I guess I’ll cut to the chase with this email... I’m questioning my mental health. I’ve been wandering for a while if there may be something not right about me in the head, as there seem to be all sorts of things about me that just don’t really add up. These, for lack of a better term, “symptoms” are as follows:
These symptoms might have something to do with “events” that have been going on, shall we say? You already know about my mum’s issues, which I won’t get into here. Plus, it doesn’t help that one of my two workplaces has high-tier employees who think it’s perfectly okay to talk about gay people behind their backs with such wonderful phrases as “up the sewer-pipe” and “sucking his filthy diaper”.
Whenever I read about symptoms of mental illnesses, they tend to include things like eating disorders and alcohol / drug abuse, none of which i feel apply to me. My diet’s not changed lately, drugs are a total no-no, and alcohol is for special occasions only and never for getting drunk. So, I’m not all too sure. Some symptoms I read about seem to make me say “yes, there’s something off” whilst the lack of others make me think “perhaps I’m being OTT.”
I know you do this column out of genuine kindness and that you’re not a trained psychiatrist, so I imagine the advice you can give is probably rather limited. But, I know from previous articles you’ve had your own mental struggles, so I figure you’re probably the best person I could ask about this sort of thing. People shouldn’t have to tolerate me like they do when I get down in the dumps as often as I do. It’s not fair on them all to keep on having to prop me up.
What do you think, Papa Bear? Do you think I have a mental illness of some sort?
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Many of these symptoms are indicative of the overly sensitive person, including the crying and empathy for others. The good news is you are not mentally ill. And FYI, eating disorders and food/drug addictions are not mental disorders; they are addictions. A mental disorder is what happens when your perception of reality and your interpretation of reality do not match reality. For example, declaring, "I am Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt" would indicate a mental disorder.
Along with your hypersensitivity, you sound like you have social anxiety (problems dealing with people), low self-esteem (self-criticism), social dysphoria (problems being in groups and not feeling like other people), obsessive-compulsive disorder (obsession with finances, planning trips), and stress from your family situation.
I'm not qualified to diagnose the numbness-in-your-forehead issue. That could be caused by stress, but it could also be a medical issue, so I would have to say that you might want to get it checked out by a qualified physician and not an advice columnist.
I would not diagnose your issues as having just one cause, therefore. I think you have several things going on all at once, and that is a lot to take. Again, I don't label such things as mental psychoses so much as they are neuroses. A neurosis is when things like depression, anxiety, and stress hamper our quality of life, whereas a psychosis involves losing touch with reality.
Deep breath. Okay, as with so many other things in medical arts these days, I have read that psychologists no longer call it "neurosis," but, rather, they favor the longer term "non-specific psychological distress," or NPD for short.
Recent research suggests that a good way to ease the symptoms of NPD is, interestingly enough, mindfulness. This term might be familiar to you if you have ever read up on Buddhism (Buddhism rocks!) What is mindfulness? It is the deliberate examination of your thoughts and feelings in order to understand what they are and what causes them. Understanding the root of your problem is a huge step toward treatment.
As Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne wrote in Psychology Today, "In mindfulness, you concentrate on and accept your thoughts, and feelings and consciously insert yourself into the moment. You might imagine that this is the worst thing for highly neurotic individuals to do, because it focuses their attention on their maladaptive ways of thinking. However, part of mindfulness is deciding on how to view the experience that you’re having. If you’re engaging in mindfulness, you look at an experience with acceptance and curiosity. Rather than fighting the feeling, you ask yourself where it’s coming from, and redefine the situation as one you can conquer." ("Research Suggests a Cure for Neuroticism," Psychology Today, July 11, 2017).
I would suggest to you two things: 1) if you can, seek some professional counseling; 2) read more about mindfulness and how it can benefit you. One author I would definitely recommend to you is Don Miguel Ruiz. I have some of his books on audio and he makes a great deal of sense to me. There are many other books you can explore, of course, by just searching on "mindfulness" and also writings on Buddhism.
I hope this helps.
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