When Paranoia is Real…

I don’t know whether it was my sister tormenting me by saying that Penny the Clown was coming up the drain to get me when we took baths together as little kids or all the horror movies my parents loved watching while I was a wee little babe, but honestly, I have been a paranoid person what feels like forever. And I’m not proud of it – it’s something I kind of hate about myself, actually. It’s just so annoying to always be worrying about the worst that could happen, ya know? I haven’t really talked about it much to anyone because of how ridiculous it makes me feel.
What exactly is paranoia, anyway? For me, it’s this underlying suspicion/mistrust of people. Typically there’s no real evidence or justification for people to be paranoid, but I think that I feel this way because of all of the bad things that I have seen and heard about throughout my life. 

What I’m Paranoid About

I haven’t been looking forward to spilling all my paranoia beans out on the table to you, but I think it’s finally time to throw myself out there and hopefully connect with others who have felt a similar way.
Now, I’m not someone who goes around questioning everything all the time. For me, I’m paranoid about one thing, and that’s someone coming after me and physically hurting me. Seriously. I hate being home alone at night – I always freak out inside and think that someone is going to break into my apartment and kidnap me/harm me in some terrible way. It sounds crazy, but it’s something I think about often. Similarly, while taking the subway to work every day, I can’t tell you how many times my mind floats to the thought of there being terrorists on the subway train who are going to wreck havoc on us all. I didn’t really worry too much about terrorist attacks until I moved to New York City three years ago.
Every time I think something like this, I ask myself WHY am I thinking like this? Why can’t I just be normal and not so damn paranoid? I don’t like thinking these thoughts, I truly don’t. It’s mentally exhausting.

How I’m Trying to Become Less Paranoid

Recently, I’ve gotten fed up with all of this paranoia. I’v started to really read and watch a lot of articles and videos about how to control your own thoughts. Luckily, there are a ton of strategies out there to try. Nowadays, when paranoia pops into my head, I try to switch the subject of what I’m thinking about to a happier, more exciting idea or memory instead of keeping the worried thought as the center of my mind’s attention. Sometimes this works well, and other times it works for just a little while because my brain keeps coming back to a suspicious thought whenever I’m not actively trying to think of more positive things. So that’s a work-in-progress strategy.
When it’s time to go to bed and I’m at home alone, my paranoid thoughts often go buck wild. Recently, I have been telling myself, “STOP” (like, yelling this at myself in my head over and over again) and then switching the subject of what my mind is thinking about. Often, I  leave a dim light on, play some soft music, or I listen to a podcast/ meditate for a few minutes before trying to fall asleep. It’s working okay thus far.

So yeah, that’s my secret – I’m not little miss sunshine all the time, y’all. Let’s get honest and stop hiding behind our insecurities. What’s something you secretly struggle with and would like to overcome? Share in the comments below.