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Breakout92

Breakout92

Student
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
107
I don't know how to explain this feeling.

Growing up there was a part of me that I was conditioned to believe was "wrong". I was excluded by my peers, had behavior corrected by adults. Eventually I starting physically hurting myself to train myself to behave the "right" way. And this killed that inner part of me, but that inner part of me was my whole true self. So all that's left of me is this walking persona I created, who isn't even real, and who can't bring back to life my true self that I killed.

I'm almost 30 now and I want to CTB. But I feel like I've already done that psychologically. That's what I wrote in my note at my first attempt - I told my parents and siblings not to mourn because they have never known a real me. The person they thought they knew was just a fake, an actor pretending to be their child/sibling.

If I could somehow revive the part of me that I had to kill, maybe I would be able to live again. I would at least postpone my CTB date if so, just to try. But I've seen a few therapists over the years, and they never seemed to understand it. Is this even something that a therapist can fix? I don't know.

Has anybody else felt this way? I imagine there's many other ways in which a person can end up feeling like this, like they have no true self. I want to know if there's any hope for me.
 
Luchs

Luchs

kristallene Bergluft über verfallener Gruft
Joined
Aug 20, 2019
Messages
412
Breakout92 said:
I don't know how to explain this feeling.

Growing up there was a part of me that I was conditioned to believe was "wrong". I was excluded by my peers, had behavior corrected by adults. Eventually I starting physically hurting myself to train myself to behave the "right" way. And this killed that inner part of me, but that inner part of me was my whole true self. So all that's left of me is this walking persona I created, who isn't even real, and who can't bring back to life my true self that I killed.

I'm almost 30 now and I want to CTB. But I feel like I've already done that psychologically. That's what I wrote in my note at my first attempt - I told my parents and siblings not to mourn because they have never known a real me. The person they thought they knew was just a fake, an actor pretending to be their child/sibling.

If I could somehow revive the part of me that I had to kill, maybe I would be able to live again. I would at least postpone my CTB date if so, just to try. But I've seen a few therapists over the years, and they never seemed to understand it. Is this even something that a therapist can fix? I don't know.

Has anybody else felt this way? I imagine there's many other ways in which a person can end up feeling like this, like they have no true self. I want to know if there's any hope for me.
I never had any problems, until for no apparent reason depression hit at around the age of 12. Since then I have felt like a hollow shell, like an automaton. Now I'm just klinging onto memories of a better past.
 
T

timf

Arcanist
Joined
Mar 26, 2020
Messages
426
The feeling of being an observer of your own life can come about in various ways. One can experience abuse that knocks one out of the path of a conventional life. One can experience a calamity like illness or even war that can create a disassociation. Even some forms of mental illness can produce a disconnected perspective. A neurological variant like a high IQ may also create a disconnected perspective.

Sadly, having this perspective is often permanent. One might envy those whose path through life seems a seamless trajectory of one enjoyable experience after another. However, for whatever reason, those who have come to run their life on manual control rather than autopilot, face having to make the best of the situation. Manual control often means intentionally dealing with others rather than relying on reflex. This can feel like theater or wearing a mask. However, it is not necessarily a false persona.

It may not be best to lament over the person that one might have been. The person that is now even has advantages over the person that might have existed. Manual control might be more work, but it can also allow for avoiding some problems, seeing others with greater accuracy, and choosing paths that can be more satisfying.

The person that directs his own life, might feel less integrated with others, but he can also find an intentional life to be more rewarding.
 
Breakout92

Breakout92

Student
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
107
timf said:
The feeling of being an observer of your own life can come about in various ways. One can experience abuse that knocks one out of the path of a conventional life. One can experience a calamity like illness or even war that can create a disassociation. Even some forms of mental illness can produce a disconnected perspective. A neurological variant like a high IQ may also create a disconnected perspective.

Sadly, having this perspective is often permanent. One might envy those whose path through life seems a seamless trajectory of one enjoyable experience after another. However, for whatever reason, those who have come to run their life on manual control rather than autopilot, face having to make the best of the situation. Manual control often means intentionally dealing with others rather than relying on reflex. This can feel like theater or wearing a mask. However, it is not necessarily a false persona.

