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I Wish I Could Relax: The Constancy of Paranoia

societyThere’s a dude who goes to the coffee shop I go to everyday to write. He’s quiet, unassuming has a thick beard and keeps to himself. I admire him for the simple fact that he doesn’t seem to give a second thought about people. He just comes and goes, does his thing and doesn’t worry about the people around him.

Of course I don’t know if that’s the complete truth because I’ve never actually engaged him in conversation, but the way he seems to act suggests that he doesn’t worry about impressing people or putting on an act and of that, I’m incredibly envious.

I’ve said before that the one sticking point of my illness has been the, at times, all consuming fear that people are out to get me, this is paranoia.

Because of that, I’m ultra aware of the people around me, I’m ultra aware of the way they talk, the way they move and the things they are saying and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t exhausting keeping one eye on my work and the other on the people around me.

I wish I didn’t worry about other people the way that I do. I wish I didn’t worry that they think I’m weird or that they’re making fun of me or that they’re laughing about me. I wish I could turn a blind eye to the tiniest possibility that they’re thinking things about me. I can’t though.

This has resulted in a relative bitterness about people, a wariness and mistrust of people before I even meet them. For me to be able to trust someone they have to prove themselves to me and I move through the world on guard against the potential dangers of interacting with people I don’t know.

I wish I could be that dude I talked about, I wish I could walk around in my own little world unaware and uncaring about the eyes of strangers, but for me to do that, I think it would take a dose of benzodiazepines or antipsychotics far stronger than the ones I’m already on.

Relaxing is something I can pretty much only do when I’m alone in my apartment. It’s for this reason that I can’t do too much out in public without starting to feel burnt out. I’m good for maybe three activities in a day before I need to get back home and let the day’s worries drip off of me.

This is also the reason why I have trouble wrapping my head around relationships, the idea that you have someone there always and you have to perform for them scares me.

What I’m saying is that paranoia is the crux of the things I wish I could fix but it’s a permanent, constant reminder that I have schizophrenia.

I’m not defective because of it though, I’m actually very skilled at performing as a normal person and not letting those voices show, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t get hard sometimes.

Every day though, every month and every year I get better so there may be a point at which the paranoia doesn’t eat at me and is maybe just a small voice in my head that I can ignore. You may feel the same way but the only advice I can give is to keep trying, keep exposing yourself to this stuff and it gets easier, you get used to it, maybe not to the point where you never think about it but it definitely becomes less of a huge deal.

This advice is just as much for myself as it is for anyone else. I’m getting good at it but I’m not entirely there.

I wish I were unassuming but people are unpredictable and my mind has trouble with that.

Maybe one day I won’t have to pay attention to people but for now it’s manageable and I do what I can.

I Wish I Could Relax: The Constancy of Paranoia


Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.


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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). I Wish I Could Relax: The Constancy of Paranoia. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/two-minds/2015/07/i-wish-i-could-relax-the-constancy-of-paranoia/

 

Last updated: 25 Jul 2015
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