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Paranoia Is Not My Friend

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Paranoia is not my friend. Paranoia pretends to be your friend, egging you on to think things through more than you should, pushing you to dig deeper and find out more than you want to, waiting for you to feel comfortable and then snatching it away from you.

My paranoia is related to my anxiety/panic disorder. It sometimes is hardly there and then sometimes it’s there in full force. It feels like something is smothering me. I first experienced the smothering feeling at work in my first, proper job. I had an argument with a fellow colleague about something trivial and when I left the thoughts started.

This was a mistake.

You’re stupid for arguing.

She is going to ruin your career.

What if she tells a supervisor?

What if she turns everyone against me?

They started cycling around and around, all night and all day, a constant stream of thoughts directed at how I had ruined my life by arguing with someone over something I now realize was so stupid.

I started to become withdrawn from my friends at work. I felt like they all were against me. I remember watching them talking to each other in the hallway and imagining all the mean things they were saying about me behind my back. How they hated me. How I was bad at my job. How they were gonna get me fired.

It became crippling and I began to not trust anyone. I didn’t talk to people. I didn’t eat with them at lunch. I just shut them out and became so paranoid and anxious every day at work. I ended up taking a two week leave of absence.

In my two week leave, I started to become anxious about going back and it was hard. Paranoia is invisible to the naked eye. Only people close to me can see it rearing its ugly head. I become more irritable, more withdrawn. You need those people to help calm your clouded thoughts. They are the light that pushes the thoughts away and give you clarity.

What really helps during these times when you are being consumed by your thoughts is to think about how you do not know how others truly feel about you. You can’t control how others feel about you. Please, don’t do what I did and become obsessed with the paranoia you are experiencing. It does get better once you realize how to calm the thoughts down.

Now, I keep moving forward. I try to not linger on the thoughts. I push them aside as soon as I think about them and I’ve found it helpful to write them down and throw them away. You can do this!

Originally published: July 28, 2016
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