Hellblade: How a Game Helped Me Understand My Wife

If you haven’t read my wife’s blog on her auditory hallucinations, you should read it prior to reading this blog.  It can be found here

As you’ve read, my wife experiences auditory hallucinations, and it’s been for some time now.  I just recently found out since it’s become more vocal in the past few months.  When I did, I didn’t see it as a big deal.  I came up with ways to help her when it became overwhelming.  My favorite was singing a song together, and it was a specific song.  So whenever I saw that it was too much for her, I would start softly with “ siiiiiiiing….,” then gradually get louder.  “Sing a soooooong.  SING OUT LOOOOOOUD.  SING OUT STROOOOOOOONG!!!”  And I’d sing louder and louder until it wasn’t bothering her anymore.  Plus, if I wasn’t there, it’d be something she could do that would help get her mind off of it. 

It’s easy to tell someone not to listen to the voices in their head

At times, I can say “it’ll be okay” and tell her to “just ignore it”, but it’d be very difficult for her to do so.  I can tell her it’s not real but it is to her.  For anyone who isn’t experiencing these hallucinations, it’s probably hard for them to understand what my wife is going through.  I can sympathize with her, but not empathize.

In order for me to truly understand something I have to experience it.  I may be a very understanding person, but this is something that is completely new to me.  I researched and read everything I could on it.  During my search, I remembered that there was a game that featured something similar to what my wife was experiencing.  The game is called “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice,” and it’s a game that I’ve been wanting to play that I never got around to.  I thought that now would be the perfect time to do so.

How a game taught me about mental health

The game focuses on the heroine, Senua, and like my wife, she experiences auditory hallucinations (among other hallucinations).  Her goal is to save her lover’s soul from hell and fight her literal demons on her journey there.  The crazy part of this game is that IF YOU DIE TOO MANY TIMES, YOU LOSE ALL YOUR PROGRESS AND START FROM THE BEGINNING. This is no joke, I put that in caps for a reason. They will delete your game if you die too often, and the difficulty is intense at times.  It’s beautiful, gripping, and challenging. 

The best way to play this game, and the way I would recommend you play, is with headphones.  It’s truly an experience more than it is a game.  You’ll hear all the voices she hears, and according to my wife, it’s pretty accurate.  The game is very well researched and there’s even a special included on mental health.  While you’re playing, sometimes the voices will help, and sometimes they’ll instigate.  Sometimes they warn you, but the majority of the time, they bring you down.  From what I gathered from the game, it’s hard not to trust the voices when some of the things they say are true.

This game was a way for me to see what my wife is going through, and though it isn’t real, it’d be scary to think if it was.  What I remember most about this game is my wife telling me the type of voices that scare her.  So for me to truly understand what my wife is going through, I don’t think I ever will.  But by playing this game and opening my eyes to what life is like to experience auditory hallucinations against my will, I believe that I have learned so much more than what I am able to read online.

I’d recommend this game to anyone who is interest in learning about auditory hallucinations, or anyone who wants to play an overall good game.  The trailer can be found here, and a review from IGN can be found here.  If you’re experiencing auditory hallucinations, or any type of hallucinations, feel free to let us know and tell us how you cope.  Not only that, but let us know how others could help.  Sometimes, your support chain just isn’t sure what to do and could find this information useful.  There’s no judgement here, and I thank you for sharing.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice