Figure since I am new to this community, I will give you some background/history about myself.
- 26 year old male
- Pursuing Ph.D. in psychology (nearly complete)
- History of unspecified worrying since early adult years
- I work with severely psychologically disturbed individuals across all age groups, mostly kids and adolescents
- My major anxieties were in social situations where I was being evaluated (meeting with supervisor for supervision, giving class presentation, etc.) but never in meeting new people
- Several years ago, I got a ******* during spring break. Following this incident, I thought I contracted HIV. Read TONS of literature about the HIV virus and its tranmission. Developed symptoms (e.g. rash, aches) as I read all these symptoms (psychosomatically). All evidence suggested HIV has nominal chances of being contracted orally (as saliva inhibits the virus). Undettered, I took 2 HIV (ELSA) tests, both of which came back negative before my anxiety was finally quelled.
- For past year, I worry I might be developing Schizophrenia. Again, my profession has exposed me to this very distressing, upsetting, and disabling condition, and I am knowledge about the condition and its prodrome (period of time before the full fledged onset of the disorder). I spent a year apart from my fiancee (as I was completing my internship in another state) which went well. However, since my return, I lack a desire to hang out with my friends whom I once spent every weekend with. Part of this is just because I find them boring and uninteresting. In my mind, I would much rather spend time with the wife-to-be than with friends who mostly drink or have pointless, meaningless conversations.
-While away as an intern, I worked as a bouncer at a club/bar. I found myself having an extremely hard time fitting in with the other staff and patrons. I felt uncomfortable. Didn't know what to say, didn't want to "toot my own horn" about being a Ph.D. candidate, didn't care to cheat on my fiancee, etc. I quit that side-job after 2 months, and was much happier since.
- I don't have a lot of friends, especially in comparison to how many I had when I was in undergraduate studies. I only consider myself as having 2-3 close friends (one of which is in the state where I did my internship) and 2 back home; of these 2, I only speak to one of them regularly when we meet up to work-out. I am VERY close to my fiancee.
- I feel my lack of close companions qualifies as "social withdrawal", a symptom of Schizophrenia.
- At work, some days are better than others. I work full-time hours at a hospital. Most of my co-workers are female, who LOVE to mingle and chat daily. While some days I too enjoy conversing openly, being charming/charismatic, the majority of my days I'll chat a bit (the routine "how are you","nice haircut","how was your weekend","any plans for this weekend") but enjoy spending the time focused on treatment with patients assigned to me, completing required paperwork, etc. Again, I view the "off" days as "social withdrawal." --->WORRY
- Its like a cycle for me. about 2/3 of the month I worry I might have Schizophrenia prodrome. I worry I am withdrawing socially, and worse, that I don't care to catch up with old friends, prefering instead to spend time with my fiancee. During these periods, I am extremely hyper-vigilant; I often do these mini tests to see if my attention/concentration is still present. For example, I re-read things to make sure I read them properly, worry if I don't pick something up during a TV program, etc. Additionally, I worry my affect is blunted (a sign of Schizophrenia). When with friends, I use to be quite impulsive, joking a lot, and "present". Nowadays, I feel more relaxed, composed, intelligent but at the same time emotionally removed, if that makes any sense. I do care about them. I feel as though my previous personality as the "jokster" is no longer being fulfilled, and that I am not as fun. That said, I do make occassional funny comments and maintain good conversations with my close friends and acquaintances.
- I am an excellent worker. I work hard for my money, my patients speak very highly of me, and my manager always praises my work. Maybe I set the bar too high for myself, but I don't know if that will change my worry. Everytime I read these websites and DSM about Schizophrenia, I worry more. I also worry about finding the "right word" when speaking with people. I sometimes praise myself on my vocabulary, and attempt to use "big words" and phrases when speaking with people. During these periods, my thoughts might stop while I search for the right word to interject (see, there is a perfect example, since I could have just said "use"). I worry that in searching for a proper word in my vocabulary, this might be classified as thought blocking, another symptom associated with Schizophrenia.
- NOTE: It should be mentioned I do not experience any of the positive symptoms of Schizophrenia (e.g. hearing voices, seeing 'things', ideas of grandeur, reference, delusions), only negative ones (social withdrawal, affective flattening, etc.). All of my symptoms can be classified as neurotic.
PHEW! Okay, I know I typed a lot, but believe it or not, my anxiety was mollified, even if just briefly. If anyone read all this, please let me know your input. I joined this community to help others, and hope that other members will offer their advice/insight about my situation.