A Look Into Paranoia

People really don't seem to understand that mental illness isn't something we can control.

Okay fine, it's not completely anyone's fault. The topic of mental health wasn't taught well in middle or high school, so much so that no one told me anxiety was a mental illness until I was almost 16. How fucked up is that?

I don't want this to come off as an excuse to why I'm completely the way I am, but that's what it has come down to for me. No one knows me before a time my anxiety wasn't ruling my life, and now, this is the same with depression and panic attacks. It's very rare of people to have not witnessed at least one of those things taking my world in its hands and crushing it. I just blame my brain and try not to listen to it every day.

Except I'm having that feeling where my brain is trying to tell me the truth. Do you understand?

Hang on. Before we go further, let's help the lucky souls who have never experienced this problem: paranoia.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, paranoia is a "strong tendency to feel that you cannot trust other people or that other people have a bad opinion of you."

Okay now that everyone is caught up, let's continue.

Paranoia is the biggest symptom of my anxiety. It's been that way since I was very young. From the day I started making friends, I feared that everyone around me hated me. It didn't matter if no one ever said anything, I just knew it.

Here's a couple of examples: My friend is having a bad day and doesn't want to talk about it? It must have been my fault. My friends are all on the other side of the room, whispering and giggling? They must be making fun of me. My boyfriend hasn't answered his phone all day because he works two jobs and does a 12-credit internship? Oh yeah, he wants to break up with me.

Writing it all down sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?

That has been my brain on autopilot, non-stop, since I was old enough to be around other children and have cognitive thoughts. I won't completely go into why I'm like this, because I don't 100 percent understand it myself. The gist is what I've said before. A group of girls made fun of me so often in class that I believed everything they told me and thus began the cycle of hell I live in every day.

When people tell me, "Oh yeah, I understand," I want to know exactly why it is they think they get it. My friends who feel paranoia as often as I do don't deserve to feel like this. There is one particular person, whom I often yell at saying "NO ONE HAS EVER SAID A BAD WORD ABOUT YOU, WE LOVE YOU!" I'm right, no one hates this person or says anything bad about them. Everyone just worries that this person is unhappy all the time. Well, I must be a hypocrite then, right?

No. I had so many people lie to my face about me upsetting them, not liking something I said, and liking me when I was just being used, among many others. I've had boys go out with me, tell me I'm pretty and then tell me, to my face, "You thought I found you attractive? Wow, you must be stupider than I thought. You're just another ugly brunette that no one likes."

Or, it could be like my ex-boyfriend Alex, and after both of us were in and out of liking each other all through high school, was my first kiss senior year Homecoming, went on one date with me that didn’t include beers at a sixteen year old’s Halloween party with a crowd that doesn’t drink can tell me after we dated for seven days, “You’re not that cool, and I don’t actually like you, I’m breaking up with you.” And then tell everyone in the entire school in one day how bad our date was to the point people start asking inappropriate questions about it. You know, it could be like as well.

I love remembering my childhood, such a happy time in my life.

So, because of my past, I've deduced no one could possibly like me or ask me for anything without an ulterior motive. 

An example from sophomore year of college:

"Hey Nickey, can we talk in forty-five minutes? It's kind of important."

Now imagine what I was like for those 45 minutes.

“Oh God, what did I do? Did I say something mean? Are they going to tell me that I’m kicked out of this thing or another? What about everyone else? Did someone report me for a comment I made? But I don’t remember saying anything mean, besides, I’m just copying everyone else and it can’t possibly be that I hurt someone’s feelings. Oh God, what if that’s what happened? I should just tell everyone on my friend’s list how much I love them and maybe this person will back off. Yeah, I’m going to do that. But what if they tell me to stop being so persistent about telling them how much I love them? What if that’s the tipping point to making them tell me to fuck off? Oh God, what if the guy I like is charging me with harassment because I tried to talk to him? What if he knows, and he found out and thinks I’m fucking crazy? Oh shit, what am I going to do?”

That’s just the first couple of minutes.

Forty-five minutes later:

“Do you want to carpool to this event tomorrow?”

That’s what the text was about. That’s all it was. I freaked out, over nothing.

A certain tone, a weird smile, closing of eyes, silence, hell, even just the way they say hello, and I’m freaking out, wondering if I’ve destroyed something once again.

It’s gotten to the point in my life where my anxiety and paranoia have put me in horrible positions, actually causing fights more often than not. 

“Tell me you hate me, I already know it’s true!”

“What are you talking about?”

“You guys snicker at your phones when I’m around and I know you’re part of a group chat I’m not in, so tell me what you were saying about me.”

“We were looking at a meme. Here, I’ll show it to you.”

That.

That is my life.

Everything is paranoia. I think people are looking at me. I begin to think that maybe I'm walking funny, my clothes are bad, my makeup is wrong, my hair shouldn't be down, I should have on pink lipstick instead of light red lipstick or I should have worn boots, not sneakers. Those are the things my mind jumps to every single day.

Does it make any sense? A little, yes. Having been told so often I was the butt of jokes growing up, a new rumor about me would be spread weekly, people set me off after bullying me for years, friends going behind my back and talking about me and so many more scenarios, it does make sense why I’m so paranoid.

At the same time, it doesn’t, because I have a great judge of character. It comes in handy when I know people are starting to act differently around me. I freak out, yes, but people are so afraid to hurt my feelings they don’t talk to me.

Newsflash my dudes, I’m so defensive because I never feel like anyone gets why I’m so crazy. I don’t know what you want me to tell you.

My medicines and exercises and therapy don’t help me much. 

I’m not really changed. 

No matter what I do, I haven’t been able to get the paranoia out of my head.

So as a word to others who don't understand this issue: please stop shaming us for something we physically and mentally cannot control. We're trying. We see it's wrong, but we haven't found a complete solution yet if we're still so afraid of what everyone thinks all the time.

So why can't others accept it, as I've accepted the flaws in the people in my life?