Eek! They’re stealing my thoughts!

Now then, don’t panic, it’s ok, I’m not wearing a tin-foil helmet just yet…

But, still, paranoia can be very tiresome.  Over the last couple of days, two posts have gone up on Mental Nurse (actually several have gone up – I mean two that are relevant).  The first was on the subject of Daily-Mail-Gay-Adoption-Gate.  The second was on (or at least partly on) the issue of change, and resistance to change, and the process of managing change.  Both of these posts related in some way to posts I’ve put up on this blog recently.  The gay adoption one is obvious.  Issues about change and resistance to change within the NHS came up towards the end of my post about my mum’s experiences in elderly care (the third paragraph after the asterisk, if for some strange reason you’re desperate to read it).

Now, there’s obviously nothing odd about that.  The row about the Edinburgh adopters has been winding lots of people up on both sides of the debate, so it’s not a surprise to find other people blogging about it.  Focussing on change (and, specifically, change in the NHS) is a little more coincidental – but coincidences happen all the time, and this kind of subject matter is out and about at the moment, which is why I wrote about it in the first place.

But on both occasions my immediate thought process was – that was my idea/ where have they got hold of my ideas/ why have they got hold of my ideas/ are they stealing my thoughts?  And so on.

Now, this is clearly batty.  Obviously everyone and anyone might choose to write about these issues completely independently.  Even if they were influenced by me (and I have no real reason for thinking they were), then clearly they would have been influenced by the publicly-accessible posts on this blog, and not by direct access to my thoughts.  I know from comments they’ve left here, and links to my posts from the MN site, that both zarathustra and Mr. Ian (the people who made the posts concerned) read my blog from time to time.  And, of course, even if they were trying to access my thoughts, they wouldn’t be able to without there being some kind of a thought-transfer wave, and that idea is patently nonsense.

But, the thing is, I have had to consciously walk myself through this thought process, and even having worked my way through it, I haven’t resolved the issue.  I’ve reached the point where I’ve managed to convince myself that the rational explanations are most likely to be true, but that doesn’t do anything to shake the utter conviction I have at the core of myself that, actually, my instincts are right, and that my thoughts are no longer my own.  That I’m no longer alone inside my own skull.

Now, of course, the fact I have this level of ‘insight’ (if you want to call it that) is a very good thing.  Equally good is the fact that I have managed to train myself to trust in rationality, even when every other mental faculty I have is failing me.  This maybe seems like it’s nothing to most people, but to me, especially at times like this, it’s a big deal.  Rationality is the only bulwark I have against chaos, it’s what allows me to build stepping-stones out of a place like this.  It gives me a firm place to stand in the middle of quicksand and say ‘This is real.’  I have no doubt that it’s what helps me in a crisis – in fact I’m certain it’s what stops days like today from becoming a crisis.

But, truth be told, it’s exhausting having to constantly second guess every thought I ever have.  I know I can do it – it’s got me through times far worse than this – but I don’t know if I can keep doing it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.  The price of freedom may or may not be eternal vigilance, but, for me, relentless rationality is the price of a medication-free life.  And that relentless rationality itself comes at the cost of relentless self-analysis and relentless mental effort.

Now, there’s an obvious solution – give up on the medication avoidance.  There are times when it seems incredibly appealing to just give up on the attempt to stand on my own two feet, and to sink back into the welcoming arms of chemical oblivion.  If I was someone else, and I was giving me advice, I’m pretty sure I’d advise trying an antipsychotic.  In fact, I’m sure that at least trying an antipsychotic is the rational course of action, and I’m supposed to have put my trust in rationality.

But still – I don’t want to.  I may be wrong, I may be muddle-headed, but, still, this is me.  This obstinate, heels dug into the ground, sheer bloody-minded determination is what I do.  This refusal to let anything beat me is what defines me.  I admire myself for my willpower.  I’m proud of the fact that, when I decided it was time for me to stop smoking, I just stopped dead, and that nothing the world or my own psyche has thrown at me in the decade since then has been enough to make me take so much as one more puff.  I’m proud of the fact that I’m managing, more or less, to do the same with alcohol.  I’m bitterly ashamed of the fact that I haven’t been able to show the same willpower when it comes to food, and of the fact that my size and shape make my failure obvious to everyone who sees me.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Exaggerated regard for a particular character trait leading to the setting of impossibly high standards leading to exaggerated shame and guilt.  It’s absolutely cast-iron, copper-bottomed mentalist thinking.  CBTers will be falling over themselves to thrust their ‘thought diaries’ into my hand, and I can see their point.

