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When Men in Black make errors

"Each time I think about that feeling (let’s call it the D-feeling), it gives me goose bumps," says Madina Balgabek (Photo: Mette Koors)

Have you ever wondered about the limitations of human consciousness? I want to talk about depersonalization disorder. Depersonalization is a peculiar feeling of observing your own consciousness outside your body – at least that would be my way of defining it. It sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it?

Blog |   25. Oct 2018

Madina Balgabek


And no, it is not a death event but one of sudden realization that you are truly human…to the core, deep into your bones and thoughts.

You might have experienced this feeling once in your life or occasionally. My aim of this blog is to help you to define it and hopefully reassure you that it’s part of being ‘normal’.

Take a breath.

Have you ever seen the sci-fi TV show, West World? It is based on the differences between humans and robots and where hosts (robots) are asked if they ever questioned the nature of their existence. Well, I raise a hand here. It’s the same when I ask myself about the truth of being human and it scares the shit out of me. Because all of a sudden, I wake up from my everyday worries, stop and rewind back to all the things I’ve ever done and just sit there and think, “How the hell didn’t I kill this body yet?”

Each time I think about that feeling (let’s call it the D-feeling), it gives me goose bumps.

It starts with a thought about why people see as much as they do. What if there is more to awareness that the human brain can comprehend, and we were therefore not given the ability to feel more?

Of course, by see, feel, sense I mean to fully experience our surroundings with different senses: touch, see, smell, hear and maybe even intuition (and something else?). Then the feeling of what-if expands to why the skin is this color, this texture, this way in general.

Then comes the question about existence, but not in a psychological context, just different. In a way that it scares me why I never questioned the reason and purpose of my existence. Why do I talk exactly the way all other humans do with my mouth and throat in that I need to inhale? What is the purpose of my life besides being born by my mother and being a member of my family just like other animals that multiply?

If I let it, it intensifies. This is when I start looking at my hands and being aware of my face. Sometimes it takes time to remember the whole look. Then I push on, trying to remember what I was thinking about just before the D-feeling arose.

Most of the time it makes me think that it was so small, so meaningless, compared to what I feel in this moment. It gives me a feeling of being part of a global human coding system. I think of breaking through that absolute dream that all of us are part of.  I have this feeling that somebody is going to put me back into the dream, so that I will forget what I just found out.

This is where it can feel as though I really do have a code that makes me behave in the same pattern. If I am hungry, I go to the fridge. If I am bored, I take my phone out of my pocket. If I am cold, I think of something warm, like tea and a blanket, or I turn up the heating. The same code runs through my brain as it does in most people. It’s not like, “Oh I am hungry, let’s do laundry”. The content of act is different, but mechanisms and quick-command thoughts are the same.

The D-feeling makes me feel like a complete loser who didn’t know about the existence of code, who was living my life believing I was different to the rest of humanity. But there is definitely something engraved in the code, the code of ‘humans’.

I then start to calm myself down to avoid those feelings of fear about how to not get my ‘human’ killed. I often say that if you haven’t died so far, you are doing a good job. I persuade myself that it is okay to think of meaningless things like the next nail polish color, because yes, I am a human. And probably a big boss is going to come and erase my memory like the ‘Men in Black’ movie and that’s okay because 100% of humanity lives by that code and if I do too, it isn’t that bad. Is it?

The scariest part about depersonalization is not being able to go back to feeling ‘normal’. I’ve learned to notice when the feeling is coming, and I usually manipulate my consciousness by making it think of simple calculus and grocery plans, or I just sit down and start writing my weekly schedule.

I tried meditation, and I hate it because I cannot shut down all these little thoughts. But have you ever tried doing savasana at yoga classes? Savasana is for lazy people like me. I believe that you can persuade yourself to think and do anything. That is the power of the human brain and that is what makes us so special and different from other beings.

I am an amateur at meditation, but I have experienced savasana couple of times. I read once in a meditation article that it is one of the most difficult yoga poses and it is also referred to as ‘corpse pose’, which means you need to lie so still that your body hardly moves apart from your breathing; you are somewhere between sleep and consciousness.

The hardest part of savasana is to relax your mind, and when you shut out all thoughts including awkward ones like: “What if I relax so much that I break wind?” or “Don’t fall asleep, it will be embarrassing if you start snoring”. It feels as though your mind is outside your body and therefore your body is absolutely still. Your mind is doing scan of your ‘human’ to check how the body feels, if your mind is all right, and to see if the relationship between body and soul is okay.

Madina's own drawing.

Over the years, I learned to shake off the D-feel by insisting that my brain think of something else. I hadn’t experienced it for many years until I moved to Denmark. It comes to me occasionally. Moving to a new country, marrying and starting an education can be tough on your ‘human’ and your body. At least it was for me. Tough periods can happen to anyone and life simply happens, and sometimes you just break like a porcelain doll after too much <life> happening to you.

Currently, I am practicing savasana to do a quick return to balance. I am trying it out as a way to calm down especially during exams and full-schedule weeks. It involves 20-30 minutes of doing nothing. Well, what could be better for a busy student?

After reading this blog, I would suggest listening to this song: Linkin Park – One more light


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