I have some issues or tendencies which I feel may not be normal and I fear that they may be related to some kind of mental health disorder. I’ve always had the tendency to talk to myself; when I was about 5 or 6 I had a group of imaginary friends and my mum would tell me stories of how I would sit behind the couch and have full blown conversations with them for ages at a time. Now I can’t help but have conversations with myself, usually when I am alone, and it feels so natural that I don’t even think about it. In my mind I’m actually talking to one or multiple people at a time which I didn’t think was weird until my sister started making fun of me for it.
My moods are also really out of whack which may just be normal hormones but I mentioned it to some friends who had no idea what I was talking about. Most of the time I feel really hyper, like I can’t sit still and there is so much going on inside of my head that I can’t concentrate or even finish a sentence sometimes. Then I’ll have moments when it all stops and I feel like crying, and I don’t want to talk or move. Usually it’ll go back to normal pretty soon at once but it’s worse when I am alone because it usually won’t go back to being normal unless I cut. And I hate that I cut and I hate having the marks on my hips and thighs but it feels like the only way I can go back to being happy when those moods hit.
My sister thinks I am some sort of sociopath, which isn’t true. I’m not crazy, but I guess I don’t really feel any kind of guilt or sympathy or grief; and I do have trouble dealing with other peoples emotions and I can be manipulative.

I don’t think that there is anything really all that wrong with me but I am kind of worried that what I’m going through may not be 100% normal. Thanks.

It’s impossible to give a diagnosis over the internet. I can, however, comment on some of the symptoms you have described.

Talking to yourself: it’s not uncommon for people to do. It’s especially common among people who used to do it as children. It seems to bring comfort. You do it in private. If it helps you and there’s no other problem with it, then I don’t see anything wrong with it. If you were doing it in public and it caused a distraction, that would be a problem. If you wrote that you had trouble deciphering the difference between reality and your imagination, that would also be a problem. Because it benefits you and it may not harm you, it seems fine. However, only an in-person evaluation can make that determination.

Mood swings: most people are moody from time to time. Moods can be particularly unstable during PMS or when tired. When you’re tired, it’s natural to be irritable. What is less common are drastic swings in mood. That is not the norm. You seem to go from one extreme to another. The inability to concentrate or even finish a sentence are also not common symptoms of mood swings. They may be indicative of a potential problem and should be evaluated by a mental health professional.

Cutting: cutting behavior is always a worrisome sign. It could be a maladaptive coping mechanism that you have developed over time. Some people who engage in cutting behavior do so because they believe it brings them relief but that relief is temporary and ultimately ineffective. Self-destructive behavior is never a good solution to any problem. You can learn alternative ways to respond to difficult or emotional situations with counseling. The sooner you learn more effective coping strategies, the better you will feel. No one should have to cut themselves in order to feel better.

Not feeling guilt or sympathy: out of context, this has little meaning. I would need much more information about your feelings of guilt or sympathy, or lack thereof, in the context of a situation, to know if this is a problem.

Having trouble dealing with other people’s emotions: again, this is difficult to comment on when there is no context. Most people struggle to deal with other people’s emotions. In fact, many people struggle to deal with their own emotions. More information would be needed to know if this is a problem.

Manipulative: this is a judgment call. You may or may not be acting in manipulative ways but without more information, that is difficult to know.

Arguably, no one is “100% normal.” Normal is relative. Some of the symptoms you have described (namely extreme mood swings and cutting behavior) warrant an assessment from a mental health professional. Thankfully, treatments exist for these symptoms.

You might also consult a psychiatrist for medication. Medication can be quite effective for mood swings. It’s also important to address your cutting behavior. With counseling, you can learn better ways of managing strong emotions. Cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly good for these issues.

Thank you for your question. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle