From a teen in the U.S.: I have two irrational subconscious ideas that I need to solve. The first one is I think that people are always watching me. My brain tells me they hide cameras or do something so they see me and what I am doing all the time. I mostly think and worry about people I know doing this. My mind tells me they are doing this all the time.

The second one is I think other people are always reading my mind and all the thoughts at the current moment and previous moments of my life. Like the first one I mostly think and worry about people I know doing this.

On an intellectual level I know these thought are absurd and completely inaccurate, but my subconscious mind refuses to abandon these thoughts.

It has an impact on me because now I’m not able to do things or think things I want to do or think about. I got so bad that I shut out lots of my natural thoughts with things I consider “normal”. After observing myself I realize I worry most when I’m alone. I don’t care whether I have a mental illness or not, I just want to know how to get rid of these thoughts and try to live as good a life as I can make it.

Ps. If it helps I don’t do well in social environments even if I know the person for a long time since me and almost everyone else says I’m very shy.

A: It’s not at all unusual for teens to worry excessively about what others think of them. It is not unusual for teens to be self-conscious in social situations or to be shy. It is unusual to think that others are reading your mind. I can’t tell from a letter whether you are a normal kid overthinking your shyness or if you may perhaps be struggling with something like obsessive compulsive disorder. (It’s unlikely that this is psychotic thinking because you do realize that your thoughts about other people reading your mind are irrational.) Whatever the cause, the thoughts are getting in your way and are causing you to suffer much too much.

For that reason, I strongly urge you to make an appointment with a mental health counselor. A counselor can hear your whole story and can work with you to sort out whether you simply need some reassurance or if you need some treatment. Bring your letter and this response with you to your first appointment. It will help jumpstart the session.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie