But in virtual reality, with a headset strapped to your face, you are trapped and forced to awkwardly stand and wait for the game to return from its break.

What is it like to suffer from derealization or depersonalization disorder?

I have Depersonalization Derealization Disorder with some symptoms/episodes of dissociative amnesia. So here are some examples of how it feels to me:

  • I am almost completely unable to feel my body for the most part and struggle to recognize myself in pictures or in the mirror. It almost feels like I think in 3rd person. (depersonalization)
  • You’re a couple drinks in, a little woozy but still in control. The world is off and things feel more like fantasy than reality. Except you can’t escape that feeling, and instead of joy, you feel frustrated and sad. Or you’re stoned constantly. The world seems fake and your brain moves slowly and not everything sticks. (derealization)
  • You know how when you’re drunk, you don’t remember everything the next day? That’s how my memory works for everything. When you’re drunk, you have no idea how much time has passed. I have absolutely no concept of time. I keep my phone on me at all times because I never know what time it is. It could be 7 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon and I couldn’t tell you. (derealization and dissociative amnesia)
  • I feel like I’m a character in a VR video game. My hands aren’t my own and it feels like I’m watching the world through a screen. Sometimes the settings aren’t quite right, like the contrast might be too high or sometimes things get blurry and my eyes can’t focus like the graphics are still loading. Everything looks like a fake VR world, instead of reality. I know I am real and I know my surroundings are too, but it never feels that way. Sometimes I have to remind myself that other people have their own thoughts and emotions and that I should remember to take that into consideration when I interact with them, since they are not NPCs. (derealization)
  • Dissociating is like lucid dreaming. Everything looks off and like a dream, but you know that it is real. I had a friend who got crossfaded and said that she felt like she was luid dreaming. I responded by saying that is how I feel all of the time. She just got quite for a moment. I could see the gears turning and she looked at me with sad eyes. She put her hand on mine. We sat in silence. (derealization)
  • Have you ever been to the movies and were so engrossed in what was going on in the film that the characters felt real? And then as soon as the movie is over and you walk out of the theater into the bright light of the sun, you become confused for just half a moment. Which one is the true reality? The one I just spent two hours engrossed in, or the one I have just stepped into? (derealization)
  • Nothing feels real. Cognitively, I know that my hands are mine and that I am sitting in my bedroom, and yet, neither of these facts feel real. It’s a weird disconnect between what your brain believes and what actually exists in front of you. (derealization)
  • Lastly, it feels like you are on autopilot. You know when you are driving home and you kind of zone out, but you’re still driving and then you pull into your driveway? And you think to yourself, “when did I get home?” This is a normal amount of dissociation. That’s how I feel at the end of every activity I do, which is not normal. I could have seen someone yesterday or a month ago and I would feel as though I hadn’t seen them for the same amount of time.

There are many ways to describe dissociation but truly understanding it is a different story. Anyone who says that they completely understand either also experiences some type of dissociation or they probably didn’t actually listen.

Here’s an article from someone who experiences all types of dissociation if you would like to hear someone else’s description of what it feels like.

6 Kinds of Dissociation — and What It’s Like to Experience Them