Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle

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Alice97

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Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« on: April 05, 2016, 03:21:40 PM »
I've dealt with depersonalization for as long as I can remember, I think because of the cycle of Narcissistic abuse that went on in our home. Has anyone else dealt with this? It's been really bad lately and I'd love any tips/info/coping ideas.

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practical

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2016, 08:59:37 PM »
Could you explain some more? Maybe describe a situation or two in which this happens and/or situations when this is not a problem for you?
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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Alice97

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2016, 12:17:13 AM »
Could you explain some more? Maybe describe a situation or two in which this happens and/or situations when this is not a problem for you?

Yeah, sorry, should've given more info to begin with. When I was younger I remember staring at myself in the mirror and not feeling like I recognized myself. I would also stare at my hands and my surroundings, trying to feel real. Everything feels so distant and dreamlike when I'm dissociated. I still do all of that that sometimes when I'm having a really bad episode. Honestly I feel detached more often than not. The only times I feel like I'm starting to get back in touch with reality is when I feel safe with certain people, which is very rare. And when I start to feel safe, I suddenly get overwhelmed with a ton of negative emotions, and I feel like I'm going to have a massive emotional breakdown, so I end up dissociating again.

I think I dissociate because of the cycle of abuse at home. I find I can cope better with the extreme highs and lows by detaching.

I feel distant the majority of the time, but when it gets really bad it becomes very difficult for me to interact with people, or even to "go through the motions" of living. I'm still trying to figure out what causes it to get really bad. I know it's worse when I'm more stressed, so it probably just gets worse according to how bad things are at home.

Hope that makes some sense. I'm kind of out of it right now, which means I have a bit more trouble putting to words how I feel (obviously).
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 12:21:45 AM by Alice97 »

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kiwihelen

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2016, 02:47:14 AM »
Alice, I suggest you Google 'lost child" in the context of dysfunctional families. Your experience seems familiar to me as both my partner and his younger daughter have described similar to cope with PD abuse.
Managing it? The research I've done says it needs an approach similar to managing complex PTSD. Getting a trusting therapeutic relationship going is the first step after creating a safe living environment... my partner is already showing signs of improvement in a far safer environment. Unfortunately his daughter remains in an abusive household with her mother

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practical

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2016, 09:20:22 AM »
Alice, I'm so sorry this is part of your regular life. I have had a few traumatic experiences during which I dissociated and I have a hard time imagining how confusing, disturbing and plain difficult it must be on many levels to feel like that most of the time.

Unfortunately I have no great advice how to deal with it, other than to try to work on getting yourself out of this situation. I know you wrote in a previous post that you are trying to find a job and ultimately to move out and you are studying at an online college. So here is my recommendation as you are working towards this goal: not to just move out but to move away, far enough away so your FOO can not come by and visit you randomly and interfere with the new life you are building yourself. Solid boundaries extending to email, phone conversations etc. will have to be part of it. Try to work towards this goal and it might give you something to hold onto.

(My B moved 300 miles away at 19 and slowly built up solid boundaries. I moved first 300 miles away, unfortunately I was still enmeshed, and then half way around the planet this time establishing boundaries over time. For both of us this was part of coming ootf and creating our own lives and getting healthy.)

For some more immediate help and as Kiwihelen mentions cPTSD, please check out our sister website Out of The Storm    which addresses the distinct and unique set of concerns and issues people who suffer from CPTSD - Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - deal with.

You can come here to discuss your relationship issues as they pertain to your family and your struggles, while for the effects of possible cPTSD you can go to our sister website.

I know you are concerned about your M and your sister. Unfortunately your M is part of the problem as she is enabling your F's behavior and not protecting you and your sister. As hard as it might be in this situation where you naturally care for those you love, you have to make yourself your own priority (see 51% and 3C's rule, My Stuff/Your Stuff in Glossary   ). It is a little bit like being on an airplane during an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first, only then do you help somebody else. Only when you have taken care of yourself and are truly okay, can you consider helping others. It might even be that if you take care of yourself you act as an inspiration to your M to do the same for herself and your sister.

