This blogpost for me is a very personal one to write. Existential fears and DPDR were one of the most scary things I ever experienced. For those that don’t know what I am talking about: DPDR is a condition where you feel completely detached from yourself and the world around you, as if they don’t exist. Another way to describe it is as a kind of ‘Matrix’ feeling. You are somewhat aware of the world and body you are in, but you don’t feel it and you feel as if everything could possibly just be a simulation.
The cause of DPDR can be a lot of things, but for most people such as myself, it originates or goes hand in hand with existential fears. The fear of death, the fear of lack of life’s purpose and the fear of not being able to control this life, scares us (a lot), which makes us dissociate or feel like we’re not really present. This is a very simplistic but true description of the experience I and many others have had with DPDR.
Luckily enough, after 6 months of living in this state, I managed to recover. It was a step by step process for me, but every step I got a little better and now, almost 2 years later, I am fully recovered and enjoy my life to the fullest. So how did I do this? How did I recover from something which, when experiencing it, seems impossible to overcome? In this article I share with you some of the things I did to overcome dpdr. I want to explicate that I am not a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist. I am a life coach who bases everything she teaches on her own experiences, as I believe that that is what can help people the most. If you are looking for someone to coach and guide you further in your process to recovery and peace, you can book a free intake session with me in the whatsapp link OR have a look at my coaching options.
So what did I do to recover? First of all, and this might be the fundament of my entire recovery, I realized that fear was my biggest problem. The fear of dying, the fear of life not having any meaning, the fear of not knowing for sure what the answer to these existential questions are, THAT was the cause of my anxiety attacks, and those again were the cause of the DPDR for me. So to start my recovery process and start feeling normal again, I couldn’t just handle the symptoms of feeling detached or dissociated (which is why I would personally never take medication). I needed to look where all that was coming from so I could deal with things bottom-upwards/inside-out. For some reason, I had always been drawn to Buddhism because it radiated such comfort and peace. I started to look deeper into Buddhist practices in relations to fear, and here discovered some of the most important lessons and practices I ever learned in life, that managed to help me overcome my fears and depersonalization. Apart from Buddhist wisdoms, I also dived deeper into mindfulness, spirituality and even science to see how our brain works. From these lessons I learned, I can bundle together 4 major aspects of dpdr and anxiety recovery.
- Acceptance practice:
Because I don’t like to stretch things, I’ll get straight to the point. The most important thing I learned in my recovery process is to actively practice acceptance. When we’re in fear, we in fact resist everything we are experiencing. Fealings of fear can be so overwhelming that we want to do nothing more than run away from it, fight it, or try to ignore that it’s there. This resistance basically means that we tell ourselves that the feelings we’re experiencing ‘shouldn’t be there’ and so we fight something we can’t control. When feelings of uncertainty, discomfort or fear arrive inside of us and we then accept those, the resistance goes away, which makes the stress go away, and which then let’s feelings of dpdr and anxiety dissapear as well.
Because existential anxiety brings about feelings of disconnection or unsafety, meditation is a great way to reconnect with ourselves, the world around us, AND to also actively practice acceptance.
- A holistic health approach
Finding an excitement for life again is a big part of recovering from dpdr and anxiety. The most important step in this is to replace your focus into the present moment. Our anxieties and thoughts about the future have made us forget that we will always live in the NOW. When we re-focus on the now, our anxiety will fade away, as right here and now there is never anything to worry about. Taking care of your body, mind and energy here and now is what will help you find inner peace. Holistic habits I’ve created that helped me recover from anxiety and dpdr are:
* Connecting with nature on a daily basis by going for (bare foot) walks
* Reading books and listening to podcasts on spirituality and mindfulness (Most important lessons bundled together in my E-book Spirit Basics)
* Eating well to keep my body clear and my mind focused + drinking a lot of water
* Doing Yoga or exercise to reconnect with your body
* Taking cold showers to stimulate white bloodcells and bring stress levels down.
- Actively working on thought and changing beliefs.
DPDR and Anxiety comes from having dark beliefs about the world, death and life itself. We believe that the world is a dark place and that we’re not taken care of, which makes us anxious, stressed out and dissociated. Part of changing those feelings we have is changing the way we look at the world. The world isn’t so dark as we picture it to be. This is something I worked out on my own after experiencing existential fears. By doing mindfulness exercises and reprogramming our subconscious thinking, we are able to change the way we feel about those same existential questions. Out of the safety our brain wants to keep us in, we believe in certain limiting beliefs out of comfort or ’trying to control’ things we can’t control. Our obsessive thinking is something our brain produces as a compensation for this lack of control and feeling of unsafety. We think we can rationalize our way out of anxiety but as long as there are limiting beliefs underneath, this will be almost impossible.
Changing our beliefs about and perception of the world therefor is necessary and will set us free.
Recovery from dpdr and existential fears is ABSOLUTELY possible! I’ve coached many people now who have made some immense transformations and if I can do it and they can do it, you can do it as well. By applying the principles I gave you here and deepening yourself into an internal quest for truth, you can not only recover, but grow further than you’ve ever imagined. If you are looking for some extra guidance, I can offer you:
- My complete recovery course, where I guide you through the steps of recovery and give you tools that will make you recover. (more info under courses)
- 1 on 1 coachingsessions where I personally guide you towards recovery by applying my own experiences, mindfulness and knowledge of our subconsciousness.