I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder a quite a few years ago.
“Schizoaffective disorder is a condition in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms — such as hallucinations or delusions — and mood disorder symptoms, such as mania or depression.” – Mayoclinic.org
One of the reasons for this particular diagnoses was that I was experiencing hallucinations. I never had the visual kind – I didn’t see dead people – mine were in the form of voices.
The first time I remember hearing a voice, I was a child. I was in my bed, waiting to go to sleep, and someone started talking to me. At first I thought it was the inner dialogue that most people have in their brains and I ignored it, but it didn’t stop. I realized the voice wasn’t coming from inside my head, it was coming from outside. When I grasped this, I got very frightened, because I thought it was a demon talking to me. Being the good little Christian boy I was, I started to pray for God to make it stop talking to me. At any time, I knew a red-eyed creature would rise from the corner and possess me. But that never happened, the voice just kept talking and babbling. I can’t remember what it was talking about, but it had a lot to say that night, because I don’t remember ever going to sleep. God never did make the demon go away.
I heard voices off and on for a few years, until I became a teenager, and they just stopped. I don’t know what caused the abrupt departure – maybe it was puberty – but I was glad to have them gone.
It wasn’t until later in life that the voices came back to haunt me.
I had been in a bad situation for a long time – depression, paranoia, anxiety attacks, self-harm – and this particular day I was feeling very suicidal too. I decided to go to the mall and try to take my mind off things, but it didn’t seem to be helping. I was on the second floor, standing by the rail, when I clearly heard someone say, in a baby’s voice:
“Why don’t you just crawl up on the rail and jump over?”
I looked behind me to see who spoke, but no one had.
I giggled nervously, out loud, causing the people walking by to stare and walk quickly away. I knew immediately that the demons had come back, but by this time was a godless heathen, so I couldn’t expect help from the heavens.
“Make sure you go head-first or all you will end up with is a broken leg.”
This time the comment was in the voice of an old woman, so I looked behind me again, just to make sure someone wasn’t playing a joke on me. No one was there, it was just me and a few people walking quickly on their way, trying their best to ignore the giggling psycho.
I left the mall in a hurry.
The voices stayed with me from then on – my constant companions. I didn’t tell anyone about them, except my Psychiatrist, who I was sure thought I was making the whole thing up. Every time I talked about the voices she would get very quiet, and she never offered any advice or counsel regarding them. It wasn’t until a few years later, after I moved, that I found a doctor who addressed the constant voices.
Up until that time, I was being treated for Bipolar Disorder – even though I didn’t really have any manic phases – but my new doctor clearly saw that maybe there was something more. I was put on an anti-psychotic, and told to write down what the voices told me. I always kept a little notebook with me, and at times you could see me scribbling feverishly in it.
Over the years, I recognized three distinct voices who would talk to me. The first was a baby with an evil streak and a tendency to try to get me to kill myself. The second was a mean old woman, who was always the one to chastise me when she thought I was doing something stupid. The third was a woman, whose voice would lull me to sleep most nights.
For most of the time, the anti-psychotics never worked no matter what the dosage. I was drugged until I couldn’t even walk straight, yet the voices continued unabated. They were always there during my times of stress – egging me on when I would cut to slice myself more and deeper, because blood and pain were the only things that would heal my inner turmoil. At least that’s what they told me. They were also there when I was feeling particularly suicidal, always convincing me that dying was the only answer to my problems. The voices were never nice, they only had bad things to say and caused me to do horrible things to myself.
I deal with the voices all the time now – they are part of who I am. I’ve learned for the most part to ignore them, but during the times when I spiral down into oblivion, they are my only companions.
I don’t know how to get rid of them, and my doctors have proven they don’t know how either. So I just deal with them the best I can and hope one day my mind will quiet down and I will hear only silence.
A guy can dream, can’t he?
“I no longer knew what was real and what wasn’t. The lines between reality and delusion had become so blurred.”
― A.B. Shepherd