Category Archives: Hearing voices

We Need To Talk About… Psychosis

Psychosis! What do you think it means? Does it mean schizophrenia? Does it mean being locked up? Does it mean there is no hope? These things are things I thought before I experienced psychosis and I know many still think this way. This is why we need to talk about psychosis.

So what is psychosis?

Psychosis is made up of many different symptoms. Some people will have many, some only one. They include:

  • Hallucinations (these may be visual, auditory, tactile or related to smell and taste)
  • Delusions (having strong beliefs not shared by others, for example, people are going to hurt you)

Does everyone with psychosis have schizophrenia?

It’s a common assumption that the only people that experience psychosis are those with schizophrenia. This simply isn’t the case. Many mental illnesses may cause a person to experience psychosis. These include bipolar, depression and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Psychosis can also be a result of physical illness or trauma.

Will someone with psychosis recover?

There is hope for those with psychosis. Many people will only have one episode of psychosis. Psychosis can also be managed with medication. There is a variety of antipsychotics. Of course as with any medication there can be side effects but these often are often outweighed by the benefits. It can also be a process of finding what works for you. Sometimes, when the psychosis is caused by trauma, psychosis can be helped by therapy.

What does someone with psychosis look like?

There is no specific way that someone who experiences psychosis looks. The term “psychotic look” which is often used to describe a way someone is looking is a work of fiction. Those with psychosis look like everyone else. The signs are more likely to be in their behaviour.

A last thought

People with psychosis experience extreme stigma. We are made out to be “crazy” and someone to be feared. In fact we are more likely to be a danger to ourselves or be at risk from others. It can be scary to see someone dealing with psychosis but remember they are probably scared too.

For more information about psychosis click here.

To share your experience feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

I Need It Out

Please be aware this post may contain content that is triggering. It includes talk of suicide and swearing. Please take care.

Currently listening to the voice being a constant negative monologue in my ear. It’s been pretty bad lately and the hours I’ve spent having to hear it are numerous. Today I just need it out and the thoughts that go along with it. It may not make much sense so apologies in advance.

(Italic = voice, bold = me)

You’re vile. Why would anyone want you?

I’m not. I don’t know.

You are vile. No one wants you. You’re a burden.

I know. I’m sorry.

You should die. Everyone wants you dead.

Leave me alone.

Why would anyone want you? You’re nothing.

Come on you should be dead. Why aren’t you dead?

But it’s not easy.

You should just do it. You’re weak. You’ve always been weak. That’s why no one likes you.

But they say they like me. They’re not liars.

They’re just being nice. They put up with you. They’re better than you. They have more worth than you. You’re nothing.

But…

You are nothing. You should be dead. Why can’t you just die? That’s what everyone wants. That’s what everyone needs.

Why?

Because you’re bad. You know you’re bad. You know how evil you are. You deserved everything that happened. You make people hurt you.

I know.

If you know why are you still here? Just do it. Just do it. Just do it.

I can’t.

For fucks sake just do it. You’re weak and pathetic. No one wants you. They all wish you died. They’re just too nice to say it. Just do it.

I can’t.

This is why people hate you. Can’t you see how much you annoy everyone. Why do you even open your mouth? No one wants to hear it. No one cares. You just annoy everyone. They hate you.

But I’m trying to make things better.

All you do is hurt everyone. You should die. Why don’t you just die?

I’m not talking to you anymore. I don’t need you.

You should be grateful for me. I tell you the truth. They want you dead but are too nice to tell you. Don’t talk anymore. They don’t need you, you’ll see. You’ll see how much better they are without you. Then you can do it knowing its the right thing. You’re weak. Too weak. Dying would be the best thing for you. You just get in the way. You’re worthless and a waste of space. You should just die. If you’re not going to talk to me I’ll keep telling you everything. You should just die though. You’re a fuck up. Why can’t you see it?!

That’s just an extract of what seems to be pretty constant to me. Replying isn’t easy. I don’t often know what to say to it. I feel powerless most of the time. Distractions have not been helping lately but I am aware they help a lot of people. This isn’t really an advice post. More a me getting it out and hoping to feel less alone post. The voice is isolating. It can be hard to fight. It can be hard to ignore. But I’m trying.

