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Am I Schizophrenic?

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From a young woman in the U.S.: I want to start off by saying that I experienced a lot of abuse as a child. A way that I learned to cope with this abuse was by creating friends. I could never physically see these friends or hear them, but they spoke to me through my thoughts. One particular friend I created is named Rosie. Sometimes when my abusers would come to harm me she would step forward and I wouldn’t remember what happened. It’s almost like a time skip where suddenly I’m in my room alone and my abuser is gone, but the bruises would still always be there. This didn’t happen every time I was abused, however. But it definitely happened quite a bit of the time. I find that I still struggle to remember the events that happened during that time.

Now that I’m older and away from the abusive situation I’ve learned that there’s more people. They all have lives of their own, with jobs and personalities nothing like mine. It’s starting to scare me a lot because they feel so real. I’m usually a very logical person and I believe there’s a reason for everything, but this genuinely confuses me. Part of me knows they’re figments of my imagination but I don’t understand why they feel so real.

Sometimes it’s like they step forward and talk to me through my own voice to calm me down when I’m having anxiety or flashbacks. One in particular is named Bella, and she always helps me with my OCD and anxiety, reminding me that I’m safe and nothing is going to hurt me.

Occasionally I find that I feel very dissociated and suddenly time has passed and I don’t remember what I previously did. I’ve even woken up from one of these dissociative episodes before and found that I had texted my friend a bunch or stuff yet I had no memory of messaging her.

All of this is a bit overwhelming, and it’s always been a fear of mine that I’m psychotic or schizophrenic. I fear that I’m losing my mind and I don’t know how to gain control of it. This is something I’ve never felt comfortable talking about before, which is why I’ve turned to this forum for help.

Am I Schizophrenic?

Answered by on -

A.

I’m very glad you wrote. I can understand why this is confusing and at times frightening. I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of a short letter. But I can tell you that I doubt very much that you are suffering from schizophrenia. What you are describing quite eloquently is consistent with the symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

Victims of abuse sometimes teach themselves to “leave” the situation by dissociating. When the abuse is extreme, they may create alternative identities to manage the emotional and physical pain. These identities are used to absorb the abuse instead of the victim and protect the victim in various ways. Some people develop only one such alternative “self”. Other people develop a whole crew to help them survive what is happening.

I don’t have words to express my sorrow that you suffered such horrific abuse. Do research DID and see if it fits. Regardless, please give yourself the gift of seeing a licensed mental health provider who is experienced in working with trauma victims and who can hear your whole story, not just a short letter. You’ll get better advice and some consistent support while you figure out how to go from here.

You are only 22. With good treatment, you can recover from the effects of abuse and live a long and healthy life.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

Am I Schizophrenic?

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APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). Am I Schizophrenic?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/12/14/am-i-schizophrenic-6/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 13 Dec 2019 (Originally: 14 Dec 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 13 Dec 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.