Most of you probably associate the word “ego” with something that is negative. When people say, “You sure do have an EGO!” , what they are trying to say is that you are self-absorbed and selfish. However, most mental health experts would agree that having an ego is actually a good thing. Having a healthy ego is essential to leading what most would call a “normal” life. It is what allows you to differentiate yourself from your surroundings and other people/objects.
The “ego” is what creates terms like ‘Me” , “Mine”, “I”, “My” and “them”. Your ego is basically the view that you hold over yourself and others. Your ego is what gives you confidence. It is what reminds you that you are separate from other human beings, you are unique, ….perhaps even special. If I go even further then the ego, then we reach “narcissistic”. At this level, not only do you believe that you are better than most people, but you are actually a god among men!…… which is not healthy and kind of dangerous if you ask me.
On the other end of the scale, you have low-self esteem. People who feel like they are worthless. But even those with low self-esteem still have enough of an ego to know that they are an individual and they are a unique design within their reality. People with low-self esteem have an ego, but they sell themselves short on their true potential…..
Then there are those who have undergone an “ego-death”. I myself have been lucky enough and unlucky enough to experience such a phenomenon. Many people who experience an ego-death are diagnosed with disorder like “depersonalization” and “derealization”. So what is an ego-death and what causes it? And is are ego-death necessarily bad? Are they good? Or perhaps a bit of both?
The death of the ego is usually triggered by a traumatic event or by abusing psychoactive stimulants such a marijuana, LSD, Salvia, and so forth. The ego dies when the individual loses a sense of his individuality and begins to melt into his surroundings. When a person loses his ego, it can bring many pleasurable and painful symptoms.
The pleasure to experiencing an ego death is unity with all things and the transcendence of physical pain. When a human loses all sense of “self”, …racist thoughts or any prejudices melt away completely. You see everything for what it is, and you begin to understand that everything is a just a consequence and a series of reactions. Nothing or no one is truly at fault. Nothing is everything. And everything is nothing. It’s all just one straight line of pure energy. There is no division between “I” and “you”.
You also begin to realize that most things in life are an illusion and everything is based on points of view and points of indoctrination whether self-imposed or imposed by our parents. The idea of human monpolized governments, man-made religions, the cycle of relationships, marriages, divorces, life, death…… you gain perspective, you start to see the big picture. These thoughts can be very liberating and the feeling of being “free” from physical limitations can be intoxicating.
However, when people experience an ego death, whether it be from witnessing a murder, having a near-death experience, or through using marijuana or LSD…..most people are able to slowly recover their ego and regain a grasp on reality. They begin to re-associate with society, they begin to develop their usual bias, and the idea of “me” begins to re-enter the forefront of their mind.
But for some people, such as myself, that “re-association” never quite happens, atleast not to the level that would make you feel “normal”. This is when chronic or acute episodes of “derealization” and “depersonalization” start to effect you.
I myself (haha, there goes my ego, what’s left of it anyway),….have suffered from mild “derealization” and “depersonalization” since I was around the age of 14. When I was in the 7th grade, I was forced to watch a video of a chronic smoker undergo lung surgery. It was one of those “shocker” videos meant to keep kids from smoking. I had never seen such a thing in my life, it was very graphic, it was so gross that I literally fainted in the middle of the class while the movie was playing.
The lights were dimmed, and then suddenly, BOOM….I fell out of my chair and hit my head really hard on the floor. When I woke up, the entire room was empty and there were white lights shinning everywhere. I could hear the kids talking outside of the classroom in the hallway, and I could literally their words coming through the door. I thought I was going nuts! My head was laying in my teacher’s lap and she had tears in her eyes and she kept saying, “The ambulance is almost here, thank god your awake.” I ended up going to the hospital and they couldnt find anything wrong with me. Needless to say, I was freaked out. I had never experienced a lapse in time while being conscious…..aside from going to sleep at night.
I returned to school three days later. Everything seemed completely fine for the first day or two back at school. But then out of no where, I was in sixth period History class and I found myself clenching the edges of my desk and a bead of sweat rolled down my head. What the fuck was going on? I had never felt this way….I felt like reality was slipping away from me, and the harder I grabbed the desk, the more I felt like I was real….after a few seconds, the feeling would go away. And then about 15 minutes later, boom!….it would happen again.
When this feeling would strike, the soles of my feet could not sense the weight of my body when standing, my skin would go cold, the room would become light, and everything would become 2D instead of being 3D, and thoughts of “unlimited space” would take over my mind to the point where I felt like I was being expanded in all directions. These feeling went on for years, …I would have “good” periods were I wouldn’t feel any symptoms for months on end where I felt totally real and a part of reality as an individual, and then other times I would struggle with the idea of being “real” daily for months at a time.
