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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: confused about my personality

 Jo Wells - Sat Sep 01, 2007 2:12 pm

I am a 56 yr old woman with past history of depression and self diagnosed agoraphobia. I have had 3 c sections, four tumors removed from my breasts, knee, genital area and carpal on both writsts.
I also have had a pre-cancerous polyp removed from my intestines last year. I have depression and cancer in my family history.

My problem: The happiest memories I have of my childhood are of me playing by myself. I have two older sisters and an older brother. I played with them, I remember a little of it, but not that much.

I was a poor student and can not remember my parents ever encouraging me to do better. I quit school in the 11th grade. I felt isolated and like a freak when there becasue my father was in the military and we traveled arouond and I could lnever keep up with the other kids.

When I was 11 my eldest sister had a child out of wedlock and I always got the feeling that my parents thought mysister and I might do the same.

In 1964 The Beatles came into my life. My sister and I attached ourselves to them. They were our life. Instead of having normal lives like dating and such we would stay upstairs role playing the beatles and writing stories about them. My parents never encouraged us to try to go out or date...they were proud when one neighbor said they didn't know lthey had girls, becasue they never saw us out side.

THe story writing became our life scorce. We knew nothing of dating so we made all our characters gay.
WE wrote millions of words over the next 10 years.

I don't know about my sister but I began pretending to be these characters in my stories. I am not gay. I eventually married the first man whom asked me. All throuogh my marriage (which was abusive and we were poor) I would get through my days by waking up and pretending I was someone else, usually a male, and that my life was something it wasn't. I became extremely depressed and tried to tel my husband but he told me not to worry about it. I sank deeper and deeper into depression and continued to pretend to live a different life than what I was living. All during this time I had no friends. Not one. I kept to myself in my own little make believe world. I hated it, but it was all I knew and I hated my lilfe. I wanted to be a writer, I wanted happiness. I got poverty, sollitude, stress, lonliness, abused and so my makebelieve continued.

I put all my love on my childrlen and my dogs. I didn't like kissing my husband, it felt like he was smothering me. I didn't enjoy sex with him, I'd have to pretend to get through it. I had to listen to my father rape my mother when I was a child and everytime he touched me THat would be the first thing that I would think of.

My husband drowned in 1994. I was in shock, lost, didn't know what to do, he did everything....shopped, paid the bills...I'd just stay in the house. I got through it pretending to be in a whold different situation, though I knew he was dead, I'd pretend to be some guy going throuogh some type of life situation.

My children are grown and I neverleft mly house after my husband died except to see a phlyscologist. I never told him any of what I'm saying here.

Now I'm 56 and I still find myslef locked up[ in a house with no friends taking care of a mother with alz disease . I am depressed and my kids can't stand to be around me. They keep saying you need to get's not that easy. I'm so tired of this life. I have never tried to kill myself because I don't want to go to hell, but I do cut myself when no one will try to understand what I'm going through.

My mother has always loved my broher more than any of us. I used to follow her home after she would leave me at school. She and my father never spelnt more than 30 minutes in my home when my husband was alive, I think I hate her, but without her I'd be on the street. Help.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:12 pm

User avatar Dear Jo:

You mentioned agoraphobia, and that you had figured that our yourself. From reading your post, however, I wonder if it is the same agoraphobia that psychiatrists refer to.

Do you lock yourself in your house because you are afraid to do otherwise? Or is it that you have no motivation to go anywhere? If you force yourself to go out, what happens?

Do you have anxiety (excessive nervousness)? If so, does it occur in attacks unpredictably, or is it constant and nagging?
 Jo Wells - Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:43 am

When I first married my husband in 1976 and I was left alone at home, if someone should come to my door I would not answer it...I don't know why. Once my children were born I'd stay in the children and my pets became my world. I had no friends, only saw my family when they would drop by to see my kids, just for a few minuets. If I would go out I would take my son (walk) up town, meet my husband and then walk back home. That was my life. Later on it got where I just didn't want to leave the house. I didn't want to have to interact with other people, I had nothing in common with anyone. I didn't know how to talk to anybody, I tried to avoid everyone except my husband and children (and my family). I began having panic attacks once he started workilng the night shift. My heart would pound till I thought there was something wrong with me. Like a heart attack. As the isolation became more and more I would sink deeper into depression and live in my fantasy world. My husband had no idea at this time, no one did. I hated my life. It wasn't what I wanted. But it was not just after I married. I hated school, had only one friend, felt like I was a freak. I felt stupid, I knew I would never be able to catch up to the other students. The only thing I learned was typing....but I did enjoy writing and got good grades on that....but only due to the years of living in my fantasy world.

