It isn’t very often I get to talk about the voices that I hear. In past posts you may have read illusions to the voices I am plagued with, but most will note that I don’t go into a great deal of detail about the monsters. Not because I don’t feel them, but because they are such a common part of me, like the toes on my foot, that I rarely make much note of them.
This has changed in the last couple of days. I don’t know if it is my medication that is giving the voices a microphone, if it is where my life currently is, or simply another moment in this rocky relationship with mental illness. For all I know if could be all three.
Voices are hard to describe to the non-ill peoples. Mostly because there is such a contrast between what someone with mental illness feels and those that have never experienced the ups and downs. I won’t use the word normal versus abnormal people, but rather those with supremely active minds and chaotic times versus those with simple routine. Ordinary may be boring but there is a certain trust to be found in knowing exactly what happens next.
Artists and even writers like myself dress up these diseases in some crazy need to make ourselves seem normal. We put big words and descriptive colors on a canvas and hope that those who have never experienced mental illness will finally get a glimpse. But a glimpse is really all that is available. For the one thing you have to recognize when you are mentally ill is that change is as prevalent as the air that you breathe.
To describe things that change not daily but second to second is literally writing a word and then erasing it, and then writing a word and then erasing it…until a writer such as myself looks back and realizes that we haven’t written a word. The amazing capacity of the human brain is nowhere more prominent than in those with mental illness. The amazing ability of the human brain to not only dream but to create reality in the darkness of nightmares is unspeakable. To be truthful, there isn’t a sci-fi movie or book that has gotten the whole picture complete; if you can imagine it the brain can do it.
Voices are on of those really difficult things for those without active minds to understand. Mostly because despite the words that you speak to yourself, your brain is literally silent. My brain is never silent. It seems far fetched that there are conversations and intense dialogues going inside in my brain each and every day. The conversations are not determined by my “self” nor are they controlled by my “self”. I don’t know what the next sentence is going to be; I don’t even know if the sentence is going to be a voice shouting or whispering.
My voices have levels of sounds. Some whisper and some cry and scream. Some sound like a woman and some sound like a man. They are not the cheering section of my life and they have no interest in helping my soul to become better. Instead they are insidious and can only be alluded to (and lightly at that) as an enemy standing beside me whispering in my ear.
In case you were wondering, your own thoughts resounding in your mind is not hearing voices. In case you feared, hearing your name when no one is there is not voices. Voices are much, much more destructive, more sinister and much more all-encompassing than anything you can imagine. It is worse than when you put those headphones on, listen to the latest rock band, and dance. The voices are closer. The voices are much more real.
The voices are there. And voices do not, ever, tell you what you need to hear or what you should learn about life. The voices are not God and have no interest in saving the life of you. In fact, it is just the opposite. Voices, the voices that those who hear, are more dangerous than the possibility of a nightmare coming true.
You see the funny thing about most voices is they find that little piece of vulnerability you have; or that small spot of secrecy that you desperately want to keep and they reveal in it. They remind you of every little thing that you have done wrong and they remind you of everything you hoped to forget. The pounce on your insecurities and make it seem like the very thing you feared most was true. Was as true as the sun rising in the eastern sky.
I should take a moment and mention that not all my voices are mean and dangerous. I have one that sits on the right side of my brain (above my ear) and debates faith, the church, and all things immortal. I have another voice who wants me to experience life and will often override my own good sense to take me on a journey that can and often does create more work for those I love most.
But my dangerous voices like to tell me how unworthy I am. My dangerous voices love to sit and remind that I don’t have a job, or that God has never shown me a moment’s of mercy, or that I am a burden to my family. My dangerous voices make sure I remember all the guilt I feel for making two innocent children live in my world. These voices make sure that I know that there isn’t any one out there who loves me, or actually supports me.
And because the voices are closer than those talking to you from the headphones you are wearing, they become all the more real. I am not able to listen to those voices and at the same time tell myself that the voices aren’t real. I am not able to believe or even see the improbability of those voices because they are so close and so destructive.
There isn’t a voice out there that I look forward to hearing. These voices aren’t friends and people I have missed in my life. They are just the opposite. They are continually my deepest fear manifesting itself into volumes of sound that I cannot ignore.
I have tried to describe my voices here because the dangerous ones are very loud right now. I sit here typing these words remembering that I am not worthy of even the slightest regard and wondering if I have enough pills to fall asleep forever. I am sitting here hearing voices telling me to run away, to quit being selfish and destroying the lives of those I love while I consider how many cuts will make the pain away. I sit here with God’s own soul telling me how more this world would be if I just simply stopped breathing.
If you don’t know what it is like to literally have someone whispering your nightmares to you, if you don’t know what it is like to have someone telling you exactly what you have always feared than you are lucky. If you don’t know what it is like to be reminded how unimportant, unessential you are to those you love, count yourself blessed.
Because I promise you I would much rather stop dreaming than listen to a voice tell me that I am not worthy of those dreams. I would much rather someone tell me I am loved, convincingly and full of emotion, than listen to the voices tell me I am not. I would like one safe place where I can escape the voices; where my ears finally are allowed a break. I would love to know what silence sounds like.