From Alaska: I am an 18 year old guy who’s been dealing with a lot of anxiety. Following a recent move, I’ve begun to hear voices, sometimes in my head. Those ones tend to say very bad things about me. Sometimes outside of my head, which usually sounds like large crowds or whispers. These voices distract me all the time to the point where I have a hard time understanding what people are saying, or what I am reading. The part that bothers me the most, however, is the fact that I am unsure if I am just making these things up in my head to somehow punish myself. I cannot make them stop though, and the conflicting ideas of “I’m making this up” and “I can’t make them stop” causes me a lot of trouble and confusion.

Another issue I’ve been having is sudden severe irritability. I’m generally a very patient person, but I will wake up every once in a while and I will be unrealistically irritable, which usually lasts all day, and comes with intense auditory hallucinations. On these days I can’t seem to get anything done; even just getting out of bed is a chore that I’d rather not do. I really feel bad about this, and I think about it moments after I get mad, but I can’t control it. On other days though, I feel as though i have no emotion at all, and I’m just this mass that interacts with its surroundings, giving no personal feedback. I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a holiday or activity that I used to love.

Everyday I wake up, I am unsure if an action I had done was in a dream or happened in real life. For example, if I had a dream that I made my lunch for the day, and I woke up, I would be certain that I had made my lunch, just to get to class to find out that I had not. I’m also beginning to forget a lot of things that are happening in the moment. I will start a task, like going into another room to grab something, and completely forget what I was going to do. I’ve also been told that I loose track in conversation, and have to ask what I was talking about after veering off topic even slightly.

A: Thank you so much for writing. I think you know what I’m going to say. These experiences are not usual for someone your age. You need to talk to a professional to make sense of what is happening. Please don’t put it off. Locate a therapist who specializes in teen issues. You will not be judged — just helped.

If you were seeing me, the first thing I would ask you is how well you are sleeping. Sometimes the symptoms you are reporting are the result of too little sleep or frequently interrupted sleep. If you are reliably getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, we would rule out a sleep disorder. Then we would explore a number of possibilities that are too complicated to explain here. But a therapist will know what issues to explore with you.

You made an important step by writing to us here at PsychCentral. Please take care of yourself and follow up with a face to face conversation with a mental health professional. Early diagnosis and treatment does matter.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie