A symptom of my Bipolar disorder is hearing voices. Sometimes the voices can be engaging, comforting and dynamic. These are the times I enjoy the most, when the voices spur on my mania and lead me to experiences I would never have attempted before. There is a darker side. Sometimes the voices can be terrifying. Hearing voices doesn’t sound like an internal monologue, but feel completely separate from my own mind. They are so clear and concise I often don’t realise they are coming from the inside of my own head.
The scariest moment for me has to have been from February last year. I was working in the town centre and would walk to and from work everyday. It was a fifteen minute walk along a bustling, vibrant street. I live near this busy street, full of shops and people walking to and fro. I walk down this street nearly everyday and rarely feel intimidated. I enjoyed putting in my headphones, putting my head down and marching home. It gave me a chance to breathe and relax after a busy shift. I remember that for some reason my music had stopped and I was busy fiddling with my phone trying to fix the problem. At the time I was depressed. It was the beginning of an episode that would culminate into a severe depression that would leave me bereft of happiness and not being able to function for over a month. It was dark and the road was busy with traffic. I heard a voice from behind me, that said in a vindictive, sneering tone,
“I’m going to strap you down and rape you bitch.”
I turned around but there was nobody there. It was horrific. I looked around again, but the nearest people to me would not have been audible. I carried on walking, hurriedly now, jumping out of my skin when a woman walked past me. I had forgotten all about the music I had wanted to listen to. I could feel my heart rapidly beating in my chest. I was on the verge of tears; the two options to what had happened were both unthinkable. I was so certain someone had uttered such a vile statement. I convinced myself somebody must have been behind me. I imagined a hooded figure walking past me after the incident, so I could tell my partner that there had been someone behind me. I didn’t want to be crazy. I didn’t want to feel out of control, unable to do anything about what I was hearing. I didn’t want my partner to think I was insane, to look at me in a different light, to be afraid of me, or afraid of what the voices might tell me to do. It’s a horribly intrusive feeling to think your own mind is sabotaging and scaring you. I carried on walking home for the next ten minutes with this all circling my mind. I felt more vulnerable than I had ever felt in my life. Scared of both the outside and my own internal world. When I arrived home I told my partner what had happened and he convinced me to ring the police. I was reticent to do so as I was still in two minds as to whether what had happened was real; but it was real to me. Something cruel and vicious had invaded my mind, like my mind had been robbed. I felt violated, but my own mind was the culprit.
The police arrived and I gave an awkward, embarrassed statement. I explained what I had heard and gave a vague description of a figure that had quickly walked past me. I wasn’t lying about the voice. I had heard it, but by now I had convinced myself it wasn’t real. I felt ashamed that I had lied about seeing someone behind me and that I had wasted police time in making this statement. One of the police officers looked confused and commented that it was an odd situation to happen on such a busy street. I could feel myself turning red, my ears becoming hot. I didn’t know what to say in return. I felt too ashamed to admit what had really happened, that I suffered from Bipolar and occasionally heard voices. I didn’t admit to my partner for a long time that I definitely believed I had been hearing voices. I eventually did and remarkable as ever, he took it in his stride. He hugged me and didn’t say a word. That was all I needed.
I’ve also made a video about hearing voices and you can watch it here
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