Do I Have a Mental Health Problem?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Well where to start… I’m starting to question my mental integrity. My mother’s side of the family has had a mental history to it, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other various mental problems, so I’ve always questioned myself just off of that fact. My mother, 3 of her siblings, her mother, and her grandmother all have mental disorders. . Recently, one of my sisters was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when we got a random call saying that she was halfway across the country in a mental institute because she had just attempted to commit suicide (we had no idea she was even out of town). This has troubled me because I am one of the only people that understands her and takes the time to listen to her for more than 5 seconds. Well, I think I have more potential to do worse things than her, based off of my recent thinking.

I have always been obsessed with certain things since my infancy. I have always had 1 single thing that I thought about, sure I had other side things (like school), but I would spend the majority of my days doing 1 particular thing. Once I eventually got over one thing, I would find another. Well it’s gotten so bad, that I can barely mentally function outside of my obsessions. As stupid as it sounds, right now I am so far obsessed with online video gaming, that I never want to go with anybody else or do anything, it always ends up me disappointing people because I want to go play Halo (The reason I play Halo so much is because I want to go pro. I have so many people I know personally that have gone to tournaments and made alot of money, and I’m better than them, I just haven’t had the opportunity to go to tournaments).

My friends say I CAN function fine outside of my obsessions, but I beg to differ. I try as hard as I can to fit in, but sometimes I just want to be alone and cry. At the church I go to, there alot of (very very hot) girls that are trying to hook up with me, but as strange as it sounds, I feel alone when I’m near other people, so I put on a stone cold front and say no. I feel so much more comfortable being on the computer like I am now just getting involved in thought. I do marijuana occasionally, but I know what it can do to a persons mind in the long run, so I am contemplating quiting. The only reason I do these things is to find comfort for myself. I’m not going to lie, I think about suicide every day, and just this past month I’ve done some hard drugs mainly because I don’t care what they do to me physically, because I feel I have no purpose for living anyways so why not. I’ve had suicidal thoughts for at least 3 years, but these last 2 years have been really bad. Unless I’m with my obsession, I get suicidal thoughts. Sometimes even when I am with my obsession, the suicidal thoughts are still there in the back of my head.

Besides the suicidal thoughts, the biggest reason I think I’m starting to get a big problem is because of my new obsession that’s starting to form. I’ve been researching heavily online about conspiracy theories and UFOs, every day for the past month now. While researching this stuff alone isn’t necessarily mental, I can definitely recognize that my thinking process is being heavily altered. It seems that every new obsession I get, it gets more and more away from traditional thinking and I am heavily isolating myself from other people. I can tell that my actions are also getting very strange. I will be just walking around in such deep thought, and I will be mumbling, muttering under my breath what’s in my brain at the time and it’s kinda scaring me because I’ve never been weird like that before. Another thing is, when I go to bed, my thoughts will be just racing through my head, I usually cannot go to sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning. And when I wake up, all my sheets and blankets will be on the floor, and my parents say that I was sleepwalking.
Which is another thing, my sleepwalking. I have always been a big sleep walker, but it’s getting alot worse. I have nightmares almost every other night, and when I wake up from them, I will have very bad hallucinations for an hour on end where I see things all over the room and out the window etc. Just last night I ran out of my room because I had a nightmare of people surrounding my bed, and when I opened my eyes, they were there. I have hallucinations so bad, I can be fully awake, walk over to the hallucination and see incredible amounts of detail. My sleep hallucinations have generally been the harmless kinds (seeing kittens on the couch LOL), but now they are getting so lucid and frightening.

I know most of what I’m saying may very well have nothing to do with mental sickness, but I am so scared of myself and the thoughts of suicide have been sounding so good. I literally wish I was dead, and have wished this for a couple years. And also people I play Halo with online think I’m bipolar, because of the fact that I can be laughing joking one minute, and screaming at them because of something small and insignificant the next. I do this alot. My dad doesn’t think anything is wrong with me, but I don’t tell him about the way I feel at all, and I try to put a really good front up for him so he doesn’t feel disappointed.

I’ve literally stopped playing halo for 3 weeks, I’ve gotten fed up with all the constant criticism I get from people on there, thats the only reason I’m even on this website asking for help, otherwise I’d be there, but I know it’s just a bubble of ignorance for me to hide in, and if I do have serious problems, I want to address them before they become out of control. I know nobody who sees this will be able to help me, but I just need an outside opinion. I don’t want to wait till I’m in my 20s and have a breakdown like my sister.

A. I do not know if you have a diagnosable mental health disorder but I do have a few concerns. You said you have a number of obsessions which tend to occupy your attention that you have trouble stopping or controlling. This is not a mental health condition per say but you are displaying a tendency to become fixated to the point where it has become problematic and noticeable to you and others. It would be helpful for you to learn ways to stop your obsessions and to gain skills in time management, relaxation, as well as how to refocus your attention, and so forth. A therapist can help you develop these skills.

Another concern I have is with your tendency towards conspiracy theories. This may be a sign of paranoia. Please keep in mind that because I cannot talk with you in person to gather more details, I do not know if you are in fact paranoid.

With regard to your sleep walking, you should consider getting a sleep study. Talk to your parents about this. Ask them to speak to your doctor about getting a sleep study. There may be a treatment for your sleep walking.

You suicidal ideation is also very concerning. Because of this and the other issues you asked about, I would strongly suggest talking to your parents about getting into counseling. If a therapist meets with you and determines that you do have obsessive tendencies and paranoia, he or she can work with you to alter these patterns and behaviors. Learning new behaviors can possibly prevent any future problems; something you said you are concerned with. If you are not comfortable talking with your parents, consult a trusted adult friend or relative, or consider talking to the school counselor. I wish you luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Mar 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Do I Have a Mental Health Problem?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/16/do-i-have-a-mental-health-problem/