Moira Kisitu, student

THERE is a group of men in front of me, and they are shouting at me. It's ten o'clock at night and I'm alone. My heart rate doesn't increase. I don't feel in my pockets for keys. Instead, I stare at them with my head cocked. I'm not being brave. I just don't believe they can hurt me. What they shout at me – what they might do to me – isn't important in the long run. What they do to this body doesn't matter, because it isn't mine. It's Moira's. Whoever that is.

Due to suffering depersonalisation and derealisation, I can't feel anything. Both are disorders which are medically recognised. They are categorised as symptoms in the spectrum of dissociative disorders. After witnessing a severely traumatic event as a child, my perspectives of life and death were permanently tainted, and I was mentally damaged to a great extent. Diagnosed with anxiety at age nine, then later depression and post traumatic stress disorder, depersonalisation manifested when realised, aged 15, I could no longer cope with life.

Depersonalisation separates me from myself. I no longer believe that I am "Moira", and therefore, her trauma is not mine. I am indifferent to it. My derealisation makes me believe that the outside world is not real. This means I often place myself into dangerous situations, like walking alone in the woods at night. It feels as if I am playing a character in a video game. Why would anything scare me if none of it is real, and I'll get another life when the screen goes black?

I am depersonalised for most of the year until I become seasonally depressed. During periods of depression I am forced to feel, even though experiencing sadness feels strange. Depersonalisation is my normal now, and for most of my life I am on autopilot and not really present amongst friends or family.

I still have close relationships, but I don't feel intense emotions for those people. I like them because they feel like TV characters; familiar, friendly. I know that I had strong feelings for them once. I know that I loved them before I depersonalised. Being around them makes me feel slightly warmer than usual.

Living life without feeling can be difficult. I often don't realise when something is wrong with me physically. I ended up in hospital with stomach pains after not eating for weeks. I hadn't noticed that I had felt anxious or hungry as derealisation distorts my perception of time. Weeks had been squished into days.

I find it hard to make plans for my future as in most cases of depersonalisation, there is no treatment. Individuals remain depersonalised until they can cope with their trauma, which may take years of therapy. I've heard of people being depersonalised for decades at a time, and doctors cannot tell me when or if I could get my emotions back. It's difficult to plan for a future you don't feel excited about.

This is what it feels like to have depersonalisation. It feels like nothing at all.