Coping Mechanism Thoughts
A few years ago I saw a Tumblr post going around that was encouraging people who struggle with social anxiety to, whenever they are in a social situation, imagine the people around them as NPCs in a video game to make the interaction easier. And I feel like this is very counterproductive for a couple reasons.
If you are a person who regularly uses coping mechanisms like this (imagining that everything happening around you isn’t actually happening/imagining that your surroundings aren’t real/secluding yourself into your own world etc. to cope with or escape from your feelings) you’re giving a message to your brain of “This is how to deal with stressful situations.”
Your brain will take that and run with it. Meaning if you face enough stressors over time, or just one really big stressor, eventually your body will be like “Okay, that’s the last straw. Time to shut it all down.” and will disconnect you from everything. Your body, the world around you, your emotions. You will actually feel like nothing around you is real or like you’re in a dream, instead of just pretending. And this could be 24/7.
Depersonalization and derealization can be chronic. It’s very hard to get out of since the more you fear it, the worse it gets. Your brain will not put the walls down until it feels you are safe.
So please, for the sake of your own mental health, don’t rely on coping mechanisms like this or it could cause chronic DPDR. Anxiety will persist if you’re constantly running away from or distancing yourself from situations that cause uncomfortable feelings. Instead, face your anxiety. Let your brain know there is no danger by doing things that make you anxious and coming out unharmed on the other side. Over time your brain will get the message that these situations aren’t threats.