As a Psych graduate, I am all too familiar with abnormal behaviour and have also experienced my fair share of dealing with depression and anxiety. However, experiencing depersonalisation during this pandemic is a new displeasure that I have no intention of entertaining.
What is depersonalisation and how do I know if I am dissociating?
According to the Oxford dictionary, it is, “a state in which one’s thoughts and feelings seem unreal or not to belong to oneself.” My personal experience has been where I feel out of sorts and unlike my regular self. I sometimes feel as if though I am on the outside of my body and my life simply looking in. Almost like standing on the outside of a store window of my life, looking in through the glass.
Dissociation or depersonalisation is an uncomfortable feeling, as you may feel like you have a loss of control over your life which is not necessarily true but may make you feel that way. These feelings may range from a lack of knowing the date or time is, feeling a lack of emotion to the outside world or even those that you are close to emotionally. I have also experienced a sense of complete isolation and unfamiliarity to my own surroundings.
What is causing depersonalisation?
Considering that we have all been confronted with a world pandemic and have been asked to stay in our homes with limited physical contact of others, it is not really all that surprising to experience these range of emotions and to even question whether your mind is playing tricks on you. The truth is that stress can cause us to undergo many uncomfortable situations. This, however, does not mean that you are crazy or now have an incurable mental disorder. If you are struggling with these feelings and would like to chat with someone about it, a professional therapist or counsellor is a good person to contact.
I have found that speaking to a professional does allow me to feel that I am heard, that I am normal and that many people are currently feeling this way. I have also changed my lifestyle to have a healthier routine so that my mind can feel supported and play less “tricks” on me.
Here are some of the things I’ve done to change my lifestyle during this pandemic:
- I have set a schedule for waking up and for going to bed.
- I have incorporated exercise to my week at least 3 times a week which includes walking around the perimeter of where I stay for 4km (2.5 miles). However, this has also become quite monotonous and mundane and may not be as helpful to the dissociation.
- I have kept a regular eating pattern including a healthy breakfast, a protein-packed lunch and a hearty dinner with natural carbs instead of refined carbs.
- I have limited my caffeine intake and reduced my alcohol consumption. The alcohol consumption is also a must as we are still in lockdown level 4 and cannot purchase alcohol legally in our country, thus making it a great time to slow down and conserve what is left.
- Shower and tooth brushing at least once a day.
These items may seem ridiculous, but the sense of routine and regularity during a worldwide pandemic is essential and can really help set aside these feelings of angst and depersonalisation.
Have you been experiencing similar feelings or heightened emotions that may cause you to feel anxious or depressed? Don’t face these challenges alone, reach out to family or friends. If you need more assistance call the 24hr Helpline at the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 456 789.
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