Derealization is a psychotic symptom where you are in an altered state of consciousness, where you feel like nothing around you is real, and you are in another reality. This is often brought about by anxiety.
I have Schizoaffective Disorder, which is a psychotic disorder in the Schizophrenia spectrum. I have had this problem for the last seven years. I may have had it longer, maybe my whole life.
I don't know about other people, but this is what derealization is like for me. I am only discussing my particular experience, other peoples' experiences may be different.
It started only a few months ago, after I got released from an inpatient stay. I would start having tactile hallucinations, and then a few minutes later, it felt like nothing was real. I would feel like I was in an altered state of reality, and I couldn't get out of it. My heart would pound like in an anxiety attack. This usually would last for a few minutes, up to a few hours. When this happens, I feel confused, there is a weird sense of time, and I feel really spacey.
This happened for about a month, and I haven't had it happen since then. I am unsure if these were real episodes of derealization, or something else. I'm not sure why they started, or why they stopped. I didn't have more anxiety than usual. They scared me though. It was a very unpleasant experience when it was happening. I couldn't function like normal because of the spaciness and the confusion.
I wouldn't say this has been my worst symptom, but I certainly hope I don't experience it again. My main goal is to always be in consensus reality. I don't like other states of consciousness. Or abnormal ones anyway.
It seems like I am always having new and unusual symptoms. It's like it's my mind's way of keeping me on my toes. Strangely some of them come and go. Meds don't stop all of them, or even most of them. It's always something new and difficult to deal with. This keeps me in a constant state of anxiety.
Meds don't keep me completely sane. They do help though, and I am able to stay in consensus reality most of the time. I have to learn ways of coping with my illness. I have found distraction to work the best, although it is very draining trying to come up with effective ways.