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When I Realized I Had Paranoid Personality Disorder

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For years now, I’ve known I was sick. By years, I mean decades; perhaps I’ve known my whole life. Looking back I can not remember a time my emotions were not out of control. Eventually, the proverbial “it” hit the “fan” and certain things occurred. However, that is not what I am writing about. My topic here is hidden symptoms, or, as my therapist and I have dubbed it, “the onion effect.” When you peel back a layer of an onion, you do not necessarily get straight to the healthy, edible part. Typically, the dried or injured parts run through multiple layers. This is true with mental illness as well.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

When I began my recovery, my psychiatrist provided a diagnosis of bipolar II and placed me on the appropriate medications. My therapist and I, over time, determined that my mania mostly manifested as anger. My problem was depressive episodes mostly, or so I thought. There were times of self loathing, lack of confidence and feelings of predictive failure, or the belief that I would fail before trying. So, we fleshed all that out, worked on ways to redirect my mind and control my symptoms. This is where the onion comes in.

Arrogantly, I believed, “I had this,” and, “I’m good now.” I assumed, now that we had identified the symptoms and determined treatment, I was back in the driver’s seat. My life was my own and I was living with bipolar disorder, not being my diagnosis. Never again would I have to go through the initial steps of recovery. Pride does terrible things to us and those we love.

We peeled back the first layer and exposed a deep rooted paranoia. I first noticed the symptoms, which truthfully were always there, when my wife said, “Why do you always assume the worst of me?” and, “Stop jumping to conclusions.” It suddenly hit me: I had heard her say that consistently since I really gained traction with my recovery. So, to Google I went, searching through various sites, focusing on the ones I knew were trustworthy. Through my digging, I stumbled upon paranoid personality disorder, or PPD. Based on my findings from the web, PPD can often have comorbidity with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

With the knowledge in hand, I scheduled a new appointment with my psychiatrist, got a med change and then followed up with my therapist. I could go on with how we are handling it, but that is not the point. The message I wish to convey is simple: do not become overconfident or arrogant about your diagnosis/symptoms. Listen to those you love for indicators of changed behavior. Relay what you feel openly to your clinicians. Do not find yourself facing the pitfalls I’ve been through. Keep peeling away the layers and move forward with an open mind. That is what true recovery looks like.

Unsplash via Jordan Whitfield

Originally published: December 15, 2018
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