Am I Schizophrenic?
Q. For as long as I can remember, I’ve thought there was something wrong with my head. I often even tell my friends that I have OCD, paranoia, bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders. At first I was joking, but as I gradually heard more and more about the disorders I didn’t only think I had them, but I was sure of it.
In the last month or so, things started getting so much worse. My OCD symptoms had always consisted of things like making strange patterns out of where I stepped, making sure to always complete everything to its highest possible extent or not finishing it at all, organizing things in obsessive or symmetrical order, and various other things that came up less often. But lately, I’ve been worse off. The little “games” I made for where I walk have been getting more and more complex, counting how many steps I take between certain spaces and always going onto certain landmarks around my school.
And lately I’ve also been imagining nearly everything I see as having some kind of ulterior motive against me, in some cases even people I would usually trust and otherwise normal non-living things. I rode home from a friend’s house with his father last weekend and I immediately thought that he was going to run me off the road and crash us into a wall to try to kill me. I walked under a canopy on the firehouse near my home and the idea of the roof collapsing in on me came over me.
Recently, I have also been getting strange pains. It feels like something is cutting into my hands or throat. I have no idea what this means, I had never heard of it as a symptom for any psychological problem, but I don’t think it is just happening on a physical level.
I decided recently that I might have a real problem, so I did some research, looking up what I thought I had. The more I looked around, the worse it seemed to me. And then I found Schizophrenia, and everything seemed exactly like me. I have delusions, affective flattening, alogia, avolition, severe memory issues, among other things.
I have never told my family, or really anyone about my problems in sincerity. I’m afraid of what they’ll think of me. I know I’ll eventually have to tell them, but I’m afraid that they’ll think I’m just a hypochondriac or looking for an excuse for something.
I’m also sort of afraid to seek professional help because I’m a writer. I’m afraid that getting help for these issues will change who I am and I won’t be able to think like I do now. I don’t want to change the way I am.
A. I get many letters from individuals who feel that they have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Realistically, and fortunately, few people actually have this disorder. Approximately only one percent of the population has schizophrenia. It is relatively uncommon.
You mentioned that you have many of the symptoms of the disorder but since you did not detail all of your symptoms (just your diagnosis of those symptoms) I do not know if you are in fact suffering from those symptoms. You did detail OCD symptoms and some paranoia, and maybe possibly some delusions but you did not explain what would make you think that you have affective flattening, alogia, avolition, or severe memory issues. This is not to say that you are not having these symptoms (affective flattening, alogia, avolition, severe memory issues) but you did not describe these in detail as you did with some of your other symptoms.
I can make no certain judgments about whether or not you have schizophrenia but I do believe that you are experiencing serious mental health symptoms that warrant a psychiatric evaluation and intervention.
I know that you do not want to seek help for these issues but it’s likely that these symptoms will worsen if you do not find a way decrease or eliminate them. You should not attempt this on your own. Getting treatment does not mean that you have to take medications that will alter your mind or personality. Medications are generally the treatment for paranoia and delusions but this is not always the case.
You can seek treatments that are talk therapy based and therefore wouldn’t require you to take mind altering drugs. If you can work now to learn how to possibly control these symptoms, with the help of a very qualified therapist, you may be able to prevent a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia from developing. Get help now before these symptoms worsen to the point of a full blown psychotic episode in which the only appropriate and proven treatment, at that point would be medication.
Randle, K. (2008). Am I Schizophrenic?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 1, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/04/13/am-i-schizophrenic/