Hello DP Community,
I am a 36 year old man with no previously diagnosed or treated mental illness prior to November 2019. I had some OCD tendencies in my teens that I grew out of without medical help (checking things), suffered significant anxiety and stress from being gay and closeted for most of my teens/early 20s and had high levels of stress from work and relationship with anger and low moods in my mid 30s from a few life disappointments.
Long story short, in 2017 I developed a chronic physical illness (that has disappeared since my mental illness popped up - completely disappeared - I think it was stress related and no I don't have stress).
In 2018 I lost my job, a long-term relationship ended (wasn't making me happy, of course I was upset but also relieved) and moved back to my home country. My situation didn't improve really when I got back- hard to find work, few if any friends, family health issues (parental dementia) and my younger siblings progressing in life compared to me (marriage, children, house, permanent job etc). I muddled along for a year or so unconcerned and yet concerned at the same time, drinking more than I perhaps should have been and doing catchup sexually. I was becoming somewhat unstable emotionally. It was enough for my ex to suggest I see a doctor but I waited it out a few months while continuing to engage in self-destructive behaviours, including one where I was almost assaulted but only realised afterwards (I first thought it was kinky). I became romantically involved in a somewhat toxic relationship and almost became obsessional about the breakup and issues around it and why no-one would like me. So decided to improve my life, went vegan for 3 months. However, I had a skin breakout and lost a large amount of body hair (beyond regular shedding) which caused me to go back to old diet. I still didn't apply for jobs at this stage yet had a hang-up that no-one would hire me. A month or two later I had a seriously stressful situation where I had to contain my rage and stopped midpoint between lifting a bowl to throw at the wall and stopping myself (I think this led to my current condition). I woke up about a week later with 100% sexual dysfunction (complete) (I should note the day before I action 3 times). Initially I thought it was an STI as it was so extreme the effect, I went to ER and also STI clinic and they found nothing. I should also point out that during a kiss, a few days before that, i noticed no response but didnt think much of it.
Gradually, I began to realise I was not responding to emotional stimulus as I would normally. This scared me to be honest I fell into a dark mood very very quickly over say 2-3 weeks. Within 3 weeks of the 'incident' when I held in my rage midpoint and felt brain pressure I was hospitalised. I told eval team that I could not feel my emotions (happy, sad plus more), had no stress or anxiety ,couldn't feel my body sensations, could not feel other people's emotions and could not think deeply. I said it was like i was depending on my intellect to function. I was in a severely distressed state. I was very detailed and gave a load of examples such as the feeling of water on my body from a shower felt 'off' or how I could not feel physical pain. I even said I feared I would not know if I needed to use the loo. I was so aware of something so weird. They said I was delusional and was suffering thought disorder and mania. I was never so sad and upset up to the point leading up to my visit. I was giving alot of information in a way they considered very fast and maybe jumbled or mixed. They said I had bipolar and was put on Olanzispine 5 daily. I was released a week later and continued on the olanzispine for 4 months (monthly appointments) with no improvement at all. In January, the doctor said my emotional numbness was due to medicine but I said that was what I presented with. My sexual functioning returned but in a way not like before. Porn had no effect.
During the start of Covid, my appointment was cancelled. I decided to stop the olanzapine on my own as I did not feel any improvement and was sleeping a lot and gaining a lot of weight. About 3-4 weeks after stopping, for first time ever I had thoughts of death, my first crying outbreaks since the hospitalisation, they would last 10secs or less and never brought relief and slowly developed insomnia and lost my appetite. I suffered like this for about 2-4 weeks before making a crisis appointment. By the time I saw my pysch doctor, these weird symptoms had passed but he started to focus too much attention on them and not on my initial symptoms. He put me on Sertraline and said I was depressed and to contact him if I went into a mania. I highlighted how I has no stress hormones, no flight or flight response, no sensation of body such as heart pounding, lost my ability to sweat (although I still smell sweaty) etc. This was in May. A follow-up appointment took place in July right after doctors rotate change takes place. So for follow up a new doctor called me and said he would see me in 3 months and posted me a Rx for Sertraline despite me saying the new medicine had no impact. I even told him i had insect bites and could not feel the pain, the sting or the pleasure of scratching. I barely was able to say I had lost my ability to do maths in my head before he cut me off.
