Hearing Voices and A New Identity September 16, 2010Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Delusions, ESP, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, mental illness.
Tags: Bipolar Disorder, Delusions, Hallucinations, Hearing Voices, mental illness
I admit the first time I heard the voice of my boss, Mark, while driving down the freeway alone in my car, I was surprised. He wasn’t in the car or on the cell phone, and yet he spoke to me as clearly as if he were sitting next to me. I realized immediately that I had a special power: ESP. It didn’t seem unusual at all to be gifted with special powers, and it didn’t even cross my mind that I could be mentally ill. I was simply gifted.
I assumed from the very first time I heard Mark’s voice that I had control of my ESP. I assumed that I would be able to simply stop hearing the voices whenever I chose to, and that was how it worked. At first.
Then things changed, and suddenly I was no longer in charge. The voices were. As the voices slowly increased in number- around 50 at the high- they also increased their grip on my mind, ultimately refusing to leave. When I eventually begged and pleaded with them to leave, they wouldn’t go away. That’s where the strength of my personality played into the situation.
I should have been terrified when the voices wouldn’t leave. I should have sought immediate medical intervention when I felt my mind being smothered by theirs, wrapping their thoughts around mine and choking me off like morning glories on a rhododendron.
But because of the nature of my personality, I felt strong enough to handle the situation. I had always succeeded in everything I had undertaken before, so this wouldn’t be any different. I fought hard to keep a sense of self, knowing that I would prevail, despite the increased smothering of my ideas by theirs. To keep things from unraveling, I learned not to express fear. To express fear brought on the evil voices. But to embrace the voices with love kept the voices slightly off-balance. Where there should have been fear in me there was a sort of pity for them.
My saving grace was that the voices never learned how to read my own independent thoughts. This situation is hard to articulate even now, but suffice it to say that they tried to smother and replace my thoughts with their own, but they never knew what my thoughts- my real thoughts- were.
Trying to maintain my separate being from being taken over by the voices was like being in a room with someone fighting for possession of increasingly more space. Never satisfied with taking just a part of the room, they moved their line of possession to increasingly larger sections of the room. As long as I could maintain even a tiny portion of the room, I could hold on to my identity. That was what protected me from total destruction.
Eventually, the voices took over my entire mind, cleanly breaking my mind off and replacing it with their own, plunging me into a total and complete break from reality. Their reality became my own.
In the days and hours before my involuntary commitment to the mental hospital, my independent personality was a sliver of what it had been before the mental illness took over. As my husband drove me to the emergency room, the last shreds of what used to be me disappeared, replaced in totality by Pangea the Mermaid, the identity of the new inhabitant of my body. The old Kathy was lost forever.
Only strong medication administered in a mental hospital under constant supervision broke their thoughts from my mind. But as their claw-like grip on my mind receded, what remained in the room was not what used to be there. The thoughts that took over my mind also took over my identity, and the medication that wiped out Pangea never replaced it with the old Kathy. My former personality was destroyed first by the voices and then by the medication. The mind emerging from the tunnel isn’t the mind that entered it.
As you might imagine, this situation created an identity crisis of major proportions. I’m not the old Kathy, and neither am I Pangea. I’m someone entirely new. And that’s where therapy comes in. My therapist has slowly, over a two year period of time, helped me define and identify who this new person is. I hate to think about how empty my life would be without the help of my counselor. Her assistance in rebuilding me from scratch has made life worth living for me and my friends and family. Without her help, I would be in a horrible place- neither one nor the other. Now I realize that I’m not Kathy 1, and not Pangea. I’m Kathy 2, and that’s just fine.