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The Different Versions I Experience

The first time I really remembering it happen I was home for Christmas break and my room has a giant floor to ceiling mirror, and I looked at it and was suddenly shocked to see the person standing there. It made the same expressions I did, it moved when I did, but it somehow wasn't me. I mean the person looked like I was supposed to think I looked but it just wasn't me. It was terrifying. I tried to look away, and forget it, but I looked down at my hands, and they weren't mine either. They were connected to my arms, connected to my torso, connected to my neck and head and brain where I should have made the connection that these hands were connected to this brain, but it was somehow like my brain (where my thinking and... "self"(?) was) was separate or disconnected from this body I was supposed to think was mine.

I don't remember what I did to make it stop, or if it just stopped on it's own, but ever since then I have been trying to be more and more conscious of what this separateness was, when it happened, and, if possible, how/why it happened.

Sometimes it's like looking out a window, only the window isn't right in front of my eyes, but somehow between what I consider "me" and what I see. It's not a major change, it's just that things don't quite...fit. I mean, all of the edges of objects fit together, but none of the pieces seem to fit... Like this window I'm looking through is warped slightly, and the whole image just doesn't quite connect correctly... places suddenly become unfamiliar, things aren't where they supposed to be, people look and move out of place and are unrecognizable sometimes...

Sometimes it's like, well the best way I can think of comparing it is going from watching a VHS to watching something truly high-definition. There is just so much more, like when seeing a high-definition image and thinking knowing that it couldn't be real it had to be computer enhanced. It's like seeing too much, and it can't all be there, or it can't all be an accurate representation of what is actually there. The world is just too real looking to actually be real... maybe this isn't an example of dissociation, but it certainly makes me feel separate, zoned-out.

Sometimes it's just a feeling of separateness. My brain...my sense of self (the part of me that thinks/feels) is somehow separate and behind my body. Only, it's not like an out of body experience where I can see my body as from a separate observer...except it is. I'm just watching what happens. Not like out of control of what I do, but not really in control either, like it's just happening before me. It's not like I'm not participating (there is no such thing as a neutral observer, we exist in a self-referential ecosystem, observation is participation), but I'm not really participating, like my body is doing things, but I'm not. Not like I'm a puppet and someone else is making me do things, but I'm just not doing anything. Oh, I don't know how to describe this one, separate but thinly connected...

Sometimes it's when I see myself in a mirror. The person there is just not someone I recognize. I can kind of understand how that can happen with my face (because I don't spend a whole lot of time looking at my face in the mirror, and it could just be that my body/face has changed since the last time my brain took a mental image of what it thinks I look like), but sometimes it happens when I'm looking at my hands, or cleaning something, or just doing something with a part of my body that I see often, something that I should recognize as my own because I look at it day in and day out. But somehow it moves strangely, or I just look at it differently and it isn't mine anymore. It's not anyone in particulars, it just doesn't look like mine... What trips me up the most, actually, is people's hands. They move and somehow I don't understand how they moved. Like, hands aren't supposed to move that way. It's not like some freaky contortionist show, it just...it doesn't fit, the way they move.

It's often a little terrifying--if I don't think that one thing that looks out of place isn't real, then how can I be certain that anything I see or experience is real?--and I sometimes just lose focus on everything while I try to sort out what I think is really there and what isn't, or while I try to convince myself that this one thing is there (because if I can convince myself that this one thing is actually there, then maybe the rest of it is real, too), or I just get lost in the feeling of separateness. Mostly I'm just scared that it's going to happen again and I won't be able to deal with it, or it'll happen when I'm doing something where I have to think things are real (like driving) and I catch myself anticipating it, thinking I'm zoning out when I'm really not. Or worse, I'm so worried that it might happen that I somehow force it to happen; like I'm so worried that I'm going to think this cup sitting on the table isn't real that I start to convince myself that it isn't.

It all just reminds me of this line from Hamlet, only I read it a long time ago and can't remember the exact quote, but it goes something like: "I know sunsets are supposed to be beautiful, but I just don't see it." For me, the distressing part is that I know that thing is supposed to be real, but I just don't see it as real, or it just doesn't feel real. And if I don't see it as real, then how can I know that it's real? Things fall apart, the center does not hold.
jimmyknittster jimmyknittster 18-21, M 4 Responses Oct 19, 2011

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i can totally relate to this, it happens to me a lot, i think im going crazy, i tell someone who knows nothin about this illness and they walk away never to look in my direction again your not alone never will u be

I have experienced exactly the same thing you have. I have multiple personalities and whenever one of the personalities takes over I don't recognize myself or connect to anything around me. I will look in the mirror for long periods of time asking myself "where are you?". Its like sitting in a jar, I feel trapped inside myself unable to control what I'm doing. I can see everything around me, but its like anything beyond my physical grasp isn't there until I approach it. I'm looking through my eyes, but I feel like they dont belong to me.

Your not alone in these feelings.

That's a really strong depersonalization reaction. I wonder if you need therapy to find the cause of this and treat it. Thankfully nothing like this has happened to me. It sounds very scary. I hope you find some support for this, therapy or not. Just remember that if you're looking directly into a mirror it has to be you, not someone else, and try to find comfort in that, even if you don't feel it. Good luck...maybe update us if things change for you.

Your post gave me chills. I suffer from PTSD and used to dissociate often. It always felt like a dream to me, sharp and clear, but something is absolutely NOT right, even though it all looks the same.



You have excellent writing skills. I'm sure this post will help people understand, even if they've never had the experience.



Best to you. x