anonymous asked:

hey:) i stumbled across some scary videos a few weeks ago and since then i've been so paranoid every night.. i'm talking hearing/seeing things, intrusive thoughts, dissociating, tiring myself out/staying up late in order to avoid being awake in the dark, avoiding my bedroom at all costs (even sleeping in other rooms). at some point i didn't even listen to music in fear of subliminal messages or unintentional blasphemy. it's been really messing up my sleep schedule and mental health. any tips?

Hey there.  Paranoia can be a very hard thing to cope with, I struggle with it myself and the way I manage it now is through medication (as-needed anti-psychotic medications like loxapine or olanzapine are what have worked best for me).  But if paranoia is something you only occasionally experience, or has specific and avoidable triggers, medication may not be the route that would work best for you.  I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say either way.

You mentioned that you’re having difficulty sleeping because of your fear, and you’re probably already somewhat aware of this but paranoia gets worse when you don’t get enough sleep.  If you’re afraid of being awake in the dark, or don’t feel safe going to sleep in the dark, set up a night-light of some sort.  An electric candle(s), Christmas lights, a low-watt night lamp–those are all things I have in my room that create a soft and comforting light and eliminates a lot of the shadows that intensify my paranoia.  Since you say your bedroom particularly is scaring you, brainstorm ways to make your bedroom a safe environment for you.

Getting a good amount of restful sleep is a big priority, so do what you need to do to keep a regular sleep schedule that lets you feel well-rested in the morning.  Having a bath at night, or drinking certain teas or warm milk are all good ways to help you feel tired and get to sleep.  If you’re feeling restless during the day, getting some exercise will help tire you out (but don’t go overboard and over-exert yourself!).  I really can’t stress the “Find a way to get enough restful sleep” thing enough.  It’s so important to give you the mental and emotional reserves required to deal with paranoia.

In BPD, paranoia is commonly triggered by stress.  Or, too much stress can make us susceptible to paranoia. Finding ways to de-stress that work for you will really help minimize your paranoid thoughts.  Do things for yourself that you enjoy.  Try Self-Soothing (here’s a list of ideas if you’re having a hard time thinking of anything), or try any of the components of the IMPROVE the Moment Skill. 

If music or other forms of media are upsetting you because your paranoia is telling you there’s subliminal messaging going on, then instead focus on envisioning a safe and happy place inside your mind, a place where no one or anything but yourself can access–a place where you’re safe and comfortable.  Imagery like this has been a big help to me when I’ve been sucked into a paranoid episode.  If you’re having trouble imagining something for yourself, you can always ask a friend to help you envision a calming and safe space if there’s a friend or other loved one who you know you can still trust even in the midst of your paranoia.

Another good DBT skill to use, when you find yourself believing paranoid thoughts, is the Check the Facts Skill.  This is usually used to determine whether an emotion fits the facts (and the emotion in your case would be “fear”), but you can also tweak the skill to use it to see if you have any proof that your beliefs or thoughts “fit the facts” as well.  There are two different methods you can use to practice this skill, here is Method 1, and here is Method 2.

The other thing you can do to cope with paranoia, which is something I’ve been doing a lot myself, is to practice Mindfulness.  If you’re afraid of your bedroom, you can go into your bedroom during the time of day when you feel safest, and practice Observing and Describing what you are experiencing with your senses.  This is a way for you to stick to the facts of what is actually going on around you, rather than what you fear is going on around you. 

You can practice grounding exercises in conjunction with practicing Mindfulness.  For me, at least, this helps me become grounded in the present moment because I’m working with the facts of what I’m experiencing, rather than believing that my fears are real.  When you find yourself thinking a fearful or suspicious thought, you can Observe that thought and say to yourself “I observe that I have had the thought that X”.  This helps you to label thoughts as just thoughts, beliefs as just beliefs, feelings as just feelings, rather than facts. 

I hope at least a few of these ideas will help you get through this tough time.  And most importantly, don’t watch any more videos that are going to feed your paranoia at this time.  Be aware of your triggers and if you have to expose yourself to them, make sure you’re doing so in a safe environment where you have control over the situation.  Blacklist as many things on your dash as you need to in order to make this a safe place for you.   Or if the internet is to triggering as a whole, stay off it completely and focus on physical things you can do in the real world.  Engaging in a hobby or learning something new can be a great way to distract yourself from paranoid thoughts.

Further Reading: Different levels of paranoid thoughts, Information about what “transient stress-induced paranoia” means, the STOP Skill, the TIP Skill, Willingness, Half-Smiling, and Willing Hands, Radical Acceptance/Reality Acknowledgement 



Why isn’t the olanzapine working. I bet they’ve done this on purpose. I’m starting to think they’re not believing me anymore. They’re all laughing at me. I’m so stupid for telling them things. I’m not crazy but they’re thinking it. They can probably see me now. They’re reading my thoughts too. They’re laughing at me. I need this to stop. I’m not crazy.