Welcome to the Mood Disorders Forum. Questions in this forum are being answered by Peter Forster, MD and topics covered are anxiety, bipolar, depression, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and stress.
This whole post is going to sound odd, I'm sure of that. I have been diagnosed by a psychiatrist with social anxiety disorder and also have some depression. Currently, I'm taking 30 mg of Lexapro and 60 mg of Buspar daily. I've been taking medication and going to therapy for several months now. I don't even know how to explain this but I'm questioning everything wondering if it is real or not, even my thoughts and feelings. Like I will have a conversation with someone, and then later be afraid that if I'm imagining parts of the conversation or if they did indeed say what I "know" they said. My car has been giving me trouble and I took it back to the dealership. After fixing it and returning it to me, it had the same problem going on. Only this time when I took it back, in the 5 days they've had it, they did not encounter the same problems when starting it up. Granted, the problem only occurs intermittently, but it has me questioning whether I dreamed up the car issue or something. I doubt that what I'm experiencing is really happening. Even what I think -- I don't know whether I actually have thoughts and feeling that are truly me, or I just want to feel that way and therefore convince myself that I do. Well, I'm sure this post makes no sense at all. All I'm trying to figure out is why I am doing this. Am I crazy? Any advice/thoughts on why I am doing this? Is it normal or do I have some other undiagnosed mental disorder? Please respond!
I think that Jaquta said it better than I could have. You definitely don't sound crazy... and I would say that what you describe does sound like "over-thinking". But the kind of over-thinking that is pretty common when in a time of transition or stress.
In essence your brain has become overly watchful for problems...
A friend of mine from medical school started to convince himself that he was suffering from dementia... just by constantly searching in his mind for things he couldn't remember... of course the anxiety that he generated by this activity made his ability to remember worse... thus increasing his anxiety... and impairing his memory...
The good news is that you can't keep this up... even if you wanted to... which of course you don't. So no matter what happens it is going to get better.
The kinds of things that might help include -
1. Talking back to yourself (I am not going to go crazy - this is a common reaction to stress that will go away)
2. Practicing either Metta (lovingkindness) meditation or mindfulness meditation.
3. Talking to friends about what is going on... they should be able to come up with examples of similar things happening in their lives.
Your post makes a lot of sense. You've also explained things really well.
I expect the car issue is real. I've experienced a similar thing at times.
In the weekend I was saying something to my mother and she didn't quite hear and as I didn't want to repeat myself I just said that I was talking to myself. Her comment was that I've been doing that a lot lately. Now this really stressed me out because I am then wondering whether I have been talking to myself without being aware of it.
That example is slightly different to your one but I think it probably comes back to confidence and anxiety issues. The more you question the reality though the more paranoid you seem to become (and this probably confuses everything more).
No, not crazy. I think it has more to do with stress and anxiety. I also think that in those heightened states that our ability to concentrate decreases and that perhaps our memories aren't as strong as they could be or they are harder to retrieve (perhaps making things seem less real or concrete).
I have been diagnosed with a disorder that means that under extreme stress I can have transient psychotic symptoms. Not sure if it is that or just the anxiety.
I don't think that it's normal but I think that it's normal for someone with high anxiety.
The doctor will be better able to advise and explain.
Don't stress about the car. If it's intermittent it's likely that when they checked it it didn't occur. I don't expect they checked it that many times in the five days.
It always happens. Almost the same when you go to the doctor. Something can bother you but as soon as you get there it feels fine.
We had a microwave that stopped going a while back and took it in to be fixed. However, when there it worked fine. One of the problems was that our microwave is surrounded by shelves at home but in open factory space where it was being repaired. Different conditions, different outcome.
You could always double check the invoice if you wanted too.