Please don’t feel alone and feel free to connect via the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

An Hour With The Voice

This blog post is a personal piece and content may be triggering. It also contains adult language. If you need support please either check out the crisis line numbers in the menu or the Samaritans are available all day, every day.

Living with a voice is tough. It tells you all sorts of things and because it repeats them over and over you start to believe them. For someone who doesn’t hear a voice it’s like having someone whispering things in your ear over and over again. Some are nice, others nasty. Everyone who hears a voice is different and I can’t speak for everyone but I thought I’d give you an insight into what I hear by recording what the voice says to me for an hour. Please be aware this may be highly triggering and does talk about suicide and self harm.

“You’re useless.

Can’t you see that everyone is better off without you.

Why don’t you just die.

You’re nothing.

Noone like you.

Die.

All you deserve is to hurt.

You’re vile.

You’re a whore.

That’s all you’re good for.

How could anyone like you?

Bitch.

Die.

Cut.

You deserve to hurt.

You’re useless.

Can’t you see you’re ruining life for everyone.

They’d be better off without you.

You’re the reason they are fighting.

You ruin everything.

You’re vile.

You’ll never be any use.

Nothing you do matters.

You’re a burden.

Can’t you just die.

Take an overdose.

You’re so selfish.

Don’t you see you’re draining everyone.

Die.

Die.

Die.

Die

Die.

You’re worthless, can’t you see that?

Shut the fuck up.

Noone wants to hear you.

All you do is hurt others.

Fucktard.

You’re nothing.

Die.

Harm.

Cut.

You need to hurt.

You need to punish yourself.

Die.

Die.

Die.

Die whore.

You’re shit.

You are worthless.

You’re a burden.

You’re no use to anyone.

Die.

Die.

Die.

Die.”

This is just a snapshot. A lot of this is repeated over and over. It feels never-ending. It is hard to hear all this.

If you want to share your experiences feel free to use the comments, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

Life Update 

This weeks blog post is a little more informal because 1. I am working on a couple of things I want to get right and 2. I’m really struggling at the moment. Therefore I thought I would just do a bit of an update of where I am at mentally. I was in two minds whether to post this after receiving some hate on Twitter but I thought this is part of my story so I should share it. Please be trigger aware when reading. 

So as I said I am really struggling at the moment with different things. One of my main issues is the voice I hear. It is more insistent than ever at the moment and is there more of the time. It is highly negative and convinced I should die in the best interests of everyone else. It is really hard to hear and I try many different distractions to shut it out. Not many are effective at the moment. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been taken off my antipsychotic medication, so where I was getting some help with the voice, I now have none. This is going to be reviewed soon though.

Hearing the voice more has also been heavily isolating for me. Because of some of what the voice has been saying, I have felt the need to withdraw from people. I know I shouldn’t do it but it is hard when the voice is telling me what a terrible person I am and how much people must hate me. People tell me this is not true but the voice is stronger, to me, and also tells me they are only saying it to be nice. This is why the voice holds so much power over me. It us stronger than me and can keep going when I am too broken to fight it.

As well as hearing the voice I have been having pretty constant suicidal thoughts. These have been quite distressing and I have come close to making plans to try again to end my life. I’m currently safe and my mental health team are aware of what’s going on. Its hard though to accept help when I feel so worthless and such a burden to everyone. I feel life would be better for everyone without me. 

I’m not sure if my suicidal thoughts are part of the Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD or BPD) or part of my depression coming back. I have however definitely noticed signs that my depression is back. Sleep is becoming a big issue for me at the moment. Not only is it taking a long time to get to sleep (a couple of hours) but my sleep is very broken and restless. It is filled with incredibly vivid dreams that are rather unpleasant. This means I have no energy when it comes to getting up, or throughout the day. Another reason I think my depression has returned is that I am back to not being able to concentrate. Reading is impossible, writing is difficult and even watching TV is hard. None of it gives me any enjoyment at the moment. 

