Psycho with grief.
March 30, 2012 12:31 PM   Subscribe

I feel like I'm losing my mind from grief due to a broken heart. The people I have tried to trust since my break-up have let me down (except for my one true friend and my therapist but they can only help so much and they are kind of like Saints). I'm scared of my paranoia (big business is corrupt and it rules our country without scruples -- today I decided Verilli must have been drugged by the GOP to have so royally flubbed the Health Care oral arguments which may not be insane but if it's true it makes me want to die). What can I do for myself in NYC to not lose my mind and keep growing as a person?

I'm a smart-ish person who was dumped two years ago. I'm employed but the job pays poorly and my co-workers don't include me in lunches or even conversations. So I'm lonely. I notice that I'm increasingly paranoid and feel criticized by everyone. Therapy is helping with these big old self-hate issues. If I wanted to be assessed, I expect a psychiatrist would say I had some type of personality disorder. But I do not want to be assessed. I do not want to see myself that way. I have always been sensitive but this break-up has nearly killed me. I don't know what to do with this grief.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Are you also discussing your paranoia and loneliness issues with your therapist?
posted by J. Wilson at 12:33 PM on March 30, 2012

I do not want to be assessed. I do not want to see myself that way.

Everyone grieves differently, but two years out the breakup is no longer what's hurting you. It has become an easy thing to blame, or to fixate on, that is all. I think that having to confront this fact is part of what's keeping you from exploring a psychiatric solution to your problems.

I think it's quite likely that like they are in fact psychiatric problems, but you won't know unless you explore it. You may not "want to see yourself that way," but do you prefer to see yourself as an isolated, broken person who is too overcome by fear and insecurity to live a whole, functional life?

If you don't take your problem(s) seriously enough to explore the most basic and common avenues for treatment, what do you expect MetaFilter to be able to do for you?
posted by hermitosis at 12:41 PM on March 30, 2012 [34 favorites]

If I wanted to be assessed, I expect a psychiatrist would say I had some type of personality disorder.

I have a rule I learned from Mary Karr's memoir Lit: If my way of knowing something is "I thought of it in my head" then I'm not allowed to use it as evidence in my life.

You don't know what a psychiatrist would say. I think you should talk to one. You sound like you are in a very rough patch right now, and more medical care might be very helpful.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:41 PM on March 30, 2012 [28 favorites]

What has your therapist diagnosed you with (in terms of billing for insurance)? Licensed therapists are able to diagnose personality disorders, not just psychiatrists. I would just honest and upfront (maybe even read your post verbatim) with your therapist about all of the above.
posted by retrofitted at 12:49 PM on March 30, 2012

Like so many sensitive people, you are living in your brain. Every thought becomes truth, becomes evidence against you.

Just because you think it does not mean that it's true.
It's a thought.
They can pass like leaves on a stream.
You can watch them.
Or you can try to capture each one as it passes and get upset when you don't.

First, I definitely think you should be talking to someone about this in a very honest, blunt and forthright manner.

Second, I would inspect your diet and sleep habits. Are you eating healthy or are you eating crap?
Are you getting enough sleep?

Third: My favorite saying: "You are only one workout away from a better mood." Go for a walk, go for a run, a swim, lift some heavy things in a healthy way.


To be this distraught, after two years, is troubling and I think you are on the right path in asking for help. Best of luck to you!
posted by THAT William Mize at 12:52 PM on March 30, 2012 [31 favorites]

Do you exercise at all or go on long walks or anything that employs your physical being?
posted by tarvuz at 12:52 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just become someone assesses that you display (or do not display) traits of a particular disorder or complex does not suddenly damn you for all eternity as being that disorder or complex. It seem like all of this grief and anxiety is stemming from the break up, but I would wager these emotions were there long before the break up and they will continue to rule your life until you cannot function anymore. This is not about the break up. This is something that can be fixed. So what if someone who can medically diagnose you tells you you have a personality disorder, or depression, or whatever? Use that diagnosis to say, "Ok. Here is what I have. Now I must overcome it, and I will do whatever I need to do to get that done." You can say to yourself, "This does not define me, so I will overcome it."

Overcoming these emotions is difficult. It's even more difficult if you are actively denying yourself access to treatment or resources. Hermitosis is right. You are the one in control here. Assert that to yourself over and over and get out of your brain. You deserve it. You can do it.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:52 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The process of building the self is something that many of us struggle with yet on occasion we find grooves or rhythms that allow us not to hyper focus upon certain issues. The way I best do it is with movement coupled with consideration.

It is your mind and your body. They will love you back.
posted by tarvuz at 12:59 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's a lot to unpack here, and hermitosis and Snarl Furillo have it, I just wanted to speak to the politics and paranoia...

Yes, the system is utterly corrupt and broken, so why EARTH are you putting your attention on it? Are you looking for further proof of what is already known? Why bother??

