Monday, October 10, 2011

Talking to Yourself, and Depersonalization

Thanks to everyone who responded to my last post, which was all of last night (this morning). I don't usually post this often again, but someone mentioned that I should, so here I am. In regards to the comment about taking my blog post to the ER, I am not going to do that, but I appreciate your concern. There is really nothing good that would come of me going to the ER. For one thing, I am not suicidal, so I will not willingly be admitted into a psych ward. For another thing, they might want to admit me anyway, and then I'd lose my job, which would make me unable to pay my rent, which would put me back into a position I was in numerous times in the past when I lost all my belongings and had to go live in an ALF or a group home. And I'm not willing to give everything up - not now.

I did have a friend who is my only close friend around here that I ever actually see, who got concerned when I did not answer my phone last night, as it was turned off, and she called me six times, and then actually drove to my apartment to see if I was home, when I was out, because she said, "I thought after the way you were talking that you might be lying on a park bench somewhere unable to get home. Or in the hospital". I was bothered that she would freak out like this, because, although it is nice of her, I have a major, major fear about people calling the police on me because I am acting too "crazy" when I get like I am now, and I do not ever want that to happen, and I do not ever want people knocking on my door without notice because I am not really up for visitors.

I wish I could say that I was keeping up with college work. I did manage to write my paper last night, in the middle of the night. Then I was up all night, unable to sleep at all, but I did not manage to study today for my upcoming test. I sat in a library, for a couple of hours, staring at a page of paper and a page in the textbook - the study materials. I could not make sense of them at all. Not at all. I tried. I mean, I sat there, for hours, trying. And it did not work. Finally, I gave up telling myself that I might be able to study at home today. But that didn't work either.

One thing I have been able to read is some of my old blog posts here - which is something I never normally read. And I notice that a month ago I seem to have been doing  quite well. I recall that I was able to study for hours. I could read. I could write easily for my classes. I could contribute in class without difficulty. I have really deteriorated in the past month. It has been about two months since I started taking Latuda, and while I can't necessarily blame the drug on my deterioration, and while it was myself who asked to be put on that medication in the first place, I know longer wish to take Latuda. So I will be going off that. I'm a very med-compliant consumer, but when it comes to something that I think is clearly not making me any better and may be making me worse, I have to make a decision to refuse to take it anymore. I could be wrong, of course. I am not a doctor, and I don't recommend that people pretend they are their own doctors. But you do have more knowledge of what is going on with you and your body all day long, every day, than the clinicians do who can only see you for a few minutes, so it is important that you take an active part in your treatment, I think. I learned this from experience.

One thing I noticed from looking through some of these old blog posts - which I was able to read somehow - was that I seem to come to this blog a lot when I'm not doing well, and I don't write that much when I am doing well, so I apologize about that. It is also possible that I really was that miserable, psychotic and suicidal that much of the time that it was important to write about it here, although I seem to overlook these things when I think about my life. I don't view at as being a constant string of symptoms, but more as episodes that come and go. These blog posts tell a different story, though. I know that the ones from 2008 are primarily negative, because that was a really bad year for me. And that was also the last time I was in the hospital - for feeling suicidal. They kept me for about two days. It didn't help. That same month, January 2008, I also quit my job, and then remained unemployed for eight months. It was not a good time. I am trying really hard right now to not allow myself to revert to a time like that, but it is very hard.

Just now I was standing in my kitchen, because I was going to eat something, or take medication, or stare at the overwhelming dishes, and I felt like I did not even know what to do or why I went in there. I stook looking at the wall. I said to myself, "You hung those pictures on the wall. You went to a store and bought that apron. You bought those matching oven mitts. You know how to do things. You can do things. Why can't you do anything now?" I took the meds, left the kitchen and decided to take a bath, although it took some thought as to why I would take a bath or whether or not there was any reason to do so. I knew I should be studying my useless, futile textbook, but that is not exactly working out. So....

In my post last night I mentioned talking to myself. Of all the symptoms I have written about on this blog, I think that was one I had probably never mentioned before at all. I don't normally tell anyone about that. But when you google "talking to yourself" and "not recognizing yourself in the mirror" (yes, I have resorted to googling such things), you get some information about Depersonalization. This is something I was not too familiar with, or if I was, I don't remember it. I seem to be exhibiting some depersonalization. But it is a familiar thing to me. It has happened before many times.

