Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What to call a thought and how to categorise its type

I’ve integrated all the ‘voices’ I’ve had in my previous years. For thirteen years part of my mind thought the best way to divide up aspects of myself I didn’t agree with, from those thoughts I liked and called my ‘self’, was to put those other thoughts into voices I heard outside myself. If they ever were in my head, then they were marked as different from my own spontaneous thoughts and different again from the external ‘auditory hallucinations’. Admittedly I didn’t cognitively think this through, but thought on such stories as John Shirley’s, ‘What Cindy saw.’

                This experiment in dividing up my thoughts failed to work well because I didn’t have adequate support in maintaining this way of thinking. I knew I had to do something with the thoughts that I didn’t want to own but intruded on me because of the way others had put pressure on me at various times of my life, causing a ‘bruise’ on my psyche, that’s why I created the voices. I became isolated and was told that my writings about this system of thought could not be marketed to the Australian public. It was disappointing.

                As I grew more disenchanted with society and it’s rejection of my solutions, I pressed myself for ways that I could ‘show them’ the reasons why I had this system of thought. This turned out to be disastrous because I also had other things crash and burn in my life at that time.

                After my three last attempts to find a way to communicate my inner workings, I came to the conclusion that my system was no good, because it was unsupported by society, thus led to isolation, and this led to my symbolic accusations of what society was doing (driven by my anger at them for not accepting what I had accomplished) and then, there was the psychiatric abuse that occurs when thoughts are outside the range of understood sense.

                I realised that in order to never accuse people in a symbolic, unclear way again, in order to not become further away from consensual understanding, in order to never again be abused by psychiatrists, I had to scrap my system of ‘hearing voices’ to separate my thoughts and change the network of my mind so that everything I thought was integrated into ‘self.’ This I find is messy, not neat like the ‘voices’ system, but helps me not get wrapped up in inspiration, helps not confuse it with what reality is about. The messiness of soup integration is exacerbated by certain thoughts which connect heavily with speech and other movements that I’ve been calling ‘Tourette’s.’ What I mean by Tourette’s is that these ‘thoughts’ are not really ‘thoughts’ any more than Parkinsonian movements are ‘thoughts.’


I recently attended a workshop about voice dialoguing. I felt I needed to distinguish ‘Tourette’s’ from the ‘voice hearing’ I’d experienced in for thirteen years, because, to me, what I term, ‘Tourette’s’ is very different from my experience of voice hearing.

                I did try to dialogue with the lines of Tourette’s I’ve been hearing and sometimes speaking for over a year. And, I felt great relief in being able to express that stuff that’s inside me, by explaining it to other people. I get a lot out of empathetic witnessing and sensitive questioning. Although, after the session the frequency of the Tourette’s did increase, the next day the Tourette’s didn’t hammer, or even ghost a few lines in my head. It was so wonderfully absent.

                I think I can break the Tourette’s up into categories and give it names, but really, to me, it’s just a bundle of thoughts in a tangle. I feel in talking about the tangle, I untangle. In having an empathetic listener, I become less annoyed at the tangle.

                I have a theory that my particular ‘tangle’ of thoughts I call Tourette’s is located in the motor part of my brain. That doesn’t mean it can be burnt out by some surgeon’s laser, or cut with a scalpel. NFW! It just means over time, with others’ help, I can untangle it and help those thoughts make more sense.

                I got criticised at the workshop, for calling my tangle of thoughts, ‘Tourette’s’. In a telling off manner I was asked, ‘Why do you want to give yourself another medical label?’

                 I wasn’t given the opportunity to answer, as this person stormed off after he said this and wouldn’t engage with me verbally afterwards.

                And yet another person followed what he said with, ‘Why don’t you just call them “Voices”?’

                After this I got an increase in my repeated lines from the ‘thought tangle’ and I knew I was very angry at being told to fit in with what didn’t make sense to me.

                I’m not totally happy with the term ‘Tourette’s’ or ‘verbal tics’, but what I have don’t feel fall into the category of ‘voices’.

Voices, for me led to unusual beliefs that were not supported by society. They also had a flood of other ideas associated with them, that the verbal tics do not. The voices led me to accusing people of doing things they hadn’t done. Which led me to being labelled as having ‘psychosis’ and then to being forcefully drugged with chemicals I believed damaged my neuropathways so badly that the verbal and physical tics emerged as a brain injury response that verbally reflected on other traumas in my life.

Perhaps I should just say I have involuntary thought tangles which mean I have repeated thoughts accompanied by small jerking movements in my body, and when I am alone these verbal lines that repeat come out my mouth, and surprise me. I have no indication that it is going to happen when it happens, it just does.

What I’d like to do is work with someone in untangling the thoughts. I recognise that the sentences and words fall into three basic categories which relate to three separate traumas via three separate perpetrators, all of which happened over a number of years.

Perhaps I could work in doing voice dialoguing. But I think this needs to be done in combination with other non-invasive therapy.

Most likely I won’t get to work with a professional therapist. Most likely I will have to try to work it out myself. But at least I have a lovely partner who will talk things through with me. And, I have over a year of Art Therapy techniques I have learnt in my diploma.

It is hard to find people who really engage with where you’re at, when you need to sort out your mind. Well, for me, I’ve found it is. I’m not into people who aim at getting a cry out of me. I’ve lived with enough bullies to just laugh at people like that. This tends to make a therapist like that sulky and then they just make me angry and even though I may like them in many ways I feel like turning them into a joke, just to wrap them up and have done with them, because they don’t seem to like me and I don’t see why I should continue to like someone who doesn’t like me. I also get annoyed with a therapist who is too spiritually orientated and sort of suggests that maybe I’m being haunted by ghosts. I don’t roll my eyes, but I want to, because, when I’m not the therapist, and they are, I feel if they’d listened to me properly they’d have realised that ghosts aren’t really part of my belief system, and I don’t want them to be, because, it’d mean the danger of ending up in psychiatric hands being labelled with ‘psychosis.’

I want someone who is willing to understand my beliefs. That my thoughts have taken a physical battering via neuroleptics and that I developed particular coping mechanisms to deal with trauma situations I’ve experience that haven’t been properly healed.

It’s hard working out things on your own. But, not all therapists are right for you. I haven’t given enough therapists a go. In my life I’ve only seen two psychologists and they’d all add up to probably only twelve sessions.

If I do go to a therapist, again, it’d probably be an art therapist, or someone in peer support who’s done some training. Otherwise I’ll go to workshops and annoy the lecturers with questions they don’t have the answers for.

Peer support groups are a really good way to discuss what’s on your mind in a non-threatening, non-diagnosing environment. I’ve found them to be the best way of understanding consensual reality from the view of people who have had similar experiences, like ‘hearing  voices,' ‘grief’, or ‘addiction’. Probably ‘Tourette’s’ as well, but then, who am I to use a medical term that leads to invasive surgery and ends in brain damage?

Thinking is thinking and learning to think in ways we want to, that enables us to forge connections in society, rather than become isolated, is important. Thinking outside the range of understood sense, is not an illness, it is a coping mechanism, it is a habit, it is an attempt to be understood, an attempt to be successful, an attempt to invent what needs to be invented. This thinking should not be harmed but helped into becoming what can be accepted by society, for inventions to come to fruition, for people to succeed.

I want professionals in mental health to think outside the test-tubes of their science studies and realise how limiting chemistry is when it comes to human thinking, coping with stress, trauma and learning to behave appropriately (ie in wartime people collected containers in cupboards, now we put them in the recycling bin! People have to learn…) I want therapies that don’t isolate, stigmatise and torture people for ‘not making sense’. People want to communicate. It is only things like fear of further harm and harsh judgment that puts barriers in communication pathways. An effort must be made by people who want to work in the field of mental health to get over their own fears in regards to ‘madness’. They must actively try to understand another’s perception, their path of thoughts, their way of organising their thinking, or a particular use of terminology, because that’s what makes individuality.

By reading memoirs of people who have been labelled by psychiatry, watching video or written blogs by people with lived-experience of things like ‘voices’, understanding can be reached. Otherwise, continuing to read second or third-hand ‘case studies’ or going to psychiatric lectures, is kind of like trying to understand the holocaust from the point of view of those who judged, labelled, undermined and made money out of the people they tortured and murdered.

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