Am I Actually Talking to God?

I’ve discussed the voice in my head here before. It’s the one that seems to always have the right advice, knows what to do, and reassures me when I need it but I’ve always been unclear on where the voice comes from.

In esoteric circles, people talk about connecting with your higher self. As though there’s a part of you that’s on a higher vibrational frequency than your everyday self, the one that you know as you who interacts with the world and carries on in your everyday business.

This higher self is likened to the idea of a type of god, but that god is within you and is you.

Essentially the idea of god is you connecting with the universe on a higher vibration than what you’re feeling as a normal everyday person.

Alternatively, the voice could be the voice of God himself in the christian sense, and I have been chosen to be able to speak with him personally but, to be real, that feels a little too delusional for me and I’m not entirely comfortable with being a conduit to the almighty.

Further still, this voice could be nothing more than my conscience, if that’s something that has been proven to exist.

All I really know for sure is that if I’m wondering about something or if I ask myself a question there’s always an answer that pops up from somewhere in my head, and for some reason, it seems to be much wiser than me.

I’m hesitant to say that it came about with the onset of my illness but I know that I was never that concerned and cogent about what I was doing in high school.

Perhaps it’s a facet of being hyperaware of every tiny thing that’s happening thanks to my paranoia and I am only noticing the voice because I’m very focused on listening to myself now.

Regardless, this dialogue occurs in my head everyday when I’m wondering about something or thinking about a correct course of action for something in my life.

The “Higher Self” explanation seems to fit the best for it but I’m not sure I can ever know, for certain, where this voice comes from.

Another explanation for it, I’ve derived from the third man factor, a mysterious phenomena that’s been reported throughout history where an unseen presence, such as a spirit, provides comfort or support during traumatic experiences. The first common report was by Sir Ernest Shackleton in his 1919 book ‘South’ that detailed his harrowing journey exploring Antarctica where he described the feeling of an incorporeal companion that joined him and his men on the journey ensuring their survival.

Maybe the voice is my incorporeal companion.

Overall though, I don’t know where it comes from, I’m just happy to have it along for the ride.

It has saved me from making innumerable mistakes and it always seems to know the best course of action for what’s happening in my life.

At this point, I’m not concerned with whether talking about this voice will make me sound crazy because, with my diagnosis, I’m already certifiably insane.

Suffice it to say, I’m happy the voice is there, and I’ll listen to it for as long as it points me in the right direction.

The Persistence of Delusions

When you have to contend with delusional thinking, life can get hard.

Many times I’ve been so confused by whether or not something was actually happening that I made serious mistakes acting on those things.

I have hurt people and I have ruined friendships and relationships over my delusions.

I regret those things immensely and I have fought my delusions to the bone, time and time again, but here, 16 years later, I still experience thoughts that have no basis in reality.

Delusions are incredibly persistent and sometimes no matter how much work you do to combat them, or hell, accept them, they still come up and bother you, sometimes when it’s incredibly inconvenient.

A particularly insidious delusion I still have tells me that people hate me, that they’re judging every action I take and deciding actively to shun me and ostracize me.

Of course the reality is that people don’t actually care much about what anyone does and they’re mostly concerned about themselves, but still, day in day out, my brain tries to find reasons why people don’t like me.

As you can imagine, I’ve kind of folded in on myself and don’t really make an effort to meet people or even be around people because my brain is telling me that I can’t trust them.

To say the least, it’s caused me a lot of pain.

I continue to wonder why these delusions are so persistent even given my rigorous adherence to medication and therapy techniques and I think it’s because they play on your most deep seated traumas and insecurities.

Like it or not, that stuff is hard to come to grips with, and even when you think you’re out of the woods, it still creeps up and grabs you sometimes.

Over the years I’ve come to fully understand that my brain is, essentially broken, and like the people it tells me to avoid, I can never fully trust what it’s saying.

I’ve had to cultivate a sense of self that’s removed from the thoughts that are going through my head purely as a means of self protection.

It’s still easy to get lost in the fog of these thoughts, but when I realize that something I’m thinking is upsetting, I’m able to step back and evaluate the thoughts. 9 times out of 10, they’re irrational and have no basis in reality.

