Doesn't seem to be too many people here, but what the hell, I just read the "Feeling Unreal" book, and had to post.
Loads and loads of the book resonates. I'm not sure if I have DP, but I can at least *relate* to how it sounds like other DP people exist. The book does a good job at trying to tackle the pure *abstractedness* of DP, and bring it down into practical effects.
For me, I had a few *WTF* moments during high school that are probably classic DP, but they were sporadic, and easily ignored. They tended to happen in social situations, parties, where I would completely disconnect, and sort of abstractly watch everything. I figured it was normal for artistic types.
Through my 20s, now in retrospect, I think DP came along slowly, like a fog moving in over the span of 5 years. Felt often like I was gazing into the sun, and I could feel this darkness descending - I wasn't depressed, but something got blinded.
This has been driving me, like a madness, for the past four years (at least). Over the past 2 years, it's been epitomized by interactions with a coworker. At first, I assumed the feeling was of simple attraction, a crush. So I ignored it, and figured it would pass. But as time went on, I kept feeling *affected* by this person in a mysterious way, that I would try really hard to ignore, but would keep "sneaking up" on me. Simply, I felt alive around her, I could be *myself*, and I had no clue what that was - but that's who I could be. Around everybody else, my whole life, it feels like I'd been a chameleon (does NP ever manifest as always adopting the personality of whoever you're around?). This just happened when talking, nothing fancy. What was so disturbing is that I couldn't find the *source* of the profound influence. If it was just a crush, or if it was just a nice personality that was "energizing", I would at least have a reason. I desperately wanted a reason, I thought about it all the time, searching for that pernicious reason. But it was something deep that I couldn't finger... like my existence opened up, as if I was living in an underground world, and when I talked with this person - the ground above was peeled away and I could bask in sunlight.
I journaled once that the effect was like walking past a certain tree everyday, where somebody would secretly, unknowingly inject me with cocaine. The first time it would be pleasant, but eventually I would start to wonder how to explain this overwhelming feeling - could it really be the tree? Did I have some sort of a deep, subconscious love of trees, and in particular, this one? Should I start worshipping the tree? And what if the tree were to get cut down, or die? Where would I get this feeling from then? A normal person would realize that it's ridiculous to think that a tree could cause such an incredible high - but the effect was both *real* and *repeatable*. And so, that's the sort of situation I found myself in - either stuck worshipping a tree, or convinced that an invisible elf was invisibly shooting cocaine into me precisely when I walked by that tree. As a little joke. Pleasure and life are scary things to experience randomly and without reasons - I didn't want to be left clinging to trees, which I knew was insane.
This became an obsession, and I began to despise the relationship - the torment was intense. Because I didn't know *why* I felt so good, why I became alive in this person's presence. And why everything turned to ashes when I walked away. I tried to find flaws with the person - and I could pinpoint weaknesses and shortcomings, but none of them made any difference. They should have broken the curse, but they didn't. I began to hate myself for being so needy, to despise my pathetic dependence on... *something* that this person brought to life in me. It began to feel very similar to a drug, something that was euphoric, but it was like euphoria for the soul. It made something I didn't even know existed happy and alive, and also filled me with the dread that there was something deep within myself that was locked up, dead, and the only way it could connect with reality, is through talking with this person.
Over the past few months, I've finally been making some headway with this problem - with relief, I've finally figured out that it isn't just a latent attraction, but somehow, this person provoked a *resonance* with some deep, inner person that was locked up inside me. And now that I've gotten an inkling of this, just becoming aware of the matter has now let me focus on other ways to drop the "veil" from this inner person.
For example, a month or so ago, I was taking a walk, and ruminating on all this, on this idea of "resonance" that she provokes. I then had a moment where it felt like my inner self, which was waltzing around outside my head - all of a sudden came inside, and connected with the *now*. It was incredible, the flowers, the water, the sounds - it was like a filter was removed, and it was just *me* there, looking at everything. Before, it was like my mind was down a hallway, and all my senses had to shout through this passageway to let me know what the world was like. And I didn't realize that this wasn't normal until... on that walk, suddenly I got up, walked down the hallway, and was just *PRESENT*, in the moment. I could feel what I was looking at, and looking around became pleasurable, like a child. It's like my emotions were saggy before, and now they became taught, like a violin's strings - and I could pluck them by just looking at things, turning mere objects before into *music inside*.
So now, I think what was happening with this friend, is that somehow she was resonating with this part deep inside of me that was trapped behind the "veil" that the authors talk about. And somehow, by stimulating it long enough, I've managed to "let it out" somehow. Now, so far I've "come alive" for a few days at a time, and then retreated back into a fog. And today, it's coming in and out throughout the day. The sense is definitely like waking up from a dream, the sense that all of my brain is directly connected and accessible. My theory is that I'm learning how to connect everything, and this "ability" takes practice - like learning to ride a bike.
Phew, anyway, not sure if this is DP or whatever - but I had to post just to see if anything I said "resonates". For what it's worth, my suspicion is that my "friend" has some version of DP, perhaps a low-grade one, but has seemed to figure out a way to live harmoniously within it. I think there is some deep resonance that she provoked, some similarity in experiencing the world, that shone a light on this silent struggle. And the interesting thing, is that once I've realized all this, her effect on me has diminished - I'm free, in a sense, because she's not the only thing that brings me alive. So the reason this was so mysterious, is that it was never really about her at all, just like it was never about a tree, or an invisible elf, it was about realizing that I've been trapped behind a veil for... years? The elf was really a part of myself that was desperate to get out, to expose the veil, and now, maybe, there's finally hope for recovery?
Semi-ontopic, I've been reading a lot of David Foster Wallace lately - his stuff has also resonated deeply with his hyper self-awareness, struggle with depression, meaning, etc. Has anybody else with DP read him, and noticed similar parallels? I hear talk about how his art is so brilliant... but I think he was less about *creating* something, than simply bearing testament to his tortured way of experiencing the world - always removed, always tormented in teh same way Amiel was:
"Amiel is virtually incapable of the self-deceptions that "normal" people utilize for survival or in striving toward worldly goals set by their individual egos. It has been impossible for him to play act in a day-to-day world that seems pointless and unreal." (p. 132, Feeling Unreal)
I'm very conscious of all the self-deceptions that people use all around me, of religious and political and social matters - but while I see many of them as charades, I'm generally more *envious* that people can believe them. I have more atheistic leanings, but I look at religion with a fondness, and almost an affection that I wish I could engender. I've always been amazed at the ability of human beings to deceive themselves in fantastical ways. Some people despise these lies, I see them as impressive and almost admirable.