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The voices


Yeah, I hear voices. Us psychotics do shit like that. Not all the time. Well, OK, most of the time. For me at least.

Mostly they’re the normal voices everybody hears. But no-one else can. Like transformative ear worms, where the lyrics of some awful pop song or ad jingle get stuck on internal repeat and slowly change into something else. Usually puerile humour. You get that too, right?

Or when there’s lots of white noise like in the shower or near power tools and you can just barely hear someone shouting to you at the edge of the racket. But there’s no-one there. It must happen to everyone.

Or that voice that fills your head with words whenever you’re writing or reading or talking or planning to or recalling doing it. The one talking to you right now. That blabber mouth. Does anyone know how to shut the fucker up?

Sometimes they’re the voices I’m not supposed to tell people about. The voices that mean I’m crazy.

Like when people on the radio start saying personal things about me. Or when there’s just voices coming out of nowhere. Not of folk with bodies and stuff, but still with distinct personalities and speaking styles and opinions about what’s going on. And about me.

Sometimes they talk to me and sometimes they talk to each other and sometimes I talk back though I know I don’t have to. They already know what I’m thinking.

They’re not usually nasty but their insults can be cutting. It’s not like they tell me to kill people. They don’t even tell me to kill myself, except as a joke. They thought it was pretty funny when I used to get suicidal. And why should I do what they say anyway? It’s not as if they can hurt me if I don’t. They’re a bit like family, with all the usual pros and cons. But smarter. And they know me better.

I don’t mind them. They’re not as bad as noisy neighbours or sitting through a meeting or gossip on public transport or talkback radio. Or half the novels I read. Or most of the journalism. They can be pretty interesting actually.

They often say things that surprise me or make me laugh and sometimes they give me amazing insights. Generally into what a wanker I am. I haven’t got an opinion as to whether they’re separate beings or just me acting out. Asking myself what’s me and what’s not has never offered much in the way of sensible answers.

I hear them a few times a year, usually for less than a day at a time, though once I was subjected to non-stop ‘poetry’ for over a week. Poetry that was a running commentary on anything and everything that caught my attention. Including the poetry itself.

I’m not into censorship. I don’t need to no-platform them. There’s worse things about being nuts. And better things. I guess it’d be rude to try to shut them up. Wouldn’t it?

From → autobiography

  1. Thank you for telling it like it is here…I think a lot of people — many more than will admit it publicly — hear voices but due to the psychiatric stigmata of “psychosis” attached, and it is only an idea, and a label, they refuse to join the ranks of the self-confessed like you and me. Unlike you, however, I would never label myself even casually as psychotic, not even if the definition were so narrowed as to encompass voice-hearing and only voice-hearing as its sole “symptom”. That way far too much danger lies, both in self-conception and in the relinquishing to another person of the power to name and identify myself.

    I don’t care how de-venomized the word might become, or how innocuous or merely medical they might claim the word is, I am NOT psychotic just because I hear voices. No. I am whole, and healthy and just fine the way I am, and frankly I believe the same thing about you, voice-hearing, neuro-divergent or whatever, as you may or may not feel.

    A huge problem with being born into this world is learning from the first that we are NOT okay, not whole and not healthy just as we are, with all our flaws and acceptable and accepted too. A flawed plate even with blips in the paint is still a plate and recognizably so, right? No one would ever deny its inherent right to be defined as a whole plate. So why are we always trying to define certain human beings as less than human, or not quite as good as other human beings because of their differences? Who sets the standards?

    And who said that voice-hearing is a divergent phenomenon and not the norm anyway? What if it turns out that 51% of the worlds population is voice-hearing and that the definition of normality has always been defined by the 49% who write the psychology textbooks? Has anyone ever considered that?

    In any event, in my estimation normal is boring and to seek to achieve normality is to strive towards a goal of mediocrity. It is like wanting to achieve an IQ of 100! Sure you may be Mr or Miss Joe Average, and supremely “normal” in intelligence, but really, does anyone want only that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I generally don’t place much significance on words. Maybe coming from an Aboriginal family and seeing how one generation’s term of endearment could become the next generation’s racist insult and visa versa cured me of that sort of thing.

      To me, psychosis is just a description of a cluster of experiences that tend to go together. When I first encountered its technical meaning while studying psychology (as opposed to its pop culture meaning) it was a bit of an aha moment. “So that’s what you call it”. Of course I knew better than to say it about myself out loud. Just like, as a usually-passes-as-white Aborigine, I knew better than to call myself Indigenous out loud in racist company (i.e. most of the population of Australia) but never had problems applying it to myself. It’s convenient.

      Because it’s not just the voices. It’s altered perception of time and space. It’s dissolution of the ego. It’s disorientation. It’s boundlessness. Sometimes it’s paranoia. More often it’s bliss. The fact I experience it has made me feel special far more often than it’s made me feel defective. As far as feeling ‘whole’ goes, for most of my life that only happened during episodes of psychosis.

      Of course having, thus far, successfully evaded the more draconian aspects of the mental health inquisition (as well as never having much interest in being ‘normal’) made it much easier to be positive about my experience of psychosis. And about the word itself. I’m happy to own it just like I’m happy to own ‘Aborigine’. To a lot of Australians that’s a designation of inferiority too.

      Liked by 1 person

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