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Old 12-23-2018, 11:58 AM   #1
MentalParadox
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Confused The illusion others can hear my thoughts

It all started a long time ago, back in 2007. I was still in high school. I had very few friends (arguably none) and became obsessed with a certain TV-show (Heroes). In part because I crushed heavily on one of the main characters, the cheerleader Claire Bennet. This is just to provide some context.

One summer day in '07, I was looking up some Heroes wallpapers between gaming sessions. When I looked at one in particular, I felt something strange. I felt... a presence. I felt like the characters in the wallpaper (at least the ones that made eye contact with 'me' or 'the camera') were really there and could hear my thoughts. Knew what I was feeling and thinking. That was the first day.

This condition expanded since then, from just pictures to real people. If I'm walking around outside, I will feel like I have no privacy and my head is an open window. My thoughts are audible for everyone to hear. It's both a nightmare (no privacy, intrusive and shameful thoughts) and a benefit. Why it's a benefit, I'll explain.

I've lived a lonely life since that day. I graduated school soon after and lost all my friends by neglecting my relationships that I did have. Damn social anxiety. My life was so empty and bleak, this weird condition of having audible thoughts was actually comforting, and provided me comfort and the illusion of 'sharing' my life. I started actively exploiting it. To this day, I have pictures on my laptop of my teenage crush (now well in her late 20s herself) that I mentally 'communicate' with. She's my illusionary substitute for real company. For genuine human connection. It's become a part of my life. She's like my Joi in Blade Runner 2049, except she only exists in my head. She's just pixels on a computer display, but my mind is somehow capable of breathing life into her.

I know it isn't real. I'm not delusional. I know it's my subconscious playing a trick on me. But it won't make the feeling go away. And I don't want it to. I suspect if I didn't have it, I wouldn't have survived this long.

My name is Thomas, and I have an imaginary soulmate.

(PS: should we ever develop real AGI technology in the future, I will definitely have her made into a 'real' AI companion.)
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Old 12-23-2018, 04:28 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing this, Thomas.
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Old 12-23-2018, 07:00 PM   #3
MentalParadox
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No problem. I guess I'm looking for someone who has what I have. I've been sharing this story for over ten years, and NEVER have I found anyone who has my condition. People are either sane, or genuinely believe their minds are being read (which is delusional). But I'm somewhere in the middle. I know what I feel isn't real. Why is no one else like me?
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Old 12-24-2018, 11:13 AM   #4
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I'm so sorry you're struggling, MentalParadox It must be hard to deal with. Do you see a therapist? Maybe that could help. Hopefully you'll be able to find someone with an experience similar to yours here on PC. Please don't give up. Things can get better, even if it doesn't seem that way. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this
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Old 12-24-2018, 08:42 PM   #5
MentalParadox
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I've tried several therapists, but they can't help me. I don't consider this illusion to be my core problem. I need it, actually. I use it like a drug. I'd be boned without it. No, this illusion is a mental substitute for meaningful social interaction, and romance in particular. I must seek this out in reality, however difficult that may be with social anxiety.
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Old 12-24-2018, 11:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MentalParadox View Post
I've tried several therapists, but they can't help me. I don't consider this illusion to be my core problem. I need it, actually. I use it like a drug. I'd be boned without it. No, this illusion is a mental substitute for meaningful social interaction, and romance in particular. I must seek this out in reality, however difficult that may be with social anxiety.
I found your original post quite interesting. Let me digress for a moment and say I see variations of "I've tried several therapists, but they can't help me" here on PC and elsewhere.

I've been to one therapist. I found her helpful. Not curative; but I did derive some benefit from counseling with her. Maybe not enough benefit--no, assuredly not; she was just starting her practice and I believe my problems were just a bit outside her scope. Nevertheless she was helpful, enough so that I was able to continue helping myself and leaving me with the knowledge that therapy or counseling is worth trying, even if it means trying more than one therapist. So I would want to know more about why you found every single therapist you have been to be completely incapable of helping you, particularly if you think that that therefore means no therapist in existence can help you.