There are plenty of individuals, formal and informal groups, organizations, and companies who are not corrupt and broken, and just generally conduct themselves with decency.

Whatever is going on with you, take a break from the doom and gloom. Right now you are just torturing yourself to no good effect.
posted by jbenben at 1:09 PM on March 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

If I wanted to be assessed, I expect a psychiatrist would say I had some type of personality disorder. But I do not want to be assessed. I do not want to see myself that way.

IANAT, but it sounds like the things you're struggling with are egodystonic, meaning there's a lot of personality disorders it COULDN'T be in virtue of the fact that you view these things as problems.

The people who came up with these "labels" have done so because they make it easier to improve the lives of people who are suffering. For all the baggage that may come with a diagnosis, there are a ton of good things that come along with it that will help you improve your life, things you're not yet aware of because you haven't explored it yet, and I'm sure a therapist can help you work through the self-image issues that come from a diagnosis.

I don't think it would be as bad as you fear.
posted by alphanerd at 1:12 PM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Anonymous: "I do not want to see myself that way."

Would you rather continue the way you're going than be "assessed"?
posted by notsnot at 1:18 PM on March 30, 2012

I am sorry to hear that you are going through this, anon. It sounds like a particularly dark time in your life, but try to hold on to hope. Negative thoughts can definitely take on a life of their own unless you employ strategies to keep them in check. I would suggest trying as hard as you can to focus on positive thoughts. It is a hard exercise, so start small with the small beauties of the world (a good meal, a sunny day, etc.) and happy memories. Building a mindset that focuses on the positives is difficult, but it can be done. Hope sometimes must be a force of will to hold on in spite of your depression.

Also, are you still living in the same world that is permeated with memories of your ex? Where every time you turn around you are confronted with restaurants you enjoyed together, people who knew you as a couple, the same stores you shopped in when you were together, etc.? If so, maybe it is time for a change. Maybe breaking those ties and building a new life somewhere else is what you need to start your life anew. Never let anyone tell you that heartbreak has an expiration date. It doesn't. It sounds like you are a deep feeling person who suffers greatly from the loss of someone you loved.

Also, it might help ease your loneliness to have a pet. It is not a panacea, but having something to take care of can help bring you a sense of purpose and maybe help you begin to start caring for yourself again. It really makes a difference to come home to a pet who is happy to see you than an empty apartment filled with old, sad memories. I wish you the best, anon.
posted by melangell at 1:30 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to chime in to echo and build on what alphanerd said above. A diagnosis is really just a tool to help start to understand someone better. It's the start of a scaffold to build a better understanding of the specifics of the kinds of difficulties someone is struggling with and also gives some direction about how to best start addressing those difficulties. So for example, "paranoia" has very different meanings depending on whether you are talking about something that's coming from depression, vs. anxiety, vs. a more persistant way of looking at the world. Each of those would have very different approaches in terms of what would be most effective to address them.

At the same time, though, a diagnosis is just one piece of the puzzle. A good therapist, doctor or anyone who is in this to help you will also work to understand the specifics of YOU. Your history, your particular ways of relating to other people, what strengths you have, etc. etc. etc. are all parts of the picture as well and it really is not terribly useful to just think about the "diagnosis" without taking all the rest into account.

Getting a diagnosis might be more helpful than you are thinking right now, because it can help give direction to some good treatment. At the same time, find a treatment team (therapist, physician/psychiatrist, social worker, neighbor or whoever) who is also going to work with the rest of you to find the best and most effective treatment approach.

Specifically, I think seeing a psychiatrist at this point might be more helpful than it's feeling right now, but I also think it's really important that you talk to your therapist about exactly what you shared here. Just printing out your question and bringing it to him/her would be really, really helpful.

Good luck to you. I hope the load is lighter for you soon.
posted by goggie at 1:31 PM on March 30, 2012

If you are looking for things to do in NYC or anywhere else to cope and grow, then please read the womans comfort book (regardless of your gender).
posted by livinglearning at 1:33 PM on March 30, 2012

IANAT. I'm sorry you are feeling this way right now.

But here's my "assessment": you have a personality condition, not a disorder. Just your state of mind right now due to what happened and your work surroundings. It's normal (or could be), certainly not enough there to be a "disorder". People get dumped and feel very badly about it, people get frozen out at work and are upset about it - it isn't unusual in this world and it's not about you.

Big business is corrupt, and so is government. Push that aside. Make yourself your best.

My "prescription" is that you have to make some changes. Find some new people. Do something else. Nothing will get better, you will not get better, staying in your current place.

Endless no time limit "therapy" doesn't solve anything.

Can you get another job? Or add a part time job? Or, can you do some volunteer work? Part time? There are 1000s of such things in NYC, even part time even if you work for free. What would you like to do? Do it. Or what do you think you'd like to try? Try it.

