Posts Tagged ‘mental illness in pakistan’

I have attempted, several times, to try to take this blog in a different direction. It started out as the explorations of a journalism student, and somehow, became primarily, a feminist blog. While I do believe that feminism is my identity, I don’t want to write exclusively about feminism. Unfortunately, I’m not the sort of writer to force blogs out, which is why I post here so infrequently now.

But let’s not talk about women for once. Let’s not talk about feminism. Let’s discuss paranoia.

Please note: the following consists entirely of my personal experiences and opinions, and the sources quoted or linked are amateur research. I am not in any way, trained in psychiatry or psychology, nor am I at all qualified to give valid opinions on the subject. (Although to be fair, not even trained psychologists can diagnose themselves for reasons of objectivity) This blog is purely subjective, and should not be treated as a valid source of information on paranoia (of course, the quotes or excerpts aren’t subjective, and are based on facts, but you know that already)

I wasn’t always paranoid. I was the exact opposite. I was sweet and trusting and innocent. I believed everything everyone said. Seldom questioned their intentions. Had difficulty believing that anyone would say or do anything with malicious intent. I’m lucky that I wasn’t taken advantage of, at least, not completely. Lucky me, that I was older and capable of dealing with the manipulation when it did come along. And then too, I was old enough to recognize what was happening, even if it took me some time to accept that my trust was being exploited.

At first, I thought I had difficulty trusting people because of various negative experiences. Soured relationships with people, family issues, all these easily explained why I didn’t really blindly trust people anymore. And obviously, I thought it was a good thing. I was more critical of people, I didn’t believe everything I was told, I tried to think rationally about my relationships instead of blind trust and love.

Then, things started changing. It wasn’t just that I questioned intentions, I questioned them frequently. It wasn’t just that I didn’t believe people’s goodness so easily anymore; it was that I didn’t believe it at all. It wasn’t just that I tried to think beyond blind trust; it was that I couldn’t trust anyone, ever.

Then one day, I realized that I was in class, rocking back and forth with my hands over my ears, unhappily muttering, “Everyone’s after me, I know they are. They want me to do something wrong so they can all say mean things about me. They’re always trying to spy on me. They think I’m doing things behind their back. They’re all after me. I know they are,” while my friends tried to calm me down.

I calmed down eventually. Then.

I found myself apologizing more and more for over-reacting, accusing someone of lying to me, of going behind my back. I would collapse into hysterical fits sometimes. Episodes, I later learned they were called. I was constantly fearful, seeing traitors all around me. Traitors. Yeah. I actually use that word.

It was at this point, that I was lucky enough to realize I had a problem.

While trying to figure out ways to quit being paranoid, I stumbled across DSM-IV, and was vaguely alarmed by what it had to say about Paranoid Personality Disorder. When I studied psychology in intermediate, my teacher was amused that the class would often be panicked and say, “all of these symptoms match us exactly!” It’s easy to think you have every single mental illness or disorder you read about, something even my med school friends agree with. According to the DSM,

The essential feature of Paranoid Personality Disorder is a pattern of pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent. This pattern begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts. Individuals with this disorder assume that other people will exploit, harm, or deceive them…suspect on the basis of little or no evidence that others are plotting against them and may attack them …often feel that they have been deeply and irreversibly injured by another person or persons even when there is no objective evidence…preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of their friends… so amazed when a friend or associate shows loyalty that they cannot trust or believe it.

Individuals with this disorder persistently bear grudges…Minor slights arouse major hostility, and the hostile feelings persist for a long time. … quick to counterattack and react with anger to perceived insults…generally difficult to get along with and often have problems with close relationships, their excessive suspiciousness and hostility may be expressed in overt argumentativeness, in recurrent complaining, or by quiet, apparently hostile aloofness.

There are more details in the DSM, these are just the ones applicable to me.  Again, this does not mean I have PPD. I have absolutely no idea if I have any kind of disorder or not, nor am I qualified to diagnose myself. I’ve quoted the DSM to explain to anyone reading this precisely how it is that I feel or operate. I do have friends I trust, yes. People I have the utmost faith in. If I had to count them, I’d say there are about… two people. That’s it. Just two people. I talk a lot, so I tell people things easily, even things I’m supposed to keep secret because I don’t want to hide who I am. But do I trust those people afterward, no. I fully expect them to stab me in the back. And they do, they have, and they will continue to do so, because that’s just what happens to me.

The roughest part of all that is that people exploit my paranoid feelings for their own amusement. It’s quite easy to, if you’re close enough to me to have seen what the paranoia is like. When I started writing this blog, many moons ago, it was in reaction to a trusted friend thinking it was a funny joke to provoke my paranoia and thus, a panic attack by telling me a lie. It’s not a very nice thing to do, especially if the person knows firsthand how much I struggle to cope with the paranoia.

There are days when it’s less, almost non-existent, and there are days when it’s an all-time high. The key is to remove all negative influences from my life. I’ve known some truly poisonous people on the internet for example, people who truly have mental problems, and do not seek help, and I’ve cut them all out of my life because no one deserves to be subjected to another person’s issues. I’ve cut reality friends out of my life as well, people who just can’t cope with me being different- half the friends I have are from school, where we all knew each other since we were five years old- or people who just became strangers to me. But despite surrounding myself with friends and family, it’s still extremely easy to become paranoid. To think someone’s put a keylogger on your computer, or is eavesdropping on your phone conversations. It’s… maddening, to say the least. And because I do not have any specific disorder or major mental health issues, I’ve managed to get better, and not be as suspicious of everyone and everything.

I’ve known some people in my life who suffer from PTSD or mental disabilities, but they don’t seek help, and instead, lash out at everyone around them. I’ve seen people actually use mental illness as a weapon against people, or use it to manipulate people, or even, fake episodes to emotionally blackmail people. And I truly hope such people get help, fast. But I also know people who have genuine problems, real disabilities, and they seek help, and I constantly see them struggling to live life as a mentally disabled person. I’m just a little bit paranoid, but these people, they have real mental illnesses. They’re going to live with it for the rest of their lives. So the next time you make a cruel joke about bipolar people, or the next time you mock someone suffering from depression, or criticize teenagers for being “emo”, remember this blog. Remember, that my little problem is magnified by a million for teenagers suffering from clinical depression, for adults with mental illnesses or disorders, and show a little kindness. Be a little patient. And show those people that there’s a place for them in this world.

Special thanks to my good friend Sadaf Mujeeb for her encouragement and help in writing this blog.