The Road of Disturbing Memories – Part Two


After I published part one of “The Road of Disturbing Memories” I received great feedback from some of you.  Best of all, I didn’t feel so alone with the depersonalization/derealization that I’ve suffered since taking Geodon in 2012.

My theory is that the atypical antipsychotic Geodon actually triggered these two conditions in my brain, but I know it’s just that: a theory.  Then again, I haven’t done any research, so who knows? But I sense there must be some kind of connection between these terrifying states of mind and Geodon, for I never experienced either feeling before taking this medication.  The disorders struck  just days after I swallowed my first Geodon pill.  That just seems like too strong of a coincidence.

All that aside, I still suffer with depersonalization and derealization.  In some ways the “Two Damn D’s” freak me out more than even bipolar depression, and that’s saying a lot!  


As a book lover I sought books that addressed these bizarre mental states.  Most importantly, I wanted to read experts’ opinions about effective ways to deal with them.  The first book I bought was supposed to be the most comprehensive book available on the topic:  Overcoming Depersonalization Disorder – a mindfulness & acceptance guide to conquering feelings of numbness and reality.  It was written by Fugen Neziroglu, PH.D., and Katharine Donnell, MA.  

In it the authors discuss ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and MCBT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) skills for coping with numbness, mind and body disconnection, and the bewildering feeling of living in an unreal world.


As soon as I received my copy in January, 2012, I dove into it, but unfortunately I didn’t e complete the whole book.  I didn’t even try any of the techniques.


I did the same exact thing with another highly acclaimed book: Feeling Unreal – Depersonalization and the Loss of Self by Daphne Simon and Jeffrey Abugel.


Double ugh.

Reading only the first part of a self-help book has been my “tried & failed” approach to reading 99.9% of the self-books I’ve ever read over the years.  When I first get a self-help book I feel hopeful at the possibility of feeling better.  Then I become overwhelmed by the information and exercises, and I start shutting down.

Although I’ve been very disciplined in other areas of my life, I haven’t been able to possess enough discipline when it came to following self-help books exercises.  Additionally, I didn’t set up an accountability factor (i.e. alerting my therapist and psychiatrist of my bibliotherapy plan) to do any of the exercises.  As a result, I set aside my books and gave up.  One became covered in dust on my bookshelf – the other was ignored in my Kindle.   

I’ve mentioned the “The Two Damn D’s” to both my therapist Tara and my psychiatrist in passing, but then I minimized what was going on with that to focus solely on my bipolar depression.  So even though it has been over two years since I’ve suffered with the “Two Damn D’s”,  it’s still early days for my dealing with them.  I know that I can’t keep shoving these perturbing states to the wayside; they’ll only fester.  

Just for the neck of it, today I searched WordPress blogs using the keywords “depersonalization” and “derealization”.  Imagine my excitement when I found a blog post titled  “Finding the peace of mind – or how to beat depersonalization and anxiety – this is my way of doing it”!

I quickly scrolled down my Kindle screen to find that the blogger of “The Borderline Personality Bliss and Mess” (great title) wrote that taking long drives would throw off her depersonalization.  My heart sank.  Driving was the exact activity that made my depersonalization and derealization much worse.

How different we all are!

It’s sooooo tempting to just not address with “The Two Damn D’s” and keep them on the back burner.  I already have my hands full with dealing with bipolar disorder every day as well as taking care of my children.  But I can’t ignore these lame-ass sensations.  I still have my “The Two Damn D’s” books; in fact one sits by my laptop, reminding me that I have to do something, anything about depersonalization and derealization.  

As I’ve only mentioned this problem briefly to my psychiatrist, I think I need to make it our primary topic of discussion at our next session.  I have a feeling he knows about ACT, DBT, and all the “T” therapies out there, since his forte is therapy!  (He almost became a psychotherapist instead of a psychiatrist; I believe this explains why he is such a compassionate doctor.)

Unless I spontaneously, miraculously heal, (hey, never say never!!!) I’ll write a “Part Three” later this summer.  My psychiatrist always has cool insights and practical suggestions, and  I’d like to share them with you.

Have a great 4th of July and I’ll see you next week!


p.s. as always, I’m open to your suggestions and I love your comments.  Please comment away to your heart’s content!







