I originally wrote this in response to a friend’s facebook post, and it’s a bit of a departure from my normal blog posts. They asked “Can you please describe to me your internal monologue experience, on a conscious and subconscious level”. I wrote this response (now slightly edited) in about five minutes:
As a child when I first started school, I had a sung monologue in the style of a nice middle-aged lady singing a commentary of everything I was doing and happening to me, in the style of one of those very old cartoons from the 30s or 40s. I can hear her now. At that time, my brain also liked to count in rhythms, over and over again. You have no idea how boring “one, two, three-four-five” becomes after a few hours. These days, I click my tongue against my teeth whilst reading. It’s a rhythm thing, and I have no idea why.
Sometimes I have fake advertisements write themselves and play out in my head. I could actually tell you some of them, but I feel embarrassed about these in a way I’m *not* embarrassed by dreams, as if these are things I have deliberately thought of. Trust me, I did not think of them. I don’t think there has ever been an advertisement for…apples (not a particular brand, just…apples). My brain liked running the apple advertisement over and over again when I was aobut six.
Then I have the ‘people’ in my head. Lots and lots of people. Some of them aren’t human. Sometimes neither am I. They talk to me and they talk to each other (this is NOT the same as hearing voices – I have experienced hearing *music* that wasn’t really there and it really does sound like it’s coming from outside of you and you can’t control it) The voices that talk as part of my internal monologue are a part of me, not a psychological problem. (EDIT: I’ve tried to give them their correct genders in what follows but some are genderless or versions of my voice)
I have Mother-voice who tells me I’m crap and lazy and no matter what I do it’s never enough, and I’m not good enough. She’s the one whose favourite insult is “don’t be so childish”. She hates me doing anything enjoyable and frankly, she can f*ck right off. (I cannot stess strongly enough, this is not my actual mother saying these things). I have Guardian Angel who is perpetually a year older than me; perfect and beautiful. She turned up when I was 9 and she’s always been there saying exactly the right thing. She’s just commented that it’s very nice of me to be commenting on this post and that she thinks I’m going to have a good day and get lots done. She has a name but I’ve never told anyone what it is. At night I have wandering-mind who I can tell to just go off and explore and make things happen. That’s a good way of getting to sleep because he thinks in dreamscapes. Unfortunately, there is a little interferer who likes to imagine terrible faces that get uglier and uglier and horrible acts of violence, so when the interferer turns up I immediately have to open my eyes and look at the patch of lighter darkness through a gap in my curtains which scares it away. I also have The Orchestra which plays me magnificent symphonies, but only when I’m on the verge of falling asleep. Occasionally I manage to grab a bit of the tune and sing it onto my phone (parts of Apocalypse Dreams came that way).
Then there’s anxiety-voice which is sometimes loud and sometimes in the background, but always turns up in the manner of someone standing behind you and busting a paper bag – there’s always the heart-jolt because they want to be obeyed RIGHT NOW. “OMG you need to answer that email!” “OMG you’ve got ‘apply to festivals’ on your to-do list” “OMG that subscription automatically renews in 3 days and you didn’t get full use out of it this year, you’re so crap and incompetent WHY didn’t you bother to use it to the full?” etc.
Anxiety-voice is a tw*t.
And then there’s Noticing. “Oh, the cat want’s to come in – did you already put his breakfast in the bowl? The dog seems happy today, giving her rice for dinner last night was a good thing. I wonder if there’ll be any post today? Oh, we wanted to tidy the front garden, better put that on the to-do list…and sweep up where you did the gardening on Monday…ugh, still didn’t do the ironing…it’s okay, that’s on the to-do list and don’t forget you can have a guilt-free cr*p-daytime TV watch while you’re doing that!” etc. Noticing just spots the mundane day-to-day stuff.
The difficult part comes when they disagree. Guardian Angel loves it when I do things, whereas Mother-voice is telling me I’m just writing this to get attention. I assume she’s what is referred to as the Ego in psychology…although I’ve never studied psychology. I have a feeling I’m already confused enough without adding to it!
A lot of the time, most of them as fairly quiet. They aren’t continuous or rather, I can tune them out to an extent that they’re in the background. Unfortunately, the more important the thing I’m doing, the more likely they’re going to want to join in!