“ Life is short. And life is long. But not in that order.” – Zenosyne: The Sense That Time Keeps Going Faster
2017 was the first time I heard the word “Derealization” from a friend. Derealization (or Depersonalization) disorder refers to the experience of feeling detached from, and as if one is an outside observer of, one’s surroundings. For me from time to time, the feeling of being detached from my body would occur, especially when I was having a hard time getting a grip of time and feeling like time was moving in fast forward mode before my eyes. That’s why it is very important for me to keep a fully booked calendar and a journal, notes or some sort of records of everything that happens. Otherwise, I can’t really differentiate if it’s a dream or reality. But, then again… who knows if the current state is a reality or a dream? I might have always been in a dream all this time, but just didn’t realize it.
2017 年第一次從朋友那裡知道失實症這個名詞。他是一種極為真實的靈魂出竅感受，彷彿你是自己生活的旁觀者，靜靜的觀察著自己及周遭發生的一切。而我常態性的有這樣的感受及體驗，尤其是面對時間的快轉及無法掌控。這也是為什麼我需要把自己的日曆排得滿滿的，然後經常得保持日誌及記錄，不然我很難分辨目前是現處於現實世界或是夢境。但是… 有誰真的能知道，我們的現實世界到底是不是夢境？我有可能一直處於夢境裡，只是我不知道而已。
A couple days ago, I wanted to describe the summer that went in fast forward that I only have partial memories about. I found a journal I wrote in 2017. I think it explains perfectly about how I experienced this summer and my general experience from time to time. Here’s the journal entry I wanted to share:
Since February, the feeling of time seems to be shifting exponentially every day, so fast that I can’t fully grasp the regularity of life that I’m living. The rapid movement of time that I felt was not an abstract description about how time passing fast, but a real feeling that the world around me was several seconds faster than normal speed, that people and vehicles on the road were moving faster, and the sound of children’s frolicking gradually got sharper and sharper, and finally became white noise. A similar experience happened more than a decade ago, but I was fully aware that it was only an illusion under the influence. And the same feeling appears again without warning, which makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but not alarming. I still have to remain calm, after all, I am a father to three children, there is no room for me to panic. It’s just that sometimes, my brain pulls back and forth trying to slow down and presumptuously speed up trying to take back the losing time, and my head is about to burst. Several times inexplicably out of control, my soul seemed to be outside of my body, standing coldly on the side watching myself losing control. It feels like the world and my own life are in a dream state instead of real life. People’s conversations are like fishes spitting bubbles into water, not meaning anything to me. Am I insane?! I’m asking myself the same questions every day. Or is it just that I am simply older and have a different feeling about the loss of time. I can understand that we all have a feeling of time moving faster and faster as we get older, but I also know that the psychological symptoms I am facing should not be that simple. I’ve been searching for an answer for a long time to learn more about my symptoms. Later, I found some answers on a forum, and a bunch of people experienced similar symptoms – derealization.
自二月起，對時間的感受似乎每天都以倍數快轉，快到自己無法完全掌握住原本規律的生活。我所感覺到的時間快轉，並不是抽象的形容時間飛逝，而是真實的感受到周遭世界比平時快了好幾拍，路上的人們與車輛快速的移動，孩子們的嬉鬧聲從平緩逐漸變得尖銳，最後只剩窸窸窣窣的雜訊。類似狀況很像在十幾年前曾經發生，但當時是 under the influence 才會出現的幻覺。而相同的感受再度無預警的出現，讓人感到有些不自在，但不至於令人恐慌。還是得試圖讓自己表現的冷靜，畢竟身為三個孩子的老爸，已經沒有讓自己驚慌失措的空間。只是有時候，腦子裡想要嘗試放慢速度與放肆加快不受控的時間來回拉扯，讓我頭痛的快要爆裂。好幾次莫名的情緒失控，自己卻像是靈魂出竅，冷冷地站在一旁觀看著正在失控的自己。感覺這個世界、自己的生活彷彿夢境一般的不真實。人們的對話，像是在水中吐泡泡，啵囉啵囉的不具任何意義。Am I insane?! 每天問著自己同樣的問題。還是只是單純的年紀大了，對於時間流失有了不同的感受。我能理解，也有類似年紀越大時間越來越快的感受，但是也知道自己面臨的心理症狀，應該不只是感受那麼單純。 上網搜尋了很久，想了解一下自己的症狀。後來竟然在國外的某個論壇上找到了一些答案，而且還有一堆人經歷了類似的症狀 — Derealization，失實症。
In the blink of an eye, many months have passed, and the memory of these months are only in fragments, and it seems that there are not many records left. Trying to explain my psychological condition to the mother of my children, I really felt like I was mentally disturbed. However, after swallowing my pride and opening up to her, I found that admitting my flaws and helplessness to her was worse than pretending to be okay. I can’t blame her, after all, she can’t understand, doesn’t want to understand, not willing to understand, and probably felt there’s no need for her to understand the abnormal side of me! In the traditional Asian culture we were brought up in, it always tells us to repress our true thoughts and emotions. So admitting that you are sick is cowardice and incompetence, releasing your true emotions is lustful, and it is shameful to not be able to control your behavior and senses. So when I found out that I have bipolar disorder that was out of control, I had to go to see the psychiatrist, get medical treatment, and slowly get better by myself without anyone close to me knowing about it. Who would want to be with such a person full of negative energy? And who would believe that I, who is optimistic and cheerful on the surface and always talking about pursuing my dreams, is a mentally disabled patient with bipolar disorder, depression, paranoia, and schizophrenia? When people heard about my out-of-control past, they simply thought that I was young and furious, a young man with a bad temper and a strange personality. The discrimination, ignorance, and unwillingness to face up to the truth about our mental disorders has created many abnormal but seemingly normal interpersonal relationships between me and the people around me. Now, it seems like the only ties that bind the relationship between me and my family are my three beautiful children. Their smiles are the medicine to cure my soul, and I have to be sane for them.
