Differentiating Paranoia from being Sensitive and Overreacting

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
I recommend making a list of your paranoid type symptoms and then giving it to your psychiatrist. I did this when I feared having paranoid personality disorder. He told me no, it’s just trauma that I’m dealing with. Being medicated has helped with the paranoia.
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
Plus, there clearly are degrees of management in paranoid/paranoia reflections. It's one thing to take a small clue to conclude you're gonna be rejected, that is based on generalisation of past experience in wrong contexts, it's another one to believe the government is persecuting you because you had an idea you haven't told anyone and they're doing things through your friends that are making jokes at the café in the morning. I have met people like this. Absolute certitude they're right. Super deluded. One, my first boyfriend (yay) that has developed something more transient as the delusions weren't fixed, and others in whom they were pretty permanent.

In the in betweens I think it's possible to remain stuck in paranoid ideations for so long they start to look like paranoia. And you get some irrational freebies on the way. The way you speak of your paranoid episodes doesn't look like it matches something as strong as what I've seen in schizoaffective folks, where it was really marked by hallucinations and delusions persistent in time, that is days or even months or years.

I guess the line to draw is really the delusive and hallucinating aspects. And the fact it's not something that happens in the heat of an argument or a suspicion about something, but that is rather persistent and coherent in its delusion over time, with a resistance to reality checks.
 

RussellSue

Not Active
It’s not paranoid to click my seatbelt. Nor to get a 5 point harness.
That makes sense. Thank you.

I often fail to realize that all of the time that I spent in the middle of nowhere has warped my sense of humanity and judgment and has caused me to reach for the 5 point harness even when I am walking into a mental health facility.
 

RussellSue

Not Active
I have met people like this.
The way you speak of your paranoid episodes doesn't look like it matches something as strong as what I've seen in schizoaffective folks, where it was really marked by hallucinations and delusions persistent in time, that is days or even months or years.

Me too. I had a boyfriend take off on a 3-week, apparently non-stop walking journey just because he was avoiding people he thought were out to get him. I went to see him in the hospital and he had no skin left on the bottoms of his feet and he looked like a skeleton.

I remember having an internal conversation then. This man and I had the same diagnosis and yet what I saw was terrifying to me and I did not relate to it.

I remember thinking that there would have to be some great communications going on that could have turned the whole of Los Angeles County against that man. I have never had delusions of that sort.

What I suffer from is more of an INFJ, ginger, overly-introspective, multiple mental illness, cleft lip and jaw deformity with a limp sort of freak flag that can't really be lowered too much and expects people to be shitheads because they so often are and have been. I was surprised to witness the level of angry and defensive self-protection that came up in me over the weekend when I was very unstable and I called it paranoia, but the more I think about this, the more I realize that even it probably was not that.

I was suicidal for probably four days. I realize now that when I started pushing people away, I was actually trying to save myself. I have had the experience of losing a lot of people because of my mental illnesses and I felt that trying to reach out and getting hurt was not in my best interest. My sudden derailment came as a shock and I scrambled to keep from taking any more damage in the form of hurt feelings, unmet expectations, etc.

I don't remember ever not being mentally ill and I know that I have had the experience of answering a doctor's questions with the feeling that I ought to understand what baseline feels like, but I'm not sure that I do. So, unraveling this shit is very useful for me on the level that I might not go in and call things by the wrong name. These things are complicated at 41 with a background like mine.

One of the things that I think went haywire when I was diagnosed with schizoaffective was that I had been hospitalized with a "psychotic break." It happened 3 times when I was 20-21. Each time I was being chased. Well, my sister did chase me with a butcher knife and I ran for my life on other occasions, as well. As it turned out, I reported only one hallucination that did not look very much like a flashback, and that one may have had a drug use component.

I don't want them coming at me with antipsychotics if I don't need them because I developed tardive dyskinesia last I took any. That last thing I need is to feel more like a freak and tardive dyskinesia was real good for that. This is a huge part of why I am trying to determine with confidence whether or not I've been having any psychosis and when. Because, again, if I am merely struggling with some delusional thinking during a bipolar episode, that's still just bipolar, but if I am always doing it, it may be more serious.

