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Experiencing Auditory Hallucinations as Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Life is stressful.

That’s what people tell me. I mean, it is, sure. I’m not denying life can be hard for everyone. I do think most people want to live, that they possess that basic animalistic quality of wanting to survive, to live another day, so they have reasons to push through the stress.

I don’t have that. What I do have is borderline personality disorder alongside of dysthymia, a form of chronic long-term depression. I struggle with other things too, but I’ll focus on this specific combination of mental illnesses for right now.

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I feel before I even open my eyes is dread.

Why am I still here?

How am I going to get through today?

What could I possibly do to make this day any better?

The second thing I feel is sadness.

This comes in waves and it comes in layers; it comes in ghostly spirals of depression that make me question every single part of my being, picking myself apart piece by piece strategically until there’s nothing left of me I can feel good about. Then it moves on to my whole life in general, nitpicking every single event in my life, digging deep into my brain to find the things I beat down at night, bringing them freshly to the surface. Every. Single. Day.

The third thing I feel is nothing.

This is when it all fades to a dull grey and the world goes numb behind my ears. Having BPD means I already face a certain set of challenges each and every single day of my life. I struggle a lot with suicidal ideation, which for me means I don’t have “a plan,” I just have all the ideas. All of them. All the time.

Intrusive thoughts feed into this mindset. They already love to tell me why I should kill myself and they take great joy in pointing out all the various ways in which I could do it. I say “they” because intrusive thoughts are not of my control. They pop in and out, layered on top of other trains of thought, pushing and nudging their way to the frontal space of my brain, making themselves heard. I can’t stop them, I can’t silence them, I definitely do not want to talk back to them. All I can do is just accept that it’s happening, try to ignore it and move on.

Real sounds still reach me, but it starts to feel like they take forever to hit my brain sensors.

When someone talks to me during the day if I’m like this, I can actually feel the misfires in my brain, like little blue and yellow vibrational twitches popping off all over parts of the inside of my skull. The words said out loud get delivered to my brain all scrambled up, which then takes what feels like forever to decipher and even longer to properly formulate a response. Really, it usually only takes a second or two, but when I get into this type of mental state, time moves so differently. In the span of a couple seconds, where it may look like I’m just blinking and opening my mouth and making what probably looks like a bad imitation of fish-face, the inside of my mind is on a rapid-fire pace monologue, duolouge, triolouge, all-of-the-louge. Imagine listening to a bunch of separate Ted Talks in different browser tabs, all at different volumes, playing six times the normal speed, but somehow still perfectly comprehensible, with music blaring in the background and you have to pay attention to all of them — that’s what it’s like inside my brain sometimes.

Except, oh no, there’s still an actual person standing in front of me. A person who I’m supposed to be having a conversation with and I now need to figure out what they said as fast as possible and respond like a normal human being would. Which can be a bit tricky when there are multiple other voices talking at me overtop of my own train of thought, reminding me of why I’m a piece of shit, all the things I’ve done wrong and all the things that have hurt me. A constant barrage of the worst mental crime imaginable, and all coming from inside my own head.

At times, I recognize the voice(s) as tonal overlays of my own, or as a slight variation of the voice of someone from my life, an old friend or a family member, just talking shit at me all day in my brain, repeating things that have been said to me at one point in my life, twisting it around and paraphrasing it, like the most ludicrous broken record imaginable. Do you know what I mean? Like, something awful that was said in a terrible relationship will get repeated in my brain in a friend’s voice, and then twisted around and extrapolated on. Things like that.

Occasionally, the voice in my head seems to match the person in front of my eyes, but their lips didn’t move. That’s an extremely unnerving thing to happen, because it sets off the BPD paranoia and if I let my mind go with it, I’ll start wondering if maybe they’re actually just trying to communicate telepathically with me…or if the person next to me is really inside my brain somehow, using all kinds of messed up logic that makes perfect sense to only a part of me. A part of me inside my brain that feels like a totally separate yet-connected-entirely entity.

Other times, the voices seem so strangely inhuman. Uncomfortably deep and growly, or high-pitched and musical or barely-there-whispery. The whispers are the worst, because those ones seem to actually hit my ears and ear drums, not just originate from some dark, dusty place inside my skull. They can be creepy as all hell, even though they always seem to just be saying, “Hello.” I’ll stick my head inside my closet for a pair of socks and hear a whispery, “Hiii.” Like I can literally hear it with my actual physical ears.

They’re not all bad though; if I’m walking through the woods, I can usually hear some weird multi-tonal breathy voice saying hello and welcoming me, while feeling a weird calming pressure on all sides, like an all-surface-area-air-hug. I mean, what’s better than being a tree-hugger and feeling like you’re being air-hugged by trees?

Auditory hallucinations. They can be a ride.

A ride that starts before I get out of bed in the morning — which is why that is so hard to do.

Getty image by benjavisa

Originally published: August 27, 2019
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