Am I Really Depressed or Am I Seeing Things That Aren't There?

by Kat
(Australia)

Hi there,


Sorry for this being a long one, but I've never talked to anyone about this before so it's been pent up for a while.

I've always had a very active imagination and often during my short life I've confused reality with my imagination. When I was in high school a couple of years ago, my grades started dropping so I created this false depressed persona to be harsh on myself and motivate myself to do better (crazy, yes, but it somehow made sense at the time). I also resorted to mild self-harm to relieve the moderate levels of anxiety I was used to experiencing. It worked, I became top of the class for a year but then I'm not sure if I became truly depressed or I began confusing the depressed persona with my usual one. In grade 12, my grades dropped to B's. This doesn't sound bad but it caused a deepening depression due to the pressure I put on myself and that of my family, whom I believe often overestimate my intelligence because of my relatively high IQ.

Anyway, I've never allowed myself to get close to non-family, so I only associated with friends on a shallow level and we haven't seen each other since I graduated from high school ten months ago. Now that I am in university, I am unaccustomed to everything here. I get very anxious around people. I freeze up, experience cold and hot sweats, my blood pressure has sky rocketed and my resting heart rate has gone from 54 to 73 in the past months. Also, I very rarely get sick but I contracted three bad flues in that past month and have gained weight, even though I don't eat much. I'm also paranoid that everyone is judging me and sometimes I just hide in the toilet cubicles because I hate people looking at me. I think that maybe the depression that I created has sunken too deeply into my personality and now it's become real. Even though my grades are alright, I have the constant feeling of failure and stress. No matter how much I study, I can't focus, I can't concentrate, I've lost interest in a subject I've always loved and I remember nothing. Last week, in a lab, I got so stressed that, despite three hours of preparation, I forgot everything about the lab, even how to use standard equipment that I've been using for four years. My demonstrator said that I should see the coordinators because I was obviously struggling, so I did and when I went to speak to them, my voice died, I almost fainted and when they asked me my name I couldn't remember it.

On top of this (yes, this is an extremely long, angsty whine, sorry), I have stopped communicating with my mother, the only person who I felt always understood me, and we constantly fight. I feel like everything is falling apart, and yet it has no specific reason to. It's been getting worse. Sometimes, I look over the bridge where my train stops in the mornings and I picture myself jumping off. I'm not sure if I actually intend to or not, because sometimes I don't know if any of these feelings are real. But it scares me that I picture it, because I know how easily I can convince myself that it's real. I want to talk to a counselor about it, but I'm scared that I'll end up manipulating them just as I manipulated myself into believing this... thing. I don't know what's real anymore and it's got to stop because it's ruining everything. I cannot form friendships, I've lost interest in everything I loved and every morning I wake up and want to cry because I don't know what's going on anymore or who I am.

So yeah, sorry that that was so massively long. In retrospect I have very little to whine about; there have been no major disasters or deaths in my life, and I'm relatively lucky. I just want any advice, especially on how to approach a counselor about this without blowing things out of proportion so I don't feel like such a whiner.

Thanks so much and I hope you can help!

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Kat,

Thanks so much for reaching out and there's never a need to apologize for sharing so much detail and, more importantly, reaching out for help and support. It takes courage to face ourselves in a real way, own whats going on and ask for help, so I commend you.

In reading what you wrote, I would feel confident to say there is more going on than just a depression. You describe some classic symptoms such as feeling sad, losing interest in things you used to enjoy, fantasizing about killing yourself, isolating yourself, hurting yourself, etc. However, with that said, I'd suspect depression is secondary to another potential disorder.

It sounds like there is some real deep wounding that you have experienced and most likely repressed. Note: it doesn't mean that it was a single, traumatic event. It could be deep wounding from something chronic that caused a lot of emotional pain or trauma over time. Being raised under great pressure to be perfect or special is a great example.

Each of us experience forms of trauma that impact who we are. It's how we choose to process it and deal with it that makes all the difference. I encourage you to seek an experienced therapist or psychiatrist that can work with you, provide a formal diagnosis and develop an effective treatment plan. If you go to a psychiatrist, not only can they provide good therapy but they can also prescribe the right meds if needed.

Also, don't worry about fooling your therapist. After all, we are trained professionals! :-)

I wish you all the best as you embark on our journey. It may be a rough road at times but focus on your courage, your strength and your committment to face this head on, process it all and get through it. I have all the faith in you that you will succeed and live a very long, happy, successful life!

Thanks for sharing with me and my visitors. We are all routing for you. Come back anytime and let us know how you're doing.

In light and love,

Dana

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