Depersonalization is a state of mind where a person has persistent feelings of detachment from oneself and from surroundings. It is a constant feeling of being unreal or like living in a dreamlike state. Now the concept of depersonalization may feel like something very elusive, but it is estimated that more than half of the population may experience feelings of depersonalization atleast once in their lifetime.
So it is possible that you may already have gone through feelings of depersonalization already. If you have experienced it, you would know how confusing and distressing it can be, to not feel like a real person and feeling as if there is going to be a time when you’ll end up going crazy. Yes, depersonalization can seem frightening and scary but it is not something life threatening and even if you don’t feel so, you are in full control of yourself.
Depersonalization is actually a defence mechanism, your body protecting you from harm. Usually people who have undergone some kind of trauma or acute stress in life may go through feelings of depersonalization. By detaching from thoughts, feelings, sensations, all the emotional and physical numbness, is all a way of your body protecting you from further emotional pain. While you may feel disconnected and tuned out from reality, you are completely aware about what is real and what is not, in short, you do not lose touch with reality.
What you might experience?
So, what are the signs you are experiencing depersonalization?
- Feeling separate from your body
Most of the people reported feeling outsifde of the body, like you are observing your body from outside or have sensations of floating.
- You don’t recognise the person you are
You might feel like someone else, or you look at your hands, feet, and feel like they aren’t yours, that they don’t belong to you.
- Feeling like you are in the middle of a dream
When you are experiencing depersonalization, you may feel like you are living in a dream, surroundings may seem unreal. You feel disconnected from the world, and it may seem foggy, hazy and disoriented.
- Your memories seem like somebody else’s
Your memories feel like they happened with somebody else and not you, they seem unfamiliar to you. You lose the emotional connection to your memories, like you observed them happening to some body else.
- Emotional numbness
You may feel emotionally numb, or you can’t feel anything, nor happy, nor sad. You may find yourself unable to feel sad or happy.
- Feeling like a robot
You may feel like you are just going about in your life, your words and actions aren’t yours and you are on autopilot. You may experience emotional numbness and like an outside observer.
- Changed perception of time
Most people also suffer from altered perception of time, you may feel like time is going by too fast, old events may feel like recent ones and vice versa.
- Loss of memory
Memory loss is also a major sigh of depersonalization, people often complain about missing out some events form their memories. You may have trouble with your memory, like what you were about to say or what you were doing, what you ate for dinner last night. You may feel like having blind spots in events and memories.
Feelings of depersonalization and derealization are a very natural respose of your body to protect you from further pain. By detaching you from oneself and from your surroundings, it tries to lessen the intensity of how anxious you feel, it can be said to be a defense mechanism of your body. You might feel distant or cut off, but all this will eventually fade away with time, but if you find yourself struggling with these thoughts to the extent where it starts interfering with quality of your life, please consider talking to a professional.