As a lot of you know I’ve suffered from extreme panic attacks in the past.
The physical sensations are frightening.
But for me, it isn’t the scariest part.
There are symptoms of panic attacks I don’t like to talk about, I don’t even like to think of them.
I noticed no one really talks about this specific symptom of panic disorder but I think it’s time to address it.
It is the feeling of being detached from your body, as if you are out of touch with reality. You feel disconnected from your real thoughts and emotions.
‘Depersonalization is when your mind feels divorced from your own sense of self. It’s when you are essentially overly self-aware to the point of feeling as though you’re not in your own body. It’s a consciousness that makes it feel like you’re floating outside of yourself and that your actions are not your own. Depersonalization is a common symptom of panic disorder, and may occur with other anxiety disorders as well.’ -CalmClinic.
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 feel out of control.
One morning I was looking in the mirror, getting ready for class. Those crazy feelings hit me hard. I was shaky and felt like I was staring at someone else, but it was me. I’ve seen this face before, but it’s not me. Who are you? As if I was in a fantasy world. I just couldn’t recognize myself. I touched my face, brushed my hair, I could physically feel everything I was doing. But my brain convinced me that it wasn’t me. I didn’t know myself anymore.
You analyse EVERYTHING. You move your arm and think: how am I doing that? Why am I doing that? What’s making me do that? How does my brain do that when I haven’t told myself to? Are my thoughts real? Are they my thoughts? I don’t know how any of this works. This can’t be real. I don’t feel real. Nothing around me is real. But if it isn’t real, what is? How is this happening if it’s not real? How is what happening? How am I thinking all of this? Who am I? How did I get here? I don’t understand anything.
‘I feel lost, a stranger to reality, I don’t know where I am. I feel fake or maybe everyone around me is fake. They feel real but my brain doesn’t register them as real. It’s all a bit of a mess but I cant wait to get out of it, its exhausting, the whole process of the symptoms before / during / after the panic attack.’
‘Everything is fake. I look at my hands and don’t recognize them, I look at family members and feel like they’re fake, same with my face in the mirror. I touch my face and I’ll think I’m dreaming, everything seems so unfamiliar. And then everything around seems like I’m watching it through a lens or from outside of my self as if I’m watching the world of tv, again I feel fake.’
It is the scariest and most unsettling symptom I’ve ever experienced. It’s difficult to understand unless you’ve felt it before.
If you do suffer from this, there’s one thing I’ll tell you, something I wish someone told me. This feeling is not dangerous, it’s your bodies way of protecting itself from the panic attack sensation. Tolerate your body and help your mind find another form of protection against the fear you feel during a panic attack.
Thanks for reading!