The many layers of my mind

My mind is a complicated and confusing place. It’s arranged in a series of layers wrapped and twisted around each other. I can feel them built up inside my head as pressure in certain places. The deeper the layers are, the less control I have over them. To silence a lower layer, I need to engage one that is over the top of it. I know this sounds slightly (very) crazy but stick with it and I shall try and explain…

The very bottom layer is an endless track on repeat. It runs on and on saying that I am a fat, ugly failure. Thankfully it’s very deep down so I don’t hear it that often. It’s only when my mind is very shut down that it comes to the fore. When I’m particularly depressed I hear it a lot as I don’t have the strength to silence it down. It’s also there on the edge of sleep and when just waking.

Above this is the narrative layer. This one tells the tale of what is going on in my life. It’s as if my life is a story and it’s filling in the blanks between conversations. It goes “and then she went for a walk with the dog…” etc. I’ve always had this going on. I remember when I was small getting confused if my life was real or just the product of someone’s imagination. It’s a pain to be honest as I know perfectly well what’s going on, I don’t need my brain repeating it for me.

Then there’s the layer of bad memories. This provides me with vicious, powerful visual flashbacks when I least expect them. It circles in series of questions, an endless series of what ifs. What would have happened if I’d made a different decision at a specific point? Would this have happened, or that? It analyses all my conversations and behaviours in great depth, needling and criticising at every opportunity. Taking down my self-esteem.

Up to this point, I have little control of the layers. They exist constantly and are forever running at speed within my brain. Above them though, is the layer over which I have control. My inner voice. It speaks loudly over the other layers to cover them up. At the moment it’s telling me what to type just before it actually happens. It argues with the bad memories, trying to shift the blame away from me, to overcome the flashbacks. It plans my blogposts, helps me to decide what I’m going to do next, is full of crazy ideas, exciting schemes and mad plans. It is the me I want to be. Confident and daft, with a good sense of humour.

Finally, there’s an insidious layer, it inserts itself wherever it feels it can do the most damage and plays white noise through my head, It causes a build up of pressure, gives me a splitting headache and sometimes stops me getting to sleep at night. It is irritating and infuriating. I can usually drown it out using the inner voice but that requires a large amount of cognitive input on my part and so prevents any sort of relaxation.

The only way to silence my head completely is to speak out loud. I spend a lot of time singing. This is painful for everyone else as my musical talent is somewhat nonexistent but for me it’s blessed relief. While I’m making noise, my head is silent, I have relief from the pressure within. I sing snatches of barely remembered songs, if I only know one line, that’s fine I just repeat it. Anything to drown out the chatter!

Reading this back I’m worried it makes me sound more than a little odd. I’ve tried to explain it in the past to mental professionals. They initially assume I hear voices. It’s not voices though, I know it is part of me. It’s just different levels of my own mind all clamouring for attention. I wish it would leave me alone.

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4 Responses to The many layers of my mind

  1. Narky says:

    I don’t think it sounds odd, perhaps that’s because I can relate to the idea of layers in the mind and a constant narrative. I think you’ve expressed it brilliantly, far better than I could.

  2. I agree with Narky. Totally made sense.

  3. Bob says:

    Definitely human. I have most of these layers (though the insidious one is a bit foreign to me). Are mental health professionals mentally abnormal?

  4. Pennies says:

    I could have written parts of this myself, I have often described myself to people as an ‘ogre’ , shrek type ogre – “Ogres are like onions ….. we both have Layers!”
    I don’t think it sounds odd, it sounds normal and human.

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