Should I Worry About My Mental Health?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hello there. The issue at hand that I am seeking advice for is well, as the daughter of a schizophrenic mother, I should be concerned about the state of my mind. Of course I will give you details…

Instead of writing the great American novel…Autobiography style…I am going to numerically list
“Symptoms” I do have:

1. I have experienced extremely realistic Lucid dreams. I frequently have the “Hag’s Syndrome”, aka REM Sleep…Sometimes I wake up (While I am in the sleeping and waking phase) and am unable to move. I have had this condition since I was young…I also have been sleeping on the floor for a year, and that no doubt has given me problems with sleep. I also…Have had hallucinations coming out of the waking-dream stage…I am not sure whether these are hallucinations/extremely real/vivid dreams…I am also extremely vivid. I have “Mental imagery”…The ability to form images in my mind. I am also an artist, so it helps, when I am trying to be thorough with a garment or movie…But I don’t know if it is mentally “sound” to have such a realistic imagination. I “See” things very clearly, and can reference back to images I have seen from the internet, google, etc etc…I’ve also had audial hallucinations…For a while afterward, my ears were hurting(In winter my ears normally hurt, and did hurt and gave me headaches for about a week and a half afterwards…I thought I might be losing my hearing, like Tinnitus…But I

2.I was agoraphobic for about a few months after I came to a big city and was harassed in public. I know that most of my *problems, which may also be *symptons of schizophrenia are based in reality…Things i’ve experienced. But I just want to put that out there…

3. I am in a really awkward relationship…With someone who is involved in the BDSM lifestyle as a Master, and is my bf, but who also has his slave and his ex living under the same roof. Suffices to say that sometimes I am paranoid about my “Place” in his life, and even when he tells me that he cares about me(We have been on and off for a year…I was more his gf at the first half…But now he is trying to care for everyone in the household so no one feels alone.)…So if there is one thing I am “Paranoid” about it is that I don’t have all of the details…

4. Very stressed, having to deal with a Sub lifestyler(I guess I don’t understand why someone would give up their life in the service of another and in a relationship I am not fond of directly affecting my dreams…

5. I have a VERY good memory…Sometimes I remember things that I forgot from my youth. I remember names and faces very well…Sometimes one more than the other.

“Symptons” I don’t have:

1. Delusions…Thankfully, since I grew up with a Schizophrenic mother, I taught myself not to believe in *anything without logic or reason. I am a fact-based person, and so, my rule of thumb is “I don’t believe it until I see it.”. That goes for people, and, most importantly, the supernatural(Ghost, Aliens, Conspiracy theories, etc etc).

2. I do take baths…Regularly.

3. I do not lack drive…I have successfully left home the same year I finished high school…I’ve been to a few states, was homeless, but that was due to not being able to pay for school. I got myself a job and now I am back in school/live with roommates.

4. Well…I was homeschooled so I always thought that was the reason I am so unsocial…But just to put it out there, I can be quiet when I feel uncomfortable in certain situations…If I feel I am unwanted. But generally, I am a pleasant person, make friends, and people enjoy being around me. I use to have severe problems in high school, and I still(Though I am the first person in my class to volunteer- ACting, or speak up and share my thoughts) am afraid of public speaking.

Mother:
1. Was not a violent schizophrenic…Except when it came to her delusions of God. She smacked/punched me…Other than that she never left her house, and stayed in her room.
2. Sometimes she would stop taking baths, especially when I had left her for a long time. She would smell as if she had neglected her own personal care.
3. Was also extremely smart and had been in the military…And in college.
4. Took us from state to state in the hopes that my “Father” was there…
5. Never went to church. Called herself a Jehova witness. Kept us at home…

On the same note, my mother has been one of the most intuitive talkers i’ve talked to…We’ve had many phone conversations when i’ve been down. I know that the only thing she ever wanted for me, which is why she homeschooled me, was a safe environment(Boys, Drugs, etc etc). She did not want me to go through the same things she went through, even though I know that(Hence living on my own) that it is important that I have my own life experiences.

