March 26, 2022

Years ago, when my spouse and I were on a bus in Toronto, the woman next to us turned and asked, “Are the voices in my head bothering you?”

We were only a few blocks away from our destination, and we decided it would be faster to walk than stay on the bus because we were stuck in a traffic jam. So we got off.

I’m thinking about that now because I’m thinking about the voices in my own head. About the things some of them are saying, and how I wish other people could hear them just to let me know: Is this okay? Is it normal for these dark voices to say things like they’re saying? What is an acceptable level of darkness?

Because I worry that if I say them out loud, or type them here, then no, they’re not acceptable, and I’ll be off to the mental hospital. Or maybe they’re okay, maybe lots of people have thoughts like these.

The inside of our brains are lonely places. There are rooms we don’t want to go into, doors we’re afraid of opening. In the real world, we can ask a friend to hold our hand while we explore the darker corners of a building, but inside our brains, we’re on our own.

I wish you could hear the voices in my head, and let me know if they bothered you. Because they bother me to no end.

We reacted to the woman on the bus as if she were a danger, when what she was was another lonely person trying to reach out of her brain, trying to be polite in making a human connection. She was probably mentally ill, but that didn’t make her any greater a danger.

She was reaching out, and I slapped her hand away. For that, I’m so so sorry.

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