13 thoughts on “The Road of Disturbing Memories – Part Two

  1. Hiya Dyane

    somewhere in my cluttered studio I have a box full of notes from my therapist. She spent some time looking for answers to the problem of the two terrible D’s.

    It started with some grounding exercises, and much of the rest of it was around mindfulness.
    So if I can find those notes I’ll let you know, because they were quite general And simple things that helped me get a handle on the disorder to the point I trust myself to drive.

    There Is hope!

    • Thanks so much, James – you rock!I’d expect nothing less from someone who hails from the Land of the Long White Cloud! 😉

      It sounds like you had a good therapist. If you find those notes (and let me state for the record that general is good in my book!) I’d be interested.

      And finally, yes, there is hope! I often find hope in unexpected places, and reading your comment gives me some hope, which I appreciate so much…once again, many thanks.

  2. Good idea to talk to your psychiatrist (and therapist) about this.

    When I drive, I often dissociate, go into an altered state, daydream, lose track of time and place, find myself way driving way past my turn. Both a former boyfriend and my husband sat in the passenger seat and waited to see how long it would take before I noticed I had driven way, way past the freeway exit. They found it somewhat amusing.

    I can get lost in my work, especially at the computer. A group of coworkers once surrounded my cubicle, peaking over the sides of it, waiting for me to notice them. When I finally noticed that I was surrounded by curious and silent onlookers, they told me, “We were waiting to see how long it would take for you to notice us.”

    When I was studying for a challenging final as an undergraduate, I had a boyfriend watch and find it humorous, commenting that it looked like I was conducting an orchestra.

    Doing self-harm, I dissociate. I have a history of picking at my skin (acne and imagined acne) for hours while lost in thought. I would do quite a bit of damage to my skin, which I didn’t like, but I did like the dissociative state, finding it calming and meditative. Now I get facials at my dermatologist’s office to try and not destroy my skin.

    When I was 21, I entered a series of dissociative states starting with an out of body experience driving over the Bay Bridge. I then went into and out of trance states at will, staring into a flame to induce the state. Sometimes the states were centering, other times I felt I was risking my mental health, that I was being somehow seduced to go a place from where I could not return. It was if I was becoming one with the light or one with the dark, but the dark was trying to deceive me into thinking that it was the truth, when it was in fact dangerous.

    I suppose I could be freaked out by it. Instead, I frame it as “absent-mind professor-like” and think that I have a need for meditative mental states but the proper framework and guidance to make sure that I do no psychiatric or self harm.

    • Hi there Kitt! I **always** value your grounding perspectives, and I found the experiences of altered states you had while driving & your getting lost in your work to be fascinating. (And, please forgive me, a little humorous!) I was unaware of the self-harm behavior although you may have written about it, and I’m glad that you are no longer harming your skin. I think that’s wonderful that you take good care of your skin now by going for dermatological facials. One of my best friends is a highly trained/experienced esthetician (with a literature degree from the University of California!) and I worked at her spa for a while. As someone who suffered with acne as a teen, I’ve had my own battles with skin picking. I believe in the healing power of facials, plus the relaxation element is SO nice.

      Another very close friend did the same self-harm (skin picking) and she works in the beauty industry. It has been very hard for her, but she is dealing with this behavior in therapy and she’s also in a specialized support group, plus she uses awesome, organic skin products!

      The states you describe such as driving over the Bay Bridge etc. do sound scary to me! But I’m glad that you’re able to re-frame it as being like an “absent-minded professor” – that seems like a great, positive, healing way to look at it. It does sound like cultivating meditative mental states would be excellent for you, but only in the right circumstances that you mention. Please let me know if you decide to do that! I’d be very interested to hear more…

      p.s. thank you for reading this blog consistently! I love your blog, your Twitter-feed, and having you as a blog follower – I think I’ve written that ten times now in various posts, haven’t I? At the very least!

      • Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed response. I really do appreciate it.

        I have no where else written about my skin picking. When I went away to college, my parents repainted my bathroom thinking that the chocolate brown walls depressed me. I loved the chocolate brown walls. They looked warm and inviting, picking up a gorgeous color from the 1950’s era flesh tone tile with turquoise and brown scroll-work detail. They later removed all the cook 1950’s era tiles in their house and replaced them with plain cheap white or grey tile. I was so upset. My bathroom was accessible only from my room. It had been MY bathroom. I loved it.

        As to the skin picking, which I did even in the newly flesh toned bathroom (barf), I would also pick at the back of my arms and at my areolae. I would not let my boyfriend look at my breasts. I was so ashamed, I would wear a shirt when making love.

      • What incredible, brave honesty. It is SO heartbreaking to read about what you endured with the skin picking and your romantic relationship. I loved your vivid description of the bathroom tile/colors and how you felt after you discovered your parents redecorated it.

        I know you’re passionate about oration (is that a word? I’m too lazy to go visit but after reading this blurb, it occurred to me yet again you are a true Writer, Kitt!

        Looking forward to reading much more from you in the years to the come.

  3. Hi again Diane!

    You wrote a great post! Excellent!

    And I had no idea that driving makes you feel even worse. You made the point there, how different we all are.

    I really hope you are doing well and that you’ll find your own way of exiting “The Two Damn D’s” (great name for those two). 🙂

    Stay strong.


    • Thanks, Tina, for stopping by my blog & for reading the post! I used to absolutely love driving since I was age 15 up until age 42 – that’s a long time to adore something.

      Things are getting a little better in general with “The Two Damn D’s”, although I have a long way to go, and sometimes I even catch myself loving driving again, especially during these warm summer months where it’s truly beautiful where I live.

      Love your blog (How could I not love a blog with a title such as yours?) and I signed up!
      Take care & together we’ll grow stronger and stronger – you can count on it! 😉

      • Oh, thank you so much Dyane for complimenting the name of my blog (at first I thought it would silly to call it like that, but I decided to give it a try)!

        And I know everything about the driving and the joy it can bring. As I can see, you can feel it too. 🙂

        I am a little bit jealous of imagining your surroundings in the summer, my favourite time of the year. 🙂

        So, take care of yourself too! We can do it! Thanks for your support, and just to let you know,I’m here for you too. 😀


  4. Hey Dy, the timing does seem to suggest it caused the reactions. SSRI antidepressants trigger the tremours in me. I used to buy a lot of self help books and had varying success with applying them, and sometimes reading them. I do wonder if there was a part of my brain that saw it for the fake that some of these books are, in my opinion. The techniques and practises not a substitute, as I then thought they were, for medication. They may be useful in addition to medication though. And some techniques should, possibly, not be self treated because of unwanted or unanticipated side effects that may make things worse, as do the wrong medications.. Of course, even the trained professionals can get it wrong too. There is no doubt in my mind that I need seroquel, and high dosage, as the cornerstone to my recovery. I am curious to find out how meditation would go for me now that my racing thoughts are quelled? Perhaps I will try a session and see what happens.

    • Dear Glenn, great comment! (They always are, but I find this one to be extra-good.) Let me know if you try meditation. So many people are suggesting to me to meditate. I have lots of great excuses at the ready. One of my favorite ones is that I am too tired to meditate and if I start doing it, I’ll fall asleep. I’m taking not one, not two, but three medications known to cause fatigue. So that’s my favorite excuse.

      Other excuses include: “I feel lost and ungrounded” and “I’m boooored!” There’s some wise proverb saying something along the lines of that subject which keeps popping up in your life means you really need to give it a try. Yuck. I hate proverbs like that.

      So back to you – please keep me posted if you try a session. Also, I’ve probably asked you this before, but have you noticed our blessed Seroquel causing you any fatigue? If so, what do you do about it?

      take care and I hope you’re having a great Monday over on the other side of the world.

      • Dear Dy, thanks Dy. Fatigue is now my new middle name. Not much I can do about it except energy drinks and coffee. I stick with the fatigue though rather than the old racing, disordered, delusional and suicidal thoughts! I can live with the fatigue. cheers, Glenn

      • Yeah, fatigue is my middle name too! :))) You make me feel better since I too drink coffee to cope, in part – but it is TOTALLY worth the fatigue if the Seroquel continues to work the spectacular way it has……I wish I could drink energy drinks but I get scared about how they’d combine with my MAOI, so coffee is it. thanks for letting me know you also get fatigued. 🙂 be well, dear Glenn!


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