Culture, Depression

Responding To Voices That Won’t Be Silenced

crying child

When I published my story about receiving magnetic therapy for my depression in the Austin Chronicle (and, in slightly modified form, in the Fort Worth Weekly), I held back. Mainly for the sake of keeping matters within those assigned 4,000 words.

Unnecessary paragraphs attempting to tell my story from the beginning were clipped before I filed the story. Intimate personal details weren’t germane to a story about an evolving new form of depression treatment. The treatment was the subject, not me.

Omitted was:

“My first panic attack struck when I was 15. It hit with the suddenness and weight of an ocean dropping on top of me. … I wandered the house until I found my mom at the back door. Grunts and gestures inspired her to place me on her lap like an infant and rock and sing.”

Omitted was:

“It took another dozen years before I was diagnosed with depression and offered Prozac for the first time. Childhood trauma, likely sexual abuse, was suspected by the variety of therapists I sought out over the years. While several children in my Virginia hometown were abused and a neighbor jailed, I had no memories … only phantom pains, phobias, and recurring nightmares.”

The place my suffering was formed was a painful one. It in no way was my total reality (I recall a damn happy childhood for the most part), but this thing — whatever its origin — came to color everything; to corrupt each moment just enough to make life a hard march.

I’ve had some months of profound relief thanks to sTMS, but after months of steadily tightening depression, I notice familiar voices again. One such voice told me this morning as I was making breakfast, “Why won’t anyone help me?”

It was not my adult voice, not even about today. It was a helpless plea from far away. A voice from another place. A place where I was alone, perhaps, and no one would help.

I share it now, because as useless as I have come to feel again in the outflow of this paralyzing sadness, I have one thing I can still offer: I can endeavor to tell the truth.

The voice — one that inhabits a loneliness and a guilt that is bottomless (trust me, I’ve explored it) — is part of my truth. Maybe I just need to confess that it is still with me.

I know many who struggle with depression and anxiety and the like have these voices from other times that echo from beyond. Voices that seemingly can’t be pacified, whatever therapeutic approach we choose.

I have come to believe it is an emotional echo rather than a subconscious-inhabiting childhood self that some insist is there, still suffering, alone, calling out. For me it is a dead voice that is will resound whatever my state, whatever my response. It is something I simply can’t reach, and if I could, would not be able to dismantle.

I’m wondering about your voices, though. What they say. And if they are communicative, rational.


10 thoughts on “Responding To Voices That Won’t Be Silenced

  1. Yes, the voice remains. It is singular now, though it can take many temperaments. I think it sad that the newspaper and/or magazine that you wrote the article for chose to ‘cut you out of the picture’ and focused on the treatment.

    Perhaps that is one of the issues I have is that there is so much focus on treatment that somehow the patient has been lost in the mix. You need to look at cause.

    It its a chemical imbalance? Is it hereditary (and yes, depression and the like are passed along)? Is due to to traumatic events such as abuse (i.e. sexual, physical, emotional, etc.)

    I have learned to live with depression. I know the cause and while I’ve improved my condition considerably, I know I am vulnerable and can have set backs so in effect, I have to work a lot harder for the happiness I do have in my life.

    It is an emotional echo that you hear. Know too, that sometimes these echos can be deafening. My emotional echos now speak of areas I need to focus on, so in some manner they are rational…but only to me.

    At times I get really sick of hearing it…I get tired of dealing with certain issues. I’ll be doing really well and motoring along then out of nowhere I’ll hit the wall. The stuff I don’t want to deal with still lingering, letting me know I have to address it at some point.

    Dismantling the walls we’ve built can be tricky. Again, for me it understanding why I constructed it to begin with before I can tear it down. I must say I was a damn good architect when it came to building emotional walls and blockages.

    All I can offer is don’t ignore the voices…find out what they want. That is the only way you can pacify them.

    All the best to you. Keep it up. You’ll get there.

    • I should have been more clear: I cut those parts, thinking it weighed the story down in the personal in ways that didn’t fit with the overall, what I thought would benefit the most people. Insurance companies are starting to cover TMS now and with the Affordable Care Act it could be more have a chance to see if they respond as I did. And since being without insurance for the last 10 months, I’ll be able to get a refresher, as well. As to the voices and discerning intentions, I’ve had moments I thought I understood or believed there was a purpose to it, that it was leading somewhere, to an epiphany. I’ve had a turn of mind, but I’m always reading to be surprised.

  2. To think that a voice is a dead, unreachable thing haunting you, so to speak, is a very depressing thought in itself.

    Since you do ask, and I realize this is not your situation, my ‘voices’ are split off parts of myself. They do respond to being listened to and cared about, though this is difficult for me to do. They are young child parts, and as such, basically irrational. Most are not oriented to present time – they think the past is still going on.

    I hope it gets easier for you again.


    • It feels like the black box from an airliner repeating from somewhere all the things that led to the crash. It could be a living child, but it doesn’t feel like it. Not one I can reach.

      • chocolate f. gum says:

        i actually find the idea of voices as echoes/black boxes not-depressing. liberating. if they are echoes, i don’t have to tend to or pay too much attention to them. but it could be that different experiences of trauma produce different experiences of internal messages–to some they feel like parts split off, to some they feel like echoes, to some they feel like living young parts.

        in any case, my voices are variants of “i’m scared/something bad is about to happen/i’m powerless” or “i’ve been left alone with this/no one is coming/i’m not worth taking care of/no one wants me.” i cannot remember the trauma that set these voices in motion either.

  3. bbg says:

    Thank you for your blog. It is good to read and know, once again that I am not alone in this, although, it is a very lonely place when those voices and pains revisit, which is almost every day. My voices repeat what was told to me as a child. I was raised by my grandmother and uncle and they were cruel with me, emotionally, physically and mentally abusive. They had a nickname for me, “the ugly” and that was my name throughout my childhood. Those words ring every single time I look in a mirror, loud and painful. They ring when someone says I am pretty, lower and whispering in my ear: “that’s a lie, you are not pretty”. Sometimes they are so strong I get an ache in my chest, similar to the beginning of a panic attack and then, I was sexually abused by others as a child, and those are different voices, with a different tone and more insidious.
    Anyhow, just responding to your request to share how the “voices” of others sound like.

    • Thank you for sharing. Somehow I got that message too. Not from my family, but there it is all the same. I like to leave the mirror on the medicine cabinet open so I don’t have to see who goes there.

  4. My take on the voices (and you might not appreciate this since I think you are of a different belief system): they’re from the “father of lies” (John 8:44). I had depression for a long time, and by far the worst part of it was that hopeless voice in my head and the constant parade of lies that this was who I was and I couldn’t get better. Over five years of antidepressants didn’t help. I found healing through a prayer ministry called Straight 2 the Heart that is dedicated to unmasking Satan’s lies and replacing them with God’s truth. Whatever your feelings on the reality of God and Satan, I am glad you have shared your story, because people need to realize how incredibly destructive depression can be, and I wish you the best!

    • I’m glad you have found freedom from your depression. Truthfully, the diabolical I’ve met plenty in this life. The Divine, as well, I have thought. But when my disease had me at death’s door pawing and crying for salvation, there was nothing there. Nothing. A great resounding cosmic indifference. The only way I was able to move through that period to this one was through brain-quieting drugs, my own decision to keep trying, and the vital assistance of a very few friends and family. Whatever power that may exist that can intersect and interrupt this suffering has chosen not to get involved.

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