On hearing voices, and other ephemera

Sorry for the lack of interesting posts at the moment.  I’m not having an especially great time of it right now.  Specifically, my mood is on a downward spiral.  I’m tired all the time.  My joints ache (does anyone else get this when they’re depressed?).  I’m finding it almost impossible to stick to any task, or complete anything.

I keep a folder for draft posts on my hard drive, and at the moment it’s bursting at the seams – 31 separate items – but none of them are complete, and most of them I can’t even remember how I was planning to complete them.  I’m too listless and apathetic to chase down any idea to its conclusion.  I’m not absolutely groping along in the pit of despair yet – although I imagine that’s to come – but in a kind of halfway house that is, if anything, worse.  If I ever do kill myself (and, please, nobody worry – there’s absolutely no imminent danger) it will be when I’m in a mood like this.  I find this particular state of mind hard to bear, knowing that I’m not at my worst yet, but that I will be, and that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, except sit tight and wait for it to engulf me.

I’m having some – ahem – interesting mental experiences too.

Last night I listened, for two or three hours, to a voice telling me over and over again about engineering works on the local railway line.  I live close enough to a station that I can sometimes hear tannoy announcements when they make them.  But, needless to say, they don’t make the announcements in the middle of the night, and there aren’t any engineering works scheduled anyway – I checked online this morning.  So, it’s safe to say, not a real voice.

I have these voices from time to time.  I’ve never told anyone in the real world about them, partly because I don’t want to be shoved on anti-psychotics, and partly because they don’t really bother me.  I find them disconcerting rather than scary or traumatic, and one or two of them (I sometimes hear the voice of my 6-years-dead dad, for example) are quite comforting, in a way.  Sometimes I find them wryly amusing, as this time – I think I must have the soul of a chartered accountant in order to hallucinate, not exciting messages of global significance from the Great Sky Spirit, but rather announcements about train delays…

I’m not usually much of a believer in psychowaffle psychological explanations for phenomena such as these.  But, in this case, I do think my mind might be starting to create imaginary mental stimulus because I’ve spent about – oh, 15 months? – now with almost no human contact.  I’m taking steps to address this – various members of my family have been truly astonished to get a phone call from me this week, and I surprised myself by actually enjoying the chats.

The voices are still around though.  And, to be fair, they’ve happened when I was in the middle of lots of human contact too, so, on reflection, my scepticism about psychological explanations might have something to it.  They can be so damn plausible though.  And I am rather lonely at the moment.

I should say that, although I’ve never told anyone about my voices, at least one of the psychiatrists I’ve seen seemed to strongly suspect their existence.  At any rate he asked me several times if I ever heard voices, and always used to ask me if I paused in giving an answer if I was waiting for someone to tell me what to say.  I never was – my voices don’t talk to me, I just eavesdrop on what they’re saying for their own purposes.  (A couple of times they have talked about me, though.)

I suspect I’m being very silly in not telling any medical people about my voices.  In fact, I can imagine quite a few people sitting in front of their computers and sucking in breath through their teeth when they read about this.  Certainly, if the positions were reversed, I would probably want to tell “Aethelread” that not talking to the people who are trying to help him is rather unwise – how can they possibly treat you if they don’t have all the symptoms?

So, ok, I’ve persuaded myself – if I’m still hearing them on Monday, I’ll make an appointment with my gp and tell her.  Scout’s honour.

I would tell the psychiatric nurse who’s giving me therapy, but I can’t, because she’s on holiday.  Well, I say she’s giving me therapy.  What with the previous holiday, and then the sick leave, and then the bereavement leave, and now this holiday, it might be more accurate to say she isn’t giving me therapy, just meeting with me once in a blue moon in order to apologise for not seeing me more regularly.  Ah well, it’s not as though it’s her fault, poor lady.

I think I probably had a point when I started this post, but I’ll be buggered if I can remember what it was now.  Re-reading what I’ve written doesn’t seem to have helped either.  A practical demonstration of my earlier comment about not being able to chase any idea down to its conclusion, I guess.  So I’ll leave you with this thought that’s just popped into my head.

At times like this having a routine is very important to me – it’s part of the way I feel like I’m keeping a connection with reality.  The key parts of my routine are tv shows – pathetic, I know, but they’re on at the same time every week, they’re familiar and safe, and they give a structure to the week.  So this is all happening at the worst possible time of year.  Graham Norton’s chat show came to an end a couple of weeks ago.  Jonathan Ross finished last week.  The late-night repeats of Scrubs are on hold because of Big Brother, and the new series finished its run last night.  It was the last episode of Brothers and Sisters last Sunday.  Even Fern and Phil are having a 6 week  holiday from presenting This Morning.

Waah!  All my pretend tv friends are abandoning me!  I’m being reduced to Homes Under the Hammer and Countdown, and I really can’t be bothered with them all that often.  Even I have some standards…

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12 Responses to On hearing voices, and other ephemera

  1. The Chuckle says:

    Aching joints -yes, but I’ve always thought it was because i was run down at the same time. Maybe your physically as well as mentally depressed?

    Maybe yo should mention the voices next time you see your sometime therapist even if you’re not still hearing them? Get some sort of feedback or something? I mentioned something along the same lines to my therapist a few weeks ago and she put it down to a reaction to depression – trying to create an escape or something I suppose?! Worth mentioning though.

    I’m looking forward to the Olympics – something about athletics and swimming etc that seems to be wholesome and safe, it’s my perfect TV escape as i just seem to become part of that world. Or what about BBCi? Or the channel 4 version? i’ve never really tried them but have been told they’re good.

    Maybe you should post some ‘unfinished’ posts, perhaps some comments would kickstart the completion? Or maybe not.

