the voices in our head

Due to Covid, some health plans are offering free tele-health mental health services. I have been fully taking advantage of this by making sure to see my therapist & psychiatrist regularly & it’s been completely free of cost.

Yesterday’s therapy was extremely insightful. While my mood swings are typically triggered by a chemical imbalance in my brain, talk therapy is still very useful for coping strategies & even finding the root cause of our issues.

Our talk yesterday had to do with being alone in your thoughts. It might sound crazy but we all have voices in our head. Voices that tell us positive aspects of our lives & voices so dark that make you want to quiet them down anyway possible.

I have struggled in the past with numbing these thoughts. I thought I could chase happiness in other forms through substance abuse, destructive relationships & other unhealthy addictions. It was always a temporary fix & I would then be stuck again with the demons in my head that had only gotten louder.

My “voices” are typically just manifestations of my negative self talk. We all sometimes struggle with being pessimistic towards ourselves. However, combined with mental illness, these negative voices can lead to destructive behavior that only detriments ourselves in the long run.

My therapists advice usually has the same underlying theme. Love yourself. Accept those voices in your head and try to turn them off by focusing on the good parts of your life.

Well easier said than done. If I have spent most of my life hating myself, how am I going to change this behavior?

I used to believe that people could never change. I work as a special education teacher & often have to collaborate with behavioral therapists (BT’s) for my students. I asked one of the BT’s the question, “Do you think people can change?” He quickly answered, “That’s the whole point of our job.”

I started looking at my students and seeing that yes, they have changed. This behavior has been shaped through positive reinforcement & modeling. What if we could do this with our negative thoughts and reshape the behavior?

I spent yesterday mostly sitting around. I usually try to busy myself with my never ending task list but yesterday I really wanted to see what it was like to be alone in my thoughts. This is something I typically avoid because boredom usually leads to bipolar tendencies.

However, as I was sitting, I was relaying the message that my therapist had spoken to me in our session. She had made it pretty simple- love yourself & focus on the good aspects of your life.

I started looking over a gratitude list I had started back when I first moved to Seattle in 2014. The first thing I listed that I was thankful for was my family. Still rings true to this day. The last was something I wrote a little over a week ago- “grateful for my blog Farmerish which I started on Aug. 11”.

Since writing this blog the negative self talk has gone down significantly. I think the primary reason is because it helps lay down my thoughts & also gives people a different perspective of what life is like with a mental illness. The messages I have gotten from strangers, loved ones, & acquaintances has been powerful. I can’t even thank everyone enough for taking the time to read my stories & it’s comforting knowing that people can relate.

It’s difficult to change behaviors. They can be so ingrained in us that we don’t even know we’re doing them. But I suggest starting with a simple gratitude list. What are you thankful for? And if you can’t think of anything in the moment, remember that some health plans are offering free mental health services right now.

Take advantage of what’s being offered. As much as I know we’re all in this together, it all comes back to how we cope when we’re alone. Silence those voices with compassion & love. Because you are enough. You are loved. And I am thankful for you.

Screenshot of the last thing I wrote that I am grateful for.

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