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Can anyone relate?

Blue12

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Jul 11, 2019
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#1
Before I go into too much detail about this I'd just like to give some context:

I first experienced severe anxiety when I was 12, when it lasted several weeks and focused on physical fears about my body. I found that when I began to attend therapy and learned what anxiety is I was able to dismiss fears more easily and most of my symptoms abated. The whole episode began seemingly out of nowhere and did not have any causes I could identify at the time. After the fact, though, I realised that I had not been treated well at school and that a lot of the uncomfortable experiences I was having with other people were down to bullying.

At the time I thought that was the worst my anxiety could get, but in the last two weeks or so I have begun to have another episode that I feel is much worse (It has been six years since the last time). I became intensely worried roughly two weeks ago that I was going to lose my mind.

I have a poor memory at the best of times and at night I have vivid and confusing thoughts that don't line up with reality at all... I am actually writing this following an episode of this. These thoughts are usually sentences or images of scenes or interactions that make no sense, but in the moment they feel entirely real and sensible. Sometimes I will be having lucid thoughts and they will appear to connect with the insensible thoughts in a way that makes sense, despite the insensible thoughts being completely jumbled. I can't give any examples because I dont remember these thoughts afterwards. After some googling I think these experiences line up with hypnogogia, but they are intensely disturbing when I eventually realise that there is something wrong with them.

As I began to grow more fearful of my memory problems and these confused thoughts I began to feel very strongly that I had lost my mind. I feel extremely disconnected from reality and am constantly afraid that I am currently having these thoughts and just don't know. I feel like my memories are false or like I am misremembering them. These feelings came on in the last two days and come and go. I have had it about four times now and it feels extremely real. I come to believe that my experiences, feelings and memories are somehow wrong or not real and it is extremely difficult to reason with myself or push the feeling away. Every argument I make with myself to justify that my reality is real and these sensations are a product of anxiety seems to make it worse. When I do successfully change my mindset I feel more lucid and grounded in the real world, but when I returns I take the sudden change in my entire perception of reality to mean that I can't trust the lucid times either. I am constantly worried about this and the effect it is having on my ability to believe in reality. It seems to line up at least in part with derealisation, but because of the way I feel I often find it difficult to believe it is. I have become afraid that I have a psychosis, even though I know that psychosis-like symptoms and delusions can happen in anxiety.

I have been seeing a therapist for a while now and have explained a lot of my feelings in detail, but this sensation began in following my last appointment and I will not see her for three weeks. I am due to start CBT in a few weeks and heard yesterday that I will be seeing my psychologist (who I meet with irregularly) at the end of the month.

I have been told numerous times that all of this stems from anxiety, but I find that assurances do not help. Instead I feel that I have either just not gotten across the true extent of my jumbled thoughts, or that my interactions with the world around me are in some way wrong or unreal. My mother lectures in psychiatric nursing and has told me several times that I need to remain in the moment and avoid dwelling on these thoughts and feelings. All of the lucid periods I have had have come when I followed this advice, and I have a journal that she helped me write that contains assurances that my experiences are down to anxiety and has exercises I can do to help me stay present and avoid thinking or experiencing these sensations. This has helped but I still have the overwhelming sensation that it actually has not/isnt real/isnt what I should be doing. This feeling is extremely difficult to resist and any change in mindset and perception that she is actually right only seems to confirm that I cannot trust myself to know what is real.

I have been writing down my experiences to show my therapist but the full severity of these experiences began after our last meeting, when she told me that she felt that my experiences were only anxiety and that I do not need to be concerned about any other disorder. I have a holiday starting tomorrow with some friends and will be gone for a week, and am concerned about my ability to handle it and the stress involved, but I have been told I have to go.

Sorry about the length of this post. Even now I feel like I have left important information out or my experience of writing this did not happen as I remember it, and I am feeling lucid right now. Does anyone have any advice on how I can manage this myself? Has anyone experienced this or do you know anyone who has?
 
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Cuchculan

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Apr 14, 2019
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#3
As nobody else seems to want to touch your post. I may as well do my best. I am thinking it is not hallucinations you are having. I know a person who gets them as part of his mental disorder and the stuff he tells me about. Like walking into a bathroom and seeing blood all over the floor. Running back out screaming. His wife asks what's the matter. He explains. She enters the bathroom and there is nothing there at all. He will go to have a look and see the blood is no longer there. In his mind he clearly saw it. I don't doubt what he saw. But it was just an hallucination. I don't think you are that bad. Were you would see things that are not really there.

Only other thing that comes to mind is derealisation / depersonalization. Kind of like viewing life as a dream like state. Can be freaky at times. Things that are close to you can seem further away. This was something I used to get a lot with my anxiety. To the point were I even went to the shops one day, with my Mother, carried a Christmas tree home. Went to my room. Came back down a while later and asked when we were going to the shops. No memory of been out at all. It can do a lot of things to you. How you view things. Like seeing things down a long tunnel. Only they are much closer than you see them. And is can get the mind confused a bit. To the point were you would start to question things. It can come and go. Some people have triggers that set it off. Noise in a room and then the room goes silent. That used to set me off big time. Others might like the quiet and if it ever got too loud it might kick in for them. Just my opinion that it sounds a lot more like this than hallucinations. There is no magic cure for it. No medication they can give you for it. It simply goes away in time. I am talking for good. I think once we get used to it and see no fear in it any more. It simply stops happening.

