Tag Archive | over thinking

Living on the Anxious Edge

Here’s a fact for you.

“One in four people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.”

Consider that for a moment.

Think of your closest friends, the small group of you that go out together regularly. The above statistic means that it’s highly likely that someone within that small circle of best friends is suffering from a mental health issue. Maybe you know about it. Perhaps they’ve come clean about it, as an explanation of their behaviour sometimes, and, as good friends should be, you’re fine with it and you’ve accepted it. Or, maybe they’ve not said a word, and they are fighting a silent battle. Maybe, perhaps, it’s you. Are you the one suffering in silence?

* anxiety
/aŋˈzʌɪəti/
noun
a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
‘he felt a surge of anxiety’
synonyms: worry, concern, apprehension, apprehensiveness, consternation, uneasiness, unease, fearfulness, fear, disquiet, disquietude, perturbation, fretfulness, agitation, angst, nervousness, nerves, edginess, tension, tenseness, stress, misgiving, trepidation, foreboding, suspense, butterflies (in one’s stomach), the willies, the heebie-jeebies, the jitters, the shakes, the jumps, the yips, collywobbles, jitteriness, jim-jams, twitchiness, the (screaming) abdabs, Joe Blakes, worriment
strong desire or concern to do something or for something to happen.
‘the housekeeper’s eager anxiety to please’
synonyms: eagerness, keenness, desire, impatience, longing, yearning

Before I go further with this blog, I want and need to express something.
I have never been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Nor am I qualified in any way to give medical advice or professional opinions. I do, however, feel very deeply and over think everything to the point of worrying.

I also get anxious over certain situations, I have triggers. Irrational thoughts about situations out of my own hands which cause me to tie myself up in a tangle of invisible , unbreakable knots.

Something I have only ever told one person is this:- shortly after my husband left me, I went to the doctors as I was feeling out of sorts. Understandable, I guess, given the circumstances. Who wouldn’t, right?

I was signed off from work for two weeks.

I didn’t take the time off work.

To me, being at home, alone with my thoughts, was the last thing I needed. Being lonely and stuck with my paranoid , over thinking brain would’ve caused me more harm than good.
So I continued to work. I battled through. Perhaps I’ve done myself a dis-service, by not taking the time off, perhaps I didn’t really deal with or resolve the underlying issues I have.

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I guess what I’m trying to put across is this.
One in four people have mental health issues in their lifetime.
However…..
Every single one of us has triggers that set off stress, anxiety and depressive moods.

The way I feel, the way I get when triggered, is absolutely nothing compared to someone with a full blown diagnosis, trust me I know that. One of my very closest friends fights a daily battle with anxiety and depression. I know the difference.

That doesn’t mean I don’t relate to some of the biggest signs.

Over thinking is my biggest problem. Teamed with paranoia, these two traits barely scratch the surface of what people diagnosed with anxiety suffer from, but does that mean that we should dismiss people feeling this way just because they haven’t got a diagnosis?

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Knowing how I often feel, I think it’s important that we should all take more time to consider what someone is going through, before making assumptions about their behaviour, or their responses, or their moods.

Someone once described anxiety to me like this.

Imagine being stuck in a room with no windows or doors. In that room with you is everything you dislike and every sound you hate. You want to get out, but you can’t. Trapped. 

How would that make you feel? Can you even begin to comprehend that someone you know might feel like that more often than you realise? I can. I can because my mind goes there sometimes. A scenario plays over and over in my head, to the point that I make it into something far worse than it is, and it spirals, out of my control. Bigger and bigger.  I can’t get away from it even though it’s unpleasant, bringing me stress. I have to stick with it until I’ve mulled it over and over until it’s more than it ever was. More than it ever should be.

I go one of two ways when I feel like this. Sometimes, I don’t want to talk to anyone. I want to walk away and sit in a quiet room with my unreasonable thoughts. Lying on my bed, staring at my phone for hours seems a reasonable place to want to be. If I tell someone what’s playing on my mind, they’ll try and tell me it’ll be fine, not to worry, try to find explanations for why what’s happened has happened but the truth of the matter is, I listen, but I don’t believe them. I won’t and can’t stop worrying about it. Then other times, if I trust someone enough to speak about it, I go over and over the same thing, justifying myself, trying to explain to them why I think my world will end if “this happens” or “I say that” or I act “that way”. I reason the unreasonable.

When a friend of mine is feeling this way, I do know that it’s pointless saying “don’t worry”. I know they will. It doesn’t stop me from feeling like a shit friend though. Because I know how it feels, and I can’t take it away.  I’m empathic to a fault, I guess.

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As an over thinking observer , I’ve noticed that anxiety sufferers all have a “crutch” to attempt to help them through the worst episodes. Some turn to drink, drugs even , maybe to block out the negative thoughts, eating away at their already fragile and delicate brains. Some choose the “brave face” path, battling behind closed doors for hours before stepping out into the world with a fake smile painted on their face to hide the torture they’ve just endured at the hands of their own mind. Some put themselves in precarious, often dangerous situations as an attempt to feel some kind of power over their mental state, block out the thoughts they are having by taking their mind off it in an often detrimental and derogatory way.
My crutch? Words. I use words. I write and I listen. I write these blogs. I listen to music. I re-read texts over and over. I analyse words to find hidden meanings that can’t be found. I talk to myself, my brain doesn’t switch off. I use words until I’ve run through every scenario and outcome to the cause of my overthinking until only one will make sense..Then, and only then, can my brain be released from its shackles to tackle the rest of life until the next situation arises.

There’s no point telling me to “get over it”. If I won’t listen to myself, I sure as hell won’t listen to you.

I’m an extremely intuitive person. Team that natural “witchy” instinct with paranoia and a need to work things out and I turn into a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I can’t let things lie. If something triggers me, I worry about someone, I have concern about someone, I have to get my facts straight. However, just because 99.9% of the time I’m right, it doesn’t mean that 99.9% of the time is worth the turmoil I put myself through.

Anxiety brings doubt to the forefront of your mind. You question everything, and from experience as well as research, I know that one of the biggest things that fuels anxiety is the need to try and please everyone except yourself, the desire to make sure not to upset people, or let people down. It’s a self destructive cycle that leaves one person’s feelings out of the equation. Your own.

Diagnosed suffers of anxiety are offered medication, although not until you’ve attempted self help or physiological help first. Again, from knowing anxiety sufferers, I know that the medication often has side effects that are similar to the symptoms of a low point during an episode anyway.

My own traits make me want to know more and to be able to help people diagnosed with anxiety. I try and occupy my own over thinking , procrastinating brain by taking on other people’s worries and woes and making them my own. I know I shouldn’t. It doesn’t actually help either party.
Even the blinding fear of my involvement making things ten times worse can’t overtake the need to at least try and make things right.
Even rational thinking doesn’t stop me thinking that my other half hates me when I haven’t heard from him when I usually do.
Even knowledge that I’ve done nothing wrong will stop me stressing when the area manager is due to visit.

Right now, my Mum isn’t well, and my worrying is crippling me, making it hard to face the day to day life that I have to do. My worrying won’t change anything or speed up her recovery. I know this, it’s a fact, but it doesn’t stop me having sleepless nights because my brain is full of what ifs.

Writing all this down, I know I’m a little crazy. It even sounds mental. Although as I’ve said, if you tell me that, I won’t believe you.

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The battle is hard.

All we can do is be a little more understanding. The chances are, you are sat reading this right now with around three other people in your close vicinity. One in four people suffer. Remember that statistic.

Have a little more consideration for what someone may be going through.

We can’t make it go away.

We don’t have a magical cure.

What we do have is the ability and capability to try and understand, if we want to.

We can all be happy. We can all help with a little understanding.

Nothing is permanent.

Everything affects everything.

One in four of us have mental health issues.

I just want someone to take my hand each day and say “You can do this”.

It’s not you, it’s not even me. Its, erm, Complicated…?

I can see the headline now…“Instant Messaging Apps Fed My Paranoia”



I feel the need to apologise to everyone who currently knows me.

I’ve touched on my paranoid,over thinking mind before,and I even went as far as saying I no longer stress and worry about what people think. However that isn’t entirely true. 

When something “changes”, I assume the worst. My track record proves I’m usually right. That’s a hard feeling to shake.

I still worry. 

I’m still paranoid. 

I’ll still doubt you.  

I’ll still over analyise things. 

Its not your fault. Trust me though, its not really mine either. I wasn’t always this way. I’ve been broken, and although I’m essentially fully healed, there’s still a weak point. Certain situations balance precariously on that weak spot and, yes, it means I “have my moments”. Please, understand them and bear with me.  I am a better, stronger, more confident version of myself than I ever have been before. And, as much as I’m less tolerant of bullshit and being treated like crap, my good nature, and need to try and find the good in people and situations that really do have no good in them, still lingers. Its who I am. I care too much. Because of this, I struggle to remember not everyone is like me.

And here’s a confession for you. A blog exclusive, if you like.