Anyhow, thank you again. I feel much less distressed over it, now.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
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.
My situation with a kidnapping, a vindictive family who wouldn't leave me alone, seeing people actively intimate me, unwanted behavior by creepy family people, being intimidated and blue tooth hacked......I told my therapist that I was paranoid.......she says that's not paranoia, that is normal expected behavior after that kind of an event..... and my PTSD warning system is doing it's usual protective job. In that case, it is a conditioned response.....which honestly makes me feel better thinking about it like that rather than paranoid.....when I think paranoid....I classify it in the nutty/crazy category. So before you hone in on the term paranoid, look at the cause and what sets it off......then decide if you are PTSD symptomatic......and it is a conditioned response......or are really paranoid.

Being honest, and open and thoughtful of others feelings and having the same expectations of others.....is what I'd term having integrity. This seems to be the least path to relationship destruction-a path that promotes respect.
Loosing your shit at someone you say you care about because you are having a bad day, and they didn't live up to your expectations (maybe they didn't even really know or get it) is creating drama and totally not solving the problem....just adding another layer for your husbands armor to keep him safe. At some point, if someone lost their shit with me regularly, and blamed me, as they are yelling or giving me the silent treating, one of us eventually will have lost respect for the other, and would eventually be hitting the road. I ended up leaving my husband because I felt disrespected, and I hated the laundry list (if there was one problem....suddenly there were many problems.....I didn't do the laundry list barage very well.........and things seemed always to be my fault....not a combination of both of our faults.........

When I was feeling irritated, depressed, or upset........I tried to write/type it down first, problem-solution style with all the gritty feelings....I looked at my behavior, and my part......it also helped me get grounded and release some anger.......If I was angry, I got extremely busy away from husband. Anger is alienating, so it's likely alienating your husband and it sounds like he has a conditioned response to apologize when you are pissy/ranting. Maybe saying nothing is safer (it was with my husband-the less said the better). When your marriage is at this point....it is surviving, not thriving. At some point, he's probably been conditioned to apologize since you say this is his regular behavior......because it will stop your noise for a little while...... and stop his stress.....food for thought.. It is never okay to use mental health as an excuse.....
and no one person in a relationship is always to blame....if there are clear behavioral expectations and boundaries.

Taking the high road and avoiding conflict (When you get like that, change out mental anger for movement: go exercise, run/job, bike ride, swim, or clean.....ALONE...or be productive when you are angry and wear yourself out that way). Ask politely for some space.....and own needing the space as your issue. Until you are in a better state of mind and can re-evaluate your claims of disappointment with him....handling it more maturely will help you feel better overall and might help to reduce the tendency to start worrying about "what he thinks of you." Real love is hard to find these days, and easy to lose.
 

RussellSue

Not Active
At some point, he's probably been conditioned to apologize since you say this is his regular behavior......because it will stop your noise for a little while
He's always done this.

But this provides a good example of where I have thought I was having paranoia when it really was just me not wanting to feel judged. I thought better of sharing any of this but I chose to, knowing that there was this possibility.

You made a lot of assumptions, here, and given that I was using the example as a thing to assess paranoia from, there is a lot missing from the example that I might have provided if I had been looking for relationship advice, but I wasn't.

I just had my first major mood crash/episode in nearly a decade and the first one since I have been married.
I know to be concerned about my marriage.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
My situation with a kidnapping, a vindictive family who wouldn't leave me alone, seeing people actively intimate me, unwanted behavior by creepy family people, being intimidated and blue tooth hacked......I told my therapist that I was paranoid.......she says that's not paranoia, that is normal expected behavior after that kind of an event..... and my PTSD warning system is doing it's usual protective job. In that case, it is a conditioned response.....which honestly makes me feel better thinking about it like that rather than paranoid.....when I think paranoid....I classify it in the nutty/crazy category. So before you hone in on the term paranoid, look at the cause and what sets it off......then decide if you are PTSD symptomatic......and it is a conditioned response......or are really paranoid.

Being honest, and open and thoughtful of others feelings and having the same expectations of others.....is what I'd term having integrity. This seems to be the least path to relationship destruction-a path that promotes respect.
Loosing your shit at someone you say you care about because you are having a bad day, and they didn't live up to your expectations (maybe they didn't even really know or get it) is creating drama and totally not solving the problem....just adding another layer for your husbands armor to keep him safe. At some point, if someone lost their shit with me regularly, and blamed me, as they are yelling or giving me the silent treating, one of us eventually will have lost respect for the other, and would eventually be hitting the road. I ended up leaving my husband because I felt disrespected, and I hated the laundry list (if there was one problem....suddenly there were many problems.....I didn't do the laundry list barage very well.........and things seemed always to be my fault....not a combination of both of our faults.........

