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lawlipop's avatar

Can anyone give me advice on what I think is an overactive imagination disorder?

Asked by lawlipop (433points) April 9th, 2010

Okay so, I have been known to pass out. A lot. At first, doctors just thought it was just low iron or dehydration. I believed them at first, but now I know that this is not the case.

This is going to sound strange, but when people explain things to me, tell stories, lecture, ect. I over-think what they’re saying. When it’s just the person speaking, I get these crazy visuals in my head of my take on what they are explaining to me.

Most of the time, this happens in classes involving the human body, like Health and Biology. And they are never a good thing. I exaggerate possibilities to the point where I am basically having nightmares while I am awake.

But what is weird is that, I know in my head that these are just fantasies. It’s like my mind is sane, while my brain is not. I try to fight these spells by attempting to focus on other things and block it out. But somehow, my brain, my body, takes over and completely shuts itself down, almost like it’s trying to protect me from danger.

I’ve been told by some that this is just anxiety. Panic attacks. But I don’t have any reason to feel anxious at all. I’m not an alcoholic, addicted to drugs, and I’ve never had something traumatic happen in my lifetime. I am a very relaxed person, I don’t feel stressed very often. And if I do feel stressed, it’s over something minor, like schoolwork. And I’m not paranoid about anything.

It’s like my brain/body is anxious, but my mind/personality is not.

Can anyone explain to me what this is, or give me some advice?

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38 Answers

Lightning's avatar

You need medication, bad.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Do you get woozy at the sight of blood? Is that the kind of feeling you’re describing?

lawlipop's avatar

@Lightning That’s what my friend told me, too. Should I see just a regular doctor? Or some kind of specialist..?

rahm_sahriv's avatar

Having panic attacks or disorder does not necessarily mean that you have something to be anxious over. Some of the worst panic attacks I have ever had were ones out of nowhere. When I should panic I don’t and when I shouldn’t panic I do.

I can relate to the obsessive thoughts too. You have described some of my symptoms exactly. I have been diagnosed with panic disorder, bipolar disorder, OCD and PTSD, if that helps.

Talk to your doctor about getting a psych referral. There are medications that can help.

lawlipop's avatar

@worriedguy No, I do not. I guess I didn’t do a very good job explaining myself. An example of something recent is: one day, in my Biology class, my teacher was telling a story about someone she knows who got Jet Dry in her eyes. As soon as she said it, my brain went crazy with images of what that could be like, and it got to the point where they were insanely disgusting and impossible. I knew in my head that none of that could happen, but my body wouldn’t listen to me. It got freaked out, and it shut me down. I passed out.

Silhouette's avatar

Sounds like extreme anxiety. Extreme anxiety involves much fantasy. Here is a link you might want to read.

lawlipop's avatar

@rahm_sahriv Finally, I’m not alone! And yes, I will definitely talk to my doctor about that. Thank you.

lawlipop's avatar

@Silhouette I’ve read all of this before. Sure, it presents some valuable information. But in my case, I cannot really apply it. My spells usually happen while someone is speaking, so I can’t really listen to music. I’ve tried focusing on other things, but that never seems to work. And I know the difference between reality and fantasy, it’s my body that doesn’t.

thriftymaid's avatar

Now we are creating mental health disorders!

rahm_sahriv's avatar

@lawlipop No problem :) It isn’t an easy thing to discuss. I have had issues since I was 16, and tried to keep them hidden, tried self-medicating, getting into trouble because of the mood swings and self medicating and afraid that if I told anyone they would think I was crazy and then lock me up. It is only in the past few years that I dared to say anything and found out I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t going to get locked up in the state hospital. Good luck :)

emergence's avatar

Interesting that there’s a connection between anxiety and fantasy.

I’ve never experienced what you’re describing to the same degree, well… actually maybe I have. I won’t even describe the examples lest it makes you experience it again. Could it be that you are extremely empathetic? That seems to be my case, it’s like I can experience other people’s experiences as if I experience it myself. And I do have to be careful as to what information I expose myself to for that reason.