Like I said above, this is just my own opinion. You might think differently to me. Disagree with my opinion. That's allowed. Just reminds me of that whole dream like, confusing state of mind.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2019
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#4
I haven't experienced this, but I will say that I think what you are experiencing isn't something serious. We all kind of dive into strange thoughts, ideas, etc. but what makes it cross over into something else is when we believe those thoughts, or ideas are reality, which I don't think is your case. I've always told people to imagine situations like this as if the bad thought was a car passing by on the highway. You can acknowledge the thought and watch it pass by, but that's it. Don't obsess over it, just allow it to pass and move on if you can. I think going out with your friends is a good idea to distract your mind for a little while. Sometimes when I am out with family or friends, I am reminded that I am okay... almost like they keep my sanity in check. I hope you are able to enjoy yourself and let your mind rest!
 

Biston

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Jul 15, 2019
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#6
I think I understand what you mean by the jumbled, nonsensical thoughts and why they disturb you. My mind also races and becomes completely nonsensical during hypnagogia, but I think it’s just the brain letting loose and preparing for dreams. The derealisation is there too, throughout the day. These thoughts are too abstract and confusing to write down or explain, and completely forgotten, but as an artist I’m hoping to be able to explore, understand and get some kind of inspiration from this part of my mind. You say you’ve started writing down your experiences, would you be willing to share that?

What personally disturbs me is having no control over this disconnection from reality, and no one in the entire world to explain it to! No one likes being out of control like this because you may discover things about yourself you never wanted to acknowledge. This is, after all, totally internal. And for the feeling that you might do something wrong and that your memory is deceiving you, sounds exactly like my past experiences when my anxiety was particularly bad. It appears that there’s simply a part of yourself that you don’t trust or have confidence in doing or remembering correctly? Maybe you could test yourself to get rid of the uncertainty?

I think it’s important to acknowledge that just because your symptoms may be only caused by anxiety and not psychosis, this doesn’t make them any less valid and the distress they cause you.
Well, these are my two cents, maybe there is something here you’ll relate to?
 

Blue12

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Jul 11, 2019
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#7
Thanks guys for these responses, they've really helped. I've been away with my friends the last few days and you were right, it has helped at times. The derealisation is very difficult to manage in the moment because every thing I forget or don't understand or imagine seems to prove that my reality isn't real, but I think these posts will help me remind myself that that isn't the case.
 
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#8
Hey, I have problems when I sleep too. Let me know if this sounds like you!
Last year after spending forty hours awake on layover flight from overseas (I thought if I stayed up, I'd be so tired that I'd fall asleep on the flight. Spolier alert: I didn't), I experienced my first panic attack ever when I got home. It was a combination of already getting anxiety from flying and the sleep deprivation. That started a chain reaction that led to me having severe anxiety for two weeks when I returned to school. I remember I had massive headaches, my heart was constantly pounding, intrusive thoughts about everything, and 1-2 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately for me, I started googling stuff and stumbled upon an article about schizophrenia. I've had anxiety about that ever since.

The biggest reason the anxiety perpetuated was because of the stuff I was experiencing when I was falling asleep. Everytime I'd try to fall asleep, I'd realize that I start having nonsensical thoughts in my head. I like to call them dream-like thoughts. They'd be totally random and while experiencing them, I would think they made a whole lot of sense. However, when I became fully conscious, I'd realize they didn't. I didn't just have nonsensical thoughts, sometimes I'd have nonsensical conversations with imaginary people. I never experienced this before, and it gave me immense anxiety. Every time I'd notice I was having these thoughts, I'd suddenly wake up with a mini panic attack. It was really difficult for me to fall asleep for the longest time.

Eventually I got over it and desensitized myself to the thoughts over time. What I realized was that I had experienced this kind of stuff all the time whenever I'd fall asleep. In fact, when I was a kid, I'd look forward to having these weird sensations cause I knew that it'd mean I'd fall asleep soon. The only difference now was that I was extremely sensitized from my anxiety. I was hyper aware of my body and analyzing anything that could seem wrong, and because of that, I paid special attention to those dream like thoughts. I had subconsciously wired myself to be scared of them.

The thing is, weird things happen to us when we sleep! I know it's really scary now, but try to remember that you should be fine unless you start experiencing it when you are fully conscious. I know I was really anxious cause while falling asleep I'd think that I was pretty lucid and conscious while this stuff was happening. But now that I think back, I was really stressed at the time. I wouldn't be surprised if my body was super tired while my mind was being hypervigilant, causing me to think that I was conscious while in reality I was actually falling asleep.

As for your anxiety over memory, feelings of unreality are very common among anxiety sufferers. I know I've had my fair bit of mild DR/DP.

Hope this helped!
 
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#9
Thank you so so much for that! You have no idea how much it means to me to hear this, it's an amazing weight off my shoulders to know that someone else has had an experience like this. I've been having a very stressful trip these last few days (fun as well, but certainly stressful). I've been having very strong dissociative episodes during the day, interrupted by times when I felt genuinely good. So much if my stress has been fear that this experience isn't normal. I'm running on about 1-2 hours of sleep and am about to lie down to try to get a little before I go home early from the trip tomorrow. I posted here from a really dark place and it really does mean an awful lot to hear this, thank you.
 
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