What is wrong with me? I pretend I live in a world that isn't real. I find myself going back to pretending to be someone other than myself. I actually have to
mentally tell myself to STOP IT. It works for a while, then I'm back as someone else living in my world pretending it's a whole different senario. Just to get by. I've lived like this since I was 11. I guess I don't know who I really am (Jo WElls) is a made up name.

I feel anger towards my mother. I sit and stare at her and ask myself why she nor my father saw this isolation I was putting myself in, why didn't they encourage me to get out of the house, do better in school...but nothing. I know I am rambling, but there are so many things in my mind that I would like to

She treated me and my two sisters like second class people, while my brother was the one who was popular and doing al this so called good stuff. But he wasn't al that good. He touched my middle sister in a sexual way as a child, she kept it to herself. He showed me pornographic photos of himself and his women when I didn't even know what sex actually was. He raped my little sisters friend, though she never told anyone, he would beat up his 13 yr old girlfriends when he was older than them and have to go to court for it. He cheated on his wife and beat her, but they always thought he was the one to be proud of. He was a "Christian". My mother lives with me, none of her other children have seen her in over 5 yrs. Not even called. I look at her and I want to scream, "Why? What did I (we) do that was so wrong that my brother was so great.

THere is so much more...when my husband died I had to move in with my mother at that time..she wouldn't let me cook on her stove, had to feed my kids take out, she wouldn't let me use the washer n dryer, they had to bathe in the same water. She didn't want their friends calling, and we caught her trying to suck up their pet hamsters and rat in the vacum.

I lhave all these people in my head, my anger for her, my lonliness, my fantasy lives, my head feels like it wants to explde sometimes. I can't sleep unless I knock myself out. The littlest thing she says or does sets me off becasue I can't forget how she treated me, nor my kids. I accidentally burned the only pair of shoes my son had trying to dry them on a floor furnance and we had no money for a new pair. I asked my parents to get him a pair of shoes. They came over to my house with a fair of purple sneakers (girls shoes) because they were on sale and my son had to wear them to school. I had to cut down my clothes so my daughter had clothes to wear, I had to cut down my shorts so my son would have summer clothes to wear. I fed my baby coffee creamer and water because we had no food, not once did my parents offer to help. ANd my father had money, spending hundreds on alcohol and buying rings for my mother.

If it weren't for my fantasy world I don't know what I would have done. And I still slip back into role playing to get out of this prison. I've been in this house with her for almost five years now. If I want to ride to to the store I have to take her with me.

The only time I can get it all to get out of my head is if I cut myself just a little. Then it seems I can sleep. Am I crazy?.
 Jo Wells - Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:40 pm

I apologize for not answering your questions you asked. When I was at my worse I just didn't want to be seen. I didn't want to communicate with anyone, I didn't want to be seen. There was nothing out there for me. I guess I chose my own state to lock myself away. I had (have) nothing in common with anyone. I avoided eye contact when I did manage to go for supplies. If I thought I saw a relative i would quickly turn the other way and avoid coming in contact with them. I feel useless and hopeless and that there was(is) no purpose for my life. I still feel that way. I seem to be here to grow old and die...there is nothing out there for me. I am not happy, I can laugh and carry on at times with my children (who are now adults) but it doesn't last. When they leave I feel a relief , i just want to be left alone, but I really don't. I'm lonely. I can't explain it to them, they either won't hear what I'm saying, or think it's all bunk, or just say go get help. I feel like they think all I live for is to complain..I don't see it that way...all i ever wanted was them to love me the way I loved them...which they don't, and it angers me.......It must have been unrealistic on my part. I feel they would have rather it had been me than there father who died in 1994.. Right now I just feel as if I'm taking up space. I'm 56, and in four years when I'm 60 I know I will be in worse mental condition.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:00 am

User avatar Dear Jo:

Hang in here--I'll answer your question either tomorrow or Saturday. I want to be able to devote my full attention to this complex problem, so it will need to wait just a couple of days.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:55 pm

User avatar Dear Jo:

It would be very easy for me to simply say at this point that you have depression, which is treatable, and yes, you do need to see a doctor.

That wouldn't really answer your question, though, I feel. Are you crazy? NO! Lots and lots of peo-ple--men and women--cut themselves to release inner pain, to make themselves as physically ugly as they feel inside, or just because they know it makes them feel better.

Yes, you are depressed, but not just. You have what is commonly known as a double depression. I think that your problems began as Dysthymia--which can best be expressed by the "blahs," chronically. Add onto that Major Depressive Disorder--

no motivation
depressed mood
no interest
morbid thoughts

--and you have double depression. This disorder is difficult to treat, especially by your family doctor. For this one you need a psychiatrist, and a good one at that. The good news is that it is treatable, and the symptoms can be managed into recovery.

In addition, you have a history of anxiety--this is where the panic attacks and agoraphobia come in. Anxiety and depression are close cousins. They like to travel together, and often, patients I've seen tell me the two are indistinguishable. Anxiety is also treatable and its symptoms can be managed into re-covery as well.

To answer your questions about your grown children not loving you the way you love them, I would have to say that this is not at all unusual. I don't think our children, even after they've grown, can really express their love for us the way we've fantasized they might. The truth is that they are individ-ual people; they don't see themselves as extensions of their parents, which is the way the parents see them and always have.

I understand that your living situation at this time is unacceptable to you. I cannot even imagine hav-ing to live with and care for a relative that you hate. The situation must bring up a lot of inner conflict--we all know how we are supposed to feel about our elderly parents, and especially in their time of need. Many times adult children feel beholden to their parents for all the love and care they provided them while they were children, but in your case, that part is missing.

Is it time to consider other living arrangements for your mother?

Another question I have for you: do you ever lose time, such as large blocks of time--hours or days?
 Jo Wells - Sun Sep 09, 2007 5:31 pm

Thank you Dr. Eisele for finally putting a name to what I have been going through. I was afraid I would turn out to be another Sybil, the only difference is I know when I want to be out of this body and be another person.

May I ask..why is it I "transform" my imaginary other person to be male? I am all female. When I was younger I wanted men, but not my husband.Though after all these years I feel neither male nor female. I just feel like I'm neither at times. I have never wanted anything but scares me. I think there is no better looking man that I would rather be with than Tom Welling (if I was 25 yrs younger).

Why do I do this? I can remember in 1983 as if it were yesterday, pretending to be this guy going through my day as him. Was I so miserable in my marriage, in my lilfe?

I catch myself slipping into these characters in my mind at anytime, no matter what. Are there other people out there like me? If I were to seek help would they want to lock me away?

As for the blocks of time...i don't really know what you mean. I think everyday is the same...every hour is the same...i know what I will be doing from the time I get up t the time I lie down. I even forget what day it is sometimes, because everyday is the same to me.

When it starts to get evening, like 5 or 6 pm i wish it would be 10 or 11 so I could just go to bed. But when I do every thought, everything, every thing my parents did or didn't do for me fills my head, I lie there boiling with anger. I even rage in my mind against my sister who is two years older than me. She insinuated in the 1980's my husband slept with her and I never could get either one of them to tell me anything. Yet I put it behind me where my sister was concerned and kept on being her sister, though It made what life I had with my husband pure hell. I destroyed every card he ever gave me but one, because of what she insinuated.

When I'm in bed and I have nothing to help me go to sleep I lie there tossing and turning and truthfullly, it feels as if the top of my head is twice its size.

I feell I won't live past 70. I just feel like survival is all that consumes me (because when my husband was alive survival was an everyday event) and that has to do with my mother. Without me she'd be in a home, and without her I would not have a home. I'd lose my mind if I were to lose my home, i know I would. I would not be able to bear it again, it'd be like life with my husband all over again.

I thank you for putting up with me. May I ask just one more question? How do I know who I really am after all these different people I've portrayed?
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sun Sep 09, 2007 6:52 pm

User avatar Dear Jo:

Why do you envision yourself as a man? I think it is because you are looking for security and safety, and in our culture men symbolize safety and security, especially from your perspective which was formed in the 1960s, back when "Father Knew Best."

How do you know who you are now?

I think you are a combination of all the different roles you've taken on.

Good luck!
 Jo Wells - Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:57 am

You said I was a combination of the different roles I"ve taken on.....that can't be normal. Shouldn't I be one person, with one personality? I don't want these other "people" to be me. I want me....I can't be make believe characters I made up over 20 years ago....I'm not a man, I'm a woman, a widow, a mother and a grandmother and a daughter. I want to be me....I want these people out of me...I never want them in my mind I a multiple personality ? Will therapy get rid of these characters who I pretend to be?

