Ask a Psychiatrist and Get Answers to Mental Health Questions ASAP
Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.
First let me say that I can imagine how worrisome this situation must be for you. You are clearly an intelligent and sensitive young man. You have had a remarkable experience that most people would not be willing to even consider let alone embrace as completely as you did and for as long as you did.
And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to think about and consider and act on. There are two ways to interpret what you experienced: spiritually or psychologically. Now here's the important part: as long as you are functioning okay and as long as you're able to have a stable social life it's your choice how you want to approach this event.
Spiritually: you had an event that parallels many altered state experiences that most wisdom traditions describe. In the West we associate it most with the Eastern Religions and Hindu and Buddhist traditions but it is found in most traditions. That you are having a slow time coming back would then be a function of your having gotten there on your own in the first place and not having an experienced guide to guide you in how to get to altered states and back from them in an orderly fashion. So you are slightly disoriented and it may take you a while longer to come completely back.
Psychologically: you are at the age where various thought disorders or obsessive compulsive disorders can occur. You may have had an episode of such a thought disorder. In psychology, we judge things based on functioning. So if you are functioning okay and this episode is slowly improving and coming to an end, then psychologically it would be a matter of monitoring the situation yourself at this point.
My recommendation: you don't have to decide between the two options. Let yourself explore both options and accept that something unusual occurred. The more you treat it as a positive, the more you will allow yourself to come back from the experience gracefully. The more you turn it into a negative, the harder it will be.
As a way of coming all the way back, I want you to get really into motivational videos and books. Let's try this self help track before going for professional help. Here's a simple YouTube search I put together for you on "motivational speakers": http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=motivational+speakers&aq=f Some like Tony Robbins are the classic big guys. Some are newer. Watch them all. Get inspired. Buy a book or two. Here are some possibilities, but they are only suggestions as there are so many good ones. They're mostly Americans, but so what?
The first book is the father of all these type of books. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. There are classes in these books now! It was written in the 1930s and still has something to say to us today that is very worthwhile.
I think very highly of the second book on my list, which is a real classic: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It is the book that has helped more people than probably any other. The third book is by Anthony Robbins. He's one of those speakers who fills up huge auditoriums. For a reason. He's a terrific speaker and writer. The particular book (if you like it, try his others): Awaken the Giant Within.
So give this positive approach a chance. Yes attitude is just attitude. But attitude shapes a lot of how we feel inside.
Now, I want to give you a tool to use for when the depression is overwhelming or there is anxiety. Here are instructions on a therapeutic protocol called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). It's really quite easy to do almost anywhere. My patients suffering from depression or anxiety, when I teach them PMR at first are amazed how simple it is and that it is a psychological protocol. It was first used in the 1920s! Since then, of course, it has been refined and many studies have been done showing its effectiveness. You will practice PMR at first when you don't wake up with an attack so that you will be familiar with it. I want you to practice the PMR at least 5-6 times before an attack or feeling acute anxiety. Why? Because when you're in the throes of anxiety, you will only remember to do something you are very familiar with it. So practicing 5-6 times is really a minimum.
I want to stress the importance of breathing as well. Part of the physiology of what is happening to you in anxiety is that your breathing is getting shallower. This reduces the oxygen in your blood to your brain. That increases the anxiety reaction, which strengthens the attack and you are in a vicious cycle! Not good. So breathing is the primary tool. I have found in my practice that learning breathing techniques can be helpful. But some of my patients are not interested in learning more than one thing at the beginning, so I have found that just reminding you to BREATHE deeply at the same time you are doing PMR is almost as good. If you are willing to take a yoga class and learn breathing techniques, that's the best. But, breathing deeply with your PMR will help. So, we're ready for learning PMR. I want you to print my instructions below my signature and have a copy in each of the rooms of your home where you may be when you have an attack. And again, you need to practice this easy technique at least 5-6 times as soon as you can. It needs to become as natural to you as breathing. Ah, remember breathing?
Quickly focusing on each group one after the other, with practice you can relax your body like ‘liquid relaxation’ poured on your head and it flowed down and completely covered you. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to quickly de-stress any time.
What You Need:
I am going to recommend to you a psychological approach that I think you will find most helpful. I am assuming here that there is no physiological problem that is causing the stomach "stone". I would recommend you see your doctor to just rule out that there is any physiological problem going on, okay?
Assuming, then, that this is ruled out, the stone is what you are portraying it as: a physical manifestation of your inner emotional/psychological/spiritual self.
Mostly we are trained to treat our pains and physical sensations on the basis that they are a mechanical, biological problem: you are the driver, your body is the "car". Your body hurts, go to a mechanic (doctor) and have it fixed. But we are not built that way. Our "selves" and our "bodies" have an intertwined relationship and sensation (pain, for example) is not just part of our body's system and irrelevant to our "selves", our feelings, experiences, thoughts, etc.
So let's look at something that ties together that pain and the inner self. This is something called the mind-body connection. The idea of mind-body connection is that the physical symptoms you (and most of us) are feeling are not the disorder; they are symptoms masking the emotional and psychological realities (mind) that each of us is too scared to face. On the surface it sounds strange and almost anti-modern. How can things about me I am not ready to deal with cause pain. This isn't the place to give a full class on mind-body connection, but I can tell you that you will find many resources on the web.
I want to give you an example from someone I worked with:
Her husband died in an auto accident. She never grieved properly for a number of reasons. She at one point fell off a ladder and broke her foot. Her foot just wouldn't heal properly. she wound up with an acupuncturist/massage therapist who told her, "Your foot will never heal until you let yourself grieve for your husband." She was shocked. She came to see me and worked on letting herself grieve. She's fine now. The concept, though, that her foot's healing from the pain of the break was somehow related to her emotional healing from her husband's death was at first impossible for her to fully accept. But she did and it helped. This is just one example.
So this method requires you to allow yourself to see the pain as a manifestation of something more emotional within. This approach is the mind-body connection approach.
You can Google it and get acquainted. I know many people who have been helped with this approach and I know many people who scoff at it. I hope you won't scoff at it because it can help you. So get acquainted with the mind-body connection. Then I'd like you to look for a psychologist or a psychotherapist in your area of Norway who is familiar with the approach and can help you work on your social situation and relating to people. Okay?
That our bodies can respond to our psychological/spiritual selves is really not so strange if we think about it. The studies in my field of psychology and in medicine are just starting to be done confirming this connection. For example the studies showing the connection between spiritual practice and healing from surgery; the greater longevity of people who have regular church attendance. And many other connections.
I wish you the very, very best!
Was there trauma or abuse in your childhood?
What about alcohol or dysfunction in your family when you were growing up?
Thank you for the extra information. I'm glad you're going to see the psychologist soon. And I hope that you and the psychologist will focus on how to gain the most advantage from the experience you have had. You've tapped into a different way to approach yourself and social reality. And it originally made you more confident and gave you the ability to make close friends. But now you're finding yourself not able to switch back and forth at ease.
And also, there's the problem of focusing, of being detached from what you're doing. I'd like to recommend something for you to look into and consider:
There has been some research support for brain enhancement games and software products in helping with focus. I think you may find them useful for helping you stimulate your brain function so that you feel more "creative" and alert mentally when you are in the more "you" state. One of the best programs is called Lumosity: http://www.lumosity.com/ It's one of the less expensive of the good programs. Here's also a site that is worthwhile for you: http://www.braintraininggames.net/ Go through the web pages on this site they list on the left hand side and focus on the information they give as much as the products they promote. You'll get a good sense of what's out there from this site.
I would also like to recommend Omega 3 fatty acids. Either in flax oil, fish oil or capsules. You need to take daily a clinical dose, about 2-3,000 mg a day. The research is conclusive on this for depression and positive for anxiety issues. This isn't your primary problem, but it can creep in.
Exercise: 5 days a week moderate exercise, to include 3 days of strength training as you will get more used to it. Pretty amazing isn't it? What you put in to it you will get out of it. Your doctor will verify the research results show the benefit to overall health, focus and confidence.
Okay, I wish you the very best!