Paranoia is one of the worst things, I believe, one could be struck with. Paranoia isn’t pretty; it isn’t glorified or romanticised like aspects of depression; it isn’t given much credence by anyone, I think. It’s hated. Paranoia has many faces. To many, in particular many of my age struck with love and newfound feeling, paranoia takes the popular form of clinginess. Whilst there are many out there who appreciate this dependency trait in moderation – like alcohol, like chocolate, like… all the things I don’t have in moderation – it, as a word and trait has accrued many negative connotations. When contemporary society describes someone as clingy, it’s more likely than not it’s being done with negative intent. Being clingy to the many is associated with being weak; with being needy; with being too much; with being heavy maintenance.
I’m currently aged twenty. When I turned sixteen I was in a relationship that was my first, and, well, to politely summarise, wasn’t worth a Mill’s and Boon adaptation. It ended in December of 2011 despite countless pitiful pleas from me; it ended despite – and hilariously perhaps – because of my incessant requests that things didn’t have to be like this, that things can get better. Looking back, goodness me, was I terrible? Absolutely, it was the first time I’d supposedly meant something special to someone else. Feelings were all over the shop. It was my first time. I didn’t know what to do. I was young, immature, devoid of direction, experience and – goodness me – self awareness to do and say the right thing.
Later down the line, as new months and the new year that was 2012 came out to play, I didn’t learn. With other people, what eventually I realised as my very clingy persona was having a damaging effect on my links with them. My unrelenting worry that my friends and what not were inevitably going to stop liking me; that the next day will be the day they reject; that the next sentence will be a polite, kind hearted, well written putdown; that the next indirect and bitch will be about me… This worry, it killed me, it killed my friendships. My repetitive messages to people, asking if everything’s okay, if I’ve done anything wrong, if there’s anything I can do to help, if I’m boring them, annoying them, doing something wrong: too many of my friends couldn’t stand it and consequently, for their sake and a peace of mind, left me.
I’m not blaming my former friends; I’m not blaming my former partner; I’m blaming myself. My clingy persona was a problem. I wasn’t a person at ease, I was always on edge, always worried, always doubting. The more friends that left, the more intense the insults and put downs, the unhappier I obviously became. The lonelier I became, the less confident, less certain, less optimistic person I grew into. Then, I turned into a doubtful, timid, hypocritical introvert — desperate for appreciation, attention, love, but desiring and loving of my own isolation so I don’t have to suffer inevitable rejection. My clinginess, my paranoia, of course it was my doing. It had a major part to play when I was at my worst, when I was in in the throes of a storm called depression. The depression, in fact, only intensified my reaction to rejection and made the circle of suspicion to paranoia to questions to rejection to confirmation not just a paranoid theory, but oh so very true, confirming the very reason that paranoia was there. A horrible paradox, no?
I don’t know what my paranoia is. It may be a mental illness, and if it is, then I pity those that glorify the entity. Paranoia has, over the years, destroyed my friendships. It has destroyed my trust in people. It has ruined my expectations and optimism that things will last, that mutual feelings will be there in perpetuity, that I will be loved. It has ripped the very things that I most desire in people away out of reach: to be liked; to be wanted; to be appreciated and needed and all those things that make me useful and… worth something. My paranoia has pushed people away from me. For the last five years it has been killing me, and I want rid of it.
Today, in 2016, I look back and, perhaps with a pessimistic skewed perception, see that I’m not as bad as I once was, at least. I know I have this problem. I know it’s an issue. I recognise it for the plague it is and desire nought but its expulsion from my mind. From all the rejections, the points from others that it is a problem, that the way I am is standing in the way of camaraderie… it’s hardened me, it’s made me a better person, funnily enough. It’s developed me into someone self aware, realising that my worry, paranoia, doubt, is nought but a ridiculous level of overthinking and that, accompanied with a smile and pat on the leg, there really is absolutely nothing to worry about. I don’t, thank fuck, spam people with messages anymore. I can control myself. Instead, what paranoia I have festers in my head and is frequently fought and defeated by what positive thoughts I have, that I know I am liked, appreciated, wanted, that I do have things worth fighting for, that… I am needed. Having a job, having a hobby, having friends, having someone special who thinks of me in a way that truly, truly, warms my heart, that – despite all the years of rough and tumble and experiencing new things and… all that – I’ve never really felt before. These, well, haha, these help. These thoughts give my confidence. These help expel the doubt. These are what I haven’t had for so bloody long.
But… I’m writing this now, when… when my doubts are, I think, at ease, when I don’t have much to worry about. I know, that during today, or tomorrow, or whenever, when I see something, read something that, heh, triggers me, the paranoia may come back to haunt me, the doubt that those around me, that those I hold dear, may one day yet still reject me, and every kind hearted message, every ounce of love people give me… may just be the prelude to the polite put downs that I am a problem, I am not worth the time of day, that it’s best we no longer remain close friends, that I’m not as good as I once was thought to be, that… my paranoia and my clinginess… is a problem. I do not enjoy being paranoid. I do not enjoy feeling the need to spam someone, I do not enjoy feeling the need to doubt, to be pessimistic. I do not enjoy feeling the need (the need for speed–OKAY WE GET IT). It’s not me.
There’s nothing wrong with being clingy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to show someone appreciation and affection and needing them and hoping above all else to feel loved, but, like I said once upon a time at the start of this meander, it only works well in moderation. Paranoia doesn’t rule my waves. I know it’s a problem, and I want rid of it. I want to be a better person. I want to be free.