Thank you for your response. I discussed this subject with my therapist, and he said something similar to what you did. He talked about the stress and anxiety causing me to not remember things well and to doubt myself. The past few days have been a bit better. I just wish I knew how to stop looking for the next problem to arise and catastrophizing all the time. I was diagnosed with social anxiety, but it seems to be more than just that. Here I go trying to label myself, which has not been at all productive. It has only given me further excuses for avoidance. Aside from anxiety, I'm just so unsure of who I am and what I want. The things I claim to want; I do absolutely nothing to make them a possibility. I'm so confusing to myself. The only activity I want to partake in is wallowing in self-pity. Nothing makes sense; I don't know why I am here, what my purpose is, what I want, how I feel. I don't enjoy from much of anything any more. It's all confusing to me.
Thanks, Jaquta. It's most helpful to know that someone else does indeed understand what I am going through. Sometimes I feel as though I must be losing my mind. Fortunately, the car did act up for them at the dealership on the 7th day there. That was confirmation, for me, that I didn't make it up. I knew I hadn't all along but I just started getting in my own head. I seem determined to stress myself out in one way or another.
You mentioned talking to yourself; well, I find myself that I sometimes do that when I'm out in public by myself. Every once in a while I will catch myself when this is occurring. Not sure if it's loud enough for anyone to hear but it's a nervous habit. I wonder if I'm doing it a lot, or I'm just being paranoid. Being told that I was doing it would stress me out as well.
I think that the issue of meaning, the meaning of one's life, is a potentially transformative one. Finding a meaning, or having a meaning, seems to be pretty powerful in helping one deal with the fears that we all have to wrestle with.
I am predicting that 2011 will be a much better year than 2010.
I honestly hope so because I can't do another year like this. I don't think I have the strength to do another one either. I doubt next year could be any worse than this one though.
My goals for next year are to relocate, to do the basics (diet, exercise, sleep, etc) well and to get myself into a good recovery program.
It must have been reassuring for you to have your car play up as that reaffirms that you're not not going crazy or losing the plot.
I use to be like that too. Was confident that something did happen but then doubt myself, lose confidence and become anxious.
Now I can't remember details and are constantly challenging whether the events were real or not. I'm not even sure my reality testing is all that good either.
I wonder if we are so use to that high level of stress that when we feel more relaxed we have to sabotage ourselves to feel it again.
Maybe feeling stressed makes us feel more alive??
After being in hospital I use to talk to myself a lot. I guess this was a way for me to process stuff. It was a lot of information and a lot of difficult emotions. It was probably mainly when I was either anxious or angry.
The point I was trying to make is that I don't think that I was talking to myself. I made a comment to my mother so as to avoid engaging in a conversation with her and she ran with it and totally undermined me. I don't know why we need to undermine others to feel good about ourselves. Her comment just left me feeling really insecure and paranoid. (Like the time I found a sheet of paper with all these different diagnoses on and my mother had either got them from her doctor or done an internet search on things that she thought I had. It made me wonder if I had them or if my treatment team had shared them with my family but not me. It really got in my head and made me doubt a lot of things.)
It can be hard to find meaning when life feels like pure torture. Where is the meaning in all that? For me it's pretty lame but I keep falling back on individual growth and development. What am I learning? What am I gaining from all this?
"Man's search for meaning," by Victor Frankyl is said to be pretty powerful reading.
I guess one similarity between mental illness and Nazi concentration camps is the issue of survival.
For me my life often feels hopeless but I guess we need to fight, to draw on reserves, because there is no way of predicting what may lie ahead in our future.
I have a simple philosophy and that is that everything happens for a reason.
How are you supposed to find that meaning/purpose? Everything just seems pointless to me, really. I just see things eventually getting to a point where I have to do something. Not that I want to do that, or have really put much thought in it, but what else am I going to do? I can't stay here living with my Dad and working a dead-end job forever. I'm 26 years old for goodness sake. Never have I been on a single date. There's really nothing that I like about myself. All I do is think about how pathetic I am. I don't feel close to anyone or anything anymore. Please, please, be right and 2011 be a better. This past year has been the biggest struggle of my life. Who knows right now if it's going to completely break me or make me stronger.
I don't know if I'm doing anything right, as every decision I make seems to backfire. Going to the therapist and psychiatrist only makes me think about how miserable I am all the time. Talking about it only keeps it fresh in my mind. Maybe I should just quit medication and therapy? No, because it's too late for that. It's brought up too many feelings and emotions that I don't even know how to deal with. If I don't go, things are never going to change. But if I do continue to go, I think I'll get the same results. Dang, I'm scared!
