How to stop depersonalizationSep 28, 2022
I don't feel real. I'm observing myself from outside my body. The things around me aren't even real. Why am I doing what I'm doing? It doesn't make sense. What if I can't reattach to my body? Maybe I'm in the Matrix. Do you think the Matrix is actually real? Great, I'm stuck and missing out on real moments because I can't get back. Woah, I might be actually floating in mid-air. Do my arms looks smaller to you? This feels weird. Am I going crazy? No seriously, am I losing my mind? Now I'm getting panicky, anxiety is setting in, I want to get back so badly, but now I feel stuck.
Oh, I'm back...that was a strange feeling. I hope it doesn't happen again. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure it doesn't happen again. Now I'm hyper-focusing on making sure it doesn't happen again and that it's all I can think about. I think I'm actually causing it to happen again.
Noooooooooooooo. Matrix, here we come.
Does this sound familiar? Depersonalization occurs when you have a feeling of observing yourself from outside of your body. It's almost as if you don't feel real and can't make sense of the world around you. It can make it feel like friends and family around you are strangers. You can feel spaced out or foggy. Almost like a dream or feeling like you're a robot. This causes a whole slue of emotions, such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. It can be obsessive, making sure you don't get suck once again.
These moments can last a few minutes or in some cases, these sensations can persist for hours, days, or even weeks.
Why does depersonalization happen?
Well, why does this happen? It's typically triggered by severe stress and anxiety. It's almost a way for the body to cope with these feelings. Detach. Don't feel, but in turn it makes things worse. Some have said that past emotional abuse or neglect during childhood could be a factor. Genetics may play a part in this as well. When it comes to those who struggle with OCD, this can be symptoms produced by the overarching fear of misfired threats and anxiety. It's like the body says, retreat, retreat, retreat!
There are techniques and treatments that you can use. Here's the most important one:
Stop trying to control it. Just like a panic attack, many attempt to stop it, which actually makes it last longer. When the depersonalization happens, we let it be. We don't need to make sense of it. We live in the moment and can even tell our brain that we don't care how long it lasts. A few minutes or a few weeks, I simply don't care. When I'm noticing this feeling, I'm noticing it. Not putting judgement to it. Not saying it's a good or bad thing that is happening. It's just an experience. It will pass. It's has to. When this moment passes, here is the kicker, the brain goes into protect mode to make sure it doesn't happen again, thus bringing you closer to actually going through the experience again. We have to change this train of thinking.
When it says, "noooo, don't go back in" we actually let the flood gates open and welcome it. Come on in if you'd like, you can stay away if you want to. I'm not going to do anything to keep you away. It can be almost like your buddy. Welcome it instead of push it. The more we leave room, the more it actually doesn't want to stick around or come back. This is because you've learned to accept uncomfortable feelings and taught your brain that you don't need this protection measure anymore.
How to do treatment for depersonalization
You're essentially not making it a big deal anymore. I can hear you on the other side of that screen. No seriously...your microphone is on...just kidding. You may be saying, you're making it sound so easy Nate! and you're right! It's tough to practice. But when this response is done often, the brain learns. We have to teach it.
Many may use mindfulness as well. Grounding yourself and using your 5 senses to focus on the here and now. I'm just going to close my eyes and listen to the sounds around me. I'll describe them without putting judgment. I'll go on a walk and only pay attention to what I see. I'll describe these without judgment.
Any skill that is used must be with the right mindset. The goal isn't to get this feeling to go away or stop it. It's to retrain your brain. So if you're doing mindfulness to get it to go away, guess what happens, you're going to start checking....am I'm still detached? Did it work? Thus pushing you further into this cycle of depersonalization.
Therapy can be important as anxiety tends to play a part in this as well. You're in the right place to learn all these skills. What is similar to depersonalization is derealization. Watch that video for even more tips, this feeling of disconnect is no longer going to control you. Subscribe to not miss out on other tips.