Depersonalization and derealization disorder is one of the most difficult experiences that you go through in your life. Depersonalization (DP) can make you feel alien to yourself. Derealization (DR) makes the world around you look confusing.
My name’s Swamy and I am someone who previously suffered from depersonalization & derealization disorder, often abbreviated to DP/DR.
People from all walks of life can experience DP/DR during their lifetimes. It can be frustrating and daunting to go through this disorder. It can leave you feeling hopeless.
It’s also very easy to be haunted by extreme fears when going through this disorder. When I went through it, I was convinced that I was going crazy. I felt unsafe at all times. I couldn’t talk about it to my friends or family because no outsider seemed capable of understanding this experience.
I’d begin each day by looking for a miracle cure for this disorder. To my dissatisfaction, I found nothing of that sort.
There were forums and online groups dedicated to DP/DR, but these places were mostly filled with other people also looking for help. And sometimes, the sentiment on these forums and online groups was so negative that it drained even the little hope I had of recovery.
I told myself that if I ever recovered from DP/DR, I’d create a resource to help people find all the necessary information to heal themselves. After years of suffering, I finally managed to recover. As promised, I created my website A Coach Called Life to help others recover from depersonalization and derealization. Now, in this article, I am going to share with you four essential pillars of recovery from DP/DR.
The Right Understanding
A cure to an illness begins with the right understanding of that illness. When we don’t know what we are dealing with, it can easily confuse and scare us. This is why DP/DR seems to be so daunting when we first experience it.
The problem with DP/DR is that even trained doctors and psychologists do not really know much about it. It’s easy to get falsely diagnosed and get treatment for something else like anxiety or depression.
We must first understand that DP/DR is not a harmful disorder. This experience is not going to kill us! It’s not going to take away our sanity.
DP/DR is nothing but a protective mechanism.
Yes, that’s right. DP/DR protects us from getting emotionally overwhelmed and breaking down due to stress/trauma. DP/DR is a product of consistent stress in your life or it could be brought on by overwhelming trauma.
When the stress increases beyond our ability to handle it, we dissociate. It’s the body’s way of preventing us from completely breaking down.
Our biology and nervous system play a vital role in bringing about the effects of DP/DR. Understanding this is crucial to your recovery.
If you are someone who is struggling to get rid of depersonalization, then you must truly understand that it is just a protective mechanism. You can let go of that struggle. Your body is just doing what it is programmed to do under high stress.
The Right Approach
Once you understand what your DP/DR really is, you will no longer see it as a scary boogeyman. Without this fear around DP/DR, you can start to relax a bit. When you begin to relax, your symptoms start to go away, one by one. That’s because, when you start to relax, your stress level goes down. The less stress you have, the less DP/DR you’ll experience.
When you first experience DP/DR, you falsely see it as something wrong with yourself. This leads you to fight the DP/DR. You try to battle it out. You feel that if you don’t do this, it’s going to take over and ruin your life.
Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, it’s fighting the DP/DR that is actually prolonging it.
When you fight the DP/DR, you are adding more stress to the equation. You are unable to relax and let go. You are constantly thinking and obsessing about DP/DR and how to get out of it. You are not giving your body and mind the break they so badly need.
A better way to approach DP/DR is to accept and allow it. I know, I know, this sounds preposterous at first. You may be thinking that if you let go and do not put up a fight, then these feelings and symptoms will take over and make you miserable. You’ve got to understand that this is faulty thinking.
By accepting DP/DR and allowing it, you stop fighting. You tell your body that this disorder is NOT a threat. It’s just a normal protective mechanism. You tell your body and mind that they can actually relax. There’s no need to stress about this anymore. This is when the body and the mind get a chance to heal.
The Right Lifestyle
Once you understand the true nature of DP/DR and once you start practicing acceptance (instead of fighting), you’ll start to see some improvements. However, your lifestyle determines your chances of full recovery more than anything else.
Look, when you experience DP/DR, it’s natural for your life to fall apart to a certain degree. You can’t do all of the things you were normally able to do before. Initially, this is all right, but don’t let this become your new lifestyle.
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you can’t do anything because you have DP/DR. This is when people start giving up on their daily health routines. They start waking up late or going to bed really late. They stop going to the gym or eating right.
Fix your lifestyle. If you have never been good about working out or eating right, then now is the time to start.
Your life is in chaos-mode right now. What you need is some order in your life. Without it, you’ll be stuck with DP/DR for a long time.
Start facing your difficulties, including your DP/DR. You’ve got the inner strength to do this.
Cultivate healthy routines. Routines are your best friend right now. Go to bed early and wake up after a good night’s sleep. Sleep is restorative and helps in healing your body and mind.
Don’t eat a lot of junk food. See if you can cook healthy food at home. Cooking can be a natural way to take your mind off of DP/DR.
Also, don’t just be tied to your computer or TV at your home. Try to get out, even if the outside world feels scary and bizarre. By exposing yourself to your fears, you can overcome them.
The Right Attitude
People often look to outside cures when trying to recover from DP/DR. They might wonder if there is any medication to cure depersonalization. Or if there’s an experimental method that can heal their illness right away, but what they don’t realize is that the cure is mostly internal.
Having the right attitude is a big part of that internal cure. If you are constantly hopeless in the face of DP/DR, then it’s going to take more time for you to recover.
I get it. Sometimes, your feelings are not under your control. Sometimes, hopelessness washes over you because you’ve been battered by DP/DR for a long time.
I’m not asking you to always be cheerful even when you feel sad and scared. Instead, I’m asking you to embrace an attitude of moving forward in the face of difficulties. Even if that means just putting one small step in front of the other.
Don’t give up hope. Many of us who went through this strange disorder have recovered and now lead fully functional lives. Your story is not going to be any different. Count on your inner strength. Start believing you have the strength, and that strength will appear. You will get through this.
Every time you feel sad or hopeless, accept those feelings, but don’t falsely believe that you will never recover. Whenever I was face to face with despair, I told myself, “This sucks, but one day I’ll get over this disorder.”
Sometimes, listening to the right affirmations can help boost your confidence and foster hope for your recovery.
Embrace an attitude of “I got this,” and see how far that will get you.
At the end of the day, the cure for DP/DR is simple, but not easy. Following these principles takes work and effort, but if you do put in the effort and work required, your recovery won’t be far off. One last thing to remember: you have to be patient. Recovery from DP/DR is slow and doesn’t happen overnight. All right, I wish you the very best in this journey.
This article was originally published on A Coach Called Life.
All images are from Pixabay (free to use)