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Ask HN: How can you tell if you are insane?
88 points by qwertyFish on Oct 11, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 88 comments
My family is quite worried about me. Two days ago I believe someone hacked in to my cellphone and computer. It was behaving oddly as was my cellphone. Coupled with several harassing emails one of which told me that "here is something over your head" and contained a link to someone using Metasploit in a YouTube video demonstrating a root kit attack against a mobile device, I became concerned.

However, I also truly believed that they had my cellphone and were intercepting outgoing calls to my wireless provider. I tried to use the home phone which, immediately began to call out when I tried to use it, even though I never completed dialing. I called my wireless provider to check data usage and it felt like the person was "off" taking long periods of time to answer and give normal pieces of info back to me like other phone numbers on the account and basic stuff. My passwords were all on my phone so I honestly believed someone was looking up the information and they were stalling for time. Battery was draining while phone was off and didn't seem to hold a charge well.

I also felt very ill about 2 days later and had stayed up resetting and wiping all my devices and router. I went to the 24 hour walk in clinic with symptoms of being very weak dizzy and other general things.

My family thinks I am crazy. At first I was angry but I realize there is no way for me to really objectively consider this. I really believe my system was compromised and I am starting to doubt my own sanity I guess. Is there a way to figure out if I am crazy? It could be brought on by lack of sleep and stress, I doubt/hope it isn't anything permanent. I am 26 male, don't think it is something as serious as Schiz. And I take adrall (40mg) daily, slightly more recently, but other than that do not take drugs or drink.

How can I evaluate my mental condition objectively?

Your story reminds me of a similar one that appeared on reddit a little while ago. https://www.reddit.com/r/bestof/comments/34novp/user_thinks_...


Do you have a carbon monoxide detector?

Dizziness can be one of the symptoms. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Carbon-monoxide-poisoning/Pages...

There is a much more similar case from a few weeks back: https://www.reddit.com/r/legaladvice/comments/3iycro/fl_i_am...

The poster thought they were being spied on by law enforcement, and that a drone was entering their house and moving around the iPad they had set up to monitor the premises (!). They posted some of the clips to YouTube but none of the commenters saw anything suspicious.

It turned out to be a paranoid delusion caused by a combination of stress, sleep deprivation and Adderall, which is the exact situation in this thread. I would highly encourage the OP to read both the original post and the followup.

hahaha I don't think I am insane, I think it was just a temporary episode and am resolving to try and be less stressed, sleep more, and take less adderall and caffeine. That being said, as someone who is/was insane, I was able to checkle a bit when I clicked on the video and it said "this video does not exist".

The CO one scared me, especially because a few fir alarms went off in my house a few days ago, but my father and I looked around and confirmed there was no fire despite them going off for ~1 hour. Myabe lighting the stove for the first time? Anyway, I think I just need to get more sleep and my parents have been cool about it. I think they are a bit worried, but seem to be resolved to just monitor me, which is good.

In the US, at least, you can call the gas company if you suspect a carbon monoxide leak. If you have reason to suspect a real emergency, you might also consider calling the fire department or emergency services.

Most fire departments also have a non-emergency line that you can just call for advice, they may even send somebody by non-emergent to check your house out and you as well. Some EMS providers (in the US most fire departments have EMS on staff also) have the ability to check for carbon monoxide in your blood.

During my time as an EMT, I saw plenty of people go crazy for various reasons from schizophrenia to completely unrelated physical issues such as diabetes, migraines, epilepsy and rhabdomyolysis. I AM NOT A DOCTOR, but you should consider consulting one. It may not be that you are not "crazy", but you may have some other medical condition affecting your mental status.

Best of luck.

Ok. This makes the most sense. Actually pretty relieved. I don't think I have gone that far yet, but that seems pretty in line with what happened. I guess it is good that he showed up and said he was fine and returned to normal. I don't "feel" like I am a total nutter but after ~5 hours of sleep in 48 hours, I slept for ~11 hours and felt a bit better. Going to have to def scale my dosage down and sleep more. This post was the most helpful. Sure, what I said sounds crazy, but to be fair I did receive some troll emails and my shit was all fucked up. I think the schizo. diagnosis was a bit strong, but this one makes way more sense. Thanks, nice to see this person recovered well and that overdoing it can lead to some really fucked up shit.

First thing I thought too--that Reddit thread was creepy but spot on.

Also thought of this. Might be a stretch but certainly worth investigating.

Hi qwertyFish thank you so much for reaching out.

I have a close family member, and close friend who both suffer from Schizophrenia. Although I'd hate to make any type of diagnosis over a medium like this, I feel you've been descriptive enough for me to make an educated guess.

Schizophrenia is a fairly complex disorder with varying levels of severity. What you described sounds very close to what a lot of people describe as their first 'episode', which commonly comes between the ages of 18-30. It includes what you've described, a long period of being awake, with intense thoughts, paranoia, and a inescapable need to 'do something' (such as wipe your devices).

One of the greatest challenges of dealing with this is finding treatment fast enough before the disease progresses. Often once it progresses, the person no longer is able to realize something is wrong. As you've described it, you still have that sinking feeling that something isn't right. Often at this stage general practitioners will not understand the disease enough to make a diagnosis, so it's important you see a trained psychiatrist as soon as possible.

For your question about evaluating your condition objectively, this is part of the core treatment of Schizophrenia and it's related disorders, so it would be best a doctor helps you with this. Adderral is a known to aggravate Schizophrenia as it interferes with Dopamine, I'd advise to cut down or stop taking it until you can speak to a doctor. There is also a very small chance you are experiencing a reaction to long term Adderall use it's self, experiencing a Amphetamine psychosis which has very symptoms to Schizophrenia but is temporary. Do not risk it though, for a lot of people if Schizophrenia advances, they are unable, or refuse to seek treatment.