When I talk to myself, it's not that I'm completely delusional; I don't think that I'm talking to people who are not there. I talk out loud as if I am talking to another person, because somehow this helps me explain my thoughts to myself. It is something that I have actually done, intermittently, since I was about 12 years old. I remember sitting on a bathroom cabinet having a whole conversation with myself in the mirror then. I do not know why this started, but it was around this time that my depression started. I also wanted to mention that when I said I have caught myself starting to do this in public, it is only a few words here and there, and not an entire conversation, like I would do somewhere alone. It does make me feel very weird, and abnormal, so I don't like the fact that I do this. Also,  I realize that I said in my last post I am experiencing psychosis and not just depression, but it is possible that the main problem is severe depression. I really don't know right now.

Anyway, having told you about this embarrassing aspect of my life, I wanted to explain that it is not a totally psychotic thing, because I do not think I am talking to hallucinated people. I am just actually talk to myself. I feel quite disconnected from myself, pretty much all the time right now, so that is probably why I am doing this a lot more than usual. Right now, I am talking to myself about why I am acting so odd, why my brain is not working, what might be wrong with my brain and myself, and why I cannot think, and why I am talking to myself. Generally, that is what it's about because these days my thoughts are ruminating about whatever is wrong with my brain, and I wish I could stop doing this and stop internalizing and start interacting with the world again, but I don't know how. I will go to work and class tomorrow and do my best to feign normalcy, or some semblance of it.

A while back I read an excellent memoir by Marya Hornbacher, called, Madness: A Bipolar Life. In it she talks about having talked to herself when she was manic. I know other people do this, so I wanted to share this excerpt with you so I don't sound quite so freakish that I do this myself.  So here it is:
...."This strikes me as hilarious, and I note out loud, "Hilarious!" over the roar of the vacuum cleaner. I notice I am talking to myself, and turn off the vacuum cleaner so I can hear myself better. "I'm talking to myself!" I remark to myself, as if I am a mother remarking on a particularly endearing and/or cute thing I have done. "Is that odd?" Myself and I continue to converse while I put the vacuum away in the hall closet. "You really should clean this closet," I say, wandering into the thicket of ball gowns and suits as if I'm heading for Narnia. I pick my way over several suitcases and climb up a ladder and down the other side, having realized that it is important to find my bathing suit right now, but I trip on a broken television and land with a thud in a pile of boxes. "Oh, for God's sake, don't get me started," I shout, and crawl back out, finding my hiking boots on the way. I go down the hall to collect all my shoes. "The thing is, probably everyone talks to themselves now and then, don't they?" I sweep everything off the closet shelves and begin arranging my heels in order of color and height. "But perhaps they don't talk to themselves quite this much! Time to do the laundry!"
Now, if only I had a little bit of that mania to help me get some things done. Just for a few might help!

So my question for you readers is, do you talk to yourself? And how often? And when?


  1. I definitely talk to myself. (and again I'm 'neurotypical' as our society defines it.) Sometimes it's rare, but sometimes it will be several times a day.

    Whenever I'm trying to think about some complex social interaction (for example: will so and so get angry if I do x, or if they found out y; how could I tell someone I have a crush on them without it being weird?) I daydream. I play out in my head how I think the interaction would go.

    As part of this, I also think about what I would say, and sometimes, I find myself saying what I would say out loud. It feels kind of like I'm rehearsing a speech, but also like I'm trying to think through my own thoughts.

    I've found myself doing this in front of other people, and it can be awkward. When I'm walking down the street, if I'm listening to music, if the people walking in front of me turn around in my direction, sometimes I freak out and think I might have just said something random out loud. (I daydream a lot when I'm walking and sometimes I stop paying attention to what's around me.)

    Also, my mother talks to herself, but it's more that she reports her schedule to whoever is in the room, even if no one is in the room. She's told me though this also helps her remember and think through her schedule. (She has two jobs and coordinates everything for the family.)

    I've known several people who admit to talking to themselves. Most say they do it when they're bored, or trying to think out loud.

    *also, fun historical note: In Roman times, people would read outloud, even if no one was around. I remember reading a story of an early Christian saint whom everyone thought was weird because he read silently.

    So just because our society associates talking to oneself with 'craziness', it doesn't mean that's your worst symptom or the one you should be most worried about

    (sorry for such a long comment)

  2. Jen,

    I also talk to myself ALL THE TIME out loud. I don't think it's a weird thing or a psychosis thing, unless you are talking to someone other people cannot see.

    What is clear to me is that you need a med change. When is your next appointment? I can't remember what you said you were on before - was it seroquel? Whatever you were taking a month ago clearly was helping and the Latuda clearly is not. If something is making you worse or not working, why take it?

    Again, when do you see your psychiatrist again? I think a medication change will help you come out of this. The inability to concentrate could be a symptom of anything to do with mental illness. I also have it from my fibromyalgia. It's a chronic brain fog.

