I am a 19-year-old female who has had a history of childhood trauma and depression and anxiety as well as a recovered anorexic. However, while I have managed all my other mental illnesses, there is still a very strong, pervasive feeling that I am living in the wrong lifetime. I do not feel as if I am in the wrong body gender-wise, but that I should not be alive right now and I should not be embarking on any of the career paths that I am. It is not that the career I have chosen is wrong, I feel more as if I switched lives with somebody (like Freaky Friday) and now I am simply not where I am meant to be. I cannot recognize myself when I look in a mirror and I have not been able to for as long as I can remember. Logically, I know it is myself but I don’t feel as if the person looking back is actually me. The same applies to looking at photos of myself, even if they are aesthetically pleasing. I also have no connection whatsoever with the name I was given. Is this pervasive depersonalization or derealization? Or do I simply have no sense of self? I have scoured the internet but have not been able to find anyone else with the same symptoms. Please, help.

This sounds like a very difficult thing to cope with — and quite unnerving — not to be able to identify yourself. I appreciate the courage it takes to explore the condition, however it would not be possible for me to make a diagnosis of depersonalization, derealization or prosopagnosia (pro-so-pag-NO-see-uh), a condition where one someone cannot recognize their own face. While there can be a variety of possibilities the best thing is to begin with a complete physical. Let the physician know all the ways this is happening, and he or she can help get a proper diagnosis as there are some physical conditions that may be causing this that you would want to rule out. Also, a neurologist or psychiatrist could help determine if it is physically- or psychologically-based. An accurate diagnosis is the first step in finding a way to manage and treat these symptoms.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral