Differentiating Paranoia from being Sensitive and Overreacting

RussellSue

Not Active
I often am not sure if I have paranoia or not.

The best example I can give of thinking I might have paranoia is my husband. That man loves me. In the rare instances that he really has been short-tempered with me, I have rampantly verbally attacked him explaining how his behavior was completely wrong and how he truly was being a jerk, and so on. How has he responded? With immediate, sincere apologies.

I'm not slow -- I know that most men would, at the very least, need to get the hell away from their overreacting wife for a minute, but he never does. He sees that he has caused me upset, assesses his behavior, and he fixes it.

Over the weekend, he spent a lot of time on my shit list, regardless. He had not done anything and that was the problem. He could not help me in my state of extreme duress and he didn't appear to be trying. He also was not responding to many of my attempts at talking to him, which is nothing new -- I talk a lot, he does not.

Pretty soon, I was sure he was judging me. Then, I was sure he had ceased to be my ally and it took some work to shake that feeling. I didn't want him near me.

Could that be an example of paranoid feelings that were brought on by my lack of mood stabilizers and stress? Or was I simply being overly sensitive, having moments of PTSD helplessness and expectation, and overreacting? It feels like there must be a line between the two but I don't know where it is.

I also recently thought my mother was angry at me when she was not, but she was hiding things from me, so my gut was not wrong -- something was messed up and she was keeping it from me, so it was easy to jump to conclusions on that one.

I do revert to assuming the worst, but I've got a good bit of history that says this is just good sense. Assuming the worst is not necessarily delusional thinking, though, right?

Do you know where the line is? Can you explain it to me?

Just to be clear, I am asking because I have a psych appointment coming up and in my early 20s, I mistook flashbacks for hallucinations, conceded to having problems with paranoia, and wound up with a schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. I know that bipolar, schizoaffective, and schizophrenia are basically different spots on a line, but I want to be sure I am not giving myself symptoms I do not have.

I have been accused of being paranoid, often, but not often recently. I have an INFJ personality type and I notice shit that people wish I did not notice. It is easier for me to be delusional than it is for them to honest, in a lot of cases. This is a life fact for me. I can't recall being called paranoid when I've been around intelligent and emotionally responsible people. However, in my early 20s, when people said I was paranoid and that what I perceived was incorrect, I believed them. Now, I typically trust my gut and keep my mouth shut if it seems like the person doesn't want to deal with things.
 
Last edited:

RussellSue

Not Active
Do you mind if I ask? Are you diagnosed bi-polar?
Not unless my PC diagnosed me yesterday. I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder when I was 21. When I was 34, I went on Lithium. When I was 37, I was told I didn't have a mood disorder but continued the Lithium due to what I thought was trauma-related depression. But every damned mood disorder symptom I ever had came back over the last little while as the last of the Lithium left my system. I'm 41 now and was on Lithium for 7 years.

There is not a doubt in my mind that when I talk to the psychiatrist next week, she'll tell me I have bipolar or possibly schizoaffective, again. There is no way that I don't.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Not unless my PC diagnosed me yesterday. I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder when I was 21. When I was 34, I went on Lithium. When I was 37, I was told I didn't have a mood disorder but continued the Lithium due to what I thought was trauma-related depression. But every damned mood disorder symptom I ever had came back over the last little while as the last of the Lithium left my system. I'm 41 now and was on Lithium for 7 years.

There is not a doubt in my mind that when I talk to the psychiatrist next week, she'll tell me I have bipolar or possibly schizoaffective, again. There is no way that I don't.
Ok i understand. 😊
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
I don’t know how similar it is, but when a situation complexifies with a loved one (it is mildly true with friends and family but it becomes huge and angry with partners).

