the men in black need to stop following me

Do you remember when the Cat in the Hat movie came out? I think it was back in 2003. I was 7. My mom bought my sister and I Thing 1 and Thing 2 stuffed toys. That was also the year that we decided to take a family vacation to Niagara Falls. My sister, being 5 years old, decided to do what any curious toddler would do. She stepped up to the edge of the falls, brought her stuffed toy over the railings and waved it around above the gushing and spraying tides. And I? I watched in complete horror and feared for the impending doom her stuffed Thing 2 toy would suffer if it fell.

That’s probably my earliest memory of being completely and utterly paranoid.

Clinically, paranoia is defined as a feeling of nervousness, distrust, irrationality and obsessive worrying. Personally, I have suffered from these symptoms all my life.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Everyone worries, everyone is scared of something. No. I don’t believe it. I’m not scared of taking risks, I’m scared of “accidents”.

When my dog sticks his head out the car window, when I’m at the airport, when I’m walking home alone in the dark, when I travel by plane, train or boat, when I meet someone new, when the doorbell rings, when my phone makes a beeping sound for no reason– all of these experiences are terrifying.

I think it’s completely rational to always assume the worst thing. I mean why else would my dog stick his head out the window? To feel the cool air on his snout? Yeah right. He wants to become the wind. He wants to fall out the window into oncoming traffic and leave me completely heartbroken for the rest of my life.

I am completely dominated by the little voice in my head that makes me worry and distrust. I’m unsure as to why I always jump to the worst case scenario. Everything scares me. I have resorted to carrying around hairspray (since pepper spray isn’t legal) in my purse in case I need to ward of potential attackers. (I am also paranoid that I’ve shared too much in this article).

The other day I received a notification on my phone. It was a survey request for this app I have called Google Rewards (where you earn money when you answer questions). The survey, however, was oddly specific. It asked me to verify that I visited a particular store at the exact time and day I’m assuming that my phone’s Google GPS registered. Oh my god did that freak me out. 

My thought process went as followed: “They know where I am. Shoot. I need to disable my GPS. I need to clear my browser search history. What if the FBI is tracking my phone activity?! I only looked up that murder case because I was genuinely interested! I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE! I’m not a sketchy person! AHHHH!”

It’s funny because paranoia runs in my family. My father believes that the Amish life is a private life; and a private life is the best life. You can’t track them. My father also throws a fit when a store asks him for his driver’s license, email or phone number. If he could, he would live off the grid. I mean I get it though. Why does the store need all that information? You don’t need to know my life…I bought your product one time!

Growing up paranoid is strange. Am I right to be so worried? Am I being obsessively safe? I mean I haven’t seen any men in suits or black vans following me (yet) – so I’m not full on crazy? But when is being paranoid too much?

Paranoia, then, is widespread – so widespread, in fact, that around 15 to 20% of the population has frequent paranoid thoughts.

Institute of Psychiatry

Only the paranoid survive.

Andy Grove

There’s an overwhelming sense of paranoia in the suburbs. People there seem so much more paranoid to me than people in the city about their kids being kidnapped or their parties being raided or their drinks being spiked. There’s a kind of hysteria about that.
Meg Rosoff

I am lazy, but for some reason, I am so paranoid that I end up working hard.
Seth Rogen



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