So how am I coping? Badly is the answer. I am still self harming and it is probably the worst it has ever been. But I don’t feel I can manage without it. The urges are just too strong. 

I realise this has been quite a negative post but that is the way life is sometimes. Hopefully things will improve soon. To keep up to date you can keep in touch via Twitter too.

Distractions

Many of us who suffer with a mental illness find ourselves with intrusive thoughts. These can be thoughts of how we are not good enough, thoughts to self harm, suicidal thoughts or other unpleasant thoughts. They can be hugely distressing and difficult to manage. A big part of dealing with these thoughts is using distractions. These are things we can try to do to take away from the unpleasant thoughts. I have had to use distractions a lot to deal with intrusive thoughts and thought I would share some of my favourites.

1. YouTube – When things are particularly difficult and the thoughts are very loud, I like nothing more than to put my earphones in and watch something on YouTube to distract. It tends to take my mind away from everything I am dealing with. Some of my favourite youtubers to watch are Miss Anxiety, Tom Fletcher and Jim Chapman.

2. Origami (or any arts and crafts) – I am not the most creative person at all but have found origami a good distraction. Having to concentrate on the instructions seems to pull my brain away from the intrusive thoughts. I imagine other arts and crafts activities would have a similar effect too. Plus you will have something to show at the end of it too.

3. Playing with pets – Animals can be a great distraction. Most of the time they are calming (unless they are jumping on you while you try to write a blog post, as is currently happening). I love playing with my two cats and they always make me feel better. As did my guinea pigs when I had them. Animals are highly therapeutic.

4. Pinterest – I have a love for Pinterest and it is one of my first go tos when the thoughts are bad. I love looking up things on there and it soothes my mind. I can look up quotes, scenes from my favourite films or TV shows or just pictures of bookcases (yes it sounds sad but I find it very calming looking at pictures of books). Pinterest is amazing. Check it out.

5. Listening to music – I hear a voice on top of intrusive thoughts and when this gets really bad I distract using music. I normally have it on reasonably loud (please don’t deafen yourself) and choose something I can focus on the lyrics for and what they might mean. I find this way I am really focussing on the music. Podcasts can be useful for this too.

6. Writing – I couldn’t leave this one out. Writing can be a useful tool to distract or to get all your thoughts out of your head. It doesn’t have to be for any particular purpose. You don’t have to share it with the world. I know its not ideal for everyone and there are times when I just can’t write but finding a way to express yourself can be useful.

So those are just a few ways I distract from intrusive thoughts. I would love to hear if you have any other suggestions. Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter.

Picture from Pinterest

Mental Illness is NOT a Competition

I am writing this in response to something I read on Instagram which really annoyed me and has been playing on my mind since I saw it. In this post it was said that people who have “true” psychosis are always unaware of it and if you think you have it, chances are you don’t. I will not link to the post as I don’t want to generate hate but I felt I needed to respond in some way. This is my response.

As some of you may know, I hear a voice. I have written about it before. This voice has been with me about four years. It is classed as a form of psychosis. It is not something I have “made up” but I know I hear it in my head. I am aware it is my brain not working right. This does not mean I do not have psychosis. In fact it has been written by medical professionals that it is a psychotic illness. Just because someone is aware of what is happening to them, does not diminish what they are suffering.

I suffer a lot with the voice I hear. It is terrifying on a daily basis. The voice I hear is strong and currently uncontrolled. But I am aware it is in my head. To some people this seems to make them think that what I experience is not “true” psychosis. Yet it is. Anyone suffering on any level with the symptoms of psychosis is brave, whether they are aware it is psychosis or not. People will have different experiences and we need to learn that is OK. Mental illness is not a competition. Saying that what someone is suffering is not valid is unfair and can be dangerous and hurtful. I know this from personal experience.

This, unfortunately, is not the first time I have seen mental illness treated as a competition. Everyone who has symptoms is facing a battle personal to them and we have no right to judge who has it most difficult.

