Am I Autistic, Schizophrenic?

By Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D.

I am having problems, and I fear I may be autistic, but I can’t be sure. I have had psychological problems my whole life. I remember seeing a therapist or somebody at a very young age (maybe 5 or 6 years old), although I can’t really remember why. I have always been very quiet and reserved. I hated school more than most kids and it caused me many problems. I started seeing somebody again at the age of twelve or thirteen because of this. It was suggested to my mother at this time that I might be schizophrenic. In middle-school I remember taking antidepressants, but I stopped before starting high-school.

Most kids have problems adjusting to high-school, but my freshman year was perhaps the most productive year of my schooling. I got fairly good grades for the first time since sixth grade, but I only had a few close friends. During my sophomore year my friends started smoking pot, so, naturally, I began to also. My grades started slipping. My junior year was horrible. I started doing other drugs and I started to take anti-depressants again. I began abusing Ambien really bad. I would take anywhere form 7 to 14 at a time. I lost my virginity to a girlfriend, and after the relationship ended I stopped going to school. I ended up having to go to an alternative high-school, but I graduated early.

At the start of what was supposed to be my senior year I joined the Army. I scored very high on the ASVAB, and I signed to be a operating room technician in the army reserves. I made it through boot camp without any problems, and I graduated in the top ten percent of my OR Tech class. The end of my training consisted of nine weeks of hospital work. I participated in over 80 surgeries.

After my training had ended I moved back home with my parents and I got accepted into college. The summer before school began I moved into an apartment with a high-school buddy of mine. I hadn’t done any drugs since I joined the army, but occasionally I would drink beers. There were some pay problems with the military, and I couldn’t pay my half of the rent one month. For some reason, me and my roommate allowed another friend of ours to convince us that it would be a good idea to rob the bank that he worked at. To make a long story short, someone turned us in, and I ended up doing six months in jail. Jail was hard, but I didn’t get in any fights and nobody picked on me or anything like that.

That brings me to the present. I have been out of jail for three or four months now, but I am on probation. I haven’t had any problems staying sober. I haven’t done any drugs in two and a half years, and I the last time I had a drink was 8 or 9 months ago. Luckily, the Army did not discharge me and I still drill one weekend a month with my unit.

I have always had something wrong with me and I have always felt different. There have been times in the past where I have thought I was a paranoid schizophrenic. Other times I have been very depressed. But now I feel I might be autistic. I took the autistic quiz on this site and I got a 28. 30 was the score for possible autism. I have trouble keeping my fingers still. I pick at the skin around my nails constantly, even to the point in which they bleed. I have done this as long as I can remember. I also have always had terrible posture. People have commented that it looks as though I have a hunchback. I cannot tell if it is a physical problem or if it is psychological that I slouch to the point that I do. I also have noticed in the past couple years that I have a bit of a stutter. I will sometimes start saying a word, but for some reason it won’t come out, and I will have to say something else. It is not severe, and I am not sure if other notice it. Sometime I have trouble finishing a sentence, too. I suffer from sleep paralysis. Once or twice a week I have episodes where I am awake but unable to move. I have had problems with this for a couple years now.

I only have one or two friends that I see very rarely now. I live with my parents, I don’t have a job (other than the army drilling), and I don’t go to school. I get very lonely. I have always had trouble making friends and I don’t have very good social skills. I know I am smart (I took an IQ test recently and got a 136), but I feel stupid. I constantly regret the way I have acted and the things I have done. I have pretty low self esteem. I have problems connecting with people. I also have very, very few interests. I feel as if I can’t do anything well. I don’t feel like I am depressed though. It is very difficult to describe how I feel. I do have a family history of depression, and my grandmother was a paranoid schizophrenic.

What is wrong with me? What can I do to feel like I am normal? Should I seek therapy? It is hard to see why I am so messed up, when I have a VERY successful older brother who is finishing up his degree and has taken classes at Berkeley and Princeton. I would appreciate any help. Thank You.

Hello and thank you for your question:

It sounds like you have had a very hard time in life, and I would have a couple of questions. What makes you think you have schizophrenia? Do you have hallucinations, either visual or auditory? Have you had either of these during a time when you weren’t using drugs or alcohol? Do you have racing, irrational thoughts that you can’t stop, and do you feel that strangers are after you?

If you answered “no” to these questions, chances are that you aren’t schizophrenic. But there is only one way that you can actually figure that out for sure. You need to be evaluated, and if you go to the base psychiatrist or psychologist, they can help you with that. You should also tell them of the concern of being autistic.

If you have any of the autistic spectrum disorders, you are more likely to have Asperger’s, since you are able to function in the world, and can force yourself to be social when necessary. Asperger’s is a higher functioning problem, and you could also get help for that. I’ve worked with many autistic/Asperger’s patients, and they can learn to cope with their problems.

What you have to understand is that it’s nearly impossible to diagnose disorders over the Internet, but I can strongly suggest you get a real diagnosis, and get proper help. The fact is, if the army diagnoses you, you may be eligible for benefits, and ongoing treatment. I used to work at a VA, and we did some good work there, helping vets.

If you aren’t comfortable going to the local base for treatment, you might want to find a therapist locally through the Psychology Today website. 

I hope this helps,

Dr. Diana Walcutt

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jun 2009

APA Reference
Walcutt, D. (2009). Am I Autistic, Schizophrenic?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/06/25/am-i-autistic-schizophrenic/