Schizophrenia can be marked by various frightening and, at times, debilitating symptoms. These include delusions, hearing voices or sounds that aren’t there and others. For me the most debilitating symptom — and the one that never really seems to go away entirely even with my myriad medications — is paranoia.
Paranoia is basically the feeling and the anxiety that people’s main goals are primarily to hurt you in some way. For me it manifests in more social iterations as opposed to bodily harm. I’m constantly worried that people are laughing at me or making fun of me. The exact reason they’re making fun of me varies from the way I look that day to the way I act to smaller things like the way I talk or the way I hold my cigarette.
I’ve been told that everyone has a level of anxiety around these things and that what I call paranoia is no more than social anxiety. I think the determining factor is the belief that people are going out of their way to harm me emotionally. If that’s not paranoia I don’t know what is.