Hi team, My name is Noggy and we need to be talking about mental health. This video is going to be on the topic of depersonalization, which is what I struggle with. Hopefully I can give you a small insight into what it is like, and I’ll do so using one of our generations greatest gifts to society, memes (many of them taken from https://www.reddit.com/r/dpdr/top/).
Hi team, My name is Noggy and we need to be talking about mental health. This video is going to be on the topic of depersonalization, which is what I struggle with. Hopefully I can give you a small insight into what it is like, and I’ll do so using one of our generations greatest gifts to society, memes.
Almost seven years ago I was severely depressed and anxious whilst at uni. I started experiencing lots of somatic, or physical symptoms. I remember distinctly losing feeling in my body and my senses being really affected. It was scary and confusing.
I assumed that the symptoms I was feeling were just some sort of weird anxiety or weird depression symptoms. I knew that so many of the symptoms of these mental health problems were physical, so I just chalked them up to that.
Depersonalization is a type of dissociative disorder, where you disassociate from yourself, which means disconnect. Whenever you here the word ‘dissosciation’ it is helpful to think disconnect. Depersonalization is a a buddy disorder of derealization. So it is often called dp/dr as the symptoms tend to come together. Depersonalization is disconnecting from yourself and deresaliszation is disconnecting from reality. I’m going to be primarily talking about depersonalization, but there is so much overlap between the two. 2 years ago I had never heard of this illness, so don’t worry if you haven’t. Some of the symptoms are actually quite common in the population, particularly with people who struggle with depression/anxiety. But having a full blown long term disorder is more rare.
After a few years I started to get my head around depression and anxiety, but these other symptoms just kept getting worse.
I had very little feeling in my body and this time it wasn’t to do with the Scottish weather. I felt like all my senses were being messed with. It seemed as if I was looking at things through ha tunnel, as if my visions was narrowed. Some noises were way too loud whilst others I couldn’t hear. I couldn’t make sense of it and didn’t have the words to articulate it.
My first full blown dissociative episode was in 2017. I woke up knowing something was very wrong. I immediately called a taxi to take me to my brother’s house. For the next two weeks I really struggled to make sense of things. More than ever before I dissociated (or disconnected) from myself and the world. Everything was a haze and didn’t quite seem real. When I thought about my own body it was as if I was a little man controlling a robot. It felt like I was a character in a video game. When I looked at my hands they didn’t seem like mine. I knew the right way to control them, but they weren’t mine. This made it really difficult to do things like walk. It felt like I was playing a very difficult video game where I had to input all sorts of commands just to get up and walk. And it was scary.
Even right now, as I look at my hands, I don’t recognise them as mine. I know they are mine, but they don’t seem like it. I didn’t know what was happening or how to deal with it. I didn’t know something like this was possible let alone how to deal with it. With my cognition and wellbeing so dramatically impacted I wasn’t able to articulate it. I couldn’t tell others what I was experiencing. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do to ask for help. It was terrible.
had another bad dissociative episode 6 months later which meant I had to stop working. This one lasted about 8 weeks and was kind of a precursor to a more consistent experience of depersonalization. Currently I am off work because of it and have just started another treatment pathway to try and get it sorted.
The disconnectedness/ dissosciatedness makes life very difficult. If you become disconnected from my body I start to spill things, become clumsy, and accidently bump into things. Several times I have almost been hit by a car or bike.
It makes reading and studying hard. We did some intelligence testing and my intelligence pretty much is dramatically diminished. I go from being categorised as the top 1% to being ‘significantly mentally impaired.’ I can hardly understand anything complex when I’m having a bad day. How can I understand things when the world doesn’t seem real?
It complicates relationships. All of a sudden I don’t want to see anyone. I am a crazy big people’s person, but I often can’t manage being with other people. When I am disconnected from my own body and the outside world, talking, let alone holding a proper conversation is challenging. It can make it really hard to get to know people.
It easily triggered, meaning that it is hard for me to commit to things. Some triggers I have found are upsetting conversations, getting carsick, sorting out council tax, and bright lights. Some days I pull back the curation and am triggered, even in a country that has no sun. Turing on the light can literally wipe me out for the day. Not exactly the epic hero I always wanted to be.
It makes me go from the playing difficult of ‘legendary’ to amateur on Fifa. It really isn’t great.
I am really not trying to make people miserable or gather sympathy. I am not trying to be some sort of sob story. I am trying to articulate and let people know what mental illness is like.
Having this illness sucks. It is so difficult. Most of the time I don’t even realise how much it overwhelms me and everyone once in a while will just implode. If you ask me how I am doing and I say 5/10, it is likely I am actually at a 2 or 3/10.
Here is a quote which unfortunately describes this. It is from the DSM -V which is one of the diagnostic manuals medical professionals use when dealing with mental illnesses.
“Symptoms of depersonalization/derealization disorder are highly distressing and are associated with major morbidity. The affectively flattened and robotic demeanor that these individuals often demonstrate may appear incongruent with the extreme emotional pain reported by those with the disorder. Impairment is often experienced in both interpersonal and occupational spheres, largely due to the hypoemotionality with others, subjective difficulty in focusing and retaining information, and a general sense of disconnectedness from life.”
It isn’t great. Here is a screenshot of an internet page of people with the disorder talking about their lives. Not exactly happy stuff. It is an immense and hard to articulate struggle.
Now I want to live hopefully. I want to fight this illness the best I can. I want to be joyful and plan to get better. But to do that well it starts with realistically accepting how tough the illness is. From there we can move forward trying to understand how to joyfully and hopefully fight this terrible thing.
With any luck, this video gave you an idea of what depersonalization is like. I wanted to keep it short and will talk more about it in future. Hopefully you learned something. Please let me know if you have any questions. I thin kit is so important we keep talking about these types of things.