On the day of my birthday all seemed well, a party and a getaway with friends was just what I needed, although inner anxieties were still present. Recalling these memories now arise to me in flashes, in contrast to my previous detailed and what I would call profound memory. On the night of my birthday I smoked marijuana, little did I know this could unhinge my already vulnerable brain and send it to the bottom of an abyss.
I wasn’t the only one smoking but I was the only one reacting the way I was, the panic set in and then I could not cope with the feelings I was feeling, everything around me felt unreal, I felt like I was in a movie.
I was panicking and expressing this fear. Everybody around me was helpless and I was convinced I would now depart from earth. Looking around at the faces I did not recognize anybody or myself, my own voice sounded like it was not mine. I felt like I was observing what was happening instead of being there experiencing it, but beneath all the panic I had some awareness that this was happening to me and it was in fact real and not a dream.
Thoughts and questions raced through my mind, had I been spiked? Have I totally lost my mind? Will I die? When will this insane feeling that has taken over me end? I was seen by a paramedic and told I should sleep it off.
When I woke the next morning I wanted to forget the nightmare of the previous night, but I felt the same as I did while I was under the influence of the drug. The hazy, foggy, dream like feeling had not gone. I thought maybe it would subside after a few days.
Weeks went by and I could not understand what was happening to me, because surely the drug had left my body, but I still felt the way I did since my birthday. This was very scary, as I was convinced I had damaged my brain and now I would slowly lose my mind.
After months of feeling this way and being too afraid to go to the doctor, I googled my symptoms and found that depersonalization disorder matched it completely, I joined an online forum with so many other sufferers, it was overwhelming to see how many other people could relate to what I was going through, as I thought I was alone with these feelings.
When I worked up the courage to finally see my doctor, I was told I do have depersonalization disorder from the description of my symptoms. There was no known cure but steps I could take to make the symptoms more tolerable.
From this point on I tried to unravel the reasons why I have the disorder and why I had found myself in the position I was in. This began by me looking at what may have been underlying issues. I feel I had many. Working on myself whilst suffering from these feelings of unreality was very difficult and still is, as it takes work and effort just to communicate in the normal way I once did.
I looked into non-medical treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness and meditation. Although these did not make my symptoms fully go away, they helped me cope with them better. The main thing that helped for me was to not let the disorder affect my life or stop me from doing the things I wanted to. I still moved away for University and thoroughly enjoyed my course.
I then came to a conclusion in my mind, I could let this disorder completely break me or I could do my best to understand it and understand myself. I began searching about the disorder and came to the awareness that it did not have much exposure.
As a sufferer I have chosen to unravel the disorder and all the information I can find and present this to others in hope of making something good out of something that has caused me pain and feelings of alienation. This is where my journey began.