I hope 2011 is better for both of us as I, too, can't take another year like this past one. We just have to keep holding it together, I suppose. My goal is to maybe get to a point where I'm comfortable with myself, whoever that is.
--"I wonder if we are so use to that high level of stress that when we feel more relaxed we have to sabotage ourselves to feel it again.
Maybe feeling stressed makes us feel more alive??"--
I've often thought that myself. When I don't have something to worry about that's of immediate concern, I'll start stressing about things that ususally don't even occur. It's like I have to be worrying about something to know that I'm alive, I can't explain it. No, I don't like that I do that, but it seems natural to me.
I don't know why parents are so difficult to deal with. Sorry that your mom is only adding to your problems by making you worry. During this time that I have been having higher than usual levels of anxiety, my Mom and I haven't been speaking much. She has said some incredibly mean, hurtful things that I just can't get over. She doesn't understand, or even try to comprehend, what I'm going through.
Life is a struggle, that's for sure. I'm not sure what I'm fighting for exactly. Making an effort and trying seems risky, because what if it can get worse? I guess I keep going on out of habit, it's all I know.
I'm not going to hold things together for the sake of holding them together. I'm not going to pretend that life doesn't suck for me for the most part or pretend that people who should be helping me are when they are making things worse.
One of my goals is also to take more responsibility for making changes. No one else can do it for me and I also doubt that any one else really cares.
Feeling comfortable within your own skin can be a difficult one. I've made some progress on that one. I think feeling accepted and feeling less ashamed helps. Comfortable, I think, also means listening to yourself. Not necessarily all the rubbish in our heads but with how we feel. Intrinsically we know what is best for us.
I sometimes found myself doing that with impulsive things such as driving fast or perhaps even spending. Maybe some of that was about the gratification, or the relief, I got from doing those things? Maybe I was just going through withdrawal from stress hormones and needed a fix. Perhaps we just build up a tolerance. I expect what I consider relaxed is what others consider extremely stressed (just generally speaking).
Eek! A spider just crawled under the keys of my keypad. Gross. I don't like creepy crawly stuff that much. Although I find myself rescuing them heaps. I hate seeing stuff killed.
My parents just don't get it. My dad is dumb (sees and understands nothing) and my mum just doesn't get it and minimizes everything and can be a real cow (x infinity).
Messed up parents with issues are part of our problem, I think.
When my mother thought I was out once I overheard her telling my father that she didn't care if I died. That's nice. And once for my birthday dad walked straight past me, ignoring me and my existence and gave my mum some flowers (a token to acknowledge her anger but with no acceptance or accountability of behavior).
Dad doesn't see me and mum doesn't care for me. That's great. Very validating.
Parents are in denial a lot of the time. Maybe we are quick to judge and blame too.
Seriously? Worse than this? I doubt it.
I don't know why it seems easier for me to kill myself than to get a job. Sounds messed up whichever way you look at it. I've been through a lot, what is there to be so afraid of?
I think doing the same thing provides a sense of security too.
All this psychological stuff is so messed up. The irony is that we can see what we're doing but just don't change it.
Here's to a happier and healthier New Year to us all.
I'm not good at pretending it's going to be okay, which is why I'm so miserable. Being realistic isn't doing much for me, though I'm told that nothing is definite and that I'm just being pessimistic. You're right, you have to be the one to care about yourself. As harsh as it may sound, you can't depend on anyone else to care about your well-being. It's sad that people only seem to care about themselves, no one else. Well, that's not always the case as you, Jaquta, have taken time to try to help and reassure me. Thanks!
There is not really anything that I like about myself, so I have a lot of work to do. I feel unworthy of being loved, having friends, trying to better myself. Change just seems so frightening to me.
Maybe I should just blow through the money I received for Christmas!...Maybe that would make me feel better...kidding. It would, but would just be short-lived. At least that's what I've found in my experiences.
Oh gosh, I hate spiders! Don't spare it's life, the fewer spiders in the world the better!
