Since 2008, Joe has suffered with a complex psychological condition called Depersonalisation Disorder.
Depersonalisation is a dissociative symptom best described as being a constant dream-like state. Believed by psychologists specialising in DPD to be a protective reflex of the mind stemming from the fight/flight response, sufferers often describe the sensation using metaphors such as, ‘It’s like I’m stuck on autopilot/a robot’; ‘I feel drunk all the time,’ and, ‘It’s like I’m not really here’. Despite all of this, they usually appear outwardly ‘normal’ with few visible symptoms.
Believed by researchers to affect 1-2% of the population at some point during their lives, making it as common as OCD and Schizophrenia, DPD is still a very unknown disorder all over the world, as is frequently misdiagnosed. The average diagnosis time in the UK is currently 12 years – and only a single clinic worldwide has a specialist Depersonalisation Disorder service: the Maudsley Psychiatric Hospital in London. With every UK case being funnelled into this one service, the waiting time for treatment is incredibly long.
After living with the condition for the first 8 years without the word Depersonalisation being mentioned once by medical professionals, Joe is very passionate about trying to help others access help, support & information and raise awareness. In 2018, he started a YouTube channel called DPD Diaries, offering real-world advice for living with the disorder and assisting others in seeking a professional diagnosis. The channel is community-driven, with viewers urged to submit their questions to craft the content.
Further, in the summer of 2018, Joe produced this short film depicting – using spoken & visual metaphors – what living with the condition is like, primarily aimed at assisting non-sufferers to relate to what their family member or loved one might be going through on the inside. Entitled UNREAL: Life With Depersonalisation Disorder, the video has since been adopted by several mental health charities and shared widely online.