Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Like most men there are times confidence has carried me through chapters, you feel light, happy, optimistic and bold on the momentum train with each stop another platform for hope and success.
But like most men I have also felt the contrasting opposite of confidence and the bag of feelings it brings along with it too, anxiety.
I repeat the term "most men" because it is so important for us to all know that you are not exempt from experiencing this at some point, and if you currently are encountering it you should take comfort in realizing that you are not lost in a personal universe of crippling thinking that you cannot escape.
"Anxiety" is something we can all define, the American Psychological Association defines it as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
But have you ever gone deep into the world of anxiousness that you discovered a different reality that made you question your life and everything in it? Sorry to sound like Morpheus here.
I've talked about the need to manage your thought life but its not to say I have perfected this, rather my process of edification comes from the journey of battling things like Anxiety itself and also the topic of this article- Depersonalisation.
Driven by the agenda to always share information with a community of men who want answers to aspects of their lives, I personally overcame this very issue and felt the need to ensure others heard it.
So lets start with the symptoms of Depersonalisation so we can immediately understand if you have gone through it:
- Fear Of Going Insane
- Feeling Of Being Cut Off From Reality
- Feel Like You Are Not Real
- Visual Symptoms like Tunnel Vision, Distorted and Blurred
- Distorted Perspective Of Time
- Memory Loss
- Emotional Numbness
- Blank Mind
- Existential Thoughts
- Strange Fears
My experience of Depersonalisation came when I had become fed up of the number of men who would stare lustfully at my Wife wherever we went in public. I've always taken the advice like you should take it as a compliment but after 13 years it gets very tiring and having a coffee in a café should be a chill moment that excludes guys pervertedly gazing over every second.
I've seen guys switch seats from the opposite end of the place to plank themselves right next to her for a closer look, guys taking pictures sneakily and a man stop on the street to look her up and down in front of me shrugging his shoulders as I caught him, saying "so what".
Everyone has a different battle and many will say this is not a problem but you telling someone that their problem is not a problem doesn't change the fact that it is for them.
The feelings it created where all negative, anger, frustration, rage, doubt, paranoia, despair, you name it.
Trying to be the bigger man and internalizing these feelings without talking, combined with choosing to forgive rather than gain the temporary satisfaction of going Liam Neeson on them, it sent me on a dark spiral.
I started to think about the fact men would be looking at her before we would leave the house and it shut me down into a depressed state before I had even given the day a chance of being great.
There has never been a question of our commitment, love and trust for each other but the mere fact the outside world had the control to affect me through finding her attractive made it difficult. It was something I could not control and it was inevitable that I would have to deal with it every day of our lives and this is what became exhausting to the point of crippling my mindset.
For a month or so I shut down, I would be working in a coworker office space and my vision became blurry even with contact lenses, I couldn't concentrate for more than 5 minutes at a time, I felt drunk or as though I was on a very low- high, my breathing was very short accompanied with heart palpitations, my thoughts were running on overtime in hyper analysis mode of everything I saw and all of it was negative, emotionally I was distant, I started to question everything like why do we as people even live and go to work when everyone seems so miserable, self absorbed and fascinated by looks.
This was when I was alone but when my Wife would come to meet me I would already clock all the guys that showed too much focus in her as she entered the space and everything would intensify.
Another example was our children's first day at school in Barcelona, such a touching time, exciting for us to all share together as we took our 3 year old son and 4 year old daughter to school in a foreign country. My joy was stolen when I noticed a slithery guy through the crowd of parents who couldn't take his eyes off of my Wife. I thought to let it go and not give it too much attention however this guy's over fascination was just straight up creepy. After taking his kid into school he came out and his eyes automatically searched the crowd to find her, he then walked towards her for a close look and I saw his pupils almost stretching out of the side of his eye sockets as he slid past her, he took every second and angle he could get.
One of the symptoms of DP is that you are not very present because all of your focus is on the processing thoughts you would usually not notice but instead wait for when they were finished. The temptation to react to this guy was being restrained by my honor for my Wife to not want to embarrass her however all of this energy should have been on the honor of seeing my ensuring my children were settled and happy on their first day of school.
