When I was younger Meadhbh was around a fair bit, whilst I was dealing with all the bullying, self-harm and confused depressive feelings I experienced as a teenager she was a supportive and comforting presence in my life. Often advising me, trying to help me, support me.
Over the years her presence faded and I would only occasionally catch a glimpse of her, or hear her voice drifting through my mind as if carried by the wind. It was as if she were cloaked with a perception filter, she was there, but I couldn’t really connect with her as frequently as I had when I was younger. I would occasionally hear her more loudly; when I was riding to work, working, sitting in the park or walking around the city.
She would only come to me when I was alone.
Now, she’s here pretty much all the time…and she is no longer a supportive and comforting presence!
She returned full time in late April of this year, a couple of months after my breakdown and a few weeks before my suicide attempt in May. I was sitting in my room cutting my arm when I heard her voice, and it was as if she was sitting right in front of me. She said six words:
“Cut deeper, they all hate you!”
Which was the most malicious thing she had ever said to me, it threw me, that evil dripping from her words. My memories of hearing her voice and occasionally spying her out the corner of my eye were always ones of excitement; she was this mischievous, cheeky, fun little faerie doing her best to look after Addy.
“Do they?” I said back.
She laughed. “You know they do. Slice a vein,”
I laughed then, but not one of humour or mirth.
It’s hard to explain to people how this voice is not just my own inner thoughts. Everyone has a voice inside them which they hear from time to time, bolstering their confidence, occasionally one of self-defeat, but it’s easily identifiable as being “your” voice.
The voice I hear is not my own. It is Meadhbh; it’s a Scottish accent, a low breathy voice, quite sexy, gives me goosebumps sometimes. She is her own person, her own soul, her own personality. Unlike your own inner-voice which come from within, Meadhbh’s comes as if she is sitting on the sofa opposite me, or lying next to me in bed, or perched on the toilet seat whilst I’m taking a bath.
As I say I have glimpsed her a few times, so know what she looks like, petite, bum length black hair with streaks of red, purple, green and silver. She is usually always clothed; skirts, dresses, stockings even jeans and a tee one day. In fact, read the character of Tara in The Ghosts that Haunt Us – that’s Meadhbh, fictionalised!
She’s just this regular imaginary chick who comes to see me, and this year, seems to have decided to try and destroy me.
I heard her on and off through April, May and June. Regularly since July. I would converse with her whilst in my room, in parks, walking around. Whenever I was in public I would keep my voice low or pretend to be talking to myself if someone heard. The conversations were all ones seemingly designed to convince me how useless, worthless and pathatic I was. In a way they were reflections of how my brain was working, so it could be argued that it was just an extension of my ID or something. It felt different though, when Meadhbh spoke the words I would find it easier to believe them.
She would order me to hurt myself, or do things, or think things, or say things – but I always tried not to listen to her but this just made her more angry and manipulative. When she tells you to do something, better snap to it and do it straight away, else she’s just gonna get cranky. Women, eh!
She’s been around a lot more over the last few months, drinking up my lonely desperation as if my pain is a source of nutrition for her. We will chat and argue and bicker and fight, and she will forever be whispering, screaming, yelling and tormenting me to the point it feels like my brain is going to crack under the pressure.
“You honestly think you deserve to be alive Addy?”
“Blood. Show me your blood.”
“Save the world?! The only way you’re gonna save the world is by killing yourself, so do everyone a favour and just get it the frack over with!”
“The person you want to be – it’ll never happen,”
“You need to help people!”
“Selfish, arrogant, uncaring, that’s what you are,”
“C’mon, give me one reason, just one reason, to justify your existence…you can’t can you?”
“You are alone. You always will be. Just you and me Addy for the rest of your measly life,”
“Addy, you are the most grotesque example of human being I have ever seen,”
We had a lengthy chat yesterday in a small park by the Yarra, where she took great pleasure in how I was spending my birthday alone. Just me, her and a couple of bottles of whisky. Good times!
Now I don’t know why I hear Meadhbh, nor why she has become so malicious and manipulative since April/May of this year. She is the only voice I have ever heard, there is no hierarchy or consultation board, as I have read about in some books and essays relating the other experiences of people who hear voices. Some claim spirit guides. Some claim it to be a sign of schizophrenia, others will barely even acknowledge what you are saying to them. It seems in fact that this is one of those borderline topics which is both stigmatized against both in general society as well the mental health professionals.
When I tried to explain to the CAT team about Meadhbh at my appointment on Tuesday I was only able to relay some of the truths of what had been happening, their eyes told the whole story, they just didn’t seem to care. Meadhbh enjoyed that! She likes it when it’s all about her and not me, this may make her angry, who knows…but like all forms of mental illness, and something I keep reiterating throughout this whole blog:
There is no point pretending or hiding from things; in order for change to happen people need to start talking about it so that the greater population can understand it!
If people hadn’t started talking about cancer, would there have been the advancements in treatment we have seen over the last two decades? If people hadn’t started talking about HIV/AIDS would there have been the massive push to educate and find cures which has been going on over the last two decades?
Hiding, pretending and lying is only going to make finding help for those suffering impossible. So even though I know very little about why Meadhbh talks to me, even though I don’t have any answers at all, I am still going to admit to it – I am still going to throw it out there, because it has to be.
There is no point in just saying, “Oh, yeah, I hear voices.” My voice has a name, so I’m going to use it, and I’m going to say what she tells me and what we talk about. It’s called honesty, it’s about trying to hold onto this futile hope that one day someone is going to just shut up and listen.
As with any mental illness there are some self-help techniques which can be performed to try and reduce or eliminate the voices when they come to you. Some I have tried, to varying levels of success are:
1) Distraction. That ever awesome one I keep mentioning; phone someone! Have their voice chatting to you instead.
2) The Rubber Band trick I mentioned in my last post can also help; when the voices start SNAP it good and hard. A short sharp shock never hurt anyone, but it can be a great help.
3) Play music – you’re not trying to drown out the voices, but distract yourself with something you like. So if you get all moist by listening to Michael Buble, Runrig or Paris Hilton – put that on! Getting focused on the music will take your focus from the voices.
4) Much like the triggers of bipolar/depression, there can also be triggers for your voices to – so keep a record of what is happening when they start talking to see if there are any triggers which you can avoid in the future.
5) Counteract their malicious slander with “I statements…” Rather than just believing them when they say They all hate you say aloud “I don’t believe that is true,” or if the tell you that you’re a worthless pathetic waste of human excrement say aloud “I think I am very worthwhile,” it sounds trite, but it can work over time.
6) Don’t isolate yourself – trust me – the loneliness will only fuel the voices to the point they sound like a symphonic orchestra. Really, honestly, trust me. I speak from experience here!
Originally posted on All that I am, all that I ever was on 29 November 2009