I'm sorry I cannot offer any better help right now. Please come back here so at least you might feel heard and validated, which hopefully will give you the energy to go forward and start help you heal.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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stephoney

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2016, 11:54:40 AM »
Alice, i wanted to respond as well. It sounds like when things get really bad you become emotionally and physically numb. I'm sure that's a way for you to mentally protect yourself. I think practical has great advise, the best thing to do is to move far away to avoid the "pop in". I did this many years ago choosing a college that i could live on campus at and also chose to stay on campus even between quarters and at holidays. After i met my husband we moved about 800 miles from my parents. Looking back its unfortunate i didn't completely cover my tracks because after my father was killed, my sadistic mother decided to move close by even though we had not spoken in 4 or 5 years and had been NC. I promptly told her when she contacted me under false pretenses that we were through for good, not to bother to call or contact me again and informed her that she was serving as to what i consider a life without parole sentence. I believe its justified, i have to protect myself and my own family. You must do the same.

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Alice97

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2016, 01:24:20 PM »
Alice, I suggest you Google 'lost child" in the context of dysfunctional families. Your experience seems familiar to me as both my partner and his younger daughter have described similar to cope with PD abuse.
Managing it? The research I've done says it needs an approach similar to managing complex PTSD. Getting a trusting therapeutic relationship going is the first step after creating a safe living environment... my partner is already showing signs of improvement in a far safer environment. Unfortunately his daughter remains in an abusive household with her mother

Thanks, I'll look it up. It's good to know someone has experienced healing in a safer environment. I hope one day that can be true for me as well.

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Alice97

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2016, 01:25:34 PM »
Alice, I'm so sorry this is part of your regular life. I have had a few traumatic experiences during which I dissociated and I have a hard time imagining how confusing, disturbing and plain difficult it must be on many levels to feel like that most of the time.

Unfortunately I have no great advice how to deal with it, other than to try to work on getting yourself out of this situation. I know you wrote in a previous post that you are trying to find a job and ultimately to move out and you are studying at an online college. So here is my recommendation as you are working towards this goal: not to just move out but to move away, far enough away so your FOO can not come by and visit you randomly and interfere with the new life you are building yourself. Solid boundaries extending to email, phone conversations etc. will have to be part of it. Try to work towards this goal and it might give you something to hold onto.

(My B moved 300 miles away at 19 and slowly built up solid boundaries. I moved first 300 miles away, unfortunately I was still enmeshed, and then half way around the planet this time establishing boundaries over time. For both of us this was part of coming ootf and creating our own lives and getting healthy.)

For some more immediate help and as Kiwihelen mentions cPTSD, please check out our sister website Out of The Storm    which addresses the distinct and unique set of concerns and issues people who suffer from CPTSD - Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - deal with.

You can come here to discuss your relationship issues as they pertain to your family and your struggles, while for the effects of possible cPTSD you can go to our sister website.

I know you are concerned about your M and your sister. Unfortunately your M is part of the problem as she is enabling your F's behavior and not protecting you and your sister. As hard as it might be in this situation where you naturally care for those you love, you have to make yourself your own priority (see 51% and 3C's rule, My Stuff/Your Stuff in Glossary   ). It is a little bit like being on an airplane during an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first, only then do you help somebody else. Only when you have taken care of yourself and are truly okay, can you consider helping others. It might even be that if you take care of yourself you act as an inspiration to your M to do the same for herself and your sister.

I'm sorry I cannot offer any better help right now. Please come back here so at least you might feel heard and validated, which hopefully will give you the energy to go forward and start help you heal.

Thank you for all your input. I'll definitely go over to Out of the Storm, and I'll try to put myself first, but that's kinda hard when I'm watching others suffer as well. Thank you again, I really feel supported here.

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practical

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2016, 09:56:31 AM »
Thank you for all your input. I'll definitely go over to Out of the Storm, and I'll try to put myself first, but that's kinda hard when I'm watching others suffer as well. Thank you again, I really feel supported here.
Learning to take care of yourself first, making yourself your priority when others need to seem help too is a challenge, I'm still working on it. There thing is you are only able to help others when you are healthy, otherwise it ends up like the blind leading the lame. The other question at least with regard to your M is, does she truly want help? My F would often ask me to help me with uNPDm, and then he would not take the help offered, he could not break out of his codependency. Your M will have to take her own steps to get out of the situation she is and thereby help your sister. Seeing you take care of yourself might give her the impetus to do so. As you are working to get healthier and break free, you will be an inspiration for your sister, she will know there is a way to get out of the dysfunctional family dynamic, and this might give her hope for now and ultimately help her to break free and you'll be able to show her the way. So working on yourself, putting yourself first is not only the best thing you can do for yourself but also the people you love.

Try to keep the picture of the airplane emergency in mind, you put your oxygen mask and swim vest on first, only then do you help others, because only then are you in a position to do so.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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xredshoesx

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2016, 10:14:42 PM »
mostly i felt the best way to be safe as a child was to disappear- i think this embodies the spirit of depoersonalization.


how are things going for you today alice97?

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Alice97

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2016, 01:06:11 PM »
mostly i felt the best way to be safe as a child was to disappear- i think this embodies the spirit of depoersonalization.


how are things going for you today alice97?

I think you are absolutely right. Thanks for asking, I'm really struggling a lot. It's been worse the last few days because my older PD brother moved back home and he's around all day - which is incredibly stressful at times. I told my best friend recently about some of my symptoms, and she was very understanding and helpful. So I guess I'm coping better, but my symptoms are worse, if that makes any sense.

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xredshoesx

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2016, 02:46:32 PM »
for me it got really bad for my anxiety and OCD when i finally permitted myself to admit to myself how bad my childhood really was, and how i replicated some of my mother's behaviors in my relationship with my ex.  it's hard to understand, but getting healthier hurts and you are most def doing the hardest work right now by trying to see it all for what it really is- things you can't control or fix by taking the ownership of other people's problems on your own plate.

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gaslightedbug

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2016, 03:34:22 PM »
I did this a lot as a child. I remember sitting with my social worker and feeling as if I wasn't even there when we would talk about my NM. I wouldn't talk I don't think. The interactions were typically cut short and didn't produce much to my knowledge. I don't do that as often and really can't think of any time I have felt like that in recent years. Most of the encounters I do remember usually have to do with interactions about my childhood although I felt like that in some other traumatic experiences also like a car accident and stuff. Not sure what brought me out of that state as I feel I was in it a lot as a child, but gaining control of my life and myself did have a lot to do with it.

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Arya

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2016, 11:20:18 AM »
Hi Alice :) I have experienced some thing like this. For years I've had the feeling that I can't see myself properly in the mirror. Logically I've known to not get caught up in it, but it's there, I just don't think about it much...which I don't know is a good way to deal with it! I feel pretty in touch with the me inside my skin but the skin seems like a foreign entity. My name also, I don't feel connected to my name. It doesn't feel " like me". Lately I've been thinking about changing my name .....for me I think the whole package is rejecting my PD fam, rejecting the version of me that was a piece in their board game. I want to shed it all, create me for me, make my life Out of the FOG something that I choose, something I want in my life rather than have projected on me.

I've found working with a therapist very helpful. I read something that resonated w me awhile ago, those of us who were/ are abused by family, don't get the honest mirroring, or support, or empathy that builds a child's sense of self or resiliancy.

In times of stuggle where more healthy families help each other shoulder the load, we get told to shove off. This definitely lead to a pattern for me where I shut down to something that felt like hibernation/ self preservation mode under stress/ in hard times.

I don't want to project, but, I feel I must address something that sparked in my mind. Your description in your initial post sounds like you could also be depressed which would magnify all those feelings. I found in myself, before I was OOTF and doing self work, if something bad happened, big stresses/ traumas I would become shut down but also depressed which intensified the feeling of being so shut down. Going thru motions of day to day responsibilities was like climbing Mt Everest.  If you think you may be experiencing some depression  a therapist could be a big help.

