'There are voices that keep on talking to me'

  • Posted by Moderator: Biju Mathew
  • Published 11:19 February 20, 2013

A.Z. asks: I am a 23-year-old male, and I have a lot of psychological issues that rarely anyone knows about.

First and foremost is that I am extremely confused. I can't decide on anything in life and I don’t even know who I am (even if I wish to help someone I can’t as I can’t decide on anything).

There are some voices that keep on talking to me and sometimes they reach a level that I want to end my life to escape this torture, but the thought that my mother will also die with me keeps me clinging on to life. Sometimes my past thoughts of humiliation make me so depressed that the only way to reduce them is by hurting or burning myself.

If people react badly, even if they just talk to me loudly, I want to kill and torture them. Because, they have no idea that their behaviour is actually torturing me to death, but I don’t want to and will hopefully never hurt anyone because I know it is very wrong. I don’t even believe that anyone can help me, especially people like you (commercial psychiatrists) who will only treat people for money and if someone don’t have money even if he kills himself no one cares  (this I can assure from my past experience).

The only thing that I have figured out is that this world and everything around me 'is virtual'. There is nothing real and this keeps me happy that very soon everything will end. My parents will die, then I can also die peacefully. Anyways, the reason for writing this email is that I just like to share my thoughts through this medium; you don't know who I am and I don’t know who you are. There is complete privacy and I can keep on writing my thoughts and they will never end. Every single thought contradicts the other and every question I answer, the answer becomes the question.

Anyways, it was nice chatting with you. Just one question for you: Do you know what is your purpose in life? Why are you alive?

Dr Sreekumar V. Nair ( MBBS, M.D. Psychiatry, NMC Specialist Hospital, Dubai) replies: Dear friend, I agree that past experiences have an important role in shaping our attitudes and beliefs. Hence, I can understand your bias against psychiatrists. But, I can assure you that there is no dearth of good souls and there are plenty of good psychiatrists who have the time to address your issues with empathy.

When you write, "Anyways, the reason for writing this email is that I just like to share my thoughts through this medium, that you don't know who I am ...", you are closing the chance for an in-depth evaluation of the problem.  

Your statement that "This world and everything around me is virtual, there is nothing real", can be considered real from a poetic or philosophical perspective. Sometimes, we pass through the existential crisis, not knowing who we are, why do we live etc. The world around is real. We have to explore the meaning of our lives by the use of our power to freely choose to live a full human life that involves education, job and career, marriage and family, social work, etc.  

Your problem needs a one-to-one interview by a psychiatrist because there are certain serious problems to be considered and addressed. For example, you have started by saying that you are extremely confused and "There are some voices that keep on talking to me and sometimes they reach a level that I want to end my life to escape this torture". Does this mean that you are hearing voices when there is nobody actually talking (hallucination?); or does it mean your own ideas echo in your mind intrusively and repeatedly (obsessive thoughts); or is it that people actually confuse you by imposing their ideas on you?

Each of these warrants a different approach.  For example, if it is hallucination, further detailed evaluation and probably medication would be the most appropriate approach, since it is driving you to consider suicide as the only option. Suicide is never a solution for any problem. 

The inability to make decisions is a problem that troubles many of us. It could be due to low self-esteem or lack of confidence, due to lack of expertise in that issue, due to certain biases, so on and so forth. So, making a factual evaluation of the situation or issue, taking expert advice, being prepared for even negative consequences, etc, will help you to make most of the decisions you need to make.

When you say "... if some people react badly ... I want to kill and torture them...", it shows you are very sensitive to criticism, you fear negative evaluation, you look for approval from others, you have low self-esteem, and you are frustrated that you are not able to do anything about it. So, you need to improve your coping skills, develop the ability to deal with it by learning new skills and thereby enhancing your strengths.  

You ask, "what is the purpose of your life is?", and I say: It’s a million dollar question. But, look at this closely, you say that you will not end your life as long as your parents are alive. It means that you consider that the wellbeing and happiness of your parents is one of your responsibilities. Similarly, when you marry and have a family, you will take up further responsibilities. So, these form some of the purposes of your life.

We can find meaning in the simple pleasures of life, take a minute to enjoy the things around you, the beauty of nature, the beauty of relationship, etc. You can create your own meaning for yourself and your life. After all, it is your life and you are still young and could experiment it to the best of your ability.  Performing each of the roles we are supposed to take, at different points of our lives, (family, social, professional, etc), to the best of our ability, is the purpose of lives of ordinary people like us. At a higher level attaining 'nirvana' or actually finding out ‘who you are’, could be the purpose of life.

Since you are suffering a great deal of distress due to your problems, you need professional help. Consult any reputed institution-based psychiatrist, so that you are not worried about the 'commercial' aspect of it, and ‘Inshallah’ your problems will be resolved.

Write with your concerns to inmind@gulfnews.com and selected questions will be answered by a panel of qualified psychiatrists and psychologists. Your contributions will be modified for length and appropriateness, and will be open to other Gulf News readers to comment and suggest solutions. Let us know if you would like GulfNews.com to withhold your name from your letter should it be published.

Disclaimer: This blog is a conversation and is not an alternative for treatment. The recommendations and suggestions offered by our panel of psychiatrists are their own and Gulf News will not take any responsibility for the advice they provide.