It may not be best to lament over the person that one might have been. The person that is now even has advantages over the person that might have existed. Manual control might be more work, but it can also allow for avoiding some problems, seeing others with greater accuracy, and choosing paths that can be more satisfying.

The person that directs his own life, might feel less integrated with others, but he can also find an intentional life to be more rewarding.
I don't think this describes me well. It's similar to what I've heard from therapists. But I'm not an individual making any decisions, there's no manual control. I just do what I'm "supposed to do", as in what my old self created this persona to do. I am on autopilot, I just don't like how autopilot is doing it.

And if I'm wrong and what you posted does describe me, then it sounds like there is no hope anyway and I'm right in thinking that leaving this earth is my only option. I've been trying for almost a decade to fix myself but I haven't been successful at all
 
P

Pharmaruined

Nobody gets out alive
Joined
Sep 10, 2020
Messages
196
Breakout92 said:
I don't think this describes me well. It's similar to what I've heard from therapists. But I'm not an individual making any decisions, there's no manual control. I just do what I'm "supposed to do", as in what my old self created this persona to do. I am on autopilot, I just don't like how autopilot is doing it.

And if I'm wrong and what you posted does describe me, then it sounds like there is no hope anyway and I'm right in thinking that leaving this earth is my only option. I've been trying for almost a decade to fix myself but I haven't been successful at all
If you want to understand the concept of the"observer watching themself" check out Eckhart Tolle "the power of now"

he can guide you on how to turn that "autopilot" off .. you really can make your own decisions and live freely if you understand what's happening.. or happened.
 
EmbraceOfTheVoid

EmbraceOfTheVoid

Part Time NEET - Full Time Suicidal
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Messages
695
You're talking about depersonalization, I've been stuck with it for pretty much my entire life and there's no hope of recovery for me but if you'd like some resources involving the subject then I can provide them. I have a very good grasp of it I'd like to think so I can recommend you books and clips from the books if you want to understand it better.
 
Breakout92

Breakout92

Student
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
107
Pharmaruined said:
If you want to understand the concept of the"observer watching themself" check out Eckhart Tolle "the power of now"

he can guide you on how to turn that "autopilot" off .. you really can make your own decisions and live freely if you understand what's happening.. or happened.
Thanks. I'll look into it.

EmbraceOfTheVoid said:
You're talking about depersonalization, I've been stuck with it for pretty much my entire life and there's no hope of recovery for me but if you'd like some resources involving the subject then I can provide them. I have a very good grasp of it I'd like to think so I can recommend you books and clips from the books if you want to understand it better.
Yes, I would appreciate it if you could recommend me the books. I think there is no hope for me either, but I'd like to give it one last try.
 
EmbraceOfTheVoid

EmbraceOfTheVoid

Part Time NEET - Full Time Suicidal
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Messages
695
Breakout92 said:
Thanks. I'll look into it.


Yes, I would appreciate it if you could recommend me the books. I think there is no hope for me either, but I'd like to give it one last try.

1. Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving
2. The Body Keeps the Score
3. Neurobiology of Traumatic Disassociation

^ This one is a heavy read but it goes into depth about disassociation and how it is tied to the biological freeze response. If you want the TLDR version for recovery suggested in it then the main thing I remember is it suggesting using Naltrexone off label combined with Ego State therapy. The idea is that when someone faces an inescapable stressor or trauma, their body numbs them both physically and emotionally by creating opioids. Naltrexone is a opioid antagonist and it is suppose to help forcefully reverse the physical/emotional detachment.

4. Disorders of the Self: New Therapeutic Horizons

^This one is also a heavy read and is about trauma. I only read the section involving Schizoid personality disorder which in my opinion is just another pointless label that falls under the freeze response. I think it's kind of dry and inhumane in the way it's written but it provides valuable insight into children who become depersonalized and why they become the way they do.

THE FREEZE TYPE AND THE DISSOCIATIVE DEFENSE


The freeze response, also known as the camouflage response, often triggers a survivor into hiding, isolating and avoiding human contact. The freeze type can be so frozen in the retreat mode that it seems as if their starter button is stuck in the “off” position.