I struggle to let go of things that were once so good but no longer are. My mind doesn’t accept that its often better to draw a line completely than try and salvage some of what once was, in order to cling onto a good memory. Now, this isn’t because I want things to be the same, or want someone back. Far from it. It isn’t every situation either. My marriage was so stale, and the good times were so long ago and so overshadowed by the bad times and revelations, that I successfully let go quicker than even I thought possible. And I have no problem moving on. No, the reason is because I don’t want something that was so meaningful to me to appear to mean nothing to them.

If you’ve read previous blogs of mine, you will be forgiven for jumping to conclusions and expecting me to go ” I’ve been cheated on, I don’t trust anyone “. I’m not going to. Yes. It played a part but it goes deeper than that. It goes deep into the depths of my self doubt and my own head. So, why am I saying its not me? Well, if it was me, paranoia would’ve played a part in my whole life and it hasn’t. If I was to try and pin point when it started, I’d say 2 years and 6 months ago. AFTER my marriage ended. 

When I started dating the person I ended up marrying, neither of us had mobile phones. Contact was made using an old fashioned land line, a couple of evenings a week. We both worked in town so it was easy to pop along and see each other at lunch time if we wanted to.  We got our first mobile phones together, but by that point we were living together. There was no chance to build up a routine of ” contact”.  I had no chance to start wondering “why haven’t I heard from him!”.

18 years later when I become single again, times have changed. I initially started talking to the guy I ended up dating just after my marriage broke up, G, on Facebook. Messenger has this handy little way of bobbing a persons picture down next to a message you’ve sent to show they have indeed read the message. Then it would conveniently show a wobbling “…” to indicate they were replying. Our messenger conversations had a very definate  start and finish. I wasn’t left hanging. We’d say goodnight and that would be it till one of us said “Morning”. We soon awkwardly exchanged numbers in my shop, remember G worked in the shopping centre where my workplace was located, and constant messaging commenced. I’m sure you’re all thinking my god she’s obsessive, but it genuinely was him more than me. He’d walk past my shop and wave, and by the next time I had chance to check my phone, he’d sent about five messages. I loved it. I thrived on it. In the later years of my marriage I wasn’t made to feel attractive. I actually told my then husband that I felt he would rather be anywhere but home with me and although he denied it, I knew how it was wrong that he’d come home later and later and then go straight to his ” office” in the cellar (how right was I in the end!?). I had sensed I was losing him, and despite his insistance it was all in my head, I was right. And he told me he hadn’t loved me for two years. So, he lied too. Now, I had a man texting me with things like “although my eyes are watching my boys play football, my mind is on you”. How is a girl not meant to love that!?!  After a few days of not seeing me, he’d tell me how much he missed me. Heading home after evenings at his, he’d message saying he wished I hadn’t had to go.  His favourite phrase in broken English was ” why you so lovely?”.  I got used to it. I got attached to the contact. No end or beginning to conversations, just a never ending stream of messages that only paused when we were together. I hadn’t had that kind of attention, hadn’t felt so wanted, in a very, very long time. Due to working in maintenance, he had early and late shifts to do work out of hours, but he gave me his time and made effort.

After a while together, his messaging habits changed. I’d not get a morning text if he was on an early shift. He stopped saying he missed me. Messages were ended with a “x” rather than “xxxx”. My work mates said it was normal. It couldn’t possibly keep up the way it was. My rational mind agreed, but my paranoid mind thought, and knew,better. It had changed without warning. I’m very, very intuitive. What was right..? Rational mind or paranoid mind? Two weeks after I felt things had changed, he ended things. The whole its not you, its me, routine. My paranoid mind was right. It had been fuelled with being right, so my inclination to trust my gut feeling rather than be rational dug its heels in and stands firmly by my side to this day. G adamantly promised he wanted to keep a friendship, so I tried and quickly realised it was only me making the effort. For months after, I kept a few special text messages from him locked on my phone. It was clear he didn’t treasure our time together as much as I did. That hurt. That made my paranoia look at it all differently and doubt what we had. When your paranoia is right about a feeling, its hard to ignore when it crops up again. It took me ages to delete those texts, even after I started online dating.

The good thing about texting though, was that you were never really sure if a message had been read. You know, I’ve since realised this ignorance is bliss. 

My next relationship was the alley cat musician. Meeting online meant I had no way of knowing he’d read messages until he replied. Sure, you could pay for membership to allow you to see when messages had been read, but I wasn’t quite at that stage yet! We exchanged numbers on my birthday, a week after we’d started chatting. Texts were consistent till our first date, then completely ramped up after meeting, again, on his part more than mine. When he went to Italy for three weeks he said it’d be hard to keep in touch daily, but I heard from him way more than I expected to. One particular text exchange went as follows:-

D:- I’m so excited xx

Me:- About what? Xx

D:- Us xx

How is a girl meant to respond to that? I was giddy with excitement. Remember my blog about the power of words? They need to be used wisely. You don’t use simple words like that if you have no intention of following through. Maybe I’m gullible….? I know I cling to such words. Words are my thing, remember. Use them on me and be warned, I’ll fall for it every time.

