Do I have any mental condition?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’m not sure if I have a mental problem, and this is the closest I can come to figuring it out. I have a lot of weird things happening to me, here’s what they are.

-I cannot talk to people at all. It is extremely difficult to leave my house for this reason. If someone asks me if I want to go outside, the anxious feelings begin from there, and then get worse and worse as it gets closer to going outside and when I do go outside I get feelings of anxiety, nausea, heart racing, shaking hands, worried thoughts that people will laugh at me, stare at me, etc. and a lot of the time, I chicken out and stay inside. I can’t even sit on my porch or go in my backyard without these feelings. I had no friends in high school for this reason. I was awkward and had no social skills, no idea of eye contact, and no conversation skills. I worried the whole school day that every person who passed me was laughing at me. Because of all this anxiety, I began to have a strange demeanor. I would be stiff from head to tow, whenever I walked passed people I would “forget” how to walk normally and it felt like I was wearing cement shoes, I looked down because I “didn’t know where to look” when walking through the halls. I ended up staring at people in the eye. I also ended up staring and it felt like I was in a dream, like it wasn’t reality. I got this weird glaze in my eyes, some people said it looked like I was on drugs or that I was zoning out 24/7. In class I became so uncomfortable that I remained in the same position for the whole class period. I would be like a statue and almost never move. Before I moved, I obsessively planned how to move and how to place my hands, my feet, etc. I pretty much lost all that “naturalness” that humans have, before I made any movement I had to plan it. I also analyze a lot. How people look at me, how they say it, everything has a meaning to me so I notice things that most people don’t because of this. Weird thing is, I am like a social butterfly around only my family and have none of these symptoms with them.

-I also get really mad at people, then really happy at other times. After I get mad, even for the smallest things, I feel terrible for yelling at them. Other times I’m extremely happy and feel hopeful.

-I think people can read my mind. I tell myself it’s so stupid to think like this but still feel its true. I feel my prior bullies from school hid cameras in my house and watch my every move. I feel like they can see everything I do on the computer.
-I am very paranoid. I think my siblings always talk about me. I think everyone, including my extended family hates me because I act in that weird, uncomfortable, awkward way around him or her. I think every person in every car that passes by is staring at me through the rearview mirror or side mirror.

-I’m pretty sure I feel depressed a lot. It comes and goes each day. I get intrusive thoughts. I think bad things about my religion and family and these thoughts deeply disturb me. I get really upset when these thoughts pop in my head. I get some odd like symptoms when I get these thoughts to prove that I don’t believe these thoughts. Like entering a room over and over until the intrusive thoughts stop.

-My confidence in myself is always really low. I don’t think I can accomplish anything. I can never take any criticism, when I get criticized I get pretty depressed.
-I feel like any emotion is stupid. I feel embarrassed and stupid when I feel anything, happy, sad. I can’t even stand it when people congratulate me; I get uncomfortable when they do. I hate to cry and try to hold a lot of emotions in.

Please let me know if I do have any mental condition. I think knowing I have something would be a step to change my life, and I cannot go to a therapist due to my fear of going out.

A: First let me thank you for taking time to express your concerns in such detail. It sounds like it has been very difficult for you to manage. But there are very good things embedded in your concerns.

First there is the fact that your behavior is radically different at home than out in the world. This means that you have the skills, but there is something that is inhibiting you when you are in public. This is a good thing because it means you have the ability and need to learn how to use them in places other than with your family. This is a different issue than if someone wasn’t able to have these skills in any arena in their life. They would have to learn from scratch how to interact. This isn’t your situation. You know what it feels to be engaged, and when you are shut down. This is a better starting point.

Secondly, the part of you that is observing you to be this way in public is very astute and knows that the public behavior isn’t the true you. You are able to observe these aspects of yourself with depth and clarity. This self-reflection is the most essential ingredient to making changes.

While going out may not be an option you can get help from our forums, or from our online therapists. This would give you regular places to talk and learn about how to bring about change.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Aug 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Do I have any mental condition?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/08/23/do-i-have-any-mental-condition/

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