Austerity Britain! More than a few of us are feeling disjointed, out of place, stressed and anxious. Hazel McCall, gives her take on the depersonalisation effect felt by so many in these trying times.
The light altered today. A shift imperceptible to most, but for me it means my world is torn that little bit further from its hinges. The corners of my life curling over and in to engulf me in my own private hell. The terror is knowing that onlookers see no outward cause for alarm, this demon is silent and invisible and seemingly omnipotent. Wherever I go, wherever I hide, it will seek me out and find me.
Every street, every house; every passer-by appears to exist only as a menacing tool within my nightmare, reserved for my torture only.
I take to my house and my bedroom, I curl up under the sheets but they smell of the past and repel me, conjuring up grey and depressing images of old nightmares and slightly distorted memories long forgotten. I open my eyes to a room of threatening furniture and colours. I am under attack.
I feel that I am floating outside of my body, nearby, and watching myself. I open my mouth to make a sound and my voice echoes as if somebody else’s entirely. I look down at my limbs and they are alien to me.
I am a floating ebb of consciousness, detached entirely from what I’ve always known to be my physical self.
As I try to claw my way back to reality I am sickeningly aware of how alone I am. Alone in my own mind, my own bubble of sinister distortions and morbid colours and lights.
This is about the moment that I realize my heart has begun pounding, an uncontrollable beat, running away from me and I am unable to catch up. My hands are shaking, I look down at them and they are illuminated in a light so dreadful and terrifying that a surge of dread and panic prompts me to stand suddenly and turn; ..there ..must ..be ..somewhere ..to ..hide!
My hope evaporates as I realize that this living hell exists within me only ..and I have no control! I am now fighting between extreme lethargy and the urgency calling within me to pick up the phone and call my mother, father, or 999. Today I am going to die.
The first time I read about depersonalisation on Google I cried. There is a name for my demon. And not only is it a recognized condition, it is harmless and it is manageable. If you suffer from any of these symptoms yourself then the previous sentence is one that you should memorize and carry around with you wherever you go.
Anxiety/depersonalisation/panic/derealisation are all different branches of the horror that our own minds can put us through. We have an innate reflex within us, which when faced with a threat pumps us full of enough adrenalin to aid us in either fighting the beast or escaping it. When our threat is mental or emotional there is nowhere for this adrenalin to take us; therefore it pollutes our minds and causes chemical reactions which lead us to feel all those classic symptoms of anxiety, and some less widely promoted ones, described above.
With focused breathing and a lot of rational self talk we can keep the disturbing and terrifying demons at bay. Knowing that you aren’t alone and you aren’t going crazy is important, and as a therapist once told me ‘write it down, this stuff is amazing – it makes for a fascinating read.
Featured image © Stuart Hermolle