When I was feeling irritated, depressed, or upset........I tried to write/type it down first, problem-solution style with all the gritty feelings....I looked at my behavior, and my part......it also helped me get grounded and release some anger.......If I was angry, I got extremely busy away from husband. Anger is alienating, so it's likely alienating your husband and it sounds like he has a conditioned response to apologize when you are pissy/ranting. Maybe saying nothing is safer (it was with my husband-the less said the better). When your marriage is at this point....it is surviving, not thriving. At some point, he's probably been conditioned to apologize since you say this is his regular behavior......because it will stop your noise for a little while...... and stop his stress.....food for thought.. It is never okay to use mental health as an excuse.....
and no one person in a relationship is always to blame....if there are clear behavioral expectations and boundaries.

Taking the high road and avoiding conflict (When you get like that, change out mental anger for movement: go exercise, run/job, bike ride, swim, or clean.....ALONE...or be productive when you are angry and wear yourself out that way). Ask politely for some space.....and own needing the space as your issue. Until you are in a better state of mind and can re-evaluate your claims of disappointment with him....handling it more maturely will help you feel better overall and might help to reduce the tendency to start worrying about "what he thinks of you." Real love is hard to find these days, and easy to lose.
@RussellSue I see those of us with CPTSD/PTSD as folks who have relationship problems.....that just comes with the territory of not being in a more loving environment.....children learn what they see......read the threads.....these awful things that happened to us.....cause us to react...and have relationship issues.

I've been away from the dysfunctional family nearly 3 years......still working on relationship problems....in my 60's but much less so than a year or two ago.......hope I get it right most of the time before I die. My point is that what I say affects you, what we do on any given day, affects another....I just offered another idea as to how you might handle your anxiety, stress, PTSD triggers and anger and have the least impact on your marital relationship when things get hard....because the do....sometimes get real hard. Many, who aren't in our shoes....don't get it.

I do understand the concern about paranoia....as I've been there with those same feelings.....but I know it is hard on my best friend when I gravitate there......so I do my best now to keep boundaries-step back rather entangle her in my headspace, keep open communication, and take breaks to keep our relationship what I want it to be.....best friends, loving, there for each other (but not there in such a way to enable me to use my PTSD to bring her down). I just ask for a distance to get a different perspective when I'm glitching and irritable, ............so I end up with the least guilt and cognitive distortions running through my head, and I try to avoid PTSD gooping into her life and worrying her.

It's no okay to expect the people we love to be treated other than respectfully, nor when we are feeling lousy is that the best time to be blaming them for something.......just makes the hole that much deeper......that's why I think it is our responsibility to back away, ask for space, and take our stress/anger out on inanimate objects like scrubbing the floor

.....and yes, the majority of us here on this site because they had some kind of trauma-based relationship problems in one way or another....with their abuser......with someone they hurt, vets, prisoners of war, abused children, those of us who have been emotionally, religiously, or sexually abused.......and we learn some dysfunctional ways of behaving to survive it. Just takes working on those cognitive distortions and practicing kindness and consistency, & boundaries to get a better handle on it....and coming here has been a blessing.........Someone started a wonderful thread here on this site cognitive distortions and counters.........check it out....it may resonate with the feeling you call paranoia. That really helped me check my distorted thinking and try to turn it around. Hope you are feeling beter soon and wish you much luck.
 
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RussellSue

Not Active
It's no okay to expect the people we love to be treated other than respectfully, nor when we are feeling lousy is that the best time to be blaming them for something.

Why do you feel I need to be told this?

If I did not understand what I was doing or that it was unhelpful, I wouldn't be able to describe it as such. And there's a lot more, but again, I wasn't providing this highly summarized snippet (which does not describe my behavior in any meaningful way) looking to be advice on how to act more "maturely" in my relationship.

Again, I feel assumptions and judgement and now I feel like my feelings have been disregarded, as well. I'm getting advice I didn't ask for about a situation that has not been well described. And while I am just now getting restabilized, I may not be as quick to brush it off.