    Stay well anyway, hope there’s somehitng decent on TV soon!!

  2. Cellar_Door says:

    I feel your pain about the TV, anything decent is finishing. Maybe buy a box set of something you really like and watch an episode at the same time each week! Am having a Jonathan Creek re-run marathon at the mo….

    As a trainee psyche nurse, it is my duty to encourage you to tell your doc about the voices… however on a personal level, it is completely up to you! One thing I hate about mental health is the way we expect patients to divulge absolutely everything about their personal (and if it’s in your head, it is personal) lives, to people they hardly know and maybe don’t like. No one is allowed to have any secrets. If they aren’t bothering you and don’t have a compulsive aspect then I can completely understand why you don’t want to be on antipsychotics. Although it would be great if you did feel you could share, and trust your doc not to over-react by chucking pills at you…

    I will probably get struck off the register before I get on it at this rate…Bad Nurse!

  3. Chouette says:

    I sometimes hallucinate when going to sleep/waking up from sleep. A high contender for “scariest moment of my life” was waking up to find my room was on fire and had clearly been so for quite some time… it was several LONG heartstopping moments before insight turned over, rubbed his eyes and pointed out that the fire wasn’t giving off any heat… and a couple of minutes before I completely got rid of the illusion.

    Only a few hours ago I was listening to birdsong that I could control by opening and shutting my eyes (if only that worked for other noises, huh?). I’m going to say I don’t think you should be that concerned – it’s only a problem if it bothers you/stops you doing things/makes you a risk to yourself or others. Probably a good idea to talk it over with someone though, to put your mind at rest either way.

  4. silvawingz says:

    Hearing voices? I told them and got in all sorts of trouble. The drugs don’t work (Great song title). It is best you make up your own mind what to do.

  5. Zoe says:

    Hey Chouette, I sometimes have that half-waking, half-sleeping hallucination, I hear a voice sometimes saying my name. It usually only happens when I’ve had an acute episode or otherwise been under severe stress.

    Aethelread, my heart goes out to you. As you might know from my blog I’m currently emerging painfully slowly from yet another dark night of the soul. Although you are more of a unipolar depressive by the sound of things, and in my experience that can drag on even more and be even more soul-destroying. Well comparisons are probably not helpful here. Everyone’s pain is their pain and I can certainly hear yours.

    As regards your blog you are far more coherent and clear and your blog is far better-written than many a blogger NOT going through serious depression. It is well structured and you are not a stranger to paragraphs! Whoo! Please try and keep writing, just whatever comes into your head, I for one find it interesting and illuminating.

    I laughed about your wonderfully mundane hallucination. At least it’s pretty hard to get alarmed about a station platform announcement.

    As regards the loneliness I am no stranger to that either. I find it gets far more acute and painful when I’m depressed, and at my most socially phobic. It would not surprise me if loneliness had a good biological and social function in the human organism: it is to prompt us to make and sustain the human relationships that we all depend on.

    Anyway hon, take care! Zoe.

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  7. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks, as ever, for the comments.

    The Chuckle – did you manage to hold back from thumping your therapist when s/he suggested that psychotic symptoms were a coping mechanism? I don’t know i’d’ve managed that myself. But, judging by your blog, you seem to have a more tolerant attitiude towards therapy than i do, which i envy you for. I tend to get so cross at the more obvious stupidities that i sometimes lose sight of the helpful parts of the process.

    I’m not much of a one for sport, i have to say. I was literally open-mouthed with astonishment when i realised that the BBC were transmitting 12+ hours of the golf every day this weekend – i mean, wtf? I can just about imagine that playing golf might not be absolutely the dullest way of spending a wet weekend, but watching other people do it? That just mystifies me.

    Cellar Door – don’t worry about encouraging me to do the “wrong” thing – i won’t tell anyone if you don’t! In fact, if you manage to keep a ‘human’ attitude to them, like the one you demonstrate in comments like these, your patients will just _adore_ you. Genuine empathy (as opposed to the kind that’s taught in textbooks) is such a rare thing, and you obviously have it in spades.

    Chouette – Hallucinations on waking up/ sleeping – haven’t had them in a LONG while (i used to get them as a teenager). The particular one you mention sounds terrifying. Controlling the birdsong – never had that one. But there was a time when i was absolutely convinced that if i accidentally blinked whenever a car was driving past that it would crash, and the people in it be horrifically injured or killed. That wasn’t the nicest experience of my life.

    Silvawingz – thanks for the advice. I always tend to take the view that i’m in charge of my own treatment (i guess everyone not on section is), and i do my best not to get bullied into things that don’t seem to make sense to me.

    Zoe – i have indeed been reading your blog (although not commenting – sorry) so i know things haven’t been going great for you of late. As for the biological function of loneliness, well, we’re supposedly social creatures (altho’ i think i’m more of an anti-social creature to be honest…) so there may well be something in your theory! Oh, and thanks for saying such nice things about my blog – i feel all warm and glowy now. :o)

  8. Cellar_Door says:

    I also feel warm and glowy, thank you! Have done a bit of a post about what I was saying, empathy etc, to try and explain myself a bit…

    http://notanotherstudent.blogspot.com/2008/07/doing-wrong-thing.html

  9. silvawingz says:

    Sorry Aethelread but I read your post and it planted a seed for a post of my own – I hope you will see they are related – also I did acknowledge you :).

    http://silvawingz.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/oops-outside-your-head/

  10. The Chuckle says:

    Hi Aethelread – that particular discussion was early enough on for me to be still in awe of therapists as a species and also in the middle of a pretty nasty depression, I’m not sure whether I would take pat answers so readily now.
    As for golf – I couldn’t watch that either, think I’d rather flick onto ITV and watch re-runs of the Dulux commercials ;-)

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