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James417

Feeling like I'm detached from reality

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Hello all I know I have been kind of making threads similar to one and other but I feel worse but better at the same time so I would like to just get it out and feel a little more comfortable. I've been suffering from bad anxiety all my life but sense this past January I had a horrible experience with marijuana that triggered severe anxiety and derealization.

Following that was tons of panic attacks and episodes of feeling detached or like I was looking at reality through a TV or glass. Feeling like I'm pulled away from reality and everything seems like a dream and its sometimes so convincing that I will think is this really reality? Which as you can imagine gets very scary to think about. So the past few days into today these feelings of derealization/depersonalization have built up and today seems to be the worst. I truly do feel like everything is a dream. And its causing anxiety which is making my day a living heck. And on top of all this I have severe health related anxiety. If I read it I think I have it. Hypochondriac basically. Lately I noticed I have mild to moderate tinnitus from loud concerts and music as well ass head trauma as a child but lately I'm constantly thinking about it getting worse and driving me "insane" because I've read people supposedly loose of due to tinnitus not letting them ever hear silence. Stuff like that makes me really anxious through out my day. When I go to see my therapist we talk things through and it doesn't seem so bad but then I get home and start experiencing this again and I feel like crap again. Another thing that's been bothering me lately to is I have been noticing this really weird thing where when I get really anxious or panicked I seem to like dwell on sounds and images as memories that have happened and they like repeat because I'm dwelling so much on them. Here's and example I saw a loud car go by the other day. I was anxious while it happened and when I started really thinking about it I felt like I was replaying that car go by over and over like a daydream. Could see and hear it very vividly felt like I am loosing touch with reality when this happens. And altough I don't fully believe I'm loosing grip on reality with the way I'm thinking and experiencing life right now its hard to not second guess. And on top of all of this sometimes I feel depressed because I think that I'm never going to be able to live life like I used to again and that this is basically it for me. I'm just going to live life like a closed in anxious person and not enjoy life. I cant say I've never thought about the whole s*****e subject but I never actually believe in it I never feel its the right answer. To be honest when I think of it I get anxious and panic because I don't want to do that. And also when I think about not living life to the fullest and having fun I always counteract those thoughts by saying I will overcome this and live life like I want to. But anyways I'm sorry for the long long long explanation but wow does it feel good to let it out. Thanks for reading and any input is greatly appreciated.

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Hi James. Someone pointed out your post to me, I don't post here often any more. Wow we have shared extremely similar experiences of late! I too have suffered anxiety and depression most of my life. And just like you I had a bad marijuana experience a while back, about a month and 1/2 ago for me. It sounds like yours might have been worse than mine though mine was pretty panicky too. In my case I'd been smoking weed for about 3 months and having an extremely positive experience on it. In fact my regular depressions and anxieties largely evaporated a lot of the time during that period. Even despite what has happened to me I actually still lament that I can't go back to smoking it as it was very helpful in some ways :-( What did me in however was a cannabis brownie that I ate, I'd had a number of them before but this one triggered a panicky paranoid bad trip. I was able to talk my way through it but the next day I woke up into an anxiety syndrome. I too now have derealization, just like you I experience that "looking at the world though a glass pane" feeling. Luckily I have next to no depersonalization. I find mine comes and goes throughout the day and reaches peaks with heightened anxiety with feelings of panic, though I don't have full blown attacks. For a while I was also scared of going "insane", in my case I was very scared that I was developing schizophrenia or some form of psychosis because there is a known link between marijuana and those. However the more I read up on the issue the more I realised that this was not likely and that my symptoms MUCH more fit with a generalized anxiety disorder and derealization and depersonalization DR/DP. It is VERY common for a bad weed experience to trigger DR/DP and both what you and I are dealing with are exactly that and nothing more. Here's the key to take away from this. Your symptoms may feel new to you and even though you have suffered from anxiety all your life and never had this, this is  still NOTHING MORE THAN STRAIGHT ANXIETY. Derealization and depersonalization is a common side effect of persistent generalized anxiety and lots of people suffer from this where weed was not the trigger, the weed didn't damage your brain or do anything permanent. All it did was trigger a generalized anxiety disorder that you were already prone to getting, some other traumatic event could just as easily have set this off for you and I. There are aspects of what we are going through that are like PTSD as well, that experience you had with the loud car for example is pretty classic when your brain feels like it's under trauma any kind of heightened sensory input like that feels like a retraumatization. The best trick I've learned to dealing with all of this is to distract yourself because you can't fight this. It's just anxiety so try to put it on the back burner and fill your day with distractions and things to do. My problem is that like you I'm back to feeling depressed like you and have difficulty filling the day as I only work 1/2 time and it's hard to push myself. When you feel anxiety and derealization and even panic coming on try to just acknowledge it and say "oh yeah that thing again", but don't give it power over you instead keep doing whatever you were doing and push forward. You lessen a lot of its power by (1) realizing that it's nothing more than anxiety and can't hurt you (2) that you are not going insane and never will (3) that you can live with it if you don't dwell on it. A few other things, cut out all caffeine like coffee and even soft drinks I used to drink a lot of diet coke and find that triggers it for me now. You can try to drink decaf versions of these. The other thing that is EXTREMELY effective is exercise. A hard cardio workout will destroy these feelings and get you back into the here and now, reality, and calm you down for a number of hours. It has to be a cardio workout where you push yourself and get  the adrenaline running though, not just a good walk, you have to exhaust yourself, the sweat has to be pouring the heart pounding. But trust me it completely eliminates the feeling for a good several hours, though it will come back later. Good luck my friend!

