I’ve always been the type of person who needs to be busy doing something at all times. I can’t sit still and I hate silence. I’m productive on days off, even if that consists of sitting on the couch, watching hours of television, I still have a laptop or a tablet in my lap, working on something else. It wasn’t until I hit a drought of work at my job, that I realized just how much my body hates not doing anything.

It started to slow down just before the new year hit. This is when I started to offer to help others. I could fill up my time assisting with various tasks; but when it slowed down for everyone else, I stopped asking. I sort of retreated into my office to try to pass the time alone.

This is the point when I noticed I was anxious at random parts of the day. Usually anxious while in the bathroom, or on a crowded subway car, I started to think about what changed in my life, or if it were something in the future I was worried about, or if my occasional claustrophobia was somehow becoming more prominent.

I had a few panic attacks in the past, but nothing like this. This was different. This seemed to be happening in the same places for short periods of time, and then it was over. Little moments of panic.

Derealization or depersonalization occurs when you persistently or repeatedly have the feeling that you’re observing yourself from outside your body or you have a sense that things around you aren’t real.

I realized this is what it was. The lack of work and social interaction forced me to spend too much time in my own thoughts, which can definitely trigger something like this. The amount of time I was bored during the day, or trying to find ways to be productive was starting to get to me.

Knowing what it was helped get me back on track. I read what some other people did to counter this — shaking up your routine and changing your surroundings helps. Being more active, exercising more, and socializing more were also key into making things feel real again.