 After Italy, I got a new phone which enabled me to install WhatsApp, something he’d been asking me to do since we got numbers. Word of warning, WhatsApp is not good for a paranoid person. It was the beginning of the end for mine and Ds relationship. 

WhatsApp has 3 indicators for the status of a message.

1 grey tick- message has been received by WhatsApp server. (The recipients phone is likely off, out of signal or service is down if it remains on this for a while)

2 grey ticks- message has been sent to recipients phone but has not yet been read.

2 blue ticks- message has been read by recipient.

Added to this, you can see if someone is online. If they haven’t changed their settings, you can potentially see WHEN they were last on. You can even check what time a message was read. WhatsApp is creating stalkers! 

This is what a paranoid mind sees.

1 grey tick- the person has blocked you.

2 grey ticks- they’ve got it, why haven’t they read it? Are they ignoring me, they’ve been online since I sent it!!

2 blue ticks- they’ve seen it. They’re not typing. They are ignoring me. Its been an hour since they read it.  Oh, they are online now…. Nope, still not replying. I’ll send them another just in case… 

D would often go AWOL for whole evenings , with messages not even reaching his phone. I’d wake the next morning to find he’d read them at some ungodly hour of the morning but still not replied. Even after nights we were due to see each other. I’d send a rant. Which would get ignored.  I’d get paranoid that if I didn’t message him, he’d think I’d stopped caring and then he’d never message and I’d lose him anyway. I’d send another to be told “I’m not getting into an argument, you’re pushing me away”. The original messages long since losing their meaning. It infuriated me. When I tried the same tactics with him, he turned nasty on me! We never really broke up. I just gave up. He never explained nor apologised just kept telling me I was wrong. Maybe I was too much, but come on…. He’s meant to be coming to see me but his phone remains off all night…..?? I think I had every right to rant! I’d go on and on at him, like poking a bear hoping for a reaction. The more he didn’t reply, the more I went on. He told me on numerous occassions that I was pushing him away. Truth be told, I’d long given up on him but he kept telling me to ” give him time” and I so desperately wanted the “I’m so excited” text exchange to be real. 

Also, because I care too much, I worry unreasonably. On one particular night I was meant to be visited by D and he went AWOL, I woke up to the news that a man in his 40s had fled the scene of a car accident in the early hours of the morning, leaving his passenger who was in his 20s stuck in the wreckage. I knew that an ex band mate of Ds  was returning to his native country that day, so my worried paranoid mind convinced me that D had offered to give his mate a lift to the airport and the crash was them. Trust me, a mind like mine can go there. I felt sick as the day went on. Much later in the afternoon, he sees the messages, even ones telling him about the crash and my assumption. I guessed he was at least alive. Or dying in a ditch! He doesn’t reply. I rant. That night he messages to say he got drunk at a mates and stayed there. No acknowledgement of what he’d put me through. 

We remained friends for a while after, with him insisting I was one of his best friends and he trusted me, but when the ignoring continued and it was only ever me putting the effort in, I realised I had to let go. I tried telling him it was a pointless, one sided friendship and I got told I didn’t understand. That he was “sorting his life out”. Because I cared, I felt I couldn’t let him down. So he got chance after chance but nothing changed. How could a man once so ” excited about us” care so little now? I clung onto the hope he’d get sorted and a friendship would remain. It was pointless. I forced myself to let go. He begged to talk to me to explain himself, but I was done. He accused me of being “like all the others”. That hurt, because I care what people think of me. Even though I was cutting him loose, I didn’t want his parting impression of me to be negative. I battled with myself over the need to rant and justify myself to him. Truth is, he didn’t care, so I shouldn’t. Ignoring his plea to explain himself was probably the first time I ever went against my nature. I sometimes wonder what he’s doing now, but I know he’s probably putting some poor person through the same again. 

This paranoia doesn’t just haunt me in relationships, it extends to friendships and other situations too. I’m currently organising a charity fundraising gig so have been messaging venues and bands. I’m shy on the phone, I can get my point across using the written word so much better. Again, social media apps and instant messaging let’s me know if an enquiry has been read. Sure, I don’t expect immediate replies, but to not answer, EVER? Rude! My feeling is this, if you can take 5 seconds to open an app and read a message, you can surely take two more to type ” yes” “no” or “message u later”. As a result of my own paranoia, I try really really hard to not open a message and let it be seen as read until I can grant a reply. Although I realise not everyone is as obsessive about it as me! 

