My name is Patrick Miranda and I suffer from Depersonalization Disorder. Ever since I can remember I have dealt with some form of depression and anxiety. I would go through these periods of time growing up, sometimes over a month, where the world just didn’t feel right. I have no other way to describe it other than depressed, but as a kid I didn’t know what depression was. I didn’t feel right in my own head. When you’re young its hard to understand that this is a disorder, I just assumed this was normal, or if not I must be weird. I just wanted to stay home and sleep and be left alone, and nothing would cheer me up. These periods of depressive doubts have been a constant theme in my life.
When I was young, I would have night terrors. I want to clarify that night terrors and nightmares are very different. During a night terror, I would wake up in a full panic, sweating and screaming. My mom would come rushing to the room but there wasn’t anything she could do to help. Its similar to sleep walking which I also did. I was not me during a night terror. I was in this weird, horrified, fever driven state.
I grew out of it as I got older; they happened less and less. I started to understand what depression and anxiety were as I began high school. I didn’t really do anything about it. I turned to music a lot because it was the only thing that really helped me feel any better. I surrounded myself with music whether it be listening to it, writing it or going to local shows and being heavily involved in my local scene.
Around the time Movements started was when I really started dealing with severe anxiety on top of my depression. There was this one day, where nothing was out of the ordinary, but all of a sudden this switch flipped in my brain and I was reminded of my night terrors. I had completely forgotten about them, but when I had this flash back it felt like getting hit with a bag of bricks. All of those feelings came back of being terrified as a kid. Discovering something that I had repressed for so long set the motion for me to go into another long depressive spout. I was waking up every single morning terrified and thinking my entire life was just a dream. A derealization if you will, often times referred to as DP/DR. I started questioning my reality and if anything around me, including myself, was even real. It felt as if my life were a movie or television show, like The Truman Show. This went on for months at a time, and I just kept telling myself that I’ll feel better if I give it time.
The more I told myself that I would be fine, the worse it got. All I could think about was not feeling this way and it made me incredibly anxious. It got to a point where I realized this shouldn’t be happening and I needed to reach out for help. So after a few months of being in this dissociative state I started seeing a therapist who specialized in extreme anxiety issues.
That was a huge turning point in my life, because I was finally able to understand what I was going through. For the first time, my situation was normalized and it was the confirmation that I needed to not feel crazy. I came to realize there are a lot of people who go through the same thing. While doing therapy, I came across a community of people who also struggle with DP/DR. Reading their stories and being able to relate comforted me. That feeling of solidarity, and knowing that you aren’t going through it alone, are both really important. I would read some of these stories and think, “WOW this person is literally explaining everything that is going on inside my head, that is me”. I had finally found a place that I could talk about how I was feeling and not feel like an absolute nut job.
Working with my therapist really helped me deal with the physical side of my anxiety, like my tremors, and we worked on how to cope with them. When your body is tense it makes it harder to get your mind relaxed. The big turning point was realizing I just had to reach out and talk about it. You can’t always deal with these things on your own. Don’t feel discouraged by people who don’t understand what you’re going through, because I promise you there are people out there who have been through it and continue to fight through it.
I have surprised myself with the progress I have made through taking these steps. There was a point I believed I was going to be in the perpetual state of anxiety, depression and not knowing what was real. Recently, I started taking a medication to help with my depression and anxiety. I was against medication for a long time not only because of the negative stigma that comes along with it, but also the thought of having to be dependent on a pill. I wanted to be able to just handle it on my own, but sometimes there is no amount of willpower that can get you through. There is such thing as a chemical imbalance and sometimes it requires medication. Since taking the meds I have seen a significant amount of change.
It is always going to be an uphill battle with my depression and anxiety, but because I spoke up and started getting the help I need through therapy, talking in forums, and medication, I finally have some tools in my back pocket that help me deal with it and get through it. I find it extremely important for people to talk about their mental health struggles and adversities, and to realize they aren’t alone in this.