I laid in bed last night and coudln't sleep wondering about how I would go about telling a therapist about my life. I started at the beginning and tried to analyze my life....tried to put a fixed time on when all this began...tried to remember my childhood, my preteen years, my teens, then my young adulthood.I don't know how to go abut it...where do I begin? When it began to get outof hand, my childhood, my marriage? If I have double depression, Dysthymia or major depressive disorder, then what is the other characters in my head called, the ones I use to escape my life? Is there a diagnosis for what I do? Or what I am?

My son was diannosed as a paranoid schizophrenic after the trauma of his father drowning, plus bipolar, and he has delusions of grandure.

My mother has a personality that focuses only on herself, she's always been that way, plus she's a pathalogical liar, believes every made up thing she says, always, even when I was young. My grandfather was my mothers father/uncle....incest with his wifes 13 yr old niece, and continued to have children with her. Could any of that have anything to do with the way I am? Did something happen to me that made me this way? Not neccessarily sexuallly, but some other traumatic thing in my life that i don't remember? Or was it I just wasn't loved? I am so confused.
 Jo Wells - Tue Sep 11, 2007 6:09 pm

Dr. K, please answer my last post.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Wed Sep 12, 2007 11:15 am

User avatar Dear Jo:

I don't necessarily think you have multiple personality disorder, or dissociative identity disorder (DID). Usually people with DID aren't aware of the other personalities until they have had extensive psycho-therapy. There are other problems that show up, such as suddenly finding "someone else's" clothes in their closet, losing large blocks of time, meeting people who call you something other than your name, etc. You are aware of the different roles you take on, and in fact, created them consciously.

Sexual abuse has far-reaching effects which then become intertwined in everything that defines who you are. Do you know if you were ever sexually abused, by your brother, father, or grandfather, etc.? If you're not aware of any episodes of this, it still doesn't mean it didn't happen, and your current prob-lems don't mean it did happen. It's just a possibility to keep in mind.

I think your mother is narcissistic, or rather, has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). That is just a guess, however. When there is one person in the family with NPD, there will almost always be others in the family with psychological problems. People with NPD don't play fair. I don't know if you recall the popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbs--I haven't seen it ages--but Calvin was this little boy and Hobbs was his stuffed tiger. He and the tiger, which was magically alive when no one else was around, would play various games, and Calvin would make up the rules as he went. This came to be known as "Calvinball." The person with NPD is just like Calvin, only they play "Calvinball" with their family members, friends, well anyone, really, with whom they come into contact.

Common psychological problems of those raised with someone like that tend to be the personality dis-orders that are considered part of the anxious spectrum. These include Dependent Personality Disor-der, Avoidant Personality Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (don't confuse this with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), or the family members will sometimes develop NPD themselves, out of self-defense. There is no pleasing the person with NPD. The more you try, the more disappointed they will be.

What I meant when I said that you are all your personalities combined is that we all have certain roles we play in life. For instance, someone may be a doting mother, a red-hot sexual partner, a much disciplined career woman, etc. The difference between you and this individual is that your personality traits are more individualized. The above individual could ascribe different names to the many different roles they have in life, but most don’t, because they realize it is normal to be many different people all in the same person. The disciplined career woman could easily be quite masculine while at work, but extremely feminine otherwise. People tend to develop personas, if you will, that fits the situation that allows them to cope best. I am in a male-dominated career, and to survive my educational process, I adopted many of the characteristics of men—such as never letting anyone see me cry, becoming a pro-tector, and other traits often thought of as masculine. I don’t see my career persona as a separate en-tity, though. Others who know me in both my worlds (career and personal life) have often commented on how different I am at work versus at home. And, like you, I developed that persona consciously.

I can understand why you are confused. You have had little contact with the "real world." I am assuming you watch television, read the newspaper, etc., but you've not had much actual interaction with others outside of your family. This lack of interaction with others has left you confused about how other people resolve this issue. I think that because of your relative isolation from the outside world, your personality traits have become more like individuals. It sounds like you also have a great imagination.

What to do next:
1) PSYCHOTHERAPY/PSYCHIATRIST--I think you may need both therapy and medication for your depression

2) I think you should write about each and everyone of these personality traits, not necessarily to publish, although that isn't out of the question--you did mention that you had wanted to be a writer. With your ability to develop characters, you might be successful as a novelist.

3) Do what you can to distance yourself from those people in your life who bring you down. Don't put your well-being at risk, but check into social services. You might be surprised at what's available. For example, apply for Section 8 housing. From what I understand, there tends to be a long wait to get in, but what have you got to lose? Sooner or later, your mother will require more care than you will likely be able to provide. It would behoove you to start planning for this.

Hope this helps.

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