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Feeling Like Your Being Followed

Discussion in 'Symptoms & Other Disorders' started by lonetree, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. lonetree

    lonetree New Member

    I'm hoping someone else has this symptom and can help me understand it. My sufferer will suddenly get the feeling someone is right behind her and it lasts for a long time. She sees shadows out of the side of her eye. If is very real to her. We cant identify triggers or that it is related to any past event. Has anyone else had to deal with this and have any suggestions?
  2. PerfectEmpire

    PerfectEmpire VIP Member

    I see shadows in my peripheral vision mostly when I'm alone, and always when it is dark. I deal with it by finding things that make me feel safe - candles, a computer, a phone - and keeping them near whenever I am alone. If the electricity goes off I leave and go to where there are more people so I feel safer.

    I also see the shadows when I am exposed to loud noises. I keep earplugs handy for vacuuming and using our blender.

    It helps to keep my eyes busy. Does it help her to watch TV, play video games, or surf the web? Those things keep me engaged so that I don't notice shadows if they're happening.
  3. lonetree

    lonetree New Member

    Thank you Perfect.
    Distractions should help if she can concentrate on them. The feeling is so overwhelming to her that she constantly looks over her shoulder and shrinks into a protective stance. It happens during the day and when she is alone as well as with others. I'll work with her on that.
  4. brokenchild

    brokenchild New Member

    I get them a lot, though they no longer frighten me. When I was doing intensive outpatient, I was able to realize that it was ME watching me, if that makes any sense. I was following myself from outside my self. I don't know if this makes any sense.
  5. Sethe

    Sethe VIP Member

    Sometimes I take different routes home if I get that feeling. Other times when I get it (when not driving) there really is someone near me, so it just seems to reinforce me to be even more 'aware.'

    I try to remind myself that a lot of it is in my head. Usually, I am near other people, so I try to tell myself that it's very unlikely someone would single me out with so many other people present.

    Distractions sound like a good idea. 'Sanity checks' (boy, is that relative) may help. I suppose that's what I'm doing when I remind myself that it's really unlikely I would get hurt around so many people.
  6. Kaii

    Kaii Active Member

    This happens to me often. I repeat to myself "It's not real", "I'm okay", "I don't have to be afraid". Sometimes it works and sometimes not. Sometimes I even go so far as to check under the bed, behind the door, in the basement, etc to see if there is anyone there. It makes me feel better.

    I also take my phone everywhere. Also having my dog with me helps too. I don't feel so alone then.
    blueangel371115 likes this.
  7. lonetree

    lonetree New Member

    It sound like if she can think about it she may have a chance to ride out the feeling. I do try to show her nobody is there and she understands that but still has that overwhelming feeling. I'm sure the more she works on it the better handle she'll get on it.
    Thanks for the input. It really helps:)
  8. Philippa

    Philippa VIP Member

    I have always gotten this, and I've seen some pretty wacky things as well...but that's for another thread.

    It used to be when I was out the back at night, mainly...probably just subconscious "boogey man" stories affecting me from childhood...but I could SWEAR there was something right behind me, and it would make me panic a little and run inside as fast as I could, shutting the door behind me. Maybe I just liked to scare myself that way?

    This was before I had been through anything (that I'm aware of) which would cause PTSD though, so I don't know if it will be helpful to you?
  9. lonetree

    lonetree New Member

    Thanks Philippa,
    Everything is of help to me at the moment. :confused:
  10. cakey

    cakey New Member

    This is a HUGE barrier for me. It causes so much distress I want to put that part of my head to rest. It won't listen though.

    Every car behind me has been behind me for too long{takes drastic driving measures}. At night theres always someone outside loading a gun, or setting up a scope. Can't smoke a whole cigarette. If a car drives by too fast I have to hop inside and make sure they aren't looping back around. If a car is driving by too slow, I prepare for death. Did someone go through my trash, what are they looking for? Did they follow me to this forum? Are they still watching my every move waiting for me to get SI so they can kill me and play it off like an accident? Why were they in my backyard, where they real, there's no foot prints, whens the last time I slept? Should I shoot a warning shot into the bushes at 2:00am?

