The fact is everybody has felt a little paranoia in their daily lives.
But, imagine that it was ten times more intense and you felt it every minute of every day of your life. That is what it is like for many of us who feel paranoid delusions as part of our mental illnesses. Experiences of people with Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia vary, and many feel it more intensely than I do.
Friends turn to enemies, family members judge you for your actions, strange people you don’t know stare at you for no reason. Everybody is watching you, people are tracking you on the internet and sometimes the people on TV are interested in your every move.
Sometimes, I can actually hear what others are thinking as they pass me. An event that you may perceive as coincidence, I fear was meant to happen.
Paranoia many times keeps me from wanting to leave my house. I feel safe here from the prying eyes of others. I have a hard time making new friends, and tend to keep to myself for fear people are talking about me. Large crowds are especially difficult for me to handle.
Paranoia for me boils directly down to fear of everything. I’m afraid to drive my car because I might wreck. I don’t like to try new things because I am afraid I will fail. Fear is a huge motivator.
But what exactly is paranoia? Wikipedia.com sums it up like this:
Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself (e.g. “Everyone is out to get me”). Paranoia is distinct from phobias, which also involve irrational fear, but usually no blame. Making false accusations and the general distrust of others also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional.
A little wordy, but you get the point.
What Can I Do to Combat Paranoia?
There are many websites that have suggestions to help you survive living with paranoia. Most suggest medication and therapy, but others have ways you can help yourself. Here are just a few:
- Mind.org: Paranoia – Mind is a UK-based website and charity that has some great advice on paranoia. Some of the self-help suggestions include: getting plenty of sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and eating well among others. I love the design of the site too.
- Paranoidthoughts.com – This site has great tips from website visitors on how to cope with paranoid thoughts. From the Institute of Psychiatry.
- FreeAffirmations.org – I haven’t always been a huge believer in the power of affirmations, but I have been using some of these for a while now. You can also download their free eBook from this site.
Paranoia is a terrible symptom of mental illness. I still really have no control over it, but I hope one day I can regulate it enough to be able to do some of the “normal” things that others take for granted.
What is your experience with paranoia? Please leave a comment below and let me know.