Am I Schizophrenic?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have been reading about schizophrenia and it seems to match the way i think. It started in high school, where i always felt paranoid about everything, thinking that everyone was always talking about me behind my back. It made me very anti-social, and i realize now why people tended to avoid me, probably because i was giving off some bad vibes. I developed massive stage fright, which is strange since i was always outgoing and loved speaking in public as a kid. In college it was so bad i would stop going to courses if we had to do a presentation in them. In fact, I’m only three courses short of a degree, but they all involve presentations and i keep avoiding it. Its not just that i’m nervous, i get litterally terified and get diarhea. No joke. Then when the day of presentation passes, i feel such a relief.

But all that aside, I also am terrified of more and more little things. For example just going to buy something at the grocery store, i think “why is everyone looking at me, there’s something wrong with me, maybe my hair is messed up or something?”. I can’t shake the feeling like i don’t belong and am unwanted. I always feel like everyone is being hostile towards me. I even have a hard time talking to the clerk, like its incredibly awkward and i don’t know how to talk to them. I never know what to say or what is appropriate, and always think that the way i said hello was weird or something.

I can’t laugh at jokes because i’m afraid of the way it’ll be recieved. Or when i talk to people i often just give up and not finish my sentences, or say something completely ridiculous. I have a hard time finding the right words these days.

And theres the fact that i’m always thinking (in the back of my mind) that the world is all just a big setup for me. This is some kind of test and people are in on it. I know its probably not true, but i often find evidence for it in very subtle behaviors of people, or events. I can’t think of a specific example right now but i often feel like things happen that just can’t be coincidence, and everyone, or the majority of people around me are in on it.

Or sometimes i think that i lead a second life that i don’t know about. Once i recieved a phone call for someone who used to have my number, and they were convinced i was this dude named Frederic and i had to tell them repeatedly it wasn’t me. But that got me thinking, “hold on, maybe i am this guy Frederic, and i have a second life when i’m asleep or something”.

I could say its ridiculous, but i’d be lying to myself because i slightly believe it.

But the worst is that i can’t seem to connect with people. All my conversations are so forced and awkward, like i don’t know how to talk. Even my own family sometimes. The only time i can talk to people normally is when i’m drunk, people have always told me i’m a completely different and way cooler person when i’m drunk.

And the newest thing that happened which made me write this question was in school the other day (i’ve returned to school in another program without finishing the first). I was in class and the teacher was asking questions. I heard one of the students answer out loud, and from what i could hear, he was sitting two desks behind me like he was the day before. But then when the teacher took attendance, he was litterally the only person missing in class. I swear to god i’m not making that up. I thought i heard him answer, and he wasn’t even there that day.

Anyways, all that to say that i think i’m a schizophrenic (pardon the spelling i’m just guessing). I have a hard time with social events, even small ones. I have a hard time finding words to describe what i mean to say. I think the world is watching me. And when i read the symptoms of schizophrenia, i was shocked at how similar it seemed to my behavior. I don’t know where to start to look for help, or if i’m right or wrong. But i feel like its been a long time since i’ve been normal.

A: I’m so glad you wrote. You’ve been suffering with these thoughts and feelings for far too long. I don’t know if you have schizophrenia. I can’t diagnose on the basis of a letter. But from what you said, I don’t think so. What you are reporting is consistent with social phobia. As you so eloquently wrote, the anxiety is constantly in your way. It’s painful. It separates you from others and make it almost impossible to finish your education and get on with life.

I strongly suggest you go for an evaluation with a mental health provider. Most schools have at least a part-time clinician on staff. Please explore what services might be available to you there.

I’m concerned that your worry about your worries will keep you from making the appointment to get a professional diagnosis. Yet only such a diagnosis can lead to change. Once you and your clinician understand what is going on, it will be possible to discuss options for treatment that will help you manage the world with less anxiety and more success.

Your letter was an important first step toward change. I hope you will find the courage to take the next step and get that evaluation. With treatment, you could be significantly better in only a few months. I think you deserve to feel better and to have a better life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Am I Schizophrenic?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/04/13/am-i-schizophrenic-2/