I’ve been dealing with this issue for a little over 7 years. It started out as becoming easily agitated, to the point I’d break things, rip up clothing, and shut out anyone close to me. It progressed to feeling watched and feeling as though people were trying to poison or kill me. As of today, I can’t form relationships, as sometimes I tend to do things I don’t mean, such as laughing when told something serious or showing no emotion at all. People are trying to read my mind and steal my thoughts, and I hear voices of people telling me to do terrible things. I don’t know what to do at this point. I have a hard time maintaining a job, as there are days I can’t even leave the house out of fear. I’ve never seen anyone about this, as I’m told I just need a strong faith in God.
Faith in God is good but it’s not a substitute for mental health treatment. Sometimes very religious people believe that prayer is the only thing that can help. If praying alone worked, then we would have no worldly problems. Praying is good, but perhaps God answers you by directing you to a therapist.
You’ve been experiencing symptoms for seven years and they seem to have progressed. One should always be proactive with their mental health and with health in general. If you noticed a lump on your back, for instance, you’d be ill-advised to ignore it. If that lump turned out to be cancer you would have wasted value time. The importance of early diagnosis in cancer and mental illness cannot be overemphasized. I’m obviously not suggesting that you have cancer. I’m simply trying to make the point that early detection and appropriate care for a potential mental illness is immensely important for your overall psychological health and well-being. Put more simply, you should not ignore your symptoms.
As you know, when you don’t feel well psychologically, it affects all aspects of your life including, work, school, relationships, and so forth. Most mental illnesses are highly treatable, especially in the early stages of development. The sooner one receives treatment, the easier it will be to restore one’s psychological health.
I would suggest contacting a mental health professional to assist you in determining what might be wrong and most importantly, to begin treatment. Going to therapy doesn’t mean you are weak or that you would have to stop praying (if you pray). It’s nothing like that. Religion and therapy are not mutually exclusive. You can do both — pray and seek therapy. In fact, it’s not uncommon for churches to offer therapeutic services. Think of a therapist like you would a dentist or anyone who has spent many years in school learning highly specific skills. Your goals in therapy are ultimately yours to decide but generally they are to reduce one’s symptoms, restore one’s level of functioning and to live a happy, more satisfied life.
You can start the process of seeking professional help by contacting your primary care physician and asking for a referral. They often are aware of mental health resources and providers in the community. Another option is to contact your insurance company and ask them for a referral. If you don’t have insurance, contact your local community mental health center and ask how they can help. Community mental health centers often offer free or very low-cost services to those in need. Do whatever is necessary in order to get the treatment you need. Treatment does work, but you have to be willing to try it. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle