Trapped In a Dream, Not Asleep

Andrea Gomez, Staff Writer

  Have you ever felt as if there was something wrong with you and your surroundings? Something that you could not describe but maybe just brushed off? Well some cannot seem to brush it off, and that is called Depersonalization-derealization (DPDR).

  DPDR is a disorder that is described as periods where one feels disconnected or detached from their own body and thoughts. It is as if you are “an outside observer of your thoughts, feelings, your body or parts of your body.” The best way to describe what the disorder feels like is imagining yourself in a dream-like state.

  According to Medical News Today, there is numbness also playing a part of the symptoms, which is why people misread it as just depression. However, the root of this disorder can derive from anxiety or depression, but that sometimes isn’t the case for everyone. Sometimes drug-use can trigger the disorder.  For others the disorder can be triggered “by life-threatening or traumatic events, such as extreme violence, war, a kidnapping, or childhood abuse.”

  Common symptoms associated with the disorder are distorted perception and blurriness related to the eyes. Often times, people with DPDR feel like they are going to lose their minds. They feel like they are going crazy or sometimes they are afraid they have schizophrenia.

  Don’t get me wrong, the majority of people might feel like they are going crazy from time to time. The feeling of who am I? Why was I put on this earth? However, people with DPDR do not think that way and do not just feel the sense of going crazy or being in that dream-state once in awhile. They think nothing is real, I am going to die, I am trapped in a dream. They go through the symptoms intensely for long periods of time, which sometimes feels as if the DPDR will never end.

  Usually having DPDR, just like any other disorder, can interfere with your work, school, and almost everything in your life.

  However, DPDR does have a cure, but the cure is a culmination of many different things for different people:

  1. Ignoring the disorder may allow the side effects to placate.
  2. Remind yourself that DPDR can not harm you.

However, this approach does not work all the time.

  I have DPDR. My DPDR started late December of 2016. I was hanging out with my cousin when I felt sudden panic rush through me. I did not understand why all of my surroundings felt unknown; I felt unknown. My vision blurred out, my body felt numb, I was walking through what felt like a dream. I thought I was going to wake up dead.

  Every time I looked in the mirror, I genuinely did not know who I was looking at. Sometimes I would look at my friends and family and just feel as if they were all fake. The first couple of months, I would break down in tears because of DPDR. I feared for my life because there was always that way of thinking that came along, the “I am going to die.” Every night I would start to think what I was going through was, and like most people say, I thought I was going insane little by little.

  My friends did not understand what I was going through, less my family. I was frustrated because no one understood how I felt.

  I thought I was alone.

  I thought I was going to live with this disorder all my life.

  Educating myself gave me a big sense of relief. Now I try to ignore the DPDR, but sometimes the episodes come back very intensely. Sometimes paranoia comes into place and I start feeling claustrophobic.

  For anyone who might suffer from DPDR, but are not sure, realize that you are normal. This may feel like the most suffocating experience. But you can not ignore the disorder, or simply call it depression or anxiety. The reason for this is because neither depression nor anxiety makes you feel that sense of panic that I and many people experience. When it is ignored or not informing someone about DPDR, the disorder could get worse and it is a very frightening experience.

  If you feel like you might suffer from depersonalization disorder, explain your feelings to your parents or go to a doctor if the feelings occur more often. DPDR is common; many people suffer from DPDR but don’t let this scare you. Research and educate yourself on the disorder. Remember, you are not alone.