What effect does silence have on the brain? For many with psychological disorders, the ability to speak openly regarding such is compromised. There is great stigma regarding many of the less “cuddly” disorders that ravage many. Few wish to associate with the schizophrenic or the antisocial, for example. So many of us hide in plain sight, forcing ourselves to be mute and contorting our bodies and actions into shapes inconceivable to us. Whether it is the antisocial feigning remorse or the schizophrenic hiding their atypical ways, we enter a form of isolation, being real and honest to no one – including ourselves.
Two years ago when I was first diagnosed with ASPD (psychopathy would come later), I found that I was scared shitless. I had an explanation for my interactions with others and the world. I felt liberated with such knowledge, but I believed that I was the only one (other than my therapist) that could know. I remained silent for several months, a mere grain of sand in the hourglass to many. It ate away at me. I could not honor myself with my newfound truth. I could not explain to my closest acquaintances what I actually felt regarding our interpersonal relationships. I was willfully mute. This was in great contrast to the earlier diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. BPD explained much and I felt comfortable speaking of my difficulties with splitting and self-mutilation to those around me, even if those that heard my tales were slightly put off. No, this disorder, ASPD, was something to be feared by many and I feared my place in society and my place at the table with those I cared about if I dared open my mouth.
The effect on my psyche was devastating during that short term. I became deeply distrustful – more so than typical – of those around me. I felt out of place and out of phase as I could not honor what truly lay within my skull. I was a shadow, formless and nameless, and ever so afraid of the light. But, was there actually anything to fear? Even if there was (which there is), was eternal voicelessness a price I was willing to pay to feel safe under my blankets at night? I couldn’t do it. Eventually the dam burst open and I spoke.
As I predicted, many of my friends at the time could not handle such a realization that I was different from them; that my brain did not work in the same fashion as theirs. They questioned my ability to remain in their lives (even though nothing had changed) and many of them became silently distant – though few outright left. They left me to atrophy. That realization had another effect on my psyche as I became once again distrustful of the world and feeling alone when even I wanted to reach out and touch. I may not have the closest bonds with others, but I hate the damnable solitude that I live in. Speaking guaranteed, at the time, that I would have to embrace such solitude.
With my discovery of social media, I was able to speak without fear. I decided that I would speak and others could listen or not. The odds of meeting anyone on tumblr, for instance, were (and are) small and there was nothing to lose. I could honor myself even if only in the virtual realm. I found that I was not alone, though I did not require others’ confirmation nor recognition, and my psyche began to understand the need to speak in real realms as well. I understand that this is not possible for everyone, but I also believe that the pain silence causes far exceeds any pain of being open in a safe arena.
I don’t want to go back to that place that I resided in two years ago. I don’t want to have to distrust the world if I do not choose to. I want to be my own person with my own thoughts and own points of view and all of this can only be truly realized through speaking. I am different. I am monstrous to many. However, I can sleep at night knowing that I’ve done everything that I can in order to honor myself and my demons.
To this end, I extend my hand to any that need to vent about their own closeted demons, be they disorders, desires, or otherwise. I understand and feel responsible to an extent to ensure that someone is there for those that are alone in the world between nightmare and reality.