Warning: Some of the content in this post may be upsetting to others. Please make sure you are in a safe frame of mind before continuing.
In the beginning
I was 14 years old when I first told my mum I heard voices. It wasn’t until I saw her reaction that I realised that hearing voices wasn’t something that everyone experienced. I had always found the voices distressing but thought it was just something that everyone put up with; an unspoken burden we all shared.
I have experienced auditory and visual hallucinations for as long as I can remember. When I was 7 or 8 years old, I used to hear the voices of grown-ups I knew, such as teachers or family members, coming from the walls. Their bodiless presence would berate me for being bad or naughty. I remember just curling up on my bed and praying they’d go away.
As I got older the hallucinations became a lot more intense and frightening. I began hearing three distinct voices that I didn’t recognise. They spoke about me to each other, discussing what I was doing and repeating what other people were saying to me. At first it was just a nuisance, but they quickly became cruel and hateful. They constantly told me that I was evil and poisonous and that I was infecting everyone around me. If a loved one got ill, I’d be terrified that I had somehow caused it just by being in close proximity to them. Something as simple as a cold would send me into a frenzy. Did I cause it? What if it gets worse? What if I’m making it worse? What is it turns into pneumonia or some chronic deadly infection? How could I stop it?
A waking nightmare
In my late teens I began to see disturbing visions. I would be subjected to graphic scenes of torture happening to my family and friends. It felt so real, I could smell the blood and the screaming would stay ringing in my ears for hours afterwards. I had no idea how or why this was happening to me. It was a waking nightmare. The voices told me these visions were warnings and awful things would happen if I didn’t follow their instructions. I was so scared and desperate to keep my loved ones safe that I was willing to do whatever they wanted me to.
The voices wanted me to hurt myself. They convinced me it was needed to ‘bleed the poison out’ and make everyone safer. I would hurt myself and the voices would be appeased for a while. Although they’d leave me alone for a while, the peace didn’t last forever. They were soon back with more demands and more rules. I had to hurt myself in a very precise way otherwise it wouldn’t ‘work’. If I did it wrong, then I’d have to try again. If I tried to ignore the voices, then the visions would get worse and the screaming wouldn’t stop until I gave in. I started seeing demonic-like creatures watching me. I believed they had come from hell to punish me for being evil. These beliefs consumed every waking thought. I was permanently fearing the worst. I tried to talk to others about what was happening, but no one believed me. They told me my brain was playing tricks on me and that it was all part of my illness. I didn’t have enough insight in my mental illness to realise that I was experiencing delusions. This was my reality and I felt like there was no escape.
It’s taken many years to work on these delusions and to see them for what they are. During one hospitalisation I was put on a medication called Quetiapine which made a significant difference in stabilising my moods and my outlook in regards to what the voices and ‘demons’ were telling me. I am currently in therapy with someone I have a lot of faith in. I believe there is a better future waiting. I am already in a place where I finally feel like I’m winning the battle but this isn’t fully the way I want my life to be, I want to wake up from the nightmare and move on.
I know there is hope.