Today I am feeling incredibly paranoid. This happens a lot. Frustratingly, I am aware that my paranoia is likely just delusion and that there is seldom any truth in my fears, there is no evidence to back up my paranoia but I still feel as though everyone around me is whispering about me, as though I am hated, an irritant to those I care about. I feel useless and clumsy, I feel as though I am in the way, a burden.
My therapist, the wonderful Evelyn, says that to combat my paranoia I must attempt to find things that contradict my paranoid fears but most often that would mean confronting people and asking out-right if the way I feel is truth or delusion and though that may negate my paranoia it would increase my anxiety ten-fold.
Paranoia is one of my early warning signs. Early warning signs are the gravitating forces around any Bipolar sufferers world, they are not always the same but we all have them and the importance of finding them is almost all I hear about from my therapist. They are the triggers or repetitive actions that signal a mood swing and so in order to attempt to manage our condition we must first discover our early warning signs.
There are those that are fairly synonymous with all sufferers, deep lethargy within a low mood, reckless abandonment within a high but these are useless to us in a management sense because by the time we get to the point of these symptoms manifesting it is too late to reign the mood in. Then there are the early warning signs that are generally less apparent, I am still learning about mine but I have found a few; Anxiety triggers a low mood, the higher the anxiety the lower the mood – Anxiety can also trigger paranoia which in turn breeds stress, stress can trigger a high mood, the higher the stress, the higher the mood. I talk in a quiet voice before a low and a loud one before a high; I have a limitless sense of confidence right before a high hits, a deep lack of self-worth before a low… there are many triggers and the more I find the more sense it appears to make, though in the beginning the whole concept seemed utterly ridiculous to me.
The difficult part, I find, is that even if you reach the point where recognising all of these signs is just second nature (which seems so impossible to me right now) and you know what mood is coming, how will you ever really know what to do about it? I am learning though, in the case of my anxiety (which is by far the most common symptom within my Bipolar disorder) I have found that although I cannot make the anxiety go away, by facing situations head on I can sometimes lessen the severity of the low that is to come afterwards but I cannot make it go away entirely.
So in the case of paranoia no matter what I do to combat it, the mood is still going to swing and this is the warning that a high mood is coming but knowledge of what is coming seldom brings any comfort…