Paranoid thoughts is something I’ve struggled with and I found when my anxiety is at it’s peak my paranoid thoughts are heightened. It is so difficult for someone to grasp looking in from the outside, but it is even harder to explain from the inside because sometimes even I don’t understand it. When anxiety hits you find yourself doubting absolutely everything and everyone even if you never had any doubts before. The simplest action and most meaningless statement becomes a big deal. You make the proverbial mountain out of a molehill. That’s what anxiety does. Everything is placed under a microscope and scrutinised. A compliment becomes a statement with a hidden meaning. They cannot possibly mean you look great when you actually think you don’t. If my partner is working late it must be because he doesn’t want to be around me any longer. My friend hasn’t replied to my text so she must be angry at me. My kids are acting out today so therefore it must mean I’m a bad mother. The paranoid thoughts are fuelled by hypersensitivity and you become suspicious without reason. The more you overthink the worse the paranoia become and during heightened anxiousness it becomes one hundred times worse. Isolating yourself from the world helps, but at the same time further fuels the anxiousness and paranoid thoughts. It is yet another trick anxiety plays on you and it is extremely difficult to put into words so others can understand. Your world becomes a jigsaw puzzle where none of the pieces fit together. You know you’re overthinking, but reasoning does not exist in that moment.
I am sure we have all at some point in our lives had that gut feeling that someone was going to deceive or betray us which may have been justified at times and other times not. When anxiety hits the paranoid thoughts becomes your thunder and lightening storms. It hits quickly. It hits hard. It can destroy you, so you always keep you guard up in order to protect yourself. It is relentless and not always justified, but you can’t help it. The battle becomes even harder. You’re constantly at war with yourself. Through my cognitive behavioural therapy I have learnt to reason with myself. When my paranoid thoughts start, I am able to ask myself why I think this is about to happen. I use a note pad and write it all down. I don’t try to dismiss my feelings because even if they are wrong they are my thoughts and feelings and through acknowledging those feelings and putting it on paper I am able to see it in black and white which helps me with my reasoning. This enables me to say enough. My friend is at work and maybe not able to respond. Maybe my husband is stuck in traffic or in a meeting. The kids are acting out because they are children. That’s how they learn. They push the boundaries in order to establish what they can and cannot do. It enables me to find alternative reasons and this helps me see the other side of things. So instead of accusatory thoughts I am able to turn them into more positive thoughts because even when I’m being overly sensitive or paranoid I know deep down that I am loved and cared for.
The focus of cognitive behavioural therapy is on your thoughts, feelings and behaviour and therefore helps you find alternative ways of dealing with the issues at hand. I have seen a therapist, but that was more of a person centred approach where I spent most of the sessions talking and my therapist listening and I would then come up with reasons why I thought I had certain experiences. For my CBT I never saw a therapist, but I relied mainly on the self help book Cognitive behavioural therapy for dummies which I have found amazingly easy to read and with really practical examples on how to deal with the anxious and paranoid thoughts and this is what I try to follow especially during my anxious moments. Just recently I stood at my son’s school a few feet away from three other mums who were quite clearly gossiping. I listened to the entire conversation and I thought well they must be saying the same about me. They stood there smiling and being so friendly to another mum, but as soon as she walked away they were relentless in their critique. So when they smiled at me and started to whisper I thought they must be talking about me in that way too, but as quickly as the thought came into my head I banished it by telling myself to stop. I can’t control what those women say or do, but what I can do is not allow them to set off any paranoid thoughts and feelings within me because once again the power is within my response. I walked away from those women and felt an immense sense of pride because I did not allow someone else’s behaviour set off my anxiety. It’s hard to believe that a few months ago I was that woman who thought the world hated me and therefore I cannot leave my house. I may sound nonsensical, but I am not. I know this is a journey and I’m making positive steps however, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have any anxieties anymore. My struggle with it continues, but I find myself better equipped to deal with it compared to six months ago. Throughout this journey I am learning so much about myself and I am growing more and more each day. Life has a cruel way of teaching us some valuable lessons at times, but we just need to be willing to acknowledge those lessons in order to learn from them and to grow.