Yes, I do believe my parents are part of the reason I'm so screwed up. dad never has dealt with emotions. For instance, I was crying my eyes out right in front of him this evening and he said nothing. My Mom has had issues with anxiety, though never diagnosed. She made me afraid of so much.
Like you said your mom does, my mom minimizes everything going on. Doesn't want to admit anything is wrong with me, blames herself, and I can't discuss it with her or she ignores me. She got mad at me for seeking treatment. Ended up telling me to "f*** off, kiss her (butt) and leave her alone." I didn't think a mother could say anything much worse than that, but your mom sure did. That's is so horrible for her to say and I don't know how you are dealing with that. Aren't our parents supposed to be the people to love us unconditionally? If not them, who will?...How scary is that? Neither one of us should have to put up with verbal and mental abuse. You deserve better and I'm sorry that you are having to deal with that.
It could get worse in that I could be living out on the streets, no place to go, no food to eat. I do have a job, but it is nothing to brag about as it is a dead-end job with lousy pay. Well, I signed up for a couple college classes this coming semester and I feel like it's do or die for me, literally. If I sign up and can't complete it (and I know I won't be able to), I don't see the purpose, right now, of going on. You say you would rather die than get a job?...Well, I'd rather die than attempt public speaking. That is not the class I'm enrolled in, as I'm trying to get out of it with a note from my psychiatrist. But I understand your fears. Really, I do.
Why don't we change? We are both clearly unhappy, so why do we accept that? I know these questions are impossible to answer, as I've spent a great deal of time contemplating it. Do we want to make ourselves miserable? For me, I'm not only scared to failure, I'm scared to success and what that would lead to. I'm scared of everything!
I was told by Dr Gould that basing stuff in reality is good. I need to check out our old posts as he had a lot of good stuff to say.
Nothing is definite. I live at home with my parents on a farm. They were going to sell some animals to the meat works yesterday (something that I really hate. Leaves me feeling responsible for their death and almost as though I have killed them myself). Anyway, it was wet so that got cancelled and they are happily eating grass in their paddock. A reprieve for now. It feels good but demonstrates that nothing is certain.
I think that perhaps people care but just not enough. I care but not enough not to get caught up in my own issues. It sounds selfish putting yourself ahead of others but I think that many people do it. Hopefully you'll understand what I'm trying to say.
If my posting helps you then that is a win-win for both of us as talking to others helps me too.
If anything I think that I am just more sensitive to feelings of rejection, etc so are perhaps more careful to prevent others from feeling as alienated as I have been.
It hurts not to have anyone listen to you or talk to you and to have your feelings dismissed and invalidated.
Change frightens me too. I think I am more prepared to embrace it at the moment though because things have been so uncomfortable.
Everyone deserves to be loved and to have the opportunity to learn and grow.
I like you. Maybe you could look at it differently and ask yourself what you don't like about yourself. If you got the opportunity to write your problems down and hang them on a tree, would you choose to take yours or someone elses?
I use to think that I wasn't worthy either and use to feel guilty when others died as I felt that they had way more to contribute than me. I even felt that people who had abused me and their positions of power were more deserving of life than I.
If I were stuck on the side of a mountain and had to decide whether to cut myself or the other person free I would invariably always decide to save the other person.
It wasn't about being a martyr but about feeling worthless and useless and undeserving. Probably also about feeling hopeless and powerless to change.
Sometimes I think that I'd like the life my doctor has but the reality is that I wouldn't like to be him. That's healthy for me.
Maybe in time you'll learn to love yourself and to appreciate your unique gifts (and also those attributes that are common to many of us).
Save your money and spend it on something you want.
I was given a book voucher for Xmas and actually spent it soon after I received it. I had been considering buying a book for some time (one written by a medhelp expert) and with the voucher it made it affordable. I probably wouldn't have bought it otherwise.
The spider was back again this morning and I killed it. It is all shrivelled up and I feel really bad for it now. I also killed some cluster flies but I don't feel quite the same remorse for them. I usually rescue insects that have fallen in the dogs water bowl, etc.
