Last night I caught the programme about Jodi Ann Bickley. She is running a project called a million lovely letters. Essentially Jodi asked people to ask her for a letter and she then wrote to them. Personal letters of comfort, encouragement and support. I was frankly blown away by the programme, they met two people she’d really helped at very low points in their lives. That would have been a heartening story alone but Jodi also was incredibly open and honest about her own depression and talked about the internal critic that she has with her all the time telling her “she isn’t worthy”, “isn’t good enough” etc.
This year two high profile music performers have committed suicide, Chris Cornell and recently Chester Bennington. Both had sold squillions of records, sold squillions of concert tickets but… their lives, they thought had no meaning any more.
Do you have those negative voices? I’ll admit I do. The volume and intensity of their attacks rise and fall from time to time. I can’t say how mine rates to others but I’ve never sought medication for it. I have talked about it in therapy however and with others who I trust to share my inner stuff with. I dismiss some of it as “just normal imposter syndrome” as I’ve always thought I’m unworthy of whatever praise or employment position I hold, I only got it through luck or dumbness on the part of the hiring manager in my view. Sometimes they do worry me when the intensity goes up. For me I’ve normally given myself a stern talking to and been able to refocus so that if they are there the intensity seems to decrease. However I realise that I’m possibly lucky in being able to have this internal dialogue and able to quieten or at least for them to cease being the figure and drop more into the ground – if you like a Gestalt description of what I think is going on for me.
For a long time they can be relatively silent and only on the periphery of my consciousness in the ground. Other times they can be quiet loud, front and centre in the figure. Like Jodi they tell me that I’m not as worthy as others and that I’m a fraud. They try to stoke my anxieties by telling me it’ll all come crashing down soon when finally the emperor’s clothes I’ve concealed myself in (esp professionally) are ripped from my shoulders.
I don’t know how common these sorts of thoughts and voices are but in listening to Jodi last night, reflecting that in the UK the biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide and that 76% of suicides are men I decided to at least put this out here. If you’re male and reading this and can hear or have heard those voices you are not alone. Reach out and seek help.
http://www.samaritans.org/ phone 116 123