Hyper-awareness of self?

Ive been struggling with anxiety for years. and only recently has it progressed to full blown panic attacks and depersonalization and high anxiety and lots of fears and avoidance behavior.

However, i have been experiencing this "hyperawareness" for several months now. Things like "am i really alive?" and being aware of normal bodily functions and processes. Like breathing, and blinking, and my hand movements and talking and looking around and all of these things.

It happens in states of high anxiety. today it happened after waking up from a nap. I was disoriented from sleep and my anxiety flared and i suddenly began having existential questions and experiencing the derealization and hyper-awareness of myself.

I've become aware of my conscious mind and sometimes the thoughts produce panic and i don't like being so aware of something that has always been the same. It's like I've opened a box of information that ill never forget.

Any tips?

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27 Replies

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  • You should try to find a purpose in life, something to strive for, whether that be progressing morally as an individual, academically, socially etc. Hyper-awareness and that feeling of 'why am i here' is caused by people with a stagnant mindset that refuses to accept the challenges that reality has given to them. It sounds harsh but really you just need to face your fears, over time you will progress and lose the feelings of paranoia and anxiety.

  • seriously, this is one of the most unsupportive responses. THIS IS NOT a good answer. How is this helping????

  • would you rather I suck up and say what she wants to hear? no because that's evading the issue.

  • The reason your answer is so ridiculous is because it explicitly says that a stagnant mindset would pose the question of 'why am I here?' OR 'what is my purpose?' And that only a stagnent mind would be fearful of accepting the challenges they might find in asking themselves such a question. This is just ignorance, inexperience or too quick of an answer to really think about what you wrote!

    Anyone posing that question not only has a open, pondering and very active mind - not stagnant at all. But anxiety and existential crisis' or panic attacks associated with such questions do not equal a fear of moving forward in life with a purpose! Speaking from experience it can be quite the opposite actually. Sometimes you've moved so fast physically in the normal motions of life, then something happens - maybe trauma, stress, increased introspection, intellectual or spiritual awakening - and your body and mind are no longer in tune with each other. This can be a very positive experience for some people and a very debilitating experience for others. For instance some people who deeply meditate also have these experiences, but they seek them. For others, it may be the minds way of coping with trauma. It's not asked for and so it is scary!

    Such a short sighted and shallow answer to give for something that may be more deeply rooted.

  • B22_Health very well said.

  • What do you do, or what does it mean maybe, if you seek it but at the same time it causes you crushing anxiety? Like you said I seek and trigger these experiences but it's never pleasant, like reaching a level of awareness that I shouldn't be on. Like reading my own programming and seeing im only a puppet, that sort of thing. Often it comes at the wrong time too, like when I'm at work etc, it's not really practical... Feels like it's the price you pay for the knowledge that comes from it, but it would be nice to be able to control it.

  • Beautiful reply!

  • I am experiencing the exact same thing right now. Mine started about a month ago and I've had anxiety and depression for about 8-9 yrs!! I've actually started feeling that I can't sleep at night either because I reallybdo have something wrong or because I've become so aware of every single thing my body is doing that I suddenly can feel when my body relaxes and can feel if I'm breathing, and also feel sometimes that I can feel myself slipping into the unconscious state where your limbs become paralyzed. Its like what people who do yoga or meditation thrive for and to me who has always felt nervous and tense, it is the most horrible experience in the world and I'm literally jolting myself awake out of my sleep each and every time I fall asleep feeling like I'm slipping into death and most times exhaling air as if I was holding my breath while drifting off!! I have felt this way for over a month and so u can imagine how mynl lack of sleep is also making it so much worse now. Idk if I'm coming or going, can't think straight, cant tell if I'm awake or dreaming and even have started to dream while awake when extreme exhaustion sets in as if I'm hallucinating! I'm having a sleep study done to see if there is actually an underlying problem but that's not for another month and I don't get the results til the end of February so meanwhile I'll continue to hope that I can continue to stay alive this way considering I'm a single mom of 3 young kids and have no help and basically need to be here for my kiddos!!

  • Sounds like symptoms of sleep apnea. I have been experiencing this too. Anxiety and loss of breath waking me up. I bought a mouthpiece so that I can get proper oxygen to my brain and so that I can breathe.

