"I don't feel safe here anymore" says the 10 year old to her mother one evening.
Living with paranoid schizophrenia, for me, means living in your own nightmare. All of those movies, all of those books, all of those ghosts on TV are suddenly not on TV anymore, not on the pages of the books, and no longer on the silver screen. They're in your living room, they're in your bedroom, you see them reaching for you, grabbing at you. You hear them calling for you, out to you.
You hear the constant naggings.
Most people have that little voice in the back of their head. The one that tells them not to worry, or in some cases causes them to worry needlessly. The one that tells them about the negative consequences of the actions they're about to take. The harmless voices that most would consider a "gut instinct."
Mine come with faces.
Mine come with anger.
My voices appear as the skin and bones version of myself in the mirror, telling me exactly how beautiful I'm not. They appear as the ex-lovers of my life, reminding me of everything I did wrong to lose something so amazing and how I will never have that again, how I will never be happy again. As witches, and ghouls in the back seat of my car, screaming at me to listen as they tell me how wretched I am as an individual. Worst of all, they appear as scary, shapeless men in the corner, brandishing creepy smiles, and a wicked silence.
My voices attack me.
Their faces laugh at me.
Their bodies come after me.
I have to be careful. If I'm not, I black out. I've woken up with strange bruises, cuts I've never seen and a fogginess for what happened in the last few moments. The man in the corner, smiles greedily, patiently waiting for me to break, for me to agree with any one of the previous voices, for me to tell myself what an atrocious failure I have become. If he comes closer than the corner, I know I'm in trouble. If he moves even one step towards me, I need to brace myself. If I yell, his smile goes away, and he leaves, he exits my sight like a puff of smoke. But I know this will only cause a harder blow next time. That he will only take his revenge out on me later, in the only way he knows how. And next time, I won't be able to make him go.
Life hasn't always been like this. I didn't always see my voices. But I could always hear them, always feel them. They have always been a presence in my life. A voice calling out my name. A comforting whisper from a loved one in my ear as I fall asleep. A glimpse, out of the corner of my eye of a face, long forgotten, feared or loved.
I haven't gotten rid of any faceless voices, many of them found their form.
It's not always bad. Life isn't always about avoiding the man in the corner. Screaming at hurtful, cackling ghouls isn't an everyday occurrence. Sometimes, they're friends, long since forgotten, guiding me through difficult decisions. Old lovers, not seen or heard from in ages, talking me through to a calming realization about my life.
Life as a paranoid schizophrenic isn't a life to be pitied. But a life of strength and courage. To stand up to a man you can't fight with your fists, or with another hurtful claim. To scream back at those who would tear you down. Standing up for your life against those who know it best. Those who have not just heard your thoughts but have seen them, heard them, been those thoughts. To realize, and be okay with the fact that not only do you have complete control over your own life, but simultaneously, you have no control over the life you lead.
This schizophrenic, will live her uncontrollably, controlled life in every way she sees fit. If only because the voices say that she can't. If only because the voices push her until they say that she can.