3 Methods of Managing Derealisation and Depersonalisation

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This is a pin for you to share on Pinterest. It reads "3 Ways to Combat Dissociation".

In this post for A Chronic Voice’s August Linkup Party, I’ll be talking about what it’s like living with derealisation and depersonalisation. I’ll also be sharing 3 ways I try to manage them.

This month’s prompts from A Chronic Voice are:

  • Capturing
  • Financing
  • Controlling
  • Exchanging
  • Motivating

I’ll be using the capturing, controlling and motivating prompts to talk about derealisation and depersonalisation.

What are Derealisation and Depersonalisation?

Before I start talking about 3 ways of managing derealisation and depersonalisation, you need to know what they are.

Both derealisation and depersonalisation are types of dissociation:

  • Derealisation is where you feel detached (dissociated) from your surroundings.
  • Depersonalisation is where you feel detached (dissociated) from yourself – your body and/or mental processes. It’s as if you are watching your life as an outsider/observer and not actually living it.

Capturing: Using Photography to Combat Derealisation

When I was in occupational therapy, my occupational therapist suggested I take photos to remind myself that I do actually do things. This seemed like a good idea, so I tried it. I didn’t like it – and I kept forgetting to take the photos (oops) – so I stopped taking photos regularly and instead focused on what I was doing ‘in the moment’ and enjoying myself. Hopefully, this method can help some of you combat derealisation!

To do this, you simply take photos of everything you do. Try and take at least one photo a day. Then, in even just a few days time, you will be able to see all you’ve been doing, even if it’s just watching TV or crafting. If you do something creative to pass the time, you’ll also be able to see the progress you’ve made!

If I (and people around me) didn’t take photos, in a few days I would have forgotten I had the opportunity to play a £9,000 studio grand piano!

Exchanging: Swapping Memories for Empty Space

One thing that bothers me the most about having derealisation and depersonalisation is how difficult it is to create memories and remember things. It’s like the memories I try to make, as well as the memories I already have, are being exchanged for empty space.

The only way I’ve found to manage this is to do things that have a physical outcome – whether that’s something crafty, learning a new piano piece or even taking photos. This way, you know you’ve done something. How else would you be able to play the piano piece you couldn’t play a month ago? How else would those photos end up on your camera or phone?

Motivating: Staying Motivated When Nothing Seems Real

It’s incredibly hard to stay motivated when nothing seems real. I still haven’t found a way to stay motivated. It feels like I’m going to wake up any second, so in my mind, there’s really no need to stay motivated. But the truth is, there is a reason to stay motivated. I’m not going to wake up and this isn’t all a nightmare. I need to keep motivated in order to ‘live’ and not just survive.

If you have any tips on staying motivated or any methods of managing derealisation and depersonalisation, leave them in the comments below!

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4 Replies to “3 Methods of Managing Derealisation and Depersonalisation”

  1. Hello again Georgina, a really interesting post. I haven’t experienced these myself, but I learned a lot them when I did my Psychology degree. Really interesting that taking photographs helps distract you from the feelings of depersonalisation and derealisation – and you get photos of memories that you can look back on and cherish!

    1. Psychology is fascinating! I’m taking it at A Level (when I can get back to studying) and love it. The photos are great as long as I remember to take them 😂💕

  2. Using Polaroids is such a good idea! I don’t really have false memories (more like no memories at all) but I definitely get where you’re coming from with the absent memories/not remembering! Hugs to you too 💛

  3. Thanks for joining us again, Georgina! Interestingly, I was also capturing photos every day for a while, but just for fun. Like a ‘snapshot a day’ kind of thing on polaroid. Then I’d write a really short statement on the surrounding white space. It was quite fun, and interesting because it could be a boring pic of my home or something, but looking back at the collection was interesting.

    The physical outcome ‘trick’ is interesting. Whilst I don’t have the same problems with depersonalisation and derealisation, I suffer from brain fog from Lupus and epilepsy and it can get pretty scary at times. Especially when I have memories that are false yet I am so certain of! Or when I do certain things (like take a 2m photo frame off the wall) but can’t remember.

    I hope you manage better over time. Thank you for sharing and sending hugs!

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