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Hi James. Someone pointed out your post to me, I don't post here often any more. Wow we have shared extremely similar experiences of late! I too have suffered anxiety and depression most of my life. And just like you I had a bad marijuana experience a while back, about a month and 1/2 ago for me. It sounds like yours might have been worse than mine though mine was pretty panicky too. In my case I'd been smoking weed for about 3 months and having an extremely positive experience on it. In fact my regular depressions and anxieties largely evaporated a lot of the time during that period. Even despite what has happened to me I actually still lament that I can't go back to smoking it as it was very helpful in some ways :-( What did me in however was a cannabis brownie that I ate, I'd had a number of them before but this one triggered a panicky paranoid bad trip. I was able to talk my way through it but the next day I woke up into an anxiety syndrome. I too now have derealization, just like you I experience that "looking at the world though a glass pane" feeling. Luckily I have next to no depersonalization. I find mine comes and goes throughout the day and reaches peaks with heightened anxiety with feelings of panic, though I don't have full blown attacks. For a while I was also scared of going "insane", in my case I was very scared that I was developing schizophrenia or some form of psychosis because there is a known link between marijuana and those. However the more I read up on the issue the more I realised that this was not likely and that my symptoms MUCH more fit with a generalized anxiety disorder and derealization and depersonalization DR/DP. It is VERY common for a bad weed experience to trigger DR/DP and both what you and I are dealing with are exactly that and nothing more. Here's the key to take away from this. Your symptoms may feel new to you and even though you have suffered from anxiety all your life and never had this, this is  still NOTHING MORE THAN STRAIGHT ANXIETY. Derealization and depersonalization is a common side effect of persistent generalized anxiety and lots of people suffer from this where weed was not the trigger, the weed didn't damage your brain or do anything permanent. All it did was trigger a generalized anxiety disorder that you were already prone to getting, some other traumatic event could just as easily have set this off for you and I. There are aspects of what we are going through that are like PTSD as well, that experience you had with the loud car for example is pretty classic when your brain feels like it's under trauma any kind of heightened sensory input like that feels like a retraumatization. The best trick I've learned to dealing with all of this is to distract yourself because you can't fight this. It's just anxiety so try to put it on the back burner and fill your day with distractions and things to do. My problem is that like you I'm back to feeling depressed like you and have difficulty filling the day as I only work 1/2 time and it's hard to push myself. When you feel anxiety and derealization and even panic coming on try to just acknowledge it and say "oh yeah that thing again", but don't give it power over you instead keep doing whatever you were doing and push forward. You lessen a lot of its power by (1) realizing that it's nothing more than anxiety and can't hurt you (2) that you are not going insane and never will (3) that you can live with it if you don't dwell on it. A few other things, cut out all caffeine like coffee and even soft drinks I used to drink a lot of diet coke and find that triggers it for me now. You can try to drink decaf versions of these. The other thing that is EXTREMELY effective is exercise. A hard cardio workout will destroy these feelings and get you back into the here and now, reality, and calm you down for a number of hours. It has to be a cardio workout where you push yourself and get  the adrenaline running though, not just a good walk, you have to exhaust yourself, the sweat has to be pouring the heart pounding. But trust me it completely eliminates the feeling for a good several hours, though it will come back later. Good luck my friend!