Your parents sound a little like mine. Dad isn't very good with emotions and my mother had issues with anxiety and depression. I think that I have inherited, or learned, many of my fears from her.
I don't get many of their decisions either. We use to have a block of land and a bach where we would go for the holidays. A lot of it we planted but a lot was also covered in dense bush. One time when we went there a group of guys came up (it was well off the road) and mum said that she believed that they would come back later that night and kill us. I'm freaking out and they have us stay there. Later when we cleared the property drugs were found and also just after we sold it a body was found in our creek. Is it any wonder that I am a nervous wreak half the time? Or was. I think that my anxiety is somewhat improved.
They likely wouldn't say such hurtful things if it didn't matter to them so much.
I know my parents care even if they show it in strange ways.
I don't think it really matters what they say as anything negative is going to be perceived as rejecting and hurtful.
My parents wait until I have sacrificed a lot for them and are not in a position to move and then they tell me to move out. I think that they like the power and control that gives them or the ability to say that it is then my decision to stay. It is so disempowering and makes me feel so vulnerable. It's also hard to believe that you can trust others when you can't even trust your own family.
I think that our parents do love us but with conditions (and lots of them).
Ironically what did happen seems very trivial to other stuff that has happened. I was also told by the psych services to get lost when I was feeling suicidal and asked for help. Maybe it's me and not them?
Some of the hard stuff closes your heart off a little but at the same time I think it also makes it more capable of compassion.
Could you set yourself more realistic goals so that you can achieve them or complete the course?
I don't think that either of us are ignorant or take for granted most of what we do have (except maybe when we feel bad and have trouble seeing, or acknowledging, any good in anything).
It does sound ignorant to be so self-indulgent in self issues but ... well, maybe others would be too if they experienced such chronic issues. It drains a lot of the positive.
Perhaps in our minds we just catastrophize and need to break things down into smaller steps. Focus on the reality and of putting things into perspective (as Dr Gould would say).
I think in the moment the fear (or whatever) is overwhelming.
If I break the job thing down I can see that there is a fear of being judged (cv and interview). An overwhelming sense of guilt and shame regarding my past. My insecurity regarding lack of intelligence, etc. My anxiety regarding interacting with people and my fear of accepting my imperfection and of possible rejection.
Now I also view a job as not necessarily giving me the freedom that I would like. Not having enough flexibility for me to do other things.
Currently due to health issues I don't even think I could manage (physically, mentally or emotionally).
There are a lot of pay offs from working though.
I don't think that we deliberately set out to make ourselves miserable. One thing that really grates with me is people saying that because I don't change they don't believe I want too. I expect it must be hard for a normal person to understand this.
Me too. Terrified of failure. Terrified of success.
There are many places to look to find meaning or purpose. Viktor Frankl wrote a good deal on this topic. His classic book, Man's Search For Meaning, is one that still has the power to inspire.
I find that for many people it can be helpful trying to figure out what you can do and do well. I like the second half of the book What Color is Your Parachute for that. There are several exercises there that I have begun to use with my patients who are trying to decide what they want to do with their lives. [The first part of the book is what most people read, it addresses the strategies for finding a job].
In every life there is plenty that is painful, and upsetting, or sad. But I do believe that in every life there is also at least a little bit that raises the possibility of positive change and hope. Maybe not very much, in the life of a concentration camp prisoner like Frankl, for instance, but a little bit. Try to notice that part that has some hope connected to it, not all the time, but often.
One of the things that all of us have some control over is what we attend to, to feel better we don't have to say ridiculously optimistic things to ourselves, but we do have to pay attention to ideas and experiences that connect with the possibility of optimism.
I often feel that mental illness is like being stuck in a prison and maybe like a concentration camp too because the threat of death is always there.
What frustrates me more than anything else is that the barriers are perceived and not real. A bit like the elephant tied to the wooden peg by a rope.
I heard something yesterday. It went something along the lines of narrating your story but not re-telling your old one. It's pretty powerful that we get to write our own stories and create our own journeys or chapters.
I'm glad about the doctor's last comment because I absolutely loathe affirmations.
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