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Nothing Feels Real, Almost Dream Like

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Firstly, here’s some insight into my current mental health state. About a year ago, I had some counselling for bad anxiety involving obsessions and compulsions which was treated successfully. I have not managed to relapse back into the bad state that I was in. I still have anxieties, but nothing as bad as what it was. Recently, I have been under a lot of stress from work, which has been affecting my mood but nothing that has made me feel depressed; I can still go about my daily life with motivation. However, for the past 6 months or so, I feel as though nothing feels real. I look at my hands typing this, I look at my surroundings, and although I can feel these all as physical objects, I feel trapped like I’m in a dream. It feels weird to me being in the present, and when I register this it causes me to feel stressed. Keeping myself occupied is the only way to distract me from spiraling into thoughts about how none of this material world is real.

For more insight, I took LSD twice in February 2018 and April 2018 and that gave me an altered perception of reality. Strangely enough, after these experiences, I felt absolutely fine, better about reality even. I’m not too sure if it’s the immense amount of stress I’ve recently been experiencing that has triggered these thoughts- in the last 6 months I’ve lost 2 people that I know as well as huge amounts of stress from work.

There are many times when I’ve had to pinch myself, feel my surroundings to remind me that I am still in the material world, but sometimes I feel so disconnected from my body, like it’s just my mind and my body is a vessel that I am watching go about it’s day. It has gotten to a point where I need help before my thoughts go too far, I want to feel real again. (From the UK)

Nothing Feels Real, Almost Dream Like

Answered by on -

A.

The feelings you describe sound like they may be a type of depersonalization or derealization. Naturally, this isn’t a diagnosis, but I think having an evaluation and having a professional rule this out would be a good idea.

Depersonalization/derealization happens when you are often feeling like you are viewing yourself from outside your body and that what is around you isn’t real. It does, indeed, feel like you are living in a dream, and can be very disturbing — mostly because it can feel like you are losing touch with reality. Most experts agree that while it is very uncomfortable it does not mean you are becoming psychotic, as many people fear.

Symptoms of depersonalization include:

  • Feeling as if you are floating outside yourself and that you are more of a distant observer of your body, or your thoughts, feelings. People often report that they feel like they are floating above themselves.
  • Feeling robotic and that you don’t have control of your movements or speech.
  • Your body may feel distorted and your arms and legs may not feel like their normal size.
  • There can also be emotional or physical numbness of your responses to others and the world around you
  • Your memories may not seem like they are yours and lak an emotional connection.

Symptoms of derealization include:

  • The sense that you are unfamiliar, alienated or detached from your surroundings. People often report this like they are living in a dream or movie.
  • A feeling of being disconnected from people you care about, as if you are in a bubble or behind a glass wall.
  • Your world may seem either distorted, blurry, colorless, two-dimensional or artificial, or just the opposite. You may have a heightened sense of awareness or clarity.
  • Time is distorted. Recent events seem like they were much longer ago.
  • Distances and the size and shape of objects can be distorted.
  • Depersonalization-derealization can be it’s own disorder and is more common in people with a history of traumatic events, it can accompany times of severe or chronic anxiety.

Depersonalization-derealization disorder can be severe and may interfere with relationships, work and other daily activities. The main treatment is talk therapy (psychotherapy), although sometimes medications also are used.

Here is a list of things that can help when you are experiencing these symptoms. But, again, my strong recommendation is to have this evaluated by a professional so as to make an accurate diagnosis.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

 

Nothing Feels Real, Almost Dream Like

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Nothing Feels Real, Almost Dream Like. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/10/22/nothing-feels-real-almost-dream-like/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 21 Oct 2019 (Originally: 22 Oct 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 21 Oct 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.