Depersonalization can be one of the most intense and scary experiences for someone going through it. At least, it makes itself feel that way.
Early on, when I did not know what I was going through, it used to terrify me. I’ve written at length about my depersonalization story and my eventual recovery. A few people have told me how much hope it gave them to read about my recovery; so today, I want to give my readers a few specific steps they can take to ensure their way out of this condition.
These work whether you have Depersonalization (DP) or Derealization (DR) or both. People who have one, have the other to varying degrees.
Face Your DP/DR
The only way to get over this condition is to go straight through it.
Now, what does that mean? Most of us, who don’t understand what is happening to us, instinctively fear DP/DR. No one is to be blamed for it. It is in our genes to be afraid of new sensations and experiences.
The more we resist these feelings, the bigger the problem seems to become; but when you turn around and let the same problem hit you and pass through you, it loses its power.
Next time, when you are feeling depersonalized, allow yourself to feel that way. Sink into that feeling. Know that deep inside you are going to be all right. With that in mind, learn to not resist these feelings or run away from them.
I found exercising could take the focus off my mind and onto my body. Having your focus always aimed at your thoughts can be exhausting. Especially in the throes of anxiety and DP/DR, our minds can get really agitated and come up with some scary thoughts.
By keeping your focus on these thoughts, you give them strength. When you choose to focus on your body and its movement through exercise, it cuts off that scary thought cycle; nothing is energizing them anymore.
And as an added advantage, you get to be healthier and feel better.
Your body produces endorphins after a workout that are naturally anxiolytic, meaning they soothe your anxiety. If even hearing the word exercise makes you want to give up already then learn how to make fitness part of your life by taking baby steps.
Expression through art, dance, music, and countless other channels is one of the best ways to get out of the DP/DR thought cycle.
Now would be a good time to sign up for that guitar class or join a dance or improv team. It won’t be easy, the first few weeks will be the hardest, but soon, when you start expressing yourself, your mind will get into a state of flow.
Flow is what meditators hope to achieve as an end result, but you can do that without the sitting down and closing your eyes part. When you are in the state of flow, you are so engrossed in whatever you are doing (singing, dancing, painting) that you forget about your troubles.
Being in the state of flow is also the most relaxing feeling, and leaves you with an after-glow that could last for hours to days.
If picking up the guitar, or taking that first dance class seems daunting, here’s any easy tip: coloring books. These are not just for kids anymore; you could easily spend a couple of engaging hours that leaves you feeling relaxed and energized at the end.
Reconnect with Life
Right now, because of your DP/DR, you may feel disconnected from life. You may have lost interest in your previous activities, or are too scared to do anything at all. All you probably want to do is lie on your bed with your computer beside you.
I was initially like this.
One day, I realized that if I was going to wait for DP/DR to leave me alone so I can continue with my life from where I left off then I was going to wait for a long time.
But, when I slowly started reconnecting with my life, the power that this condition had on me slowly weakened.
Don’t wait for your recovery. Start doing the things that you were doing before or the things you wish you were doing. Remember, there’s no need to rush, take it at whatever pace you are comfortable with.
Give up Worrying
This is probably the hardest step. This means not unnecessarily worrying everyday about your condition. This means being ok with setbacks (and there will be setbacks). This means not being in front of your computer researching your symptoms and condition. This means trusting that recovery will come towards you when you stop fighting it.
If you believe in a higher power, then place all your trust in your recovery in that power. If you don’t hold such beliefs, trust in your own body and mind’s ability to heal itself. In other words, when you have finally accepted your DP/DR and are exercising, expressing, and reconnecting with life, you need not worry about whether you’ll recover or not. Stop caring about whether you made recovery each and every day. Trust that you will slowly recover if you follow the above-mentioned steps. That trust is what mostly matters.
- Opening image – https://www.flickr.com/photos/hernanpc/7115374283/