‘During her freshman year of college, Eleanor Longden began hearing voices in her head: a narrator describing her actions as she went about her day.
Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Longden began what she describes as a “psychic civil war,” fighting to stop the voices as they became antagonistic. What helped her was something unexpected: making peace with them. By learning to see the voices as a source of insight rather than a symptom, Longden took control’.
Hearing voices in your head is a common symptom of schizophrenia and must be disturbing for the sufferer. However, what I find interesting is that the turning point was when she stopped fighting with those voices and made peace with them. She started listening to them as though they were separate individuals with opinions and insights.
Many parts make up a ‘whole’ person
We all have many parts to ourselves. There’s a part that’s critical, there’s a part that wants to please others, a part that focuses on negative events and a part of us that is playful. All these aspects make us into a ‘whole’ person. Often there are parts of ourselves that we find unacceptable and try to deny. We try to split these off from from ourselves in an attempt to appear perfect. It really doesn’t work. We waste so much energy when we try to create an illusion of who are, an illusion that we think others will find more acceptable.
Listening to our thoughts
Our thoughts, or our self-talk will give us clues about those denied parts of ourselves.
Do you ever find yourself saying ‘where on earth did THAT thought come from?’
Listen to that thought! It could be telling you something about yourself. When you accept who you are with your ‘good’ and ‘bad’ parts, you’re able to do something about it. You become healthier, even if you don’t like what you discover. Staying in denial will get you nowhere and the stress will make you ill.
The role of Stress
Longden says that the voices in her head become more active when she is under emotional stress. For a person prone to depression stress is also a trigger for negative thinking. Stress affects the thinking neurons. Listen to your thoughts, not as if they’re the gospel truth, but rather as ‘entities’ presenting themselves and their opinion to you. If the thought is robbing you of happiness, acknowledge that the thought is there but then decide not to act on that thought. You might not be able to control the thoughts that come into your head, but you are in control of how you act out those thoughts.
A friend told me the story of a man who she had worked with. He had no time for anyone with depression, but he was obviously deeply depressed himself. He vehemently denied this as he wanted to maintain an illusion of being perfect. The stress became too great and he committed suicide.
Would it not have been better for him to accept the ‘depression’ as a part of himself and get treatment, rather than take his own life?
If a person can’t accept you as you are, it really is the OTHER person who has the problem, not you. Remind yourself of that fact whenever you feel judged. The most important person to accept you as you are, is yourself!