I've written about the drug-induced psychosis and the voices in my head a lot on this blog, but I've written about them from the perspective of remembering them a couple years after they stopped. I found something I wrote about the voices when I was still hearing them. It was really interesting for me to see what it was like in the middle of it. I'm going to share it here tonight. I hope y'all find it interesting too. I didn't put dates on anything I was writing at the time, but I think I wrote it just before I went to rehab. I'm not sure it is totally coherent and of course as was usual back then, it just sort of ends. Enjoy.
Circa June 2007
It takes so much effort to block out the voices inside my head, I often forget that I'm in the middle of a conversation with someone actually in the room. One of the most infuriating aspects of the auditory hallucinations is that it makes me look rude – which is about the worst thing in the world to me. To quote Suzanne Sugarbaker (via Li Sing from the episode of Designing Women where Suzanne takes on a foster child), “Having bad manners is worse than being poor.”
From the outside, it probably looks to most people like my life is in ruins because I'm homeless and basically penniless. In truth, it's in ruins because I've had my sense of common courtesy and etiquette stolen from me. When you feel like every thought is public and you notice every goddamned gesture, word or expression in your surrounding world, you have no choice but to know that the majority of people you meet hate you before a word is ever spoken because they misinterpreted a thought you just had or because they haven't misinterpreted it.
Since I am constantly trying not to say three quarters of what I'm thinking already, that security breach can be deadly. There have been nights when I've actually been frightened for my safety because I could not keep dangerous thoughts from coming into my brain. Walking through a not-so-good neighborhood previously was not a problem, but when the two shady looking guys on the corner hear you THINK they look shady, well life gets a little more hard to manage.
Add to that having grown up in a family where the phrase, “I should kick your ass” was probably used as casually as “It's dinnertime”, it's easy to get careless with semantics and phrasing. In some situations, that can lead to telepathic misunderstandings and culture clashes. Not to mention that I won't believe I'm the only person on earth who occasionally has an offensive thought about someone else. But right now I feel like I'm the only one having them broadcast.
Most of the time I'm able to easily put all of this into the framework of drug addiction and paranoia in tandem, but there have been one or two times that I've been almost certain someone has known my name or some other piece of banal information that they couldn't possibly have already known (unless they could hear my thoughts).
So now I'm feeling like I'm in prison for a crime that I only thought about committing. I'm a drug addict and I need help. But if this decision to sequester myself – which I hate more than anything I've ever done – is based on bad information then I don't know how I will ever move on from it. [note: I think this is referring to my decision to go to inpatient rehab.]
I do know, however, that I will move on from this issue and any things or people that have helped me create it. I have spent the last ten months walking through Manhattan with my head up even while feeling totally humiliated. I am going to keep picking myself up and going forward. But even if the thoughts and voices in my head are only my perception of what the people in my life think and feel, at least for now I have to remove them from my life so I can think for myself and learn to be an adult again.
– End –
I'm not sure what I was getting at in the last paragraph. I think it was about what I thought my family and friends were saying to me in my head. Reading this now, I remember how real it all felt. Those voices were absolutely real to me. No matter how many times there was iron clad evidence that I was hallucinating, I always found some reason to believe that it was all really happening.
I'm so grateful that some of this stuff I wrote back then still exists. In two days I will be sober for six years, but I never ever want to lose touch with what not being sober was like. I don't know why I was able to come back from that when there are so many people who can't, but I understand I've been given an amazing gift. I thank the universe every day for it.