My Life With Depersonalization Derealization Disorder (DPDR)

Photo by Natasa Savva on Unsplash
Photo by Natasa Savva on Unsplash

It all started one day at the age of 10. I woke up early in the morning and felt I was still in the dream; something in my head wasn’t as crystal clear as before. I felt something blurry in my mind that was very hard to describe. Initially, I thought it was due to the horrible nightmare last night. Then I went to school, did the regular stuff, and returned home with this weird dreamy feeling. I wish I could sleep over, but it kept bothering me after one day, two days, months, and years.

I tried to see different doctors. They took numerous CTs and found no issue in my brain; They also rinsed my sinuses countless times. They could not figure it out. No root cause was ever found, then I gave up. Although it doesn’t feel right, I continue my life with this feeling.

What bothers me most is that I sometimes cannot concentrate when it requires me to focus. The worst is at school during the exam, I want to focus on the questions, but this feeling takes the position of my mind when I try to answer the questions on the exam. The other feeling I have is that sometimes I feel I am another person sitting within my body, watching myself.

How Do I Know I Got DPDR

One of the challenges for me is identifying this blurry feeling. It took me 18 years to find out the name of my issue. 

Five years ago, I was bored and randomly searched for my symptoms. Then I found Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder, the same feeling I had. 

Derealization symptoms involve “Feeling detached from the surroundings (people, objects, or everything) seems unreal.”

People may feel as if they are in a dream or a fog or a glass wall or veil that separates them from their surroundings. The world seems lifeless, colorless, or artificial. The world may appear distorted to them. For example, objects may appear blurry or unusually clear, or they may seem flat or smaller, or larger than they are. Sounds may seem louder or softer than they are. Time may seem to be going too slow or too fast.

After 23 years since it happened the first time, it has become chronic now. I still suffered from this consistently. I want to share my life with the world, who also suffer from depersonalization/derealization disorder. We are not alone.

The Reason for Me Getting DPDR

According to Merck Manual,  Depersonalization/derealization disorder often develops in people who have experienced severe stress, including the following:

  • Being emotionally abused or neglected during childhood
  • Being physically abused
  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Having had a severely impaired or mentally ill parent
  • Having had a loved one die unexpectedly

Knowing the above cause, I discovered what caused my depersonalization/derealization disorder. The night I had Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder at age 10, I was roused by loud and repeated knocking on my bedroom (I slept in the same room with my parents). My grandfather rushed to let my parent know my grandmother had difficulty breathing and looked extremely pale. My parents quickly took my grandmother to the hospital and left me alone at home. I remembered I saw a giant cockroach on the wall, and I covered my head with a blanket. I was so scared. The next day, I had this bad feeling. On the same day, my loved grandmother passed away. 

It triggered my body to protect myself using this extreme method, with all the anxieties blended quickly. However, it leaves me with depersonalization/derealization disorder for the rest of my life.

Current Life With DPDR

Before I knew the Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder, I felt alone and unluckily. I cannot remember how many times I hoped to wake up and recover one day. But it never goes away. I gradually learned that this feeling wouldn’t affect me physically, so I complained less and tried to ignore this feeling.

Although I sometimes felt it was unfair, life is still going. Then I realized I had to embrace this. I either stressed about this mysterious feeling all day long or continued to enjoy the rest of my life, and I took the latter one.

After understanding Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder, I feel incredibly peaceful now. At least I knew what happened to me, and this is just episodic in life, and I have it longer than others.

Life is still grateful to me. I have a loving family with a healthy boy. More importantly, I want to ensure I have time to comfort him in case of any emergency, to lower his anxiety level so it won’t pass down to him.

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