The most common question I have been asked over the years is why do I feel so strange and detached from the outside world. Here is a chatper on this particualr symptom from a book I wrote on the whole Anxiety/Panic subject.
In the process of writing this book I covered the feeling of detachment from oneself, otherwise known as depersonalisation: an emotional disorder in which there is loss of contact with your own personal reality accompanied by feelings of unreality and strangeness, also a sensation of ones environment looking or feeling ‘strange’ and unusual.
This one question kept coming up more and more as I was writing this book, so I decided to add an extra chapter on this annoying, yet harmless, symptom.
D. P. , as I will refer to it, is a common and understandable offshoot of the anxiety condition. I can also tell you that it is in no way a mental illness. It is not serious or harmful in any way and has a totally logical explanation. It is temporary and, with patience and understanding, eventually passes like any other symptom.
The key to recovering from this feeling of detachment is to surrender to this strange feeling, to pay it no respect and realise it is just the product of an over-tired mind, fatigued by your constant worrying thoughts and the constant checking in to how you feel. This symptom relies on your fear of it to keep it alive.
When people are caught up in the worry cycle, they begin to think deeply and constantly. They study themselves from deep within, checking in and focusing on their symptoms. They may even wake in the morning only to continue this habit, “How do I feel this morning? “I wonder if I will be able to get through today". What’s this new sensation I feel?" This may go on all day, exhausting their already tired mind further. This constant checking in and constant assessing of their symptoms then becomes a habit, but like all other habits this one can also be changed.
All this worry is bound to make your mind feel dull and unresponsive. Is it any wonder you have come to feel so distanced from your surroundings? Is it any wonder you find it so hard to concentrate? Some people, when studying for exams for hours on end, get to the point where they can no longer take information in, so they take a break and carry on the day after. For you, there are no breaks and no time outs.
As I have already mentioned earlier, your body has a safety mechanism that protects it from all this worry and slows the mind down to safeguard itself. It takes a step back from this onslaught, which can then produce your feelings of detachment and the world around you may become hazy or out of focus.
Once you understand this symptom as being caused by an over-tired mind, exhausted through worry, that you are not going mad and these feelings can’t harm you in any way, it makes sense. With the fear factor taken out of this symptom, it can start to hold less power over you and affect you less than it did before. Although still annoying, you now know why you feel these feelings. Once you learn to accept them and stop adding worrying thoughts to the mix, this is another symptom that you will be able to overcome in time. Taking a step back and giving up the worrying thoughts, gives your mind the chance to rest, rejuvenate and refresh.
When it happened to me, I recognised and understood what was causing it. I realised that I was checking in and worrying about it and I did fear this sensation, so I just stopped doing it. I also learnt to get busier and stop brooding on this and other symptoms. Being active gives you another focus. Having too much time on your hands can open the door to too much needless thinking. With less worry and fear of this harmless but upsetting symptom, I was eventually able to overcome it. It merely became a nuisance and because I knew the reason for its existence, it no longer held any power over me. When a worry or fear loses its importance, it loses its power and that is why it is essential to realise these symptoms are neither harmful nor serious. Gradually, without all the checking in and worrying, this symptom that so dominated my life began to diminish and eventually disappeared completely.
This symptom is like any other all symptoms are still being fuelled by your fear of them. As long as the fear continues, so will the symptoms. When we start to understand why we feel like we do, we automatically fear them less and they start to lose their edge and importance, this is when symptoms gradually start to fade.
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