I have written on the blog before about depression and hearing voices, but never in detail about how I hear voices during periods of mania.
During mania, the voices can be comforting. I have many ideas racing through my head during a manic phase and the voices I hear add to the jumble. They give me ideas and fill with me confidence that elevates my mood further. They urge me to try new things, or will encourage me to fulfil my own compulsions. The voices will tell me stories and I will write them down. I have always had an active imagination, but the voices feed it. It’s exciting, a thrill to have these ideas implanted in my head. But are they already my ideas? It feels that they are foreign and new to me, but I know they are coming from inside my own mind, somewhere. It’s very confusing. When I’m stable or depressed, I’ll look back at what I’ve written. It usually doesn’t make any sense. It can be a stream of consciousness or a confused mixture of ideas that are laughably ridiculous.
Sometimes all I hear is a mumble, or words that are completely disassociated from one another. I try and pay more attention and bring them into the foreground of my hearing, but for some reason I can’t. It’s an irritant and draws my attention away from whatever I’m trying to concentrate on, like a mosquito buzzing around a room when you’re trying to sleep.
I often speak out loud to them and they reply very audibly, as if they were in the room with me. The conversations can be about anything. I don’t instigate them, the voices do. Because they are so comforting and well known to me, it doesn’t make me jump with surprise when I hear a question, or a statement in my ear. A voice will start speaking in a friendly tone and a conversation will begin. A voice doesn’t suddenly pounce on my mind, it happens naturally and without fear.
I remember instances as a teenager and adult when I’d be in my bedroom, or home alone when a voice has perked up. When I’m manic I’m already itching, ready for anything. I feel like a piece of kindling that only needs the smallest spark to set on fire and rage. Rage either with hysteria or ferocious anger. Sometimes it’s the voices that provide the spark. They, or it, would start speaking to me. They who were always animated, always ready to push me further. Now, most of the conversations are a blur, trapped in a haze of mania. I can recall bits and pieces. All of a sudden they would be there, and I was always happy to hear them. I would run extremely excited, like I had just spoken to a friend on the telephone whom I hadn’t heard from for years. Or start running around the house, like a small child given too many sugary sweets, full of energy. I’d wait eagerly for someone to come home so I could laugh and talk at them endlessly, desperate to share what had just happened. My family or partner would look at me confused and bewildered, probably wondering what could have happened for me to act in such a way. Something would always hold me back from explaining why I was so filled with exuberance, something that knew it wasn’t healthy to have such a rich and fulfilling conversation with the voices in my head.
I’ve had conversations with people where I’ve become distracted or ‘zoned out’ because there was a voice speaking to me. I might make a joke that no one understands but myself and the voices, our own special inside joke. I’ve laughed out loud for seemingly no reason, when a voice has told me a joke I couldn’t resist laughing at. When strange looks have been given my way, I would say I’d just remembered a joke I’d heard earlier. The voices have become my friends and I think I would miss them if they were gone. If my mood becomes very elevated, I know they will be there and I look forward to hearing them.