    Oy vey. It'll get better though, focusing on being aware of it has helped, trying to extinguish the fire when its a spark. Sometimes I have to take a lorazepam or clonazepam just because of this though, which is bad because I used to be dependent on these not too long ago but it sure beats the alternative.
  11. Reclusive

    Reclusive New Member

    I get that being followed thing and the shadows at the corner of your eyes (and flitting straight across). To be honest, I've gotten it my whole life but with the PTSD it's gotten worse. I've gotten to the point where I feel stupid checking, but I check the doors, windows, closets, etc. but I do it anyway because I know I'll just freak out if I don't. Getting decent sleep helps a lot, so I only feel that way when I'm actually outside. The worst is in the bathroom when I'm showering. I'm convinced there's someone on the other side of the curtain and sometimes I just shower with it open and clean up the water later.

    When I'm outside, I also get the feeling that every car has got someone in it who is going to shoot me. I have no idea where that idea even came from. And it doesn't help that no one has any reason to shoot me - I know these things happen at random, so it's totally plausible. I don't know what to do about it except take my clonazepam when it's really bad or crawl into bed (my fiance is willing to check under the bed while I'm in it because sometimes I think when I get out of bed someone is going to grab me).

    Just re-read what I wrote. I think I qualify as nuts officially.
    IchBin likes this.
  12. MissAntiSunshine

    MissAntiSunshine Shake her, wake her up--I try

    I have had this problem ever since I can remember (early childhood sexual abuse, long-term). When I was a kid I always felt someone behind me, under the bed, behind the shower curtain, *behind me in the shower,* standing right outside a second-story window (craziness!), my closet--everywhere. I was afraid to pull my shirt over my head or towel dry my hair, because I was certain when I could see again there would be a man right behind me. I regularly become so convinced of these delusions that I will bolt somewhere to the point where I trip and fall in fear.

    I have always been afraid of being outside alone or in a group of only females or a male I consider incapable of protecting me (very frustrating for some of my male friends, but I can't help it!). I used to hide from every passing car, or walk up to someone's door randomly because I thought someone was following me, and I wanted to throw them off and make them think I lived somewhere I didn't.

    I have worked a lot on these symptoms and am now confident in being outside alone during the daylight, but this change happened over a long course of time and took living at several extremely safe environments verrry far away from where my traumas occurred. The first time I felt comfortable walking around in daylight was in a kibbutz in Israel, a small socialist/communist community that generally focuses on sustainable farming and peaceful communal living. The second was at school, an extremely small 'work college' where everyone knows everyone and most people are pacifist hippies who like to work hard.

    My only weakness in these environments have been parking lots. A counselor once suggested that something happened to me in a parking lot. This completely bewildered me until I began to think about it closely and found that yes, a string of things did occur to me in parking lots, though they are not the things I usually think about as the forefront of my trauma, though parking lots had a lot to do symbolically with the major trauma I experience. I suppose I created an association between parking lots and the abuse I suffered. Now when I am in parking lots I experience hyperviligance the worst, even if I am in a locked car.

    Perhaps your sufferer could try to identify some of the specific situations where she feels most threatened and try to free associate around that event. What went on before she felt threatened? Where was she when she felt threatened? Do her followers have faces, or are they just shadows, or both (I have both)? Where do those images come from? Do they remind her of something? What was the reality of the situation? What perspective may have been helpful while she felt threatened? What activities? I haven't heard these straight from a therapist, but these sorts of questions have helped me learn about myself and make progress on my hypervigilance.

    Sorry for so many words; this is the only way I can express myself. I hope it's helpful.
  13. lonetree

    lonetree New Member

    Thank you MissAnti. I will try more of the free association with her. I'm glad it helped you and hope it will do the same for us.
  14. LovinHuggin

    LovinHuggin New Member

    I get the seeing stuff out of the corner of my eye and have to double check and I get the feeling of being followed and I don't like people walking up from behind me but this may be to do with Asperger's and sensory stuff.