Of all the 4F’s, freeze types seem to have the deepest unconscious belief that people and danger are synonymous. While all 4F types commonly suffer from social anxiety as well, freeze types typically take a great deal more refuge in solitude. Some freeze types completely give up on relating to others and become extremely isolated. Outside of fantasy, many also give up entirely on the possibility of love.


Right-Brain Dissociation


It is often the scapegoat or the most profoundly abandoned child, “the lost child”, who is forced to habituate to the freeze response. Not allowed to successfully employ fight, flight or fawn responses, the freeze type’s defenses develop around classical or right-brain dissociation. Dissociation allows the freeze type to disconnect from experiencing his abandonment pain, and protects him from risky social interactions - any of which might trigger feelings of being retraumatized.


If you are a freeze type, you may seek refuge and comfort by dissociating in prolonged bouts of sleep, daydreaming, wishing and right-brain-dominant activities like TV, online browsing and video games.


Freeze types sometimes have or appear to have Attention Deficit Disorder [ADD]. They often master the art of changing the internal channel whenever inner experience becomes uncomfortable. When they are especially traumatized or triggered, they may exhibit a schizoid-like detachment from ordinary reality. And in worst case scenarios, they can decompensate into a schizophrenic experience like the main character in the book, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.


Recovering From A Polarized Freeze Response


Recovery for freeze types involves three key challenges.


First, their positive relational experiences are few if any. They are therefore extremely reluctant to enter into the type of intimate relationship that can be transformative. They are even less likely to seek the aid of therapy. Moreover, those who manage to overcome this reluctance often spook easily and quickly terminate.


Second, freeze types have two commonalities with fight types. They are less motivated to try to understand the effects of their childhood traumatization. Many are unaware that they have a troublesome inner critic or that they are in emotional pain. Furthermore, they tend to project the perfectionistic demands of the critic onto others rather than onto themselves. This survival mechanism helped them as children to use the imperfections of others as justification for isolation. In the past, isolation was smart, safety-seeking behavior.


Third, even more than workaholic flight types, freeze types are in denial about the life narrowing consequences of their singular adaptation. Some freeze types that I have worked with seem to have significant periods of contentment with their isolation. I think they may be able to self-medicate by releasing the internal opioids that the animal brain is programmed to release when danger is so great that death seems imminent.


Internal opioid release is more accessible to freeze types because the freeze response has its own continuum that culminates with the collapse response. The collapse response is an extreme abandonment of consciousness. It appears to be an out-of-body experience that is the ultimate dissociation. It can sometimes be seen in prey animals that are about to be killed. I have seen nature films of small animals in the jaws of a predator that show it letting go so thoroughly that its death appears to be painless.


However, the opioid production that some freeze types have access to, only takes the survivor so far before its analgesic properties no longer function. Numbed out contentment then morphs into serious depression. This in turn can lead to addictive self-medicating with substances like alcohol, marijuana and narcotics. Alternatively, the freeze type can gravitate toward ever escalating regimens of anti-depressants and anxiolytics. I also suspect that some schizophrenics are extremely traumatized freeze types who dissociate so thoroughly that they cannot find their way back to reality.


Several of my freeze type respondents highly recommend a self-help book by Suzette Boon, entitled Coping with Trauma-related Dissociation. This book is filled with very helpful work sheets that are powerful tools for recovering.


More than any other type, the freeze type usually requires a therapeutic relationship, because their isolation prevents them from discovering relational healing through a friendship. That said, I know of some instances where good enough relational healing has come through pets and the safer distant type of human healing that can be found in books and online internet groups.

The Flight-Freeze Hybrid


The Flight-Freeze type is the least relational and most schizoid hybrid. He prefers the safety of do-it-yourself isolationism. Sometimes this type may also be misdiagnosed as Asperger’s Syndrome.


The flight-freeze type avoids potential relationship-retraumati-zation with an obsessive-compulsive/dissociative “two-step.” Step one is working to complete exhaustion. Step two is collapsing into extreme “veging out”, and waiting until his energy reaccumulates enough to relaunch into step one. The price for this type of no-longer-necessary safety is a severely narrowed existence.


The flight-freeze cul-de-sac is more common among men, especially those traumatized for being vulnerable in childhood. This then drives them to seek safety in isolation or “intimacy-lite” relationships.


