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Psychiatry & Psychology--General/urgently need help ,i dont know whats going on


QUESTION: Hi , sorry i'm really new to this , but i'm desperately in need of help .scared more than ever . ive been feeling extremely odd this last year but im too scared to tell anyone cause they'll think im insane .I feel constantly like im in a dream/surreal .my vision is 2d and lacks depth .there is unbelieveably wrong with my memory ,i cant remember 80% of my life , i cant even remember what i did 30 min ago .i sometimes feel overwhelming emotions without any cause
and sometimes i dont express any emotion at all .i constantly daydream when im alone , they are so intense that i dont notice that im acting them out or saying my thoughts out loud. argue with myself alot in my head ,i have a very loud inner dialogue .places look very unfamiliar to me , even my own room.i get these blank staring spells where i completely zone out like im in trance. there's wrong with my night it feels like someone is staring at me . i have this strong feeling that something is missing plz help ,my biggest fear is to go insane

ANSWER: Damien, you do have a lot of cognitive or mental symptoms, but the fact that you are so accurately aware of and troubled by them strongly suggests that you were never insane, are not insane, and not likely to become insane.  (Incidentally, "insanity" is really just a legal, not a medical or psychological term.)

It sounds like the starting place for you to start feeling better would be an appointment with a doctor.  That way, you can be sent for diagnostic tests such as for your blood chemistry.  (For all we know, you are simply deficient in an element that is causing all the symptoms.) The doctor can also discuss with you trying some anti-anxiety medication, a referral to a psychiatrist who can even better assess your symptoms and prescribe a treatment, or a referral to a clinical psychologist who can work with you on the best way to cope with your symptoms.

I don't know your age or if you have access to a doctor, but if you'd like to send a follow-up on this, I'll be glad to respond. In the meantime, nobody should have to go through such distress on their own, and I hope you find yourself in good hands in short order.

Thanks for asking us, and the best of luck in finding the right help.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Alan thanks so much for your feedback , it's quite a relief to know im not insane.I'm 20 years old and I live in south africa .I went to see a dr but i only told him about my anxiety issues and the odd dreamlike sensation , i was to scared to go into detail because my mom always comes with and i didnt want her to think strange of me because my uncle on my father's side went crazy and they have avoided him for years. the dr did give me xanax which helped quite a bit tho , but only for a short while ,now it just leaves me extremely tired and fatigued. they did test me for epilepsy and blood work and everything came back normal .at random times when i try to sleep i'll end up having full blown convulsions ,which nobody can give me a reason for .My lapses in memory causes me great concern tho aswell as the detached feeling ,which is impossible to describe ,it ranges in intensity from time to time ,but never goes away.i also have experienced episodes where i suddenly realize that i dont know where i am ,who i am and how i got there. Ive noticed that i avoid people alot these past days because i feel completely overwhelmed by my senses , its like everything is moving to fast and my brain cant keep up .i struggle to follow and remember conversations ,i always did tho due to my adhd ,but its seemingly getting worse . i cant really see a psychologist cause my family are very judgemental and they'll just make fun of me .I just wish i could know what it is thats causing me to feel this way so that i can reassure myself that im not psychotic nor manic .ive read about a condition called derealization which quite describes the feeling but it only describes a portion of what im experiencing.i cant talk to anyone because they dont understand at all's like impossible for them to understand because its impossibe to explain . ive been daydreaming since i was a child tho but i still do it and dont realize sometimes when i do it until afterwards .and its like my thoughts are very loud not like hearing voices just like my inner thoughts and i even argue with myself ,which is kinda weird.thank you very much alan for listening ,your literally the first person that ive talked to about my condition , i was never this freightend in my life .if you can give me any suggestions of what it might be ill really really appreciate it.

Thanks for getting back.

Yes, good mothers routinely accompany their kids at a doctor visit, but there comes a child's age, depending on the circumstances, when it's time for such visits to be private. Perhaps if you said that you needed to discuss with your doctor adjusting your medication, and that you would feel more comfortable for this type of consultation to be private, that will happen.

Then, even alone with the doctor, it's often intimidating to describe all the symptoms and concerns. But I think you outlined it well in your two emails to us, so you could print (or write out) what you've said, and tell the doctor that to make sure you didn't forget things, would he mind reading a short account of the kind of help you've been seeking. Whether to include my responses (or wait until he asks about them) is up to you.  

If your mother has reason to want to be with you at the doctor visit and this becomes an issue, you could hand what you wrote directly to the doctor, and let him handle things from there.

As for being derided by your family for seeing a mental health professional, you could say  that the reason is that you are at an age when it's helpful to discuss strategies for coping with problems (ones that have nothing to do with your family).

As much as I'd like to provide the answer you seek, I'm not in a position to diagnose. In any case, what you have, what's wrong, what it's called, is much less important than how it should be handled, and this is what I hope you get competent help for.


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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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