I slowly began to experiment with these feelings. I noticed that being in large open crowds, large open spaces, brightly lit rooms, extremely small spaces, or being in situations where I felt I wasn’t in control increased my anxiety and my symptoms even more. When I walk around in a shopping mall alone, or traveled to a distant lands alone, or if I am stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, I start to feel “unreal”. I will touch my leg, yet I do not believe it is mine. I will look at objects around me, yet they cannot be distinguished as seperate than myself. When I look at a cup, I AM THE CUP! When I see other people, I only see moving particles and I question the reality of it all. I feel like I am just a puppet living inside of a video game!
These symptoms were probably enhanced even more when I began to experiment with Salvia and transcendental meditation. When using this herb, I literally became water itself, losing control over all five senses, and being able to feel every atom in my body while melting in the scenery around me. It was very profound yet also one of the scariest feelings I had every encountered. Yet, my curiosity lead me to using it several more times where I had profound visions of myself seeing my father on a crucifix, trying to save him from his fall from grace…. …..a once great man who let his life crumble.
Around the age of 19 I saw my first ever real life murder. I was in an Autozone buying oil for my truck when I suddenly witnesseed a man walk up to another man, for seemingly no apparent reason and stabbed him multiple multiple times and ran. The poor guy’s intestines were falling out of his stomach. The stench was terrible.
Being a martial artist and a guy with a “hero-complex” who loves to save those in distress, I put on some rubber gloves that was laying on one of the shelves and started trying to put this man’s intestines back in his body; I even later published a poem this event called “Anaphylaxis”…… He stared into my eyes begging me, “Please , I don’t want to die. Take me to the hospital”. His eyes were locked on me, not even blinking once, I could see his eyes rolling back in his head, and then coming back to my eyes….coming in and out of consciousness. Eventually the cops showed up and cleared the store…..yet my perceptions on life and death would be never the same.
Fast forward to 2011, I took a 2nd job at a local shopping mall to make some extra money. I hadn’t experienced any symptoms for a while. Life was going well. Then I was forced to work on Black-Friday as a cashier for my job. Upon standing at the cash register, there was a sea of customers surrounding me, as far as the eye could see. I was surrounded by people. I could feel their body heat and smell their body odor all around me. I could feel myself losing touch again…the symptoms started coming back. The soles on my feet began to lose the sensation of body weight, everything that I saw began to become 2D, and thoughts entered my head, “They are me, and I am them. We are one.” I started to freak out and ran to the back of the store and collapsed just like I did when I was 14.
An ambulance showed up, …however, this time I went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with “Bradycardia”, a heart that doesn’t beat fast enough and wanted to implant a pace-maker. I declined. They also started trying to diagnose me with all kinds of mental disorders and started trying to prescribe all of these medications with a long list of side-effects, I declined those too and just went home.
Fast forward a year later, I was placed on a domestic terrorist watchlist for trying to sue the Bush family, Obama, Ben Bernanke, and many other government officials for racketeering and war crimes. The FBI hated that I had developed such a huge following after getting John Arriola fired, (a corrupt county clerk)…so they began to harass my family at their homes and at work, and at one point they even disappeared me away and took me into custody without a warrant or charges and threatened my life. They basically told me to stop my political activities or else “face the music”.
A few months later, I went through a terrible break-up of a relationship that lasted for four years, I didn’t see that coming….it was like going through a death. Someone that you had spent so much time with, waking up next to everyday, suddenly is gone….I thought it would last forever, but it didn’t, and it hurt like hell.
Then my father who had abandoned me 12 years prior comes back into my life, and one night after having an arguing about this abandonment, we decide to go for a walk to local Egyptian grocery store to pick up some snacks and get a little fresh air, and to talk things out…..
Upon arriving at the store, we were the only customers in the store. After paying for our items, the store clerk says, “I like your tattoo, It says “sovereign”. I have an arabic tattoo on my arm that says this. So we began to discuss Egyptian politics. We are laughing and caring out talking about the illuminati and how corrupt governments are, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, a man walks into the store with a red mask on and run towards the cashier, shoves my father out of the way and starts firing shots into the chest of the cashier screaming, “I want my stuff back, I want it back!”, ….what seemed like a blink of an eye, I open my eyes and the man is already gone. Just like that, I was on a homicide crime scene with my father who had just come back into my life….with my father who I started to once again love….who was nearly killed himself.
Things got worse when the police came. I was actually more afraid of the police than the criminal who came in with a gun. The police locked the store doors and did not allow me and my father to leave the store. They grilled us for an hour about what happened. We told them all that happened. Then one of the officers started making comments about me saying, “Where is your driver’s license?, We might as well arrest someone tonight, it can be you for all I care!” . I then began to challenge him using legal jargon and reverse psychology on him. He then slammed his gun on the cashier’s counter and said, “Shut the hell up! I am the boss in the room! You do what I say! Now go sit down and I’ll tell you when you can leave.”
After my dealings with the FBI, I knew that these men could kill me and my father if they wanted to and get away with it. So I decided to keep my mouth shut and get the hell out of there the first chance I got. When me and my father got back to my apartment, we hugged eachother, and we didn’t argue anymore.