Realizing that is freeing, but I would still give anything to not get so lost.

My delusions though, have taught me many lessons, they’ve instilled a thick skin and they have been an integral part of what makes me who I am today.

Sure they’ve been inconvenient and many many times have been the bane of my existence but they’ve showed me things and they’ve taught me things not only about myself, but about the reality of human nature that would be difficult to learn in any other context.

It’s hard to be grateful for them but I am, and I know how hard it can be to live with them.

To anyone reading who experiences persistent delusions, I’m with you, remember, you’re not alone in this.

While they may never go away completely, you can learn the tools to help deal with them.

Therapy is your friend, self awareness is your friend and introspection is your friend.

I know what it’s like to live with this stuff and others do to. Also, your family and friends will always have your back no matter what your delusions tell you.

It’s ok to be haunted by stuff like this and it doesn’t make you weak and it doesn’t make you crazy.

You have help and you’re gonna be ok, I promise.

How I Fell Into Grandiosity

It started small, seemingly coincidental. Things started lining up where they hadn’t before.

I went to class one day (in the midst of some pretty heavy depression and anxiety) and on that day, out of all the others, a guest speaker had been called in to talk about, you guessed it, depression and anxiety. The funny thing is that I didn’t have a word for the ways I was feeling, and as this speaker outlined symptoms, things I felt hard, a small thought occurred to me. Did my professor notice I was dealing with this stuff and call this person in just for me? It seemed too significant, the way this person was hitting these feelings so perfectly, to be a coincidence.

That may have been the spark.

There was another class where I arrived early and, sitting in the back of lecture hall I looked over my notes and out of nowhere, a song started playing. I can’t remember what song it was but the lyrics “hold on” just hit me in a place where I needed them at that exact time in that exact place. I looked down to the podium where the teacher’s aide was getting everything ready, paying no attention whatsoever to me, up here, with my heart being torn in half, and I thought, she’s pretending to be busy, she’s playing this song for me.

Little things like that started happening, seemingly more and more frequently.

There were lyrics in songs on the radio (how could they know I was listening?), and phrases in books (holy shit, this book was published in the eighties and they knew that I, Mike Hedrick, would read it here in 2005 because of this sentence, written exclusively for me in this moment).

Pretty soon, commercials and tv shows were sending me secret messages too, knowing that I was watching, at that very moment. It became unquestionably clear that I must be a very important person for society to stop its normal operating procedures to send ME these messages. I must somehow fit in to future’s history as a leader of some kind, a king? maybe even a prophet?

I’d fight with myself over these things being real but then I’d turn on the TV or play some music and, sure enough.

It’s a strange process to fall into grandiosity, it is at it’s best, psychosis, and to someone who had no concept of what psychosis was, it grabbed me like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

Looking back, it’s clear to me that I was just desperately grasping at straws for something that made sense (or my mind was). I needed something to explain or validate the confusion, the fear and the sadness I felt and these connections gave me something to hold on to.

They also gave me motivation, so much so that I would eventually hop on a plane out of nowhere to go to the U.N. in New York thinking I was meant to claim my position as leader of the world (whatever that means).

Here I am today though, sitting in a chair in my tiny apartment in nowhere, USA thanking God that I’m nothing more than a tiny mote of dust floating on a sunbeam.

Truly, it speaks to the notion that we all long for, a sense of being recognized, of belonging to the greater good, and while that sense was merely a delusion for me, it taught me that I need inclusion. I always have and I always will.

Grandiosity is a unique experience but one that I’m grateful for because it helped me see that, yes, I needed help, badly, as so many others do today. If you see this stuff in your friends or loved ones, or if they start talking about things that don’t entirely make sense to you, it’s worth a discussion, or an appointment to see a psychiatrist because delusions of grandeur seem to be the starting point for a number of major mental illnesses.

I’ve always said that real life is extremely boring when you don’t think you’re a prophet sent from God to bring peace to the world, but 17 years on, I wouldn’t have it any other way.