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Is This Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)?

by Anonymous

I am 25 years old and after yet another crazy 'episode' occurred a few days ago, I decided enough was enough and have begun to research into what is wrong with me, because I know for a fact that I am not normal.

I have had a problem all my life. As a child, I began having occasional episodes in which I would completely lose control of myself. I would vandalize my home, physically and verbally attack my family and completely lose control of my actions. I have and always have had a strong minded and dominant personality with a strong opinion and a stubborn streak and as a child would get annoyed and bicker and argue with my parents and siblings a regular/normal amount.

But these other attacks were sporadic and would occur a few times a year, and they would be on a completely different scale to a normal 'family argument.' Whilst under one of these 'rages', I would be simply unreachable. I don't know from what age these started, but I can remember throwing severe temper tantrums as young as about six. Strangely, as I reached my teen years, these 'episodes' seemed to die off and I went through a long period of being happy and free from this side of me. Then I reached 18 and this all changed.

I fell in love with a boy at school aged 17. He was the same age as me. I began spending all my time with him, but unfortunately, we were just best friends as he did not want a relationship with me. After about six months of friendship, he began dating another girl from school, but we still remained friends. They dated for a year, and then broke up. This girl remained friends with him after the breakup and this is still the case even today.

For this period of time, I was unhappy, as unrequited love is extremely stressful. It wasn't until we went to the same university that I had my first 'episode' since my childhood. I went to his room one evening to speak about an unresolved argument we had had earlier in the day, and he asked me to leave as he was tired. I just lost it.

He simply lay on the bed repeatedly asking me to leave his property while I vandalized his room, threw water over him, pulled his pillows, covers and sheets off his bed, verbally abusing him and being spiteful. I could not accept the fact that he had told me he wouldn't speak to me just then, and the only thing that mattered to me then was getting him to speak.

He eventually left his house to try and get away from me, where I followed him wearing no shoes in the pouring rain. Then just as suddenly as it started, the rage stopped and I calmed down and became rational again. And the guilt and remorse was immense. I still knew why I got upset, but could see my reaction was completely irrational and out of proportion to what had happened. I couldn't understand why this had happened.

We have now been best friends for 8 years. In that time, I have had perhaps 10-15 of these 'episodes'. And they have all involved him, as well as other friends or anyone that gets in my way whilst in a rage. My range of behaviours during these have involved disrespecting other's personal rights, vandalizing property, trespassing, stalking, verbal abuse, breaking and entering, threats to others' safety, throwing water at people, breaking or wrecking personal items to name a few. I have been arrested twice as my friend has had no other choice.

I share a house with my friend and two other people (one of them being the girl he broke up with all those years ago). A few days ago, a female friend of my best friend came round to visit him. I barely know her, but decided I didn't like her. I then proceeded to call her an array of abusive names and demand she leave our house, or I would. My friend warned me to stay upstairs and settle down, because my other two housemates had had enough of my behaviour and I would be kicked out for any more episodes.

I didn't care, as I was so angry. So I packed some things and walked out, giving him my key. After being outside for a while, I began sending him extremely rude and spiteful messages about the girl in our house. He patiently ignored these. Then I started ringing him. He said I could come back in if I calmed down. I did not. So he set his phone to divert my calls. My response was to climb up on the roof adjacent to his bedroom window and smash it and climb in. At this point he called the police. I was out of control. My housemates hid the girl and blocked my way, so I started verbally abusing them and throwing water.

Before you assume I am simply a disgraceful human being, let me first explain my 'normal' self and what these episodes are like for me.

I am a kind person. I am chatty, friendly, I would do anything for any of my friends or family and day to day, have fun and get along with everyone I know well. I am a generally good person. I have the best friends in the world, as obviously they have tolerated an enormous amount of unacceptable behaviour from me for years, and I think they realise that this is not the normal 'me'.

When an episode occurs, the best way to describe it is 'tunnelvision'. Something minor will upset me. And suddenly, I no longer care about anything or anyone, including myself. My mind decides on one outcome (for example, get this girl out of my house) and all normal social rules no longer apply to me. I will hurt anyone, do anything or say anything to get this result. I will disregard people's rights as a human being and do whatever I want. I am not in my normal frame of mind and I cannot be reached out to or calmed by any of my friends. They think I am not normal, but cant understand that someone wouldn't have control of their own actions. I know who I am still, but it is like something else takes over my head. My rage is astronomic. Nothing can calm me and I am angry at everyone, even those who have done nothing to me.

When I calm down, the guilt of these actions is crippling. I look back at what I've done and although I remember doing it and how I was feeling, it's hard to believe that could come from me. I don't understand it. I hate myself afterwords. I feel the pain I've inflicted on the others and I want to kill myself for it.

How could I do and say those things? I feel like I must be mental. I couldn't get that angry through choice, even if I wanted to. So what happens. I thought for a while that I had schizophrenia, but I didn't really believe it. Then I stumbled across the symptoms for IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder). They seem a lot more likely and I wonder if this maybe sounds like what I have?

I am ruining my life and my friends are on the brink of leaving me as they've had enough. Theyve accepted me back in one more time, but another episode and I'm on the street. I don't blame them and would rather die than cause anyone any more pain.

Please help me...

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. Yes, your symptoms do fit with IED...but you're an individual person, not a diagnosis. Diagnosis is only useful if it points to a treatment plan that works.

It sounds to me like your parents taught you unintentionally to control your environment with your anger. If they had responded with appropriate, loving guidance, you would not have developed these problems. I'm basing this on your story, so it's not a statement of fact by any means--it's just my opinion, based on what you have written here.

I suggest you follow the recommendations on our FAQ page, under questions #1 and #8. Take this seriously, do it every day, keep doing it, and you will get results. It would also help if you could find a good counselor.

Make up your mind to resolve this, and you can do it. I know, it's a big job, but I think you can do it.

Believe in the goodness in you to heal the anger and rage in you.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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