Everything is normal and then boom, all of a sudden you start floating. You wonder if you are real, if anything around you is real.
That’s a very familiar symptom of anxiety and panic. I have personally experienced it and I am coaching my clients how to conquer it.
I remember sitting with my friend and I couldn’t recognize who they are. Mentally I could, but emotionally it was like a dream.
I knew mentally that we. are friends for years, but suddenly I lost sense of that.
It was like when you read a word multiple times and it loses any meaning. That’s the best way how I can describe my experience with depersonalization.
But depersonalization is not a problem. It’s a symptom of panic and anxiety. Usually people who suffered with panic attacks start experiencing depersonalization.
Why Does Depersonalization Happen?
When you go through a panic attack your whole being experiences shock. It’s too much energy and emotion to handle all at once.
This is overwhelming for you.
Your consciousness tends to move away from your body, emotions, and finds shelter within the coldness of the mind.
It’s safe there.
But when you detach too much from your body and emotions, you detach from the present moment, from your identity, from the sense of realness.
In your mind everything is an illusion. Thoughts are just reflections of reality. Therefore, nothing is real there.
So, if you live with your consciousness only inside your mind, and if you experience the world solely through thoughts, without being grounded in the sensory experiences of your body and feeling the warmth of your emotions, it can get pretty cold and unreal.
You lose a sense of self, a touch with reality, your identity starts to blur, the narrative loses its track, the world becomes more sublime.
You escape from the shock of panic attacks into mind, into the realm of thought, but then depersonalization occurs as a result of it.
3 Steps How to Overcome Depersonalization:
1. Become AWARE of It.
What personally helped me and what I help my clients with is something I call The AWARE Method.
A stands for Acknowledge.
When you start experiencing Depersonalization or Derealization take a moment to acknowledge the situation. Just tell to yourself, ah this is Depersonalization. Acknowledging what is happening is how you bring the occurrence into awareness.
W stands for Wait.
Being aware of what you are experiencing is demystifying the occurrence. You know that it’s a normal symptom following panic attacks. It’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just what usually happens as an after effect. However, you will still experience it, even if you are aware of it. You will need to wait for it to pass. So waiting is important. Give it couple of minutes. Be patient. It will pass for sure. But you must be patient.
A stands for Acceptance.
As you acknowledge and wait, you should also accept what’s happening. This means to make yourself as comfortable as you can. Sit down. Ask the ones you are with to talk if that suits you. Put some music. Eat something tasty. You need to wait but that doesn’t mean you cannot make it as comfortable of an experience as you can.
R stands for Repeat.
This is just to remind yourself that after it passes it might occur again. And that’s normal. There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just that these things take a little time to fade away, it takes a little time for your identity to become solid again, for your character to strengthen, for your consciousness to stop hiding inside your mind world.
E stands for End.
This is also a reminder. It reminds you that everything ends. That this pattern of depersonalization and derealization will also end, this chapter of your life will end and a new more beautiful one will begin, that life is a cycle and no matter what, everything ends.
2. Do The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Grounding Technique.
As we said, Depersonalization and Derealization are symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.
Because of the overwhelming experience your consciousness becomes ungrounded and starts finding shelter within the world of thought.
In order to get a sense of self and reality again you need to ground yourself and your consciousness within your body.
To do this, you need to activate all your senses. The best way is doing the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique.
This is really easy, simple and highly effective grounding exercise that you can do anywhere and anytime.
It goes like this, whenever you feel Depersonalization or Derealization find 5 things that you can see and observe for 30 seconds.
Then, find 4 things that you can touch. Do not just touch them like they are a hot stove, but take your time and feel their material, density, hardness or softness.
Then, try to hear at least 3 distinctive sounds around you. Traffic on the street, the hum of your refrigerator, your PC, rain, wind, chatter on the streets, birds, dogs, other animals, even construction work outside.
After this, try to smell 2 different smells.
And finally, taste something. It’s best to carry with you dark chocolate, or a banana, or some other fruit.
This simple technique activates all your senses and grounds your consciousness to your body and the environment around you.
3. Work On The Core Issue.
As we said, Depersonalization and Derealization are not the core cause, they are a symptom of anxiety and panic attacks.
You can use these 2 techniques and they will help you. But unless you solve the core issue you will experience anxiety and panic attacks and these symptoms will return eventually.
So working on the issue that causes anxiety and panic attacks is how you go to the core cause behind all of this and heal.
To do this you probably should work with a professional psychiatrist, psychologist or a life coach specialized in helping you overcome anxiety, fears and panic attacks.
That’s what we can help you with. If you struggle with any of these symptoms, Depersonalization or Derealization, shoot me an email on my personal email [email protected] and I will help you feel normal again. Just email me “I struggle with Depersonalization” at any time you want.