Charles Spurgeon said "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths".
Again, we are as strong as couples come so it didn't stimulate from any fear for us and our relationship but the battle felt personal because it was towards my Wife and it was an insult to me or at least I thought.
Going through the month-long period of DP sent me all over the place, I started to question whether I would ever overcome this state and if I did would I be the same or would I be damaged?
One of the symptoms of DP is that time feels distorted, for me days went very slowly as I gave so much focus to the negative influences of my mind that my energy was being spent quickly with the addition of doing my actual job.
There was a feeling as though everyone around me was a blur and with the sorry state of my mind it was no time to be analyzing thoughts and feelings or why they were happening, it only opened up the warp hole further. I felt as though I was just floating by and anyone could be living my life, people seemed as though they weren't even real as I judged there daily routines. I questioned whether they knew they did the same thing each day as though they were being programmed or brain washed, staring into their laptops, ordering coffee at their set time or unconsciously letting their quirks and habits live with them without notice.
This episode had me overloaded with more thoughts than answers until I stumbled upon information online of someone who had the same symptoms as me, however he had the clarity I had been desperately needing.
"Depersonalisation can consist of a detachment within the self, regarding one's mind or body, or being a detached observer of oneself. Subjects feel they have changed and that the world has become vague, dreamlike, less real, lacking in significance or being outside reality while looking in."
Studies within the Mental Illness field say that over 50% of people will experience it at least once.
All of these feelings and symptoms are actually your bodies defense mechanism to a threat, anxiety or trauma. It is the body's fight or flight response to a situation, designed to distance you and protect you from trauma.
My poor vision came as a result of my bodies defense system, if your body is anxious it makes your eyes more sensitive to movements, dilating your pupils which lets too much light in and therefore blurring things around you.
Your brain is on alert for danger, in my case the danger of perceived threats of other men which in turn has your mind processing way too much information to keep calm.
I would be reading and forget what I had just read, at the time this lack of concentration felt permanent however the sensation of memory loss was simply a temporary sensation, the anxiety affects your concentration temporarily, it never actually affects your memory.
The irony is that with all of the symptoms you can feel worried that you are emotionally numb and the affects it can have on your family. However the source of me finally figuring out what DP was -Sean O'Connor Author of the The DP Manual says that "if you are feeling that your emotions are numb, feeling worried that they are numb is an emotion"!
Another point about DP that is truly eye opening is that our minds are always processing information yet we don't actually notice it, with DP you interrupt it.
The tendency of men is that we will want answers for things immediately and strive to fix things instantly, this makes the whole experience of DP even worse. The rational brain is trying to find the answer and so jumps to conclusions usually with dramatic explanations, this is a term called catastrophizing.
Mixing racing thoughts from anxiety with tendency to catastrophize whilst desperately trying to put a rational to it all can never have a positive outcome.
The conclusion to this all and the one that also helped me to conquer and steer me back to my positive state of mind was to address the common denominator of all the symptoms, what created the anxiety in the first place.
If you address what is causing the anxiety and why it makes you anxious, you can then work out an action plan to combat it all, how to think differently or even work with your spouse, friends or a professional to beat it.
There is well know therapy out there for these types of conditions, CBT- Cognitive Behavior Therapy helps individuals understand the connection between their thoughts, feeling and behavior. It then helps the person learn skills for altering their anxious thoughts which then reduces the feelings and said behavior.
By addressing the anxiety that caused all of the negatives, all the negatives will disappear. The condition is not permanent as anyone suffering from it will be pleased to know.
There would be no better way to finish this than with some thought provoking statements that put it all into perspective:
"You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do" Eleanor Rooosevelt
"Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action" Walter Anderson
"What upsets people is not things themselves, but their judgements about these things. Epictetus
"You cant always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside" Wayne Dyer
"Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it" Kahlil Gibran
Have you gained anything from this article?
Lets keep this open, feel free to share your own experience and we can use it as inspiration to those who may be fighting it now.