After spending twenty-four years of being a creative soul, it wouldn’t surprise anybody that knows me to know that my imagination often goes wild and I find myself conversing with the image in the mirror. But what would surprise them, as it surprised me, is the fact that there came a time when the voice that returned no longer sounded like my own; nor did it only live in my thoughts. I could hear it as clear as day.
The positive affirmations that I recited daily had become nasty curse words and negative dictatorship. No longer was I talking to myself in the mirror. Instead, I was being talked to literally, although nobody else was physically present. Yes, that’s right. I was being talked to by a voice that belonged to no one.
For months my inner voice was no longer recognisable, and being alone left me feeling frightful. There was no longer anything pleasant about my thoughts. I was constantly being put down by what felt like myself, yet a stranger at the same time. “You’re so weak”, the voice told me. And I believed it. Because I struggled to find a way to tell others that the voice in my own head, was now being heard through my own ears, although it was troubling me daily. Where I once found comfort in being alone, I found fear; which entered me into a four month long battle against my independence. I was forced to feel like I could no longer care for myself, because being alone was scary.
Months of arguing with myself in the mirror, trying to persuade myself that strength lied in the place I found weakness, proved to be unsuccessful. I had embarked on a tough elongated fight with myself, as the voices in my head had developed into whispers; that became too loud to bare.
Home alone during a spring afternoon, sat in the space that provided the best lighting in the house, that usually made me feel comfortable, I heard it loud and clear. It was the voice. The voice led me into my back yard, where I chased the sound, but to find nobody there. Yet, as present as ever, the whispers were still there; and they were becoming vulgar. In that moment it clicked for me. I was hearing voices that weren’t there, and I needed to seek help for my mental health immediately.
Frantically speaking to my mother on the phone, I ran to the doctor’s surgery and waited for my support system to meet me. My mother. As I waited, the voices mocked me. “Nobody can save you”, it teased repeatedly. So loud that it filled my heart with excruciating palpitations. My nerves were shaken all over the place, and I truly believed that this was it. I had truly lost my mind. Seriously worried, I began to question myself.
Do I admit to my doctor that an invisible voice was following me, a voice that the doctor wouldn’t be able to hear although it sounded so clear to me? Would I be admitted into a psychiatric ward? Was this the beginning of the end for me, where I’m no longer an imaginative creative because I no longer have the ability to differentiate between reality and fiction? Every hesitation crossed my mind, and as I feared for my life I found myself telling lies.
When asked if I was hearing voices, I denied it. I admitted to having bad thoughts but I didn’t admit that the thoughts were actually audible, and that I could hear the taunts as clearly as I could hear my doctor asking me if I could hear voices. Embarrassed and prideful, I was incapable of admitting my truth. Out of fear that I would be taken away from my family and placed into a psychiatric hospital. Alone with the voices. I needed support, yet I was lying to those that could support me. Why couldn’t I trust them? Because the voices told me that I couldn’t. This is where I truly felt surprised by my mind. You never realise how powerful your mind can be until it tricks you into believing things that aren’t real.
Over the coming days, my condition worsened. The voice that I could hear started to come out of my own mouth. I wasn’t speaking as myself, instead I was speaking as the voice that had been holding me hostage. It followed me everywhere, and no matter how much I tried to shake it, it wouldn’t let me go. No longer was I the sweet and soulful young lady that I had been for many years. I became a controlling narcissistic creature with limited manners. The voice had taken over my life, falling me deeply into a trap of negative thoughts that echoed every time I opened my mouth. Help covering my surroundings, yet I was nowhere near receptive to it. Because I had fallen victim to becoming the voice. The evil nasty voice that told me that I couldn’t be saved. And I believed it. So when I was told that I was having a psychotic episode, I didn’t believe it at first. You can overcome psychotic episodes but I couldn’t overcome this. Which is what I thought at the time.
Each nurse that visited me was the enemy, and the voice continued to tell me that every person that came to help me was really there to kill me. I was tricked into believing that the medication that I was being given was poison, which left me crying to my mother every night asking her not to let me die. “She can’t save you,” again, I was put down by the voice, forced to feel that even my mother was an enemy of mine. The voice stripped all of my independence from me, making me fear being left alone, alone with the voice that told me that I would hurt myself. I didn’t want to hear it because I didn’t want to believe it. But also cautiously, because I didn’t want to die.
Every day felt like my last. My heart was telling me to trust my support system, but my mind was telling me that they would make me kill myself, or they would let somebody else into my home to kill me. Yet, I knew that I had to take a risk. If I had to live as the voice, or with the voice, for the rest of my life, then I would rather die. I was tired of feeling controlled by something that wasn’t there. So, I took the risk and, luckily, taking the risk actually did more good than harm.
Speaking to family members angered the voice, and speaking to nurses angered it even more. I was finally being vocal about needing help, and I finally started to listen to those around me. The more I tried to trust those around me, the more the voice was angered into silence. The more I spoke up, the quieter it got. The more I took my medication, the quieter the whispers became until they were no more. The medication that I once thought was poison for me, turned out to actually be poison for the voice. Killing it slowly but surely. The voice returned to merely being passing thoughts of self-doubt, but they no longer consumed me. And my loved ones didn’t let me die. They let the voice die.
I realised in that moment just how beneficial getting help was. I’d once heard Michael Bernard Beckwith describe help as ‘hello eternal loving presence’ on an episode of Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversation podcast, and finally I was seeing it in full effect. By asking for help, I was able to receive an eternal loving presence. And although there was an evil presence convincing my mind of untruths, there was an even greater presence of good in seeking help.
Mental health is fragile, and it doesn’t make one weak to face a fight with it at some point in their life. Aged twenty-four, I didn’t imagine that the day that I would ‘lose my mind’ would come at such a young age, yet there is no age requirement for a mental health war to attack you. It didn’t matter how strong I am, or how successful I am, because at what seemed to be my happiest time in life, I was hit with an overwhelming depression that led me to hear voices that weren’t there. However, I’m grateful.
I’m grateful that I was able to seek help, at a time when my own mind was convincing me not to. And I would advise others to try and do the same. It’s not easy or prideless to tell others that you don’t feel safe in your own skin, and that you need an intense amount of support. But it’s worthwhile. If I had kept it to myself I would have probably ended up severely harming myself, and maybe taking my own life. And life is not to be wasted. It’s to be lived to the fullest and appreciated.
I’m moving forward now, with a support system that I trust, and although the voice still visits my thoughts, it no longer controls me, and I’m no longer ashamed to say that I was hearing voices; that weren’t there.
Love and light, Liss x