Does anybody ever feel detached from reality in social situations? It’s like I’m there, interacting and what not, but I don’t feel truly there. I don’t think I’m dissociating or anything because I’m totally aware of what’s going on. It’s more like I just feel like I don’t belong. It’s a terrible feeling.


21 responses to “detachment

  1. all the time. it’s like i’m watching a movie in a foreign language and there are no subtitles. i get the main gist of what is going on and can pretty much follow along, but if i’m expected to participate i have no way of knowing what to say or do.

  2. Sometimes. I feel as if I should just get up and walk away, as I just don’t feel a part of the socialization process despite my interaction. Sometimes I think it is all in my head other times I feel as if I am not desired, worthy or just plain too different to be felt as a part of the interaction, it is how I interpret the communication taking place. I feel no matter what I say or do sometimes when interacting makes no difference.

    • It is all in our heads. We are desired and worthy of being there. Knowing that can be liberating, but frustrating as well–because change is so hard.

  3. Sometimes. For me it feels like everything is happening around me but it’s muted or slowed down and I’m somehow separated from it all.

    Are you still feeling down? ((((hugs from a friend))))

    • I felt terrible last night, and I just let myself and my thoughts run wild. I felt total hopelessness. I should have done something to break up the thoughts, but I just let them do their thing. I am feeling better today, though.

      “There is nothing so cruel in this world as the desolation of having nothing to hope for.” —Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

  4. I feel spaced out, like I’m observing rather than participating and when I do participate, I lose track of what is being said and the person that I am talking to seems kind of zoomed out and fuzzy at the edges. I think it stems partly from being stuck in my own head and thinking way too much about what I am to say or do next or what others may be thinking or saying next. In a way we do become outside observers because we are not fully engaged in the moment…at least for me.
    I hope you’re feeling better.

    • I am feeling better, thanks. I agree that if we could just focus more on the conversation and situation, without judging and getting lost in our thoughts, we’d be so much better off. This may sound strange, but when I become aware of this, I try to focus on the other person’s breathing. It helps to relax me, and I can shift my consciousness away from my thoughts.

  5. Hi,

    Story of my life. This is one of the hardest things for me to change.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


  6. I hope you’re well, Mike 🙂

  7. That used to happen to me right at the start of an anxiety attack. I’d be in a restaurant with family and all of a sudden it was like I was removed from the interaction, trapped behind some strange perceptual layer. Not quite an out of body experience, but something with distinct elements of unreality. From there I’d be doomed to a full-blown attack — sweating, faint, fleeing the place so I could get outside, away from people, and breath. Try to “bring youself back in” by focusing on talking with just one person — really communicating about something. That sometimes helped me head off the panic attack. Or if you’re there with someone who knows you have a problem then ask if they’ll step out for a few minutes with you so you can catch your breath.

  8. I feel this way. I never understand how people can socialize so easily and I always have such a hard time with it. They are talking and do it so effortlessly, having a blast with each other. I just stand there, feeling awkward, feeling like I couldn’t possibly fit in. Telling myself, “I don’t belong here. I don’t ever freaking belong anywhere.”

    It is certainly not true; everyone belongs somewhere. I just don’t have enough confidence in myself. I don’t believe in myself enough.

  9. I am 55 years old. My first Social Anxiety panic attack was at 4 years old. It was my first day at nursery school (daycare). I was on the playground in an area covered with fur bark. I stared up into the blue sky and involuntarily scratched at the fur bark and went away (far away into my own head), hanging on until my mom came to pick me up. It is my first recollection of dissociating. I’ve never stopped. Somehow, I suppose the dissociation protects me, but it also ensures my continued isolation because when you dissociate you disconnect. And when you disconnect your ability to concentrate and learn and evolve and grow becomes severely handicapped. My old friends from high school have become different people. They stepped into life and went on for the ride. I did not. I found a job that allows me to hide out and go away. I’ve been at this job for 25 years and I hate it. I feel the person I really am is so close that I can reach out and touch him. There are moments of quiet ecstasy when I can dream him, but the reality of my life is dark and hopeless. I am 55 years old. The reality of a wasted life is seated next to me in a grey suit and pale skin and greasy hair. He looks like an undertaker.

  10. Thanks for sharing, Paul. I, too, know what it feels like to be so close to your “true” self and yet not being able to fully become that person. I feel like the closer I get, the farther away I feel. I also see the people around me living–truly living. I am constantly telling myself that I am just wasting time, barely hanging on until I die. I am sorry you’ve had to struggle your whole life. From what I can tell you are really aware of yourself, and you can express your feelings well–you should do more writing. Take care.

  11. isthisusernametaken

    Wow, this really describes me. I’ve been looking for things on the internet about this. I agree with all the comments above. I feel like I’m detached from myself and I can’t put words and sentences in the right order, my mind feels completely blank and everything around me is fuzzy and strange. I feel a sudden sensation of total exhaustion – like I need to go to sleep RIGHT NOW and at the worst of times I can’t interpret any of the information coming towards me. So I can hear people speak but it sounds like their speaking a foreign language, I don’t understand any of the words. It’s so embarrassing because I’m just staring blankly around me when someone is trying to get my attention and speak to me, it feels like being on tranquilisers or something.

    I tend to say “weird” or sometimes even unintentionally offensive things because I find it difficult to find the words I’m looking for or sometimes my mouth just goes on autopilot. I feel like I’m not being myself and more and more lately I have the bizarre feeling of being trapped a couple of inches below my skin, as if I’m being carried around by a vessel that’s on autopilot but I can’t come to the surface and speak. I don’t feel like this around my boyfriend, but I do around everyone else – friends, family, colleagues etc. Oddly, if it’s a stranger on a bus or in a cafe that strikes up a conversation, I don’t get it. I think it’s because it doesn’t matter how I perform in that situation, I’m not going to see this person again. It’s always that way with me – I’m much better when I first meet someone, it’s the second time I meet them that it gets bad. When I first meet them I feel a bit more confident I can be myself but by the second time I’ve already turned it over and over in my head and thought about all the mistakes I made the first time and then I feel like I’m not only having to make a good impression, I’m also having to disprove the bad impression I made the last time.

    I found out recently that people I’ve known for like 15 years don’t consider me to be shy. I’d always assumed that’s what this is. I was panicking that there was something really wrong with me – people have said before I have no social intelligence (I think because of this feeling to be honest) and my Dad can be very unempathic and inapprioriate so I was worrying I was like him and there was nothing I could do about it. In a way I’m glad to see that people with social anxiety ahve the same problem because social anxiety isn’t as scary as maybe having a personality disorder, or autism or any of the other scary things I’ve been worrying about!

    Sorry about long post, just relieved to see similar stories!

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