    I understand the car thing, I feel uncomfortable in big cities like London because I'm wary of everyone.
  15. Tosh

    Tosh Active Member

    Yes, Sometimes I feel like someone is watching me, or following me, I see something out of the corner of my eye, but nothing is there when I really look.
  16. Smorck5

    Smorck5 New Member

    I have always felt watched I've gotten used to it....sometimes I feel a more intense feeling of being watched a threat like feeling and I react to those because usually that's when something is wrong. Most of the time I just feel as though I always have a security camera following me. I'm not sure if it ever really goes away but now that I know its caused by my PTSD I can remind myself its just a symptom and move on.

    Good luck =0)
  17. Nemone

    Nemone New Member

    I am not as bad when others are around but especially when I'm alone I get paranoid. I don't know if it's shadows flickering on the walls from headlights or the neighbor's houses behind me or what but I always have to glance behind me. I hate it when my husband is on the phone and he paces around the house, every time he walks by I feel compelled to turn around.

    When I was younger it was especially bad but I have gradually gotten a little better. I think mostly by forcing myself to look in those places and tell myself over and over that nothing is there and being fairly stubborn about it mostly out of irritation with myself. I still feel creeped out sometimes though, like if I accidentally hang my arm over the side of the bed I'll pull it back up over the edge. I also can't sleep without a blanket, at least a sheet or something, over my feet. I feel like I am exposed and something is going to grab my foot. Actually a couple of nights ago I thought I heard my husband saying "hey honey" or something really quiet next to me, like he wanted to talk to me, and I sat straight up in bed from a dead sleep in the middle of the night only to have him sit up and ask me what was wrong and then tell me he didn't say anything when I asked. I still feel like I really heard someone say something just then..

    Edit -
    One of my recommendations, if possible for you, is to get a cat. I blamed all number of noises on my cats when I used to get scared. Very convenient for making yourself feel better.
    Jacquie likes this.
  18. Lionheart777

    Lionheart777 Lion-hearted Survivor Premium Member

    I wanted to comment on seeing things out of the corner of one's eyes and then nothing being there, This is usually the blind spot in the peripheral vision that causes this and is not cause for alarm. Although with the hypervigilance we suffer, I can understand how easily this can set us off and make us a little paranoid.

    I sometimes think people are following me when I drive a car and I am usually relieved when they turn off onto another street. Still, this has mostly gone away with time as I have re-learned to trust my intuition and inner-voice to help keep me safe.
  19. blueangel371115

    blueangel371115 New Member

    I feel that often. The night is difficult for me. But I'm learning.
  20. NutritionNerd

    NutritionNerd New Member

    Eye tracking and visual attention to threating stimuli in veterans of the Iraq war
    Journal of Anxiety Disorders 24 (2010) 293–299

    It might be that this feeling is related to hypervigilance or hyperarousal. If you are constantly looking for something it is possible that the brain might manufacture what you're looking for. I'm pretty sure that bias plays a role in visual perception.

    In other words you're consciously or subconsciously looking for someone behind you and getting some false positives.

    (some of the above article may not be relevant but was interesting in it's implications)
  21. Jacquie

    Jacquie New Member

    PRE- ptsd : A noise in the house at night. Oh the timbers creaking (momentary conscious thought then dismissed)

    POST - ptsd : A noise in the house at night, first JUMP (and that has nothing to do with anything I am thinking) and next trying to figure out what it was, where it came from, what might have caused it etc

    My ability to identify simple things seems to be impaired if I jump. And at the same time I have a need now for things to make sense.

    Now I am learning more about the physiology of this thing here is what I think (for now)

    The adrenalin and F or F, floods the brain/body and tells it react dont think. The key is the body makes it so it cant think! grrrrrrrrrrrrr And being a 'thinker' normally and being able to easily identify, assess and act or dismiss (consciously) this NOT being able to identify, assess, dismiss/act thing is actually very very frightening. Because nothing 'makes sense'.

    Its like trusting a perfect stranger who says walk across a rope over Niagara and then we'll talk about it later. Might I add BLINDFOLDED!

    The adrenalin has made me (in a sense) blind, because my normal mental observation and processing is shut down. So of course things will be more scary. And of course we will subconsciously stay more alert, if the normal processes arent working.

