To start, I should explain I’ve always been rather imaginative, a trait which hasn’t been lost as I’ve matured. I could think things into being, see the future, and I’d caused the death of my grandfather by picking up a penny which’d been facing tails-up. Mind you, I was well into high school and still find clues and symbolism where I know they certainly don’t reside. But these do me no harm, really. The most harmful of these was an obsession with my weight. The fear of becoming fat slowly morphed to the fear that I was already fat and my perception was warped, which soon escalated to the accusation that everyone else was keeping what I really looked like from me, frequently dropping hints as a sot of inside-joke. The size on my trousers had been changed as well-an idea I knew was impossible, yet still entertained. Needless to say, I became obsessive over the intake and burning of calories. Then, a couple years later, a light clicked and I realized how delusional I was. Mind you, the weaning process was slow and steady-it took months before I could drink juice without becoming anxious-but self-awareness is the first step to recovery. I’m learning, unfortunately, that this is an issue which doesn’t simply disappear. As of late, I’ve become aware of those same vain whispers. They are beginning to resurface and though they aren’t as loud as before, they seem to be getting harder to ignore. In October of last year, my family and I went on a picnic, to which I wore a sort-of-midriff. When my mother sent me the pictures she’d taken, I had so much anxiety I cried. It was such a dreadful panic. I thought I was over my fear of weight-gain, but something as simple as a picture set me off. Logically, I know I’m thin, yet I can’t fully convince myself. These thoughts have been building, and I’ve been trying to ignore them, but it isn’t working. I’m so terrified of this fear regaining its strength and avoid activities or clothes which may trigger the anxiety. How might I put an end to this before it becomes severe? (age 20, from US)Terrified of Past Paranoia Resurfacing
Terrified of Past Paranoia Resurfacing
Thank you for writing in with your concerns. You have provided a lot of detail but you did not mention if you have ever sought professional help. It sounds like you have just worked on your issues through your own self-awareness and efforts to make personal changes, and it sounds like you have had some success with this approach.
However, since the issues are resurfacing, I feel that it would be best for you to seek help at this point. You describe paranoid/delusion thinking but I’m also concerned that you have developed an eating disorder. In either case, a therapist can diagnose what is really going on and help you develop a treatment plan. You don’t have to deal with this alone. You have already taken the first step by reaching out, it’s time to take the next one by seeking help.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts