Since I was in my early teens, I’ve been concerned that people around me were conspiring to harm me in some way. As a student, I thought it was the teachers – they (as a group) were plotting to fail me in school. At my work, I thought it was my employer and the other employees – they were plotting to fire me. At church, it was the minister and other members of the congregation – they were plotting to kick me out of the church. In almost all circumstances of my life, I perceived someone was out to get me. This always caused me anxiety but my response was to work harder so that they couldn’t justify actually completing their plot. (That actually has served me well in life).
It never occurred to me that perhaps these thoughts weren’t real until they started to get extreme. At one point in my life, I began to believe I was under surveillance by my employer. I believed there were video cameras hidden around work that were monitoring my every move in hopes of catching me doing something that could justify my being fired. I thought they were coming into my office when I was gone and going through my things. I became obsessed with “covering my tracks” (even though I had nothing to hide). I started staying at my office until very late at night – sometimes all night – to keep a watch on my things. The constant stress eventually caused me to get very depressed – at which time I finally sought out treatment.
The psychiatrist decided that it was all related to depression and treated me for that. With time, the depression went away and I stopped the treatment. But the suspicious thoughts never really did leave. They still cause me a lot of grief from time to time. But I have learned to try to dismiss them – that is never easy and sometimes almost impossible. I no longer believe them, which helps me function better in all aspects of my life. But that doesn’t stop me from constantly thinking them.