Though this used to effect me worse when I was younger, I seem to be able to put up an empathetic barrier when I start to experience something I don’t want to experience. But I have no idea how to explain how to do that. My best advice would be to be careful of your environment, what information you are exposed to, if what I’m describing sounds similar.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

It sounds as if you might be OCD. I do the same thing, to a lesser degree, when I hear about anything I think is gross. Do you have any other unusual habits? Like counting syllables on your fingers (I do this), or do you have any other kind of odd habits that you can think of?

lawlipop's avatar

@emergence You know, I bet that could be something to it. I sometimes envision these “situations” happening to myself. But other times I feel like I’m just watching a twisted horror movie that I can’t turn off. And yeah, being careful of my environment does help. But having to be the only one who has to leave health class during certain discussions is a tad embarrassing.

But for me, it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I’m more creative and intelligent than I once was, so the fantasies have become increasingly more grotesque.

lawlipop's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I don’t think I’m OCD. My room is a mess, and I don’t have any unusual habits. But it doesn’t just have to be something gross, just something that can affect something else. If that makes sense.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@lawlipop You’d be surprised the many ways in which OCD can manifest itself. If someone has it, they aren’t necessarily tidy or immaculate. My room is also a mess, but I’m definitely OCD to some degree.

My imagination goes crazy sometimes, just like yours. As for not necessarily being gross, I can do that too. If I see someone leaning on something a certain way, I can imagine exactly how they would slip and fall, for instance. Again, it’s not always with something gross, either.

Anyway, definitely see a doctor. This isn’t normal and you need to talk to someone about it.

emergence's avatar


yeah, i’ve had experiences where i’ve had to leave the room as well. hmmmm… maybe i’m getting stupider and less creative as i get older? just kidding. perhaps you aren’t cut out for the health field if that is the source of these problems.

some people seem to be able to develop a shield, people who work in fields where they have to deal with gross stuff all the time for example. ‘gross’ putting it mildy of course. i wonder if there’s any research or techniques for how to do that.

oh, and yes, it doesn’t have to be something gross, it can be a good thing too. like i can see a person who is truly happy and feel that happiness.

maybe if you visualize it as a movie, and practice turning the movie off? perhaps that will help train you to be able to turn off these experiences if you choose?

lawlipop's avatar

@DrasticDreamer “If I see someone leaning on something a certain way, I can imagine exactly how they would slip and fall, for instance.” I do this, too! And yeah, I think I’m definitely going to be seeing a doctor very soon. Thank you.

Silhouette's avatar

@lawlipop I’d look into some sort of meditation. Good luck, its got to be driving you crazy.

lawlipop's avatar

@emergence Yes, maybe. I’m not sure where to start on “training my mind” though. Any advice, or should I seek a therapist?

lawlipop's avatar

@Silhouette Thank you :) And yes, I’m basically going insane with this.

ETpro's avatar

The diversity of ways the human mind works is truly fascinating. My first suggestion is to set aside concern about what is normal. We are all somewhere on a bell curve from insipidly boring at one low end to stark-raving loony at the other. Certain forms of autism make it difficult for a person to react socially in ways that most of us find intuitive, but at the same time dramatically empower particular types of brain activity. The movie Rain Man was a great example of this.

Since your brain works in unique ways, I would suggest you look for how to put that processing power to constructive use. There may be a great artist or writer or sculptor within you just waiting for you to harness the creativity and put it to work.

It might be worthwhile to consult with a Neurologist, but I would definitely avoid the pill pushers that are out there unless it becomes patently clear that the disturbing activity of the brain is intefering with your ability to carry on a normal life. Using powerful drugs to regulate the brain into being “normal”, if that’s all the medication is being used for, is as wrong-headed as sawing a tall kids legs off to make him the average height.

lawlipop's avatar

@ETpro I like the way your mind works, very much. I was hoping for some advice that wouldn’t gear me towards feeling numb from pills for the rest of my life. Thank you for that.

And my friends and family have been encouraging me into art, so I plan on taking an art course next year. We’ll see how that goes.

Cruiser's avatar

You are made to order for Fluther…spot this man 20 K!!

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I am appalled by people proposing diagnoses. Even trained psychologists, like myself, would not do so on the basis of such limited information.

