Are you a parent looking to help your kid recover from depersonalization (DP) and derealization (DR)? Then this article is for you.
You probably got to this article because you were looking for ways to help your child dealing with depersonalization and derealization (often abbreviated as DP/DR). You are not alone in this. Many parents reach out and ask me how they can help their kid who’s going through depersonalization or derealization. I’m going to give you some helpful tips on how you can be a good parent during this time.
First of all, who am I? My name’s Swamy, I’m the creator of DP No More: the online course that helps people recover from derealization and depersonalization. I also run this blog and a YouTube channel specifically dedicated to helping DP/DR sufferers.
I see that you are trying to help your child with depersonalization and derealization. But to help them better, you need to first understand a little bit about depersonalization and derealization.
A Short Introduction to DP/DR
You see, depersonalization and derealization are dissociative disorders. A person who is going through them feels disconnected from either themselves or the world around them. When they feel disconnected from themselves, it’s known as depersonalization, and when they are disconnected from the world around them, it’s known as derealization. These two are usually present together, and from here on, I’m going to refer to them as DP/DR.
DP/DR is really hard, let me tell you. I personally suffered from this disorder and I have first-hand experience of how scary, daunting, and frustrating this experience can be. So your son or daughter who is going through this isn’t just “acting out,” they are really suffering. You first need to understand that.
A lot of young people become depersonalized after smoking marijuana or weed. There are quite a number of causes and triggers for DP/DR. I made a video talking about such causes and triggers, so check that video out in case you want to know more.
Right now, your son or daughter is in a confused state. They are not sure what is happening to them. They are afraid that they might go insane, which is a common fear of DP/DR sufferers. They are having all sorts of scary thoughts going through their head right now. They may also feel emotionally numb.
As a parent, you feel this suffering yourself. It’s hard to watch your child go through this. And I commend you for trying to help them.
Boost Your Understanding of DP/DR
First of all, begin by understanding what DP/DR really is. I’ve always said that the cure to DP/DR begins with the right understanding. If you don’t know what your child is dealing with, then you cannot help them.
Read up on articles about this disorder. You can watch videos on my YouTube channel, or read all the different articles on this website. This will increase your understanding of this disorder. All of this content is available free of charge.
Once you begin to grasp what DP/DR truly is, let your child know that they are not in any real danger. Right now, they may be feeling extremely unsafe. This is what happens during DP/DR. Their feeling of safety is gone. But you as a parent can help them re-build this sense of safety. For that to happen, they first need to understand that DP/DR is not dangerous or harmful. It may be a very uncomfortable experience, and it can produce feelings, thoughts, and emotions that are scary and confusing, but in the end, these are not directly harmful. This is just the body’s way of reacting to stress and trauma. You’ve got to let them know that. This is just like when you experience a fever when you get an infection. The fever is just a natural reaction to the infection. Once the body heals from the infection, the fever is gone. The same principle applies here.
Help Your Child Deal with Hopelessness
What I’ve often seen in kids and teenagers experiencing DP/DR is that they are especially prone to feeling hopeless. I’ve talked to several parents who feel like their once outgoing, happy kid has now become reclusive, depressed, and feels hopeless as the days go by. This is very common in young people.
Young people’s brains have not fully developed yet. They are at the mercy of their emotions. This is why they can get really excited and appear full of life, but at the same time, when they undergo something challenging, they tend to easily fall prey to negative emotions.
You as a parent need to provide balance to their emotions. Foster hope in them. Offer them daily words of encouragement. Tell them they are going to be all right. Tell them recovery is gradual and slow, but they WILL recover. Foster that sense of confidence in them.
It’s okay for your kid to feel sad during this time. Tell them that. It’s okay to feel sad and scared. But at the same time, let them know that it won’t always be like this. DP/DR is not going to be there forever.
Kids Need to Do Their Part
While you can offer hope and support, your kid has to do their part as well. They need to start believing that they will recover. That belief is a crucial part of their recovery. To feel normal again, they need to do normal things. Things that they were doing before they became depersonalized and derealized.
See if you can set them up with a good routine. At this point in their life, they need structure. Routines will give their life a badly needed structure. It also helps them naturally take their mind off of DP/DR.
Make sure they go to bed and get a good night’s sleep, and that they wake up at a reasonable hour in the morning. Let your kid make it a habit to get some moderate exercise and eat good, healthy, whole foods. Start with those things. They don’t have to be busy all the time. Having routines really helps, but at the same time, it’s okay to take breaks and just be alone and not do anything. They can follow a routine that has some activities followed by breaks and downtime.
If possible, now would be a good time for your kid to pick up a hobby or sport. A lot of their mental energy is focused inwards on themselves during DP/DR. They are just thinking about what’s going to happen to them, how long it’s going to be like this, and how they’re missing out on life. They’re thinking about the past and how different it used to be. All of these thoughts just make them feel bad. These thoughts don’t help at all. See if you can help them understand that. They need some natural distraction. Having a hobby, or a simple side project, can really help them take their mind off of such thoughts. Don’t force any of this on them, just offer it as a suggestion and provide rewards if they do their part.
Also, understand that sometimes kids can feel ashamed of DP/DR. They feel like they did something wrong. Help them feel less ashamed of themselves. Help them understand that this is nothing more than a bodily reaction to stress and trauma. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. This can happen to anyone.
A Little Help and Support Goes a Long Way
Finally, spend 20-30 minutes talking with them every day about how they are feeling. Let them just vent their feelings. Again, don’t force them to talk. Sometimes just taking them out on a walk in nature or to their favorite place can be healing.
You can also spend time with them going through depersonalization books or videos. My program, DP No More, offers a step-by-step method for finding relief from DP/DR. A number of parents sit with their kids and go over this program. And I get emails from these parents letting me know how much it has helped their kids feel better.
As a parent, it can be really hard watching your kid go through this. But this is not going to be permanent. You must understand that first, and once you do, you must help your kid understand that as well. I hope that this article has been helpful to you.
Also, don’t forget to check out my article on how to support a loved one going through DP/DR. You’ll find various steps that you can use to help your loved one through this difficult time.
All images are from Pixabay