A general description of Depersonalization Disorder.
As a teenager, a strange surreal divide appeared in my awareness. It was stopping me bringing myself to the world and the world to myself. The barrier stayed, no matter how I varied my days. I knew it was severely inhibiting my abilities and confusing relationships.
In an alarming (and probably inescapable) situation which could otherwise incapacitate you with shock,
your brain may briefly 'depersonalise’ you, so that you may get through that situation, as if uninvolved.
E.g. in a vehicle crash or an earthquake, time may appear to slow down and all become dreamlike, while
you are only ‘watching’ the event. That depersonalisation then goes, its useful purpose served. In
DDD, however, such experiences are severe, complex and can persist for years. DDD becomes the
problem and is an awful state to be stuck in. It can result from trauma, persistent life stresses or from
drug use. [I never used such drugs but apparently the consequential DDD is the same]. Onset
can be sudden, develop in steps or episodically. DDD may not be as rare as thought.
In primary DDD, you end up trying to move your body of which you are not aware, through a world of which you are not aware, then having no feeling or emotional memory of having done so. Or those experiences are very scarce. Your natural acuity has plunged into an impermeable zone of nothingness. You peer out from a shell into a vague, irrelevant, barely noticed and unreal scene of which you are not apparently part. The experience of self inhabiting body and space was taken for granted before.
The quality of perception is changed, not the content (there is no delusion or hallucination). Emotional vitality has gone, what was actual now does not seem real. You always know factually what is real and where you are but you are not ‘in on it’ as a present participant. DDD would deny a real sense of presence in space and time, that you are living in the here and now, while you know that you do. It is a cruel absence, some deficiency of apparent existence. You still know who you are, your true self and abilities, and how you would be in the world if you were not behind the strange, deadening barrier. Your senses work but are disowned, subdued, at a distance, and (at worst) allowed only as a minimal, workable necessity. Body and voice seem to go on independently. My location surprises me when I point it out to myself.
From that, it will be obvious that DDD is very unpleasant and preclusive to have. It is a practical and philosophical challenge but, despite all the pervasive symptoms, you can often seem fine to other people. However, it can be debilitating, a severe inhibition of the emotional perception of one’s environment and body. Often, I am not aware enough to move about in my home.
DDD may seem stagnantly permanent but it only seems so. Mine reveals that when (in very rare but fabulous moments) it inexplicably dips. Meanwhile, with experiential actuality of everything being denied and made unreal, it is difficult to integrate an holistic experience of body, environment, memory and emotion. They are rendered disparate from each other and from my true self. DDD includes several domains of altered experiences. I find them distinctive, even as they interact and have a common root. In the next part: some of my personal descriptions of those aspects.