Your question is, what should you do? The answer is to seek professional help. We are not born knowing how to fix life problems. Sometimes people, if they are lucky, learn coping skills from their parents or from mentors but not everyone has access to good role models.
These are problems that need the assistance of professionals. If you had a reoccurring stomach ache or a pain in your leg or a dental problem, you and I would probably agree that it would be ill advised for you to treat yourself. The wise solution would be to consult an expert who will provide guidance and solutions.
In addition, you shouldn’t be upset at yourself because you don’t know how to fix these problems. Unless you receive specific training, as do mental health professionals, you would not have the requisite knowledge for treatment. It’s not innate knowledge. I saw a quote recently that sums it up nicely: “One is not born wise; one becomes it” by Matthieu Ricard. Knowledge and wisdom are gained through education and experience. Mental health professionals have at least five years of training at the Masters level and longer for those at the PhD level. In addition to their schooling, mental health professionals have practicums and field placements in which they are learning on the job. Years of training would not be necessary if we were all born with the knowledge to cure ourselves.
Regarding the voices you hear, you suspect that it may be auditory hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations are typically voices that one does not recognize. These voices also tend to be external voices. If you’re hearing your own voice, then it’s likely your conscience or the type of internal dialogue that we all experience. In your case, it seems that you may be experiencing your own voice and not an external voice.
The internal dialogue that you seem to be having with yourself is negative. You are putting yourself down and treating yourself harshly. That is common among individuals with depression and/or anxiety disorders. People with depression are especially hard on themselves. They typically would never treat others as harshly as they treat themselves.
Regarding the flashbacks, you may be describing a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Something is triggering you to remember awful experiences in your life. The fact that you have had awful experiences that are causing extreme distress could be indicative of PTSD. Please know that I am not diagnosing you with PTSD. I’m simply making the point that some of what you’re describing may be consistent with PTSD.
As a way to cope with the negativity going on in your life, you are engaging in self-harm. That is dangerous, inappropriate and an ineffective strategy to deal with these problems. For that reason, I would strongly recommend counseling. That may be difficult given that we are in the mists of a pandemic but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Many mental health providers are utilizing telehealth as a way to connect with clients. Inquire with your local community mental health center about what services are available. This is especially important because of your suicidal thoughts. Don’t hesitate to call emergency services if you feel that you cannot protect yourself. They will help you, even in a pandemic.
In the meantime, you might want to try journaling to more positively express what you’re feeling. Studies report that journaling is a great way to relieve emotional stress. It can also be a great way to document one’s problems, which would be helpful for treatment. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle