People think I’m Abnormal

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: A lot of people think I’m abnormal. For a long period of time I’ve known I’m no different to anyone else, but recently I’ve thought otherwise. I keep getting mood swings when they shouldn’t be occurring. One minute I’ll be perfectly happy and the next minute I won’t know where I am and I’ll start to panic. I get angry over what can be seen as ‘stupid little things’, and usually turn to violence. I don’t know what has happened to me over the past few years.
I’ve been having suicidal thoughts since the age of eight, and now they’re worse than ever. Everything I do seems to lead to lead to pain for my friends so I’m starting to resort to staying on my own in the house. I can only be with a maximum of five people at a time otherwise I start to panic and I usually end up crying.
I’m a bi-sexual girl and I attend an all girls’ school. Last year one of my closest friends was beaten up for the simple fact she too was bi-sexual. Since then I have been too scared to speak whilst at school when near anyone who may be able to hear me other than friends. I get regular panic attacks at school due to the amount of people. I have recently heard that there are rumours about me being a lesbian, so I am currently too scared to go out alone.
I spend a lot of my time on the computer. I believe strongly in the conspiracy theory of New World Order and so I often spend hours at a time researching it. At the moment I am unable to sleep for the reason that I fear the government are planning to microchip me whilst I cannot fight back. I have also cut down on the amount of food and drink I consume in case there are microchips hidden in the product. Another thing that has been worrying me is aliens. People tell me it is unlikely aliens are real, and even if they did exist they would go to scientists; not me, but i’m still scared incase they come to me because I know about them. It’s getting to the extent where I have to sit with some form of weapon to protect myself. I regularly feel things scratching at my body when I am still which causes me to ‘break down’.
People at school make jokes about me being Obsessive Compulsive because they think I’m messing around when I do things. The thing is, I’m not. Every part of my day has to consist of the usual routine or something bad will happen the next day, which will cause something bad to happen the day after, etc. Even the smallest thing can ruin everything; if I don’t hit the key against the lock four times before opening the door, or if I don’t turn my plate anti-clockwise four times before eating, for example.
Few friends know a lot about me. As I was growing up I was very conscious (and I still am conscious) of how I look. I ended up going to the extent of making myself sick after meals. Luckily I have stopped, and I can safely say that’s in the past.
The thing that scares me the most is the smallest thing of all. I hear voices in my head. They’re not people and they’re not real, but they’re there. I don’t like them. They try and control me, and most of the time they succeed. I tried to explain this to a friend a few months back. I ended up using the metaphor of a box. I feel like my life is a big box filled of lots of tiny little boxes. Every box I open makes me a new person. I don’t like the person but I have to open it anyway. There’s an empty corner of the big box. The only way I can close the big box is if I fill that corner with a tiny box. That tiny box is in one of the other tiny box’s. Basically I don’t know who I am anymore. I’ve lost myself. I don’t know if it’s actually me speaking or something that’s not me. I tend to say something and not remember saying it. It scares me because if I can’t control what I’m saying, it means I can’t control what I’m doing. This has resulted in me doing things I shouldn’t be doing. There’s a lot of voices in my head, and they’re constantly talking; arguing, disagreeing, shouting. It drives me insane. The only way they stop is if I drink alcohol. Or I smoke. Or I take some kind of drug. The moment I take it, the moment I’m myself again. Because of this, I was put into an ambulance for over drinking.
The last thing I worry about is my phobias and possessiveness. I’m scared of a lot of things. I’m scared of paper, I’m scared of phone calls, I’m scared of fridges, I’m scared of ovens, I’m scared of balloons, I’m scared of aliens, I’m scared of the government, I’m scared of people, I’m scared of talking to adults, the list goes on. I’m especially scared of numbers. I don’t know what causes it all, but if I have to do anything that involves any of the above, I usually become physically sick. I avoid being out of the house for these reasons, along with the reasons I said before.
I become extremely possessive over stupid little things. If I see a train ticket on the floor and I like the destination I can’t let it out of my sight. I’m not possessive over people, just objects. I don’t know why.
I just wanted to know whether or not this was worth seeing a professional about. I don’t think it is, as in my opinion it’s related to teenage stress, but a few of my friends have become worried about me.

A: I’m worried about you too. A 14 year old shouldn’t have to deal with so many worries and so many fears. Yes. You should talk to a professional. If you are worried about saying all of this, just bring along a copy of your letter. You did a beautiful job describing your concerns.

You may not realize it, but you’ve been trying to medicate yourself with drinking and taking drugs. That may make you feel better temporarily but it isn’t going to give you long-term peace. There are medicines that can do a much better job for a much longer time than alcohol or illegal drugs. A professional can help you get the right kind of medicine and can help you learn some new ways to cope with your anxieties.

You didn’t mention your family. I hope you can go to your parents or another relative for support. If not, I’m guessing that there is a counselor or nurse available at your school. You could also call ChildLine, UK. This is a hotline set up especially for children and youth in the UK. You can talk to ChildLine about anything — no problem is too big or too small. Their website is http://www.childline.org.uk and their phone number is 0800 1111.

Please do take care of yourself by confiding in someone and by finding some professional help. I know you’re not happy about talking with adults. But the right adult can take a lot of the burden you are feeling right now off your shoulders.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Sep 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). People think I’m Abnormal. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/09/28/people-think-im-abnormal/