I am reaching out to you as a desperate man, in a need for diagnosis and advice.
My health insurance is shit and I still live with my parents who don’t really
believe in mental illness and think that I simply have to focus on other things
and that it will pass. I don’t have time. I don’t have the strength. I’m
supposed to be graduating the next year. My family depends on me. This has to
end. Please, help me. Help me now.
I am a Caucasian man, eighteen. Never been diagnosed with a mental disorder.
However, I would scare quite easily as a kid. Once, I even developed a brief
fever due to stress. I also developed symptoms that I would later recognize as
OCD and scrupulosity at the age of nine. It calmed down in my teen years. I was
also bullied for a few years, but after moving to High school and fitting in I
let that go.
It all started out on November 14th this year. I swallowed a fishbone, and
felt it stuck in my throat. I was really stressed out, I thought I was going to
suffocate. I ate a lot of bread and drank a lot of water, but I never really
felt it go down. I calmed down by the evening, and I slept quite well.
The next morning, I watched a horror movie, then an episode of “Cold Case”.
It didn’t really scare me or anything, but I felt… weird. Like I couldn’t
concentrate. And, sometimes, I would feel dizzy. Like I was going to faint. But
it calmed down by the afternoon. I had a big dinner and drank a lot of
water.
I woke up quite early the next morning, with a nausea. I could barely eat. I
was on the verge of vomiting the whole time. I kept googling my symptoms,
fearing that I have a stomach ulcer, or even an internal bleeding. I calmed down
by the evening, but I woke up at around one am, feeling cold and legs trembling.
I didn’t go to school on Monday, figured it was some sort of viral infection.
But that night, I couldn’t sleep again. I did go to school, but at around three
pm, I would feel like I was on the verge of fainting. Like a barely controlled
panic attack. But then I would calm down. On Wednesday night, I fell asleep. But
in the morning, nausea. I spent the whole day stressing over that.
Since the symptoms didn’t pass, I got into my head, despite not being overly
religious, that I must be demon posessed. That would really freak me out. I
would calm down eventually, and realize how absurd those thoughts were, but when
they would plague me, there was no room for reason. I barely had any apetite by
that point. I gave my blood and urine up for testing. It all came back
clean.
The next week, my apetite has returned. But, at night, I would have horrible,
violent nightmares. I would actually feel physical pain, despite sustaining no
actual injuries, and wake up at around one or two am. I researched about a movie
called “Jacob’s Ladder”, that reminded me of my situation. I watched a few clips
and read a plot synopsis. It only freaked me out more. For the next few days,
everything would remind me of violence and horror images. Nightmares
continued.
Then I came to think of one movie (not a horror movie) that freaked me out as
a child, but I eventually got over it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I
watched a few clips on YouTube and it freaked me out even more. Now every day I
have that scene in my mind, feel like I was when I was a child, with that
irrational gut feeling that I will see that being from the movie when I open the
door, look into the mirror, etc. Even before that, I was afraid of reverting
back to a child-like state, becoming a failure, etc.
Anyway, right now, it’s like my body is wired. In the morning, I feel terrible, and only calm down by around five or six pm. I have that weird feeling,
like I am a child again (back when everything was big and scary and I didn’t
really understand how the world works), constantly stressing over the things I
know are not rational. I can’t make positive associations anymore and I can
barely study. Like my mind is, for no reason, afraid of those memories, so it
keeps freezing up, and when it doesn’t, those stupid thoughts keep interrupting
me. It is like a combination of anxiety, OCD, and the world’s creepiest deja vu.
It’s like my mind is constantly on alert, and worrying about intrusive thoughts.
I actually have headaches because of stress.
I feel better when I dissect my fears and talk about them, and actually
LABELING myself (anxiety, OCD), but soon after the thoughts return, and I feel
terrible again. Then I think “what if there is no cure”, “what if I stay this
way forever”, “why me”, or “what if there is some truth to this, since you are
so afraid”, and I just hit rock bottom. To make matters worse, there’s been lots
of exams lately and my family is going through some tense times. I can’t catch a
break.
I have tried:
-meditating
-masturbating
-exercising
-focusing on other things
-eating candy
-rationalizing my fears
-drinking alcohol (not much)
-writing about my issues
-talking about my issues with my parents
-drinking chamomile tea
I don’t drink alchohol (except those two times), don’t smoke, don’t do drugs.
Never suffered a concussion or a head trauma in my life. I recently took an
online IQ test (I know those aren’t really reliable): it came back as between
105 and 120. I also only seem to have nightmares when I go to sleep late, but
even when I don’t my dreams aren’t much better.
I know that this isn’t a therapy session but I have told you everything I
would have told you in person and my blood and urine results came back clean.
Please, give me some advice. Any… “thinking techniques”? Possible medications?
A combination of both? Do you think an MRI scan may be
revealing? (From Croatia)

A: I am glad you have taken the time to write about all of this. It sounds overwhelming — and yet you have been able to find ways to cope. Two things I would suggest it you haven’t tried them is: First, I don’t see anywhere in your description that you have been to a psychiatrist. If you haven’t, I would make an appointment for an evaluation. An accurate diagnosis will be important moving forward. Secondly, I would get the book The Resilience Factor. It is filled with techniques for helping you to challenge and change your thinking.

Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral