Did You Hear That? | What it’s like living with auditory hallucinations

  In 2016, I was doing my psychiatric ward rotation at Sacred Heart in Spokane.  We were learning about schizophrenia, and how auditory and visual hallucinations were very common.  When we were told that we were going to be doing an exercise that required us to wear a set of headphones that played a demonstration of auditory hallucinations, many of the girls were hesitant.  I was not.  I was not hesitant, because it was not the first time I had heard auditory hallucinations before.

  After my brother had passed away, for the first time ever, I had heard voices.  At first, I thought it was other people around me talking about me.  It wasn’t until I realized that even when I was the only one in the area, I would still hear voices.  I didn’t know what hallucinations were at the time, I was still young.  I was fifteen.  All I knew was I was afraid of what I would hear, so I always had music on, and it would make it better.

  To this day, I have auditory hallucinations, but it’s the first time that I’ve been open about it since learning about it in nursing school.  And honestly, it’s not that bad all the time.  Half of the time, I’m able to ignore it all together. 

Schizophrenia

 You can’t always tell what they’re saying

  The voices I hear aren’t always clear.  Most of the time it’s just garbled and muffled sounds.  When I do hear them, they’re not always mean.  Sometimes they just tell me that people are watching me, or they know my secrets.  Sometimes they say that I’m going to get hurt, or I’m going to be in danger if I go in somewhere.  It’s hard to not listen to the voices sometimes, but it’s not always as scary as it seems.

 It comes and it goes, it’s never constant

  It’s not like the voices are constant.  I’ve found that I hear them more often when I am under a lot of stress or there is an event that triggers something from my past.  It’s gone more often than you’d imagine.

 I named my voices so I wouldn’t feel too afraid of them

  My friend’s name is Billy.  I named him Billy from Billy and Mandy.  I’m Mandy, and Billy is just some bozo I bring around because I can make him do things.  Although it’s just a voice in my head, giving him a name to me doesn’t give him power, it gives me power.  Power to tell him to hush when I need him to hush.  The first voice I heard I named Billy.

 When I’ve had enough alcohol, I yell out at them

  I don’t typically like to drink too much alcohol nowadays.  I’ll have a beer or two now, and I’ll try to call it quits.  I’ve noticed that when I do end up drinking more than usual, I tend to yell out that Billy is not happy at all.  I also yell at Billy because he tends to become very overwhelming when I drink.

You can live with them

  I know it sounds scary with that last comment, but it really isn’t difficult to live with them.  Some days are worse than others, but most days are fine.  Throwing on some of my favorite music, and staying busy is what keeps the voices at bay.  I’m still a very functional adult, even with a few extra voices in my head.

It's all in your head