Thank you for that answer. My "hopeful" theory is that I did get hacked and maybe overreacted too much. However, if I am being honest, regardless I think it is likely amphetamine psychosis. I have been taking it for 3months but as month 4 started I began to take a bit more at times, possibly leading to these symptoms.

I think being somewhat paranoid is positive, but I need to have a better way to assess the underlying concerns rationally and not from a paranoid/worst case view.


A simple question is, "What value would someone get from intruding on my life?" If you're not a corporate CEO, a politician, a billionaire, etc chances are that the risk someone would target you to upend your life are extremely low. Either way, it's good you are documenting your experience. This could help when describing what you're going through to a physician. Please seek medical help, you sound like you are a bright individual that just needs a helping hand right now.

Thanks. I tried to keep my post somewhat objective but biased towards the more outlandish aspects of my claim.

> what value would someone get

People do it for the lulz. I posted a snarkey advert saying I couldn't find anything outside of Wordpress tweaks on Craigslist and included a bit about security and people asking to hack Facebook. Said it would be cool if someone in security was interested, but doubted it due to their market value, was looking for a wed developer (like me) or a designer to collaborate with.

> got a message with a ridiculously long troll response about being a ms in CS who casually designs machine learning algorithms but does know the basics of building a computer from scratch. Take my word for it, total troll.

> got a message asking to hack Facebook fake arcade slots for points. Really needed "fake coins for this game". Was pushy.

> got a response asking what country I was in because "what they wanted might be better served by someone not in the us for a couple reasons..." Was pushy.

> was told I was a "script kiddie" even though I never claimed I was a hacker and said I was a simple web dev. Link to Metasploit video and other black hat resources

> several other messages

> had upgraded to El Capitan. That day I had 50gb of traffic on my network. Typically 2.5-5 or less.

> couldn't reach cloud flare network.

> during boot to recovery halfway through load my screen would blink and reset the load bar.

> phone was getting killed battery wise drained while off

> tcpdump outgoing requests to random servers. Not sure if I read results correctly but some did not seem like requests that made sense. I have icefloor on and ALF set up. Maybe legit, just seemed weird to go to random servers.

> console showed 4000 errors. Many are related to El Capitan and don't know how to interpret them. Several seemed sketchy but maybe this was me misinterpreting them. I saved some of the logs.

From what you've been going through it sounds extremely likely you are experiencing stimulant psychosis, but the best way to approach this objectively is to have your psychiatrist do the assessment.

PLEASE contact your psychiatrist / psychiatrist's office about this RIGHT NOW -- call them and make an appointment or otherwise discuss treatment options over the phone, tell them you're concerned you may be experiencing amphetamine psychosis or something else -- they are trained to make this call and have seen it thousands of times before.

Time is of the essence, it's much more effective to seek treatment before a condition worsens. This can be a dangerous state to be in, and there are treatments that will help you get through this safely.

If there's nothing going on, they will help you confirm that. If not, they may save your life.

It's possible, if not likely, you may need to briefly visit a hospital for supervised treatment -- understand that's a perfectly common thing and the most safe, smart option.

It's also worth noting that there are effective non-stimulant treatment options for ADHD now if that is what you are being treated for. So getting treated for this won't mean you can't still be treated for that -- your psychiatrist will help you find an optimal plan.

If your psychiatrist is unavailable or you do not have one, contact your primary care physician's emergency line. If you have neither of those providers, you can contact me and I can find you the right number to contact for assistance for your state/region -- my username @ gmail.

Also happy to talk through anything with you as well, same email. Wish you the best!

> had upgraded to El Capitan. That day I had 50gb of traffic on my network. Typically 2.5-5 or less.

After upgrading an iMac to OSX El Capitan the Photos.app decided to upload all photos on the iMac to iCloud. I consider it to be a bug since all photos on the mac originally came via iCloud from my iPhone. Seems unnecessary for Photos.app to upload every single file again, but it did.

Network bandwidth was saturated (high packet loss, almost useless) for a few days until Photos.app was done uploading.

I agree that you should get some psychiatric help (I can sympathize with your condition), but the 'battery draining while off' gives me pause. How bad was the battery drain, and was the device 'off' or 'sleeping'?

After reading what you just wrote here, I am now much more convinced you are experiencing a Schizophrenic episode. Please please seek treatment immediately.

> adrall (40mg)

This is a lot of Adderall. Consider lowering or stopping your dosages. See a primary care physician ASAP, or go to a hospital if you feel in danger, and talk to him/her about stopping your dosage and alternatives to Adderall.

It may be harmful to stop abruptly. Talk to your doctor.

Over the course of a day, if you've been taking it for years, it doesn't seem like much. I have heard of doctors prescribing 30mg (20 morning, 10 at noon) for people brand new to it.

my doctor prescribed me 40mgs, first time. I have been on it ~4 months. I take 20 in the morning and 20 in the afternoon. I don't think it is a totally massive amount, but I am posting in my own thread about whether or not I am insane. I am going to try and cut my dosage in half though, because that seems like quite a bit.

' I take aderall (40mg) daily, slightly more recently' paranoia is a frequent side effect from amphetamines, which is what adderall is. It's very easy to slip on it and you state yourself that you are taking more than your prescribed dose. I'd recommend getting off this junk as soon as possible, I've watched the side effects first hand. You're not crazy (most likely, based on the evidence so far). If you must take a stimulant, have you talked to your doc about modafinil instead? Please, be aware of the impact a psychostimulant has on your reasoning - it's easy to convince yourself it's not the problem. I wish you well and also please make sure to sleep properly and don't take any late in the day, sleep deprivation leads to paranoia as well.