You do seem as though you are trying to be helpful and I do appreciate the sentiment, but getting advice that assumes this much about my behavior and is not helpful right now.

Or maybe it really is because I came here failing to guard myself and the next thing I know I am being told that I have conditioned my husband to cower before me? Because my behavior is what??

No, I am not paranoid. I'm simply well aware of how my words will be misunderstood and misconstrued. I am sensitive and I am not stable, at present. But not paranoid.

Thank you for the excellent illustration of how I get confused about these things.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
Why do you feel I need to be told this?

If I did not understand what I was doing or that it was unhelpful, I wouldn't be able to describe it as such. And there's a lot more, but again, I wasn't providing this highly summarized snippet (which does not describe my behavior in any meaningful way) looking to be advice on how to act more "maturely" in my relationship.

Again, I feel assumptions and judgement and now I feel like my feelings have been disregarded, as well. I'm getting advice I didn't ask for about a situation that has not been well described. And while I am just now getting restabilized, I may not be as quick to brush it off.

You do seem as though you are trying to be helpful and I do appreciate the sentiment, but getting advice that assumes this much about my behavior and is not helpful right now.

Or maybe it really is because I came here failing to guard myself and the next thing I know I am being told that I have conditioned my husband to cower before me? Because my behavior is what??

No, I am not paranoid. I'm simply well aware of how my words will be misunderstood and misconstrued. I am sensitive and I am not stable, at present. But not paranoid.

Thank you for the excellent illustration of how I get confused about these things.
I'm writing to you because I get it.....I get the judgmental worry.....the "on guard feeling" ....and it was very hard to look inward at my own reactions because it's nice to believe that the reason I'm here is because someone hurt me and I didn't do anything to make it worse....but it's not that simple...I've read a number of your posts, and it looks like you want to heal-find a better way, and find peace of mind and maybe contentment in life........meds won't fix this (they can make the process of healing a bit more tolerable).....meds won't stop unnecessary drama which takes away from the goal of healing, meds won't make you feel "normal" without processing the trauma-and I gave up that normal word a long time ago...., and yes....everyone here suffers from relational difficulties....a by product of PTSD.

Its just the way it is, every person reacts in one way or another (overreacting/calmly responsive/running away/fighting back/freezing)....and whose ever around reacts either positively or negatively to that behavior and if the same thing happens enough, they will begin to react predictably based on their own boundaries and coping mechanisms.....that's just behavior modification 101. The world goes around like that. For example, if my friend brings a new puzzle over, she can expect me getting out the mimosas and being there for hours having a grand puzzling time. That works for all behaviors-negative too. If every time she saw me I was complaining, she'd plan to stay for a short time, not puzzle, or make excuses not to come (so I limit complaining to keep things on the positive). It's basic human behavior....we are drawn to the positive....and avoid the negative (I protected myself by dissociating and isolating.....I work really hard to stay grounded now)-but we as folks with PTSD learned these unhelpful coping skills.....through repetition of a parental/abusive behavior and they are survival skills.....the warning bells "she doesn't like me, she is judging me" is just part of that when you hear something negative. It is a part of who you are today, but with information.....it doesn't have to be this way. As parents, we unknowingly pass ion dysfunctional behaviors to our kids unless we were in treatment before they were born......and the cycle goes on....traumatically injured people just keep doing what they know....till they realize they don't have to keep doing things that way...........that there is hope..........and it takes hard work to change......but I believe that you are asking the right questions, and even on this site, you might not get the answer you were looking for......but the people here care enough to tell it straight. That includes me.

Instead of focusing on what you didn't like about what I said in my post, or how you should have written more, or not written anything, I'm glad my post bothered you a little....but not trying to alienate you.......would like you to try to focus on cognitive distortions as an answer to your question, try reading through all the responses to the Cognitive Distortions and Counters thread......these are the things we think.....that we have learned from others......distorted ways of thinking. If you can identify your distorted way of thinking and feeling about ourselves, then write a counter to it. I've posted mine there.....and so have many, many others. Also search (top 10 distorted cognitions in trauma)-a great summary......see if any of them resonate. See you in the Cognitive Distortions and Counters thread!
 

