Author: Lauren S
Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder is a mental disorder in which the person may be undergoing a sort of out-of-body experience. Whoever is suffering from this disorder may feel loosened from their body or surroundings and may feel that their life is ceased by unreality. Dealing with this disorder is absolutely terrifying, or at least it was for me. It has never been easy for me to understand my struggle with DP/DR due to the fact I have never fully understood it myself.
Toward the end of eighth grade, I developed this disorder, and at first, I had no idea what was going on. I felt separated from my body and everything felt like a blur. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t focus. My mind was constantly blank, and I felt as if I was watching myself through a screen. I was mentally and physically drained. I truly felt like I was going insane, and I had no idea what to do about it.
Every thought and every action caused me to mentally inspect if I was real or not. Accomplishing things that were part of my daily routine somehow became seized by the disorder that began to tear my confounding life to shreds. Having conversations with people promptly became more difficult than ever. Looking at myself in the mirror felt surreal. Living life seemed unavailing and more like a chore instead of something that should be appreciated.
As much as I wanted to explain my situation to my closest friends and my family, I let my concern of being criticized overlook me. I tried to act like nothing was wrong when, in reality, I was terrified, alone, exhausted, and helpless. I wasn’t sure if this never-ending confusion would end. Would it? Would I ever feel human again? Would I ever be able to live my life without feeling like a completely different person? Would I ever be myself again?
I spent nights researching DP/DR, trying to find any information that could help me. I later found out that this disorder was a lot more common than I speculated. I learned that there is no outright cure but that there is a way to help it: ignore it. I was scrolling through numerous websites in hopes of finding an easy way out, but every site I went on told me that I had to pretend that this disorder wasn’t there and live my life the way I normally would – the purpose of which was to trick my brain back to reality. To me, that sounded insane and nearly impossible, but I gave it a shot. I began telling myself that this was temporary and was all in my head, which it was. I forced myself to interact with my friends, pretending I wasn’t being affected by this disease that no one knew I had. Sooner or later, I stopped researching it and continued to tell myself that nothing was wrong with me.
My DP/DR went away a few weeks after I started ignoring it, and I finally felt human again. I was relieved that I was finally able to laugh with my friends instead of isolating myself with the fear that I would go crazy; however, my disorder did come back a few times after that. Every recurrence scared me just as much as it had the first time, but I now knew how to help myself. I invariably reminded myself that this was impermanent and would soon pass. Since then, I have dealt with this on-and-off confusion various times, but I know that it is always ephemeral. It will pass as long as I push through it.
I was lucky enough to push through my terrifying struggle and want everyone to know that he or she can too. As long as we don’t give up on ourselves, we can get through the darkness. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.