I’ve said before though, I’m paranoid because I care. Because the person or situation is important to me. I’m sorry. I can’t help it! Its not because I dont trust you, its because I’m scared I’ve done something wrong. I know, I know, the more I bother you, the more likely it is that I’ll end up doing exactly what I’ve been worried about doing!

So, If I’ve asked you a question and I know you’ve seen that question but haven’t answered for a few hours… My mind will go through one, some or all of the following:-

They’re ignoring me

I’ve pissed them off

Oh God they’re dead

I shouldn’t of asked that

I’ve upset them

They’re somewhere they shouldn’t be

They don’t know how to answer, it must be bad.

Paranoia is very, very real. It verges on anxiety. There are many levels. I’m not at the delusional stage. I’m not claiming I have a mental illness either, because, believe me, I know people that have and its way more than what I feel and experience. And I’m not paranoid in a negative way, not really. I’m only paranoid in those situations that are important to me. With the people I am, or have been, close to. Perhaps I have pushed people away in the past. Although my gut feeling tells me if my genuine concern and worry could push them away, maybe they don’t deserve my friendship after all and they were infact wanting to walk away from me for other reasons, just used my guilable nature and turned it against me. If I think you’ve stopped talking to me, I’m not angry at you, I’m worried I’ve done something to cause it! 

I jokingly tell the people who come into my life that I get paranoid. Truth is, its no joke.

My current partner and I don’t live together. I’m grateful he’s not a techy geek. Simple texts is all we have. No read receipts. A vague enough routine for me not to endlessly stress that I’ve said the wrong thing. 

Remember how much words mean to me.

Don’t promise me the world, and leave me waiting for the journey of a lifetime.

Don’t say you’ll get back to me, then leave me hanging.

Don’t tell me you’re excited, then show no evidence of it.
I wasn’t always like this. Maybe one day I won’t be again. If I haven’t driven you all crazy by then!

Eternal Sunshine of the Irrational Mind

Its quite stressful living in my head, but it certainly isn’t boring.

*WARNING, THIS IS A LONG ONE. GRAB A DRINK, (Preferably Prosecco), AND JOIN THE CRAZY TRAIN*

I thought I was getting over the being paranoid stage of my life, truly, I really thought that not caring what insignificant people thought about me was a huge step towards freeing my mind of overpowering thoughts that everyone is out to get me. 

Turns out I was wrong. I’m still paranoid. However, I’ve now decided that being paranoid isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In a lot of ways, feeling paranoia shows you care. You worry if you’ve said the wrong thing because you don’t want to upset someone. You worry if you don’t hear from someone because you couldn’t stand for them to not be a part of your life. You automatically think a visit from the area manager will result in a telling off because you want to do a good job and show that you are capable. Us paranoid people, we care. A lot. Its funny, as over the last three years I’ve become the strongest possible version of myself, and for some reason I want people to see I’m OK. That doesn’t mean I don’t wobble. I’ve mentioned it in a previous blog, I have my moments. Usually behind closed doors, but more recently, I’ve decided to let those few people I trust into my head to talk sense into me. 

A little under two weeks ago, my other half went on a holiday with 21 members of his family and extended family. It had been arranged before we met, however I was invited. Due to it being so close to my sons 13th birthday, on top of having him with me all summer and having two dogs, I had to decline. I was gutted. A holiday was exactly what I needed. I saw my partner on the Tuesday before he went on the Friday. With a promise to keep in touch while away, I knew I’d miss him like crazy, but didn’t doubt for a second that our routine of daily texts and wishing each other morning and goodnight would not stop. I planned a little mini break with my son to coincide with him being away. We both needed a change of scenery and my son deserved not to have his mum moping around the house missing someone. 

I had texts when he stopped for a break on the journey down there, a goodnight that night. Even though we wouldn’t of seen each other at a weekend if we had both been at work, I missed him because I knew how long it would be till I next saw him. Contact continued throughout the weekend. Early Sunday evening, I heard from him and he ended the text “HK xx”. Hugs and Kisses. That night I wished him goodnight and took myself up to bed to read for a bit. When I was ready to sleep, I checked my phone. No reply. Knowing he’d had a busy couple of days and how his hypothyroidism effects him, I was certain my Darling had crashed out fast asleep. Not being at work myself meant I had a good lie in on the Monday morning, so when I checked my phone I expected a text telling me what I’d suspected and his plans for that day. Nothing. This is where my silly silly paranoia kicked in. It was irrational. The last text I’d got from him was nice, even a little soppy. You can’t even imagine where my mind took me. And that’s the thing, I know I’m stupid. I just can’t stop myself. I always think the worst. I sent him a morning text but by late afternoon it was clear I wasn’t gonna hear from him. Maybe he’d forgotten his charger?  Nope, that was the last thing I reminded him. Perhaps there was no signal? He’s been texting from the cottage since he arrived Friday so there’s at least signal there. He’s broken/lost his phone? He’s a man, he wouldn’t have my number written down anywhere, how’s he gonna contact me when he’s back? He’s met someone.. (Yes, my mind really went there) You stupid woman, he’s with family, including his mum who has met and likes you!! Its stupid. Its irrational. I know this! The guy means so much to me that the thought of him possibly not wanting to talk to me hurt, even though it realistically wasn’t the case. As Monday evening loomed, the more paranoid I got. As silly as it sounds, in a year of knowing each other we had NEVER gone over 24 hours without contact. My son and I were due to go away the next day and although for his sake I knew I should’ve been packing and encouraging him to do the same, acting excited, talking about our plans for the next two days , I just couldn’t summon up the required attitude. In my head, my other half was done with me. I phoned my mum who in no uncertain terms told me what I already knew, don’t be ridiculous. I messaged one of my best friends, she told me to enjoy my time away with my son and do silly things. I was being told very reasonable, likely explanations, yet still I was turning it back round and using “but if that was the case why hasn’t he…..” to disregard every one of them. I’ll say it again. I was irrational. Lying on my bed staring at my phone was the only option. 

As I lay there, the early evening sun fluttered through the blinds and I realised that I’d promised myself not to waste days like this. Picking myself up, putting my face on, my son and I took the dogs for a long walk to the park. We sat on the grass with two worn out dogs and I apologised to my recently new teenager for my grumpiness. I’m lucky. My son is my best friend too. I don’t need the mini violins out here but neither of us have had the best of times over the last few years. A holiday was out of the question for various reasons, but this mini break was exactly what we both needed. For him, I needed to put my reasonable head on. (For those of you as old as me, think Wurzel Gummage).

On Tuesday morning, we packed for our couple of nights change of scenery, and I choked back my unreasonable thoughts and put on my brave, sunny face. A stress free train journey, and a short walk to a perfectly centrally located hotel the other end, made it easier to clear my mind and start to enjoy my break. Still no word from the other half, but the worry about that was brushed aside like a mildly annoying buzzing fly, always there but easy to ignore with enough distraction. Resonating in my mind were the words of the good friend of mine that I had told about my concerns. “Enjoy the time with your son and do silly things”. It’s safe to say, we did have an awesome time. Turns out Bristol is a prime Pokemon Go hunting spot, and my son was able to get a Pikachu and a Mr Mime on the same day. Tuesday evening and Wednesday flew by. Trip to the zoo, harbour side walks, searching for Banksy paintings in obscure back streets, eating at the best pizza restaurant ever. Perfection, and a much needed break from my home town, the same four walls and home life. Only at night , when I settled down to sleep, did my mind wander back to thinking ” what if?”.

Thursday morning was our last there, and we decided to go all out and have the full on all you can eat buffet breakfast offered at the hotel.As we didn’t have to check out of our room until midday, we ate early and headed back up to the town to do some more shopping without our heavy bags. By now I had resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t do anything about my relationship situation until at least Friday when he was due back, so for the first time ever, my paranoid little brain gave up the worrying and just got on with having a great time. Now, have you ever heard the saying “the moment you stop looking for something, that’s when you’ll find it”? Or, when you’re trying to remember a name, or a song, or a film but give up and then randomly remember it long after the conversation about it took place? Well, I’ve decided that’s how my brain and fate work together. When I finally stopped consciously worrying, my phone started to glow alerting me to a text. Didn’t recognise number. What followed was a garbled text apologising for lack of signal and gratefully being able to borrow someone’s phone to text me and affirmation that he was looking forward to seeing me. If I hadn’t felt so stupid, I would’ve laughed! Reasonable explanation, like deep down I knew there would be! 

The next day, Friday, led straight into another of my paranoid situations. Quite a few months ago, I set about starting to organise a school reunion for my school year. It had been talked about a few times but not really going anywhere, and following the success of one that had been held for my sisters year, I was spurred on to do it. Creating a Facebook group was the easiest way to get hold of everyone, and after throwing a few dates around, this one had been the one the majority could make it too,especially with the advanced notice. I didn’t have the time or resources to make it as big an event as the one my sisters year did, so I found a venue with a free function room and looked into live music for the night, toyed with the idea of getting a photographer friend along to capture the evening and , although at little cost, I put a lot of time and effort into it. As we got nearer the date, it seemed we’d have around 30 people turn up. Out of a year group of over 100, this wasn’t brilliant but I was happy enough. In the week leading up to it, people started dropping out. What had I done wrong? Did people hate me? I started posting on the group page, encouraging people to come, the numbers went up and down like a yoyo. Was I more unliked at school than I thought? I was never Miss Popular, admittedly, but did people hate me now? I was neither the bully, nor bullied. I got paranoid about how these old school friends perceived me from my online presence only! Was I the kind of person people roll their eyes at when reading one of my status updates? I’m no better or worse than anyone I went to school with, and my reason behind organising this was to reconnect with people and see where life had taken them. A celebration that we’re still here. The live music act I had lined up contacted me saying she’d been offered a slot at another gig that night, and I had to let her take it. She is way better than a crowd of 22.

