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Am I crazy or just "eccentric"?


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I have no formal diagnosis as I have never seen any sort of doctor for any of my mental oddities. None of my problems have been bad enough for long enough to need help other than what I could administer myself, plus I am terrified of being put on any sort of medication.

IN THE PAST

I have suffered with on and off depression since at least senior year of high school. I have kept journals of sorts over the years and there are periods of my writings that I can't even comprehend being that upset/depressed/self-hating/destructive. It was further intensified my freshman year of art school because my courses were extremely rigorous. I was stressed, slept very little, and even basically didn't eat for a week by the spring. All of this caused me to have visual and auditory hallucinations. I saw skeletons everywhere. I would have blackout moments where I was awake and functioning physically but mentally I was turned of or operation on a different level. I would try to draw the things I hallucinated during these times, but when I came to they were never more than scribbles. My sleep pattern was off - I could doze off while driving, but by the time I could sleep I would be so anxious I couldn't fall asleep. I had 3 or 4 anxiety attacks/breakdowns that year.

The following 3 years at college were better. The work load was easier to handle, I slept decent hours, ate normally, and even exercised off and on. The anxiety stayed with me. I started binge drinking the end of sophomore year and did so frequently through the beginning of my senior year. I also would manage my anxiety with a pain killer/red bull mix as I could get my hands on the pills (vicodin and hydrocodne). Junior year I couldn't get pain killers, but I could get adderall, so I switched, taking adderall with alcohol. All of this kept me fairly sane and participatory in life. I thought I had grown out of whatever had bothered me in the past.

I suffered from migraines often starting in high school and continuing through college. They eased up and disappeared for the last couple years of college, but still come back for a month or so at a time.

IN THE PAST YEAR

I graduated a year ago and have a secure job that should allow me to have plenty of time to do the things I want and sleep, etc. The anxiety has still stuck with me though. It has been fairly constant and frequent for a little over a year now. Sometimes it is triggered by things I realize, but much of the time there is no reason I can think of. If I am in a place where I can get a drink or take a xanax/hydrocodone I can stop it and go on with my day. If I can't, well, I suffer silently, digging my nails into my skin, pulling my hair, biting the insides of my lips, tapping ferociously, etc. Last week at work I got very anxious before lunch. So on my break I bought a bottle of wine and went to the park and drank it. That didn't work so I took an adderall. Finally my mind was at peace and I could work the rest of the day. Usually if I cannot stop my anxiety it makes me very compulsive. It blurs my vision, makes me shiver, and I clamp my jaw.

This winter I also went through a pretty severe bout of depression. I didn't do anything social for months, I stopped caring about my appearance, my work ethic plummeted, etc. Once the winter weather ended I was better though, so I chalk the majority of my depression up to seasonal affective disorder.

VERY RECENTLY

Over the past 3 or 4 years I have noticed I more frequently spell words backwards unintentionally and in other ways jumble up the order of letters and numbers. This has more rapidly carried over into my speech. I often end up saying words that I know are not correct or even make sense. I slur my speech rarely, but it is enough that friends know that I do it. In general I feel it very difficult to verbally express myself. If I am struggling, I feel an intense need to draw a diagram even for a sentence that it wouldn't be appropriate for. I have already mumbled since, well forever, so I feel like I am becoming harder and harder to communicate with, which makes me very self conscious.

I also have moments where I black out. I will have no recollection about what I did for the past 5-20 minutes. My thoughts get so loud in my head that I worry that I actually said them out loud. I wake up in the middle of the night and do little things (like shut my cats out of my room) but I don't remember it in the morning or vice versa, I am convinced I did do something, but I didn't.

My synaesthesic experiences have also been happening more frequently lately (3 in the past month, when in the past it only happened 2-3 times a year).