Some non-alpha type male survivors combine their flight and freeze defenses to become stereotypical technology nerds. Telecommuting is, of course, their preferred mode. Flight-freeze types are the computer addicts who focus on work for long periods of time and then drift off dissociatively into computer games, substance abuse or sleep-bingeing.


DEPERSONALIZATION: SPLIT OFF FROM THE SELF


Let’s now look at Ute’s experience in the scanner. Not all people react to trauma in exactly the same way, but in this case the difference is particularly dramatic, since Ute was sitting right next to Stan in the wrecked car. She responded to her trauma script by going numb: Her mind went blank, and nearly every area of her brain showed markedly decreased activity. Her heart rate and blood pressure didn’t elevate. When asked how she’d felt during the scan, she replied: “I felt just like I felt at the time of the accident: I felt nothing.”



Blanking out (dissociation) in response to being reminded of past trauma. In this case almost every area of the brain has decreased activation, interfering with thinking, focus, and orientation.

The medical term for Ute’s response is depersonalization.18 Anyone who deals with traumatized men, women, or children is sooner or later confronted with blank stares and absent minds, the outward manifestation of the biological freeze reaction. Depersonalization is one symptom of the massive dissociation created by trauma. Stan’s flashbacks came from his thwarted efforts to escape the crash—cued by the script, all his dissociated, fragmented sensations and emotions roared back into the present. But instead of struggling to escape, Ute had dissociated her fear and felt nothing.


I see depersonalization regularly in my office when patients tell me horrendous stories without any feeling. All the energy drains out of the room, and I have to make a valiant effort to keep paying attention. A lifeless patient forces you to work much harder to keep the therapy alive, and I often used to pray for the hour to be over quickly.


After seeing Ute’s scan, I started to take a very different approach toward blanked-out patients. With nearly every part of their brains tuned out, they obviously cannot think, feel deeply, remember, or make sense out of what is going on. Conventional talk therapy, in those circumstances, is virtually useless.


In Ute’s case it was possible to guess why she responded so differently from Stan. She was utilizing a survival strategy her brain had learned in childhood to cope with her mother’s harsh treatment. Ute’s father died when she was nine years old, and her mother subsequently was often nasty and demeaning to her. At some point Ute discovered that she could blank out her mind when her mother yelled at her. Thirty-five years later, when she was trapped in her demolished car, Ute’s brain automatically went into the same survival mode—she made herself disappear.


The challenge for people like Ute is to become alert and engaged, a difficult but unavoidable task if they want to recapture their lives. (Ute herself did recover—she wrote a book about her experiences and started a successful journal called Mental Fitness.) This is where a bottom-up approach to therapy becomes essential. The aim is actually to change the patient’s physiology, his or her relationship to bodily sensations. At the Trauma Center we work with such basic measures as heart rate and breathing patterns. We help patients evoke and notice bodily sensations by tapping acupressure19 points. Rhythmic interactions with other people are also effective—tossing a beach ball back and forth, bouncing on a Pilates ball, drumming, or dancing to music.


Numbing is the other side of the coin in PTSD. Many untreated trauma survivors start out like Stan, with explosive flashbacks, then numb out later in life. While reliving trauma is dramatic, frightening, and potentially self-destructive, over time a lack of presence can be even more damaging. This is a particular problem with traumatized children. The acting-out kids tend to get attention; the blanked-out ones don’t bother anybody and are left to lose their future bit by bit.


The schizoid patient’s subjective experience is not that of being a vital cog in the family system, be it healthy or pathological; rather, the experience is of being a dehumanized, depersonified function that can be called on to serve a purpose, any purpose, and then can be consigned again to the back shelf until another service or function is required. As a child, the schizoid patient experienced a response from the parent—a look, a cue— that was confusing, and so the patient was unable to interpret it and use it for affective orientation. Or the schizoid patient experienced a response, a look, of almost scornful derision because the child had even turned to the parent for that kind of affective response or affective information. In either case, there was the experience of nothing being communicated back.


