I’m an Australian student who is on exchange in France. For the last two or three years, I have had bouts of what I presume is mild depression (I don’t know for sure because I’ve never been medically diagnosed). I thought I had cured myself for about six months, because all feelings of sadness completely subsided and I was literally in a state of euphoria for the entire time. I never needed to sleep, I had endless energy and motivation, I couldn’t stop laughing etc.
Then a few months ago, I found myself in France. For the first few weeks, the euphoria continued… and then suddenly it was though someone threw a black sheet over my eyes. At first, it could have passed for homesickness but just in the past few weeks this feeling has become particularly bad. It started off with me just not being as talkative, but now it’s worse. I withdraw myself and live in my own world. It’s also nearly impossible for me to smile as well. I’ve just never felt this truly depressed in my life… but it’s more than that, I also feel very spacey and surreal and have become a bit paranoid. Sometimes I get suicidal thoughts and the like but they’re never acted upon, mainly due to two reasons: the first being that with these feeling comes great laziness and fatigue, so I frankly can’t be bothered acting on the feelings and secondly, I have a terrible fear of failure and I see suicide as failure.
I have plenty of friends here and all that but my French is not developed enough to explain these issues and even if it was, I wouldn’t speak of these problems. Not even my best friend of many years knows about this. I suppose this is due to my fear of failure and I also don’t want to bore him/make him think I’m just whiny plus I’d just feel exposed.
In addition to this, I have found two strange feelings I’ve never had before… I actually, in a sick way, enjoy being sad and lifeless yet so desperately want to get rid of it. Sometimes I just sit there and try with everything in me to forget, pulling my hair, but nothing helps. The second bizarre thing is that I find the daylight makes me very low, whereas the night clears my mind a bit.
I feel like I have to say more, but everything in my head is too hard to explain, so I hope this little segment will help me.
A: Thank you for writing. I’m very concerned about you. The symptoms you are describing are consistent with bipolar disorder. Please go to this link to educate yourself about it.
You are only 16 and on exchange in a foreign country. You are asking too much of yourself to handle your problems alone. I hope your school program has a counselor available. If not, please consider talking with a teacher about how to get some help. You need a psychological evaluation to determine if you need treatment.
I don’t want to make you anxious but if I’m correct about this being bipolar illness it will get worse without treatment. The good news is that with a combination of medicine and talk therapy, most people get better and live a normal life. In fact, people with bipolar are often exceptionally creative and productive once they learn to manage their illness.
You made an important first step in writing to us here at Psych Central. Now please take the next step and talk with an adult who can assist you in getting the help you need.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Nov 2009
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Everything in my head is too hard to explain. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 30, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/11/07/everything-in-my-head-is-too-hard-to-explain/