Changing the way I think… by Ash Pryce

I wanted to talk about my paranoia.  As I mentioned previously, it was the least expected element of my illness.  A post from a friend on Facebook has got me reassessing how I deal with it and how I deal with other people.

One thing I find is if someone doesn’t respond to me on say Facebook or Twitter, and it’s something I would consider requires a response, or if I announce something and certain people don’t comment I instantly slip into a mindset of “oh my god, they hate me, what have I done?  Why would they ignore me?  I must have done something to upset or offend them.”

Most times I actually haven’t done anything wrong.  Most of the time they’ve simply not noticed the post or the comment or the message.  Facebook especially is a bugger for losing messages and posts.  Allowing them to disappear into the ether of the internet.  Recently my hamster died.  She was a lovely wee thing.  Bert her name was, because when we got her we were told she was a he.  During the days when my former partner/ current housemate (it’s complicated!) was out at work Bert was the only companion I had so her loss was really felt.

The night we buried her I had several people send me condolences, but there were several people that I would have expected to comment that didn’t.  Instantly I thought they were ignoring me, I thought they were pissed off at me.  Clearly I had done something wrong.  I even posted a pretty ranty comment about how I’d lost respect for someone.  I hadn’t.  My own sense of paranoia and assumption they were intentionally ignoring me overwhelmed me.

One of the people I felt angry with is one of my oldest friends.  They aren’t active online.  Another is a woman I respect and care about deeply.  Another is a friend I speak to regularly.  None of these people were ignoring me, in fact I received several messages from some of them over the following days.

I hadn’t done anything to offend them and they weren’t ignoring me.  They simply hadn’t seen my single post on Bert’s death which would have appeared amongst hundreds of others.  Many times I will click on someone’s page and see a post that I hadn’t seen appear in the actual news feed.

But this is something about depression that scares me the most.  Will my paranoia topple over, will it cause me to react in a way that will forever damage a friendship and in doing so genuinely give the person a reason to dislike me.

Some of the people I think are ignoring me also have mental health issues.  They are upset at accusations of ignorance- quite rightly.  It’s a vicious cycle.  And it’s one that ultimately I have to break because it’s ME that is feeling this way, I can’t allow my own mental health issues to impact on others.  I risk damaging important friendships and alienating friends I care about.

From now on I shall endeavour to be a little more cautious.  To accept that people aren’t necessarily ignoring me.  That I haven’t done something to upset them or anger them.

To those I have upset or accused of ignorance I am truly sorry.  And one person in particular, if she’s reading this, H, I’m sorry if I ever threw accusations at you, genuinely and wholeheartedly.  You’re someone I respect deeply (even if we disagree at times) and care about.  Your posts and comments recently have spurred me on to write this and to readdress my own way of dealing with the paranoia part of my depression.  And for that I am truly thankful.  And to all those i may have let my health affect.  I am sorry.


About shatteringthestigma

An open blog taking submissions from skeptics and skeptic friendly individuals on the subject of mental health.

Posted on January 17, 2012, in Depression, Paranoia and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. This is such an unbelievably true post. I know it’s true from bitter experience of losing a friend for the very same reasons. It was unfortunately irreparable as she couldn’t reason with herself the way you have so honestly here. Well done, and I hope you continue to feel stronger as each day passes! x

  2. This is so unbelievably true and for me, due to personal and still very raw experience this makes me so immensely sad, a tear falls as I write. My father has recently been diagnosed with a physical syndrome which has many psychosomatic and psychological components. One of which can be depression. We are not longer speaking because of the nasty and hurtful things he has said to me about ignoring him.

    Firstly. please know that you have my utmost respect and admiration. This is an incredible thing to admit and is the reason the thing you are scared most of will not happen. For as long as you are self aware, and can acknowledge these things about yourself no person will ever be offended by you. Well, not because of your mental health, your religious persuasions may still offend people but hey, who cares about that!!

    From someone who has been on the other end of these things with many people over the years, you are doing all the right things by saying “its an issue, its my issue, and your help and understanding is appreciated”. That way people will accept your eccentricities, and really that is all they are. They will brush off the occasional insecure, needy moments where they have to explain they didn’t mean to ignore you. Why? Because you write things like this! At the heart of it you are a good, nice, decent person trying to deal with some stuff…

    Interesting idea for you…Some psychologists believe that depressed patients have the most accurate perception of reality. Much better than ‘normal’ samples. ‘Normal’ people surround themselves with delusions which help them to get by. People with depression are confronting the reality of a harsh world…so really you are much more sane than I am!!

    Much love and respect for this, Ash Xx

    • Thank you 🙂

      I find this blog an imoprtant place to really get across how things affect me. And with other people also able to contribute articles there are a lot of people with a lot of stories, and reading their fight with and in some cases ability to overcome their problems is very empowering.

      It is also always useful getting feedback from others who may not be dealing with Mental health issues.

      All the best 🙂 xx

  3. Thank you for this. Will send you some traffic tomorrow. *hug*

  4. how would you feel if you sent an anonymous contribution to this site about your mental health disorder, it being the first time you’ve ever told anyone about it entirely, and it doesn’t get posted or get a response?