During these painful events, I was also heavily abusing marijuana to deal with stress.
There is a lot more that has happened in my life that I wish to not share on the internet,…but I now believe that these traumas have contributed to myself questioning my existence as well as my own perception of what reality truly is or even if I am truly an individual or if I am just an extension of a dream or a unified conscious. All I know is that I do not feel like an entity. To me, in my current mind, I am not separate from rocks, cars, trees, ink pens, keyboards, or even other people…………I am everything, and everything is me.
Don’t get me wrong, when these feelings strike (mainly when my mind is not distracted), it is VERY uncomfortable. It is almost like a panic attack but worse in some ways because you lose the ability to control your five senses. However, it does have it’s cool moments too….
Sometimes when people yell at me or say nasty things to me, I don’t get mad, because I know they are me and I am them…..and we are both heading for the same grave! My reality is bound the reality of all things….animate and non-animate. It is scary at times to thing of infinity, the sheer vastness of “everything” is very scary because “infinity” cannot be fathomed or controlled, and it raises one’s anxiety.
But, it is also liberating to know that no one is any more valuable than you because YOU are THEM and they are awaiting death just like you. It is almost funny and ironic. This is why I sometimes start to laugh when angry clients come into my legal department and being yelling demands at me…..because I find their angry ridiculous….. you think you can just boss me around and talk to me like I am a peon when you yourself are on your way to die just like me!!? LOL give me a break! You are just an atom amongst trillions of other atoms!
So my struggles with depersonalization and derealization and my inability to accept the cessation of my conscious after death is very unbearable at times, but it has it’s funny ironic moments too…..
Sometimes I even look at people that I admire, for whatever reason it may be, their beliefs, their work ethic, their physical beauty…..and I say to myself, “They are amazing,…and they are in the same reality that I am living in and they are also going to die just like me. We truly are all in this struggle together! Ugly and beautiful alike! ”
We are all in one big hospital waiting room….waiting on our ticket to die. However, until that ticket comes, we are all having fun and trying not to think about it! I envy those with limited conscious. They only see themselves living forever, death is not tangible to them, neither is infinity. But to me, infinity, life, and death are all the same thing.
For someone that suffers from depersonalization and derealization, the best way to describe it is that my existence, nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, feels like a low-dose salvia trip that you can’t turn off. It is a permanent ego-death.
However, I have discovered ways to combat it. I practice Boxing and Martial arts. I have even since I was 14 …..after I had my first black out, I got into martial arts so I could protect my mom, my sister, and my self from thugs and bullies. When I was in the boxing gym, everytime I got a black eye or if I knocked out an opponent, it reminded me that I was real, and that I existed . If I didn’t exist then I couldn’t bleed right? And If I didn’t exist, then my punch wouldn’t have knocked this guy out right? Watching my muscles grow and seeing my body changed also reminded me that I might actually exist.
Sometimes when I am walking around at a store or I’m at work and my symptoms get really bad, I’ll just start up a conversation with someone or pinch myself to try and induce physical pain to remind myself that I am an individual who can effect reality.
Martial arts, meditation, and marijuana have all given me unique perspectives and control over my reality, but they have also taken pieces away from my reality, it is a strange dichotomy.
I am slowly learning to accept that as we fall in love with each moment we also are forced to mourn it’s passing. Life and die are really the same. There is no such thing as life, there is dying and there is death…..we are born on our death beds. It is only recently that I have truly understood this. Before my first blackout at 14, I was so naive to think that life just goes on and death/loss didn’t apply to me.
I honestly don’t think I am crazy or need to be on a million prescription drugs. I think I am just a very introspective young man who wants to understand the reality that his birth has forced him to exist within……….or do I really exist? Is this just a program? A matrix if you will? I ask myself this everyday. Why am I here? What is the point of all of this?
Religion never really cut it for me……so what, someone wrote something on a piece of paper and I am supposed to believe it just because it is old? Not to mentioned the inconsistencies of religions and the thousands of different ones to choose from, they all can’t be right! But perhaps they all do contain some pieces of the truth……and can these pieces be collected and brought together? Like a mixed religion?
I believe I am at a point in my life where everything is “in question”. I don’t want to make any more mistakes.
However, I do notice that when I do charitable events like teaching neighborhood kids boxing, or volunteering at local hospitals, I feel my symptoms ease. It is almost like “love” , real love and compassion is an antidote for any negative feelings that seek to capture my mental capacity.
Ok, I am getting tired of writing…
I hope that for anyone else who suffers with depersonalization or derealization has been helped with this article. Just know that you are not alone!
And I hope and pray that there is something beyond this life….If there is ,I won’t find it in a religious book, I will find it based on my own feelings and understanding.
Wait, is my ego coming back?
Maybe there is some hope for me.
Or maybe this is just a dream
Or maybe I am not even typing this.
- Arminius ulric Roukan