Even before my first episode of hearing voices, I had a very noisy mind.
When I was in my twenties, before my diagnosis of schizophrenia, I frequently laid awake at night and went over a situation or conversation I had had during that day. I played things over and over again in my head. I often regretted something about what I had said or done. My actions and words would keep me awake at night. I was deeply insecure, felt shame on many occasions and questioned my responses to so much of what I was doing. During those times when I would play things over in my head, I would hear a voice (my internal voice) talking to me. It was a voice I heard in my heard most of the day. It was my internal dialogue.
That kind of hearing a “voice” is common for almost everyone. It is very different than hearing the voices I did when I was psychotic. When I am psychotic, the voices are not “my” voice (although I also hear my voice because I have conversations with the other voices). The last time I was psychotic I had three voices besides “mine” talking to me. I heard the voice of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Not only do antipsychotic drugs clear up the voices that are intrusive and outside of my control (I know some people can direct and control or at least influence the voices they hear, but I can’t), they stop the voice that is “mine.” Rarely do I hear a running commentary in my mind of what I am doing, saying, planning, thinking or dreaming. In other words, my mind is mostly quiet.
When I am writing, I hear the words as I am typing them and occasionally, I will talk to myself inside of my head, but it is rare. The majority of the time it is blank. Silent. Nothing.
What antipsychotics do is give me more control over my mind. I don’t seem to do well with anxiety, paranoia, or a few other symptoms, but I no longer have a noisy mind. I think that people who meditate try to silence their mind and I don’t blame them. There are healing and comfort in a silenced mind.
When I told my husband that most of the time I don’t hear a voice (mine), he said, it was bizarre even to consider. I have grown to like this silence because when there is noise, it is not a good sign. And the ability to bring up my internal voice when I want to also helps my writing. I can have an idea for a blog post or essay and work the writing out in my mind before I ever sit down at the computer. I will work through the words and the writing with my internal voice.
Not having running commentary by a critical or judgmental or doubting internal voice helps me to deal with the other symptoms when they arise. It also helps me with my courage because I have one less voice talking to me about stigma, stupid ideas, embarrassing moments, etc. even if that one less voice was always one that belonged to me.