Schizophrenia.com

Thoughts/advice on coping mechanisms?

I was hoping you guys might have some insight or opinions on a particular coping mechanism I’ve developed lately…

It’s been two years since I last had a psychotic episode, but I tend to get extremely paranoid that one is going to start, so much so that I don’t often do any of the things I previously enjoyed. It’s not that I’ve lost interest in them exactly. It’s more that I’m afraid that if I care about the quality of what I’m doing, I’m going to start “listening” for feedback in my own mind, and I really don’t want to relapse.

Because of that I’ve stopped writing, drawing, participating in e-sports (competing in video games for titles and/or prizes), and even going to college. Half the time I won’t even play multiplayer video games without large amounts of alcohol to make me “not care.”

Recently, though, I’ve started “streaming” while playing games. I’d always avoided it in the past because I’m female and couldn’t think of ANY reason to let people watch me play except to get attention, buuuuut…I’m getting some unexpected emotional/psychological results from doing it. If I can look at my dashboard and physically see a number indicating that I have viewers, it eases my apprehension.

It seems like knowing people are watching, and that it’s with my consent, calms my fears of being illegitimately “watched” (That was always one of my biggest delusions). Before I accepted my diagnosis, I got really used to “putting on a show” for the people I imagined were watching me. I think it turned me into some sort of adrenaline junkie and I miss the spotlight. But talking into a camera and being able to see the number of viewers on my screen is calming me down enough to be a “try hard” again. It’s actually discouraging me from drinking alcohol when I play because alcohol dulls my reflexes and I don’t want to look like THAT much of an idiot.

I’m also finding that karaoke does something similar for me. If I go to a karaoke bar and sing, I drink less. It’s like I already know that I’ve put myself on display for judgement and that people already know I exist, so I’m not getting as paranoid.

I guess I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar or know of anyone who’s used “performing” of any type to cope with the fear of relapsing or looking “weird” to other people. So far, it SEEMS to be doing me a lot of good. It’s cutting down my drinking and the time I spend sleeping, and it’s getting me back into some of my old hobbies. I just don’t want to be an attention junkie or be coping in an unhealthy way. I don’t know anyone in person who can relate, so I thought I’d ask you guys…

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If it’s leading you down the right path (and it sounds like it is) I would say it’s a good thing.

I understand what you’re saying. Like having an important test at the doctor’s office. The wait is the worst part. You end up with high cholesterol or high blood sugar, that can be dealt with. If you know you’re being watched maybe it’s cutting back on the “waiting”. You aren’t waiting for a sign that someone is watching you. You know you are being watched and even more importantly you are consenting to being watched. I think that’s what’s making most of the difference. Rather than feeling like someone was coming up and ripping open the curtains of your private life you feel like you have a choice in it when you put on a show.

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There are bunches of effective coping mechanisms in these psychotherapies, many of which can be done to some extent with inexpensive workbooks. Reply if you want to know about the workbooks.

REBT – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_emotive_behavior_therapy
Schematherapy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schema_Therapy
Learned Optimism – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_optimism
Standard CBT – http://www.beckinstitute.org/what-is-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/About-CBT/252/
DBT – http://behavioraltech.org/resources/whatisdbt.cfm
MBSR – http://www.mindfullivingprograms.com/whatMBSR.php
ACT – https://contextualscience.org/act
10 StEP – http://pairadocks.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-10-steps-of-emotion-processing.html
MBBT – https://www.newharbinger.com/blog/introduction-mind-body-bridging-i-system

I can relate to the feeling of being watched. I often feel violated by it because people are invading my privacy. I sometimes talk back to the people watching me. I get mad at their invasion of my privacy. This has been ongoing for a long, long time - years, decades. In my case, I think people really are watching me and invading my privacy. The question is how much they’re doing it. Some of my perceptions are delusions, but I know some are real.

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I’m so sorry @crimby! :frowning: I felt like I was being watched during all of my psychotic episodes so far. During the first one, I got angry-- I lashed out verbally, demanded that my then-husband get off a work conference call because I was hearing voices from his phone that made me think I was being watched, asked him to check all of our air vents for cameras, called the police thinking someone must have hacked my computer and could hear rather than see (had a headset but no camera) me, and the list goes on.

But then, I simultaneously thought that someone wanted to kill me, and for the briefest moment I thought that maybe I should get it over with myself bc I was afraid they’d do it more painfully than I would. But my kids were 3 and 5 and the idea of doing that and them having to live with it scared me half to death, so I admitted myself to the hospital for suicidal thoughts.

I literally saw going to the hospital as going “into the wolves’ den.” Being wrongly diagnosed and hospitalized/confined has always been one of my biggest fears. I didn’t trust them, but I figured I was physically safer there because of all the security, cameras, staff, etc. I thought that if someone tried to get me there, it was probably the safest place I could be…eventually the desire for safety won out over the feeling of being watched.

When I started having consistent auditory hallucinations, they seemed much more pleasant and friendly than I’d expected, and I came to the conclusion that if being watched meant there would be witnesses to my murder, it was something I was willing to live with, at least at the time. I hoped that if my murderer was also watching, he/she/they knew about the other observers and that it might serve as a deterrence. So, in a way I ended up accepting the invasion to my privacy in much the same way I imagine people accepting the restrictions attached to having body guards.

Buuuuut, it’s been over 2 years since I’ve had a psychotic episode and I’m scared to death of relapsing, especially since it feels like it’s about time to have another one…

I try to write off a lot of those feelings as delusions, but sometimes they come in strong, like I’m actually LISTENING for voices that confirm I’m being watched, like @onceapoet suggested. Maybe that’s how it works…if I KNOW I’m being watched, I can rationalize the feeling of being watched (because I AM) and not feel helpless about it because I can always just turn off the stream. Still, I do get worried about technical difficulties that could leave my camera running after I finish, so I often turn the camera so it’s facing the wall. I feel like a chicken for doing that, but…being a chicken is better than having a panic attack, right? I hope? Heh