Q. Everything was great until 6 months ago, then things just went a bit weird and I started feeling a bit unreal and spaced out. Now, I keep thinking there's a secret world running alongside this one and it's getting in the way. It's hard for me to concentrate or to feel interested in things anymore and I'm scared to go out because I think people may be following me. I'm not sure what to do or how to get any help.
Journalist, filmmaker, DJ.
PHIL: Exposed Owner
Believes a positive mental attitude makes anything possible.
DR TIM KENDALL:
Consultant psychiatrist and medical director in Sheffield. Produces NICE’s guidelines on mental health.
ALICE: Firstly, don’t panic, mental health issues affect more people than you might think. The best thing you can do is go to your GP. They will be able to refer you on to a specialist who can help you. The most important thing in a situation like this is to tell someone. Keeping thoughts like these to yourself could be dangerous and cause your situation to get worse. Seeking help early can mean it can be sorted out much better and quicker.
PHIL: Alice is right. Your first step should unquestionably be to contact your GP, they will be in the best position to assess your situation and choose which type of treatment is right for you. It may be that you need to see a psychiatrist - but I wouldn’t go straight to that without speaking to your doctor first. It sounds like you may have developed a form of paranoia which has been brought on by something that happened 6 months ago, but without more detail, it’s impossible to know what that is. Talking to your doctor and seeking further specialist help should enable you to get to the root of the problem and hopefully help you manage it. The important thing is to realise that it is treatable and that by trying to be positive, you’ll give yourself the best chance of overcoming it.
DR TIM: Experiences like this can be very unsettling and I can see that you are feeling as if at least some of the world is against you. I think you are absolutely right to seek help and there are lots of things that your GP can do to help fairly quickly and it is quite likely that they will want you to speak to others who can help. Now, sometimes people can feel that everyone is against them because they are very, very anxious over long periods of time. Sometimes people can feel like this and feel “unreal” and “spaced out” because their relationships and life have broken down and life then feels as it is has gone into crisis. In either case it is important that you get the right sort of help. It’s quite likely that you will be finding it difficult sleeping and you may feel that a number of your experiences are changed. You may also find that you drink more alcohol because you feel so wound up. Try not to, if you can. Drinking a lot or taking drugs may give a little relief initially but they make things worse in the long run. When you go to see your GP it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you could take one of your relatives with you or if not a friend or advocate. It is important that you understand what the GP suggests and if the GP offers you medication what the medication is for. I think it would be good if you suggest that you might want to have a specialist opinion. The GP will offer this if you ask for it although he may offer this anyway. In any event try and understand that these experiences won’t be there for good and that there are lots of things that people can do to help, both in terms of medication and in terms of psychological help. And, there is no doubt that family and friends can do a great deal, at a time like this, to support you through this very difficult time.