I hear voices. Negative voices. As long as I can remember. Endless judging voices in my head. They don’t care about me. They just call me things to hurt me, to knock me down, and to define me a failure. They are very creative in coming up with cynical, negative and dramatic arguments to make their point. That I am worthless and a burden. They are always there; and energize themselves on my tiredness, hormonal changes, or just vulnerable humanity. Sometimes, they are calling into a void; When I am able to not listen. Or, when I have distraction, when things are good, when I have space, or when I get help from people who understand me.

The committee

Recently, one of my best friends gave the voices a name. He called them the committee. I was struggling with our tennis match and suffered from loud negative voices. During a short break I managed to turn a compliment about my game, with a lot of nonscientific and irrational bullshit, into something he was the hero in. “Wauw!”, he proclaimed, “that committee upstairs is really going strong!”, as he pointed at my head. And, although tears where close, a smile came. He put out his tongue at the committee and said “let’s go”. And I followed him.

Negative voices

It seems to be the best way to go; name the things that bother you. Name it, and make it part of you instead of the whole you. In that way, you do not let it define you. Because this committee wants to make you believe that everything they say is you. But you are more. You are someone who is bullied by a committee in her head. Which is there, but they do not have to control everything.
Naming things has worked for me before. I talk to my depression for example. I will say out loud, whilst lying in bed: “Well, I do not know what you are going to do, but I am getting out of bed and move myself to the couch downstairs now. You can stay here, or come with me. Either way, I am going.” Getting from bed to couch is the first careful step to getting better again. And for me to recognize that something, the depression, is bothering me, but not defining me, will give me the chance to make decisions independent of that burden.

Giving it a name

Because the voices have a name now, and I can refer to the committee, it makes it easier to talk about. To acknowledge it. It is so much safer to be ashamed of a part of you, than of you all together. It is smaller.
What’s also very important, is saying these things that go on in your head out loud. Also in front of others. Because saying something out loud can be very confronting, but can also put things into perspective. You throw something into the world. And that world is bigger than your head. You will see that when you say things out loud.
And of course when you talk about these things in front of people that love you, you create the opportunity for getting help and support. That is what happened to me in this case. These people see you as a whole person, when you cannot. Listen.

Be kind to yourself

My friend found a way to create an opening for me to grow and learn. To treat the voices in a different way. I know I can grow, and I also know that I will succeed. I just also want to say to myself; do not raise the bar too much, because the voices might not disappear completely. And sometimes you won’t be able to defend yourself against these waves of negativity. And when you can’t, you will be disappointed, and may have to give up/in. But you will only do this, because then you will have the chance to rest and get up again. Only to pick up where you left off with the things you want to do and make you happy.

X Bouwke

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Bouwke

NiceDay Writer. Organizational and work psychologist. I love nature, traveling and photography. I like to move and exercise, especially tennis, pilates / yoga and walking. With my story I am committed to more openness about mental health and I want to reduce stigmas around these topics. You can find me on Instagram: I am one Movement and backpackingbouwke and on Twitter: @iambouwke

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