Q: What is Wrong & What Can be Done
I know I have a problem I just am not sure what it is and I need your
help. I guess I will start from the beginning. I started college
when I was 23 and during my first semester I had some sort of breakdown.
Well, here is what happened – it had a lot to do with my speech
class and I was doing very well in it as I received an A in the class but I have
a huge fear of talking in front of people. Well anyway there was a lot of
encouragement in the class from both teacher and students so it helped.
The problem started when I began what I call racing thoughts through my
head. I would go over and over points that were said good or bad and then
it even became delusional to where I thought the teacher had to be plotting
something. The more I think about it now I suppose maybe I just couldn’t
believe I was doing ok in the class. Anyway I did go to the hospital for 5
days and they put me on risperidol. I think another drug halol was used
first but it had a lot of side effects. I was really thinking crazy at
time. This was the only instance I have ever been delusional. I am
now 30. I have been on Xyprexa and Zoloft since and my doctor says that I
am a success story for him. The thing is I only go see him for 10 minutes
and I am not completely honest with him because I feel inadequate. He has
labled me as schizoaffective and says that may be changed - but I am not all
together sure he is right because I have a hard time talking to him and telling
him everything that is going on. I’ve wondered everything from
Bipolar, Schizophrenia, and Mania to Avoidant Personality disorder.
Well here is what has been going on since that episode. I have never been
delusional like I said - thank god. That was very scary. I do
however still suffer from racing thoughts. I have what I think, narrowed
the trigger of them down to what I call new situations that occur to me.
To explain, I have always been a very quiet person and to myself or
introverted type. I had never had any close relationships outside of
family until the last two years. I hadn’t had any friends that I
spent time with and in fact kind of avoided situations where I might have
encountered such relationships. It is not that I don’t want
these relationships – I do – I am just afraid of something
but I don’t know what and it creates this anxiety in me. When I
got out of high school I pretty much worked with my dad in rental property and
would not go anywhere. I was afraid to go into stores for some reason.
I spent some time with a psychologist and he really helped me a lot but he moved
away. It started out as what seems simple to most people, but for me was
very terrifying. I had to go to Burger King and eat. Silly right?
Well it got me started anyways. I did that a few times and got use
to it and of course I had the racing thoughts along with it. I would do things
like rerun an entire conversation back through my head how it should have been
done or shouldn’t have or what bothered me about it. This is
definitely not what I call back to normal like before my episode at college.
Well therapy progressed and I came to the conclusion that I should work in
a grocery store to overcome my fear of meeting and talking to people. I said I
wanted to be a cashier. I didn’t know how far I would go with
this though. Of course I had all kinds of horrible what if this happens
thoughts. Nevertheless I went through with it and got a job at a local
grocery store. Well I was very nervous at first and of course had lots of
racing thoughts. I have been there for 5 years now and am the Customer Service
Manager and am the direct supervisor of 50 employees. Boy did I change in
that respect. The thing is though it is a controlled environment and as
long as something new doesn’t happen to trigger my racing I am ok.
I have a lot of friends at work now and over the last 2 years have become very
close with several and we go out and to eat a lot and just talk. They are
Something else I should mention is that I am on a drug Topamax because of what a
neurologist calls essential tremors. What happens is my hands will shake a
lot when typing or trying to do some type of movement. I am not so sure
that this isn’t mental as well but it does seem to have gone away
since I have been on the drug so no complaints.
Now I have started a new job working for Utility Company because I finally
finished my degree in Computer Information Systems. I am just starting in
the call center to get in the door however, meaning that I am going to be on the
phone a lot with customers faced with a lot of challenging situations. I
think I will be able to handle this ok but the racing is my biggest problem.
What is wrong with me.
Something else that has developed to eliminate theses thoughts I suppose is that
I might cuss just to stop this thought process. I get so angry that I
might yell out a four letter word four times in a row and it seem to at least
stop this racing for a short moment anyways. The strange thing is this
only happens when I am alone or at home. I seem to be able to
control it so there must be some hope for me. I just don’t know
what it is. It just drives me crazy and I feel so ashamed that this is
happening to me and I don’t know what to do. What is wrong and
what can be done?
Dear John --
I can see why the diagnosis seems a bit uncertain -- there are a lot of
different parts to your experience, including the racing thoughts and the
anxiety and something that made somebody want to give you Zoloft as well as
Haldol and Risperidone.
So, when you're income is steady you could save up some
money to pay a doc' for a consultation, for more input on diagnosis and
treatment options (or ask your doctor for more time to discuss those things
you're hesitant about; and if that's not available, check with your insurance
company to see if can get a second opinion payed for). Then, whatever the
"working diagnosis" is, focus your treatment there for a while and see
if you're making headway. You might read up a bit on Tourette's Disorder
to help the doctor evaluate whether there's an aspect of that in there
Remember, there is a psychotherapy for social phobia;
and for depression. So you have options to consider in addition to
medication approaches. Good luck to you.
Published December, 2001