  • Hi. I can understand your the anxiety and distress you feel due to what is called sensorimotor obsessions - I always feel it helps to name disorders in order to help de-mystify them. This disorder is linked to both OCD and anxiety disorder. One of the issues is that we become obsessed with obsessing, as the sufferer quite often feels that the obsessing with the various bodily functions will never end. The first thing to realise is that none of the obsessions are dangerous to you. At times all of become aware - or even hyper aware of issues with parts of our bodies. But the focus shifts as we realise that we dont need to focus on that body part or function. We disengage by accepting the 'obsession', taking away its power to dominate through fear. We separate the thought from the fear. We all know that your heart will not stop beating just because you hear it beating. The link between a thought and a feared outcome is broken. That approach will help overcome this illness. Other things that might help are - distraction techniques and learning to breathe correctly during an attack. Like general anxiety, sensorimotor obsession functions on a false reality. You will not die, or become seriously ill as a result of the various obsessions you may have. Once you accept that you will be able to gradually extinguish the obsessions. I say gradually because they are part of a learned behaviour and have to be 'unlearned' again - that is the OCD link. As I said - once you have exposed and named this illness it loses its ability to control our lives. I wish you well.

  • Hey,

    I'm currently going through the this sensorimotor OCD blinking phase. 

    It's horrendous and I honestly wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Feels like I'm going insane. It came on almost a month ago after experience a period of depersonalisation following a panic attack. Was online and stumbled across something about blinking and lo and behold I caught the bug.

    This obsession occupies my mind from the moment I wake until I sleep. Do you have any advice on how this should be combatted ? I'm so deliberated at this point...

  • This was so incredibly helpful and I want to thank you. I have all the same symptoms as the original post: hyper awareness of self, anxiety, panic attacks. I'm working to 'un-learn' the response of obsessing and detach the fear I feel towards it. Sensorimotor obsessions will not control my life!

  • hey I am hyper aware right now too-aware of my cobscious mind and this helped me a lot, (too distinguish fear from thoughs) I'm just scared it will never stop or that I'll never find the normal state I was in before(which ai think the girl before beautifully described) I'm not really anxious (not all out scared and paranoid-sometimes I forget in moments at a time the feeling of alienation or how hyper-aware I am/ instill like things, I can talk to peopl I can "function" even better than sometimes when I have bad "OCD" but I feel so outside my body (not like I've ever felt beforeI'm really scared. (I have OCD too so it's cool to know it might have something to do with obsession-that connection not totally new thing, I was even really relaxed first wanted to have the weekend(meet peopel) finish my essay and then when I go to school see the psychiatrists (if it hasn't gone away) just distract myself but I'm scared to be alone with my thoughts and like scared of being alone too long (although I also really need my alone-time, like usually to get my rest but now I can't, any solutions for me? haha a kin p functioning psychotic break perpsn ?

  • You are not alone. I've been experiencing depersonalization for about two years now. It began when I was award of my hand on the steering wheel as I was driving. I ignored the feeling. Then it progressed to feeling "not there or here," dreamlike state as if I was about to lose my sense of self. I thought I was losing my mind. However, I noticed that when I was involved in reading, watching TV, in church worshiping and listening to the message, or even sometimes talking on the phone...anything where I focused on something else I was not aware of being highly award of myself.

    I went to see a therapist which helped tremendously. She went over some material from a book with me and gave me a copy to take home and read (which I just looked for but can't find). This did help me a lot to be in control of what I think. I feel that my problem started ...being criticized and being made fun of by colleagues...I began zoning out purposely. Then I began taking care of my mother (a bright spot in my life) but was complicated by other family issues and a church that initially didn't want me there. It became so stressful. That's when I became super aware of my hand on the steering wheel. I over analyze, over think, conjure scenarios in my head that never come to pass, worry about what others feel and think about me, etc. ALL A VERY BIG MISTAKE.

    I am improving and sometimes now I go for days not having these super awareness, dreamlike state of existing. One thing that's been helpful is knowing that I am not going crazy and that these feelings will pass. Also, not worrying about what people think about me or say have helped. Strangely as it may sound, these abnormal feelings are normal for those of us who have high anxiety.

    I do pray a lot and read the bible. God is the One sure thing in my life and nothing can happen to me unless He permits it. I am in His hands, so are you.

    I hope my sharing helps.

  • Thank you!!!