On the day, the numbers went down from 22 to 19. Embarrassingly, I had to email the bar owner with final numbers. I imagined him having a chuckle. I very, very nearly cancelled. I felt like I’d set myself up for the biggest fall ever. With a few encouraging messages on the group page, I went ahead with it. Including myself, 10 people came. Each of the other 9 were lovely and it was awesome to hear all their news, aside from the fleeting glances that Facebook gives us. Its fair to say that those that came had a thoroughly enjoyable time, but there’s no escaping the fact that a lot of the conversations revolved around who hadn’t come that said they would. Now, a handful of people gave us very acceptable reasons for not coming. The rest? Well, we didn’t even get a made up excuse from them.From the few people that came, I was reassured that they were grateful and they thanked me for arranging. Until now, I didn’t reveal how paranoid I felt. Queen of the brave face, me. There was talk about doing a bigger and better one for “25” years since we left school. I’ve politely pulled myself out of organising another one. I don’t think my irrational, paranoid brain could take it again. The night ended with those few of us left standing at pub kick out time dancing the night away at a local late bar with live music. 

Live music doesn’t judge. 

Live music doesn’t think I’m a failure. 

Live music doesn’t make me feel paranoid.

I don’t know what triggered this in me, I wasn’t always like this. I do know that I am now, and I probably always will be. On the outside, you wouldn’t know unless you’re one of the few people I let in. If you’re reading this, now you know. And yes, I know its irrational. But hey, at least it shows I care.

Dear Brain, please shut up.

Just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean you’re not talking about me
– quote by me

Everyone has something about themselves they would like to change. For some people it’s a physical attribute, they feel their nose is too big, wish they could lose weight, long to be taller. For others it’s a health issue that’s out of their control. For me, it’s a personal, mental thing that isn’t visible to anyone else, but it is there. I am paranoid, and I do overthink things. No, correction. I overthink everything.

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Now, unlike a physical trait or a health issue, I have absolutely no way of knowing when or where this started. I’m sure it’s deep rooted back to some insignificant (at the time anyway) time, but I don’t remember what triggered it. Right now in my life, I’m in a good place and I’m happy, but the issue is still there. Close friends know that I don’t sleep well. I’m the kind of person who needs pitch black and complete silence at the best of times to even feel remotely relaxed enough to sleep. However, unlike a light switch, my over active mind can not be switched off. No off switch. Unless it broke, because I know of people who can fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. Yep, my off switch is broken. That’s totally what’s wrong here! At night, when I’m tired and craving sleep, that’s when I go back over the days events, or future plans, and turn them into the biggest nightmare before I even close my eyes. I’ve heard a good nights sleep can help clear the mind to make you see things with a clear head the next day. I often wonder what that would feel like. Sometimes, the over thinking is subconscious. I go to bed in a good, happy mood, it’s been a good day and I’ve got something to look forward to, yet my brain is still ticking, so therefore I’m still thinking. I really don’t know what about most of the time. Random thoughts come to mind. Occasionally a song lyric comes to mind and I can’t shift it from going over and over in my head until I’ve been and found the song and listened to it. Over thinking isn’t exclusively saved for bedtime. No, no such luck. I’m always thinking. I guess that’s why I’ve started blogging. I’ve also started an online creative writing course. My blog is real life, my paranoia creates situations that will never happen. They are created fiction. I need an avenue to get them out there because they’ll make good stories!! My mind is over active. I’m the kind of person who can’t stand repetitive noises, tapping, dripping, banging and I am compelled to go and stop the noise. I truly believe that it’s because I always have something going on in my brain that needs to be worked and worked over again, and any other noise trying to take me away from my thoughts is an unwelcome visitor in my head. Of course I’ve led myself to believe that my over thinking and paranoia had somehow contributed to previous relationships not lasting. Even though I suffer from my paranoia silently, and I don’t talk about my fears to the person involved. They’d think I was crazy!?
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I’ve started to wonder whether I’m so paranoid because when good things happen and things are going well, part of me feels that I don’t deserve it. Good things don’t happen to me, so there’s got to be a catch, right? Having so many bad things happen in a short space of time, it’s easy to think that I’m just one of life’s unlucky people. Although, now I’m on a “be happy” route…… I know that’s not the case. I’m lucky. I’m very lucky.

