The Voices In Your Head That Aren’t Auditory Hallucinations

In mental health, the last thing you want to do if it’s not exactly precise is tell the professionals you “hear” voices but they’re not hallucinatory. I tried to explain it as having multiple radio stations coming on on the same frequency so I’m hearing all genres of music but it’s such a cacophony I can’t discern what’s what. The doctor, of course, always looks at me like I’m nuts. I can’t think of a better analogy. The voices aren’t hallucinations, but the voices of those around me, the things I read, watch, see. Those nagging little doubts called low self esteem when in fact, they’re more like this constant presence at the back of your mind and when your mental state is at its most fragile…They all come banging out of closet like skeletons in chains.

I think one of the biggest “lessons”, partly to my own detriment, learned in therapy, is to question my own judgment and beliefs. Because you know, it could be hubris, it could be a distortion of my mental issues. In some ways, I went from blissful ignorance, thinking nothing of what others thought of me, doing my own thing and feeling okay with it…Until these “professionals” started poking at my psyche with little shrimp forks, putting holes in my blissful ignorance, bringing out the self doubt and shaky confidence in myself. Am I really hurt by this person or am I just distorting it and they’re right and I am wrong? Do I really believe X or am I just not thinking right? Was I justified in saying Z or was it a manic notion of grandeur?

Round and round, over twenty years, the thoughts, the voices have been there, stalking me, haunting me. And to some extent, I realize bipolar disorder and anxiety attacks DO distort and taint my thoughts and perceptions. But to the extent where I can’t trust anything I feel or believe? Rather than securing self confidence, therapy just gave me more things to be neurotic about. Beyond self awareness, it became utter lack of faith in myself over time.

Do not get the mistaken idea I am against therapy or brought nothing positive out of it. I learned a few things that were self affirming and helpful. But I think too many years of counseling, because it was “for my own good”,  it metastasized into this psychological cancer. I truly don’t give a damn if people approve of my clothes, my hair, my choice in decor, my old car, my choice in music, movies, et al…Never did. That much has remained the same.

Before all the therapy…I didn’t think twice about bickering with my friends or family. I stood up for my beliefs, right or wrong. I never had to stop and think, “Oh, she’s using me and she stole my stuff, I don’t need friends that bad..But what if it’s just me and I deserve to be used and stolen from?” I had less problem discerning right from wrong and self validation when I was bullied teenager without a clue.

Therapy turned me into this self doubting low self esteem monster of negativity, in a way. I was fine with therapy until I saw a note in my file labeling me “schizotypal” and it was all based on my love of the color black, horror movies, loud angry music, and being “different”. At that point, being told everything that makes me happy is actually a symptom of my depression, I hit my wall. BULLSHIT. These are the things I’ve liked since I was 7 years old, prior to the worst of my psychological/psychiatric issues. It makes me HAPPY. On this one, I stick to my guns and the professionals can just add a new disorder to their precious DSM to cover people who are perfectly fine with who they are. To take the very things I enjoy and label them a disorder felt like the ultimate insult. No way am I going to get any help from people like that.

The aftermath is…the voices. The voices that make me doubt my every move, thought, emotion. They’re not hallucinations. They are the things said to me over the years, worming their way into my brain, into my subconscious. Things that often roll off me like I am coated in Teflon. Other times, during high anxiety or severe depression, those doubting voices are like machetes slicing away at my very sanity. They are amplified and I know that’s a distortion of the bipolar, but they’re a problem I didn’t have prior to having every aspect of my identity questioned and labeled with a disorder. Now I am haunted every minute of the day by the voices of negativity that permeate my world in voice, written word, through books, tv, movies, music, doctors, therapists.

“Your kid has lint on her clothes and her socks don’t match, you’re  a lazy mother.”

Your house is a pigsty and it’s in a bad area and you’re not providing a fit home for your kid.”

You’ve been on disability all these years, expecting a pill to cure you, you’re just too lazy to work.”

You bring it all on yourself with your negative attitude, you just don’t try hard enough.”

“Quit waiting for a magic pill and face that you’re the problem, nothing is wrong with your mind.

When are you going to realize all your relationships fail because you’re just a bad person?”

You can’t even get along with your own kid, what is wrong with you.”

Maybe your kid has no father because you were so awful he’d rather be away from you than with his kid.”

You’re always portraying yourself as a victim, people are not out to use you. You’re paranoid. You just want an excuse not to fit into society.”

This. Is. My. Life.

So in some ways I’m more damaged than before I went into counseling. I never had such self doubts, even as a 14 year old getting spit on and bullied in school. Right and wrong were clear concepts. There was no excuse to bully me, no right for people to determine how I should dress or what music I liked, there was no gray area. I was standing up for what I believed in. Mainly, me and my right to be who I am.

Now I am stuck with all these voices, questions, doubts,making me feel each day like I am going insane. Yet on the days when my psychiatric issues are on low volume…It doesn’t even touch me.

Those voices are real. They are not my imagination or some hallucination. They are the people around me, the ones who are supposed to love, accept, and be supportive of me. Yet daily they invade my brain and for every time I shake it off, there are ten times the doubts worm their way in and infect me. I have such a feisty fuck off attitude, I don’t see how I allow these people to put a dent in my stubborn psyche.

I didn’t before therapy.

Therapy helped. It also hurt. Like the meds. Psychiatry/psychology is an inexact science, sometimes doing as much harm as good. It’s okay to face that fact. It’s okay to have some self confidence and not doubt your every thought.

It’s okay to ignore those voices. It’s just not as easy some days as it is on others.


3 Responses to “The Voices In Your Head That Aren’t Auditory Hallucinations”

  1. WHAT THE FUCK? I hate when “professionals” continue their hell bent idea that our exterior choice of fashion choices is somehow linked to our mental health. My friend is “goth” to the ass and he is one of the happiest, most well rounded and stable people I know. No inkling of illness. His parents forced him into therapy as a teenager and he told me that they kept trying to tie his tastes into mental illness even when his answers didn’t fit ANY FUCKING DIAGNOSIS. He had no symptoms. He just liked wearing what he did, it make him happy. No one judges other fashion trends or choices (beach girl, Boho, etc) but wear black and you’re depressed and at high risk of suicide by default.

    Okay maybe I went on a tangent but it really does beat my ass up. I’ve liked to dress darker from time to time as because I like how it looks but I get “Zoe you don’t usually dress like this! Is there something bothering you in a deep level?” from therapists.

    Whatever. Fuck them. I’m so tired of so many people telling us who to be and what is okay to like.

  2. I get the voices you are talking about, but I do hear voices. I hear music pounding in my head. It drives me nuts. I can be sound asleep and someone calls my name and joy of joy, no one is there. I think I am nuts.

  3. […] “The Voices in Your Head that Aren’t Auditory Hallucinations” (Take a Ride on My Mood Swing) […]

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