Schizotypal Personality Disorder

I am going to take the long route home to avoid meeting those grinning ladies who come abruptly at my face, immediately demanding (without explicitly stating it of course) that I respond or acknowledge them in some way, I know not how. And why must they come at me like that? I wonder if they time their walks to match mine; it cannot be a coincidence. Nothing in this life is a coincidence. Nothing! in this life is a coincidence. Nothing in this…and is it a coincidence that one of their daughters is always loitering near my gate? with her smartphone, with which we all know everything can be recorded and broadcasted immediately. 

We are the sole protector of our privacy from the onslaught of mobile cameras.  

Yes, let me take the longer quieter route and then I’ll promptly bolt the door tight when I reach home, and….I wonder if they found out about the game. But how could they? Did I share it with anyone else?  Do they think I am anti-national now that I predicted the loss of our cricket team? But I didn’t want them to lose, I didn’t gave a hoot way, I just knew they would… lose I mean. OR maybe,  yes that is it, maybe they are looking to have me predict the next game for them. That must be it. Those sly B***ches. They want to mint money out of me. No no no. Cannot. will not. After all, we all know, that the power goes away when placed in contact with greed. 

This world is going to the dogs. This world is going to. the. dogs. This world is…yes let me repeat this phrase again and again…this phrase…this is the pure truth…this world is going! tooo the dogs. Let me thus take the longer route. 

For a quick run-through on the basic characteristics and symptoms of the disorder you can watch Kati Morton explain the DSM-5 symptoms in a simple engaging way.  For a deeper understanding about this, you can consider investing 20 mins in this longer article on the disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder

I see you checking your watch, the door, every time I am at home. You’re biding your time, you’re waiting for the right moment

to leave me. 

I cannot take this anymore. What if…what if I burn your driving license, hide your credit card…you will be forced to stay, won’t you? Darling, please stay. 

It’s either that, or I’ll kill myself. What is the point of living, if you’re not here to share this life with me!

Who do you speak on the phone to so much? Are you cheating on me? I won’t be surprised, it would be just like you to do so. Oh, I could murder you! I could be with ANY body, anybody I want. Why did I have to chose you?

Why of course I threw your phone! You made me do it. Why do you have to speak on the phone while I am trying to have a romantic dinner with you?

Darling darling, I am sorry I am sorry. I didn’t mean that. Come near me, let me touch your mole, your lines. My heart bursts with love for you. Are you thinking of leaving me? Why don’t we leave our jobs, and freelance together from home. That way we can spend every second with each other. 

Oh, why do you look at her like that. I cannot stand this! When you go out tomorrow, don’t bother coming back again! I am telling you, don’t come back in this house again?

Gosh, don’t take me so seriously. Come, kiss me. Please kiss me. How will I love myself if you don’t love me? I don’t feel real until you look at me. 

This is an interesting article describing how BPD is sometimes misread, and remains unacknowledged or untreated. This is a slightly longer article, describing the transformative work of a therapist, who herself suffered from the disorder, with her highly suicidal clients suffering from BPD. If you just want a quick overview of symptoms and risk factors, go here.

 

Agoraphobia

There are certain things that make my heart beat fast- the sound of the doorbell, the beep of my phone, the sound of laughter from inside a closed room that I am about to enter, the sound of a car pulling-in my driveway, the approaching of a Tuesday evening, when the bazaar commences in my neighborhood, the…

I could go on. These, by themselves, are harmless…but they carry the potential possibility of leading of a situation that might develop to be highly unpleasant for everyone concerned, I assure you. A situation which can trigger the switch in me…the switch which when pulled, makes my heart beat so loud that I can’t hear you anymore, my knees go week, my gut clots into a knot tight tight tight, makes me turn into something I wish nobody has to witness…all I can do is hide. 

These days, I bide my time in my bedroom…enclosed in a tiny corner with things that are familiar to me and which will keep me from being seen. I hope you will excuse my not partaking in the celebrations tonight. 

Panic Disorder can put the person suffering from it at a greater risk of Agoraphobia, and agoraphobia in-turn can cause panic attacks. If you want to know/read more on this, this is a really interesting article on Agoraphobia, if you’re up for a somewhat long ride. If you want a short-read, you can of course just look at the symptoms listed on Mayo Clinic here.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

I want to enjoy this evening, I really do; I want to look deep into your eyes, watch the laugh lines around your face, and brush my legs against yours as we lose ourselves in this music.

But…but every time you look at me, I catch your eyes stop at my nose, making my heart sink into my knees every time they linger a little too long on the middle of my face.

I fix my hat to make sure its shadow covers most of my face, I excuse myself again and again, to apply another layer of foundation on my nose. I catch my face on glass doors and behind steel spoons, I catch the waiters turning ’round to look at it (my nose) again and again, I put my phone on front camera and check and recheck my disguise under the the table…I send a selfie to my best-friend and my mother asking them the fifth time this evening if my nose is well covered, I catch my reflection on your cigarette case…I…oh darling….I…please excuse me, I don’t feel too well, I must retire early, I think I’ll drive myself home now. 

{I cry on the drive back home. But I could not…could not bear to watch your eyes drop at my nose one more time this evening. }

You can read more about Body Dysmorphic Disorder here.

Hallucination

“They’re not real. They’re not real.” You try to tell me. 

You don’t have to convince me. 

And yet, at 3 am every morning, when the whole neighborhood is fast asleep, and you’re no longer here to remind me…they share my bed with me, their voice like a ringing in my ears. 

Their companionship is truer than yours, more persistent than all your corrective voices put together, their presence more constant than my dead husband’s ever was.

Call them my friends or my disease. Like my shadow, my smell…they accompany me my every waking moment. 

{Sometimes…I wish I believed in God. Maybe this will make more sense?}

You can find brief descriptions of different kinds of Hallucination here. For a longer and more literary read, you can also consider reading Oliver Sacks’ book on Hallucination, which he discusses in this podcast. [Please note, when they talk about drug induced hallucination, it’s important to remember, as they themselves briefly touch upon, that knowing that the hallucinations are medically induced and will soon end helps to make them bearable for a neurologist like Oliver Sacks (and makes for good stories later). When listening to such stories, one should keep in mind that those who experience hallucinations induced by psychosis, trauma or other psychological causes, don’t have the luxury of knowing when and if these visions/ voices/ sensations will ever end, and may sometimes experience them all their lives. By sharing this podcast, I do not want to undermine the long and painful presence these hallucinations make for many people’s lives who cannot get rid of them as easily as Sacks did. But of course, when discussing a book on radio, one tends to focus on the more juicy parts of it.]

Here is another interesting article that provides personal accounts of auditory hallucinations and discusses the Hearing Voices Network, which is an interesting concept that has come up in some parts of the world. These networks act as support systems to those experiencing auditory hallucination or voice-hearing and view them “not as a pathological phenomenon in need of eradication but as a meaningful, interpretable experience”.

 

 

 

 

Hypochondriasis

They think I am pretending, they laugh at me behind my back (or even in front of me, those shameless devils), but I despise them just as passionately as they reject me. Do you think I enjoy taking rounds and rounds of hospitals and clinics, a different one each time, watching doctor after doctor frown at me, cut me off mid-sentence, charge enormous fees for 10 minutes of their impatient time? I have spent 20,000 INR just this month alone, on  my medical fees. That’s 20% of my salary! You think I enjoy this!? I am going to need this money for my treatment when they finally find out the cause of all this! Will they repay me for the time and money I have spent on them, each time hoping to find a doctor who will listen and sympathise, who will make use of their expensive education and help me. Instead, with each passing year, the doctors coming out of these medical colleges have shorter and shorter attention spans. They throw offhanded judgements and medicines without waiting to listen to the discomforts I have faced for the past 12 years.

I now self-monitor my weight and bloodpressure I myself; I measure them both twice everyday, making careful notes. I have instructed my daughter to video-record me every time I have my pains, to show the doctors how my skin loses its colour, my body goes limp, how I shriek with true pain. I have lost almost as much money on sick-leaves as I have on my treatments. Those doctors might find these videos more entertaining than hearing me speak. Maybe one day all these notes and videos will help a more patient, more understanding doctor get closer to finding the cause of my illness. I lose more weight everyday; my temperature fluctuates every week and my body goes weak with exhaustion without any physical strain. This is not a life anybody wishes on themselves. I will do anything to not be like this, to not inhabit this body…to work everyday without having to rush home every other week, to go out with friends without making excuses for my sickness, to be distracted for even a few hours from the tickings and runnings of my system; and I definitely don’t want to see the snarky face of another doctor who thinks they know more about my sickness that I do myself. 

If you want to read a quick description of Hypochondriasis, go here, and this is a slightly longer article explaining Hypochondriasis as an anxiety disorder . This is a more humorous personal account by Woody Allen in New York Times, who has proclaimed himself, on multiple occasions, to have acute debilitating symptoms of hypochondriasis.

Burn Out

I am a journalist, or maybe a writer, or maybe even the Managing Director of the manufacturing company you would have liked to work in. It doesn’t matter what my visiting card says. All I am right now is an overwhelming mass of exhaustion. I might have a story to send in tonight, maybe an article to finish, tax forms to complete, budget plans to prepare, Skype calls or  overseas deals…but every toss and turn of my mind tires me. 