    I’d fear my issue was too disturbing or distasteful to have mentioned. I would think they refused to post it because my condition would bring shame to the atheist and humanist community. Or that it would call my atheist and humanist values into question. Or that I’d be ostracized and outcast as just some troll.

    • Hi

      We try to publish all contributions we get and respond- this can take soem time as we are getting a lot of contributions at the moment. There might be some exceptions- any that deal with criminal acts – depending on the nature and whether or not they are outstanding – might not be appropriate.

      Also we do publish all comments we get – unless they are spam or would be better suited to being a blog article by themselves.

      People shouldn’t be judged for their mental health issues and that’s what this site is to promote.

      If you have submitted something and we haven’t responded yet I apologise. It may have got lost in internet transit so resending might work.

      But certainly it would get a response, even if not appropriate.


  5. I find facebook makes anxiety and depression worse for me. It definetely puts my paranoia of what people are thinking about me on high alert.

  6. As an atheist with varying degrees of mental health, I avoid Facebook like the plauge. I never felt happy when I was on it, always anxious and worried about the impression I was making and stressing that I either wasn’t being true to myself (posting what I knew others wanted to hear/see) or that I was alienating my “friends” by posting things that were true to me.

    Deleting my account was the best thing I’ve ever done for my mental health. Seriously.

  7. Every word you say is something I recognise. For me it is less about Facebook and more about people I see day to day, but the feelings are the same. Particularly those about regret for the friends caught up in it all. We know they care. If they didn’t, they’d never be there. We just have issues reminding ourselves of this and tragically others suffer as a result.

  8. You might find this interesting…although new study so not really checked for reliability of findings and there are certainly methodological flaws

  9. Thanks for this post. It brings back a lot of memories, and also shows me how far I have come, even tho a long journey, and still on it.

    I also had this paranoia that I had upset or annoyed people, and would spend a lot of time pondering how badly they are feeling towards me and what I had done, and it made me want to hide away.

    “to accept that people aren’t necessarily ignoring me”.
    I would say that accepting it takes the longest time of all, may not even be fully achievable, but there are steps towards it.

    My first step for these kinds of things is to try and limit the time i think these thoughts. Telling myself to be quiet and try think of something else. Then there is thinking things like :

    ‘Well all those bad thoughts of the impact something I have said or done may be true. But I do not know they are true. I might as well carry on and try and think that there is some other reason, a rational and ok reason.”

    This means, after years, that i spend less than 60 seconds initially starting to think of all the bad things that could explain the response or lack of response, and move onto thinking of good and acceptable reasons. I also try and do a time check. To push the thoughts back saying I will revisit the situation in a week, and see if there is any more evidence. Like ‘it really doesn’t matter now, nothing I can do’.

    But it can still come back. I recently was at a social gathering with someone I consider one of my closest friends, tho we have drifted apart over the past year, and at the end, he just left. Usually, although it had been a while, I would have just walked with him to his car, jumped in, had a lift home, invited him in for a coffee and had some more banter. The fact that he walked off felt like a slap in the face, and i walked home feeling miserable, and just couldn’t shake it. But I had to tell myself that it was acceptable behaviour, and I hadn’t done anything wrong. I allowed myself to stay miserable for the rest of the night so i didn’t have to fight it, sometimes it’s too much of a fight to move past something and try and be cheery (or even just neutral).

    Mainly its a focus at not reacting and treating people in a manner that stems from bad thoughts. Understanding/knowing that it is your own mind playing tricks on you. I often know that I am in a stonking mood, and people who know me well enough get a warning and an apology at the start that any bad moodiness is not mean to be directed at them, and it will dissipate late.

    Sometimes I feel it just builds up. Like i’ve spent so much energy trying to be rational and not let things affect me, that the energy runs out, and I just get swamped and feel like sitting and crying for a long time.

    I wish you luck in feeling less paranoid, sometimes just making another bit of your brain talk more loudly and logically over the top can quieten it into a corner, it takes effort, but i have found it rewarding.

  10. I never really had a name for this, but I’ve had this too, over the years. It comes and goes. I get hypersensitive to little shit, like my girlfriend not being as talkative in instant messages as I am–is she mad? bored with me? what did I do? why won’t she talk? Then I’ll find out that she was away from the keyboard making tea or taking a phone call, and I’ll either feel stupid or else pissed off that someone else was taking her time, and *then* feel bad about that. 😛

    Things that have helped have been to make a point of taking notice of the times when the people whose good opinion I value *have* been paying me attention, and to tell myself that this means that they do really care and do really like me. It sometimes also helps to just tell myself, “Okay, this is your anxiety acting up, you don’t have to believe the worries that are running through your head right now. They might not be true. Just breathe a bit. It’s probably your brain dicking with you and not a representation of reality.” And then try to distract myself with something I know I’ll enjoy.

    Anyway–thank you so much for this post. 🙂 There’s more people dealing with the same shit than we know. *offers Internet hugs*

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on the way we think… « Discover Fine Acting Blog

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