If you’re a meth addict and hear voices, you shouldn’t be trying to cope with them. You should do everything you can to stop using meth.

I’ve written several posts about hearing voices in your head. I won’t bother linking them – I’m sure you can find them.

The other day someone commented on one of them… The comment was mostly incoherent so I won’t quote it. It seemed to indicate that the commenter wasn’t taking the voices seriously, and had found a way of coping with them. Um, don’t do that. Just don’t.

I don’t know exactly what the voices are. I know that they start with pareidolia, and that the longer you continue to use meth after the voices start, the worse they get. It doesn’t matter if you know that they originate in your own head. It doesn’t matter if you know that they are not real.

No matter how well you think you can cope with them, when you do so, you withdraw from the real world and retreat into your own reality in your head. When you “listen” to them, you don’t focus on the people and social situations around you. Even if you think you are coping, over time you slowly lose more and more of your capacity to have normal, meaningful relationships with other people, including in a working environment.

My own situation came to a head my first time in active addiction, around 2009. I was trying to work as a software developer, while having to contact child welfare because my son was unsafe at home while I wasn’t there. So I had to struggle with that, with finding a way to ensure my son’s safety, with constant voices in my head. It was extremely difficult, because between trying to sort out my son’s safety and trying to do my work, I sometimes couldn’t tell the difference between hallucination and reality. I started to become delusional as I withdrew further and further from reality. Ultimately I lost my job, but at least that only happened after getting my son to safety, and after that other things happened that paved the way for my rehabilitation.

But trying to perform at work was a battle that I fought long and hard, and hated losing. (In a strange twist of fate, my never-give-up attitude counted against me then, because for a long time, I tried to “beat” the voices without quitting the drug. But that same attitude worked for me in recovery.) In the end it was impossible. I was hearing voices all the time, hearing voices through the walls even when nobody was there, hearing my colleagues talk about me and not knowing what was real and what wasn’t, and at the same time trying to focus on my work, writing good C# code following solid design patterns in a complex and abstract framework, all while being awake for up to around 11 days at a time.

As a developer, that meant dealing with other developers, testers, business analysts, a project manager, deadlines, and complex programming design decisions that I was no longer capable of, and the dreaded code reviews that became more frequent as my performance and behaviour became increasingly erratic. My job required both a high IQ and a sharp mind, and I was surrounded by equally (or more) intelligent people. And there I was most of time, staring off into space as I tried to cope with the voices in my head.

What I’m trying to say is, while you try to cope with the voices in your head, other people can see that you are obviously not normal. They might not know what is wrong, but they can see that something isn’t right. And eventually you will lose everything, just like I did. Only you might not be lucky enough to get it all back.

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