3 Methods of Managing Derealisation and Depersonalisation

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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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