轉眼之間，已經過好幾個月，對這幾個月的記憶只剩支離破碎的片段，似乎也沒留下太多的紀錄。試圖跟孩子的媽說明自己的心理狀況，對於自己精神異常已經感到夠窩囊了。然而放下自己尊嚴開口闡述之後，才發現坦承了自己的缺陷與無助比裝作沒事的感覺還要不堪。不能怪她，畢竟她對這樣不正常的我，不能理解、不想理解、不願意理解、也覺得沒必要理解吧！在傳統封閉的教育思維與壓抑的社會心理，承認自己有病是懦弱無能，釋放自己的情感是放蕩煽情，無法控制自己行為與感官思覺，根本是件可恥的事情。所以之前躁鬱症最失控的時候，也是一個人去看心理科，默默接受藥物治療，慢慢改善，誰會想跟這樣充滿負能量的人在一起？而誰會相信表面樂觀開朗、滿口追求夢想的我，是個躁鬱症、憂鬱症、妄想症的精神失能病患？ 聽聞我失控的過去，也只單純的認為是年少輕狂，一個壞脾氣、古怪個性的年輕人罷了。面對精神失調的歧視、無知與不願意正視，造就了許多不正常但是表面看起來正常的人際關係，而現在維繫著我們這個不正常家庭關係的牽絆，也就只有我們共同創造的美麗結晶，我們的孩子。他們的微笑是我的心靈良藥，為了他們，I have to be sane.
An unusual symptom appeared during this time; I seemed to be much calmer than before. Unlike before, I wasn’t depressed, frustrated, anxious, or going mad because of the fear of hallucinations I had experienced. Perhaps because I am reaching the age of no doubts, I am no longer afraid of the unknown; perhaps the bipolar symptoms and life lows I experienced before were much more unbearable than the distorted reality I am experiencing now, and I survived that. So this time I knew that I had to calmly face my psychological and physical dysfunction. But this out of the ordinary calmness made time slow down by arguing with myself: “Is it normal or abnormal to not feel anxious about experiencing the acceleration of time and detached from my reality?”
I think I have to start trying to change, not just regulating my life, but with constant discipline. Exercise to clear my mind. A balanced and nutritious diet makes me physically and mentally healthier, and makes my body more adaptable to the real environment. Make a record of my life, take notes, or take photos to make my daily life more real, instead of not remembering what happened day after day. Learn to calm myself, feel every breath I take, every moment, everything that is happening, and feel that I am still alive. Filter out the spam and focus on being with who I love and doing what I love. Get away from negative emotions, but it seems difficult to avoid the negativity brought about by others, so I must selfishly ignore them. If they don’t care about my mental state, then why should I care about them? To make myself better is always good for those around me, even if I do it for a selfish reason. Stay away from people who will make me feel worse and less. Give myself more time to focus on much more important things.
The moment when derealization occurs is not that scary, what scares me is that I was not very clear about what exactly happened afterwards. The most awful feeling is that the happy memories with my children happen too little, too short, and too fast. I prayed to God every night that time would slow down so that I can slowly experience life, no matter good or bad.
The hot summer seems to make the people and things around you become uncontrollably restless, and just a while ago I said I needed a change.But I crawl like a turtle at speed, I can’t seem to move any further..
It’s actually just after you’re born that life flashes before your eyes.
Entire aeons are lived in those first few months when you feel inseparable from the world itself, with nothing to do but watch it passing by.
At first, time is only felt vicariously, as something that happens to other people. You get used to living in the moment, because there’s nowhere else to go. But soon enough, life begins to move, and you learn to move with it. And you take it for granted that you’re a different person every year, Upgraded with a different body…a different future. You run around so fast, the world around you seems to stand still. Until a summer vacation can stretch on for an eternity. You feel time moving forward, learning its rhythm, but now and then it skips a beat, as if your birthday arrives one day earlier every year.
We should consider the idea that youth is not actually wasted on the young. That their dramas are no more grand than they should be. That their emotions make perfect sense, once you adjust for inflation. For someone going through adolescence, life feels epic and tragic simply because it is: every kink in your day could easily warp the arc of your story. Because each year is worth a little less than the last. And with each birthday we circle back, and cross the same point around the sun. We wish each other many happy returns.
But soon you feel the circle begin to tighten, and you realize it’s a spiral, and you’re already halfway through. As more of your day repeats itself, you begin to cast off deadweight, and feel the steady pull toward your center of gravity, the ballast of memories you hold onto, until it all seems to move under its own inertia. So even when you sit still, it feels like you’re running somewhere. And even if tomorrow you will run a little faster, and stretch your arms a little farther, you’ll still feel the seconds slipping away as you drift around the bend.
Life is short. And life is long. But not in that order.Source: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows