Farhan preaches ways to recover from anxiety after his own battles with different forms of OCD and anxiety.
What Is Depersonalization Disorder?
To understand what depersonalization disorder is, you must understand what depersonalization itself is first.
I remember being so freaked out by some of the things that I would read online about DP that I had built up this immense fear of the word 'depersonalization' itself. When in reality, DP itself is actually very much normal and completely harmless.
Depersonalization (in other words, every single one of these bizarre symptoms and sensations you are experiencing) is your brains natural defense mechanism to stress.
For example, when a lion hunts a scared gazelle in the jungle, the gazelle's brain naturally activates depersonalization due to the intense stress that it goes through. Once the gazelle escapes however, and the lion is no longer in sight, the depersonalization will slowly start to fade as the gazelle starts calming down. Eventually after a couple of minutes, the gazelle becomes fine again and the depersonalization goes away as he's no longer stressed. The gazelle would then continue on about his day like nothing had happened.
In the same way, our brains naturally activate depersonalization when we experience something stressful such as a car accident, bad drug experience, or a panic attack.
It's quite literally there to HELP YOU!
The Loop Of Depersonalization (Depersonalization Disorder)
The problem occurs when we experience depersonalization and start to get scared of the symptoms of depersonalization itself.
This creates a silly little loop where:
1. You experience DP after a stressful event.
2. You anxiously try to stop the symptoms and get freaked out by it until you have a panic attack.
3. Therefore, your brain now thinks something very stressful has just occurred again so it gives you DP once more.
4. The Process repeats.
This is what is termed as 'Depersonalization Disorder'; but it's actually just a loop of your brain sending you help against something it thought was a threat, you getting scared of the said help, thus forcing your brain to send even more help.
So don't worry you don't have some sort of terrible condition, you're just stuck in a silly loop of anxiety and panic attacks that you need to break out of and you'll be fine again!
How To Break The Loop And Recover
For those who have recently started to experience DP:
If you have just recently gotten depersonalized and you're spending your entire day trying to figure how to make it go away, STOP.
First of all, all you need to understand is that DP is here to help you. And if you keep losing your mind over how to get rid of DP, it'll only stay there longer because you aren't calming down.
- THE ONLY WAY TO STOP DP IS TO LET IT STAY AND STOP CARING ABOUT IT BEING THERE.
- IT MIGHT BE HARD, BUT JUST FLOW WITH WHAT YOU'RE EXPERIENCING AND DON'T MIND IT.
Because in all honesty, there is nothing to care about. Yes it feels very strange and bizarre but it's literally harmless and is instead there to save you from harm.
For those that have been stuck in the loop for a while:
If you have been stuck in the loop for a while, your mind is subconsciously used to getting anxious from anything DP related so just solely understanding and trying to flow with it wouldn't be the smartest way to recovery.
There are 2 main things that will lead to your recovery in the shortest time:
- Staying distracted for as long as possible.
- Never look up anything DP related ever again until you recover completely.
(1) Staying Distracted
Believe it or not, whenever your mind strays away from focusing on how weird DP symptoms are and gets busy with something else for a brief period of time, the symptoms completely go away. But you obviously don't notice it because you were distracted with something else. In other words, every time you completely distract yourself with something other than DP, you have fully recovered.
But sadly the DP keeps coming back because you start thinking about it again.
As you keep distracting yourself away from the DP over and over again, the period of time that you stay distracted will keep increasing and you'll be DP free for longer and longer.
No DP for a couple of days, then weeks, then months, then eventually you recover!
So what are some ways that you can distract yourself?
Ideally, something you enjoy doing which also requires concentration is best. But at the end of the day, literally anything other than thinking about DP works.
Some of the best ways to stay distracted from DP include:
- Video Games
- Meditation (Especially mindfulness meditation)
- Reading out loud
- Playing an instrument
(2) Not researching anything DP related
This is the part that's going to require some discipline. In the beginning, you are going to want to research DP as much as you can because the anxiety will keep urging you, but you simply have to resist the urge.
Please, no more videos, no more articles (let this be the last) and no more forums. Clear your search history and act like you never read about it.
The more information related to DP (whether good or bad) that you feed to your mind the more it multiplies and the longer you are delaying the recovery process.
So how long should I avoid all things DP related?
I can 100% guarantee that you yourself will know when you'll be okay researching DP again.
You see, by making yourself suffer all this anxiety and panic attacks, you have out yourself in an anxious state. Meaning every DP related information you're looking at, you are looking through the lenses of anxiety which often make harmless things seem scary.
As you recover bit by bit and go back to feeling like yourself again, the anxiety will gradually decrease and eventually, you can easily tell whether researching DP would have any effect on you or not.
But this is very difficult to understand without actually experiencing so as a rule for yourself:
Mentally make a promise to yourself that you will never look up anything DP related for 5 years.
For me, I had initially planned that I will resist the urge to look up DP for at least the next 3 years. Fortunately, my recovery process took around a year and I went back and read all about it again without feeling anxious!
The same posts and videos I couldn't look at without getting a panic attack had no effect on me anymore because I was no longer looking at them through the irrational eyes of a person in a very anxious state.
How Long Will It Take To Recover?
This is a very frequently asked concern and my advice would be to stop worrying about how long it would take because all that does is add to the anxiety you're feeling.
But I know many people who have recovered in less than 2 weeks after following my advice. But I also know people who took a lot longer than that, myself included.
Different people recover at different speeds, let yourself heal at your own pace.
Lastly, please follow the advice given above religously and let this be the last article or DP related information you read whether you have just started experiencing DP or are suffering from the actual disorder.
Save the link to this article and return to it every time the anxiety gets really bad and it should help you calm down.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge from his own experience and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Farhan Zaman