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NostalgicChills's avatar

Why do I always get the feeling of not being "here"?

Asked by NostalgicChills (2779points) October 12th, 2011

Almost always, especially in public situations, I feel as though I’m in a constant dream-like state. Its actually quite scary sometimes; I could be doing something such as walking through the mall, and then I’ll realize, “Woah, I’m actually here, this is actually happening and I’m not dreaming”. And that sudden epiphany is accompanied by a lightheaded feeling that surpasses after 10 seconds. Does anyone else ever feel like this? What could be the reason for this?
(And I don’t do drugs, ever, so trust me, this is no result of drugs, however crazy I may sound.)

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26 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

I day dream sometimes or get lost in my thoughts and something similar happens occasionally.

tom_g's avatar

Most of us are not “here”. 5 minutes of vipassana makes this painfully clear.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Do you have a history of anxiety or depression? This sounds like it may be depersonalization, which can be a symptom of depression. You say it happens most often in public situations, do you have social anxiety?

NostalgicChills's avatar

I have not been professionally diagnosed, but from my research, I have pretty severe depression, and anxiety.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

According to DSM-IV, Depersonalization Disorder, in part, constitutes the following:

… a feeling of detachment or estrangement from one’s self . The individual may feel like an automaton or as if he or she is living in a dream or a movie. There may be a sensation of being an outside observer of one’s metal processes, one’s body, or parts of one’s body.

If you believe you have depression and anxiety, why haven’t you consulted with a professional? These things are much easier to manage with help.

Repo_the_Genetic_Opera's avatar

I do that ALL the time.

NostalgicChills's avatar

That describes perfectly how I always feel.

Why haven’t I consulted with a professional? Because I come from a family that looks down on those who are depressed/suicidal. They are referred to as “psychotic” or “crazy”. Therefore there is really no one to talk to about my issues.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

How old are you? You could see a doctor privately. There’s no need for your family to know.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

To be clear, depersonalization is distinctly different from ‘zoning out.’ It really does feel like reality has… shifted.

NostalgicChills's avatar

I’m 16.
I don’t really have a say in much.

And believe me, this is definitely not just “zoning out”.

marinelife's avatar

@NostalgicChills You can get help for your depression and anxiety without telling your family. Start with your family doctor. If necessary, see a therapist.

You don’t have to sleepwalk through your own life.

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the body. it does not mean that you are crazy at all.

digitalimpression's avatar

I’ve had this exact feeling a few times in my life. I attributed it to just being happy to be alive. As I got older it went away.

NostalgicChills's avatar

I really can’t get help. The risk of anyone finding out is just too grave, plus, I’m stubborn.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Could be something, could be nothing… best to go see a doctor.

Blueroses's avatar

@NostalgicChills I get it. There is difficulty looking for help if your family won’t support that and if you think you always have to solve everything yourself. You really do not have to be so isolated. You really don’t have to accept that “stepping backward out of yourself and becoming an observer” as the way it has to be.

I didn’t look for help for years. The breaking point was nearly fatal but I’m grateful for every day now. Please don’t feel alone. It can change. It really can.

fizzbanger's avatar

Sounds kind of like when you’re driving but not thinking about it and suddenly you’re in your driveway and you’re like “whoa, how did I get back to my place?”. We are on autopilot sometimes.

TexasDude's avatar

This feeling pervades my life as well.

augustlan's avatar

I get bouts of depersonalization whenever my depression/anxiety gets severe. It feels like I’m ‘watching myself in a movie’, and I know it means bad news. I haven’t had it in a long time, because medication has helped me tremendously.

I really hope you find a way to talk to your parents about your depression and anxiety. Even if they look down on others for it, they will hopefully realize the seriousness of the situation and get you some help. Best of luck to you!

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LuckyGuy's avatar

es, it has happened to me but depression was not involved. I was sitting a room full of representatives from large companies and realized that my small company was the only one that produced what the customer wanted. I felt proud but also a bit like an impostor.

hopscotchy's avatar

It’s also important to note that depression/ anxiety/ depersonalization are often just symptoms of more complex physiological problems. I can’t tell you how familiar this sounds to me. Sometimes I’d have to slap my face just as a reminder. I’d often find myself in conversations with people and detach to the point that I couldn’t remember what we were talking about mid-conversation. After a lot of doctors visits and research on my own I found out that I had a pretty severe thyroid disorder. Perhaps you should go in to your MD and get some blood work done to see if anything is off.

Zaku's avatar

When you notice not being “there” (not being present), you are noticing your own programming, which is good to notice, and is a starting point to productive processing. Most people (adults) tend to not be present, and to not be aware that they aren’t present.

It tends to be an unconscious psychic defense developed in childhood and/or during trauma. Becoming aware of your own programming and working through it has massive potential for improved happiness, peace, self-fulfillment, etc.

Help with this is available in many forms, e.g.:

Meditation (especially see Buddhist meditation practices)
Holistic Peer Counseling (branch I recommend of Reevaluation Counseling)
other work promoting self-awareness (e.g. Landmark Education)

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KoleraHeliko's avatar

Yeah, I get this quite a bit. One time I actually ‘missed’ the greater part of a holiday because I wasn’t entirely there. I know you mentioned you’re not into drugs, but similar (and sometimes opposite) effects may occur whilst under the influence of certain substances.

poopnest's avatar

You could be a budding intellectual who just needs more mental stimulation. Seriously though, I’ve had that happen from time to time. I thought I was going batty. I told a friend and they told me I was “on something”. Anyway, I wouldn’t sweat it unless it really becomes an apparent health issue. If it’s just a feeling you have it probably means you have some internal questions to dig into and that can be very rewarding! The most vivid one of these little episodes I had made me feel like I was floating. I also happened to have a lot of turmoil in my personal life too. Maybe it all just came to a head. I looked inward to find the answers.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

I am not sure why you always get that feeling, but I can definitely relate. I’ve experienced similar things myself.

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