Thank you so much for the reply. It feels so good to hear others who have experienced this. And thanks for those tips they are very helpful actually I'm gonna try exercising more often to try and keep my mind busy and off the anxiety. Its just sometimes during the day I feel like I've lost my will to do things. Like I wanted to go for a walk yesterday but then I started thinking about how I'll just start panicking and being anxious and it will be a bad experience so I avoided it. I know I need to stop avoiding things but its like once I'm out of my home and see the world I start over thinking so many things and getting myself all anxious.

Anyways thank you for this it really does mean alot to me hearing from you. I hope you are doing well with your situation!

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Thank you so much for the reply. It feels so good to hear others who have experienced this. And thanks for those tips they are very helpful actually I'm gonna try exercising more often to try and keep my mind busy and off the anxiety. Its just sometimes during the day I feel like I've lost my will to do things. Like I wanted to go for a walk yesterday but then I started thinking about how I'll just start panicking and being anxious and it will be a bad experience so I avoided it. I know I need to stop avoiding things but its like once I'm out of my home and see the world I start over thinking so many things and getting myself all anxious.

Anyways thank you for this it really does mean alot to me hearing from you. I hope you are doing well with your situation!

 

No worries it is likewise good to hear from you! Yeah try not to listen to the will not to do things because that's the voice of depression. The anxiety creates a fear in you that you will panic if you go out well that very well might be true but the alternative is to sit at home and sink lower into depression and trust me that makes the situation worse! The trick, and it's not an easy one, is to live with the fear and accept it. Go out and don't ask of the world to look normal, just accept that for the time being it looks dreamy and anxiety inducing. Keep the thought always in the back of your mind that NOTHING about the world itself has changed, only your perception of it. Your mind can play all kinds of tricks on you and cause you to believe and perceive all kinds of things about the world, the world itself remains the same old unchanging environment it always has been. Think of it this way, if you had not slept in 48 hours you would feel a lot of the same symptoms you do now only they would not be causing you a lot of anxiety because you would have a perfectly rational explanation and in fact would expect the world to seem dreamy and hazy, if someone asked you you would in fact say "of course things look dreamy I haven't slept in 2 days". The truth is that that is where your mind is basically at a lot of the time only a little better actually because your other faculties are not  quite as effected. That being said they are affected a bit so remember to keep this analogy in mind, don't get upset if your memory isn't as good as you want it to be, or you make mistakes, or you get a bit paranoid, this is all a natural side effect of that sleepy hazy induced perspective and not a sign of anything more serious. Remember your mind is extremely focused on the anxiety and perception change, so work on distracting it. The reason exercise works so well is 2 fold it releases endorphins that temporarily reset your brain chemistry, and 2 if you go at it hard enough it prevents your mind from being able to focus on much except the physical output. That's why I recommend that it has to be a relatively hard cardio workout, not just a walk, because both of these benefits are not realized until your heart is going and you are sweating.

 

Here's another thing to work on James. Are you seeing a therapist? If not I recommend finding a good one.  Try to see this as actually a positive development. I know that sounds crazy but it's like I said the weed REALLY did NOT damage your brain what it did was traumatise you and your brain is now stuck in trauma mode. You have not said what your bad experience with weed specifically involved but I'm guessing they were paranoid realisations about things that really bothered you. Well here's the thing, those thoughts that terrified you? Those are things to work through in therapy! I'm not saying that what you thought are real but they point to things that the weed uncovered about your psychology that you should probably work on. In that way it can be seen as a positive thing because it gave you a short very direct path to serious shit that probably you should always have been working on. Perhaps dealing with these issues can help solve some of the life long issues you have as you said "I've been suffering from bad anxiety all my life". I know what that's like.

