SELF MANAGING PARANOIA

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Paranoia is disabling, paralyzing, and manageable without a lot of clinical jargon. Paranoia puts limits and restrictions on our everyday experiences. The limitations are self-imposed. Paranoia is an internal experience that impacts how people perceive their external world.

Cut off from your previous understanding of the world, paranoia creeps into our mental outlook, almost undetectable. By the time you might begin to experience paranoia, there are so many fearful thoughts it can be hard to make rational sense of the world. Paranoia can cause people to become defensive and dispute the input of beliefs of other people. If you ever encounter someone experiencing paranoid thinking, do not challenge their perception too much as it can do more damage than good to clear up distorted thoughts.

Many of the people I’ve worked with as a therapist were paranoid. I’ve experienced paranoia first hand during the constellations of symptoms activating from first-episode psychosis. From my lived experience, I was able to get a first-hand understanding of how paranoia complicates the lives of people living with it. I also teased out how untreated paranoia can only further impact a good prognosis for people with comorbid mental health issues.

There is no reason to live with paranoia. Paranoia is fear, and fear stops us from celebrating every moment of our existence. So, how do we stop it? Eliminate it?

The most important place to start is assessing what you are afraid of and categorizing it into three domains of fear. 

The categories include: 

1) letting our small critical thoughts snowball into major fears, 

2) eclipsing hopes and limiting our future-oriented thinking, 

3) combining our fears or apocalyptic projections

We are critical because we care. We want to manage our lives effectively and precisely. But these little critical thoughts can snowball into major crippling fears that stop us from getting out of bed or being social and making new friends. Why let that happen? Check-in with yourself. Self-monitor and find a balance internally with your thoughts.

Ever look forward to something? Future-oriented thinking keeps us motivated and happy about time elapsing, in plain language, of experiencing every moment of every day. Paranoia stops us from experiencing our days because we are so pained we stop and detach. Do anything to stop the internal fear from strangling other aspects of our lives.

The worst thing you can do to make paranoia worse is combined fears. A hurricane is a terrible news, but flooding due to high winds and water is worse. See what I mean? Please don’t do it!

About the Author

J. Peters

J. Peters is the Editor-in-Chief of Mental Health Affairs.

Award-winning book author and Bold 10 Under ten award recipient J. Peters, LCSW. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Mental health therapist and disability rights advocate Mr. Peters fights for those without a voice in various care systems, such as the New York City Department of Social Services, the New York State Office of Mental Health, or the city's Department of Corrections.

Mr. Peter's battle with Schizophrenia began at New London University in his last semester of college. Discharged from Greater Liberty State Hospital Center in July 2008, Jacque's recovery was swift but not painless and indeed brutal after spending six months there.

He has published several journal articles on recovery and mental health and three books: University on Watch, Small Fingernails, and Wales High School. He is also a board member of the newspaper City Voices. Mr. Peters currently sits on the CAB committee (Consumer Advisory Board) for the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene in NYC and the Office of Mental Health (OMH) as a peer advocate.

Owner of Recovery Now in New York, a private psychotherapy practice, Mr. Peter's approach is rooted in a foundation of evidence-based practices (EBP). Jacques earned a master's degree in Social Work from Binghamton University and worked as a field instructor for master's and bachelor's level students in NYC.

He is blogging daily on his site mentalhealthaffairs.blog, Mr. Peters regularly writes articles relating to his lived experience with a mental health diagnosis.

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