May 05, 2005

Voices Again

Had a harrowing episode the other day that I handled badly, largely because I fell back into old patterns, old ways of thinking that are hard, even now, to dismiss as erroneous wrong-think. What happened was that I was sitting in the car, passenger side, alone, smoking a cigarette, when the workmen on a building site nearby seemed to start talking about me, whispering nasty things about me to each other about "that fatso" down there smoking a "goddam cigarette" in the middle of the day when I should be working like they were and so on. Then they started talking TO me, calling me a "fat ass lazy bum" and other insults and finally, so it seemed to me, they started threatening me with their nail gun or staple gun and shooting it at me as a warning for me to get out of there or they were coming after me.

Well, I smashed out my cigarette and dashed out of the lot and around the corner out of sight, but I was still in danger, because I was on view of all sorts of people, so I finally ran up the stairs of Dr O's office and took refuge in her waiting room, where I had an appointment in half an hour anyway. My hands were tingling, my heart was racing, my breaths were coming in short spurts like I had run a race -- all because of the terror I'd felt in the parking lot when the workmen starting talking about me.

Now, several days later, and calmer, I can think more clearly about the situation and perhaps analyse it from a distance. Were they talking to me, about me, threatening me? It certainly sounded that way, and I KNOW that nail or staple gun was no hallucination. That was just too loud and too real! But as Dr O asked me at the time, did I see their lips moving when they spoke? No, I wasn't watching them, I was too busy looking away in order NOT to be visible, in order to seem uninterested. So no, I don't know for certain that what I heard was actually said, or was a hallucination. It's also possible that something was said, but it wasn't the words I heard, that my brain superimposed the words it heard on top of their very different conversation, a hallucination, I suppose, of another sort.

Nevertheless, I still want to complain, BUT...But it was real. But I really heard it. But it came from them, not from my brain, honest to god! How could it not be real? And what about the nail gun, what does your theory say about that one???

Dr O wanted to test things, she wanted to go outside with me and see what she heard compared with what I heard, and let me know the difference. Unfortunately, we had other business we had to attend to and the session ended before we had any opportunity.

So I don't know for certain what Dr O would have said, but I suspect she'd either consign the gun to the same hallucination bin, or tell me that there was indeed a nail gun going, but that it had nothing to do with me, that they were building a house and needed to nail boards together.

I'm left in limbo, nonetheless. I know what I'm supposed to believe, that the experience wasn't real, that it came from my brain and was a construction of it, a "mere" hallucination, not real sounds at all. Yet I also know what I heard and what bodily reactions it elicited from me, which it doesn't seem possible something that wasn't even real could do. So, I'm halfway there. Maybe even more than that. But I need to get myself to the point where I can believe Dr O at least after the fact, and better, understand and believe her while it is happening, so I no longer respond with terror to something that is fundamentally only a ghost, literally a figment of the imagination, no more.

Posted by pamwagg at May 5, 2005 04:58 PM


The voices are real. They are as real as I am. However, you have told me that I do not exist; I am merely an extension of the world you have created for yourself. I believe I am real. I hurt, I laugh, I am your friend. At any given time when you hear voices, you will probably believe they are directed at you. Then again, they might not exist at all. The explanation is as complex as you and your disease permit it to be. For the record, I know you hear them, but I do not believe they are any more than whatever it is I represent to you. Perhaps if you start loving them, they will love you in return.

Personal observations with no experience in psychiatry, Your Paula

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at May 6, 2005 06:56 PM

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