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No worries it is likewise good to hear from you! Yeah try not to listen to the will not to do things because that's the voice of depression. The anxiety creates a fear in you that you will panic if you go out well that very well might be true but the alternative is to sit at home and sink lower into depression and trust me that makes the situation worse! The trick, and it's not an easy one, is to live with the fear and accept it. Go out and don't ask of the world to look normal, just accept that for the time being it looks dreamy and anxiety inducing. Keep the thought always in the back of your mind that NOTHING about the world itself has changed, only your perception of it. Your mind can play all kinds of tricks on you and cause you to believe and perceive all kinds of things about the world, the world itself remains the same old unchanging environment it always has been. Think of it this way, if you had not slept in 48 hours you would feel a lot of the same symptoms you do now only they would not be causing you a lot of anxiety because you would have a perfectly rational explanation and in fact would expect the world to seem dreamy and hazy, if someone asked you you would in fact say "of course things look dreamy I haven't slept in 2 days". The truth is that that is where your mind is basically at a lot of the time only a little better actually because your other faculties are not  quite as effected. That being said they are affected a bit so remember to keep this analogy in mind, don't get upset if your memory isn't as good as you want it to be, or you make mistakes, or you get a bit paranoid, this is all a natural side effect of that sleepy hazy induced perspective and not a sign of anything more serious. Remember your mind is extremely focused on the anxiety and perception change, so work on distracting it. The reason exercise works so well is 2 fold it releases endorphins that temporarily reset your brain chemistry, and 2 if you go at it hard enough it prevents your mind from being able to focus on much except the physical output. That's why I recommend that it has to be a relatively hard cardio workout, not just a walk, because both of these benefits are not realized until your heart is going and you are sweating.

 

Here's another thing to work on James. Are you seeing a therapist? If not I recommend finding a good one.  Try to see this as actually a positive development. I know that sounds crazy but it's like I said the weed REALLY did NOT damage your brain what it did was traumatise you and your brain is now stuck in trauma mode. You have not said what your bad experience with weed specifically involved but I'm guessing they were paranoid realisations about things that really bothered you. Well here's the thing, those thoughts that terrified you? Those are things to work through in therapy! I'm not saying that what you thought are real but they point to things that the weed uncovered about your psychology that you should probably work on. In that way it can be seen as a positive thing because it gave you a short very direct path to serious shit that probably you should always have been working on. Perhaps dealing with these issues can help solve some of the life long issues you have as you said "I've been suffering from bad anxiety all my life". I know what that's like.

Wow that was a huge eye opener for me. I never really looked at this like that. This whole time I have been blaming weed for doing damage or something when it was actually just uncovered my real underlying anxiety. Which when I had the bad panic attacks while high the trigger was my heart beating fast. Actually feeling my heart beat fast made me believe I was having a heart attack or something because I started panicking and caused the burning sensation which was of course made more instense with the high. My real fear is and always has been of having a heart attack or something heart related happen sense I was young. Here's what actually happened with the weed. I started smoking in late December last week or so. It was actually a pretty good experience at first just having fun and smoking. Had a few good highs got the falling sensation and everything. I actually got really high at one point to where I was stumbling while walking. Having fun still. All of this happening over the span of the last week of December into first week of January. Then into the first week of January I smoked like crazy taking tons of hits and got super high. All I did was I remember looking down at my body and feeling really numb and light and a burning sensation starting to rush threw my body and I got nervous. Then I for some reason focused on my heartbeat and how it was speeding up and starting to really Pound. My whole body felt numb from the super high and anxiety combined so at this point I lose it. I look at my friend and start saying there is something wrong. I think I'm having a heart attack and I'm loosing control. Went inside and was panickijg like every few minutes. He of course being then good friend he was talked me through it and I really thank him for it to this day. He had been very supportive to with helping me through it and calming me down because he also had anxiety when smoking at first and was able to help me through by saying it's just anxiety and I'm fine. Anyways that was the weed experience for me. I hope that wasn't to long and dragged out but I don't think I've ever really explained it in such detail before. I am seeing a therapist right now and we are slowly but surely working on techniques for coping and control but also trying to get to the bottom of what the anxiety actually means for me. She also said that the weed didn't do any damage or anything like that but it just made my brain hyper sensitive and brought the anxiety to the surface of things for me.

