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the feeling that someone else has taken your place - depersonalization

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no therapist or doctor i've seen can give me a clear, comprehensive answer to this question. what is this experience? where you suddenly feel as though you're an actor in a movie, your saying things but it doesn't seem like it's "you" that is doing the speaking, like someone else has taken your place. i feel terribly embarrassed whenever it happens, like i just want to hide away from everyone until the symptom goes away. it's like self-estrangement/depersonzliation, in the vaguest terms. but more specifically, it's hard to describe.. kind of like i've regressed into a childhood self?? i just know that it makes my social anxiety sky rocket whenever it happens. i start getting extrmeely self-critical and think "what the fuck is wrong with me?" and why is no one else i see struggling with this?

is it a particular kind of depersonalization? if you know what i mean please explain what it is so i can find some solace in knowledge of the experience.

another question: have all who dissociate experienced trauma, can you acquire a dissociative disorder without mental illness or trauma? i don't have any trauma in my background other than perhaps the trauma of being raised and enmeshed in a chaotic environment by a mother with mood swings, if that can be considered trauma.

Edited by j.evang
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I experience this on different terms.

Like, I suddenly look around and my home isn't my home and my kids aren't mine and I feel completely impersonal in the situation I find myself in. (Its hard to describe)

In this state I feel disconnected from the normal emotions that pair with the people or situations i'm in.

I am also very embarassed by this.

Though, I didn't know anyone else even felt this way (so at least I'm not alone :D)

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You should talk to your doctor about this. 

Other disorders like depression or anxiety can, when not being treated entirely effectively, bring about a sense of being dissociated. Trauma is a known trigger, but it's not the only one. Another is drug use, being anxious, being depressed, having a seizure (visible or not), etc.

Sometimes it happens for no known reason at all. Dissociation can be a stand-alone disorder in its own right, too. Although it often can take a while to get diagnosed since you'd want to rule out causes like other mental illnesses or epilepsy first.


I depersonalize sometimes. For me I feel like I'm floating around approximately 10'-15' over my shoulder. The science of dissociation is really not all that well understood. It's worth talking about, but not all doctors take it seriously. It is serious, though, and deserves to be treated as such. It's really hard to live this way.


Maybe you're looking at it backwards. What are you doing to treat your social anxiety right now? Maybe the anxiety of social situations is causing the dissociation (since anxiety can cause dissociation). Which makes the dissociation worse, which then makes the anxiety worse enough that you notice it since by that point you can't ignore it any more. 

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For the most part I don't get out much. When I do get out the anxiety is manageable. It's just that when the dissociative symptoms arise the social anxiety becomes so unmanageable I just want to collapse into a state of withdrawal, I don't want to talk to anyone nor do I want to even hear my own voice when alone. It's just awful...

Part of the reason I'm on an anti psychotic is cause of the symptoms, my pdoc before prescribing latuda read my journals and said that I was viewing myself from outside of myself... I don't really know what that means. I guess I don't fully recognize it

Edited by j.evang
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It's possible to be anxious and not realize it (just as it's possible to not notice the extent of our dissociation - I am chronically dissociated, but because I always feel like this, I don't feel like it, to me).  I just wondered if it was a trigger, even without your being aware of it. In which case it would be worth asking about.

You might want to ask your pdoc what it means that you're seeing yourself outside yourself. And if they think that that's psychosis or dissociation (if you're one of those who cares about distinctions).

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  • 1 month later...

I relate what you described to how i feel when Im inside looking out. Its not the same but similar enough for me to relate. I often retreat into an internal reality but can still pay attention to whats going on in this reality. Someone else takes over and i watch. If they are ...well, not how i would be...and conduct themselves embarrassingly i get self-conscious because i know other people dont see the distinction between us. i often want to crawl away and hide. It is somewhat like watching a movie though and i can hear our voice but it doesnt seem like mine. Well we all talk a little different, but still, i dont identify it as my voice.

Then there is another situation i relate it to. Like when i dissociate because i can't deal with feeling anger. Miniah usually expresses anger for me (us). So here is an example that has happened. When i was with my ex we got in an arguement. I was really upset by some things that were said and i think that, were I in touch with the emotion of anger, i would have been angry. But, because i can't quite connect with anger i felt detached and distanced from everything...almost like i was a ghost in another plane of existence overlapping this one and I could still see and observe this one but i was just not all the way a part of it any longer. I watched as Miniah became defensive and angrily protested my ex's points. I cringed at some of what he said. i was mortified because i could never say such bold things. i am timid and tend to be self-sacrificing. i would rather stuff my feelings than risk saying something that could be hurtful. Miniah however seems to feel entitled to stick up for himself because he feels his rights are just as important as everyone elses. We don't actually get along so well lol. Anyway, our experience is an extreme example of dissociation but similar in many ways. Other people experience something very similar but without the presence of other people like me and Min. For them, as I understand it, it is more of a detachment to the point that the lines that define the sense of self blur and become fluid so that the person can no longer really define what part of their observations is actually their self. They feel so out of touch with that "this is me" feeling that they dont recognize themselves or their actions as their own. That is a type of dissociation/depersonalization but in your case a lot more research needs to be done to know what is causing it.

Also, as i ramble here keep in mind, my experience of dissociation will differ a little from a lot of people's because i am not the orginial person or "core" as our tdoc calls them. The core will experience me coming out as a floating away and watching or sometimes as a complete loss of a piece of that day. Have you heard people talk about sliping away during tramatic events and feeling like it didn't happen to them because someone else took their place? Yeah, well in this case thats me. I'm the take over guy. Yey me. So i relate to what you describe but because of my role in things and because in us there are distinct people it won't be exactly the same.


Point is, i think you are dissociating but why is something that you really need to look into with a professional as others said above. If you have had no trauma ( or not that you feel was severe enough to cause this ), then it is even more inportant to have a good health screening. I had a stroke a few years ago. We were not at all prepared for something like that because we were in our early twenties and thought we were too young to have a stroke. I was out because I always get all the fun stuff *sarcasm*. When the stroke started happening it did actually feel similar in ways to dissociating. I was unable to reach reality all the way. i got confused and heard myself say something but had been unaware of trying to talk and had no idea what i said. After that i don't remember much because I think i lost consciousness at that point. I'm not saying you are having strokes so dont let that scare you okay? It is very unlikely that you are having strokes. I'm just saying that it is wise to be sure you are safe and healthy. 

Oh one other thought, you mentioned feeling regressed in age. That is common in dissociation. In us we have littles (kids) who essentially are regressed, but i know someone who is not multiple who experiences a feeling of being in a childlike state when she is scared or feeling neglected or insecure. She speaks more childlike when this happens too. Her vocabulary becomes much like a 10 year olds. It doesnt last really long and her tdoc is confident she will overcome it as she builds coping skills. She has DDNOS so that is a possibility your doc may discuss with you. 


Okay, I will stop rambling now. I wish you luck! 

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