dealing with depersonalization and derealization disorder: living in a constant dreamstate
I was cursed with the Asian gene. “No alcohol for you, G”. Sooo, I guess smoking marijuana will be my thing!!! I’ll be that cool stoner chick who hangs out behind things and smokes excessively large clouds of vaporized THC with people who wear beanies and complain about capitalism.
There was about 4 or 5 of us. I was 15 years old. We were huddled around this movie theatre plaza in my hometown when the boys were passing around a poorly rolled joint. They took the first few hits and let me have my round. It had been a while since I first smoked. I got more and more excited to be able to do it again since it became so popular. I could be that girl. I was 3 tokes in until I finally felt something.
About an hour later, my dad picked us up. I was tense and rigid at the prospect of him finding out. ‘BE COOL, DON’T SAY ANYTHING’. I’d scream, telepathically, as everybody was hunched together in the back seat.
It wasn’t until I woke up in the morning that I felt it.
I was still high.
The room was dodgy. It felt like I was watching the world through a screen. Everything was so much further from my own eyes. I would look at my hands, waving them and feeling as though something else was doing it.
Over the course of a few weeks (or months), I freaked out. I cried. I had never felt so rejected and discontent. I felt as though my life would never truly be my life so as long as I kept feeling this way.
Before I smoked that night, I had been living with a lower level version of this dream state. I actually got my mom to take me to get contact lenses because I thought it was a problem with my vision.
When I finally got the trial pair in, I had to walk along the streets waiting for my mom. I remember looking at cars zipping past me in the dark, feeling exactly the way I did before I had the contacts in.
I searched every corner of the internet, hoping there was some magic cure. I talked to therapists and psychologists and social workers in hopes of figuring out what was wrong with me (and received nothing but confused expressions and simple to-the-book techniques like eat right and sleep often). It wasn’t until I found a name that I was shown a light of hope.
It feels like the world is vignetted. It feels like theres this blanket screen covering my eyes, obstructing my vision, keeping me away from feeling the vividness of reality. It feels like I’m this RPG character trying to get through life, but the screen is dimmed to the lowest setting. It feels like my limbs aren’t mine.
It’s been years since I figured this out. And to this day, I still have it.
But I only recently remembered that I even have it.
It was the days I learned to laugh again, the days I’ve laughed the hardest, the times I’ve empathized with friends and lovers and cried myself to points of exhaustion… that I realized how little this mental illness actually effects me.
I used to define myself as incapable of living life. But really, it was merely the thoughts convincing me.
I’m growing older, and I’m realizing how much perspective marks the way you live life. If you see the world as a cynical Sally and everything you ever come across is perceived in a pessimistic way, the magnitude of a bad encounter will set the stage for the rest of your day.. and maybe even your life… where something slightly off would feel as though the world were being shaken.
I decided against that. It’s my life. I’ll live exactly the way I want to. I decided to forget and make do with what I have. If I’m still able to feel and express myself freely, nothing can stop me. So what’s the point in stressing out about it?
I am here. I am present. I am alive. And that’s more than enough for me.
(I also actively avoid smoking weed. Something I’ll try working on in the future).
If you yourself are experiencing this lack of connection to reality, I urge you to do your best to make peace with it. Continuing to spiral down into this sense of hopelessness, can only really make things worst for yourself. Someday, I believe there will be a cure. But until then, choose to see the positives. Your brain was actually protecting you. Studies have shown that this foggy haze was triggered by your brain in hopes of guarding you from a traumatic event. I have been in some incredibly stressful situations, that have honestly been diluted thanks to this gift. Instead of looking at it like a drape suffocating and dividing you from the world, think of it as a blanket, hugging you with good intention.
You are not alone. You are never alone, even though it may feel like it at times. If you ‘suffer’ from depersonalization and/or derealization disorder, and you do not want to anymore, then don’t play the victim. The only thing that’s stopping you from living your best life, is truly just you. The obstacles are here to help you grow stronger. Do not give into to the endless feedback loop, and someday soon, you’ll reach your nirvana.