Scary New Symptom: Nothing Feels Real Anymore

Hi all,

I can’t believe I am going to write about this, but I thought that this post should play an important role in my fight against the stigma surrounding mental illness. I personally think that I sound crazy, which is totally me buying into the stigma itself and I don’t think it’s okay. I want to try not to judge myself and convince myself that something is wrong with my brain and I am not bringing this upon myself.

Last week, I started experiencing some extreme symptoms around anxiety. At first, it seemed like stuff I had experienced before, mainly chest pain and shortness of breath. It’s a really annoying physical symptom that is extremely painful. I’m sure many other people can relate.

On Friday afternoon, I started to feel this weird sense that I wasn’t sure if recent events had actually occurred. I know this sounds funny, but I was extremely obsessed with the American election in recent weeks and when Donald Trump was elected, I wasn’t even upset because I truly did not think it had happened. I still don’t think it did. All day, I felt unsure whether conversations I had in the past few days had happened. Everything felt foggy. I had gone shopping a few days earlier and I was completely unsure whether I had actually gone shopping, even though I was wearing the new clothes that day.

I went to go see my family doctor and he said that I probably just needed an adjustment in my medication. He said that if I started to feel worse, I should go to the local psychiatric hospital, CAMH. Over the next few hours, I started to feel like I was literally going insane. I just felt completely out of touch and removed from myself. I was speaking to my boyfriend but I felt like I was dreaming. I got really scared so we went to the hospital. I waited for a few hours and finally spoke to a psychiatrist. They said what I was experiencing was a symptom of extreme anxiety called derealisation or depersonalization. According to Wikipedia, “Derealization is a subjective experience of unreality of the outside world, while depersonalization is sense of unreality in one’s personal self.”

They suggested that I increase one of my medications and referred me to their urgent care clinic and said they would call on Monday. They said that it wasn’t likely to last too long. I felt a bit reassured. Over Saturday, I was still feeling a bit weird but felt a little better. My beautiful sister drove all the way from Montreal to spend Saturday and Sunday with me and help me get back to normal. We went out for dinner and went to a movie. I still felt foggy but I was able to focus on the film.

The next day, we went to the Royal Winter Fair with a friend. I wanted to try to act normally and go about my business as if nothing was wrong. I actually had a pretty good time but towards the end, I started to have really bad chest pain. I also felt really hot and kind of like I was watching myself in a dream. We got home and I immediately went into bed because my head was spinning and I felt really scared. I really felt as if I wasn’t awake. I had literally just left the fair but I wasn’t sure if I had actually gone to the fair or if I had dreamed that. Everything felt really surreal. I would be speaking and I felt like I was listening to someone else.I would scroll through Facebook and could not understand what I was reading as being real. I was really scared about what could happen. What if I completely lost touch with reality? I asked my boyfriend if he could drive me back to the hospital.

We waited for a few hours again and essentially left with the same course of action from Friday. They said that they had no beds and could not admit me and that I wasn’t psychotic so it wasn’t necessary anyways. Apparently derealisation is a very common symptom of extreme anxiety and is really treatable. This morning I set up an appointment for Wednesday morning and I will be seeing a specialist. Until then, right now, I feel really weird. It’s a very scary feeling to feel as if nothing is real. Apparently, this anxiety over the symptom can worsen the derealisation, so it’s a vicious cycle. As I type this, it is extremely hard to concentrate and I am not even sure if I am making any sense. I also keep having to look up words because they look weird to me. I feel like I am reading something written by someone else.

It’s just really frustrating that this is happening because I was feeling so good for the past year. I absolutely hate that I have to miss work but there is no way I can focus and I have the worst memory right now. I am completely unsure whether conversations are real and I can’t remember what I talked about with someone half an hour ago I also don’t trust myself to act professionally and e-mail people and do work that has real consequences because I am afraid I will make significant mistakes because nothing feels real. I hate that I can’t be normal and just live life and go to work like a regular person. I just want to work on my career and achieve my personal and professional goals. I feel so sad that I have to pause my life and figure this out. I feel sad that I can’t meet my responsibilities and that I have to disappoint people. I also just feel crazy. Every time I explain these symptoms to someone, I almost laugh because it doesn’t feel like something that would happen to a normal person. Depression is easier to understand, but not feeling as if things are real? That’s messed up. And yes, I know that no one is normal and that I am not alone and I should not use language like “crazy”. But it’s just how I feel.

I will keep you updated on what happens but I just wanted to share this with you. I really hope that you don’t let this colour your viewpoint of me and that you will continue to see me as someone who is smart, capable and caring. That’s who I want to be and be seen as and I don’t want to lose that.







27 comments on “Scary New Symptom: Nothing Feels Real Anymore

  1. Anxiety does terrible things to ones mind and body as many including my self can attest to.. Your being able to write so clearly about what is happening is to you is a testament to your strength . You are being proactive so give your body a chance to adjust to your new dose of medication and lean on those who love you to help get you through. Stop apologizing for what is going on in your life, if others don’t get it you don’t need them.
    Be good to yourself and don’ t be judgmental of yourself.
    Your dreams will all come true , perhaps at a different pace than you envision for yourself.
    You’ve got this!!


