Perception Problems

Remember the movie “Ghost”? When Patrick Swayze’s character dies he can’t touch anything. His hands keep going through anything he tries to touch. That’s what it sometimes feels to me. There’s a major flaw in the movie, by the way, since he does run up stairs and is able to ride a subway, but I digress.

Remember the movie “The Matrix”? There’s a scene right after Keanu Reeves takes the blue pill and his perception starts to change. He touches a mirror and it sticks to his finger like goo when he pills his finger away. That’s what it sometimes feels to me.

I get this perception problem that the entire world around me is unreal. (of course, sometimes I wish that were true). I freeze in my tracks and become afraid to move. If I touch anything I’ll find out it’s not real because either my hand will go straight through it or more likely it go through anything but it will be like putting it through a rubbery gooey substance.

When I was going through constant episodes of extreme mania and extreme depression, I would experience this frequently. That doesn’t happen much these days and when it does it’s not as severe and doesn’t last long. Until last night, that is.

There wasn’t anything going on at the time. I just happened to be crossing the room to turn on the fan in the window when I stopped dead in my tracks. Suddenly, everything around me became a fog. It was like I was there but everything else was an illusion. There is a part of me during these moments that thinks it would be cool if I put my hand through things, but there’s a stronger part of me that is afraid. Last night I was terrified.

I completely froze when the feeling overwhelmed me. I was scared to death to move forward and tears started welling up in my eyes. Maurice was in the room and immediately realized what was going on. “Feel the floor, feel the floor” he kept telling me. Doing so gave me a little comfort, but I was still too frightened to move.

I’m sure it only lasted only a minute or so, but it seems like hours that this feeling occured. Finally I was able to get myself to crawl onto the bed and cover my face. The feeling was still there, but it started going away. It’s a terrible feeling.

My pdoc asked recently if I was having this problem still and I told her “no”. I have an appointment with her this week so I’m looking forward to discussing this with her further. I’d really like to know what is causing this and what to do about it.

I’m curious, have you experienced anything like this? Was it a rare thing or something that has happened repeatedly? I’ve never spoke with anyone who’s experienced it so I’m curious if others have.

12 comments on Perception Problems

  1. I’m not sure, but it could be disassociation; that can be that scary feeling. You describe it very well, and I’m sorry too–wow how frightening. Maurice was brilliant to say to feel the floor.I remember one extreme episode I had a horrific racing mind(very loud)and all I could do was wrap myself in my quilt like a cacoon and tell myself I was safe.(hugs)))

  2. THANK YOU! Disassociation is the word, and I just couldn’t get it to come to me. And yes, it’s frightening and unnerving.

  3. I get this alot with my depressions, very little with the mania. Before I was diagnosed and therefore not on medications, I used to have this for months at a time. It is horribly creepy… it’s like if you hold very still, none of the bad things will be able to find you. I’m glad you’re feeling better! Maurice sounds wonderful to be able to key into you so quickly…

  4. P.S. This happens to me ALOT when I have to be around people… in my world that doesn’t have to happen very often if I don’t want it to. It’s as if I am enveloped in a foggy cloud that won’t let me connect to people… even with medication this is a very difficult thing for me, hence a am a very big homebody!

  5. Thank you, Denise. Yes it is like standing still is your only option. Regarding being around people, you may be right. Sunday is our big church day and it’s always very active socializing and all. I usually do well, but then I have to go home and crash for two days. That could have had much to do about it because it is so overwhelming to me to have to fake feeling ok through so much of it at times.

  6. I have a slightly different experience. But its more like all of a sudden I walk thru a energy wall. I seriously feel like I’ve walked into a different dimension and I have to re-orient myself. Maybe my brain is rebooting.I usually can come out of it after about 30 seconds, but sometimes I’m off to bed too. I hope you feel better. I want to know what the Pdoc says about it. Give us a follow up.

  7. @djea I’ve never had the experience of walking through an energy wall. My experiences almost seem the opposite. Sounds just as unnerving though. @brandi It is much like an out of boy experience. I guess I’m learning that more people experience this than a thought. I thought I’ve just been mellow the past couple of days, but maybe depression has set in.

  8. I’ve gone through this – especially when I have gone through my great bouts of depression and anxiety. In nursing school I actually learned that there is an actual term for it, and it is common with depression. Though, for the life of me, I cannot recall the term. Blame it on the chemobrain, but if I think of it I will let you know. But yes, I get that. Even looking in the mirror, it’s hard to grasp that that is me. It’s like I am looking at someone else. And looking at others, they just kinda seem surreal, and I am just not connected to the world around me. And a lot of times if I remember myself in the past, in a particular situation, it almost seems like an out of body experience, as I feel like I could have been looking down on myself. I hope you are ok. Keep us posted on what they say, and ask for some help as to things you can do to reorient yourself to the world around you! Good luck!

  9. I have experienced this a few times, and it has been the inspiration for a number of my “art” pieces. It’s most disconcerting to feel like you’re in some kind of twisted lucid dream where you are fully conscious and able to command your body to some level, but utterly helpless to control anything else. I was talking with a friend just the other day about an experience he had with this, where after a Blue Man Group concert he suffered deep disassociation and had to stand facing and holding a brick wall for fifteen minutes to allow his mind to reassert some kind of grip on reality.Blocking yourself to all stimulus except something very simple seems to be the best solution, for example staring at a wall like my friend, or at a blank piece of paper with a circle drawn on it.

  10. I deal with this on a pretty routine basis as it is part of the psychotic end of my depression. Periods where nothing seems real and I basically need to convince myself that I am awake and alive. I guess parts of it I will call “missing time” where all of a sudden a time period has elapsed and I have no idea what has taken place. An anti psychotic med has helped but it is definitely an uneasy feeling

  11. I’ve had this, usually I feel it coming with an incredibly hot sweat from head to toe, I use grounding exercises now but it was incredibly scary for a long time. My husband used to also talk me through one and bring me back

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