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What is Derealisation?


Understanding Derealisation: Navigating Through the Fog of Reality

Have you ever felt like you're drifting through a dream, or watching the world from behind a mirror? This sensation, known as derealisation, is more common than you might think. It's a perplexing state where the world around us seems slightly out of reach, like we're observers in our own life. Things look, feel and sound strange and often disconnected.

How Derealisation Presents

Derealisation is characterized by a surreal detachment from our surroundings and even ourselves. It's not about failing to recognize things around us, but rather not feeling anchored to them. Imagine the world seeming a tad too bright or objects appearing oddly distant or skewed in size — that's derealisation for you.

How It Feels

People often describe this experience as living in a dream or a simulation. It's akin to being in the head of an automaton you're controlling but not truly being a part of. This disconnect can be unsettling, often triggering anxiety or panic attacks.

The Trigger: Josh's Personal Encounter

I recall my first major panic attack, triggered by a bout of derealisation. As I was making a cup of tea at work, I was suddenly struck with a sense of unreality. It felt like I was detached from my hands and the objects around me. People's faces started to look like clay and sounds seemed off-kilter and strange. Scary "what-if" thoughts started flooding my mind - what if I'm going crazy? What if I've lost my mind? What if I'm about to die? What if I've broken my brain? This triggered a bout of inward behavior, as I began ruminating and scanning, trying to fix how I felt.

It's a common symptom, often intertwined with depersonalisation, together known as DPDR (Depersonalisation-Derealisation Disorder). What makes it daunting are the accompanying fears: losing sanity, disconnecting from reality, or even the dread of impending doom.

The Vicious Cycle

Derealisation can become a self-perpetuating loop, especially when coupled with anxiety. Fearing the sensation only amplifies it, leading to more anxiety, which in turn fuels further derealisation. Learning not to fear it is essential in the symptom passing.

Overcoming Derealisation

The key to navigating through derealisation lies in understanding and accepting it. Recognize that it's a common experience and, more importantly, not something to fear. Breaking the cycle of anxiety and derealisation is crucial for moving forward.

Derealisation is a natural part of the body's response to stress and threat. When we go into fight or flight mode, our blood pressure shifts from our brains to our major muscles to prepare us for action. This can cause a slight delay in sensory input, leading to a feeling of detachment, similar to being drunk. It's important to understand that this is a normal response. Misinterpreting it can lead to more frightening anxiety symptoms. Breaking the cycle by understanding derealization is crucial.

In sum, derealisation is a disconcerting yet common phenomenon, often manifesting as part of stress responses. Understanding it as a mere symptom, not a reality, is essential in overcoming the fear and anxiety it brings. Remember, you're not alone in this experience, and with the right approach, this foggy state of mind can be cleared.

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