But, then again, the fact that I can see their point renders their point invalid, doesn’t it?  I’m aware of the thought pattern, I can see that it’s partly defective, and I can trace its effects.  Perfectionist thinking is a problem for me (which is strange, really, given how obviously imperfect I am…), but that doesn’t mean that everything I think is wrong.  I just don’t think I am wrong.  Is it really wrong to want to hold off from antipsychotics until they’re absolutely necessary?  Is it really wrong to take comfort from the fact that, even though I’m ill, I can still force myself to acknowledge the difference between what’s real and what’s false?

Now, that’s where I’d have liked to finish this post – some nice defiant rhetorical questions to make the point ‘To hell with the lot of them – I’m fine on my own.’

But I’m not, really, am I?  ‘Normal’ people, ‘sane’ people, don’t have the kinds of concerns I do.  Normal people don’t have to spend hours convincing themselves that their thoughts aren’t being stolen.  Normal people don’t want to run away from every real-life human contact for fear they’ll be contaminated, and won’t just die, but will worse-than-die.  (No, I don’t know what worse-than-die actually means, but I do know that I dread it in the pit of my stomach.)  Normal people don’t have to convince themselves that, even though it looks like boiling porridge, the carpet is still safe to walk on.  Normal people don’t find themselves sitting paralysed for minutes at a time by images and sensations of what it would be like if the carpet really was boiling porridge, and they sank through it up to their knees, and couldn’t get free, and the heat seared through skin and muscle, and started to char the bone.

Now, looking at it in that light, there can’t really be any talk of coping, can there?  It’s clear that the person thinking like this is very far from coping.  His willpower isn’t going to be enough on its own to win out against all this.  This person needs help, his willpower needs reinforcing – so what a relief to know that he’s due to see his psychiatrist next week.

But I still don’t think I’m going to go see him, even though pretty much everyone else thinks I should.  I’ve got through worse on my own, so I can get through this.  And if I do that, then at least I’ll know there’s always a last resort to fall back on.  Because that’s what really scares me the most of all.  What happens if I allow myself to be persuaded to try the last resort and it doesn’t work?

What the fuck would I have to fall back on then?

This entry was posted in About me, Depression, Endless repetition, General mental weirdness, Psychiatry, Psychology. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Eek! They’re stealing my thoughts!

  1. Lucy McGough says:


    You gave up smoking, you’ve almost given up alcohol – can’t you manage to use that willpower of yours to get yourself down to the psychiatrist and ask for help?

    Oh, God, I don’t know… I don’t have any answers… I just don’t want you to be on your own with this thing. Talk to your psychiatrist, even if it’s an extremely unpleasant experience. Please.

  2. cellar_door says:

    That’s a very rational fear (the last resort stuff, obviously, not the thought broadcasting bit :o) ), and because of that there’s not really much anyone could say to make it any better. It’s a scary ride to be considering getting on.

    You know my take on meds. I think they are overprescribed, generally a bit crap (side effects and efficacy-wise) and people aren’t given enough information about them. However, I do also know a whole lot of people who have benefitted from them, and had a reduction in symptoms at small doses that had made life more bearable. You are a lot more clued up on them than most, and at the minute are actually in a good negotiating position(!). I know, that sounds odd…but to be honest, if you did decide to take them now, you would have a lot more control over it than if you end up getting them foisted on you. Obviously, it hopefully won’t come to that. But it’s something to consider, and I’m sure you already have done :o)

    But I can completely understand your reluctance. Maybe try and see them as another weapon in your arsenal against the madness, as opposed to a weakness?

    (ps. I’m not trying to talk you into taking them, just putting it out there as an option…)

    Hugs x

  3. Lucy McGough says:

    What she said.

  4. Paul says:

    It’s great that you have the reason to know when your thinking outside the box (if you get my drift).

    Congrats on the not smoking for a decade and with such will power. I wish my will was as strong.

    I voted Yes in your poll and still maintain that a trip to the psychiatrist would be beneficial for you, even if it’s just someone to talk to and to gove you further option. You are the end user you decide where you take the advice.

    Keep strong

  5. Alex says:

    As one stubborn bastard to another, I see where you’re coming from on this. That being said, I think the both of us have to accept that there are some things that you shouldn’t have to handle by yourself. One of the things I’ve had to learn of late is that mental illness is just something that happens, and if you tell yourself that you can fix it singlehandedly, you’re setting yourself up for a fall.
    I guess what I’m getting at is that I think you should try medication. There is, as you mentioned, the possibility that it wouldn’t work. But I still think that trying it is a good idea anyway, just because the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks.
    Take care.

