“Hearing voices no one else can hear isn’t a good sign, even in the wizarding world.” J. K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
I love Harry Potter. During my childhood and teenage years I would wait impatiently for the arrival of the next book, which I would read five times on the trot. (This is my Asperger’s I’m sure because my sister enjoyed the books but didn’t re read them over and over again without a break in the middle!)
However, this line was always a bit of a problem for me because I hear a voice. Unfortunately the voice does not belong to a snake and as far as I’m aware I won’t find a secret tunnel down my sink. Ah, the life of a boring muggle.
Apparently hearing voices is more common than you think. According to the hearing voices network between 3% and 10% of the population hear voices. (http://www.hearing-voices.org/voices-visions/) That could be 1 in 10 people. So in a regular class of children (30), three may hear voices at some point.
Yet, it is still seen as a very taboo subject and something not to be talked about. In fact, I bet you have thought of schizophrenia at some point during this post?
I am no expert on hearing voices but I am an expert on how it feels to me and how I am learning to deal with the voice in a better way. I am not there yet and the voice can still cause me a lot of distress but I have more understanding and am learning coping strategies all the time.
To me, hearing voices is both positive and negative.
I like the company, I like the conversation and I love the excitement of another voice. Sometimes I get really excited about a project and nobody else gets it. With my voice he is always excited about the same things I am so I always have a sounding board.
On the other hand, when I have problems the voice knows exactly how to “kick me when I’m down” and choose exactly the right words to send me into a complete meltdown. It knows my deepest, darkest fears and exploits them to the full.
So, how do I deal with it? I don’t always. I still don’t cope very well. When things are bad I go downhill steeply and rapidly but some things do help. Medication is one – as much as I hate it, it does take the edge off. Talking about it works. Due to my Aspie nature I couldn’t talk about it for a long time and even now, in the middle of a meltdown, I struggle to talk and revert to typing or drawing what I’m feeling. It’s a bit like a game of Pictionary sometimes.
However, when I’m not in the middle of a down patch I can sometimes still enjoy the voice and I think I would miss it. I’m quite attached to it really although I’d like to teach it some manners sometimes.
I have debated long and hard about putting up this blog post. It wasn’t the easiest to write and I wasn’t sure I was ready for the world to know about the voices but there is so much stigma attached I felt it was my job to debunk some of the myths:
- Voices are more common than you think
- You can’t tell a person hears voices from the way they look or speak
- It can be managed but not cured
- People who hear voices are no more likely to commit a crime than people who don’t hear voices (although some police dramas especially some set in America would lead you to believe something very different.)
So, there you go. I’ve told you something I didn’t even tell my parents for years but as I say I hope it helps somebody out there. It will all be worth it if it does.