Beginning of day generally starts okay and then, gradually, I feel disconnected. Generally there is a trigger for the disconnection (the person is preoccupied with something else, is zoned out, or can be more or less angry at me… it doesn’t pop in from nowhere). But, that feeling of even the slightest disconnection starts to put pressure on a sort of internal spring, I feel like a f*cking ticking bomb. Apex of it comes at 1AM. Always in turn of midnight 1AM. And the motive of the thing is YOU DON’T LOVE ME ANYMORE DO YOU. Say this to someone who’s either asleep or trying to fall asleep or working late, whatever reason, and you have an argument. I would align all the cues that justify my gut feeling, number one being if you’re annoyed by me telling you this it’s the living proof you don’t love me. The logic is there, it’s impossible to contradict isn’t it?!

Honestly playing back on this I realize it looks completely mad from outside and f*cking annoying. If only it would ease off by the person saying but yes I do love you please go to sleep paranoid brain will say something such as YOU’RE LYING TO MAKE ME CALM DOWN. Physically taking me in their arms is a double or loose: it can work, but if it doesn’t it evolves GET OFF OF ME I KNOW THIS IS INSINCERE. And I’d pull the person away. If they pull me away, I’ll walk after them proceed to the alignment of everything that is wrong. So many ugly arguments happened in that very specific set of paranoia.

The above was what made pdoc2 think I had a form of BPD. "Frantic efforts to avoid real or perceived abandonment" with "transient, stress-related paranoid ideation" plus a tendency to show irritation all the time to the point of looking for an actual fight. Not enough to complete the whole thing, in any case CPTSD fitted it much better.

Over time I did realize that what I depicted above is a mission to make anyone fail. Still didn’t delete the feeling, so I often ended up writing series of letters that detailed everything that is wrong and spending the night completely worked up. Reading them back, I see that they don’t necessarily state things that are incorrect, the underlying issues do exist, but that the size of the issues is frankly magnified or at least brought up in an accusatory manner. Bizarrely enough (but actually it’s logical), it is a tendency that manifests almost exclusively when things are peaceful and precisely nothing special is going on. It comes with a sense of impending doom, the idea that everything was a mistake or a lie to begin with, etc. It is the emotional flashback of something but I can’t really pinpoint what it is. I guess a combination of things.

It happened a lot when I was doubting myself artistically or in terms of career. When I’m working on things and feeling in line with whatever I’m doing or not caring about that specific relationship, then it’s fine. You have to have the combination of self-doubt/stress fear of losing something to make that cocktail. Now I can anticipate it coming and the anxiety meds have been a grail to cut the stirring before it happens. Because the ugly thing with it is that it can still happen "in void", that is, not linked to anyone specific but just willing a confrontation or finding a reason or whatever. It’s quite compulsive in its nature I find.
 

RussellSue

Not Active
It happened a lot when I was doubting myself artistically or in terms of career.
There is some overlap here. Thank you.

My husband never saw me without Lithium, before. My relationship before my husband is what drove me to start Lithium. So, a lot of fear has come up in the last little bit about how my husband is really doing with all of this. This is exacerbated by his quietness. He's always quiet -- nothing special is going on there.

Nevertheless, I have been abandoned as a result of my mental illnesses more than once. I hope to trust that my husband loves me and generally I do, but this situation has brought a lot to the forefront.

On Sunday afternoon, I gave up and called one of my friends. I was on the phone for hours and my mood greatly improved in large part just because someone was talking. The silence here does kill me, sometimes. I need to not let it get to that point, but it was a rough day, in general.


You have to have the combination of self-doubt/stress fear of losing something to make that cocktail.
We've got all the ingredients for all the cocktails to go round, here. Honestly, yes, there's been thing upon thing, and insecurity upon insecurity has been building up and shit just doesn't stop happening -- I get a handle on one insecurity just to have 3 more pop up because of this new dumb thing. Sigh.

