Overwhelmed. Please Help.

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Occasionally feel like I’m going “crazy” — like the world and life is not real and I’m about to black out. I have wondered on and off for several years now if I’m dealing with depression, but every time I take one of those online tests I’m never able to honestly check off enough of the boxes to be considered depressed. I go through periods of time that last several weeks where I feel completely immobilized. I don’t clean the house, or keep up with my calendars, or do anything except what absolutely has to be done like going to work and meeting my responsibilities to others. During these times the house gets disgusting and I get so overwhelmed that I feel like I can’t climb out of the hole I’ve dug for myself. Finally I’ll get my hands on a self-help book I haven’t read yet, and I’ll drag myself out of it and be fine for a couple of weeks. But it’s a struggle to be that way. It feels like it takes so much effort to live a normal life that there’s no way I can keep it up forever and I’ll finally give up and go back into my period of immobilization again.

I often feel like life is hard for everyone and I am just a spoiled baby who doesn’t want to deal with chores and hardships. A lazy worthless excuse for a woman. Then I start to feel like my family would be so much better off with someone else to care for them instead of me. A few times I’ve truly wished I was dead, but I wouldn’t consider this thoughts of suicide because I would never hurt myself no matter how bad things feel. It was more of a why was I ever born kind of feeling — as though I didn’t ask God to put me in the world so why did He have to put me here? Why would He have done that to my family when they deserve so much better than me. But more recently there have been a few times that I’ve felt like I’m literally going “crazy”. I don’t really know how to describe it. It makes me think of my psychology class I took last semester when I read about schizophrenia. I feel like my brain is trying to shut down or cut off or something. The world starts to look different — kind of jittery is the best I can describe it. Like you’ve had too much caffeine except without the energy rush. And it’s only behind my eyes; my body itself doesn’t feel jittery. I feel like I’m more inside of my head than normal, if that makes any sense. It almost seems like the world is going to go black. It’s always evening when this happens and I feel like a lot of it has to do with being really tired. Although I probably get just as much sleep as anyone else does. Anywhere from 5-10 hours per night just depending on what’s going on in the week. Probably an average of 7 hrs per night.

I’m embarrassed to tell you that I have children because I feel like someone in my condition has no right being a mother. But I do have two precious kids. The thing is that I have no problem forcing myself to care for them when I feel immobilized. I make sure that all of their needs are met and they are loved and adored and know how much they mean to myself and my husband. Anyone outside my life would probably be shocked to know that I was this way. My husband is really the only person that does know. This fact makes me feel like I must just be a lazy person because I know I have the ability to force myself to meet my responsibilities to others. My husband has said a couple of times that he thinks I may be depressed. I’m afraid to go to a clinic though because I somehow feel like if I do have something psychological going on it’s not depression, and I feel like a doctor would be quick to diagnose it as that and move on to the next patient. Any advice or ideas of what could be wrong with me will be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much, Overwhelmed.

A. You do not need to score a certain number or percentage on an Internet test to know if you are suffering from depression. It seems clear that you are, no matter what score you receive on those tests.

What do you know for sure? You know that you feel depressed seemingly more often than happy. You said that you have intermittent periods where you feel really lousy to the point where even the simplest task seems like an impossible chore. You often feel tired despite getting a healthy amount of sleep. You seem to have a negative or pessimistic view of yourself, harshly criticizing your behavior and referring to yourself as “lazy” and wondering why you were ever born. You seem generally unhappy with life.

You also mentioned that sometimes you feel that you are going “crazy” and experience that “[your] brain is trying to shut down or cut off or something. The world starts to look different – kind of jittery is the best I can describe it. Like you’ve had too much caffeine except without the energy rush. And it’s only behind my eyes – my body itself doesn’t feel jittery. I feel like I’m more inside of my head than normal, if that makes any sense. It almost seems like the world is going to go black.” I would need to ask you many more questions regarding the aforementioned symptoms to give a name to what you are experiencing.

I would suggest that you seek help from a professional. I know that you are worried about being diagnosed with something other than depression but without assistance you will continue to suffer. Life will continue to be unpleasant for you and the very prospect of that should seem objectionable to you. The symptoms you mentioned regarding the “craziness” that you feel may be related to your depression and if not, they may be related to a medical problem. But only a doctor who you met with in person could know for certain.

To counteract your other fear of getting to spend little time with a doctor, you should try to find a therapist who comes highly recommended. You can even do an Internet search for therapists in your area. Perhaps there are client reviews of therapists available to help you better choose a therapist. I would also recommend that you call many therapists before you meet them in person to get a sense of what they are like over the phone. You should call a minimum of 10 therapists. When you call, ask them many questions regarding how they might treat your issues and inquire about whether they have treated others with depression in the past.

I would encourage you to be brave and to stand up to your fear of getting help. Don’t let fear hold you back from becoming the strong woman, wife and mother you have the potential to be. If you don’t do it for yourself, then do it for your children. Know that even if you try to shelter your children from your bouts of depression it is still highly likely that it will have an impact on them.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Nov 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Overwhelmed. Please Help.. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/11/17/overwhelmed-please-help/