Living with paranoia is difficult to manage. Especially if you have a mental disorder. Regardless if I’m on medication or not, it plagues me.
I live with it day in and day out. On occasion when driving I think the people driving close to me are carrying guns. I fear they’ll shoot at me. Though, I know this is not the case I pray for my safety anyway. Paranoia is like poison, you just know it can kill you. Maybe not literally but it’s bad enough.
What exactly is paranoia?
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 simple walk through the grocery store for me can turn into a day breaker. One such experience; I was looking for pork chops and the store was out. I started crying in belief they had none because they knew I needed one. I convinced myself they were conspiring against me. I left with nothing.
Irrational thinking when paranoid can be dangerous. If you honestly believe someone is “out to get you!”
I once quit a job due to such thinking. I believed my boss had it out for me! I was afraid to go into work, afraid to run into my boss, and afraid I was screwing everything up. Within a very short period I gave my notice never to look back.
I try to manage my paranoia through therapy, meditation, and medication. My psychiatrist has prescribed me Atavan, and I see my therapist weekly. These have both helped me immensely. However, I still have my good and bad days.
Here are a few tips I found helpful (in no particular order):
- Try to get those thoughts of paranoia out of your head – training your thoughts or even finding distractions can help
- Try to simplify your thoughts – trying to get a clearer head by simplifying what your situation is can ease the pressure
- Reflect – the actual reality we are in is usually much more simple than it appears. Take a moment to scan your surroundings to find the ease of stress.
- Listen to music – This helps change your mood and distract from your situation.
- Watch a movie – To help distract yourself from what’s bothering you.
- Try reading a book – Same idea with distraction.
- Get into the kitchen and cook or bake something yummy – Concentrating on a fun task helps clear your thoughts.
- Go for a walk or exercise – This can help you clear your mind and find focus.
Many of the moments we find ourselves overly paranoid, anxious, and anxiety ridden are often blown-up in our heads. Not to take away from the seriousness of the moment. Trying to remove ourselves from that particular situation and reflect can subside the emotion.
Many times we are unaware of what will trigger a moment. Trying to find the power from within to talk yourself down. I understand it is easier said than done, but it can help.
If you find yourself unable to manage the moment,. contact a friend, family member, crisis hotline, psychiatrist, therapist, and/or someone you trust to talk it over.
Paranoia, anxiety, and stress is no joke. I personally have had it totally end my day. However, finding something that works for you is imperative.
Just keep in mind that you are NOT alone! Many of us suffer greatly. Though, once we find a source that works, it will make managing anxiety less stressful.