Living with voices
I first started hearing voices a few years ago, when I was at school. Mostly when I hadn’t been sleeping properly, or when I was stressed. It would go in a vicious circle. If I didn’t sleep for a few days I’d get weaker and the voices would start. Then the voices would keep me awake at night so I couldn’t sleep, and the lack of sleep would make it worse…
My voices would laugh at me when I couldn’t cope, get angry when I did things wrong and they tricked me into punishing myself. I suppose they weren’t just voices, I could smell them and feel their fingers on my face when I cried. They were as real as any other person in my life. There was one voice that spoke mostly at night when I was alone, she always wanted me to hurt myself, and she told me no one loved me or cared about me.
Whenever I went into hospital the voices would scream so my skull rattled, they would tell me to run away. ‘Run kid, get out of here. They hate you, quick run away’ it became like a chant that was repeated anytime I went near a doctor or hospital.
Didn’t talk to anyone
I was really embarrassed and thought people would think I was going mad, so I never talked about it, not even to my doctor or counsellor. Even after intensive psychiatric treatment I wouldn’t tell anyone, because not only was I ashamed, I was scared of what the voices would do.
My cousin came to visit me in hospital, and the voices started screaming ‘now is your chance, run away, get out of here, they hate you.’
‘They only want you to run because if you stay here the doctors will make them go away and you will get better’ my cousin said after I told him my secret. ‘Think about it; the whole point of seeing the doctor is to make you better and get the voices to leave. If the doctors do their job and get you well, then the voices lose out and have to go. No wonder they are trying to get you to run away! You have to be stronger than them, try and stick it out and lets get these voices to piss off for good shall we!’
Night by night
He spoke to the doctor and together we decided I would try and stick out the treatment night by night. I had to promise to stay for a whole night, and the next day I could choose what I wanted to do. Knowing that if I stuck it out for tonight and that I could leave tomorrow made the process less daunting. My cousin brought me my pillows, my music and even my photo albums so that I felt more at home.
Blocking out the voices
When things got difficult and I wanted to give up we played on the play station. When the voices told me to draw blood I got to draw all over myself with red markers, once we even coloured in my hair so that when I washed it out it looked like blood. If the voices told me to punish myself I ate chillies or squeezed ice cubes. It may sound ridiculous but I wore earplugs or headphones to block out the sound of voices. I don’t really know how it works, but it did!
Eventually the doctor got my medication sorted out so I could sleep and stay in control of my emotions and the voices stopped. Once or twice since leaving hospital they have come back, but I put on my headphones, take my meds and ring the doctor to tell him, and tell the voices they have no right to be in my head and I haven’t got time for them. If I find something else to do and really make myself believe I haven’t got time for them, then I win and they go away.
In retrospect being stubborn and refusing to tell people about my problem and running away from hospital wasn’t the right thing to do. I though I was in control of the situation by doing it, but it’s only since having help and beating the problem that I have really gained control.