@lawlipop You should consult a professional to discuss these unusual responses to ordinary situations. I wish you the best.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence We were saying what we thought it might be. If you didn’t notice, and apparently you didn’t, most all of us said, ”You should talk to a doctor”. Calm down, jeez….

lawlipop's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence @DrasticDreamer You’re both just trying to help me out, and I appreciate it. Thank you, and I am definitely going to be speaking to a doctor as soon as possible.

emergence's avatar

@lawlipop hmmm, well I mean it as a sort of visualization technique. as you said it’s like a movie you can’t turn off… decide to visualize a tv, and the experience as contained in the tv, then visualize the tv turning off.

i’ve read about such an exercise for people dealing with PTSD, like having unwanted memories invade their thoughts. it may not work at first, or it may only ‘turn off’ for a few minutes at first, but i suspect if you practice this you’ll get better at being able to ‘turn off’ the unwanted thoughts.

as for a doctor, idk. if it’s something disrupting your life that you can’t deal with yourself, you probably should.

lawlipop's avatar

@emergence Hmm, that’s interesting. I might try it.

chamelopotamus's avatar

This sounds like the makings of an extremely creative person. Theres a lot of creative energy there, needing an outlet, so it doesnt destroy you.

lawlipop's avatar

@chamelopotamus You think? Awesome. I like hearing positive things about this, it’s a nice change. Minus the destroying of myself, of course. But yeah, I’ll definitely be looking more into art. Thanks :)

ETpro's avatar

@lawlipop Thanks for the kind words. I wish you the best with the art course. Maybe you can turn what now seems a curse into a blessing.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@DrasticDreamer I acknowledge and support the advice that the OP was offered concerning seeking help. I know even those who tried to diagnose the problem where motivated to help.

I just wanted to point out that sometimes guessing at the nature of the problem can result in people who need help getting misdirected or frightened to find out that they might be sick or mentally ill. Even experts need to approach the process of diagnosis with delicacy.

I meant not disrespect to you or anyone else. I apologize for any hurt feelings I may have caused.

rahm_sahriv's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence No, you would make them take pointless five hundred and some odd fill in the blank test to give you a starting point before you even TALKED to them. All that test did was serve to put me in a foul mood :P

Most of us were not trying to diagnose @lawlipop, but relate our own experiences. I think you will find most of us suggested that he seek out a professional. I also think someone who is willing to post a plea for help online is not likely one to be frightened away due to the knowledge there are going to be trolls such as the person who answered this question first.

As far as approaching the process with delicacy- it is very annoying to those of us who are not fainting flowers. I can’t speak for most, but I want to be told flat out what the problem might be and how to go from there. Granted, I might not listen to you, when as my mother says, I get in one of my ‘moods’, but don’t pussy foot around, that is likely to get you less respect and trust. I certainly wouldn’t see a shrink or counselor whom I didn’t have a least a tiny bit of trust in.

Apology accepted for the generalization that we were trying to diagnose, but don’t apologize for how you feel :P

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I never required personality testing like the one you most likely experienced before starting to talk with a client. In fact, I used testing only where the nature of their problems were too complex and multifaceted for me to have a reasonable approach to therapy. Where the problem might be a thought disorder or profound personality disorder, testing can help eliminate many wrong conclusions and narrow down the options of what’s wrong to a reasonable number of options.

On the other hand diagnosis should not be done by the seat of one’s pants without an adequate knowledge of the distinguishing features of various psychopathologies. Reading the DSM-IV is not adequate preparation for the task.

I did not apologize for my feelings but for stating my feelings in a manner that felt too judgmental and demeaning to those who had tried to help.

janedelila's avatar

But but but…. @Dr_Lawrence lawlipop was ASKING for opinions.

mollydrew's avatar

I am not making “light” of your situation but have you ever seen the movie Walter Mitty starring Danny Kaye? Although it is fantasy it has some all too real qualities. When people spoke to him, he would play the story in his head and embelish it. How old are you? It could be that you, like Walter Mitty are a day dreamer. Mr. Mitty put his fantasies to work and wrote comic books.
Perhaps too, you haven’t found anything interesting enough to listen to or give your complete attention to.

lawlipop's avatar

@mollydrew I’m 15. And what you said about not having found anything interesting enough to listen or give my attention to, that is pretty accurate as of right now in my life. I’ll look into this movie.

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