Finding Myself Standing Alone On A Street Corner About To Respond To A Joke I Just Made

It’s the same nurse who let me do this the last time; April 22, 2008 — Photo by Me.


I’ve been getting lost in conversations with myself. A lot. I’ve spent more time outside over the past ten days than I did all winter and I’m finding myself moving my hands, arms and even mouth all in reaction to my inner dialogue. I’m not speaking out loud, but I think I have been laughing quietly. I can be a funny guy.

This afternoon I had plans to take a shower, so I strip down and turn the water on but before I get in I think “music, I should turn on the stereo”. On my way to the stereo I start up a conversation with myself, and the next thing I know my pants are on and I’m pulling on a shirt with the intention of walking to the store.

I started talking to myself (not out loud) back in college. It was an intentional thing, I wanted to see how it made sense for some people to be talking to themselves… I had seen a guy gesticulating with his arms and his face was really animated, but he seemed to be having a really good time. When I first started doing it I’d make an effort to move my hands like I normally would in a conversation.

It’s not quite the same when I’m writing. When I’m writing something like this I don’t think of the person reading it as being a part of the discussion. Something like this is me working… maybe it is the same thing. I’m having a conversation with myself as I write this…


When I moved back here and basically isolated myself the conversations definitely went deeper. And they also became targeted. It wasn’t just me talking to me, it was me having conversations with my sister while I was playing EA Sports NHL2002. It made the time pass less noticeably while I was scoring fifteen goals against the NY Rangers.

I actually kept notes and turned my inner conversation into a 36,000 word letter to her. It looked like a manuscript. She liked it, but it was definitely one of the more insane things I’ve done… recently.

I was walking today… I had just finished working with my step-father on his ongoing Museum renovation project. I was definitely heat exhausted, I wasn’t expecting to be outside for so long so I had no hat on (people on Lithium should Not be outside for more than a few hours on a sunny day). So on the way home I got into a deep discussion with… Someone and actually came right up to the brink, I was just about to start talking Out Loud when something like a survival instinct kicked in and I realized I was in public and I had been moving my mouth, eyes and hands like there was someone right beside me and we were talking about hockey.

I was actually laughing and about to respond in my outside voice.

Other than my sister I’m never really sure who I’m speaking with. Sometimes there’s a definite Someone, but most of the time it’s one-sided… there’s no real response, just me reacting as if there had been a response.

Or maybe I’m practising… interesting. I’ve had this talk with my doctor before, about how most of my interactions with people never seem real. They’re real in that they happen, but my end if the interaction always seems forced or something I prepare for before I have the conversation.

I just did it by the way. I stopped to do some HTML stuff and started a conversation with a friend of mine. It’s not the ‘having’ part I have a problem with, it’s how deep they’re going, how real they’re getting. Just now I wasn’t copying and pasting HTML, physically I was, but mentally I was having a discussion with someone who isn’t here.

Weirder and weirder.



About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Health, Lithium, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Finding Myself Standing Alone On A Street Corner About To Respond To A Joke I Just Made

  1. Bromac says:

    Hmmmm……..not sure on this one. I guess, the inner conversations seem harmless enough. Unless, that it, you completely cut yourself off from any outside conversations. Talking only to yourself, I think, could become problematic.

    I tend to think of writing as talking with myself. Specifically when attempting to work out some problem or come to a conclusion. Bouncing the ideas off myself rather than another party.

    Why is it harmful for those on Lithium to be in the sun for more than a couple of hours? I would have a difficult time with that. And what about the theraputic properties of Vitamin D on our poor, needy brains?

  2. Gabriel... says:

    Hi Bromac. My brain’s still a little baked from working yesterday, so I’m just going to steal from Wiki

    “[Lithium] interferes with the regulation of sodium and water levels in the body, lithium can cause dehydration. Dehydration, which is compounded by heat, can result in increasing lithium levels.”

    Lithium only works within specific parameters, which is why the blood tests are so vital. If you’re below the threshold you might as well be licking a stone for all the good it’s doing. Too high and you’re risking toxic shock, too high for too long and there’s all sorts of damage being done to you… including, RARELY, kidney failure.

    That’s why vitamin supplements are so important for us… on a hot day someone taking Lithium should be drinking at least a Litre of water for every 90 minutes they’re outside, and we should only be outside for about 3-4 hours. Period. If you’ve ever had Heat Exhaustion (Heat Stroke, Sun Stroke) the initial symptoms are almost exactly the same, but we get them a LOT faster.

    Basically the more sun, the more concentrated the Lithium becomes in your blood… and that’s really, really bad.

    Insane Stuff: I think the talking thing is coming from the isolation thing… also the heat exhaustion thing. It only happens occasionally, and I’m definitely not receiving messages or being told what to do, but it does feel different than when I’m writing or just everyday thinking things out. It’s almost like… when I’m writing or just thinking there’s a “general” quality, like there’s a constant potential for the thinking to go anywhere about anything. But when I’m in a conversation it’s focused on a specific moment or topic.

    And it’s not just about recent stuff, these internal conversations pick up where Real World ones left off years ago… and it’s like I’m In That Moment. Like I said… weirder and weirder.

  3. thordora says:

    shit…I talk to myself, out loud all the time. That’s why having kids was great-people thought I was talking to them, instead of insane.

    My problem was always writing poems or stories out loud. Weirds people out. I never thought there was something wrong with it. I have better chats with me than lots of people. You can still distinguish the line, and that’s what matters.

    I can’t spend much time out in the sun anyway-I don’t know if it’s from heatstroke too many times as a kid or what. But an hour outside on a hot day, and I feel like I’m going to pass out, and I get physically ill. Throw in the Lithium, and I now have an excuse to never leave the house in summer. 🙂

  4. Gabriel... says:

    Hi Thordora… when you’re doing it, is it you talking like: “I have to make sure I get this done, I wonder where I put that thing…”

    Or is it like: “I can’t believe she said that either.” or “That’s not what I meant, I meant it like this…”

    I used to write poems and songs out loud or in my head when I was walking home from school, but by the time I realized “hey, this is pretty cool, I should write this down” I had forgotten everything but the last line.

    Seriously Thor, when you step outside on a sunny day bring water and wear a hat.

  5. Gabriel... says:

    Something else I do, while we’re on the topic, is anticipate conversations… like when I posted this thing I turned around and got on the PS2 and as I got lost in the game I started planning my responses, mostly in a general and conversational way but from the perspective of other people. Like, ‘here’s a framework of what Thordora and Bromac might say so here’s the response I’ll give’.

    When I’m walking to my parents place for dinner I’m already planning conversations with them, so when I start to speak to them I have a plan… and most of the time, at least for the first little while, it works. I’ll sometimes actually work myself up into a decent sized anger Before a conversation even started. I think this is mostly normal… at least I see it a lot in movies, unfortunately mostly in Romantic Comedy’s but sometimes Clint Eastwood does it so it’s probably cool.

  6. alruiceis says:

    My friends and I do this a lot. So much so that we can’t remember what we actually said to each other from what we said to each other in our heads.

    I do this without someone on the other side, too. My inner voice always chugs along and I’ll find myself walking in school and laughing at something Voice said or pouting because Voice yelled at me.

    It’s therapeutic sometimes. When bad things happen, I stop and sit myself down so I can talk it over with Voice. She’s always the reasonable one.

  7. Gabriel... says:

    “So much so that we can’t remember what we actually said to each other from what we said to each other in our heads.”

    Holy crap… yes. Am I saying something for the first time ever, am I saying it to this person for the first time, or have we already had this discussion? Your inner voice and mine seem to have commonalities…

    I wrote something not too long ago about how we never really know how far along in our recovery we are until we actually start interacting on some level with other people. I should probably write about stuff like this more often… thanks alruiceis.

  8. markps2 says:

    I saw one Spalding Gray film where he tells of his therapist congratulating him for not performing during the session. Took him a year or something to stop doing. To me, it sounds like you are doing a performance. I don’t know if this is good or bad. John Lennon song ” whatever gets you through the night” comes to my mind. but those guys on the street that talk to invisible people, do freak me out. I was fearing becoming one last May 2007, I don’t think I’ve become one yet.

  9. exactscience says:

    Oh hell dude, I plan conversations all the time. I don’t have them with myself much except when depressed and my own voice tells me you are something instead of I am something- you see? But planning responses? Hell so often I sometimes forget what the genuine response was. I don’t worry about it too much.

  10. Gabriel... says:

    Hello Dame, my favourite YouTube bandit… it’s nice (in a really great way) to see you back at it.

    “Give us the strength, give us the wisdom and give us tomorrow…”

    Hi cousin Exact Science… anticipating conversations is just something tagged on at the last minute. What about actually having conversations (albeit not out loud, but borderline), complete with hand gestures and facial expressions while you’re walking? And not when you’re super-animated by an emotional response to something…

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