That said, I think it looks less paranoid and more CPTSD human, all the time, as you noted in your situation. It is a pretty large jump to start feeling he is against me, but there is a whole lot that is haywire right now and some of his tendencies toward avoidance clash with my need to resolve shit now in major ways during difficulties, anyway. We both know this. With me suddenly hitting an emotional blockade and having random crying fits for days on end, it's easy to lose track of the reality of knowing he loves me and it's also easy for me to think that the negative way I see myself is how he sees me, especially considering that when I express my frustration and aggravation at myself, he's not always got much to say.

And so, I think I can let that go off into the realm of coping imperfectly during stressful times and not call it paranoia.

Thanks!
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
I guess in its pure sense, paranoia is about making it all about you with a strong sense of persecution, sometimes actioned by a sense of self importance. While in "paranoid", it's more of a suspicion based on distrust. ?
 

RussellSue

Not Active
I guess in its pure sense, paranoia is about making it all about you with a strong sense of persecution, sometimes actioned by a sense of self importance. While in "paranoid", it's more of a suspicion based on distrust. ?
That makes sense. I was just going over some details on Mental Health America's website, however, and what it said about the outward manifestations of paranoia fit me perfectly. I often make the excuse that being a persecuted minority (cleft-affected) has given me a history of shit and that my feelings that people are going to treat me poorly or perhaps maintain a certain level of superior feelings toward me is, ultimately, the fault of real traumatic events and therefore cannot be called paranoia, but realistically, I don't know if paranoia is not paranoia if it has a basis in historical fact, if that makes any sense. I guess that is a question for my therapist.
I also realize that most people with paranoia won't believe they have it. So, when I thought I was paranoid, I very probably was not or else I was really rocking the whole mental illness thing. All I know right now is that I have made my head ache. I might need to give serious introspection a couple of more days.
Though, I do know that I have some specific difficulty with paranoia. It got really bad over the weekend. It started because I am kind of a little weirdo, but get tired of feeling like it all the time, which is a regular cycle. That doesn't mean I have anything more than bipolar, necessarily: people with bipolar can/do wrestle with paranoia. What I really want to uncover is whether or not I have paranoia in the absence of mania or depression because if I do, schizoaffective was probably the right diagnosis. But if I am not totally clear on what paranoia is and is not, I cannot possibly know at what points I am having it.
Thank you for discussing this, btw. My head is still not behaving like my own, but I think that it is important that I come to a place where I understand what is and what is not paranoia. I suspect that if Lithium kept me under control all this time, that I probably don't have schizoaffective, but I can't help but wonder since that was my diagnosis and if bipolar ever was, it was not for very long.
 
Last edited:

Friday

Moderator
Caveat ; This is going to be a bit fragmented, just because headspace.

I have to draw a hard line between Paranoid & (a few things) in a few different ways. All of these that follow flow into Paranoia like a river delta to the sea (or feeder streams/rivers joining, swelling the spring/creek/stream/river), but you can also see the symptom set they’re originating in.

Annoyed - By what is actually happening
Paranoid - Scared/Angry about what isn’t happening.

Vigilance - Useful
Hypervigilant - Not Useful > Overreacting, treating everyone & everything as a threat, being unable to assess & evaluate degrees of threat.

Rational / Fair Minded
Anxiety Girl! Leaping to the worst possible conclusion in a single bound!!!

Agency&Accountability - Responding to the present
Triggered/Stressed - Responding to the present AS IF it’s the past.

Agency & Accountability (expanded) > According to the dictates of my own conscience, & wholly responsible for the choices I make, and actions I take. How I choose to balance being informed by the past & taking each situation based on its own merits? Is my decision / a series of ongoing decisions. Even if I’m not aware of making it. (Which can be worked on by action -v- reaction)
“Listening to your instincts is not the same as being a slave to them.”

- Knowledge is the acquisition of fact.
- Wisdom is knowing what conclusions to draw & actions to take based on that knowledge.

