Personal accounts of paranoia

Rachel, UK

I am constantly obsessed with the deranged notion that people are trying to gain control of my mind and thoughts by infiltrating my head with thought-altering worms and hypnosis. I have felt this way ever since I was 9. I'm just thankful that - despite the huge, crushing effect this maddening regime of paranoia, distress and panic has on my life and social interactions - I'm not yet fully convinced that this remote mind-control is entirely real. I mean, it's an incredibly ludicrous thing to believe in. Maybe one day I'll be able to shake off my suspicions and go out in public without fearing for my consciousness.

Jess, USA

As a kid, I was terrified to come home to an empty house after school. Every day I worried there would be a robber there, who would appear and kill me if I set foot in the kitchen or back hall. I was too scared to use the bathroom and ended up with a bladder infection at one point. We moved into a new house when I was around 12, but I think the fear had mostly cleared up by then anyway, to be replaced with depression and migraines. Yay adolescence. That depressive episode lasted nearly three years. I started having occasional brief fantasies of people (myself, family, friends, strangers) dying in horrible ways- like a little movie playing in front of my open eyes. Not fun. I asked one friend about it, and her response ensured I never asked anyone again. Those lasted until I was about 20. Depressive episodes continued. I've moved into a new phase now, it seems like. I keep thinking people are taking my things. I know they aren't. I know I'm failing to put them away properly, or losing them, or something. But my first, initial thought on finding them missing is "…who took it?" It's scary, and I want desperately to learn to stop thinking this way. Mental illness (legit court-ordered-loonybin crazy) runs in my mom's family, and I'm worried that my dad's totally sane family won't be enough to override that legacy. I'd rather die than put any potential kids through what my mom's going through with my grandmother.

Richard, USA

I have extreme paranoia that someone wants to kill me and get rid of me. I have nightmares about it as well. I often want to leave evidence so they won't get away with it or so everyone will know I was killed and didn't leave or kill myself. I think people watch my internet activity and track my phone. I believe there are recording devices in my home and sometimes get angry at that and say offensive things for them to hear. I think someone waits outside my house and watches me. I believe these thoughts are very real and that I'm having a psychic intuition. I frequently have paranoia thoughts that my spouse is cheating on me. I think I know who the people are. I see there faces associated with the thoughts. I get heart sinking feelings and hear explicit detailed dirty talk in my head that she is sexting to another person. I think she has another phone that she hides from me. I recently started thinking that she is cheating on me inside the house while I'm occupied taking care of our kids. I sometimes run downstairs to catch her doing it. My ears ring throughout the day accompanied with thoughts of deception in which I can see the persons face who is thinking or talking about me. I thought both of my kids weren't mine at first and did a paternity test on my second child just to find out he was mine. I sometimes see other peoples faces in my kids that were my friends in the past and at first thought she cheated with that person. I still see hints of those people in my kids faces even though I know they are mine. I often think that when someone says something normal there is more to it and they were trying to offend me. I think the things people say are signs or warnings to me. I think people can easily guess my passwords and change them a lot.

Liam, UK

Sometimes i would find myself in positions where i wanted to scream around to the people why they opposed me or hated me or were secretly talking about me. I found it hard to rationalise, it traumatised and scarred me mentally. It forced me into mental loneliness and unhappiness. But now I take a deep breathe, ask what makes you so special? why would any other person want to ridicule you like that? out of the 7 billion people in the world to the 400 in the room, why would the shed interest in you? Do you have interest in them? Stop analysing, start relaxing its easier on the mental health.

Jay, UK

i have always had some problems growing up e.g ocd and depression which i delt with on my own but then at 16 i began to smoke cannabis and i am now 18 and have quit smoking it, i loved goin on a night out but recently i have not felt like doing anything and jus staying in i have felt paranoid for many months now but the last few have been severe i feel as though wen i go out someone is going to attempt to harm me and in confrontations with other people i cannot help but shake through fear i never have been like this before i used to be able to stand my ground but i feel as though i cant now