In my two years of full time coaching people through their existential anxiety, depersonalization and derealization, and myself now being recovered for 3 whole years, I’ve come to know quite a bit on what the absolute musts are in your recovery journey. Some are obvious, some are contra-intuïtive, but each of them incredibly important. So let’s dive in. What are things you need to know about recovering from DPDR and Existential fears.
- It IS possible to recover.
Contradictory to what I hear many of my clients reporting to me in coaching that some doctors or professionals have told them it’s impossible to recover, it is. Now, I’m not a doctor, but I know from my own experience and from many others that have taken my course or coaching that recovery IS possible. It’s simply a misunderstood topic in mental health care, often treated as depression or regular anxiety. As it’s misunderstood or mistreated, of course people don’t find ways to recover quickly as the root of the issue is often misunderstood and therefor people fail to find the right ways to approach their recover. DPDR does not mean you’re going crazy, it means your body and brain is reacting to a traumatic experience of unsafety or stress, finding a way to protect ourselves from that. Which brings me to point 2.
- It’s a protection mechanism, meaning it responds to a lack of feeling safe and secure.
DPDR is a protection mechanism of the nervous system, caused by a lack of safety or peace. When faced with danger, our brain knows how to respond to it in different ways. Say there is a tiger in front of you. You have 2 options: to fight the tiger, or to run away from it. However, if you can’t fight the danger nor run away, the only thing left to do is to dissociate so you don’t feel the pain when the tiger attacks you as much. This is in essence the response of DPDR. They’re dissociative experiences whenever there is too much stress or fear in your system. Therefore, we need to see it as a protection mechanism rather than an ‘illness’ or ‘villain’. The key to recovery therefore, is to go to the root of that stress or lack of safety, and work on making the body and brain feel at peace again.
- It drives on resistance
Since dpdr comes from a lack of peace, any additional stress can cause it to get worse. The worse kind of stress that we can therefor put on our system, is resisting the feelings that are already there. When we fight the DPDR or anxiety, we fight the present moment, but since we can’t defeat it or run away from it, the symptoms end up getting worse. Treating the DPDR in a way that we give our system peace again, therefore is key. Peace means being okay with life exactly as it is. Therefore surrendering to the emotions we feel and facing them, rather than running away from them, is one of the most important parts in recovery. The moment we stop being afraid of the DPDR and anxiety itself, together with the moment the underlying sense of unsafety is healed, the DPDR can start to dissipate. “What you resist, persists, and what you feel, you heal.”
- It’s normal to experience and go through
Contradictory to how incredibly scary it feels, it is not an abnormal thing to experience. In fact, anxiety and DPDR is as we’ve discussed a protection mechanism from danger. The fact that it is arroused by trauma, means that your nervous system is working FOR you, in stead of against you. However, the perceived danger is not actually as dangerous, and therefore we need to show our brain and body that it’s safe again.
Also the existential crisis that often comes from or causes DPDR is incredibly normal. We’re as human beings limited to gain understanding over the world, but yet we get our sense of safety and security from having this control and knowledge. Don’t punish yourself for struggling with existential fears. It’s a normal thing to go through. And in this video I talk more about that:
5. It’s more a spiritual journey than a crisis (and seeing it as such can help you recover more quickly)
The existential crisis is a kind of spiritual awakening where we realize that there are aspects of life we don’t have control over, such as death, meaning, emotions, reality, … Since we used to get our sense of safety from control and certainty, we now no longer feel safe. We try to solve these questions by grasping towards science, but science cannot provide us the answers of meaning, therefore we feel stuck. The existential crisis (and DPDR) therefore is a great opportunity for a spiritual journey, turning inwards to look for answers and peace through practicing meditation and mindfulness.
As I said I know that recovery from both existential fears and dpdr is possible. I’ve seen it in myself and in many people I’ve worked with. If you want to get started on your own recovery journey in the most effective and affordable way possible, I recommend you to have a look at my recovery course. All the practical tools I know that have helped me and my clients to recover, is in it, and the course is fully refundable in case it does not serve you.
In any case, I hope this knowledge helps you to keep your hopes up and keep the faith in yourself and your recovery process. I wish you all the best of luck!