What you describe can have many explanations, and is nowhere near an extreme diagnosis such as Schizophrenia.

Anybody's brain can react the way yours did to stress; many brains are less able to handle stress; stress comes in many forms, including PTSD, drugs, alcohol, anxiety, and even lack of sleep.

You shouldn't be taking Adderol without medical supervision and whoever is supervising you taking needs to be qualified to handle this.

Bossrat, you're speaking in platitudes, and being vague. No there are not many explanations for multi day long psychosis. In fact, psychosis from Adderal and all those other things you mentioned is a more rare side-effect than the percentage of people who will get Schizophrenia to begin with. So please, fully understand a topic before you interject.

Please realize Schizophrenia affects 1.1% of the American population, and that's just the general form, and that which is diagnosed. The real number is likely higher. It is neither an 'extreme diagnosis' nor is it that rare.

you are simply wrong to run around diagnosing people as having schizophrenia based on your anecdotal experience. As I explained in another reply to you, the symptoms described do not match the criteria for schizophrenia. Call that a vague platitude if you want.

On margin, more people experience brief episodes of psychosis than who experience chronic psychotic illness, so again, you are just plain wrong.

the diagnosis of schizophrenia is a diagnosis of an extreme form of mental illness, regardless of its prevalence; cancer kills a lot of people, but it does so in an extreme form: the prevalence has nothing to do with the extremity.

Thank you for saying this. This account was the first one to respond and continued saying this. Seems a bit strong, I think it is more adderall/sleep/stress related as it was essentially a one-off occurence.

This is a very dangerous assumption. Often drug use brings out peoples underlying mental health condition. Do not assume they are related just because you started taking Adderal recently. In the case of my friend, he attributed his symptoms to first time cannabis use in college, thinking if he just stopped smoking it would go away. It didn't.

> see a trained psychiatrist

Always the best advice.

Actually, Adderall could very, very easily be causing this. In the same vein of the guy who had CO poisoning, there was a man who was paranoid about drones doing surveillance on him.


It seems like it could be in parallel to your situation. I highly recommend having someone evaluating your dosage, as well as whether it's an adverse effect of the Adderall itself.

yep, just read that thread. Resolving to cut my consumption way down.

40mg of adderall daily is the maximum allowed daily amount. That makes me wonder in and of itself..I am going to go out on a limb here and say you are abusing it. Probably a lack of sleep leading to paranoia. Someone hacking your phone? It could happen. More likely is you are either having your first break from reality with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc. or you are having paranoia and a mental breakdown secondary to drug abuse and lack of sleep.

Why are you taking 40mg adderall daily?

It's 60mg day that's the maximum daily amount. No idea where you got that from. The pills themselves go up to 30mg per pill as well. In fact, in some cases, they allow up to 90mg a day, that's like the max-max they can legally give, but it's in more specific circumstances like if someone's already been taking it for years and also has a larger body mass as well.

You might want to arrange a "Rainy Day Action Plan" with a family member or close friend that you trust.

This would involve you writing a list of stuff that you do and don't want to happen if people ever feel the need to provide treatment. It can include signs to look out for - that mean things aren't going well and that people should take action.

I'm not going to do any kind of diagnostic stuff but early intervention is important.

EDIT: obviously, you should see a doctor rather than relying on Internet advice.

EDIT: here's a sample plan


Thanks. I don't think I need to do that yet and not really sure what I would include. I guess on balance, I think I am somewhat abnormal in terms of goals and stuff, and have never achieved a high level of success but don't think I am overtly crazy to the point that I need this yet.

I recently had to move back to the rural area I am from and although I am quite social, have had limited interaction with people outside my family. There is a single store in my town, no stoplights etc rural as fuck. No one in my demo. I think I need to start getting out more but will keep this link in case.

The correct answer is go to a health professional and have them evaluate your mental and physical health objectively.

Yes, based on the question, this is the only advice in this thread that should even be considered.

Based on your username it seems possible to me you're a fan of the TV show MR Robot as the main character has a fish called QWERTY. The main character Elliot suffers from anxiety, depression, insomnia and mania.

I would consider that unless like Elliot you're trying to reset society's debt to zero it's unlikely you're being targeted. What makes you worth targeting over anyone else?

I think you should speak to a medical professional (get multiple opinions if you don't trust them) and move on from there.

There's a lot we can learn from Mr Robot, for me the biggest lesson is you can't always trust what you see and feel. Find somebody who can help you with that.

For instance, I'm partially convinced this is just someone trolling hacker news whilst bored on a Sunday...

I responded to this already, but the hacker must have intercepted it. Just kidding, I think I hit post limit because this account is new.

Regardless, that was the reference and I am definitely not that spun out, for sure. I will say this though, when he goes to meet wh1teR0se he says maybe they're the best because "they are more paranoid than the rest of us".

So, did I take too much adderall, flip out and whipe my whole system? Yep. Have I been leading a financial revolution under the exper tutelage of my dead father with a curious affinity for back to the future II? Not yet.

Hey qwertyFish, thanks for reaching out. It's brave and commendable to ask this question from your position.

