Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and not recognized the person staring back at you? And I do mean staring because when this happens, I stare. I just look and look and hope that something will connect and I’ll suddenly feel like I know the woman staring back at me. But no matter how hard I face my own gaze, I am still foreign to myself. I am nothing more than a stranger.
This happened this morning as I was putting on my makeup. It’s a familiar occurrence, one which I’m sure is attributed to some mental health issue or another, but I’ve never had occasion to discuss it with a mental health provider so I’m not really sure what it stems from. My initial thoughts are maybe depersonalization (which can be defined as a state in which one loses all identity) or derealization (a sense that one’s surroundings are not real). The first makes more sense but often the latter accompanies the first for me… when I lose a sense of my own identity, I also have experiences in which I swear they are real one moment but then the next, I have no clue, like the lines between reality and fantasy have blurred, have become irreparable.
I do wonder if other people have experienced this feeling and if so, what do you do in order to combat it or get through it? This is usually when I find myself making some sort of drastic change to my appearance. It almost always results in my hair changing cut or color or both.
It might result in new piercings.
It could be in more tattoos.
Weight loss and weight gain are also fair game when I feel like this… because, unfortunately, it isn’t a feeling that passes quickly.
It always lingers for days at the least and months at the most. Sometimes I even try to fill the void with things, as if buying new clothes will somehow make me better able to find myself. But, no. I’m still not there.
How do I find myself again? Do I even really have a self or is self just an illusion? I’m so unsettled by this feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. A stranger who has no choice but to go about living a life that feels foreign to me because the self I think I am created this life. I feel like I’ve gone bloody mad.