• J. Faith Malicdem

A Derealized Interlude

By J. Faith Malicdem // Nov. 6, 2019


"I'm having a blast!! I love it here, so so much." And I do. The past three months have been phenomenal. But there have been points where I pause and think to myself: am I really awake?

Derealization is a recurring role-player in my life. Up until move-in day, I had only poor encounters with it.

As a thirteen year old, I had woken up one morning thinking the past three days had been a dream. Pippin's run had drained me. My parents and I walked into urgent care thinking I had some sort of stress-induced virus. The doctors took my blood pressure and rushed saline into my veins through a needle, then prescribed me with some antibiotics that had "GET SLEEP" plastered on the instructions section of the bottle.

In the midst of a toxic relationship, my derealization was perpetuated. Ultimatums and premature vulnerability and the impending, suffocating heartbreak forced my brain to go on auto-pilot. I was consumed and lost in the love I felt for this person. It ate me up, along with my consciousness and self control.


Whenever I warm up my voice or shake out my limbs before a performance, my senses are downplayed. I can't hear clearly; I don't smell. The tips of my fingers tingle, but don't relay sensations of touch to my brain. It feels like my eyes aren't open wide enough; or maybe the lights are too dim. I plaster a fabricated smile on my face, simulate giggles, and exude a femme fatale persona until the show is over. I gather the mic, sometimes the drumsticks, bow, and frolic off stage. I don't feel anything for days afterward.

But here, lately, it's different.

I strut through the streets of Boston with an umph in my step. I greet people with elbow bumps and eyebrow motions and funny voices. My hands giddily type faster than I can think. I stare out my dorm room window, onlooking an infamous intersection. I live here now! It doesn't feel like it. It doesn't feel like I've awoken yet. But this time, it's a sweet dream. A fantasy.

It isn't a nightmare anymore.

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