A child in this situation is left to his or her own devices. The crucial problem for the future schizoid patient is that the other person is not available to provide the kind of cues or responses that the child needs at those critical moments in life when decisions cannot be made by the child alone; rather, the child requires active input from another. The experience of the schizoid patient was not one of a consistent pattern of negotiation that informs the child about what must be done in order to get acknowledgment, affirmation, and approval. The consistent pattern is that one can be called on to perform particular functions at particular times with no particular rhyme or reason. Acknowledgment comes about through the person’s availability to perform whatever he or she is called on to do. One patient described this as being a “human dust buster” for her family. She said that she “hung in the closet quietly. I was neither seen nor heard. But when I was needed to do something—different things at different times—I was called out, taken out of the closet, used, and then returned.” It was, in her words, a “back-shelf existence.”


This schizoid patient performed her functions well, and in so doing experienced a sense of self-value. This is true for many, perhaps most, schizoid patients. However, the notion of function in this context is one that is devoid of affect. The schizoid patient’s experience of self-value is one that is devoid of interpersonal affective affirmation.


The experience of schizoid patients is that they were not living, dynamic parts of the family systems in which they grew up. They experienced themselves as being treated as objects without unique feelings, used and manipulated for whatever shifting purposes they were called on to serve. Schizoid patients, in describing such experiences, use certain metaphors over and over, such as feeling like a puppet or an android or, most frequently, feeling like a slave. In childhood, the future schizoid patient begins to rely more and more on internal feedback than on external feedback. If a person cannot confidently expect some sort of acknowledgment, let alone affirmation and approval, of his or her actions by another person, then the person is forced to turn to cues and feedback from other sources in order to guarantee some sort of affirmation. Otherwise, the person would experience life as an endless series of episodes in which his or her words or feelings were cast into a pit in which they would never hit bottom, creating no response, or even an echo, from the environment. This is an inherently terrifying experience similar to the primal agony of falling forever (Winnicott, 1965, p. 76).


A phenomenon, which is part of the history of many schizoid patients, dramatically conveys, and confirms, the kind of subjective experiences that have been described. Schizoid patients will frequently report that around the age of latency—generally between the ages of seven and nine—they became aware of the fact that no matter what they did, they could not expect, or rely on, their parents or caretakers for the acknowledgment, affirmation, and approval they wanted and needed. This was a conscious awareness at the time and not a retrospective awareness reported as part of a historical reconstruction. Patients report the conscious feeling at that time that their parents did not love them and that there was absolutely nothing that they could do to get their parents’ love. That experience is uniquely schizoid. Narcissistic and borderline disorders are characterized by the endless efforts to uncover the treasure chest of interpersonal supplies that lies tantalizingly just beyond reach. These efforts have no end point. For the schizoid patient, such efforts must take into account and circumvent the reality of the experience of parental unavailability.
 
Breakout92

Breakout92

Student
Joined
Mar 10, 2021
Messages
107
EmbraceOfTheVoid said:
1. Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving
2. The Body Keeps the Score
3. Neurobiology of Traumatic Disassociation

^ This one is a heavy read but it goes into depth about disassociation and how it is tied to the biological freeze response. If you want the TLDR version for recovery suggested in it then the main thing I remember is it suggesting using Naltrexone off label combined with Ego State therapy. The idea is that when someone faces an inescapable stressor or trauma, their body numbs them both physically and emotionally by creating opioids. Naltrexone is a opioid antagonist and it is suppose to help forcefully reverse the physical/emotional detachment.

4. Disorders of the Self: New Therapeutic Horizons

^This one is also a heavy read and is about trauma. I only read the section involving Schizoid personality disorder which in my opinion is just another pointless label that falls under the freeze response. I think it's kind of dry and inhumane in the way it's written but it provides valuable insight into children who become depersonalized and why they become the way they do.
Thanks. I'm reading the excerpts and i think it doesn't apply to me, but maybe something in one of these books will give me a better idea.
 
EmbraceOfTheVoid

EmbraceOfTheVoid

Part Time NEET - Full Time Suicidal
Joined
Mar 29, 2020
Messages
695
Breakout92 said:
Thanks. I'm reading the excerpts and i think it doesn't apply to me, but maybe something in one of these books will give me a better idea.

You don't have to be traumatized by your parents or whatever terrible situation to be disassociated. Simply being in a chronic state of stress and having to internalize those stressors without a healthy way to cope will lead you down that road.
 

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