    The main thing is, you are not the only person who talks to themselves or depersonalizes or needs help! Please call your doctor and ask to switch to another medication or back to whatever you were on when you were doing well.


  3. I talk to myself, but I'm an only child & that was formed long before I started on the road to brain atrophy..that lead to the symptoms of schizophrenia.

    When I mentioned getting an "appointment" sooner what I meant was go to the hospital Now, but I figured you wouldn't do that...& didn't want to hear it. I do understand why you don't want to go. I also understand the reason you think you don't need to go...I was just afraid some things would escalate ..~Mary

  4. Hello Jen,

    I talked to myself on occasion before I became psychotic, usually when I was conflicted about something or very happy. I enjoyed it. Even then I believed that I was speaking to some presence. When I became psychotic, I started talking aloud in my house and in my car, but then I thought my house and car were bugged and I was actually talking to my pursuers, often trying to reason with them.

    Personally, though talking aloud is a sign of psychotic illness, it is also ironically a sign of an individual trying to help him or herself; it is therapeutic. I was unmedicated for the first three years, but I needed to talk to myself to get myself through the ordeals of the illness. After my third and final psychotic break when I started taking the medications, I stopped talking to myself for a while because I was afraid that it would pull me into madness again. I found that when I was acutely ill my voices would talk through me and then I would respond. The voices talking through me as if I were a medium was intense and disturbing. So I got real quiet.

    Later, I began talking into a taperecorder for added therapy and I've been doing that for over four years now. That gave me some discipline. When you put something down on tape, you have to be very, very honest or I think the therapy doesn't work. I also tape myself to catch myself when I began veering into delusional or paranoid thoughts. Delusional thinking patterns tend to stand out in a recording, but then you can review your thought process and see where your logic is faulty and re-direct yourself. I've found keeping an audio journal has helped me to get closer to myself as well.

    Definitely sounds as if your med change a few months ago to Latuda might be causing you all these problems. Biochemistry seems to vary so widely from person to person, which is why medication changes are very serious. I haven't had to do much of that over the years, though I did switch from Zyprexa to Abilify a while ago, but that seemed to help me. I take four medications, two for psychosis, one for depression and one for anxiety. That's not too bad; but you seem as if you take even more than that, which means you have to pay attention to drug interactions to see if they're okay or harmful.

    Hang in there Jen. For now, figure out what the bare minimum is for you to pass your classes and keep your job. Despite the fact that you are really struggling right now, you continue to amaze me with your eloquence in these blog posts. You really do have a beautiful mind that not even this illness can really tarnish.

    Kate : )

  5. I don't always make comments to respond to comments, but anyway, here is one.
    SLG - Thanks for your long comment; I appreciated what you had to say. Also, i really like that term "neurotypical" that you use. I am going to have to borrow that term (not for myself though!). I read before that "rehearsing" conversations is very common in people with Schizophrenia, but it might also be common in neurotypical, just not something that they admit to doing. I like that story about the people reading out loud.

    Chelle, my next appointment is tomorrow morning. Yes, I was on Seroquel before, for years. It did seem to help a lot with certain things like sleeping (it worked better than any sleeping pill I have used), auditory hallucinations and delusional thoughts (which are not may main problem right now). I went off it because I am prediabetic and didn't want to get diabetes, but right now I would be willing to deal with diabetes if I could think and function. Thanks for sharing that you talk to yourself too.

    Mary - I thought it was somebody else that had mentioned the emergency room, but anyway, I understand why you would think that it might be a good idea. If I got suicidal again, I would go into the hospital. I understand what you mean about things escalating. Thanks for your comments.

    Kate - I remembered that you did that with the tape recorder and you said it helped you. The time period before I was put on antipsychotics, when I was acutely psychotic and almost shot myself was the only time I have used a tape recorder. Those tapes were given to the hospital by my mother, and some things I said in them could have landed me in legal troubles if they had been used against me. When I listened to one of them later it scared the heck out of me. So I wouldn't do that again, but I understand that it helps you so that is good that it works for you. I think this blog helps me becuase I can look back and see how I was doing on a certain medication, or at a certain time of year, and try to understand if there is a pattern. Thanks for your nice comment. I think you are the only person who still reads this blog when I was using the pseudonymn "beautiful mid, complex life" years ago. Haha. I did that because when I watched that movie, I thought it was about my life! Guess that's better than calling yourself "deer hunter" or something.

  6. I have caught myself talking to myself when I'm reliving an old memory, it's as if-if I say it loud, I could change it. I could say something different or make them understand what I meant to happen. Somehow change my memory. People around me have actually responded to me and I told them that I was just talking to myself 20 years ago.


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