How did I get here?

Remind me why I got here?

I might be a sprinter, running on the field…and suddenly I can’t see the end-line any more. I am not even sure there is an end line? You know what I mean?

I can finish this article, the budget plan, the calls, the deals and the tax forms…I can drag my hands, my head, my expensive education through these slow moving steps….but what difference will it make? What is the goal, the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel (if you will) of all this. Remind me, please remind me, the point of all this. How will it get me away from the quick-silver sunsets, the rush of darkness, this overpowering tiredness. 

If I sit in this chair, unmoving, for the next whole week (or month or year) with unattained deadlines, unfinished tasks and unanswered calls, the world will still move on in its exact same devastating way. Nothing I do changes the course of this life!

Tell me, tell me I am wrong.

Before I link to other articles, I want to assert here that Burn-Out is NOT the same as Stress; and while Stress is physically damaging, burn-out is psychologically damaging (though of course, our psychological well-being impacts our physical well-being and vice versa). You can read more about occupational burn-out here. BBC did an interesting feature with Anna Schaffner, the author of “Exhaustion: A History”, which you can read here. And for a quick guide on how stress is different from burn-out, go here.

Anorexia Nervosa

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Darling I do want to pay attention, I want to hear all about your son’s first day in school. I know how important this is for you. But I know they are watching; and I force one spoon after another of this broth, not wanting to give them the pleasure of a gossip. And with each spoon, I wonder if I can maybe sneak out and take a couple of laps around the building? I wonder if I taste nuts in this, that would need more than a couple laps to kill. 

I wish I could share this with you, but I know you won’t understand. You think this is a problem, but I tell you this is my asceticism. There is a strange purity about an empty stomach; I feel cleaner, holier. Maybe this is just my way of being spiritual? 

I want to hear you talk, I do; I want to hear about your days…but I can’t help wondering what sweetener they put in our tea. I can’t accept the cookies, I don’t eat solids on Wednesdays; but I can’t tell them that, so I smile and move away. 

Gosh, I wonder if I am being horribly rude. I feel weak, can we sit a bit? 

There is a whole lot of resources, anecdotes, information and stories available about Anorexia and other eating disorders. I don’t think you need my help to find them. But I found these to be quite comprehensive- this and this. I do want to stress though-  Anorexia has one of the highest death rates out of all mental illnesses, so the tendency to laugh out eating disorders is really scary and potentially life threatening.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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Hello sir, how kind of you to visit us today. 

Will you please take off your shoes? …oh I hate to be a nuisance, but could you put your shoes in between those two yellow lines?

Would you like some tea tea? or coffee coffee? Or maybe just some water water first?

{oh, don’t mind me sir. I have this thing…I have to repeat beverage names twice, and food names thrice with a sigh. don’t pay attention to it. It is quite annoying for me as well.}

Water water you say? I also have some wine wine or some juice juice?

My husband’s out to the garage. He’ll be here shortly. 

Oh how grand of you to bring this cake cake cake (sigh!) for us. It is our anniversary, you are right. Our ninth one. 

We do have candles yes. But I am afraid, we don’t have any knife. Can we cut the cake cake cake (sigh!) with  a spoon maybe?

No, not even a kitchen knife. We buy cut food from the market, and never feel the need for a knife. You see sir, I hope you will not misunderstand me, but we have a five year old darling daughter that we love very dearly. Having a knife in the house…you see, I might stab her. 

Oh, you mustn’t look at me like that. Why don’t I pour you some red wine wine? That will calm both our nerves. 

Would you like some cheese cheese cheese (sigh!) and some crackers crackers crackers (sigh!)? How wonderful! Yes, we do have a great collection of wine (wine). 

Won’t you wash your hands before you eat? The bathroom is to your left.

Sir, if you don’t mind, can you please take three crackers [crackers crackers, sigh!] at a time? It’s awfully silly, but it’s important the crackers stay in multiples of three on the plate. 

To know more about OCD, there is a pretty informative site dedicated to OCD that you can view here; or you can visit the NIMH link on OCD here. To read a short personal account on OCD, go here.

 

 

Panic Disorder

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I sense it’s oncoming.

I know the signs: how my skin throbs, and the world shrinks inside me.

I want to flee,

but my feet fill with crawling lead

and gets stuck to this ground

that moves.

The coils coil inside me wringing my gut.

How the world shakes around me, it makes me dizzy;

and that wild beast leaping at my throat

is likely to kill me.

 

To know more about panic disorder and understand how a panic attack is different from an anxiety attack, you can go here .