Terrified of Becoming a Schizophrenic

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

Ok well where do I start? I have been dealing with anxiety for about three years now. It started about 3 years ago after I interned at a hospital and was really stressed over getting hired there. I guess I should add that while working there I had to handle and clean the deceased, which was also the first time I actually saw someone who was mentally ill. At the time however it really didn’t affect me or I didn’t think it did. So about maybe 3 months after I finished my internship I started to worry about having a medical condition (brain tumor, brain aneurysm, HIV, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer). So my first attack came when I was googling a symptom and I raised my hand to say “hey I have that” well my husband asked me why I raised my hand and I went blank and thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t immediately say something after I raised my hand. That time I felt more of the psychical symptoms of anxiety. So the attacks lasted about maybe a month or so and then went away for a year.

The next year I was googling “the Illuminati” and it said how some people believe that they (the people in the illuminati) are demons disguised in human form. I DONT believe that BUT I was thinking about it right after reading it. I went to bed to get ready to go to sleep and my husband was humming which he never does I got creeped out! I started thinking “omg what if that is true and my husband is a demon” so I had an anxiety attack because that was a really creepy thought. I didn’t understand how I could have a thought so unrealistic. I should add that at the time we were having financial troubles and I had got fired a couple of months prior. So again the attacks lasted a month or so then went again.
UNTIL now! I was again at a stressful job and I was having problems with my husband and I was at work talking to a customer over the phone and noticed how hansom the customer sounded. I began to think how could I think someone sounds hansom if I’m having trouble with my husband. So I began to have an anxiety attack and after left work and went home. The next day I tried to go back but I felt so anxious and quit without saying a word. I felt guilty for quitting like that and that guilt stayed with me for a while. At that moment I felt like I lost control over my anxiety.

So anyways one night the night before my birthday. I was up very late maybe about 3 or 4 in the morning I was laying in bed on my phone and out of no where the thought of “crazy people” (and I hate to say it in that way) popped into my head. I started to think about how they hear voices. So I wanted to see if I could make myself hear voices. So I did it purposely in my head but it was my thinking voice just creepier. I should add that what I made myself say was “kill them” because that’s what I would think “crazy people” hear? At first I kind of chuckled because I thought it was silly BUT then I kept doing it and I got so terrified :/ I had the worst anxiety attack! This attack however was more of a mental emotion. I was scared like I’ve never been in my life. I cried for a good 15-20 minutes I had to wake up my husband and then started shaking until I fell asleep. So the next couple of days I was still doing the “voices” and figured out I was the one controlling what I was saying, but I started to think “what if I hurt my children” because what I initially made myself say was something of that nature. I became slightly depressed for thinking these thoughts and I didn’t think that anxiety was the cause. I also had been seeing things well mistaking things for other things. I also became really scared that I wasn’t going to be able to recognize myself so when I look at myself in the mirror I always think I look different, I know its me but I feel like I look odd. I also feel like my family sometimes looks different like I know it’s them but it feels odd I don’t know if it’s because of the same fear? I also sometimes think my thoughts in other peoples voices well I can make myself do it. Anyways I went to go see a therapist and she assured me that I didn’t have schizophrenia or psychosis all I have is anxiety. BUT she is not a psychologist she is an lpc so I felt and still do feel insecure with her diagnoses. I went to a psychologist for a second opinion but he was NO help he was mad because I arrived late to our session. He also told me he could not give me a answer from one session and that even if he could he wouldn’t, he was very rude to say the least. I don’t have money to go to a psychologist again and I can only afford my therapist. The biggest reason for my concern today is that I drove my husband to work today as I do everyday day. We wake up really early about 4:30am I didn’t get a lot of sleep I fell asleep maybe about 1:00am I was really sleepy anyways after we (my kids and I) came home from leaving him at work I was walking upstairs and my child was walking in front of me and I thought I saw him walk into his brothers room I even laughed a little because I thought “aww he’s sleepy he doesn’t know where he’s going so I went into the room and called his name and noticed he wasn’t there he had gone to my room but I thought I saw him clear as day walk into the other room. So I’m scared that I was hallucinating. After that I started to think well “what if I’m just imagining him being in my room” or “what if I start believing he’s another person” I just feel like I have so many symptoms of schizophrenia like bad memory maybe that’s why I feel like I’m not going to be able to recognize myself? Also I’m clumsy, I isolate myself from people I don’t really have friends sometimes I think what if I was actually hearing voices at times I also have that feeling like I need to turn around and see if anything or anyone is behind me and now I might be hallucinating! I’m scared I might have schizophrenia or paranoid schizophrenia. I’m just so tired of thinking.
Thank You in advance for any reply :)

A: The level of your concern and the fact that you are actively agitated leads me to think it is time for an evaluation. I would look for one of two professionals: Either psychiatrists, who can give you a diagnosis which will then help determine the kind of treatment that will work best, or a clinical psychologist specializing in testing. Both of these individuals have the ability to make accurate diagnoses. This would then allow you and your therapist to plan a course of treatment that can help you manage the symptoms.

Getting an accurate diagnosis is a good first step. This way you and your therapist can work together on a treatment plan.

A treatment plan should include two basic parts: the first part to deal with the symptoms, and the second part to find a way to highlight your strengths and develop your skills.

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

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Nov 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Terrified of Becoming a Schizophrenic. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/11/21/terrified-of-becoming-a-schizophrenic/