Is This Real Life?

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Depersonalization is a very scary feeling that is actually very common (Photo courtesy of Instagram, photo credits to @tofu_vegan).

Have you ever had the feeling that you are stuck in a dream when you’re awake,  disconnected from your body with thoughts about watching your life play out? Depersonalization is the feeling of being disconnected from your body with thoughts that  you are in a dream or trance. Although this is a very common feeling, people often feel as if they are going crazy and cannot do anything to stop it. But, they are aware that something unusual is occurring so they know that they are not going mentally insane. 

“It feels like I’m unaware of my surroundings and the things around me aren’t real. It also feels like I’m not in control of my body,” said junior Carly Alexander.

This feeling becomes very scary for the person who is experiencing the situation. Some symptoms of this disorder are fear, anxiety, depression, and  pure panic. These symptoms can last anywhere from just a few moments to several years in the future. But, these indications may not completely reach the surface and be expressed in the form of being completely scared or anxious. This response is most commonly the fear of the experience and what happens during the experience. 

“When I am experiencing the ‘dream,’ I feel like I’m in a haze. I can’t focus on anything. People will say things and I hear it but don’t process it. It looks like there’s a filter on everything and I’m unconsciously going throughout my typical routine,” said sophomore Austin Jones.

For others, the experience is not as scary but feels more weird and unusual. Each person is different and the feelings they experience will not always be the exact same as anyone else. 

“[The experience] kind of felt like a hallucination or deja vu; it didn’t feel like reality. It felt like I was swimming through unrealistic [situations] with real life surroundings,” said senior Kait Gary. 

Most of the time this experience is caused by a stressful or traumatic event that has occurred in the person’s life, but not always. This is mostly a coping mechanism to deal with past experiences rather than having a panic attack or anxiety attack. 

“It’s kind of like I disassociate myself from myself, like everything just doesn’t feel real, But, it doesn’t happen for a long time, usually just a few seconds. I think it’s because my body tries to protect me from what I’m currently feeling at that moment,” said sophomore Jieanna Southern. 

This experience is extremely common, happening in nearly 50 percent of the population, so many people experience this and it is completely normal to feel. Nobody needs to feel like they are the only ones going through this. But, the experience can turn into a disorder that doesn’t tend to go away and continues to affect whomever is undergoing depersonalization. There are plenty of people to reach out to who can understand what you are going through and can talk to you about it. Just reach out and make sure what you’re going through is normal and healthy!