RussellSue

Not Active
I'm glad my post bothered you a little....but not trying to alienate you
I can see how what I initially posted might have made you see my relationship with my husband different than it is -- I often describe my outward responses with as much intensity as my inner responses -- "attack" was the wrong word, but it is not your business, especially after I tried to get you to back off.

You used some very judgy words this morning. I don't appreciate that and I still find it inappropriate. You have obviously figured me out in your own mind, but I don't care what you think you see.

The last place I would ask for marriage advice would be in a virtual support group for the mentally ill. I value my marriage. I also have a therapist and a family.

My husband and I are doing quite well, regardless of what you've made up or what advice you think I need. Yes, I have emotional issues and relationship issues and cognitive distortions, but I don't need to be pushed to dissect them when I am trying to discuss another matter and am for the first time in almost a decade having a very serious mental health issue. No, medication doesn't fix everything, that's why I have been in therapy for 16 years and sober for 8+12. I am well aware that abuse victims have relationship difficulties -- I have been dealing with them since I got married. But, what went on this weekend and what I was discussing was not about that -- it was about me having a major mood disorder crash in response to finding out my stepfather had his bladder removed because of cancer and having only my pain medicine in my system.

Incidentally, we don't have any doors in my home -- so I can't go running off to hide when I have an emotion -- we deal with things. No one has to think it's the best way, but it's how we are.

I was trying to differentiate between paranoia and other things because I need to talk a doctor next week and I want to know if I am dealing with bipolar or schizoaffective -- neither of which were on my wish list and I did not think I had either until last weekend.

BUT you say I need to deal with my relationship issues/cognitive distortions right now and I should focus my attention on that? Not the moving, not the cancer, not my damned leg falling off, not these ridiculous episodes of mixed mania??

And I say NO. I do not. And I WILL NOT. And I resent that you've been so pushy about it. I have plenty to handle, already.

I have been in recovery for many years and I don't need you talking down to me especially while I am actually having a very hard time -- it is not the first time I have felt you have talked down to me and for how many problems you seem to think I am not dealing with -- you are the only person I have had this problem with on this site.

Please leave me alone.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I can see how what I initially posted might have made you see my relationship with my husband different than it is -- I often describe my outward responses with as much intensity as my inner responses -- "attack" was the wrong word, but it is not your business, especially after I tried to get you to back off.

You used some very judgy words this morning. I don't appreciate that and I still find it inappropriate. You have obviously figured me out in your own mind, but I don't care what you think you see.

The last place I would ask for marriage advice would be in a virtual support group for the mentally ill. I value my marriage. I also have a therapist and a family.

My husband and I are doing quite well, regardless of what you've made up or what advice you think I need. Yes, I have emotional issues and relationship issues and cognitive distortions, but I don't need to be pushed to dissect them when I am trying to discuss another matter and am for the first time in almost a decade having a very serious mental health issue. No, medication doesn't fix everything, that's why I have been in therapy for 16 years and sober for 8+12. I am well aware that abuse victims have relationship difficulties -- I have been dealing with them since I got married. But, what went on this weekend and what I was discussing was not about that -- it was about me having a major mood disorder crash in response to finding out my stepfather had his bladder removed because of cancer and having only my pain medicine in my system.

Incidentally, we don't have any doors in my home -- so I can't go running off to hide when I have an emotion -- we deal with things. No one has to think it's the best way, but it's how we are.

I was trying to differentiate between paranoia and other things because I need to talk a doctor next week and I want to know if I am dealing with bipolar or schizoaffective -- neither of which were on my wish list and I did not think I had either until last weekend.

BUT you say I need to deal with my relationship issues/cognitive distortions right now and I should focus my attention on that? Not the moving, not the cancer, not my damned leg falling off, not these ridiculous episodes of mixed mania??

And I say NO. I do not. And I WILL NOT. And I resent that you've been so pushy about it. I have plenty to handle, already.

I have been in recovery for many years and I don't need you talking down to me especially while I am actually having a very hard time -- it is not the first time I have felt you have talked down to me and for how many problems you seem to think I am not dealing with -- you are the only person I have had this problem with on this site.

Please leave me alone.
Thanks for taking the time to post your issues and concerns.... I am sorry you are having a rough go of it.....and I'll take the "judgy comment" under advisement and reflect on that.....in future posts in threads. Hope you are feeling better. Here's hoping for a better year in 2021!
 
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