I don't know if this is your case, you should to talk a psychotherapist and/or a psychiatrist, but some of the details of your story (like picking up on details like the pace of talking from a wireless company representative) remind me of my mother. She thought there was a worldwide conspiracy against her, with the CIA involved, and so on. One example: she was active in a Blogger community, and someone connected to her network wrote this mundane blog post about visiting the zoo with his family, written in a witty style and with pictures of animals. My mother thought this was a concealed attack to her well being. ("I am obviously the giraffe in this story", etc). There was no way to make her see how absurd that was, that was her perception of reality, and she wouldn't budge from it.

Unfortunately, even after having seen doctors and having spent time in a mental hospital, she continues to deny that she is unwell. She is too proud and too stubborn to be open to the idea that her perception is mistaken, or that she has an illness, or that she is not at the center of the world. Her illness along with her pride and stubbornness has caused our family a lot of pain. Imagine your mother or your sister or your wife, not just becoming mentally unwell (that is tough but fixable), but denying at all costs that she is unwell, and so letting that illness define her character going forward.

So for me, whether or not you have a health issue, you taking into consideration what your family is worried about, is commendable. Please stay open to what the people who are close to you and who care about you have to say.

I wish you the best of luck friend.

EDIT: I've reviewed the Reddit thread linked in another comment! (The Co2 guy)[1] Given that the original Reddit report was written as cogently as you've been writing I would suggest taking similar and related steps. I don't have anything more specific to add. Get things back to normal. Also you report physical illness, so this would go hand-in-hand with some similar reason. (For example, Co2 guy had severe headaches, that he didn't mention but which were a symptom.)

I've deleted the earlier version of this comment (in which I asked you to speculate on a motive for the email) as I think that it is more important to address the things that could cause these thoughts. It would be different if you didn't feel sick or weren't taking a high drug level.

I see a lot of similarities, especially because you mention physical illness (although the OP there didn't mention his headaches until prompted.) Try to solve them, as they're quite serious. Bear in mind that your judgment may be impaired at the moment, and that your family are concerned. Try to solve the external source of the issues if at all possible.

[1] Here is the thread I mean: https://np.reddit.com/r/legaladvice/comments/34l7vo/ma_posti...

> How can I evaluate my mental condition objectively?

You can't. You need a third party (such as a psychologist) to definitively tell you what's what. It's super easy to fool and mislead ones self.

I once thought my girlfriend hacked into my computer and corrupted it somehow; I lost everything. In hindsight, that was a crazy thing to think, but at the time it made sense given who she was and what was technically capable and all that.

What one must do, is separate what is possible (being hacked) from what is likely (computer crash) from what is absurd (girlfriend did it). This is not always easy, and not always straightforward, and not always something you can and should do by yourself.

Also... stress is a biggie. aderall likely won't help things either. People have lapses, behave irrationally or quite insanely as result of temporary outside factors. So, Its not something to worry about in that sense, but its certainly something to identify the cause of and take action against and monitor.

best of luck!

Insane is probably not a useful word in this context. Is it possible that you are suffering from an illness? Of course it is. The internet is not the place to seek a diagnosis. Make an appointment with your primary care provider or a qualified mental health professional. There are a number of illnesses that can manifest themselves in ways archaically referred to as mental. Just keep in mind that everything that happens in your brain is chemical and electrical. If you are having a psychotic break, and believe me I do not mean that as a pejorative but simply as a medical term then you need qualified medical care. When asked, a schizophrenic patient will say when they began to hear voices they were as real to them as their friend talking from the next room. I wish you the best of luck. Get help. If you need treatment, get healthy. These are tough issues. Hang in there.

Go talk to a doctor. Strangers on the internet with anecdotes are not qualified for this.

Never be embarrassed if you think you might be having a temporary psychotic break or experiencing heretofore unknown symptoms of schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder. It will do no good sitting around and wondering.

Getting help is the only thing that will help you regain confidence in yourself. And maybe it's nothing and you were right all along.

Doctors are not always helpful for stuff like this. I wouldn't go to a doctor unless I am bleeding or immobile from pain or for scheduled checkups. They see far worse that a little paranoia every day, and will probably just prescribe some random pills. Doctors don't care about un-treatable problems and "i'm afraid of my phone" isn't a treatable problem. Yes, they can refer a mental health specialist. That specialist will just confirm, yes you do have whatever problem you think you might or something else that's more benign and should start regularly paying them.

This is absurd. Qualified psychiatrists are the only way to diagnose and deal with an actual mental illness, and the only way to be sure you're not having a break or don't have a problem if you don't. Always helpful? Sure, nothing's always helpful. Doing nothing when OP thinks he's "going crazy" is a terrible strategy.

No, what you said is absurd. You're feeble straw man argument is pathetic. Nowhere did I state the person should do nothing. Mental illness of the kind that is described here can be dealt with in other ways such as living with a trusted family member, focus on sleep hours, or stop taking Adderall if it isn't prescribed.

Dude, his trusted family members are telling him to see a doctor. It's not a straw man, it's the only way he's actually going to resolve his question. I agree it's likely he should stop taking the adderall, especially if it's not prescribed, although doing that suddenly can also have serious consequences. A doctor is the best way to answer these questions.

When you have a doctor that you feel doesn't care about your problem -- no matter how small -- you find a different doctor. Not all doctors are good.

That is called doctor shopping and doctors hate it. They will just assume you are trying to get drugs. Doctors don't care about your problems any more than a veterinarian cares about a dog or cat.

Please direct these questions to a psychiatrist. I doubt many of us here replying are qualified to provide guidance on what you are experiencing and why. And ignore the name dropping of various mental illnesses and speculations by others; getting in contact with qualified people and calmly explaining your situation and providing evidence of what you saw / feel is the best option.

