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Depersonalisation

Hi guys and gals! Something I exprienced during my depressive epsiodes was depersonalisation. This was not due to experiencing psychosis or anything alike, but rather my depression created a significant gap between who I identified myself as being, and who I was when I was depressed. I really struggled to make sense of who I was, as when I was depressed I felt physically and emotionally 'distant' from myself, my family/friends and the life I was living. It was to the extent where at times it felt I was watching a movie or someone else live out my life, without me having a connection with what I was doing.

 

This was a symptom that I found very overwhelming and I never experienced it being talked about online in relation to depression, nor during my study (psychology degree). Depersonalisation is not something I am currently struglging with, but there may be one of you who is. I thought I would post this on here to see if anyone else has experienced this symptom before or currently trying to make sense of it! Smiley Happy

Re: Depersonalisation

What you have described is something that I can sometimes apply to myself. I feel like I've currently lost myself, yet I've still kept going with uni, and trying to follow a career path that doesn't feel real. I often wonder how I achieve certain things at uni because I don't feel like I am that person. I feel separate from any of the positive things I do.

It's comforting for me to know that other people struggle or have struggled.

Re: Depersonalisation

@loves netball it must be difficult for you at the moment with experiencing this feeling. Is there anything you have found to help with it? Something that my psychologist suggested was in moments where it can be really overwhelming to try and implement mindfulness as it grounds you and brings you back to the moment to feel connected with the current 'self'. Is this something you experience during a depressive epsiode or just in general?

Re: Depersonalisation

@bee14 yes I've been told about mindfulness, and often forget to try it. I've been told just to keep myself as busy as possible, so I have less time to think. When I have a routine, I'm at my best, but it doesn't always stop this feeling. Yes I do notice it the most during depressive episodes. During one of my darkest times, I remember doing a massive jigsaw puzzle, but I don't know how I did it. The fact I did it, doesn't feel real. I seem to have been going through an episode at the moment and nothing feels right at all; I've definitely lost who I am.

Re: Depersonalisation

@loves netball I posted a super long reply but it seems to have been deleted! Smiley Sad

 

i'm sorry to hear that you're going through a depressive episode at the moment. Do you have anyone to talk to about how you are feeling?

 

Mindfulness is definitely something worth checking out! There are so many easily accessible apps (e.g. headspace, smiling mind) and awesome websites (http://portlandpsychotherapyclinic.com/mindfulness_and_acceptance_exercises/).

 

Something else I found to be incredibly helpful, as suggested recently by my psychologist, is to focus on your values. By identifying your top 10 values, it allows for you to recognise whether you are living your life in accordance with your values (which helps you understand who 'you are' as a person). The book "The Life Plan" was very useful to establish values/identify who you are.

 

Having said all this, I know that these tools don't necessarily always help with the feelings of depersonalisation, but I definitely would suggest they are worth the try as they have helped me. Depersonalisation is most certainly something I still struggle with when I have depressive epsiodes, but the tools suggested above do seem to help Smiley Happy. Let me know if you try any and keep me updated with how you are feeling!

Re: Depersonalisation

This is something I was going to make a thread about @bee14, you beat me to it Smiley Tongue I definitely struggle with this, I've heard different accounts from different people and I can totally relate. Watching a movie sounds like a good comparrison. I've heard it compared to watching life through the viewfinder of a camera, but not hitting record, which I find describes how I feel better (or maybe I just really like cameras Smiley Very Happy). I just get so lost in my head and focused on my thoughts, or even nothing at all, that it's like I'm kind of removed from what's happening irl. It's usually not so bad, but sometimes it can be uncomfortable and frustrating. I've also heard that mindfulness is a good way to combat this, however I struggle with mindfulness too because I find it difficult to remain focused on the moment. Maybe there are some different mindfulness techniques I could try.

 

Thanks for making this thread Smiley Happy

Re: Depersonalisation

@bee14 thanks for making a post about this I totally agree that this is something that isn't really talked about in psychology degrees (well at least in mine) and it really should be!

I'm not sure if I have experienced depersonalisation but I have experienced some sort of dissociation or derealisation and it is very scary - like an out of body "floating" experience where things don't feels real. It happens when I have panic attacks. Does anyone else experience that?

Re: Depersonalisation

@bee14 Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

I agree that depersonalisation isn't really as well-known/talked about as other aspects of mental illness, and I think it's great that you've brought it up here. I have experienced some form of dissociation when I've been really anxious, and I describe it as feeling as though everything is happening around me, rather than to me. Not sure if that makes sense to anyone...

Alternatively, it could be a bit like experiencing everything through a funnel or a filter, as if in a dream.

 

I've found that the best thing I can do is wait for it to pass and try to keep myself occupied until it does. If I'm around other people I'll try to engage them in conversation and try to be fully present in the conversation. Breathing exercises can be helpful, too. 

// Spiral outward, keep going. //

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Wow that sounds pretty similar to what I experience @letitgo. I also try and engage in a conversation when it happens about literally anything other than how I am feeling and that usually helps.

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@roseisnotaplant I think you're so right, in that I think its something that stems from being preoccupied with thoughts and emotions, which ultimately leads to feel disconnected from life. The camera anology definitely explains it well Smiley Happy. I definitely struggle with mindfulness too.. I know its amazing and it helps but I am the worst at implementing, but persist as I know its helpful! You're welcome! Smiley Very Happy Pleased to hear that it helps to feel understood.

 

@May_ and @letitgo i know exactly what you mean! Its not something I personally experience often (its more generally depersonalisation for me and it lasts for an extended period of time), but the derealisation can be so distressing. As it sounds like it is for you guys too. Good suggestions @letitgo. I think that breathing exercises and trying to engage with those around you brings you back to earth a little bit. Its definitely a scary experience though!