- "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". -Santayana
- “No man can learn what he thinks he already knows” -Epiticus
= The ability to be informed by experience not blinded by it

So ^^^these^^^ are some of the checks I run, when I’m doing Reality-Checks with me’self. Am I annoyed about what’s actually happening, or kicking into high gear about things that haven’t (yet) happened? Am I responding to the present, or the past? Am I listening to my instincts, or being a slave to them? Et cetera.

A LOT of these (and other brief checks I run myself through) have to do with emotional involvement. It’s not paranoid to click my seatbelt. Nor to get a 5 point harness. It’s just a common sense precaution. UNLESS I am freaking the f*ck out about it. Then it durn well may be paranoia. Even if it’s still also a good idea to wear a seatbelt. So as I’m going through my life? I take that temp-read fairly often / it’s a rule I have with myself : IF AND ONLY IF I am able to accomplish xyz as nonchalantly as clicking my seatbelt? Am I allowed to breeze through. If I’m getting emotionally invested? I need to run a reality check. Alright! Where’s my head at?
 

Lotsoflove

Sponsor
I often am not sure if I have paranoia or not.

The best example I can give of thinking I might have paranoia is my husband. That man loves me. In the rare instances that he really has been short-tempered with me, I have rampantly verbally attacked him explaining how his behavior was completely wrong and how he truly was being a jerk, and so on. How has he responded? With immediate, sincere apologies.

I'm not slow -- I know that most men would, at the very least, need to get the hell away from their overreacting wife for a minute, but he never does. He sees that he has caused me upset, assesses his behavior, and he fixes it.

Over the weekend, he spent a lot of time on my shit list, regardless. He had not done anything and that was the problem. He could not help me in my state of extreme duress and he didn't appear to be trying. He also was not responding to many of my attempts at talking to him, which is nothing new -- I talk a lot, he does not.

Pretty soon, I was sure he was judging me. Then, I was sure he had ceased to be my ally and it took some work to shake that feeling. I didn't want him near me.

Could that be an example of paranoid feelings that were brought on by my lack of mood stabilizers and stress? Or was I simply being overly sensitive, having moments of PTSD helplessness and expectation, and overreacting? It feels like there must be a line between the two but I don't know where it is.

I also recently thought my mother was angry at me when she was not, but she was hiding things from me, so my gut was not wrong -- something was messed up and she was keeping it from me, so it was easy to jump to conclusions on that one.

I do revert to assuming the worst, but I've got a good bit of history that says this is just good sense. Assuming the worst is not necessarily delusional thinking, though, right?

Do you know where the line is? Can you explain it to me?

Just to be clear, I am asking because I have a psych appointment coming up and in my early 20s, I mistook flashbacks for hallucinations, conceded to having problems with paranoia, and wound up with a schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. I know that bipolar, schizoaffective, and schizophrenia are basically different spots on a line, but I want to be sure I am not giving myself symptoms I do not have.

I have been accused of being paranoid, often, but not often recently. I have an INFJ personality type and I notice shit that people wish I did not notice. It is easier for me to be delusional than it is for them to honest, in a lot of cases. This is a life fact for me. I can't recall being called paranoid when I've been around intelligent and emotionally responsible people. However, in my early 20s, when people said I was paranoid and that what I perceived was incorrect, I believed them. Now, I typically trust my gut and keep my mouth shut if it seems like the person doesn't want to deal with things.
I can see how that must be difficult to decipher which symptoms are from what disorder or is that just what is truly going on.
Ignorance is bliss. But I can’t help myself. I need to know things.with family members I am tend to overreact due to emotions are unbalanced or bp isn’t controlled. I’ve been on prednisone and was hallucinating negative reactions. I guess it all depends on our headspace.
If I have a gut feeling I will need to investigate. And sometimes I find out things I don’t want to know. For example a boyfriend planning on cheating. Or several ex’s I been found out they were cheating all on intuition . And all my relationships have came to an end that stemmed from me no longer trusting them.
 
Top