“Everyone is out to get me”
Every night I lock my room if someone tries to come in and attack me. Looking around in the dark for shadows, anything that could disturb my children’s rest. On my daily walks to work, the sense of being followed persists in my head even though I play music while walking to soothe my anxieties. Once I sit at my desk the fear that something bad will happen starts its vicious cycle; maybe my co-worker is talking behind my back; I feel threatened, insecure, and awkward.
During the past year, my therapist has developed a good strategy to help me face any feelings of persecution and mistrust of people by putting words on the experience. Instead of judging the lack of awareness, I’d just say “Fear has enveloped me” as just a thought, not an action. It is rather complicated to act intuitively from a wise mind. However, to feel that every single conversation is aimed at you when it was something different heightens anxiety to such level they can become persecutory delusions. I experience paranoia every single day. It is a transient episode of psychosis where I must control myself with DBT coping skills, and medicine, or else I will end up in the hospital. Social media plays a huge part of my spiral staircase. I have learned to leave out comparisons, judgement, and assumptions. It is difficult to manage the time spent on Twitter or Facebook, but slowly I got a better grasp of every situation and not jumping to conclusions.
When this little absolute thinking of mine shifts into a dark corner, I’d grab a camera and try to capture an image of all those feelings of paranoia entrapped in me. Within the long voyages of my thoughts, I can set myself free of fear; fear of getting in a car accident, of being kidnapped, dying of a heart attack in the next five minutes, sleeping in peace without suffering from night terrors, or locking my room if mother grabs a butcher knife to kill me. See how heavy it is? Nevertheless, this is my life; I’m an emotional human being. I confirm pre-existing assumptions, whatever piece of information that doesn’t fit with my beliefs are screened anxiously: sounds good right? Imagine going through mental reasoning twenty-four hours a day with no break with the sense of spirits flowing. It is overwhelming having this negative attitude about the world. It is a distressing feeling that I am being watched while I sleep, shadows moving around. Relationships feel threatened; a person becomes too rigid, perfectionist with no moderation to differentiate facts versus feelings.
The fear is real and present, but the danger is not present. In a way it’s a trigger from the past: the hyper-vigilance of living with an alcoholic father ignites the thoughts of past events—especially the bad ones—can unleash a whole spectrum of anxiety and paranoia. Although the blame on my parents for giving me a bad childhood has been long forgiven, the ashes from the fire still remain.
There is trending going on today on Twitter with the hashtag #WhyIWrite. I write because I believe my universe consists of more than irrational fear or paranoia. Writing is my way to meet my inner fears and voices to settle my mind like a stone flake on the lake. The sky is blue; the trees are changing into a parade of yellow, red and orange colors. The air is gentle, I’m slowly floating through the calm water; I float down towards the bottom of the lake, settling my attention within myself. Everything makes sense; I close my eyes, drawing a smile upon my face, feeling at ease once again.
Stephanie Ortez is a quirky mother of two wonderful boys, addicted to books and coffee. She works with homeschooled students for the George Washington University school online and the International Academy. Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, and generalized anxiety disorder in her mid-twenties, she is an advocate for those with bipolar disorder and member of Stigma Fighters. She also uses writing as therapy on her blog https://stephanieortez.wordpress.com/. She collects glass bottles and enjoys photography as a hobby.