    Its like one part of the body (F or F) is stuck on (when its only supposed to be for a few short seconds) but which is biologically designed to save your life (without relying on conscious thought) and yet the conscious thought part which is necessary (in our current way of life) for actual survival these days, is being screwed with and fighting to get its senses back. BOTH related to survival and BOTH trying to be dominant and BOTH screwing each other up and yet perpetuating each other.

    While this little war of mind and chemistry is going on, we ARE actually more at risk than normal because BOTH of our survival methods are malfunctioning.

    I couldnt understand why Murphy's Law had moved in all of a sudden and become my constant companion. Normally things go right and well things go RIGHT and now every damned unlucky, miserable or bullshit thing was happening all at once when I could least cope with it.

    I'm having a good day here so I'm going to get this out while my brain is functioning. THATS THE KEY! When I am normal and able to think, those things arent a biggy, because I just get them sorted out in 5 minutes then things are RIGHT again. But when I am in that fog......*I* cant do it, cant figure it out, cant fix it....and so it remains undone or screwed up or wrong. And life is a constant state of being surrounded by things that are screwed up and me feeling overwhelmed by them, because my brain wont work right in order to get it sorted.

    I dare anyone without this thing, to take some kind of drug that makes it so your conscious, but cant actually think or figure anything out, then get set loose in a city or a jungle where they have to negotiate things that require thinking in order to not get yourself killed. Even crossing a street at the right time, boarding a train, not annoying the hell out of a drug dealer, let alone dodging bullets.

    Then lets see if those people get a little jumpy as well, when they start witnessing that their own judgement is way out in left field, and they stop trusting themselves and their own ability to navigate this world safely.

    (grrrrr over)

    EDIT: The inability to disengage from something dangerous or threatening might just be that we are trying so damned hard to figure out what to do with it, how to process it, but being unable to, are frozen there, knowing we need to, but it wont come. It remains an unresolved thing, while we are trying to process it.
  22. NutritionNerd

    NutritionNerd New Member

    I think it's glucocorticoids that cause brain fog but I may be wrong about that.

    One of the ways CBT and therapy can help is by programming some automatic response that will help you get a handle on the runaway reactions. I had a lot of problems with the exercises that I was supposed to do every time I got activated because typically I didn't have enough brain control to be able to do it. I think I've turned the corner as far as having a wedge in and at the very least can minimize damage around me. (no broken dishes in about 8 months!)

    Take a look at this website explanation for the anxiety loop and how it differs between different genetic groups.
    http://www.psycheducation.org/mechanism/4WhyShortsLongs.htm

    I think CBT helps by increasing your ability to feedback rational thought into it.
    Anna likes this.
  23. Anna

    Anna VIP Member

    I have this too, and sometimes I jump at the site of a shadow. As people have said above CBT can help.
  24. Nemone

    Nemone New Member

    Yeah, I get that whole "brain not working" thing. I had a period of time about a year ago where any time I got on the phone and had to make an appointment or even to order take-out, or at the doctor's office even, I would forget things like my phone number or my kid's birthdays, my social security number. I think I almost couldn't remember my own last name once for a bit at the doctor's office. The only thing I could do to comfort myself was every time I had a phone call to make, write down all the information I had to say on a paper, even my own name and everything. I wrote down stuff to take to the doctor's a few times too. I'm not as bad now but I still write down all my own information before calling places because if I don't then who knows what I will forget when I am stressed out. It's really embarrassing to be standing there stuttering because you don't remember your own name or can't remember your own information and it really destroys your confidence to be able to handle emergencies or even ordinary calls. I think I went to get medication for the first time after that started happening.

    I also spend a lot of time waiting for days when I "feel better" to handle things and of course it doesn't really help much since the things I need to get done just build up. I want to try and find a therapist in the area who does CBT and see if it helps me. I've tried applying a few of the pieces of advice I've found online about helping yourself panic less and sometimes it does help a little but I know I need a pro since who knows how I'll be like if I end up off my medicine again sometime. Probably just another paranoia but I'm always thinking about "what if" something happens and I don't have any medicine to calm down my anxious tendencies. Probably not going to happen any time soon but I can't help thinking about it.

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