Have you ever felt awkward or had difficulty when interacting with people during depersonalization & derealization? In this article, I want to talk about why this happens and what you can do about it.
When I was going through depersonalization/derealization disorder (DP/DR), I had a hard time interacting with people. Before depersonalization, I never had any issue in this area, but after depersonalization, I came to dread every interaction I had.
First of all, people looked weird and it felt strange interacting with another human being. I especially had a problem looking people in the eye.
But over time, I came to understand why this happens, and with that knowledge, I was able to overcome it.
This Is Where We Go Wrong
The problem, first of all, lies in us trying to hide our DP/DR. During an interaction, we try hard to hide how we are truly feeling from other people. You gotta remember that DP/DR grows more powerful when we try to hide it.
Let’s say you are chit-chatting with a friend and you start to experience DP or DR. Now what you might try to do is to act normal. You might clench up and desperately try to hold it together. You feel like if you don’t do this, you may end up making a fool of yourself.
So, you try really hard to follow the conversation and respond with “hmm,” “ok,” “yes, of course,” etc, while on the inside, you’re just seething with immense fear.
Can you not see why interacting is hard with other people when going through DP/DR?
So what can you do at this time? How can we overcome this problem?
A Simple Solution
Whenever you’re feeling uneasy interacting with someone during DP/DR, here’s a simple solution I propose: DON’T TRY TO HIDE YOUR DISCOMFORT.
If this is a friend or loved one you are interacting with and you are feeling DP/DR, then just let them know what is happening to you. If it’s your first time telling them, then just tell them that you are not feeling all that great.
Tell them not to worry, but it’s just something that you are currently going through.
Most people, I mean a good 90%, will be helpful and supportive during this time.
Once you are out of the DP/DR closet, life becomes a bit easier to manage. You won’t be dreading the next time you have to talk to a friend or family member because you don’t have to hide your DP/DR and maintain a straight face.
In essence, don’t try to hide your discomfort, don’t try to hide your DP/DR. Bring it out and make it part of the conversation. Ask them to take a walk with you, maybe it will work as a distraction. Ask them to hold your hand or just be there for you. Ask them to tell you something reassuring. There are many ways your friend or loved one can help. If they don’t know how, but want to help, here’s how your friend or loved one can support you during DP/DR.
What About Work and Office Colleagues?
Now, the above approach is fine when it comes to people you feel close with. But what about having conversations with people who you are not close with or with whom you have a formal relationship? Such as a boss or a colleague.
This is a bit tricky. In the past, I experienced a lot of DP/DR when I was interacting with office colleagues. I really didn’t want to tell them about my condition. In those cases, I told myself I’m just going to do it. If I come off as an idiot, then so be it! If I embarrass myself, then let that happen!
I told myself that I’ll try to do my best, but I gave myself a lot of room to fail. This means, asking people what they were talking about if I lost my train of thought and got distracted. I’d just be like, “Hey, can you please repeat that again? Sorry, I didn’t catch it.”
Sometimes, I’d just excuse myself in the middle of the conversation if it was proving too much to handle. That was perfectly fine for me to do. I told myself that I am not going to avoid any conversation, BUT at the same time, if it became too much to handle, I am just going to excuse myself and walk away.
Knowing that I had this freedom to walk away actually gave me the courage to stay in it. That’s how paradoxical this approach really is. Knowing I had an escape meant that I could actually stay in the conversation a little longer.
So, cut yourself some slack, go easy on yourself, give yourself room to fail, and also give yourself the freedom to excuse yourself if necessary.
Also, understand that most people are not constantly judging you when you’re talking to them. Most people are actually concerned about themselves. They are more worried about how they come off.
Look, we are all human, and to an extent, human interactions are inherently awkward and strange. Everyone realizes this to some extent. So don’t beat yourself up too much if you are feeling awkward while interacting. Depersonalization is hard as it is, we don’t have to make it extra hard.
Alright Let’s Recap
Whenever you are feeling socially awkward or anxious when interacting with someone during depersonalization, remember the following:
- 1) Don’t try to hide your DP/DR when interacting with people. Let people know about how you’re feeling if you can. Ask them for support and understanding. DP/DR grows bigger when we really try to hide it and put on a smiley face even when we are feeling afraid or disconnected on the inside.
- 2) Give yourself room to fail. It’s ok to mess up during conversations. It’s ok to ask people to repeat something. Don’t beat yourself up.
- 3) Stay in the conversation as long as possible, but also know that at any point, you can leave if it gets overwhelming. Knowing that you have an escape hatch actually can make you more open to staying in the conversation.
That’s it, I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you are looking for a step by step guide to overcoming depersonalization then check out DP No More, my online course that will help you achieve a full recovery.
Images are from Pixabay and Pexels