So my conclusion is this; we are all different people, we all experience things in different ways. Noone has the right to invalidate exactly what we are feeling. If you are suffering from psychosis, or any other mental illness, your experiences are valid. Please be kind to others and learn from each other rather than judging. Mental illness is not a competition.

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Medication and Mental Health

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. All that I am writing is my own experience with medication. Every person is different and will react differently to each medication. If you are having issues with your medication please speak to a doctor.

I first started on medication for my mental health when I was 19 and it has been a huge journey full of trial and error. I’m still not even sure I have found the correct combination nine years on. This doesn’t mean it will be the same for you. Some people find the first medication they try works for them.

My current medications for my mental health are Sulpiride (an antipsychotic), Sodium Valproate (a mood stabiliser), Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine (both antidepressants). I have also tried Citalopram, Fluoxetine, Sertraline, Risperidone, Aripiprazole, Lorazepam and Diazepam. Here I plan to discuss my experience and journey with medication.

When I first went to the doctors, seeking help for my mental health, I was reluctant to try medication as I had heard negative things about it. So my doctor decided to get me to try counselling first but I continued to struggle and it was eventually decided to put me on an antidepressant. The drug of choice was Citalopram. I was started off on a low dose and had it gradually increased over time but, for me, it was not very helpful and didn’t make a dent in my depression. I was also lucky in that I didn’t get any side effects from it. I was on it for quite a while.

Then I was changed to Sertraline, another antidepressant. Again it was started at a low dose and increased. This time I felt a small benefit from it but I also felt disconnected from the world and like my creativity had gone. So I stopped it without discussing it with a doctor. This is something I would never advise and it ended badly for me with me becoming more unwell until it was restarted.

Eventually it was decided that Sertraline wasn’t right for me and I was switched to Fluoxetine. This is where I began to run into problems quite quickly. Fluoxetine, for me, was the worst medication. I quickly descended into a crisis and became extremely suicidal. My depression was at it’s worst with me being unable to get out of bed.

Me medication was quickly changed and I was put on Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine. These two drugs really helped me. Mirtazapine sorted out my sleep and I remain on it. I think this is the one drug I’d be reluctant to stop as sleep is important to keeping me well.

As for Venlafaxine it was also helpful but was decided I would stop it as the withdrawal from missing a dose was awful and I was always anxious I’d be ill and unable to take it. It took 6 months to come off and I was off it for several years before it , recently, was decided it should be added back in at a low dose. It is helping me slightly again.

These are all the antidepressants I have tried. I am also on a mood stabiliser and an antipsychotic. The mood stabiliser I am on is Sodium Valproate and its the only one I’ve tried though the dose has been played around with. It is currently working for me and stops, to an extent, the rapid mood swings of BPD. It has weight gain and acne as side effects and these are things I’ve struggled with. But the benefits outweigh these at the moment.

The first antipsychotic I tried was Risperidone and it worked for me. The voice I hear was reduced. I, however, couldn’t stay on it as a blood test showed it was effecting my kidney function and hormone levels. It was stopped and for a while I was without an antipsychotic.

After a while my symptoms were not improving so it was decided to try a new antipsychotic; this time Aripiprazole. Aripiprazole didn’t help me. It didn’t touch the voice and caused my anxiety to sky rocket. I also felt more like a zombie on it and even my parents noticed I wasn’t with it.

In the end I decided I needed to come off Aripiprazole and so with a doctors help I did and was put onto Sulpiride instead. This I am currently still on and I am not sure how much it helps me. It has had an effect on my hormone levels but it seems the benefits outweigh this. We shall see how it goes.

I have also tried Lorazepam and Diazepam to help with anxiety and have found them useful in the short term. I have not used them enough to go into detail though.

So this is my experience of medication. It has been a rocky journey but my current view is that medication can be a useful tool to manage symptoms. It may take a while to find the right one or it may not be right for you but it is a valid option. Noone should feel ashamed of taking medication for their mental health.

Please feel free to share your experiences of medication in the comments. Everyone is unique so I am sure many of you have different experiences.

Picture from Pinterest.