Am I Really Me?

blurry face

This subject is hard for me to talk about. For me, it’s the scariest part of panic disorder. It used to happen often, but thankfully it doesn’t anymore.

Here’s how I can best describe the feeling: I’m in a fog. I’m in a dream. I don’t know whose body I’m in. I’m not sure if everything around me is real. I want to cross the street, but the lines are wavy and the street signs are blurry.

Is this real? Am I really here? Who am I anyway?

I’ve had these weird thoughts since I was a girl. When I was in my 30s, I learned that there were actual terms for the symptoms that totally freaked me out.

Derealization (feeling as if the world isn’t real) and depersonalization (an anomaly of self-awareness; being a detached observer of oneself). Like an out-of-body experience.

The first time it happened was in fourth grade. I had to go to the administration office to get something for my teacher. This crazy sensation came over me that I wasn’t sure what I was doing in the office. Is this me? I sat in a chair until I felt better. Scary! And I was only ten years old. I didn’t mention the episode to anyone. How could I? Who would understand?

It started up again in high school. I’d be looking in a mirror and wonder, Is this really me? If not, who is it? I practically had to shake myself to stop those thoughts.

One morning I was sitting on the floor in front of my full length mirror, getting ready for work. Those strange feelings hit me so hard. I couldn’t stop them. I was shaky and felt like I was brushing eyeshadow on someone else. Like I was in a fantasy world. I called in sick that day.

I’d tell myself, Stop it! Stop thinking I’m not who I am! Don’t go there! I could easily make myself go to that weird, awful, freaky place. But it was hard to bring myself out of it. Once I stepped over into the land of distortion, I couldn’t get back. The trick was not going there at all.

That dreamlike (nightmare) state was what I always hated most about my agoraphobia and panic attacks. To be honest, as I’m writing this, I’m wondering if anyone reallyΒ  understands what I’m saying.

When my little Talee was having panic attacks, she’d say to me, “Don’t ask me questions. I don’t want to talk, because it doesn’t sound like my voice.” I knew exactly what she meant. And I was so sad for her.

It’s been years since I’ve gone into that frightening zone. Yes, “zoned out.” I’m thankful I rarely feel like I’m going there. And if I do, I can stop it. I tell myself, NO. I’m NOT doing this. Then I keep myself busy to distract myself.

Anything to keep me out of the dreaded fog, and back into reality.

***

Image courtesy of: https://www.pinterest.com/caputxi/conceptual-photography/

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28 thoughts on “Am I Really Me?

  1. When I have panic attacks I feel dizzy and and out of the loop like my equilibrium is off sometimes. Like if I walk far I will stumble or fall. Then my heart is racing fast. But thank God they don’t happen as much because I was stuck and unable to live because of my fear. Everyday I am praying that my anxiety doesn’t trigger. I can’t tell you how many times I have been to the emergency room because I thought I had a tumor or something else and it was nothing more than a panic attack….Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing too! I feel that way too when I get a panic attack… dizzy, and just off-centered. Really scary. And I always worry it’s something more than a panic attack. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG! Thank you for this. This is exactly what happens to me if I get behind the wheel of a car and I refuse to drive. I can now research and figure out my next step. My problem is that I did cross over, and I am fighting like hell to get out. But you have given me a new hope, thanks

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have suffered many, many panic attacks, but can’t say I have ever felt this that you have described. I sometimes have to stop my car and get out. I always have chest pains that make me feel like I must be dying. I am glad that you are able to control them now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have had these feelings many times and did not realize that this was what I suffered from. I knew I dealt with anxiety often. I just would keep myself so busy in my younger years with music, sports, and school that I would not give myself time to think about it. I would also workout and keep it at bay! Now when I cannot workout or cannot play a game or find an escape I get irritated and feel like I do not want to be touched or talked too and panic. I do not even want to be looked at. It makes my skin crawl to be touched by some people even people I love. Only 1 or 2 people can come near me in that time. I thought I was alone in this feeling I am glad to know I am not alone now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re not alone. Thanks for sharing. Like you, I usually wouldn’t think about it. But when it hit me, it was awful. And I was always scared for when it would happen again. Thanks for the comment and follow!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My daughter describes the feeling that nothing is real, and even questions whether her own existence is real. She feels like her thoughts and memories were planted by some higher power just to see what would happen. She says others’ actions and her memories of previous days are just extensions of this artificial construct. I think these dissociative symptoms are part of her bipolar and anxiety. I wish I could help her get past this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry your daughter has to deal with this. And you, as her mom. Dissociative symptoms are very scary, they were for me. I wish you and your daughter the best. Thanks for the comment, and the follow. I look forward to reading your blog!

      Like

  6. Until now, I did not know these feelings/experiences had names. When I have experienced them, I have never understand what was happening to me. I did not know if it was a “normal” thing or not. They can make a bad situation worse, causing me to feel like reality is slipping away. Knowing that these things have names gives me hope that next time I will have something to grab to help me hold on to reality, without falling even deeper into despair. Maybe knowing this will lessen the feelings of helplessness, powerlessness, disorientation, disconnectedness, and fear.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that’s how I felt when I first heard my strange, scary, disorienting symptoms actually had a name. Somehow it made them easier to deal with. And also to know that other people have the same symptoms was comforting to me. Thanks so much for your comment and sharing. I appreciate it. Take care!

      Like

  7. This is the first time when I stumble upon someone who is writing about this experience. Now I can see I am definitely not the only one who came through something like this and the courage to touch upon this subject makes this post something very, very precious to me. Now, what to do with this information – walk past it as usually or use it somehow, but how?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your like and comment! I’m always glad when someone can relate to something I’ve written. I think it’s helpful just to know that other people have had some of the same experiences, and we’re not alone. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Speak Out | Peace from Panic

  9. I can’t put your blog down Jenny! Your words are so reassuring and the way you express anxiety it’s so cathartic for me as I find I can’t express what I am feeling where panic disorder is concerned.. the derealization and depersonalization is most definitely the scariest feeling, to think it’s our brain and body’s way of protecting us.. it doesn’t feel like it does it! Like you I’m on anti anxiety meds also, and find being creative keeps me grounded…. unrelated though I have found some positives of having anxiety, I’m good in a crisis as know fear well, quick reflexes they are heightened already! Peace πŸ™πŸ»

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, you made me smile, and you made my evening! Thank you πŸ™‚ I’m so glad that what I said expresses how you feel too. But I’m not glad you deal with these symptoms of panic disorder. I’ve never thought of derealization/depersonalization as our brain and body’s way of protecting us. No, it doesn’t feel like it. It’s scary! That’s good you’ve found that creativity helps you. And I love how you look at the positive side of anxiety! Thanks again for your kind words and insightful comment. Take care, Jenny xx

      Liked by 1 person

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