What are depersonalisation and derealisation disorders? A dissociative disorder consists of this persistent feeling or sensation that you are detached, otherwise known as dissociated from your mental process and the world.
Specifically, the phenomenon or experience of feeling like an outside observer of your own life is known as depersonalisation. The sensation of feeling detached from one’s surroundings is called derealisation.
Today, we will be talking a bit more about both of those things in detail. First, we’re going to talk about some of the signs that people experiencing depersonalisation report having experienced.
People that go through this experience can sometimes feel like they are kind of floating at the top corner of a room, and they’re looking down on themselves and feeling outside of their own real-life experience, almost like some kind of dream. Still, depersonalisation again is this detachment from one’s self.
You Might Feel Detached
So we’re going to talk a little bit more about what you might experience. You might feel detached from your feelings, thoughts, sensations; all these kinds of things just feel really far from you. You might experience an emotional and even physical numbness because it’s like you’re not really in tune with your internal experience. You might also find yourself feeling like an outside observer.
People go through this experience in different ways. Many individuals even say they feel like they’re unreal, almost robot-like. They don’t really have much control over the things that they do and say, almost like an autopilot kind of thing going on.
Not Being Able To Remember
Other things might be not being able to remember anything, so just being really out of touch with your memory and not being able to recall a lot of stuff. This is not the same as amnesia. It’s just having to disconnect from your memories or maybe feeling like the memories are not your own, making it hard to discern whether they are your memories or something that you made up.
Not Being Able To Describe Your Feelings
Then there’s this phenomenon of not being able to recognise or even describe your feelings at all. So all of these things are things that you might notice if you’re experiencing depersonalisation.
Derealisation is this detachment of your surroundings. So you might feel detached from other people, objects, everything around you. Life just doesn’t feel real. It may feel as though you’re in this fog or a lucid state, and you are separated from real life by a glass wall, so you’re aware, you’re conscious of your surroundings, but you feel detached from them.
You might also experience subjective distortion, so this is something that happens that makes something might appear blurry for some reason or even extremely clear, even though there’s nothing wrong with your eyes.
You could have perfect vision, and your vision still looks blurry or clearer than normal. It even affects auditory sensations, so you might hear things as being louder or quieter than they are.
People might also experience perceiving things to be flatter than they are, so I imagine that has something to do with depth perception.
Detachment From Real Life
So the whole idea here is that derealisation is this detachment from real life. So you’re kind of having a hard time discerning what’s real and what’s unreal around you.
Therefore, it is not hard to see why many people experiencing derealisation start feeling like they’re going crazy because they can’t figure out what’s real and what isn’t.
However, that is another point, that awareness that there are things going on that might not be real is what sets these disorders apart from psychosis or a psychotic disorder. With psychosis, that awareness is entirely not present; it’s lacking. So people experiencing psychosis might be experiencing a hallucination or a delusion, something that’s not true and not there, but they really really believe it’s there.
Someone experiencing derealisation, on the other hand, has this awareness that things don’t seem real all the time, but they know that that’s the case that there is a separation between real.
If you can relate to any of these dissociative disorder signs, you’re definitely not alone, but we want you to take care of yourself, which means reaching out to a mental health professional if you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms on this list.
As always, any information provided here is for educational purposes only. If you need mental health counselling or treatment. Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor, local college student counselling clinic, or a crisis line. Remember, help for dissociative disorder is out there.