I’m very glad you wrote to us here at PsychCentral. Three years is far too long to be so worried and upset. You didn’t share the nature of the stressful event. I can only guess that it was serious enough to be traumatic for you. If so, what you are reporting is not at all unusual for someone who has been traumatized. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can show up months or even years after the event (stessor) that causes it. Common symptoms are:
Intrusive memories: Unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event; flashbacks (feeling like you are reliving the stressor); and over-reaction to something that reminds you of what happened.
Avoidance: Avoiding places, or people, or activities that remind you of the stressor.
Negative changes in thinking and mood: Hopelessness, memory problems, feeling detached from people, decreased interest in things you used to enjoy, difficulty maintaining relationships, feeling emotionally numb.
Changes in physical and emotional reactions: Increase in startle reflex; trouble sleeping or concentrating; irritability; self destructive behavior (like self-harming, abusing alcohol or drugs, etc.)
It looks to me like you were recovering last summer, but something triggered you around Christmas. People can be thrown back into the stressful event by such things as a smell, a sound, people who remind them of the problem, the anniversary date of the abuse — just about anything that “triggers” the memories.
You have suffered far too long. It’s time for you to seek out a licensed therapist who specializes in trauma. Such a therapist will be able to do what I can’t— ask you specific questions to determine if the problem is PTSD or something else.
I doubt you are experiencing onset of schizophrenia from what you wrote. But if that concerns you, the therapist will also be able to screen you for that possibility. After he or she gets to know you and hears your whole story, they will be able to recommend steps you can take to get back to your old self.
If you could recover by yourself, you would have done it already. Please follow through and get the help you need and deserve. You don’t have to live with the constant question of whether you are “losing your mind.”
I wish you well.