What's That Mental Disorder?! or I Feel Like Me Again and It's Wonderful!
Three hours ago, I felt that I was on the verge on a psychotic breakdown. I felt like my brain was being torn apart, and I went into a sort of state of shock to stop myself from going over the edge. Then...
I struggle with depression, and the last few weeks especially has been more difficult than I'm used to. In trying to talk through what was going on in my brain, I was finally able to vocalize that I didn't feel like I was connected to myself. I would look in the mirror and not see me. I felt like there was my mind and my body and they were connected. Then there was this third part. I always described it as my consciousness, you know, like a soul but without the religious connotations. That part I associated as the real me. It was trapped in this prison of a body. I was stuck in this person, a person who was in no way me.
More and more over the last few days, I have felt disconnected from myself. If somebody talked to me, I could hear it and respond to it, but they weren’t talking to “Me”. They were talking to “Him”. When my girlfriend touch me, she was touching “Him”. I could feel it, but it wasn’t my body. I didn’t know who the real me was, if there was a real me. I just knew it wasn’t “Nick” as the world knew him.
I found myself losing the will to live. I wasn’t suicidal, because suicide meant the end of my existence. I didn’t want that. I wanted to exist. I just didn’t want to exist in this body with this mind. Those felt like someone else’s, and they felt broken. I realized that I had lost any desire to maintain this body, to fix this body. I mean, that had been going on for a long time, but I never really understood why. I’d have body pain and things I really should look into, but I wouldn’t see a doctor. I thought I had a cavity, but I wouldn’t see a dentist. My eyesight wasn’t great, but I wouldn’t see an optometrist. I’ve steadily been gaining weight the last 9 months or so. My sleep pattern was terrible. My work situation was terrible. My car felt like it was falling about. I tried talking to a therapist, but only felt worse. I tried working on my career aspirations and took an acting class, but felt less sure of my abilities and all of my life choices thus far. I lost my desires. I looked forward to nothing. Happiness was temporary. Nothing felt right. Everything hurt. Everything felt on the verge of falling apart, and I just couldn’t make myself care. Whatever was going to happen was going to happen, and there was nothing I could do about that. I wasn’t going to kill myself, but if I died, I died.
All of this was building up to tonight. I hit my lowest point tonight. I felt like nothing was ever going to get better. There was nothing I could do to help myself. Even worse, I felt like I may actually be psychotic. It was something I never really considered for myself before tonight. I saw it all happening. My life would be changed forever. I would end up in an institution. I would never be able to find true peace because I was clinically insane and I just never knew. That was all too much for me to handle. My body went into shock and I pushed it all back inside. I couldn’t deal with this. I was not physically or emotionally capable of accepting this kind of life.
And so I numbed myself as best I could. It would’t go away, though. Not completely, at least. My girlfriend suggested we play a game or watch TV, something to get us back to normal. I couldn’t. I couldn’t be normal. Not right now. There was something seriously wrong with me. Something I never considered. Something bigger than my depression and my anxiety. I tried to calm myself down, but I couldn’t completely.
I decided to not put off the diagnosis. Should I have went to the hospital? I don’t know. Maybe. But instead, I went to the magical land of the internet. I had never put into word my feelings of disassociation, so I decided to explore that path. I thought I might be able to find some clues to what might actually be wrong with me. I didn’t expect an umbrella diagnosis, some magical diagnosis that showed the cause of all of my problems. That diagnosis doesn’t exist.
I’m going to preface this with saying that I know self-diagnosis can be dangerous, and that it’s best to consult with a professional. That being said, I have never been more sure of a self-diagnosis in my life.
There it was, staring me in the face in all it’s black and white glory. It’s like somebody transcribed every thought and feeling I had and was never able to vocalize and understand. I discovered Depersonalization-derealization disorder, and it described me almost perfectly. My feelings of disconnect with myself and the environment around me. The fact that it could manifest as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, the fear of losing your mind, and low self-esteem, all things I struggle with. It’s also said that people diagnosed with depersonalization can experience an “almost uncontrollable urge to question and think about the nature of reality and existence as well as other deeply philosophical questions,” which may as well be a direct description of me. The thing that really got me and made everything seem like it was going to be OK was finding out that the majority of people who suffer from Depersonalization disorder misinterpret the symptoms as being signs of severe mental illness or psychosis which makes the symptoms worse. It’s almost like someone was watching me and wrote that right before I searched for it.
While many people experiences bouts of depersonalization, often as a coping mechanism, chronic depersonalization disorder seems to be less common and somewhat neglected in the psychiatric community. Thus, there isn’t really a definitive cure or treatment for it. There are things I can try though, and I plan to. The first step, of course, is finding a professional and getting properly diagnosed. This is all still very fresh for me and may not actually turn out to be correct, but I have to say, it feels more right than anything I’ve found.
As of right now though, for the first time in a long, long time, I feel good. I feel happy. I feel ready to face this, to understand it, and to treat it. This is almost never the case for me. Everything else seemed too hard to handle. Every time I took a step toward helping myself, it was always with the notion of, “I guess we can try this,” or “I hope this works,” or “Let’s just see.” That’s not the case here. For the first time in too long, I feel like there may be hope for me yet. I feel like things can get better. Finally, and I can’t fully explain how wonderful this feeling was for me, I feel like me!