So I have had a really hard time describing how I feel with this vestibular disorder I developed over a year ago now. I am dizzy and I do get vertigo but what really concerned me was the insane brain fog, and this spaced out feeling or ‘zoned out’. I kept using the term spaced out or zoned out to try and tell people it was like reality got weird, wonky, and I felt disconnected from it. Surreal really. And it wasn’t until I was on a vertigo forum someone said I was experiencing derealization. Derealization and depersonalization and also anxiety can occur in vestibular disorders. But certainly not that alone causes the experiences.

Derealization: spaced out

Depersonalisation/derealisation symptoms scored by questionnaire are both different in quality and frequency in vestibular patients, who report more experiences of derealisation than healthy subjects. Caloric labyrinthine stimulation provokes similar derealisation symptoms to those experienced in vestibular disease. We propose that derealisation occurs in vestibular patients because their distorted vestibular signals create a misleading frame of spatial reference which mismatches with the other senses, giving rise to illusory, “unreal” perceptions of the patient’s transactions with the physical world. Since experiences of unreality were powerful items in discriminating between healthy subjects and symptomatic vestibular patients, further studies are needed to evaluate their influence on the patient’s attitude to his or her disease. Depersonalisation/derealisation symptoms in vestibular disease

I get a lot of weird sensations with my vestibular disorder. The falling sensation, the spinning, the ground moving and falling, the sudden intense external vertigo and more. But this spaced out feeling which progresses into being right zoned out, is the worst. And I couldn’t really articulate it well. It is very hard to describe. When I zone right out it is like no one is home and everything is weird spacially and shifting. But when I am spaced out it is more like a wall descends between me and reality and it is just unreal feeling and just hard to think through. It is intense. Very intense. I said I had brain fog. That I couldn’t concentrate or had no capacity to focus. And without medication, I spend most of the day with these constant bouts of being spaced out or zoned out. You can’t really function like that. But it varies. So sometimes I am just foggy and sometimes I am right out of it. And how do you describe it? It isn’t ‘dizzy’ but I am very dizzy. It is… disconnected. Spacially weird.

The symptoms:

  • Feelings of being alienated from or unfamiliar with your surroundings — for example, like you’re living in a movie or a dream
  • Feeling emotionally disconnected from people you care about, as if you were separated by a glass wall
  • Surroundings that appear distorted, blurry, colorless, two-dimensional or artificial, or a heightened awareness and clarity of your surroundings
  • Distortions in perception of time, such as recent events feeling like distant past
  • Distortions of distance and the size and shape of objects

Source: VeryWell Mind

Anyway, when someone said that it seemed like when I ‘zoned out’ I might be having a seizure it is because it can apparently be similar to symptoms of that. Also, it can happen with migraines… which I have felt in the past, but I do have vestibular migraine. The thing was, it was episodes of it, not this persistence. However, the vestibular dysfunction is now constant so the sensation might just be more there due to that. But your body is pretty severely affected by the vertigo symptoms. I mean, the massive fatigue is difficult enough to deal with. The body doesn’t like being so out of sorts with the world around it. And I think that is where this derealization sensation stems from. These intense symptoms and the brain trying to adapt to it… and failing. I think it is just that the body freaks out a bit when it doesn’t understand the information it is getting from the world.

My medication, Clonazepam, which suppresses the vertigo symptoms also suppress this. And I have, unfortunately, run myself down on them and need a new script so for the last few days only had one pill a day… when I need 3 to 4. So I have been very out of it. So much so I took 2 pills today and have none to get me to the doc office tomorrow, but I figure, I can’t drive and get a lift so if I am out of it… so be it, as I can get them after.

Anyway, this is a difficult one to deal with and one of the main symptoms I want to diminish with treatment. Just because of the lack of functionality with it. And the complete lack of concentration and focus. As well as the surrealness of reality with it.

I should also say it comes with depersonalization but I have not felt that myself.

Depersonalization means feeling detached from yourself as if you’re watching your life take place from the sidelines or you’re viewing yourself on a movie screen. You may not feel connected to your body, mind, feelings, or sensations. Some people describe feeling robotic or unable to control speech or movement. You may not be able to attach emotions to memories, or even “own” your memories as experiences that happened to you. VeryWell Mind

And it can be a disorder in-itself or occur due to other conditions.

Now, whether I experience derealization is another story. It sounds like it but I do not assume until I talk to my doctor. However, maybe if I do it will help narrow down the type of vertigo I am experiencing. Or not. Who knows?

Other vertigo posts

What it is like cognitively with vertigo

Perks of vertigo? Not so much

The stagnation of non-functionality
Buy Me a Coffee at

5 thoughts on “Derealization: Spaced out

  1. thanks for writing about this. i have derealization, but not as a result of vertigo or any kind of vestibular disorder. i think, in my case, it stems from trauma. it comes and goes, usually it gets worse and worse during a few months until it suddenly gets better, and then it starts over. i’m glad medication works for you, it doesn’t for me; it even makes it worse. i’m just glad to find i’m not alone, even if i don’t wish this on anyone else. sending big love!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is can occur with migraines as well which I have. And then with the vertigo which is a real problem right now. So I understand how you feel. it is not a good feeling at all. And very difficult to explain to people


      1. i get migraines too! and i do get dizzy easily, especially during hot summers, but it’s not really a big problem thus far.

        it’s very difficult to explain, i didn’t even get it when i heard others talk about it at first, until i realized i’d had the same symtoms for years. it’s grown more intense this last year, though. but i keep faith that it will pass with time, self work and acceptance.

        Liked by 1 person

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