By night “a darker personality” takes over

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m 16 and Indonesian. Like most teenagers, I’ve been through the “usual” stuff. I’ve been bullied since my first day of Elementary up to Junior High, I’ve considered suicide at least twice, I cut myself even in public (simply ignoring the fact that people are staring and that the school principal’s going to call me 10 minutes later), etc, etc, etc.

My most recent and life-changing issue is with a girl, another “usual” issue millions deal with, but extremely frustrating. Simply put, I don’t want to love her, I don’t want to risk being heartbroken and be depressed again, but I can’t stop thinking about her. This is still going on, and though I am able to slowly suppress the frustration and beginning to let go, it’s been 5 years and I don’t want it to be 6. But no, this not the main problem.

A few years ago, I had an “epiphany”, and decided that I should endure the bad and concentrate on my main goal in life, doing good for others. It almost sounds like a solution, with this “epiphany”, I am now a more joyful-looking guy, I can laugh with friends and smile again, but I soon realize, it wasn’t going to last.

I have a tendency to remember every bad thing I do or experience, even small things like saying a bad joke a month ago, and every time I remember it, I get frustrated. Because of this, I start the morning happy, but all through the day, my mood steadily goes down. Distracted by having fun at school slows down the mood drop, but by the time I arrive home, I’m depressed, and by nightfall when I’m totally alone in a dark bedroom, I begin what I like to call, a “session”.

A typical “session” would start with a moment of silence, as I shut my eyes, memories begin cycling through my head, bad ones. Then, memories of that particular day, like my friends and I played ball, had some laughs, begin to cycle, and I tell myself that that’s nothing, and the “life is unfair, the world hates me” personality from before the “epiphany” kicks in.

I would stand up, look in front of the mirror on my closet door, and start cursing at myself. As absurd as this may sound, I would then “lose myself”. Since my parents are a few rooms away, instead of walls, I began punching and scratching myself, sometimes using my locker key or a pen to punch holes through my skin. I would talk to myself and scream a muffled scream so no one would hear, talking about various topics, such as “Why do I love her? She doesn’t even want me!” or “Why is it that I see evil people smiling all day while I go though life doing good while being tortured”, etc, etc, etc. I keeps getting intense until I get tired of pacing my room and lie down, eventually ranting and crying myself to sleep.

The next morning, I would have no memory of the night before until I take a shower and see scars, then I would remember that I had another “session”. Then the cycle repeats, happy in the morning, mood goes down through the day, then another session. “Sessions” used to happen every night, then a couple of times a week, and now a couple of times a month, but the mood drops happen daily even today.

What makes this scary is that the me that comes out during my “sessions” are so uncharacteristic of me, even going against my moral code, the basis of everything I live for, that shouldn’t happen. Also, I need a way to stop my mood drops, it’s so annoying that the fact that I can only be happy in the day and this darker version of me comes out at night. It’s probably not a split-personality thing, but it’s still very disturbing.

I need to regain my happiness, a full time happiness. I know life isn’t about being happy, it’s about doing good (and not just to go heaven, that would be selfish), but I need a reason to go on. I’m never content with anything now, because everything that matters, friends, family, dreams of success, is only valid nine to five.

Wish I could find a real therapist, but 1) they’re cheap here, in both senses of the word and 2) even though I’m native Indonesian, I speak English almost like my first language, and no local therapist I know can keep up.

A: It would be irresponsible for me to make a diagnosis on the basis of a letter. But I can tell you that what you are reporting is consistent with symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. During the day, you are usually successful at distracting yourself from your unwanted thoughts. But as the day wears on, it may be that you get tired and your defenses get worn down.

Intrusive anxiety-provoking thoughts are a core feature of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Recent research suggests that people with OCD use self-punishment and worry as the primary methods to combat their obsessions. The bad news is that these methods seldom work for long. The good news is that there are medicines that can make a significant difference.

I strongly suggest that you see a psychiatrist to talk about a trial of medication. I also hope you will reconsider seeing a therapist. The language issue shouldn’t get in the way. As a matter of fact, if speaking Indonesian slows you down a bit, it might be good for your treatment.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Dec 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). By night “a darker personality” takes over. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/12/12/by-night-a-darker-personality-takes-over/