  • Do you know the name of the book? My husband has been struggling with Anxiety and Panic attacks for 10+ years and in the past 6-7 ok months has experienced Depersonalisation and Derealization along with OCD. It's very heartbreaking to see someone you love dearly go through this and there's nothing physically you can do to help them :(

  • One is The Anxiety Cure and I think the other is Shamelessly Free. However my therapist did not give me the authors' names. I will try to get it for you.

  • yes exactly !! when I read a book, talk to people etc it goes away (focus on something else) but I really don't want to have this for such a long time :O but thankyou for sharing, I prb have to give in and say I have anxiety now man shit :((()) I a

  • You are welcomed. Any time you want to vent, if I'm on, I will reply.

  • I actually finally got the right diagnosis, I have complex ptsd. Which I know and understand why, but don't know what it all entails because my system shut it out when ever it did knowing it couldn't handle all of what ever all is. About 3 yrs ago I started having what I now know were triggers to different things. I did not know, but some that know me were noticing small things with me. Than last year later, I started wondering about small things. Then wham, more. Then finally an answer that I first said absolutely no, that was only for military and I have done nothing like they do. Then through out some time things were explained and now it is a way of life and continuous learning.

    I have no clue if that could be anything with u, but thought I would share

  • yeah i kind of get that i hadnt even realized that this wasnt normal for most people and it blew my mind because im a weird person compared to everyone else i didnt realize that this was one of the reasons and it just completely suprised me it exaushts me to have this but i dont remember a time of not having it so i didnt even know thank you for making this post and making me realize that

  • I have been dealing with the same thing. I have been dealing with Anxiety for 5 months now. I was having a panic attack about 2 months ago and experience the depersonalization and extreme self awareness during it. Every since then, when I have anxiety my mind jumps to these thoughts. It is the most uncomfortable and terrifying thoughts I have ever had. When my mind starts to think about them my whole body feels like its in pain because I am so terrified.

    I have been doing so much research to find out how to stop it because it makes me feel like I am an insane person. Truthfully, the only thing that has helped my is reading about how common it is. Reading your post alone eased my mind so much because I feel less like a crazy person and it helps me to accept that there is nothing wrong with me, it is just a side effect of my anxiety. It really helps to normalize what I am going through even though it feels so far from normal.

  • There is a book out there called Pass Through Panic by Dr. Claire Weekes. I am like you in that I feel better when I read of hear that what I have is common. Try the audio version if you can. Her voice is very comforting.

  • That's interesting BB106, in that as many times as I have read Hope & Help for your Nerves, I have never read Pass Through Panic. I will have to pick that up as well. Her writing are phenomenal . Thanks for your input x

  • I needed to see this. I eat a handful of prescription pills for breakfast because they can't figure out what's going on with me. I'm not the only one.

  • Hi Too-alive, and what is going on with you? Anxiety as well as medical issues? You certainly aren't the only one who feels lost. Come back on the forum, there is always someone here to listen and support you. You are never alone...

  • Hey everyone: it's so reassuring to hear others who have experienced the anxiety I have struggled with silently for a long time. About three years ago when I started college, I began to feel this horrible fear that I was not fully in my body, thinking about the atomic makeup of my body and feeling like a machine, essentially feeling like I had no concrete "truth" to cling to, like a floating being with no tether to reality... and yes, it's a fear that many do not understand which makes it even more uncomfortable. After a few experiences of sexual assault, these feelings seemed to aggravate as I drifted farther and farther from feeling at home in my body. However, I've found this anxiety to be a gift in disguise as it has forced me to engage deeply with the questions that haunt me, to find a sense of grounding in spiritual and existential inquiry, to love more deeply and to live more consciously (as the hyper conscious mind must). As many have said, finding something to ground yourself in, whether it be a purposeful profession, a form of worship, a loving intention in life, will help to soften the fears that our highly functioning human brains confront. They will gently knit a tether to a bigger purpose, which you can hold on to instead of suspending in the unknown. We are approaching the paradox of being a conscious being in an era of unprecedented access to information and virtual realities that can disconnect us from ourselves. This is a constant battle but I trust you will gain from it, and develop a higher sense of life purpose in the process. Perhaps ask yourself, like I do, what is this fear calling out for? What do I need to feel at home in my body - to feel at peace in this present experience? So much love and gratitude for all of you.

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