As a neuroscientist who has learnt how to completely cure scary dissociative anxiety, I am passionate about aligning others with freedom.
DPDR - Are We Oversimplifying?
So, you are suffering from dissociative anxiety. I am writing this article to address a major query that will be ratting around your minds right now like a pesky fly. We refer to chronic, persistent dissociation that reduces our quality of life as DPDR, but is this not overlooking the fact that some people feel that they experience either derealization or derealization, rather than both?
Why do we group these symptoms together – may it be better to consider and treat them separately?
The short answer is a massive no. We are going to unravel this complex matter, covering why:
- the precise nature of your dissociative symptoms don't really matter, because
- treating all expression of derealization and depersonalization (or a mix of the two) requires you employing the same techniques to skilfully rewire your subconscious mind.
Before I give you practical advice on how to recover, we must tackle the false derealization vs depersonalization dichotomy in-depth and see why the two should not be considered 'separate entities'.
There Is Nothing Wrong With You
Before we plunge into today's topic, I want to remind you that you are okay and safe. This I can promise you with every last ounce of my heart.
DPDR is an illusion - your brain is perfect and always has been. You are only temporarily stuck in this state because you are a). trapped in fear and not understanding what it is and b). prone to rumination. This has you trapped in the falsehood that you are very ill and keeps you playing out textbook OCD behaviors.
It's about time that you change this and grant yourself the gorgeous emotional freedom that you deserve - there is nothing I want more than to liberate everyone from DPDR, which is truly nothing more than ill-directed obsession.
Consume Quality Material Only
The book Exit The Dream, written by a neuroscientist who has deduced the most powerful way to cure DPDR, will be instrumental in your recovery.
It imparts every single psychological trick that you'll need to snap yourself out of this state and feel completely real again, in addition to all the info that a scared, existential DPDR sufferer could ever wish for. This will allow you to not only rewire your brain and see reality normally again but also to truly grasp that you are not going crazy and learn how to benefit from your obsessive mind rather than letting it spiral; this multi-faceted approach is utterly essential in securing permanent immunity from DPDR.
If you want to get better, you will - the brain knows when you mean business!
Derealization: Nothing Is Real
While you will all most likely be aware of the broad definitions of both terms, we are going to skim over them to ensure that the differences are clear in your head. Derealization involves the world seeming surreal, dreamy and fake, in a way that probably would be pleasant if it were a desired experience (e.g. after smoking marihuana) but is unpleasant and terrifying due to the fact that it enwraps us we want to feel sober.
This phenomenon involves peculiar visual effects; when dealing with a bout of derealization, buildings, other people, nature and just about anything that you come across will be tinted with a horrifyingly cartoonlike sheen. As with any other ineffable, scary psychological phenomenon, this really has to be experienced to be understood, and there are interpersonal variations in the severity of these visual disturbances. Some people experience a temporary ‘Alice in Wonderland’ effect rather strongly, feeling that they are suddenly larger or smaller than they used to be and that the objects that they are interacting with are somehow different to how they appeared before. Others view the world almost normally but feel extremely unstable and unsafe as they navigate it, sure that they are ‘tipping’ and about to fall over at any given moment. While this symptom can be rather unnerving (and embarrassing, if your circular thinking leads to you being convinced that you are also walking oddly), it is another mere illusion; your brain and muscles are still orchestrating perfect rhythmic movement, supporting you as you glide through life, and there is nothing strange about your posture.
An important note about the visual disturbances that come along with derealization: we are not talking about hallucinations nor anything that should be mistaken for an attack of psychosis, for the integrity of the world is maintained. Edges, textures and relative sizes of things in your surroundings will be unperturbed, but you will feel that you are viewing reality through a psychedelic, lightly colored lens. Personally, I used to see everything as if it were bathed in sepia/golden light, which could have been pretty but, since it was unwanted, plunged me into the delusion that I was dreaming. I wanted out.