It's probably very difficult to evaluate oneself 'objectively' but that said, if it's affecting your life negatively, you may want to get a medical diagnosis. Your sudden paranoid-like behavior could be caused by any one of many different physiological, neurological, or psychological things.

Also 40mg of adderall seems like a lot, if you're on adderall xr.

I think the best thing is to see a doctor. However, your behavior is too paranoid and may indicate a certain mental condition. To be sure though, just see a physician.

Is no one going to address the objective evidence? If there are emails flaunting exploits... You're not crazy. If the emails don't exist, there's probably a bigger issue. If the emails did exist and then got deleted... That's tough.

The problem is that paranoia causes you to assign meanings and interpretations that aren't reasonable. We haven't seen any emails, only the OP's brief, vague description of them. And even if they do exist, there is a huge difference between sending a threatening email and tapping a phone.

In the Reddit thread I linked elsewhere, someone thought they had "objective evidence" of intruders and drones in their house, because they were seizing on tiny details -- a tape dispenser not where they remembered it, an airplane flying overhead, bumps and clicks on an audio recording -- and assigning them the worst possible interpretation.

Likewise, the fact that the OP is seeing events like "the phone company's tech support was slow to respond to my questions" as part of the conspiracy is a huge red flag.

I posted the emails. They exist. While I went a bit over the top, the emails definitely exist.

You could always visit a doctor who specializes in these things to get evaluated objectively. Also cut the aderall.

Hi, I used to take adderal for ADD when I was in my early 20s.

40 mg/day is a LOT... who put you on that dose? I was taking 10-20 mg/day and it usually left me feeling totally zonked. (I'm about 200 lbs) Taking 40 mg was a sure-fire way to spend the day grinding my teeth and babbling frantically.

I definitely experienced paranoia, and tended to fixate on things outside my sphere of influence, which lead to feelings of helplessness and despair. At the time I thought I was seeing things more clearly.

After a while I realized that while adderal was effective at improving performance in rote tasks, it messed pretty severely with abstract reasoning. I ditched it cold turkey one day and never went back. Surprisingly there were no withdrawal effects. After stopping its use, my grades in university level math and computer science improved dramatically.

I now believe that psychiatrists are wrong about prescribing adderal for ADD, and that adderal is not a safe or effective long-term treatment. Frankly, I think the whole field is either in denial, or corrupted by financial incentives.

Some people will tell you that you need someone to objectively evaluate your mental state, but I don't believe such an analysis is truly possible. Best-case, you'll get an educated guess and some good advice. Worst-case, someone will try to prescribe you even more drugs. So before you do that, quit taking speed, and exercise regularly. You might be surprised by how much better you feel.

How can I evaluate my mental condition objectively?

You can never be entirely objective about your mental condition. But you can try to find objective verification about what was going on, whether that validates or refutes your ideas about the events.

Hemingway thought the government was tapping his phones, etc. Everyone thought he was crazy. It came out after his death that he was right.

Just because it seems improbable to other people does not mean you are imagining it. But, also, the fact that you fell ill means you could have been misinterpreting things due to fever or other temporary mental impairment.

Whether you were coming up with unfounded ideas or were right, the best answer is to seek some kind of objective evidence concerning what actually happened. If you get objective evidence that refutes your interpretation, then you can feel okay about the possibility that it was machinations of a fevered mind. If you get evidence that something wonky was going on, you can deal with it.

Since you were sick, please consider the possibility that it is a little of column A and a little of column B. Perhaps someone did something, but you blew it out of proportion. The truth may lay somewhere between the extremes of "I was 100% right" and "I was 100% crazy and imagining things."

Best of luck.

See a professional, and if they recommend medication, try it for at least a few days and see if your view of the situation changes.

Story: I knew a lady in her 40s who started experiencing some psychosis. She started thinking that people were spying on her and reporting her activities on radio and TV, that huge gatherings were being held in football stadiums to watch videos of her which had been secretly filmed, that songs on the radio (in languages she didn't know) were talking about her, etc.

She thought that all her friends knew about this but didn't mention anything so as not to alarm her. After a couple months went by, and still none of her friends mentioned anything, she thought it was strange and decided to have herself checked instead.

After taking the recommended medication, within a day or so, the strange music she used to hear in the distance disappeared, all the people on the radio and TV stopped talking about her, etc.

Moral: Don't get stuck on the stigma of the "crazy" label. Just like anyone can get sick physically, people who are otherwise normal can start having mental problems. That doesn't mean you're "crazy". It does mean that you should have yourself checked by someone who is knowledgeable about such ailments.

Almost this exact thing happened to me during this summer (2015). It ended up that I was experiencing a stress related break.

I was so incredibly convinced at the time that someone was intercepting my calls and playing back snippets to me. It was terrible. My mom drove from another country to take care of me. My brother came in. I made an embarrassment of myself on my social media. I freaked the fuck out of my roommates and all the friends I had at university.

I was on vyvanse and aderoll like drug at the time for adhd. It seems these things may have been related.

All I can say now is. Put the phone away. Post everywhere that you're sick and going to be out for a few. Take a nap. If you can't nap try and burn the energy off somehow. Then sleep.

And remember that while it really hurts the ego, everyone around you just wants to see you feeling like yourself. Hack or not.

If its a hack you can trace it after you're feeling more like yourself. If not then ohwell. You got weird for a bit. It happens. Life's weird.

I wish you the best! Good luck.

If its a hack

Isn't the first step to see how you feel if you get plenty of sleep and stop taking Adderall for a week? Horses, not zebras?

Yo man. Sorry to hear about your situation. I have been previously prescribed a high dose of Adderall. For the first 3 -4 months it was incredible.