Lastly…I would like to know if Schizophrenia is something that affects the brain or is it more…An imagined sort of disorder where the environment is the most important factor? I am pretty sure it is a combination of both…But I figure if the only thing I really need to do is to 1. Not delude myself, 2. Allow my environment/other people to dictate my mental state…Paranoia, Agoraphobia, Social Interactions etc etc…Then it would seem as if it is a disorder that is more.

A. It is always difficult to give a diagnosis without having the benefit of meeting an individual face-to-face. Having said that, you have provided many details and while I will not be able to give you a diagnosis I can offer you a fairly thorough response. Below I will respond to aspects of your letter using bullet points.

  • Sleep problems: “Hag’s syndrome” is an alternative name for sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis refers to the inability to voluntarily move either at the onset of sleep or upon awakening. Sleep paralysis is associated with narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes an individual to be extremely tired and to take uncontrollable naps known as sleep attacks. Symptoms of narcolepsy include dreamlike, vivid hallucinations that can occur between sleep stages. This is of particular interest since it may match your unusual experiences. The hallucinations associated with narcolepsy oftentimes involve seeing things, hearing things and they may affect other senses as well. If you’ve never been evaluated for narcolepsy then I would strongly recommend it. Your doctor may refer you for a sleep study. I cannot know for certain whether you have narcolepsy but some of your symptoms matched the description of the disorder. That is why it’s important for you to see a doctor.

  • BDSM relationship: There are many individuals who are involved in BDSM relationships. Your role in the relationship is as a slave. Apparently, your “Master” has other “slaves” as well. Although many might view BDSM relationships as harmful, research has not shown that to be true. Not all theorists agree but many people engage in this lifestyle as a form of added eroticism in their sex lives. My concern is that you are engaged in a BDSM relationship not of your free will. Why do I suspect this? Because you wrote that you are “very stressed, having to deal with sub lifestyler… I don’t understand why someone would give up their life in the service of another in a relationship I am not fond of directly affecting my dreams.” It seems as if you are being forced, in some capacity, to engage in a relationship that you are not enjoying. If that is the case then you need to consider ending it. It is unhealthy for an individual to remain in a relationship that they do not want to be in.
  • Homeschooling and being unsocial: You speculated that homeschooling may be the reason why you feel uncomfortable in social situations. That may be the case. I think it’s a reasonable conclusion. One positive note is that even though you are frightened of certain social situations you are able to make friends and to interact with people. I find this very encouraging.
  • Growing up with a mother with schizophrenia: This can be very difficult. Despite what may have been a difficult upbringing for you, overall, you seem psychologically healthy. I know this is a concern of yours. I believe you may be psychologically stable for the following reasons (some of which you described as “symptoms you don’t have”): you don’t have delusions, you have good insight, you are educated and intelligent, your thoughts are organized and clear, you seem to be able to determine what is real and what is not, and you force yourself to think logically. The latter characteristic is very important (perhaps the most important) because without logic and reason one risks losing touch with reality. In many ways, schizophrenia is the ultimate loss of reality.

    Other characteristics that seem to indicate that you are psychologically stable include your resiliency, finishing high school and returning to college after being homeless, your ability to hold a stable job and to develop relationships. Individuals with schizophrenia often have difficulty with social and occupational functioning, areas that you have succeeded in.

  • Relationship with your mother: You also seem to have a very good relationship with your mother. You described her as an “intuitive talker” which I take to mean that she knows you well and she can make you feel better. You’re very fortunate to have that relationship with her. She is lucky as well to have a compassionate and loving daughter who has helped to care for her. She most likely also cherishes the relationship she has with you.

Your main question, as I understand it, essentially is: Are you mentally ill? I cannot give you a definitive yes or no answer. I am concerned with the fact that you are experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations coupled with the fact that there is a history of schizophrenia in your family. However, the auditory and visual hallucinations may be associated with an undiagnosed sleep disorder; that needs to be ruled out. I believe that you need to have a thorough physical examination and you should do this as soon as possible. I hope that I answered your question adequately. Thanks for writing. I wish you well. Please consider writing back and letting me know how you are doing. Also, if you have any further questions, do not hesitate to write.

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Should I Worry About My Mental Health?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/04/02/should-i-worry-about-my-mental-health/