Those who suffer from derealization episodes know that it is no joking matter. I cannot even describe how thankful I am that my medication has almost completely resolved this issue for me over the last few months. Due to the decreasing stigma surrounding mental health, symptoms like derealization are finally getting brought to the forefront. However, when I first experienced this, I had never heard the term derealization before and had no idea what was happening to me. If reading about derealization triggers you, you may not want to read any further.
When I first got pregnant with Brent at 17 years old, I decided to move in with Ross and his parents. They lived about 45 minutes away from my hometown and all of my old friends. When someone drops out of high school in my state, they aren’t allowed to get their drivers license until they turn 18. So needless to say, when I was finally able to get my license, I wanted to get out and exercise my new found freedom.
One weekend in Summer, my best friend Angel invited me to drive out to her place to hang out with a few of my old friends from school. After securing a babysitter, I excitedly agreed. Angel and I met our friend Terra at the mall. We shopped for a bit before following each other back to Angel’s boyfriend’s house. As soon as we walked into the smoke filled modular home, Angel had a full blown panic attack. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I had no idea what to do or how to help as she sat rocking and hyperventilating on the grimy cluttered bathroom floor. The only think I could do was sit with her until it subsided.
I thought that it was strange that as all of this was going on, her boyfriend and our friend Kyle sat in the bedroom down the hall getting high and playing video games. I knew that they had heard the commotion, but they payed no mind to it. I started to feel weird at this point. I felt a bit hazy and disconnected from everyone around me. It seemed like my mind was swimming, suspending me someplace between my body and the world outside of it. I thought that I was just sleepy, so I kept trying to move along as normal.
For lack of a better plan, the 5 of us decided to go play a few games of pool at the only gas station in the town that didn’t card for alcohol. The boys got beers while the girls bought Smirnoff Ice in assorted flavors. After buying our drinks, we all headed to the pool table that sat in the center of a sunken indoor patio area. To be honest, I hardly remember being there at all. My mind went completely blank. I remember being terrified that I was going to float away, and I kind of did. I remember people asking me if I was okay. “Yes,” I told them, “I’m just sleepy.” I remember Kyle’s face blurring in and out while he blathered on about who knows what. The shooting pain in my side as he jabbed me with his long bony finger, a failed attempt at flirting. Chain-smoking Marlboro Menthols. Twisting back and forth on an uncomfortable metallic barstool. I knew that I wasn’t drunk because I had only had one drink. I was starting to worry that I had been drugged. Nothing around me felt real and I felt like I wasn’t attached to any of it, floating.
Finally, I told Angel that I wasn’t feeling well and that we needed to leave. She agreed and we decided to gather the group and head back to her boyfriend’s place. I had driven the girls to the gas station in my car while the boys had driven a separate car. However, I didn’t feel capable of driving everyone back. Though she said she didn’t feel comfortable driving other people’s cars, I was finally able to convince Angel to drive us back. As we drove, I sat in the passengers seat with the window down, allowing the cold air to blow against my face. Suddenly the boys revved the engine of the shit green Honda Civic they were driving and pulled up right beside us on a two lane road. They revved and revved until Angel answered their call by flooring the gas pedal.
I don’t remember getting back to Angel’s boyfriend’s house or what we did once we got there. The next thing I remember is the girls and I deciding to go to Angel’s house. Angel asked if I was okay to drive my car. I didn’t feel any better, but I felt like everyone was confused by my seemingly random disorientation. I agreed to give it a try. I slid into my black Ford Taurus and began to roll down the driveway. SMACK! I had made it out of the driveway, but I had take the mailbox with me. I got out of the car and started apologizing. I don’t remember if my friends were laughing or if they were concerned.
I don’t remember much else from that night. I know we made it to Angel’s house but I have no idea what we did there. According to my friends, we stayed up late talking before heading to bed. I had no idea what this experience was, continuing to worry that I had been drugged, until several years ago when I found the term derealization while researching anxiety.
Do you struggle with derealization? What is it like for you? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below. If you enjoyed this post, please shoot me a like, comment, or follow.
Love Always, AnxiouslyM