How I keep the voices in my head quiet

The one perk of the Big Box Hardware Store is that I’m off weekends. Which, on Saturday, means college football and chores.

But I’ve found this a good way to keep the voices in my head quiet. If I keep busy and my mind and hands occupied, they don’t seem to pop up nearly as often. It’s in those quiet moments that you feel the tap tap tap of them getting ready to make themselves known and heard. I have to be in the right mind-frame to go to bed. I have a ritual I go through with my meds, and skincare, and getting everything ready for the next day. This routine is how I tell my mind to shut the hell up and get some sleep. I’ve found that if I just go to bed without doing these things I will lay there and obsess and ruminate and think. And then I never get any sleep.

I’ve also made sure over the years that I get enough sleep. I go to bed early if I have to be up early, and I stay up later (well, relatively) on the nights I can sleep in in the morning. I’m pretty strict about my sleep.

But I have to be – one of my biggest triggers for a mixed or manic episode is to not get enough sleep multiple days in a row. It’s part of the reason I’m such a planner. I figure out what I need to do each day and make time early in the evening or the day to do it. If I didn’t have it all written down I’d be worried that I forgot something, or I wouldn’t realize how much I had to do and be up late finishing things. And over the years my husband has learned that when I say it’s time for me to go to bed, I mean it. So on the nights I have to go to bed early, we make sure we spend some quality time together before that deadline.

I don’t think most people in my life realize how closely regimented my days are. They are planned in advance, taking care to have a general idea of what time I need to go to bed and what needs to be done. I plan things heavier on days that I’m off, and try to get started early in the day so I can have some time to relax in the evening.

It’s funny, though – I don’t know one person with a major mental illness that doesn’t do these things. We’ve talked about it at length, traded tips about how to organize and budget time, purchased tools to help with that.

This also helps keep me busy. My family laughs that I’m always on the go in some manner of speaking, and they aren’t wrong. But I don’t think anyone, sans my husband, realizes why I stay as busy as I do.

I want to voices to shut the hell up.

The voices that tell me that I’m not good enough, that I’m not worth anything, that I shouldn’t be happy, that people don’t love me.

I hate them with a firey passion, and I would love nothing more to shut them up permanently.

So you see? I’m not super organized because I’m into organization, exactly. I’m organized because it keeps me sane. One thing my therapists/docs could never agree on over the years is whether these are caused by something like bipolar or anxiety, or these have been shaped by my experiences. Honestly? It’s probably a little bit of both.

I wonder sometimes what it’s like to be in the head of someone neurotypical. Do they have these voices? Or are their thoughts just full of random things when they’re not busy?

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