In my mind though, it’s better to think the worst about a current situation, as its gives me chance to prepare how I deal with it if that worst case scenario is the one that presents itself.

forewarned is forearmed
phrase of forewarn
1.
proverb
prior knowledge of possible dangers or problems gives one a tactical advantage.

I genuinely do look at every single angle on things. Previous conversations are ripped apart word for word to see if I missed anything out, if there was a hidden meaning which I’d missed at the time. Future appointments that haven’t even happened yet will be played over and over in my head, wondering what will happen if this is said or if that is done. I have an inability to just “wait and see”. It is something I’m working on, in my blog about happiness I’ve acknowledged that you shouldn’t waste your time worrying about what might be as it may never happen, so, I’m getting there, I am. It’s not something that can be changed overnight (especially when that night is spent awake thinking about how to stop thinking about things!). However, the following quote is starting to make me think…. is being paranoid and over thinking things really such a bad thing.


“Your mind is working at its best when you’re being paranoid.
You explore every avenue and possibility of your situation
at high speed with total clarity.”
― Banksy, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall

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Exploring every possible outcome does give me the advantage of not being taken by surprise. In my mind I have thought about everything that could possibly take place, so that I already know how each of the scenarios would make me feel. Or, that’s what I’ve convinced myself. Protecting myself. I know, I know, get the violins out!! This way of thinking only applies to situations that are yet to happen. Over thinking late at night leads to sleepless nights, not just the night before, but from the moment I know the subject of my over thinking is going to happen. I imagine the conversations, I prepare what I want to say, how I’ll react. Sometimes I even write down what I think I might need to say, crazy right, the conversation hasn’t even happened yet. I once texted myself a whole speech to say to someone if they said what I thought they were going to say to me. They did actually say it, but I was hardly in a position to get the phone out and read out what I’d typed. I was right though. So, forewarned had its benefits in that situation. I can’t do anything about situations that have already happened, but it doesn’t stop me going over and over them in my mind.

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What I can’t prepare myself for are the things that happen out of the blue, so that’s where my paranoia kicks in. For example, if I receive one of those badly worded texts where more than one thing could be meant by the words used. I will spend hours and hours thinking about it, I’ll read it over and over again as if the meaning would become clearer the more it goes into my brain. Part of being paranoid means not just considering that everyone is out to get you or that the worst is going to happen, it means thinking about this constantly, no matter how much you try and distract your mind with something else. Trust me on that one, I worry myself over the same thing over and over again. The more you think about the same negative meaning or outcome, the more you indulge in your paranoia, and the more you become convinced that they are likely to be accurate. It’s hard. I wish I didn’t feel like this, but I do. Next time you’re talking to me and despite answering you, you can tell I’m not quite there, it’s probably because I’m still worrying that the text message I sent three hours ago THREE HOURS AGO….had scared him off and it meant that my relationship was over and he never wants to see me again and as every minute passes by until I hear from him again, I go over and over what I’ll say when I finally cave and text him if I haven’t heard from him in another hour because it’s been three hours so it must mean its over right well sod him I’ll ignore him too……. (My lack of commas in that sentence is how my train of thought goes when in a paranoid state). Then I find out his phone died and had been on charge. Oh. How stupid do I feel? Very stupid. I was one hour away from making a fool of myself. Then I worry what would’ve happened had I sent the text I wanted to send if I didn’t hear from him. It’s never ending, I tell you!
I’m getting better, honestly. Being happy does help. Reading about paranoia, it seems most paranoid situations arise from being self-conscious, however with me that’s not the case. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been self-conscious. I’m sociable and have enough confidence to pull me through most situations. I do have a fear of talking on the phone, but that’s a whole other unrelated issue. Or is it? I wonder… anyway…! Many many years ago, before the crap stuff happened, I bought a book called “Women who think too much”, as even back then I was an over thinker. Recent years events have not made me this way. I’ve kinda always been like it. The book was purchased in the hope that it could give me some sound advice on how to not over think. It didn’t. All it made me realise is that there must be enough crazy ladies out there just like me, that it warrants a book being dedicated to the subject. So, I don’t have the answers on this one. I know I’m not alone. The only plus side to having this constant state of mind is that more often than not, I can get to be smug and confidently say “I told you so”, because trust me, I saw every possibly outcome!

Pronoia- I’ll come back to you on that one!
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