite color, food, hobby etc.. is I almost envision this white blank wall in my mind and it’s disheartening because it’s hard for me to answer basic questions about myself. This is also present in other places in my life such as my career and it has made some big impacts. It also affects how I view my habits, how I function and the fact that I always have to rely on how other people see me.

To clarify, I have been diagnosed MDD, GAD and ADHD. I’m hoping to take this to a therapist/professional at some point but I am unable to do so due to financial strains.

Any input would really help ❤️

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Community Voices

Weird DPDR symptom?

Hey guys,
I’m a little nervous to post this because I haven’t heard of anyone else with this specific symptom and because I also struggle with OCD/anxiety, it makes me feel like I’m going crazy. I’ve also been diagnosed with depression and DPDR. So the weird symptom is that when I feel really stressed sometimes I feel like there’s a little me observing myself from the inside (specifically the left side) of my brain. It kind of feel like my consciousness has moved to the side and that I’m a small version of myself operating a robot (aka my body). But because I also have OCD, I become hyper focused on this symptom and when my anxiety is bad I can convince myself that I’m crazy or losing my mind or schizophrenic. It really freaks me out. But I’ve never lost touch with reality I just feel really weird and frustrated. I’d love to hear some feedback and to see if anyone else has ever felt this way? It would mean a lot to me to know I’m not alone in this. Thanks for reading 🙂 #dpdr #weirdsymptoms #OCD #Depression #Depersonalization #Derealization #feelalone

1 person is talking about this
Community Voices

Anyone have good ressources specific to DP/DR to share?

Looking if people have good recommendations for specifically adressing and treating DP/DR … i.e. books, workbooks, videos, exercises… etc. #Depersonalization #Derealization #Anxiety

Community Voices

Unpresent (A poem)

I feel like I’m watching the world
happen around me.
Distant from my body,
leagues and leagues under the black sea
bewildered by the brilliant bioluminous lights. Or
in the cold choke of space,
floating through little diamonds
and pinprick stars. Far.
D i s c o n n e c t e d.

#Dissassociation #Derealization #Depersonalization

Community Voices

Depersonalization Cause?

<p>Depersonalization Cause?</p>
1 person is talking about this
Community Voices

Losing the will to live

It all started this summer I was feeling a bit off and run down. This was my first year of college and I’m also a runner so I was putting In 40-45 miles a week. I also noticed that I was having weird reactions to coffee. I felt weird sorta like panicky but I ignored it thinking it was in my head. Then one day in August after a ten mile run it was hot too I think I had too much caffeine I felt like I had a panic attack I didn’t feel right couldn’t focus on anything. Weeks after it felt like all the adrenaline was being sucked out of me I would feel panicky and the world around me became less and less real. My mental clarity was absolutely gone. I told my coaches something was wrong unfortunately collge coaches don’t listen well so I had to keep running for a bit. I eventually was able to get my parents to call my coaches to make them stop running me and in October I was diagnosed with mono and came down with the sore throat then. Ever since the time in August I’m left in this dissociated/ derealization state. Feels like I’m in a dream. Nothing interests me and I have extreme mental fatigue and I can’t emotionally connect with anyone anymore. I also can’t go to school anymore cause I’m just so tired. Honestly back at school I felt like I was dying. Has anyone dealt with mono like this before? I’m scared I’m never going to get better. I don’t even remember what normal feels like. Could something else be wrong or is this all stress related and because I overdid it possibly? I’m also going to see a neurologist to rule out anything there. Wondering if my brain could possibly be inflamed because I can’t imagine anyone ever feeling so bad. Thinking maybe it passed my blood brain barrier. I feel like I’m going crazy and I haven’t heard mono affecting anyone like this. I want my old life back 😞 #BrainFog #ChronicFatigue #Derealization #Fatigue #MentalHealth #Anxiety #DissociationDisorders #anhedonia #apathy

1 person is talking about this
Community Voices
Community Voices

self care is the worst

i hate getting in the shower. i don't like water. i get real bad DP/DR in the shower. i get confused with all the things i have to do. i have always been like this. i am not trying to sound gross, but its a big struggle for me. sometimes my husband will sit in there with me, but i don't like to ask anymore. has anyone else experienced anyting like this???#Depression #PTSD #Bipolar #BPD #CheckInWithMe #MentalHealth #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Anxiety #Derealization #Phobia

12 people are talking about this
Community Voices