More physical work action will push aside those other feelings and help start you on a new better path. I wish you the best.
posted by caclwmr4 at 1:53 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I wanted to be assessed, I expect a psychiatrist would say I had some type of personality disorder. But I do not want to be assessed. I do not want to see myself that way.

Wouldn't you want to be seen as someone who knows what the matter is and can work to fix it?

And seriously, you are not your diagnosis whatever that may be. Just as people with cancer aren't just "Cancer patients" (they're mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and human beings).

Sometimes you can't just will yourself to be better and it's been two years now so it looks like something that isn't really getting better and won't without something else like a psychiatric evaluation.

But things can get better. You are not stuck there forever.
posted by inturnaround at 2:10 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hey, if you're lonely in NYC, why don't you come to a meetup? It's a start and I've met a lot of great people that way.
posted by fuq at 4:48 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

A metafilter meetup I mean. You might even find a new partner or job!
posted by fuq at 4:49 PM on March 30, 2012

I had this sort of thing for a while...I was running a website from maybe 1999 about political and police injustice and corporations and doing all sorts of writing and graphics. It got to the point where it was all I was doing, talking or thinking about. I spent all my time at protests, photographing, planning, putting up links everywhere I could. I checked the logs of my site constantly to see who was looking.

You know what cured me of it? I went to the 2004 protests in NYC and almost got crushed by a horse and beaten by a cop.

It took me a few days to work it through, but things were so bad at that time and only getting worse. And I thought....fuck it. I'm going to go to the Botanical Gardens and take in some flowers. I still thought about it a lot, but I resolved never to talk in groups of people about politics. When it comes up, I walk away. If I'm pressed, I'll always start it with "well, I'm pretty far left, so you might get more than you bargained for."

After about a month, it went away. Again, not completely, but I don't watch the political channels, I don't check any sites, my site lapsed.

I agree with everyone else. The orchid show is going on in the Bronx. Get Time Out New York and go do some shit. Take a class at sva or something. You'll meet people. If you're either overtly political or all buttoned up, people will tend to leave you alone. Stand up straight. Look around. These were all things I had to change.

This is not to say it's not something medical, mind you,'s really really easy to get wrapped up in your own head. Especially in NYC, where you can be utterly alone in a crowd.
posted by New Old User at 4:56 PM on March 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

I mean to add that it's really REALLY easy to get wrapped up in grief. Try to avoid triggers. It's easy to wallow and obsess and keep going to the places you used to go. I've seen it get bad.
posted by New Old User at 4:58 PM on March 30, 2012

I'm smart, too. And crappy things have happened to me. That doesn't mean I don't have a mental illness, it just means things are somewhat different for me than the ridiculously stereotypical "NY guy who sees an analyst and takes Xanax and says sassy things in a taxicab" concept. I'm not sure actual NY guys who see analysts and take Xanax and say sassy things in taxicabs are even like that stereotype - I've only met it in movies.

Please take these paranoia issues seriously and see a doctor. Your therapist probably has a few names of folks you'll get along better with.

Please do not walk in with a list of diagnoses you will insist upon or alternatively refuse to accept. Maybe you have a personality disorder. Maybe you have PTSD. Maybe you're experiencing paradoxical symptoms of some other disease. Maybe it's thyroid or something totally different. That's why we have science and doctors who go to med school for years before they get to give people diagnoses. And you can always get a second opinion, too - human brains are complex. You don't have to accept the very first label you're given, or even the second or third one. But ask for help from people who can help you and know a lot more about brains than either you or I do.

(And having a personality disorder isn't so awful. I have two. They're not the ones with the really awful reputation, but still. It's just on a different diagnostic axis from my more medical-sounding disorders. There's also an axis where they always write down that I have a lot of stress at work - seriously.)
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 6:27 PM on March 30, 2012

I was you a few years ago, ego shattered, mind going in tight obsessive circles, underpaid and unmotivated. Time heals, slowly sometimes. MeFiMail me if you'd like to meet or talk, I'm in midtown during working hours and the Village otherwise.
posted by nicwolff at 6:50 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Anon, I resisted truly accepting and getting treatment for major depression for years and years because I didn't want to think of myself as someone with a Mental Disorder. I got therapy up the wazoo but did not want the psychiatric treatment because that would force me to accept there was something inherently wrong with me, rather than thought processes that could just be worked out through therapy.

Boy, that was a mistake. Almost two years ago I finally went on medication and they have been the happiest, most productive, most stable two years of my life. You don't realize how much your own brain has been crushing you until the weight is gone. The dramatic difference it's made actually makes it easier to accept the diagnosis, because it finally made it clear to me that what I have is a disease, not some kind of weakness or failure of willpower.
posted by Anonymous at 11:08 AM on March 31, 2012

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