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Mild Paranoia?

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hi, I’m only 16 years old and so I’m not sure how to look at this, whether it’s just being a teenager or something abnormal, I don’t think for a minute I have a serious disease though.

Recently I’ve been noticing my own paranoid behavior mainly to do with my friends and they’re opinion of me and my actions. This certainly comes noticeable when I contact them, via texting, calling, facebooking or just talking face to face. I often feel that maybe they don’t want to be talking to me or that I’m talking too much, to the point where everytime I send a text, or being a conversation in whatever form I just have this voice saying “do they really want to talk to you?” or to the point where I start imagining them receiving the text/seeing the call and just picturing them ignoring it, even if they have a perfectly valid reason for not replying, normally I’d try to just ignore it but then I want to talk to them more ask if it’s me that’s being annoying(which I’ve found out annoys friends) and even to the point where I’ve just stopped talking to these friends for weeks on end to hope that they might value me after the absence, and in some cases can reduce the friendship. I’ve often just walked around school and suddenely get this shock that maybe people are talking about me and that there may be something wrong with me. I’m now stuck with what to do, I can’t continue to talk to friends who don’t want me to just becausing im ignoring something that may be wrong or even right and in the end destroy a friendship.

I did however begin looking up about paranoia on the internet and people were talking of paranoia episodes and it reminded me that I had one when I was about 13 and never twigged it might have been real paranoia:

I was at a holiday activity centre and there was a boy I got on really well with and we both lived close by and cycled but one day he just quit, had enough, then one day he rocked up at the end with his mate and was talking to people and I don’t know why but I had this sudden feeling they were there to beat me up and I became very worried. I told the reps and after about half an hour of me waiting for him to leave they went and talked to him just to distract him, and I cycled home, but I had that feeling all the way home he could come round the corner any minute and I consistently was checking behind me. I was absolutely fine the next day and realised it was silly but for some reason I was very paranoid that day. I have to say something like that hasn’t happened in a while but it was my first experience with paranoia. Thanks very much for your help, George S.

Hi George. I am glad you wrote. It must be difficult to feel that your friends may not like you. It is unpleasant to experience negative feelings. I am concerned that you incorrectly believe that your friends don’t like you. My concern has to do with your self-esteem. It may be that you don’t feel good about yourself and you may be assuming that because you don’t think highly of yourself that other people may not either. The belief that others may not like you may have led you to the point where you have stopped interacting with friends, hoping they will miss you and ask you to join their friendship circle again. If they do not initiate contact with you then you may have taken this to mean they don’t like you. In your mind this may make you believe that you are unlikable.

In reality it may be that your friends believe you have stopped communicating with them because they think you don’t like them. Remember they don’t know what you are thinking or why you’re behaving a certain way. All they can do is react to how you act toward them.

I don’t think you have a “serious disease.” I think in large part your issues may be related to low self-esteem. If you don’t feel good about yourself then it makes sense that you don’t believe that other people will value you.

It would be very helpful if you had someone to talk to about how you’re feeling. You need a mentor or somebody who can offer you advice about how to handle negative thoughts and emotions. A therapist could teach you these skills. A therapist could also help you deal with low self-esteem.

As far as the paranoia incident you’ve described it could have been nothing. As you said after the incident occurred you realized it was silly and it never happened again. As I mentioned above it does not appear that you have a serious disorder. I think you could benefit from a mentor who can teach you how to deal with negative thoughts and emotions more effectively as well as help you gain self-esteem. You should consider talking to your parents about seeing a counselor to help you address these issues. I wish you luck.

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