Finally, when I eat everything must be consumed in even numbers or at least split into even pieces. I remember doing this when I was little. I would eat all the cereal out of my bowl of lucky charms. Then I would eat the marshmallows two at a time, matching them by type. If ones didn't match up I would find matches in the box to pair them with. If worse came to worse I would split each in half, eating one half on either side of my mouth. I still do this. When I eat crackers I count them out of the box to ensure they will be even. I don't have a concrete repercussion if they aren't even, it just makes me feel anxious and uneven. Even though I have always done this, I didn't happen every time I ate. Now it happens at every meal.

YOUR TURN

So, I guess I'm just looking for other peoples' opinions if I am crazy or just an eccentric artist. Or maybe just common experiences. Or thoughts as to what could be causing one or more of these "symptoms."

I should also note that although I mention self-medicating a lot I am not addicted to anything other than being a binge drinker. My pill usage is always in low doses and 2 or more months between uses. I have even cut back on drinking significantly compared to the past - having 2-6 weeks between drinking weekends. I do very little drinking alone.

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hi electrobeats,

for starters, i don't think you are eccentric. i think only rich people can be eccentric. and since you are an artist i will assume that you are not rich, which leaves us with just the poor-man's equivalent, aka, 'weird'. ;)

now, having read your post (and yes i did read it all) you mention that you are terrified of being put on any medication by a doctor but you are/have been self-medicating with vicodin, adderall, xanax, and alcohol. i think that's a very understandable way of going about things but it's also a really bad one. if you do have one or more mental conditions it can be a woefully bad thing to mis-medicate. just talk to the people here, most of them have spent years with their doctors trying to find the RIGHT med cocktail for their conditions, let alone mucking about blindly with whatever comes to hand. (mine was booze).

even NOT taking into account the history you outlined, the fact you are sufficiently upset right now to take the step of posting here suggests that whatever is going on for you is worthy of professional help and not just an opinion from a layperson like me.

i would suggest that you go to your doctor and talk to him or her about your concerns. hopefully they'll give you a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

good luck,

grousemouse.

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I'm going to be a bit reluctant with suggesting what might be the deal here. From what you write though, you seem to be suggesting a few things yourself. I think the fact that you are worried about yourself is a good enough reason to see someone - because you're not going to stop brooding over it unless you get som kind of resolution. And the examples you came up with here is a pretty good place to start when talking to a doc.

There are a few things in your post which worry me - the main thing being the timeline of your experiences, and the age at which you started noticing changes.

I have no formal diagnosis as I have never seen any sort of doctor for any of my mental oddities. None of my problems have been bad enough for long enough to need help other than what I could administer myself, plus I am terrified of being put on any sort of medication.

Are they "bad enough" now? Has something changed since you decided to come here? Are you feeling less "functional" than you used to, or do you worry about your odd experienced etc. building up over time?

No-one is going to force you to take medication (unless you're a danger to people, which I don't suspect!) I was afraid of going to the doctor because I didn't want psych meds as well - not because of the drugs themselves, but because it seemed to be the "final stamp", the evidence that something really was wrong. Now, the meds are helping me feel more normal.

(And anyway, Adderall is probably not a good drug for depression or anxiety or anything for that matter!)

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The first year of art school tends to be very demanding. They want to prove to you that "art school isn't easy"--which is kind of strange in my opinion because in order to get in, you need to have a portfolio, so you probably already know a few things about art... Anyway...

Chances are that no one can diagnose you online... But I think that you should definitely see a doctor, nurse practitioner, or some-such. It's possible that you're not even "crazy" at all. It's possible that you have thyroid problems for instance. The blacking out thing also makes me want to rule out seizures before moving on... There may be some other "purely physical" problems (as if your brain wasn't physical) that might be involved...

Of course it's also possible that your psych issues are "purely" psych issues. In that case, I'd still want to get them treated in order to be able to live the fullest life I can. I think that the biggest obstacle will be finding a good psychiatrist/psy-NP. I suspect that all those people who hate psychiatrists hate them because they never found a good one--and gave up.

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