I haven’t written much about the difficult experiences I have. I find it hard to know where to start. Also nothing is black and white and I worry that I may not be able to get across how terrifying some voices are without making them out to be all bad. On the other hand if I am too detached or understanding (trying to honour their intentions) I might not be authentic about the distress I go through.
There are so many stories out there about “voices” being bad and making people do horrible things. The stereotypical version where both voices and voice hearers are dangerous and un-understandable. I do not want to add to these perceptions. I don’t want to create yet another story about a “poor voice-hearer” demeaned and dominated by her voices. I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me or pity me. Just like I don’t want anybody to be afraid of me (or the voices I hear) or feel afraid for me…
I have lived with voices all my life; its all I know. And I don’t want it any other way. With the voices I have been through some excruciating times full of fear, despair, powerlessness and rage, and the voices have both added to this and helped me cope.
I want to write a bit about De Mon.
De Mon is a powerful presence in my life and my earliest memories of her is from when I was 11-12. Back then it was a feeling of something or someone coming to get me; a strange face outside the window, a looming presence in the dark, a whisper with no source. As De Mon grew stronger she became a fully embodied being – I couldn’t see her but I could feel her and hear her. She would latch herself onto my back, neck and shoulders and pierce me with her fingers which were like blades of knives and icepicks (it was so weird for me to watch Edward Scissorshands many years later – somehow I felt the first glimpses of compassion for De Mon watching Edward).
Not only would she speak to me – shouts, whispers, chants – she would interfere with my thinking and put terrifying images in my head of things I should to myself. She is a highly skilled manipulator, able to spin any thought I have into her advantage. There is nothing I can think or tell myself which she can’t pick apart.
At the first signs of vulnerability she comes – hanging around, waiting. And the more vulnerable I get the stronger she becomes and she closes in on me physically. When this happens I can feel so despondent, she comes when things are already bad and it seems so unfair that I have to deal with her on top of everything else. So when I break down she seizes the opportunity to latch herself on to me physically. And other voices will start screaming and arguing.
I recently watched an indie film called “Selective Listening” which tells the story of a man who hears voices. Though I didn’t like the story line much I think the way the voices were done was good. And I could really relate to the “melt-down” he has towards the end and the internal chaos that becomes so intense it nullifies everything else.
When I have my melt-downs all I can do is wait it out. I used to just lie in bed or sit still for hours on end – sometimes days – waiting for it to pass. Partly not knowing what else to do and also thinking that it was safest to stay as still as possible. Any action might lead to an avalanche of behaviours I wouldn’t be able to control.
Today I have a few techniques that can help at times. De Mon doesn’t like hugs or visualisations of me being hugged. Also today I allow my self to cry. It feels horrible in the moment – like it is never going to end and like my insides are coming out and somebody is cutting into me. Its not like normal crying, its panicky and my whole body will seize and shake. I will rock in different rhythms and tap or punch myself on the legs to stay conscious.
And eventually it passes. I don’t feel relief though – just empty sadness. De Mon will linger even though “the episode” is over. Only when I am able to connect with feelings of self-love and acceptance does she leave.
I don’t know why she comes. She may be flashbacks – memories of witnessing horrible family rows as an infant. She may be a distraction from the actual conflict or problem I have that causes me to feel vulnerable. She may be an alarm bell telling me things are not right…
These understandings help me cope. But it doesn’t change her. Only once did I see a glimpse of something understandable in her – once I managed to challenge her on whether she was afraid in a way she didn’t like. I kept pushing her on it till she couldn’t answer back and she ended up stepping way – sulking, glowering at me from a distance for a while till she decided to leave me alone again.
I don’t know if she will ever stop appearing, she may be a life long companion and if thats the case I will keep trying to find ways to handle her presence.