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Wow that was a huge eye opener for me. I never really looked at this like that. This whole time I have been blaming weed for doing damage or something when it was actually just uncovered my real underlying anxiety. Which when I had the bad panic attacks while high the trigger was my heart beating fast. Actually feeling my heart beat fast made me believe I was having a heart attack or something because I started panicking and caused the burning sensation which was of course made more instense with the high. My real fear is and always has been of having a heart attack or something heart related happen sense I was young. Here's what actually happened with the weed. I started smoking in late December last week or so. It was actually a pretty good experience at first just having fun and smoking. Had a few good highs got the falling sensation and everything. I actually got really high at one point to where I was stumbling while walking. Having fun still. All of this happening over the span of the last week of December into first week of January. Then into the first week of January I smoked like crazy taking tons of hits and got super high. All I did was I remember looking down at my body and feeling really numb and light and a burning sensation starting to rush threw my body and I got nervous. Then I for some reason focused on my heartbeat and how it was speeding up and starting to really Pound. My whole body felt numb from the super high and anxiety combined so at this point I lose it. I look at my friend and start saying there is something wrong. I think I'm having a heart attack and I'm loosing control. Went inside and was panickijg like every few minutes. He of course being then good friend he was talked me through it and I really thank him for it to this day. He had been very supportive to with helping me through it and calming me down because he also had anxiety when smoking at first and was able to help me through by saying it's just anxiety and I'm fine. Anyways that was the weed experience for me. I hope that wasn't to long and dragged out but I don't think I've ever really explained it in such detail before. I am seeing a therapist right now and we are slowly but surely working on techniques for coping and control but also trying to get to the bottom of what the anxiety actually means for me. She also said that the weed didn't do any damage or anything like that but it just made my brain hyper sensitive and brought the anxiety to the surface of things for me.

 

Indeed my own experiences were similar. For me I had 3 very positive months with weed. Like you I would get very high and have a great time. This lasted 3 months for me. And in fact they were 3 of the best months of my life as the weed also totally removed my worries about myself, most of my negative self talk, allowed me to open up and lifted my depression. It was amazing. But like you I started to dwell on things that bother me. Here's the thing about weed, it's an amazingly "creative" drug. By this I mean it stimulates the mind to think about all kinds of things. You probably experienced that music and movies and food, and all kinds of other experiences were amazing on weed. Your brain makes all kinds of connections and realisations that it never would have otherwise when you are high. So long as you are thinking positive thoughts and good experiences all is good. But if you have big fears and unresolved shit your mind can wander and then weed can do some messed up shit. Now that same creative drive is put to bad use. Those sudden realisations can now be about bad things that scare you. In my particular case I had a paranoid trip and thought I was going crazy, thought my parents had molested me and all kinds of other things. A lot of this stems from stuff I already worried about before but the high mind can take this kind of thing and run with it and when you are high, like I said you are very creative and things seem very real or strange it's harder to dismiss stuff. In your case you had a life long fear of having a heart attack and the weed gave you the very experience you feared most, in the form of a panic attack. Now what you are left with is generalized anxiety about that experience with nothing for it to latch onto. You are always anxious 24/7 so your mind looks to make sense of it. Only there is nothing to make sense of the anxiety was caused by the traumatic event that your mind can't subconsciously let go of. Because you are always anxious your mind says to itself there must be something wrong with the world because I'm so anxious but I can't see a reason. As a result you dissociate and detach from the world, hence the derealisation. The solution will not be a quick fix as it's not possible to convince your mind to let go of this very easily. But in time it gets better. But trust me I'm right there with you, it fucking sucks daily for me right now :-(

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