Slowly, but surely, however, it started having negative side effects, namely anxiety and paranoia. My symptoms and resulting behaviors weren't as extreme as yours, but I could definitely feel the crazies coming on sometimes. That being said, don't listen to the people on here telling you that you are schizophrenic.

After getting a 2nd and 3rd opinion from other doctors, and reading some stuff on Pubmed, I realized that my dose was very high. I resolved to just ditch the Adderall and never return to my psychiatrist.

I'd be happy to talk more about this with you if you want. I am a 23-year-old male software engineer and have spent a lot of time trying to find healthy/ier alternatives to adderall. Drop me a line at [redacted].

I also want to point out that the feeling of being sick/tired after your 'episode' is also very common. As I've been told by a doctor, this is due to your brain going in overdrive for a few days, and then crashing. Typically it results in a a deep depression.

It always starts out small like this though, and it's extremely common for a person after their first few episodes to still not believe they have Schizophrenia, so please don't trust yourself.

I should also be clear, we could be talking about Schizoaffective Disorder. Schizophrenia is sort of umbrella term. I find it's often used incorrectly. Lots of people who suffer still have prolonged periods of being completely normal and lucid, some even go into year long remissions. It's a complicated disease, and you've displayed the tell-tale first sign almost to a T.

OP, I would advise you to get help in person from professionals, not from friends, family, and the internet.

Ziles88, while you are sincerely trying to be helpful, the DSM-5 criteria for Schizoaffective Disorder requires 2 continuous weeks of psychotic symptoms without mood symptoms, not 2 days accompanied by mood. The criteria were changed precisely because it was being diagnosed incorrectly.

but even better is to stick with actual symptoms and stay away from labels; the labels cover broad ranges of symptoms in a way that is useful to trained professionals who understand the nuances and limitations, but individuals don't show such ranges.

Not sure if anyone is still in here but this is OP. Here is a pastebin link from a few of the emails that weren't from auto-generated indian programmers. I downloaded one of the attached files and followed one of the links to a personal site with my phone.


I am sure I overreacted but they did make me concerned when my machine was running slow. I had upgraded to El Capitan on like the 2nd. SOme behavior preceded that but not having fans run and machine getting hot is fairly normal on mac.

IDK maybe I am just paranoid. Trying to find the TCP DUmps. From before I formatted the system. I am posting them because a few people said that there was no real evidence. I am sure I overreacted and maybe should look into it more, but the emails happened.

Stop taking Adderall for a day. Do you have a link to where your post/ad is?

The stimulant usage, of which aderall qualifies as it is an amphetamine, can lead to Stimulant Psychosis:


I've never dealt with something like this before, but I have personally had to tackle recurrent depression. It wasn't until my late-20s did I finally notice what was going on and got the help that I needed. In the meantime, I nearly lost it all -- my family, job and life.

If you have the slightest inclination that something isn't right, I suggest seeing a doctor who cares. I waited way too long even after realizing that perhaps there is a problem (trying to avoid the stigma) and learned that mental health is no joke.

Definitely cut down on the stimulants. This is the first step to evaluating your paranoia.

You're healthy enough to get help, friend, you can't be any crazier than the rest of us.

Go watch the movie "A Scanner Darkly". It contains a couple of characters suffering from amphetamine psychosis. Phillip K. Dick knew these kinds of people well. If you find your behavior to be similar to the characters in the movie, you should really lay off the Adderall.

i've seen it. Great movie and sort of the begginning RDJ's comeback. This seems in line with my experience.

"It is much more comfortable to be mad and know it, than to be sane and have ones doubts."

Stimulants make you paranoid, dude. Cut down on the Adderall, and you'll be fine.

Can't remember where I read it, but I remember learning that it is very rare for schizophrenic people to question their sanity. So the fact that you are considering it should give you relief that you probably are not.

There's functional and nonfunctional. The rest is philosophy, consensus, convention.

The same thing that is happening to you happened to me. Contact me at nlake44@gmail.com

May be you are really was hacked? :) If it's possible, I would suggest to find someone who got skills to explore your devices, analyze your emails and find out, whether that was harassment from some strange person or real hack.

I would be definitely very nervous if someone hacked my devices.

1) Based on the info you have provided, it sure sounds like someone is messing with you to an unusual extent over the internet. Hard to tell exactly why, or what exactly they are doing, but there are plenty of plausible reasons why it is not crazy to think that it is happening and to act accordingly.

2) Taking drugs is a very dubious practice at best. Prescription drugs are drugs. They mess with your normal functioning in ways that sometimes mask certain problems, almost always at the cost of causing worse ones. The list of known side-effects at normal dosages is usually bad enough, and those are just the ones that are known. The people who make them are only motivated to find a product that produces a certain effect. They are not motivated to learn what the drugs actually do. The people who push them do so for reasons that rarely have to do with promoting your real health, mental or otherwise. The people that think they are helping are the worst. For every problem that drugs might help you with (temporarily and at too high a cost), there is almost certainly a better way.

2a) What goes for drugs goes for any person in the mental health field, whether they push drugs or not. It also goes for anyone recommending professional help from someone in the mental health field, especially when they are very nice and emotionally supportive and want to help and are sure they have (or will find) the answer for you. Many people enter the mental health field because they have questions about their own mental health that they want to answer. They do not find answers. They find a system where they can gain status and make a living by making sure that other people do not find answers either. This is a harsh and sweeping statement that cannot be properly justified without going into issues that are beyond the scope of this post, but suffice it to say that the entire mental health field is based on assumptions which are completely wrong and do not allow it to even get a whiff of what the real problems and the real solutions are. If you value your sanity, stay as far away as possible. Take it as one person's opinion if you like, but that's what I have to say about the mental health field.

