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What To Do When The Paranoia Gets the Best of You

security-camera-1201029-1280x850Today I was standing in line at a bakery waiting for a sandwich and I don’t know what it was about the place, it could have been the temperature, the people standing around but I became so worried that people were staring at me that I had no choice but to leave.

Thankfully a friend got my sandwich and brought it out to the car for me but I was just sitting there reeling and not able to think about anything else but the notion that those people were laughing about me and making fun of me made my mind flip.

This is the voice of the schizophrenia though, it’s like a little demon on your shoulder who whispers out of the darkness things that set your mind spinning.

The voice has always been there for me and I’m under the distinct impression that it will never go away.

It’s ok to feel that paranoia though, it’s part and parcel of the disease and while the exact circumstances may not be the same for you or others with schizophrenia there will always be a facet of the illness that stays with you, even though you’re deep into medicated, therapized territory.

The fact of the matter is that everyone with schizophrenia experiences symptoms like this and no matter how hard you work to get better, those symptoms will still be that little reminder that you have a major mental illness.

You may be completely stable to the point of even doubting that you have an illness but out of nowhere that voice will come back and out of nowhere you’ll be reminded of why you’ve been working so hard.

It’s not the end of the world to hear the voice of paranoia, it may even haunt you but the best thing I know how to do when that voice comes is to just accept it for what it is.

You don’t have to fight the voice because fighting it will only make it worse.

Just sit still and accept the things the voice is saying to you, likely none of it is true and it may be saying the worst things it can think of to you, your deepest fears, but if you can get comfortable with the voice and realize that it’s nothing more than a flippant thought it will eventually lose it’s power over you.

It can be hard to accept what the voice says though and I know this, but you can start by just repeating the phrase “I accept what you’re saying” and if you can sit with the voice long enough, it will eventually run out of things to say until you’re in a place where your thoughts are your own again.

I’ve dealt with this voice in varying degrees over the last nine years and I’ve become adept at sacrificing my fight against the voice and letting the things it’s saying wash over me.

In the moment though, it’s ok if you need to escape, it’s ok if you need to go sit in the car or step outside and take a breath of fresh air.

Do anything you need to do to deal with the voice in the moment but if you sit long enough with it, it will start to fade.

Getting used to it takes work and I know that and I can guarantee that it will come back but if your adept at dealing with it, you’ll be better stronger and happier.

With anything else though, it’s a process, know that and be comfortable with it.

It takes time to recover but you can do it.

What To Do When The Paranoia Gets the Best of You

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). What To Do When The Paranoia Gets the Best of You. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Oct 2015
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