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It’s OK to be Paranoid


In the time I’ve been living with schizophrenia there have been numerous instances, almost too many to count, where I fell into a whirlwind of paranoia.

Maybe it was surrounding some social anxiety I had or maybe I heard laughter that I imagined was about me or maybe someone said something that made me paranoid about what they thought.

The point is, I’ve been there.

There’s something else that has the tendency to happen in the aftermath though. I’ll have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that the paranoia is unfounded but once I do I start to analyze the paranoia and why it happens, and just what exactly is wrong with me that I fall into the paranoia trap.

I’ll think, it’s not normal to feel this way and you have to work harder to get rid of it.

The thing I always seem to forget though is that it’s ok to be paranoid. It’s ok to have strange thoughts in your head and it doesn’t make you any less human or any less deserving of love and respect.

It’s a hard thing to come to terms with the fact that your mental illness is not a personality defect, so many times we fall into the trap of thinking that if we were stronger, if we could just manage to get our stuff together our symptoms would be more under control.

It doesn’t work that way though, your symptoms are independent and they don’t care whether or not you have things under control.

They can arise whenever they feel like it, sometimes at the most inopportune times.

I’ve been stable for several years now and there will be days when I think I’m cured and that schizophrenia is just something that can be fixed. Then there will be a hairy situation and I’ll get thrown into a pit of paranoia and will realize that no, I am not cured.

We have to stop ourselves from cursing ourselves for letting the paranoia get the best of us though. Just because it pops up every now and again it doesn’t mean you’re weak or you’re any less entitled to your humanness.

The truth is, as people with mental illnesses, we have to be careful about treating ourselves and our heads well. We can limit the triggers by alleviating stress but it will still pop up every now and again.

The thing to remember is that it’s ok if your symptoms keep coming, it doesn’t mean you’re weak.

Try to think of it like your symptoms being an independent entity, they are something else and they are not you. There is no deficiency in your character that makes the symptoms arise. They will come and go as they please.

The best you can do is to learn how to deal with them. It’s ok to be paranoid, it’s ok to be delusional and it’s ok to be psychotic.

It doesn’t make you a defect to have to live with these things. If anything, it makes you stronger. We could all learn to be a little easier on ourselves.

It’s OK to be Paranoid

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. (2016). It’s OK to be Paranoid. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Jan 2016
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