2b) I have an aunt who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, went on drugs, and has spent most of her life in institutions. She had serious problems (possibly before and certainly after entering care), but I agree with the poster who said that mental health issues are often family politics issues in disguise. I told my parents things that they did not want to hear, and they did not think there was anything wrong with going to a mental health professional and asking if they could do something (read: possibly get me committed) without even trying to talk to me first. These are parents that I thought I had a good relationship with, but I discovered (the hard way) that there were just certain that they do NOT want to hear. Obviously I do not recommend doing or saying anything even remotely threatening to anyone, and particularly not to parents or family members. I do not even recommend saying things that family members do not want to hear (even if they are true), if you can possibly avoid it. I recommend staying as close to your family as you reasonably can. However, you have to realize that they do not necessarily have your best interest in mind when they give you advice, and that your natural inclination (if you are like most people) is going to be to trust them even if you shouldn't. If they attempt to manipulate you or try to get you to think that you are crazy just because you think something unusual is happening, when it is pretty clear that something unusual is indeed happening, then be very careful and do not let them become the ones who determine what is real and what is not real for you, or pressure you into mental health channels, or anything that would commit you to something that is not actually going to help you.

3) The better way (than drugs) might involve investing less of yourself in technology and the internet. That's a decision that you have to make for yourself, but the tech industry, and the internet part of it especially, is already borderline insane. Some of the people who participate in it the most intensively (though probably not the most visibly) are criminally insane. Even "normal" behaviors within internet culture ingrain ADD type thinking and behavior. Rather than take drugs to mask a behavior, ask yourself what is causing it. It is certainly possible to have some involvement with the internet and not suffer any apparent ill effects. I still have some involvement with it. But I used to live on it. That is becoming normal behavior for more and more people, but in fact it is insane-making.

4) Exercising is a waste of time. It might provide an alternative to drugs that is somewhat healthier, and it might help you get off the internet, but it does not address any of the real issues. For many people it is just another obsession. Most people would do much more for their health just by paying more attention (and putting more effort in)to not eating more than they actually need to eat.

5) Having gone though a similar experience to the one that you relate (perhaps a bit more extreme, hece the length of this post), the best step I can recommend, based on my own experience, is to get a job as an employee (preferably low level, preferably with minimal prospects for advancement) at some job that pays the bills, and spend the greater part of your day doing what someone else tells you to do. A job that does not require you to interact with very many other people is fine, and less stressful, but a customer/service job is OK too if you can do it. Some of these kinds of jobs are hectic, but ideally you want the most boring such job that you can get. Don't be a trucker, or another job where you're not dealing with a boss for long periods of time. The idea is that you are doing what your boss tells you to do and/or what the customers are asking you to do as much as possible, that you are not what you want to do, and that you continue doing this as long as possible. It might sound counter-intuitive to tell you to listen to your boss and to random customers and do what they want after I've just finished telling you not to listen to your parents or mental health professionals or do what they want, but the difference is that with a job (especially a boring job) it's just a job. There are no family politics. You are not attempting to create something out of nothing. You are not trying to become rich or famous. You are there because you choose to be there and because there is a job to do. The customer wants a simple thing from you, and your boss wants a simple thing from you, and none of them gain much from trying to mess with your head. It's just a job. You are also not falling into the habit of becoming a leecher in a system that is designed to support a leecher lifestyle, which is what happens to people who fall into institutions hoping that someone else will solve their problems.

Getting a job like that and sticking with it long enough might be too big of a step for many (most?) people, but it's what I did and it has worked very well for me. There are also very good reasons why it can be expected to work in general, but these are beyond the scope of this post. If you do it, and reflect on it, you will start to understand it yourself anyway. And that is the real reason to do it, because the question of what is sane and what is not, what is normal and what is not, is a non-trivial question--very non-trivial. Unfortunately you cannot trust the answers that you get from most people, including the ones who ought to know. But you cannot simply trust yourself and leave it at that either. It is worth spending a great deal of time and effort to get it right.

I would recommend adding a non-public way of talking about this. People might be more willing to give genuine advice about this in a non-public forum.

There is a certain amount of legitimate paranoia which comes on anyone who is technically competent and starts thinking about security and the systems most people trust without question. This sounds like the place you are now. Once you start thinking about it, it won't go away, and you will learn to manage it.

Don't use the word "they" when you think about who can intercept your calls or hack you. That ways lies unhealthy paranoia, where anyone can start to seem "off" or "acting weird". Even without that bias, bringing up anything that might imply your cell provider not securing their network will confuse a call center employee at best, or put them on "careful what I say" mode because that way lies legal liability for them. Not sure if that's what happened, but it's one explanation.

There definitely exist people and groups in this world that can hack you in a variety of ways: legally (FBI using a warrant), probably legally (NSA without judicial approval), or illegally (criminal hackers). Most likely the first two don't care to attack you, and the latter have no reason to risk performing an attack on you unless you recently made some shady enemies. If you care to do so, you can minimize the number of such groups by using end-to-end encrypted technologies like FaceTime. Google is allegedly working on end-to-end encrypted calls, as well, and has included WebRTC into Chrome. Signal by Open Whisper Systems and Firefox Hello by Mozilla also provide e2e crypto, if you prefer open source things.

Realize that the challenge you're facing is both technical and psychological. Start thinking systematically about security. If you think your phone is hacked, ask "how did it get hacked, and how do I prevent this with my next phone?". Did the OS get rooted, or is it just one of the apps that could be acting weird? Cell phone makers spend a lot of resources securing their manufacturing, hardware, software, and platforms, and it's really expensive and risky to perform an attack on someone who follows best practices.

