How do you know?

I recently heard of two disorders called depersonalization and derealization disorder. A person who suffers from these may at times feel as if they are outside of their body or that they are dreaming. They could feel like this for a few moments, or for weeks at a time.

Upon learning about these disorders I was instantly grateful that I do not have them, but it reminded me of how I often felt as a kid. I used to wonder how I could be sure that my entire life wasn’t a dream (years before The Matrix came out and ions before Inception). I didn’t doubt the reality around me so much as worry that there was no way to prove I wasn’t dreaming…if that makes sense.

I have really conquered this fear. I am much less narcissistic now than when I was a child, and I think that helps. Back then, the world revolved around me. It was as if the world was created for me. By now I have figured out that in the grand scheme of things I am as inconsequential as an ant (outside of my family of course). This world is definitely not something I would have created and it is certainly not here for my benefit, in my world ice cream is the base of the food pyramid.

Still, disorders like depersonalization and schizophrenia make me wonder, “How do I know what is real and what isn’t?” For the first few months after my daughter was born, I would wake up and frantically search for her in my bed. I was convinced that I had fallen asleep before putting her back in her crib and that she was tangled in my bed sheets. I realize that this craziness stemmed from sleep deprivation and intense PANIC that something bad was going to happen to my helpless baby, but it felt so real.

How unsettling and terrifying it is to think that something is real and then learn that you created it in your mind. How do you trust yourself? This is one of the main reasons that I have avoided drugs and alcohol. I want to be in control of myself and my emotions. I want to be certain that the things that are happening around me are real. And I am certain, I am always certain.

But what if I am wrong?


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