“Reality, as I used to know it, can no longer exist”, I used to tell myself, certain that I was now an omnipotent spiritual being rather than a human, living in a 2D computer game while somehow ‘aware’ of my own existence. Had I shared these thoughts with someone other than the two psychotherapists I visited at the time (who had barely heart of dissociative anxiety and were not equipped to truly help me), I would have likely been considered entirely insane and on the verge of involuntarily entering a catatonic state of psychosis.
It turns out, I never was insane nor was I truly mentally unwell. I was just temporarily gobbling up the limiting, intrusive thoughts that my brain was throwing my way, and excessively indulging in asking (and researching) dead-end questions. After all, questioning reality and your own condition incessantly and counterproductively is the basis of DPDR. I now see where I went wrong as clearly as I can visualize cracking the eggs, I enjoyed for breakfast this morning, and I am going to teach YOU how to stop thinking about, pondering and investigating DPDR too. This is guaranteed to result in the flow of noise in your brain quietening, your focus shifting and you completely overcoming a). dissociation and b). your preoccupation and identification with dissociation.
Depersonalization: I’m Not Real
We have looked at derealization, but some people prone to dissociative states do not experience a marked distortion of the world around them. In contrast to being bombarded by thoughts about whether they are ‘living in a simulation’, they mainly struggle to identify with their body parts and the concept of being human. If asked what they are most scared of, they would reply with doubts that they, as an entity, actually exist. This subset of sufferers may experience some derealization too, particularly when dealing with sensory overload in public, but the softening of the world around them is not the principal driver of their terror.
All Forms of Dissociation Can and Should Be Treated Together
I am aware that those of you who are currently deep in delusionary thinking will consider yourself very mentally unwell. Since you have not received the correct information (and, to top it off, have nearly definitely been sucked into reading pessimistic forum posts from people who ignorantly claim that recovery is impossible), these feelings are completely understandable and reasonable. In your current situation, it is almost logical that you should feel this way, but this belief system regarding your prognosis is utterly unfounded, illogical and untrue. Recovery is not difficult once this phenomenon is understood.
Let’s return to our topic: should we break DPDR down into its different constituents? No, further than defining what derealization and depersonalization are (with the sole purpose of realizing that they are different phenomena triggered by anxiety paired with an obsessive nature and soothing our fears), it is counterproductive and unnecessary to fixate too much on what constitutes the disorder. Furthermore, the root cause of both of these different states is identical, and both will cease to exist once you cut to the chase and target it.
Regardless of whether you feel ‘entirely depersonalized’, ‘derealized but not depersonalized’ (are these even real words?) or an unsavory combination of the two, the contents of this book put into practice will cure you completely. Every last visual, perceptive symptom and every last niggling worry about yourself or reality in general will vanish, and you will see exactly what I mean. You will understand that overcoming what we call “DPDR” is achieved effortlessly when we analyze the condition in order to rise above it, rather than in order to needlessly diagnose ourselves.
Question Why You Want to Analyze Your Condition
It is human nature to want to put ourselves in categories when we feel that something is ‘wrong’. There are marked survival benefits to wanting to ‘fit in’, and this tendency is seen in all mammals to differing degrees. However, here are the reasons why it does not matter at all what dissociative symptoms you experience:
- As has been mentioned above, your path to recovery and freedom will be identical regardless of what strain of dissociation you feel that you best identify with. Overcoming your symptoms will require the same rewiring of your subconscious mind, the same commitment to dismissing intrusive thoughts and the same interest in your own self-expansion and abundance. Separating your state of dissociation into moments of ‘derealization’ and moments of ‘depersonalization’ is akin to knowing that you are dehydrated but, rather than drinking water, pondering over the fact that you have a). a headache and b). fatigue. The reality is that both are possible, common causes of dehydration, so the correct mode of action is to stop indulging your hypochondria and just rehydrate yourself so that they can both be alleviated simultaneously. The same goes for DPDR.
- Fixating on the fact that you perhaps suffer from derealization more than depersonalization, or the other way around, is not only not needed, but is actively detrimental. Falsely believing that you are ill and have a reached a state that is ‘too far gone to be treated’ is a key pillar of this condition, so the last thing we want to do is exacerbate this with superfluous labels.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Lucy