It started with a joint
Rianne was seventeen years old when she decided to smoke a joint with some friends one evening, when she suddenly started to feel unwell. “Everything started spinning and it felt like everything around me was slowly disappearing.” The voices of her friends faded more and more into the background and Rianne’s vision suddenly became blurry. “My head started spinning, causing my friends to ask me if I was okay.” Rianne wanted to answer the question, but noticed that she could not. She tried to focus on one point in the room, hoping the bad feeling would fade away. But no matter what Rianne tried, she couldn’t get out of this state. “I felt like I needed to ‘wake up’, but I couldn’t.” Rianne was, as it were, stuck in her own head. This feeling made her no longer dare to be alone, because she… “sincerely thought she was going to die at that moment”.
Rianne describes that her derealization disorder felt like a kind of movie at that moment, in which everything including herself was fake. “It felt like I was being lived and I could only look at my own life from a distance.” Rianne started to believe these thoughts and said things to her friends like: “You’re Not Really There” or “This isn’t really happening”. In addition to her surroundings, Rianne’s emotions also felt fake. All she felt was a great emptiness and extreme fear. “I felt like I was no longer alive. I was terrified.”
After a few weeks, Rianne discovered that she had also developed a panic disorder. “Every time I felt even slightly strange, I would start hyperventilating and panicking.” In addition to the panic attacks, she also had to deal with another intense event as a result of her derealization disorder. At one point Rianne no longer recognized her family. “I often watched videos on my phone of my parents, so I could remember what they looked like and what their voices sounded like.” She also no longer recognized herself when she looked in the mirror. This was a big blow for both Rianne and her family. They were desperate and did not know how to deal with her situation. “My family was very shocked, because I couldn’t talk to them properly or explain what exactly was happening to me.”