From a 13 year old in the U.S.: Hi, I struggle with what seems like depersonalization but I can’t find anything like my case on the website. I don’t take any drugs and I haven’t had any really bad anxiety since fifth grade. However, I feel detached from reality.
Instead of not recognizing myself in the mirror, I just have a realization that it’s me, but I can’t process it correctly. I’m just like,”Oh, it’s me,” as if I was saying I understood something but I really don’t. I feel as if life is some boring movie or a video game I’m playing with amazing graphics.
I haven’t gone through any trauma that could induce this. The only part of life that seems real is, weird enough, going online. Even then, that feeling is fading too. I can distinguish dreams from reality, but that’s because I do things in my dreams that I would never do in real life, so I feel like they aren’t my dreams. If I had a realistic dream, then I bet I couldn’t tell it apart from reality. This feeling began a few months ago.
I’m not sure when, because any sense of time has disappeared. Before I knew it, I was staying up until 2:00 AM thinking it was still the day before. I go to school on a daily basis and I go out with friends, but it doesn’t seem real. I don’t take medication and I often suffer from insomnia, and I think that may be a cause. I tried getting more sleep and it didn’t help. I hope you can help.
As you suspect, your symptoms may be explained by inadequate sleep. At your age, you should be getting 7 – 9 hours a night, every night, in order to be mentally healthy. One way to find out whether I’m right is to get that amount of sleep every night for a couple or weeks in a row and see what happens.
Trying to get more sleep is not the same as really getting more. It will take discipline and commitment to get your sleep schedule back to normal. There are many good articles on the internet about how to reboot your sleep schedule. Take a look at a few of them and make a plan. It will be difficult but you can do it. Promise yourself that you will stick with it for at least two weeks — no matter what!
If you are like most teens, the hardest part of the program will be giving up your devices in favor of getting sleep. You need to stop looking at anything with a screen at least an hour before your bedtime. Stop using a phone, computer or TV by 8:00 p.m and do something calming and quiet until you shut out your lights at 9:00.
It might help you stay committed if you keep a diary about what you are doing and the results. That way you can track your progress when you are feeling discouraged. If you think it would be helpful, ask your parents to help you stick with the project.
I’m optimistic that you can make the changes so you get the shut eye you need. A bonus will probably be better moods, better grades, and better relationships — which have all been proven to be connected with getting enough sleep.
I wish you well.