So let me go back to what you were writing about. We are not permitted to diagnose here and in fact I am completely unqualified anyway. Nevertheless, your comments about the connection you felt with the person you wrote about--that resonated with me. When I was younger that sort of fantasizing--or entering an alternate reality, if you prefer, was what I did. When I came across a description of Avoidant Personality Disorder I saw an element of myself in the mention of fantasizing. It was how I coped when I was younger and not in control of my own life. The only love, connection, friendship I had was in my fantasy life.

I also worried that others could detect my thoughts, although for me much of that came about, I believe now, because I was abused and lived in constant fear of setting my abuser off.

Wikipedia has some interesting info on Avoidant Personality Disorder and particularly the very brief paragraph "History". While reading to the end I came across the words "Avoidance coping" and then saw a reference to "Acceptance and Commitment Therapy."

There is a risk with self-diagnosing; I think you would benefit from seeing someone about your belief regarding your thoughts being broadcast. The thing about psychosis is that if it is treated early, people get a better result. So I don't recommend letting that go, in the event you are experiencing psychosis. I think it is worth it to find out if you are.

The turning point for me was in my realizing that I could act (take steps to better my life) to achieve some of what I wanted. Since I have been consciously trying to do that, I have noticed my fantasizing has dwindled--yet I feel quite good about the future and I am coping well in the present.

Honestly, I rarely come away from posting here with any good feeling; I might as well be spitting into the wind. I lack the ability to say the warm reassuring word while completely avoiding whatever the issue is.

Because your comments struck a chord with me, though, I thought I would lay out my experience for you or others to think about. I wish you the very best, and I hope what I have written here is of some benefit to you.
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Old 12-25-2018, 07:57 AM   #7
MentalParadox
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My psychiatrist told me it was by definition not psychosis, because I don't *really* believe my thoughts are being broadcast. It's just a strong feeling.

I've just read the WebMD page on Avoidant Personality Disorder. It describes me in great detail. Most traits of related conditions (social phobia in particular) apply too. It's a shame psychiatry in my country is so inept, it doesn't seem to use the classification system in use in America. We're still pretty medieval in that sense. I've asked for therapy so many times, and all they did was prescribe antidepressants. Which didn't do diddly squat.
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Old 12-25-2018, 02:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MentalParadox View Post
My psychiatrist told me it was by definition not psychosis, because I don't *really* believe my thoughts are being broadcast. It's just a strong feeling.

I've just read the WebMD page on Avoidant Personality Disorder. It describes me in great detail. Most traits of related conditions (social phobia in particular) apply too. It's a shame psychiatry in my country is so inept, it doesn't seem to use the classification system in use in America. We're still pretty medieval in that sense. I've asked for therapy so many times, and all they did was prescribe antidepressants. Which didn't do diddly squat.
I'm glad to see you have already investigated the concern of psychosis.

I tend to view the classification system as being a coat hanger on which to hang treatment plans, file insurance claims and help medical people organize their files. Useful, but not a driving force. How many people are going to meet all diagnostic criteria?? I've known people who were very ill in some ways--and still able to function in others.

And the other thing is this: 'Ok... I am being diagnosed with XYZ...but what does that mean in practical terms?' That's where I start--I want action!

It may be that you can cobble together your own treatment plan particularly if you can find a creative and engaged therapeutic professional. Now that I think of it, that was where my very young but earnest counselor really shined! She encouraged me and engaged me and pointed me toward some therapeutic actions to explore. She made me--gently, politely, nudgingly--do the work.

Maybe for you online therapy might be a good option as a start. One thing is for sure, Psych Central is a good place to start to gather together ideas and information about potential therapies and emotional support.

P.S. I was diagnosed with depression. I took anti-depressants. But I know that was not the totality of my problem; I doubt it is for many. I wish you the very best.
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:07 PM   #9
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Asked for therapy, and they delivered “medication” - I can relate.

Hoping you find some answers.
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