  2. Have been through it. It is treatable. I still have times when I can’t be sure but the frequency and intensity has reduced. I try to feel my body by touching my hands and legs and face and taking a deep breath when I’m in doubt. It helps me. I sometimes feel people are all around me trying to talk to me and get my attention and i just can’t see or hear them. Hahaha… Used to be scary. Now not so much.


  3. I’m grateful and relieved to hear you are getting treatment for it. I didn’t even know it was a thing the first time I went through it without treatment, but I didn’t know I was Bipolar back then either. There was a lot of things I didn’t know back then. So it’s good to see that you have supports in place.

    I find that during these episodes that heat and weight therapy helps the most since anti-anxiety meds make me manic – which in turn makes me more anxious. So I like to wrap up in heavy electric blankets. Many people find those weighted blankets to be very beneficial. I haven’t gotten around to getting one yet, but I ought to. There are weighted vests available too.

    If weight or heat isn’t your thing, you can try aromatherapy. Like carrying a small bottle of something like peppermint oil to smell – or whatever scent that helps you to feel real – when you need it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the suggestions! I will try them out.


    • I agree. Weight helps me too. Heat, not so much. But then it’s very warm where I live. Have a heavy blanket which I wrap around myself like an igloo. Helps a lot. Didn’t know it was a therapy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t either until my middle son was diagnosed with Autism. Weighted blankets and vests are used a lot for those with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. So I started to experiment and found it helps me too. Now we are finding that the weighted blankets are helping with many of the anxiety disorders too. Heat therapy is a HUGE help for those with certain types of pain, like muscle tension and arthritis, which is why I tried it.

        Really anything that helps you feel grounded and gives you the sense that you are HERE is what you’re looking for.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes true. Shall try it out as well. Thanks a ton. And good luck… With everything that you are dealing with. I used to work with autistic kids long back. It taught me a lot about life. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. We take it one day at a time. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Derealisation and depersonalisation are weird, aren’t they? Been there. It’s ok. They don’t last forever. Hang in there.


  5. I can so relate my feelings with yours. I have serious anxiety problem. May be it is not as extreme as yours but when I have the anxiety attack I can hear my heart pounding so hard that it is gonna come out any minute.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve had this happened to me before too. It is very bizarre feeling. You are not alone in this. It will go away soon. Hang in there.


  7. I just went through this, so I know exactly what you are feeling. I honestly couldn’t tell if my nightmares were real or if I was a real person. Even though it feels like you’re never going to get out of it, this stage won’t last long. My best advice was what my therapist told me, which is to treat it like a serious illness and just focus on taking care of yourself. If you had the flu you wouldn’t be expected to function at top level. In fact, you even feel derealization when you have the flu, so what does that tell you about how illness works?

    If you like massages, I highly recommend one. It was the only thing that felt really good when I was going through this, and calmed me for the rest of the day.

    As someone who has travelled to this strange, scary country and is making it out the other side, I can tell you that reality will start growing back like a puzzle filling itself in. It will take a few weeks, but it will happen. Your mind and body are going through this for a reason, so be compassionate to yourself and know that you’ll “reboot” when you’re ready.


  8. Your sharing this will help many people. I work in the mental health and addictions field and also struggle with severe depressive episodes and I commend you for being brave enough to write about your experience online. I love your site, by the way… full of such insight and authenticity


  9. omg, i read your blog and you are writing everything i am experiencing too! I didnt know there were people out there, like you, who think the same way i do. It makes me feel better about myself. xoxoxoo KEEP BLOGGING PLEASE!


  10. I’ve experienced this too; it’s really terrible. I didn’t know it was as common as it is, though! I experienced a lot of it while at a residential treatment facility and a lot of the staff seemed like I was their first patient to experience it so severely. Go figure! I hope you feel better soon — it does pass, really!


  11. Hi Beverly! Thanks for the follow at bpnurse. You write so eloquently and I am impressed with your blog. Best wishes for good health.


  12. I have experienced this too! Still kind of going through it. Best advice I’ve been given to reduce it would be to divert/distract as much as possible (so hard when you question reality and everything you do feels weird!) but just persist and when the thoughts come into your mind, don’t fight them. The more you fight with them the stronger they will be, so just let me happen and don’t pay them attention. Just say ‘whatever, I’m going to go write a blog post now/ go eat/ go watch tv’ and then do it.It is really hard! But eventually the thoughts will go ‘Ok, she isn’t responding/ fighting me anymore’ and they will eventually reduce, along with the anxiety. When I started feeling this about three months ago, I thought I was a weirdo and going cray cray/end up in a psych ward, but with further research I was relieved to find out that it is a lot more common than we think (as frightening as it is) and it’s exactly that- a symptom. It can go away! Wishing you well! xx


  13. I searched something about what I feel on google which is “nothing feels real anymore” and I read some experiences of other people and then I saw this… this is exactly what I feel right now which made me really scared so I tried to search to know that I’m not the only one who feels like this. I’m a College student so I don’t have enough money to consult an expert for my situation which makes me feel worse, I’m an adult now so I don’t need to tell this to my family (I don’t want to tell them anyway) and I can make decisions by myself now but yeah it’s just the financial problem I’m scared like when will I get better, I have so many things to do too but this anxiety or derealization is stopping me.


    • I’m sorry that you are going through this. If it is any help, the feeling went away after a few days for me. But if it doesn’t for you, I encourage you to seek medical help.


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