That 3 month appointment happened last month. I outlined all my symptoms again which I will do below, and he has continued me on Sertraline with next appointment in 6 weeks. I asked to try a new medicine and said in the UK it was best practice to switch antidepressants if there was no effect after 4-8 weeks (I will be almost 6 months on Sertaline) or to add something extra to it. He only offered to go back to olanzapine which I refused. I also used this opportunity to say I should have been given Valium when I was hospitalised as I was distraught rather than thought disordered. I mentioned again the lack of stress hormones in my body (gave example of a wild dog running towards me and I just look on, no sweat, no shock, no tremours, no calmdown after), my body hair and beard falling out and the complete absence of my flight and fight response to anything dangerous. I pleaded for an appontment to see an endocorgnist and a neurologist. I cannot understand how I have such symptoms when they say pain is increased in depression.
My main symptoms are under 3 headings - emotional, physical and mental. I have noticed the mental one are getting worse in the last few months.
Emotional - no happiness, no sadness, no anger, no rage, no stress, no concern, no worry, no sex drive, no sex interest(horniness etc). I do sometimes feel a deep sense of unease or gloom. I also have no resilence to problems, when faced with a problem I get instantly tired and/or my legs get weak. I do not feel it emotionally.,
Physicals - no fight or flight response (no heart beating, no tension), no feelings of body (itches), no pain (i can hit hand of wall with no pain - i demonstrated this in Novemeber), no sex fucntion (sorry to women reading this but I can still masturbate with a semi soft but with no pleasure or physical sensation - however it took 3 months for precum to come back after complete loss in November). My skin feels like cardboard and more importantly, I have this sense that I cannot feel my body, i give the example that if i close my eyes I poke my finger into the wall or my chest, its the same feeling - my finger doesnt know its touching my chest, and my chest doesnt know finger is touching it). I can however feel pressure and temperature. Too hot doesnt hurt me (it feels like a frozen ice sting) I do not sweat at all. I have also lost my body heat generation. I do not feel hot or cold, but I no longer radiate heat. I gave the example where I would normally in the past showered and remain wet in a towel and surf the internet for 10 mins, and be dry or damp. Now i am completely. No body heat. I also think this has contributed to the weight gain.
Mental - no thoughts fly in my mind, no memories in head (apart from the odd memory that pops in), i told them this differs from my ability to remember things like the name of this planet or the year etc. I cannot do maths in my head, or hold a thought or a step in head. I have notified in the last month or two, I spell out different words that I think in that moment, and I get stuck in middle of spelling. I also have what can only be described as complete mental blocks to recall certain things, and even the ability to remember something similar that might jigg my memory is blank. My language skills have regressed. And more importantly, I do not know if I know I am right and wrong. I am beginning to doubt myself. I cannot say for certain if I know I have made a mistake. If these mental problems dont get fixed, I fear (i say this in an intellectual manner) I will be a lost case.
I notice that sometime in the afternoon/evening I get more normal (no feelings) and by midnight I am functional (and at my best). Sometimes I do not want to go to bed because I feel ok (not better).
What is fundamental is that for all of the above that I've outlined is extremely weird, it doesn't distress me in the slightest, not one iota. Naha, nil. I am like I just say it. I don't panic, I don't worry, I don't get upset.
The symptoms are more but I think you get my point. When I rang an emergency helpline the therapist said I was dissociated and she called my the mental health hospital but as above they have kept me on the Sertraline.
I did a test and it seems I might have DP but certainly not DR. But my doctor has never referred despite what the therapist communicated to him. I got 6 emergency consultations from the counselor funded from a charity.
Also for one week in august, I felt a recovery come upon me. My legs started to itch, as did my lips, I started to laugh from deep in my belly (I even felt discomfort of muscles for a few days after), i smiled, and I saw the world in a good light, and also I woke up with a string in my step and with energy and a desire to eat. This all happened after I had a very difficult conversation about my parents health and childhood that triggered a cry that was from my belly and had a unusual green health food soup and changed my coffee brand. I told them all of this.
I am sorry this has been a long post.