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What Living With an 'Uncommon' Personality Disorder Is Like

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Since being diagnosed with a mental illness last summer, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the whole diagnosis I, quite frankly, wasn’t expecting. Although it was mentioned briefly in my care early on, I wasn’t expecting to be diagnosed with strong features of this particular personality disorder.

Schizotypal personality disorder is a mental illness characterized by long-lasting, persistent social anxiety, social discomfort, episodes of paranoia and suspiciousness, unusual thinking and beliefs, being a “loner” and lacking any close friends or relationships, as well as rambling and unusual behavior like talking to myself out loud.

Although I fit every single symptom and have been diagnosed with strong features, I am still trying to adjust to the diagnosis. I thought these features were part of my personality in a unique way — just part of my character, not so much part of a mental illness.

I had never heard of schizotypal personality disorder before being diagnosed, let alone expected to be diagnosed with it; and have my behavior, character and personality analyzed, labeled and defined as a disorder.

I thought I would write about my diagnosis because I have never heard of it previous to this. Despite my already long list of mental illnesses, I’ve never heard of this type of personality disorder, never read anything about it online, in the news or in the media, and there isn’t much supportive information about this mental illness either in books or online. I struggled to find anything to help me understand this disorder better.

I frankly feel very alone and isolated, with the addition of this new diagnosis — another label above my head and trying to come to terms and understand it better when there isn’t much information or advice to hand is pretty isolating and frustrating.

I find myself feeling more isolated and misunderstood than ever before. I know I talk to myself and have conversations with myself out loud. When it comes to talking to people I’m unfamiliar with or even ordering a coffee in a cafe — I struggle to find the words and string a sentence together due to my social anxiety and shyness, but then i’ll quite comfortably sit on my own, muttering and whispering to myself, having a conversation and quietly smiling and laughing at myself. When I do venture out it’s a real challenge because the constant fear I’m being watched, observed and followed is a reoccurring thought in my mind. There have been a few occasions I’ve ran down the street running away from those following me, when realistically no one is following. I guess my mind plays treacherous tricks on me, but what do I believe when I feel suspicious of those people unknown to me — feeling “paranoid” — although I dislike the use of that word and I don’t use it lightly.

I don’t have many friends, in fact I probably have two or three people I would call “friends.” I have more feline friends than human and I don’t mind at all — I love cats, who doesn’t. There have been moments of unusual thinking, believing the male pharmacists at my pharmacy have tampered with my medication, only trusting females and only collecting my medications from the female staff; fortunately, I have a pharmacy team who are very understanding, sympathetic, friendly and always asking how I am. Feeling uncomfortable around males I’m unfamiliar with and avoiding eye contact is a real struggle, which I am working on.

Those are only a few examples of my personality and my diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder. I am simply writing this and sharing my experiences with fellow readers who may have been diagnosed with this or know someone who has, to create a little bit of awareness and to hopefully make people feel less alone and less isolated from this very real mental illness.

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Getty image via Good_Studio

Originally published: March 22, 2018
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