Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 – Relationships
I spent a lot of time on my own as a child. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, I was a weird kid and other children just didn’t really connect with me. The ones that did were just as weird as I was, but they were pretty rare. But even when it was just me in my bedroom away from school and other social situations, I was never alone. Most people would hesitate to admit that they talk to themselves – even though everyone does it – but what made my solo conversations different was that there were two sides going on at all times. I was simply responding to the voice talking to me in my head.
Children have imaginary friends, that’s a really creepy given, but she never had a face. I tried to imagine her as a person or even a pet, but it was never right. And besides, I was pretty sure it was MY voice I could hear. I only got that revelation when I was playing around with a tape recorder in primary school and spooked myself – I mean, you don’t know what you sound like do you?
When you say you can hear a voice in your head, people immediately freak the fuck out. With the negative representation of disorders like schizophrenia in the media it’s easy for folks to get the wrong idea and jump to the conclusion that you’re a demented psychopath. And honestly, I never thought it was a strange thing because it’s something I always had.
As a child, the voice was generally just someone to talk to. But as I got older, it became pretty mean and very critical. Everything I did was wrong. Everything I said was stupid. I looked fat and ugly, I was never going to get a boyfriend, nobody really liked me and I was a constant disappointment. I’d be sitting in Monday morning Maths as normal and BANG! There would be a reminder that a boy teased me the previous day because I had a hairy top lip. Therefore, I was basically a gorilla and no-one would ever fancy me. Sitting at my friend’s house while they play a video game and WHAM! Your parents think you’re a failure at life and your mom will always love your brother more than you. I used to get accused of being lazy when the truth was that I was exhausted from constantly putting up with the berating whine inside my head.
Like I say, this was normal to me. And when I came down with a troublesome case of vertigo, the doctor prescribed me with prochlorperazine. It was originally an antipsychotic but I think it was found to be more useful in treating dizziness and nausea – and it did work! But… after a few days, my mind was still. Silent. I had no voice berating me, and I wasn’t conducting a conversation with myself for the first time in my life. And I noted that to the Husband. This discovery was part of the chain of events that lead me to being diagnosed with BPD after a while. The downside of this silence? Constant sedation, sleeping too much, feeling groggy and miserable. I was eventually weaned off and now I take lamotrigine which keeps my moods stable, but coming off the stronger antipsychotics meant the return of that voice.
When I have my worst BPD episodes, that voice is basically screaming at me. So much so that I feel like I crack in two. And I become her, in a way. Loud, bold, uncaring and vicious. It is truly a split in my personality. I hate it, and yet in an odd way it’s a relief to have her take over when I’m at my limit. But that’s another story altogether.
Accepting that voice that lives inside my head has been a very difficult journey. Even as I write this I can hear the nagging, telling me that I have a busy day tomorrow and that I’m not going to be able to keep up with it all. That I might as well just pack it all in and stay in bed for the week. That I should just stop right now and give up, because that’s what I’m good at. It’s hard to ignore, some days it’s louder than others. Other days I talk back, and I tell my mind what I’m doing, and sometimes I even have to stop talking because I’m waiting for a reply back. On the really bad days, I try to imagine it’s Donald Trump giving me all this grief – because he’s an idiot and no-one should listen to him.
My best friend. My worst enemy. The one voice that comforted me when I needed it most. And it lives inside my head.