  6. NiroZ says:

    I think that waiting for the last possible moment is a dangerous game, because it seems to be that it would be when you get so bad that you have them forced on you. And given your stubbornness, I’m sure a massive fight would ensure. What’s the point of reason if you don’t use it?

  7. Mandy says:

    Hi A

    I don’t know mate…as in whether you should go and see your psychiatrist or not. Depends on the psychiatrist really…as in that is how I make decisions about whether or not I see a psychiatrist. It isn’t always easy to know who you are going to see, though. They often change so frequently.

    Unless a MH Act Assessment is carried out on you, you can’t be forced to take medication. If that is your major concern and, from what you are writing now, you still have capacity to tell that you are suffering paranoia. So I can’t see you being sectioned.

    You are pretty smart anyway and most probably know all this but understand you are worried about the paranoia.

    Perhaps you could go along to the meeting and if you feel the psychiatrist is paying attention and interested, share what you are thinking (or what you feel comfortable to share) and they might not have answers but the human in them (as well as the professional) could provide you with some one to one support.

    I get totally spooked by the second from last resort. That being ending up in acute care without the choice to say “No” to medication. The last resort being something else and hope that neither of us go there.


  8. Mandy says:

    P.S. Game on for having given up smoking. No small achievement :>)

  9. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments. I hope none of you mind if i don’t do my ususal going through the replies one at a time, and just make some more general points.

    First of all, i think most of you are more concerned than you need to be. Like i said i’m not in tinfoil hat territory yet, and i don’t expect to get there either. I’ve been on this particular merry-go-round a few times, so i feel pretty confident in saying that this is an unpleasant experience rather than anything worse. I’m sorry if my venting of how i feel has made some of you more worried than you need to be.

    I will admit, i do find it useful to post about this stuff here, but it looks as though i may have to reconsider that. It really hasn’t been my intention to worry people, or to milk the sympathy vote. I’m used to coping with things like paranoia and hallucinations on my own and without support, strange as that may sound. They don’t even particularly scare me anymore (beyond the feelings of anxiety that are an inevitable part of paranoia).

    In particular, i’m a long way from being sectionable (is that an official word?), so concerns about loss of liberty/ enforced medication etc really aren’t something i need to worry about. There’s really no way anyone could reach the conclusion that i’m a danger to myself or other people. In terms of day-to-day life (shopping/ cooking/ washing/ eating etc) i’m coping, so they won’t really be able to use that as grounds for concern either.

    Turning to the issue of the psych appointment – there isn’t any possibility of any personal or human support from General Psychiatrist. He’s a nice enough guy, but he just isn’t made that way. He won’t discuss options with me either. All the appointment (which, if past experience is anything to go on, will last less than 5 minutes) will focus on is drugs. I’ve already decided i’m not taking the drugs, so there is literally no point in going in terms of anything that may benefit me in the here and now.

    I can see only two reasons for going – to ‘show willing’, and to keep contact with MH services – and both of them are only relevant in terms of the future rather than the present. What i have to do is balance the definite downsides – the major increases in anxiety and frustration that i will feel – with the potential upsides – faster access to support if i need it in the future. This really is on a knife-edge for me – but i am still most likely not to go.

    But i do want to thank you for your advice. I know it sounds as though i’m dismissing it out of hand, but i’m not. Like i say, i haven’t irrevocably made up my mind yet.

  10. cellar_door says:

    I was going to inquire about any recent purchases of tin foil :o)

    I certainly don’t think anyone thought you were after sympathy, and as for people worrying, well yes, but people will naturally worry about you anyway because they care and know you are having a shit time. So please don’t feel the need to stop posting about it if it helps :o) And I use the term ‘sectionable’ ergo it must be a real word…

  11. Lucy McGough says:

    You aren’t milking the sympathy vote. You’re ill, so you write about it because it’s true. And you have my sympathy for being ill, like my friend had my sympathy when she had the flu.

    I can worry about you if I want, and you can’t stop me. (This is what I tell my mate Chris, because I worry about him too and it annoys the heck out of him.) I certainly WON’T tiptoe around you as if you’re on your deathbed, or treat you like some strange exotic bird from Darkest Peru.

    You’re ill. People worry about you. You tell them not to. That’s life! Same old story all over the world.

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