Can’t Talk to Anyone

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am really confused as to what is going on with my brain right now. I cannot talk to anyone about any. Last week, I went to my friends house and I couldn’t converse or keep a conversation going at all. My friend told me that I need to open up more and learn to push myself out of the comfort zone.

But the problem is, I’m like that in my own home. I live with my family and I don’t talk to them everyday at all. I am in my room all day on the computer. When my dad tries to talk to me, suddenly I have a bad mood and I asnwer in one word answers agreeing to everything he’s saying. When my dad asks a question, any question, I say “I don’t know” and look down with a angry face. He’s not doing anything wrong or yelling at me. I stopped talking to my sister and whenever shes around anywhere in the house, whether its the kitchen, living room or anywhere, i just run away to my room and close the door. I don’t know why I stopped talking to her.

We also have paying guest living in my basement and whenver they try to talk to me, I just say hi and run to my room. Let’s say they are eating downstairs, and my dad calls me to come eat, I yell and say that I am not hungry from my room. Only after everyone is cleared from the table and no one is downstairs, I can go and eat.

I don’t want todo this anymore. What is going on with me? I am so confused as to why I am behaving this way. I am not angry at anyone, at least it doesn’t feel that way until I talk to my family. My mood changes instantly and I have no control. My thoughts are always happy and I feel like I want to say so many things but when I try to talk, its all one word answers.

My father is concerned about me because he tells me that if he has a heart condition and I should be the man of the house and be ready to take care of the family if anything were to happen to him any day. Not my family, not anyone understands a word when I talk. I speak fluent english but I just have this mind freeze and sudden change of emotions to bad moods that stops my conversation and changes my behavior.

Even when strangers try to talk to me outside or when new students come and talk to me, I cannot converse with them and give them one word answers. What is this mindset called? No matter what I research on depression, I cannot relate to any of them. I am confused to what is going on with me. It’s been going on for 3 years now. I want to change but at the same time I don’t. Some people in my university tell me that I am stuck in a shell. But as much as I try to push myself to talk, it’s not happening

A: This has been going on for three years?? I”m so, so sorry. It sounds like a sad and lonely way to live. I’m very glad you wrote. This has gone on far too long.

I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of a letter. I can only tell you that your subject line may be right: It sounds like maybe a combination of social anxiety and depression. It may also be that your dad’s expectation that you are to assume the mantle for taking care of the family should he die is causing you more stress than you think. But the label/cause doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are becoming more and more isolated.

It’s way past time for getting some help for this. If you could have solved the problem yourself, you would have done so long ago. You are missing out on college experiences and the kinds of friendships and memories that are the foundation for lifelong relationships. You aren’t making the connections that will help you when you graduate.

Most schools have a mental health service of some sort. You might start there. See what they have to offer. If there isn’t such a service, ask you doctor for a referral to a therapist who also has experience with family therapy. I’m guessing that you may eventually need to have a few sessions that include your dad.

You made an important start by writing to us. Now please follow through. You’ve missed enough. You deserve to find your voice.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 May 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Can’t Talk to Anyone. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/05/25/cant-talk-to-anyone/