Could I Have a Real Mental Illness?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I try to stay away from people at all costs. I have 3 friends, and for as long as I know them, I still can’t trust them or my own parents. I break down emotionally alot. I try not to but sometimes it’s inevitable.

I have alot of obsessions, not of people; but of cartoons. Most of the time I’m not in the real world. I’m in my anime world, creating plots and story lines, but the thing is that most of the time, it’s not happy and gruesome in alot of cases. People I know and don’t have any problems with, pop up in these thoughts, most of the time being harmed. However, it doesn’t phase me. For instance, I could be in a Math classroom and in my thoughts see the girl sitting next to me being ripped up, and not even have to glance over. Most of the time I have a grip on reality and my thoughts. I just want to be in my thoughts and stories more than real life.
It’s become if someone yells or gets mad at me, or I get hurt, it’s not a problem. I have my thoughts.

So I’m still unsure. Could there be something wrong with me? Or am I just a moron?

A. You should not refer to yourself an “moron.” You are not that. You are insightful and recognize that you may have a problem.

While I cannot be certain, there may be a problem developing. You avoid people. You are not comfortable in the presence of others. When something is troubling you, you psychologically escape to a fantasy world. In the fantasy world you feel okay. Engaging in fantasy is a form of disassociation. Fantasy allows you to distance yourself from things that are bothering you. It is a psychological defense mechanism.

You may wonder “what’s the harm in fantasy?” You stated that “most of the time” you know the difference between reality and your fantasy world but “most of the time” is not enough. You need to be able to make the distinction between reality and fantasy 100 percent of the time. Anything less than 100 percent is not acceptable. When you begin to lose the ability to differentiate between what is real and what is not, it is a dangerous, slippery slope. The risk is that you will lose your grip on reality completely.

You should be evaluated by a mental health professional. I know this will be difficult because you are not comfortable interacting with people but you need to force yourself to attend treatment. There is nothing more important and central to psychological health than being realistic and logical.

How could a mental health professional assist you? He or she could teach you alternative ways to deal with stressful situations. Learning new skills might decrease your urge to retreat into fantasy. They serve to help you stay grounded in reality. A therapist could also assist you in improving your social skills. Better social skills might increase your confidence level. It might also help to decrease your tendency to isolate yourself.

Here’s a link to Psychology Today where you can search for a therapist in your area. You should be proactive and consider seeking help from a mental health professional.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Could I Have a Real Mental Illness?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/04/03/could-i-have-a-real-mental-illness/