Be good to yourself, take care of you.

I don't know if it will appeal to you, but, after learning about it online I made myself a " rescue kit".  It's helpful for any kind of fear / anxiety/ shutting down. It's meant to assist in becoming " present" switching gears off of whatever has triggered you. You take a box/ bag whatever you like, make it something that pleases you and you like. In it put at least one item that triggers a positive feeling for you for each of the senses : sight, sound, touch, smell, taste.   In mine it was a gift bag ID like to give a gift in, I liked the look of, inside I put a soft scarf, hand cream I like the fragrance of, a tiny tinkling Bell, picture of my cats snuggling, and some mint herbal drops I like the taste of.   When you feel upset, in need of nurturing/ security/ positive feelings, get out the rescue kit and mindfully go thru the items in it. The idea is you mindfully reflect on the senses/ feeling they evoke to retune yourself to the " present". The sound, touch, smell taste, sight taking time in each item individually

It's nice. I found it quite helpful.

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Alice97

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Re: Depersonalization as response to abusive cycle
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2016, 11:00:25 AM »
Hi Alice :) I have experienced some thing like this. For years I've had the feeling that I can't see myself properly in the mirror. Logically I've known to not get caught up in it, but it's there, I just don't think about it much...which I don't know is a good way to deal with it! I feel pretty in touch with the me inside my skin but the skin seems like a foreign entity. My name also, I don't feel connected to my name. It doesn't feel " like me". Lately I've been thinking about changing my name .....for me I think the whole package is rejecting my PD fam, rejecting the version of me that was a piece in their board game. I want to shed it all, create me for me, make my life Out of the FOG something that I choose, something I want in my life rather than have projected on me.

I've found working with a therapist very helpful. I read something that resonated w me awhile ago, those of us who were/ are abused by family, don't get the honest mirroring, or support, or empathy that builds a child's sense of self or resiliancy.

In times of stuggle where more healthy families help each other shoulder the load, we get told to shove off. This definitely lead to a pattern for me where I shut down to something that felt like hibernation/ self preservation mode under stress/ in hard times.

I don't want to project, but, I feel I must address something that sparked in my mind. Your description in your initial post sounds like you could also be depressed which would magnify all those feelings. I found in myself, before I was OOTF and doing self work, if something bad happened, big stresses/ traumas I would become shut down but also depressed which intensified the feeling of being so shut down. Going thru motions of day to day responsibilities was like climbing Mt Everest.  If you think you may be experiencing some depression  a therapist could be a big help.

Be good to yourself, take care of you.

I don't know if it will appeal to you, but, after learning about it online I made myself a " rescue kit".  It's helpful for any kind of fear / anxiety/ shutting down. It's meant to assist in becoming " present" switching gears off of whatever has triggered you. You take a box/ bag whatever you like, make it something that pleases you and you like. In it put at least one item that triggers a positive feeling for you for each of the senses : sight, sound, touch, smell, taste.   In mine it was a gift bag ID like to give a gift in, I liked the look of, inside I put a soft scarf, hand cream I like the fragrance of, a tiny tinkling Bell, picture of my cats snuggling, and some mint herbal drops I like the taste of.   When you feel upset, in need of nurturing/ security/ positive feelings, get out the rescue kit and mindfully go thru the items in it. The idea is you mindfully reflect on the senses/ feeling they evoke to retune yourself to the " present". The sound, touch, smell taste, sight taking time in each item individually

It's nice. I found it quite helpful.

Finally, someone who understands the whole mirror thing. Thank you for relating.

Yeah I'm sure I'm dealing with some form of depression. I'd love to work with a therapist but as I'm living at home right now, there is no way for me to do that without my parents knowing. Also I don't have a job so at this time I wouldn't be able to pay.

I love the idea of a rescue kit though, thanks so much for sharing that! I'll definitely look into it :)