In simple words, what depersonalization first felt like to me was floating. I didn’t feel like I was on Earth, or a human, as a matter of fact. Of course, I didn’t know what it was at the start. All I knew was that my hands looked like they belonged in a video game and my world was slowly becoming two-dimensioned. It’s like a dream, if that puts it into words, but a dream that you can’t get out of, and a dream with the concept of limbo from the movie Inception. I couldn’t get out because I was stuck in a dream that happens to be my reality.
Some days, I stand and look at a specific item. It can be a pen or an article of clothing. I stare at it intensely, hoping it becomes three-dimensioned, hoping I’m able to see it real and with me at that moment. You find me stroking a piece of furniture randomly, hoping I can feel it in my hand, bringing myself back to reality and convincing myself that this thing is dimensioned, that it has curves and sharp edges.
Despite all these attempts, the world was still fake and I was still floating.
I didn’t google anything at that point. Not until it got worse.
I was home alone one evening, and as I walked through the hallway, I felt myself leaving my body. I didn’t feel the departure, but in the blink of an eye, I wasn’t there. It was as if I was removed from my own body and placed in a corner in the hallway, observing my soulless figure proceeding down the hall. But this wasn’t when it got bad, it was when I lost sense of the world and things became foreign.
I reached a room at the end of the hall, where a sofa with two velvety dark brown throw pillows were placed. Suddenly, I was back in my body. I tilted my head unconsciously as I deeply stared at that pillow. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know who I was, and I had forgotten why I had gone into that room, what I was supposed to do and why everything around me existed. In every meaning of these words: I lost sense.
Similar situations did occur as well, but that one beat them all since it lasted for over two minutes. I remember times where a room would turn to 2D all of a sudden, and things would look more like paper than 3D, but it would only last for a few seconds. I started savoring any feeling that made me feel like I was in this world, the feeling of water droplets from the shower and the weight of my backpack against my back. It was when I googled ‘feeling like I’m in a dream’ that I had discovered what I was going through was known as depersonalization.
Having your reality feel like a dream isn’t a great feeling. But to cope, I’d tell myself that a dream isn’t that bad. Sometimes, to comfort myself, I’d say, “people tell you to chase your dreams, but you’re living in yours. That’s alright, you can live with that.”
I told a few close friends about what I was experiencing and they weren’t of much help obviously. They aren’t psychiatrists. They don’t know how to help me because they had never heard of the disorder I had. But talking to people and knowing for a fact someone knows and understands what I was going through helped me somehow.
The motto I created about how living in a dream isn’t a bad thing has actually helped me. It was a necessary little white lie to bring light along the way. With enough communication and engagement in activities, I stopped myself from being isolated with my thoughts. Daydreaming intensely was a factor that caused my depersonalization, and so, instead of daydreaming my reality, I made it happen.
I wouldn’t change a thing if I were to go back because this disorder woke me up. But what I would do is advise myself that it’s alright to get help and there is no shame in doing so.
My mind is a powerful thing, and I should be the one in control of it, not the opposite.
The writer of this piece has requested to remain anonymous.