Before I comment on what has happened to you, let me briefly say what a pleasure it is to have been a moderator here for so long and find the very best members making the finest responses, rach and dij, in this thread, but also many others. ...just lovely...thank you.
And I totally agree with both comments. dijmart suggests that "the person" is not real. What she is suggesting is that there is an ultimate dimension of awareness so inclusive (with many names, from several traditions - ET uses Source and Being) that the conventional definitions of "what is real" fall short. Your body/mind/personality seem closely coupled and "real." And also consistent. You wake up in the morning and there you are...again. But after you shift (which you can) and begin to abide in a realized Self, your former "separate self" is real only in a relative sense....for example "you" are not your mother. And, of course the relative reality is noticed by the tax collector also. You are very real to him or her.
As to thoughts returning, that will happen until you stumble onto the "off" switch. That is the "off" switch available and useful in waking hours. Sidebar: you don't want the "off" switch flipped when you are driving a car, of course! Which brings me to another point...the absence of thoughts is not the absence of reflexes, however...or the absence of breathing...etc. Stillness, though is a primary portal...the space between thoughts...
The "default mode network" (Google that) is a set of brain regions which are normally active in most people 95% of the time. There are a lot of self-referential thoughts that are part of the operation of this network. But it is not the only network available - the "task positive network" is another. Keep meditating, the "stickiness," frequency, and density of those thoughts (outside of meditation) will decline over time. You might also get a glimpse of Unity, a hint of Being, a momentary merging. Well before I shifted, (but after 30 years of TM) I had an interesting experience that caused me to pull my car over. I was driving along a lovely river, and looked across at the bank on the opposite side, and suddenly I was merged with it -- I was not just stuck here in this skin bag...I was everywhere. And it felt rather peaceful. Of course, I was just peeking at Infinity, and quickly resumed my "role" as Andy driving a car. After about seven more years, though Andy has become "Andyness."
Something can appear and feel like it is real but not be true. Eckhart says the ego is a "false self." But is has a powerful and flexible mask. The experience of awakening is non-mental. The personal senses of "reality" and "truth" change...in a good way - lots of questions you have been asking and others you didn't bother to ask get answered and discarded at once.
Hang in there!
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce