Demons in my head – Experience and coping strategies

By ZH

Talk talk talk …. ugly talk. The demons in my head that I have had to live with for thirty three years are monsters that do not seem to have a name. ‘Demons’ have come from somewhere outside, because I refuse to acknowledge them as mine or own them. That is the only way I can survive living with them.

I have asked doctors what they are. All the psychiatrists, psychologists, analysts, and counsellors cannot name them. “Depression,” said one. “Severe depressive disorder,” said another. No, no… it is not depression. This talks to me. Tells me that I am going to hell because I have killed somebody. I know I have not killed anyone, except that rather large ant yesterday, feasting on a spilled bottle of vitamin syrup. You see, I can beat them. I can still think, and I can out-think them.

But sometimes I cannot, and there is no respite. If demons exist, what would they be doing in my head? They are not thoughts, because that would mean they are mine. But I refuse to believe that they are!

I cannot focus or concentrate. I wake up in the middle of the night; they do not let me go back to sleep. Oh, please do not think I hear voices.

Why am I trying so hard to define them? Maybe if I know who, or what, they are, it will help me get rid of them.

This account will not scare you or chill you to the bones. It is just that I live with someone in my head that I do not want to. It is horrible, he/she/it/they believe in things I do not believe in. I am sharing my mind, that is something even after thirty three years a stranger to me.

How can I tell you of the despair I live with? My depression is controlled with medicines, but this other thing cannot be because it has not been diagnosed as I see it. “Obsessive thoughts,” was how one doctor put it. But why cannot they understand? They are not thoughts. THEY ARE NOT MINE!

It is not connected to my faith. I rather like what I think of my relationship with God. I do not even believe in hell, not the fire and brimstone kind.

So, what has saved me? One thing that distinguished me from others who go through life long of suffering is my family’s support. My parents when I was young, my brother when he was alive and now my sister. In my family, there is no stigma, only love.

Once this ‘demon’ said to me, “there is no God.” I trembled and burst into tears. I have always believed in God. Or did I? I ran to dad. He thought for a bit, then said, “you do believe, otherwise there would not be this conflict in your mind.” I felt the mountain lifted off my shoulders. He considered my dilemma without judgment just as he would with any of his other children coming to him with questions.

Sometimes, the ‘demons’ do shut up for a bit but not completely. It is just that when I am really busy, like while taking a class, I cannot really think about hell. My mother helped me realize this. One day when I did not want to go to school, my supportive mother suggested that I go to school and distract myself. While there was no way anyone could understand what I was going through, it helped that my parents were with me. That is how I have survived and would not have made it without their support.

Mum was right, I did go to school. The ‘demons’ did go away for a while. We were studying a scene in which Caesar’s ghost comes to Brutus and tells him he’ll see him at the next battlefield. Brutus calmly replied, “Why, I shalt see thee at Phillippi, then.” I thought about the acceptance in Brutus’ words. He knew he did something terrible, and that punishment will come. Yet he accepted.

I thought about acceptance. Would it feel any better if I accepted whatever is wrong with me? But I cannot! For one, I have not done anything wrong like commit a major sin (unless one counts my gluttony). So why should I be punished? I chose acceptance but only so that I could cope. The strategies that worked for me may or may not work for others. These are:

  1. Fight fight and fight until I am in control
  2. The love and company of my many and varied fur babies (pets)
  3. Take up reading to transition into another world, so that there is no space left in my mind for these thoughts.
  4. Travel helped me cleanse my mind.

I will NOT accept them! They will not win.

But I still wish I knew what to call them.

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