The first time I learnt that not everyone had Voices in their head was last year, when I found myself wondering about the tone of other people’s Voices. ‘Guys, I have a question. The main Voice in your head, does it sound the same as your voice when you speak or is it different?’ I asked a group of my friends The looks I received were amused, baffled and concerned. ‘What….do you mean?’’ one of them asked me, with a bemused smile. I repeated my question and added ‘Mine sounds pretty similar but isn’t exact’. They wanted to know what I meant by ‘Voices in my head’. I explained that when I thought, I thought in full sentences, like a dialogue between two or sometimes three people, each one giving me input accordingly. My friends all said that they didn’t think like that, that their thoughts just came to them in a vague way. We consulted the all-knowing Google, and found that both situations were normal – some people thought in full sentences, while others in abstract. This fascinated me! What would life be like without the constant background commentary?!
The more I pondered on this, the more some things made sense to me. After some stressful episodes over the last few years, in 2019 I took up meditation and was introduced to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I never thought that meditation would be something I liked, but it brings me more joy than I can explain. It became a regular part of a very conscious effort to take better care of myself.
I started guided meditations which became very effective for me. The narrator’s voice gives me a sense of peace and calm and when I sit down and start hearing his voice, the Voices in my head shut up. Those 5 minutes of quiet do so much for me.
My head is such a busy place and truth be told, I love it. I have always loved it, even when the thoughts are dark or spiteful, tired or sad. My imagination is like one of those toy cameras we had as kids, where you click and the image changes; only, it’s constantly clicking and jumping from picture to picture, every few minutes, every day yet the images never run out. However, there came a point when, with help from friends and family, I realised that a less busy mind would probably help me deal with the everyday things better. Getting lost in my head was okay until suddenly it wasn’t. Without even realising it my mind had spiralled out of control. The scary part was that it gave me no indication. None of the voices in my head said ‘Hey, just a head’s up (haha we’re so funny!), but we’re all really exhausted because of a bunch of smaller stuff that piled up, that you didn’t even know you were thinking about, and so we’re gonna crash one day. Hope that’s okay with you.’ I trusted the voices, but they let me down. I let myself down.
One visit to the emergency room later, my journey with CBT and meditation began. The importance of both physical and mental self-care became clear and more importantly, became a priority. Meditation has changed my choices, my way of thinking and my outlook on situations. Self-care means different things to different people – for me it meant learning how to control my thoughts a bit better. I can tune out anything I don’t want to listen to, or recognize when my thoughts are heading in a direction I’m not okay with. Every day is a challenge in its own way – some days are better than others. I still love my Voices, they’re hilarious most of the time and I enjoy the chatter and banter that goes on in my head. I don’t think I’d be myself without these voices and I would never want them to go away, we just have a better relationship now...
P.S – The voices in my head would like to contribute:
Voice #1 – Wow, you actually sat down and wrote something! NOICE! So proud, so proud! Partaaayyy
Voice #2 – I still think you shouldn’t have written something so personal. You don’t like telling people personal things and you’re writing this for a newsletter that anyone can read? You know this will be out there forever right? Have you thought this through?
Voice #3 – You think your writing is good and that people want to read it? What makes you so different to every other writer out there?
Voice #1 – Don’t listen to Voice #3, she’s just pessimistic!
Voice #4 - *Singing Simon & Garfunkel songs loudly * I AM A ROCK, I AM AN IIIIISLAND
Voice #3 – Yeah okay, I guess what you wrote is kind of interesting. Shall we eat some Tipitip now?
This poem was originally published in the 'Curated by KOPI Collective' segment of the Young Feminist Network's January Newsletter run by Everystory Sri Lanka. The theme was 'Self Care.'