I think I should feel fortunate when it comes to hearing voices. While I have the ever-curdling mixture of psychosis in the background of my thoughts, the voices I hear are still my own.
It is still my own internal dialogue. It's just that most of the time, it's not there to help me.
I have lived with the diagnosis of schizophrenia for many years now and it was only during my initial 'first stage' psychosis that I heard a voice in my head that wasn't my own. Oddly though, it was possible that the statement was both encouraging and menacing at the same time. The voice I heard said, 'Watch yourself'.
I have replayed it in my head over the years, and for a while I couldn't decide if it was a threat or a firm piece of advice. However, in my experience, there isn't much assistance going on in your head during a first stage psychosis.
Today, in the traditional sense, I don't hear other people's voices. Part of my psychosis directly relates to punishment and it is my daily internal dialogue that is talking to me. And yes, there are the daily stereotypes that I work through. Bargaining with myself, intimidating, threatening, reinforcing with negatives, associating everything I do with conspiracy rather than coincidence. Yet on any given day I can refer to this as noise.
To illustrate a point, sometimes the words feel laced with the scent of diseased fuel and are coated in a viscous material that can't be held without staining your fingers for the coming months.
But as you read this, see if you can understand that these words are going through my head before I type them. I do have the ability to control how I feel. I can manage how I think. Sometimes I simply need to walk through the stream of psychosis while I'm gathering my thoughts.
Living with the diagnosis of schizophrenia isn't just hearing the voices, it's learning how to harness them. It's not like I can say, 'hey, lets work with me this time'. Yet I can weave them through my day and channel them. Point them in the direction they want to go, but make them realise that while they can try and take over my thoughts, they will only ever be imprisoned in my head.
I'm the one who gets to live outside it.
* The author's name has been changed upon his request.