That said, don't imagine that you can be secure all of your systems against everyone all the time. Angela Merkel can't, and she has way more resources than you do. Security is all about increasing the cost and risk of an attack and decreasing its value, something worth integrating into your lifestyle regardless of whether you're a target now.

Finally, about schizophrenia: there's definitely stigma there. Don't worry about it. Read the DSM [2] to understand what symptoms drug manufacturers target in their drug trials. The point of the categorization is for medical treatment, not judgement, and it's none of anyone's business except the people who you choose to tell. If your security concerns get so bad that they interfere with your daily life more than you want (i.e. you can't work or have close relationships), get diagnosed and meds to help you get back on track. Based on your writing, it doesn't seem like you're suffering from anything that will require you to be on meds for a long time, even if you choose to use them. A doctor or therapist can be a good advisor in this regard, as can friends or relatives if you can find someone qualified.

Stimulants like Adderall are in some ways the opposite of anti-psychotics, so that definitely won't help you.

Good luck!

1. http://www2.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Intranet/Homefro...

"I take a bunch of speed every day and I think people are spying on me, am I insane?"

YES. But its probably just the drugs. Quit taking speed.

How is your "nature usage" going? What I mean is how often are you outside? I mean in the woods, not the city. At the beach, you know, nature.

The stimulation our brains get by beeing in nature is very important for us.

When you are outside and all the little, tiny millions of natural information tidbits that are coming from everywhere, they are important for our mental health in general. Outside, look at the waves, at the leafs of trees in the wind, bugs humming around and everything. Those pattern are important.

In the confines of our cities, which give us solace on other levels, and the simplistic abstractions of our GUIs, which we love, these natural stimulations are lacking.

May I suggest to you to go outside, hiking, kayaking, paragliding, stuff like that, regularly and often?

Take a walk to the nearest park every day, look at the trees for a while.

Do something physical - start a martial arts or so.

On a personal note: I hate it too. Working out is so dump, your brain is empty while doing so and that sucks. I know. I am not a "jock" by any means. I am bored by it, I understand.

But. From my point of view tere is a clear spiral down that beins with not having enough natural stimulation going on. For decades now, I suppose?

I also want to second the other poster: it is good that you reached out.

Why is this comment getting downvoted? I'd say of all the recommendations in this thread, getting out into nature is by far the most sensible.

I second this advice.

Q:"I have found a small hard lump in my arm pit. What should I do?"

A:"Go for a walk in the woods."

Q:"I've come up in a rash. What should I do?"

A:"Go for a walk in the woods."

Q:"I need to pee all the time. I'm very thirsty. And I sleep a lot."

A:"Go for a walk in the woods".

It's an inappropriate response to the situation. The question was not "What things can I do which will protect my mental health?" but "I think I have a mental health problem, what should I do?" ("See a professional" should be the answer)

Why are you taking Adderall? I just read the symptoms of ADHD and that is not something worth medicating for especially with amphetamines. You're a human. We're all different and some of us have more energy than others. It's ok to be hyperactive and not be able to concentrate if that's who you are. Try cutting sugar from your diet and meditating instead of cramming yourself full of Adderall. Anyone would go crazy pumping that shit in everyday. If that doesn't help after a week or two find a professional psychiatrist.

Better don't tell people on medication to stop taking them for a week or two, and if it doesn't work go to a professional.

Well, it depends on why they're taking the medication. You're correct if it's prescribed, but if they're taking it off their own back, it makes sense to suggest they ease off it.

I based my comments on the following observations:

-It's well known that Americans are over medicated.

-It's highly plausible that the Adderall is the cause of the psychosis.

-Physicians in the US are paid a sales bonus for prescribing medication to their patients.

It's really sad that things have progressed to this stage but taking amphetamines every day is not a good idea no matter what way you want to paint it.

If you are independent enough to live by yourself, I suggest doing so, and temporarily getting rid of your mobile devices and staying away from your family for a while so that they do not interpret your thoughts the wrong way and get you committed against your will and put on drugs which can ruin your life.

When I was 20, I abruptly left my parents and moved into an apartment. We were having personal conflicts, and had I stayed, there's a possibility, however remote, that I would have been told by family members to see shrinks and take drugs (they didn't have enough money to have me committed). It was the best decision I made. Within two years I was working in the technology sector and I've never looked back.

Mental illnesses are often just political problems in the family, and if you can break free and gain independence, you can avoid a vicious cycle which leads to family members running to psychiatric drugs to explain away and suppress political issues.

Anxiety, depression and lucid dreams or paranoid thoughts are often the result of being in the wrong environment. I've had symptoms which, if I disclosed them, might be considered paranoid or mentally ill; but when I've changed jobs or moved to better environments, all of the symptoms have disappeared. I believe it's the body's way of telling you something is wrong out there.

Reading books can be a good way to take your mind off of difficult issues.

I would also eliminate caffeine and sugary foods from your diet.

I think this make sense sense. I am sure others find this dangerous but the lack of balance in my life can also I would imagine, cause problems mentally. I haven't had much contact with people outside my family, spend all my time programming or on the Internet, and there is no one in my age demo in my town. I never exercise

I suspect I should cut my adderall and caffeine intake, eat healthier, get a more regimented schedule and excercise. Call friends more and try to get out and about with the few people I know around here

Reading books is an incredibly awesome way to get away from anxiety or paranoia, especially if you're one of those people who can really "get into" a book.

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