Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of auditory and visual hallucinations.
I have heard voices for a long time. Some have come and gone over the years. Some of the voices have been nice, but many have not. Interestingly, several studies show that people in the West are more likely to hear negative voices than people in other parts of the world. This may in part be due to the fact that our society has such a negative view of hearing voices in the first place. It can be hard to explain to the people you love that you’re not sleeping, you’re sad and tired and hearing voices all day.
But there is a way to live positively with all the noise in your head. One technique I use is talking back to the voices, and acting as somewhat of a parent or therapist to them. If they are mean to me or attack me and put me down, I ask them why they are feeling that way. If they are warning me that something is out to get me, I thank them for trying to protect me. Of course, these efforts often depend on my own individual energy and mood. When I’m in the midst of a mood episode, I don’t often have the ability to respond in this manner.
I have found talking to them and setting boundaries with them has also been beneficial. So, if my voices interrupt me in the middle of the day and try to catch my attention when I’m in a conversation - I tell them to please leave me alone, and if they leave me alone, I will devote half an hour to their attention late at night. This has seemed to work for me most of the time - unless I am under stress.
Sometimes, the things I see are also beautiful. I admire and find peace in the fact that I am constantly hallucinating and seeing colours, auras and shapes others don’t. For me, the leaves on a tree have been purple, pink, orange, blue and so on. The colours I see around others float and weave around them like a beautiful, singular energy. However, when the visions are frightening - such as a man jumping out at me with a knife - it can be a little more challenging.
It takes a lot of work to find balance when you have lost control over your senses - over what you see and hear. I am easily overstimulated and to this day find supermarkets and malls difficult places to be. I hate fluorescent lights because they make my hallucinations worse. I also find that loud, face paced movies (sorry Marvel) or certain gigs are too much for me. I went to see the latest Thor movie and although I enjoyed it, it was still pretty excruciating for me. Not sleeping also triggers things to be much worse, so I feel reluctant to do any long-distance flights or travel very far, otherwise, there are a bunch of voices in my ears all day. In a way I am limited, but I also think it allows me to see the world in a completely different way than the majority of people. And that’s pretty special.
If you live with hallucinations it can be challenging, but you can find peace with it. You just have to find the things that work for you, and it’s okay if that takes some time.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to ‘find help’ - it’s not weak to speak!