Telling my partner that I thought she hated me was a really odd thing for me to have to do. It’s not the first time I’ve felt that someone I cared about didn’t like me, it seems like quite a regular occurrence. This is different to concerns that a partner is cheating or something, I find it quite funny, all these people who are constantly spying on their partners and getting upset if they are friends with anyone they might be attracted to. This is not something that ever worries me.
For me, it appears the more I care about someone the more time I spend convincing myself they hate me or they otherwise want to hurt me.
When I was younger I would take out my worries in hurtful ways towards my partner or by being controlling. The desire to do that hasn’t really gone away unfortunately, but in recent years I have been able to control my need to behave that way and instead dissipate my worries within myself. Though this is a damn sight better than my old shity behaviour it doesn’t do my well-being any good. By keeping my concerns bottled up it has only gone to escalate my feelings of anxiety, culminating in panic attacks and other negative thoughts. On top of this, where I haven’t been able to keep it in, it has bubbled over into my interactions with others. This doesn’t go down too well when people don’t know or understand why you are behaving irratically.
For me a breakthrough was finding a partner that I was comfortable enough with to be able to bring it all up. To be able to tell them that sometimes I will convince myself that they hate me, that I will go mad worrying about them or that I will think they are hiding stuff from me or lying to me. To be able tell them that these thoughts are unfounded, unreal, and out of my control.
Talking about any kind of issues around mental health and well-being is vitally important but often prohibitively hard. I can only imagine paranoid thoughts and delusions must be infinitely harder to deal with when you are not able to step away and see that these thoughts are not real.
With things out in the open these issues can be dealt with. Once I had told my partner about how I felt she was much more understanding when she received multiple texts from me because she didn’t get back to me about something, or I got grumpy because I was able to find ambiguities in something she had said.
It can’t be easy, I’m learning to control and understand what goes through my head but at times I – just like everyone – let things spill over, and need security and reassurance when it happens.
And that’s what most of it boils down to, a need for reassurance and clarification. This may be linked to problems with self-esteem, trust, past experiences, a multitude of other things, or nothing at all.
I’d like to offer some advice or ground breaking strategy for people who suffer from paranoid thoughts or delusions but I can’t. I’ve looked online and most of the advice if rubbish like this one; Be polite, get a mohawk and turn up on time for work! http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Being-Paranoid (EDIT: This link no longer goes to the article I reference but it’s still equally rubbish)
Some is just plain harmful as it perpetuates the stereotype of crazed individuals who think everyone is out to get them and may need to be locked up like this frankly offensive cartoon http://www.wikihow.com/Help-Paranoid-People. One piece of advise I can give however is cut out caffeine, we all know drinking coffee increases anxiety levels if you are susceptible, so cut it out, easy, I found it a massive help, even if it was a placebo effect it still helped.
I found a guide for how to cope with paranoia in a loved one and have edited it only slightly here. I want to share it because unknowingly my partner had been doing all of these points and they made a world of difference. It seems these were probably written with someone with quite severe symptoms in mind, and I’ve cut out the ones about medication here:
- Speak clearly – Simple sentences and unambiguous words reduce the chance of being misinterpreted.
- Be accepting, yet firm – Delusions are very real to the person having them. Don’t confront the person about their beliefs or attempt to help them reality-test. Communicate that you respect their beliefs, but don’t pretend to share them. Be honest about your own perceptions.
- Offer clarification – You can help them cope with their suspicion and mistrust by encouraging them to voice their thoughts, and then explaining your actions in a neutral and non-defensive way.
- Anticipate triggers – Symptoms may intensify under new or stressful circumstances. Offer sufficient information in advance so the person will be better prepared for changes and for a possible worsening of symptoms.
- Emphasize their strengths – People with paranoia are often very intelligent and high-functioning aside from interpersonal relationships. Be aware of them as a whole person, not just in terms of their symptoms. Focus on his positive traits and behaviours.
Obviously if your partner or friend has severe symptoms then it is important that you get help for yourself to be able to deal with them and extra help for them should they require it.
Hope this helps some people out.
Let me know your experiences, ideas and tactics if you want, that would be great.
Take care of yourselves.