Real Stories of Hope: How Hearing Voices Groups Help

Whilst many people who hear voices or see visions have comforting, pleasant or neutral experiences – others are overwhelmed with scary or difficult experiences. This page is here to offer hope to any readers who are struggling right now, showing that people can – and do – recover.

Sometimes, when people are feeling overwhelmed, the idea that they can find ways of making sense of and coping with their voices can feel strange, frightening or unrealistic. Equally, the idea of attending a Hearing Voices Group for the first time can feel very scary too. It can seem like a big step.

At times like these, it can really help to hear from people who have walked a similar path and can share the wisdom that they have learned along the way.

If you have a message of hope that you would like to share, please write a comment below.

If your story is a long one (and many of ours are), feel free to send it to nhvn@hotmail.co.uk. Whilst we can’t publish every story we get, we are keen to add more experiences to the site and our quarterly newsletter.

For more testimonies, please see our Personal Experiences page.

Thanks

26 responses to “Real Stories of Hope: How Hearing Voices Groups Help”

  1. Rai

    I was lucky enough to hear about Hearing Voices Groups through the National Schizophrenia Fellowship (now called Rethink). One of their workers gave me a leaflet when I randomly knocked on their door and introduced myself as a ‘schizophrenic’. At the time I dismissed the idea of going to a group, but months later (on the eve of yet another admission to the local mental health unit) I gave them a call.

    The person I spoke to was great. They came to visit me in hospital and told me about the group. At the start, I don’t think I fully understood what a Hearing Voices Group was. I sort of thought it was ‘schizophrenics anonymous’. I had no idea that people could hear voices and not be diagnosed with a mental health problem (or that voices could be understood and related to outside of the biomedical model). Still, when I was allowed out on leave, I gave it a try. After all, the facilitators made me feel ‘human’ for a change.

    At the first group I was shocked that all these people were voice-hearers too. They all looked so normal (well, as normal as any of us are). My first thought was that they were all mental health workers and that I was the only ‘crazy’ person there. When the group started, I soon realised that these people were not only voice-hearers – but that they had experiences that I could relate to. It took me a while to open up, but I remember walking away from that group feeling elated. I wasn’t alone any more!

    The group gave me what no-one else had been able to: acceptance, recognition and peer support. It’s strange, but finding a connection with others after years of feeling isolated helped me find myself again. Accepting the fact that I hear voices, and recognising that these voices are related to my life history, has helped me become ‘me’ again.

    I still hear voices, years later, and some of them are still quite challenging to deal with. The difference is that I no longer view myself as ‘mentally ill’. Like everyone, I have times when things are hard – but thanks to the group (and the movement as a whole) I now understand more about myself and my voices and have a toolkit of strategies that help me get through. I live, I love, I work and I study. I have a life that people once told me I would never have.

    Without the Hearing Voices Network and my local group, I really don’t think I’d be here. I feel very lucky to be alive – and am glad to be helping the network out nowadays. It’s good to give something back.

  2. donna robinson

    its gives me some hope

  3. Zoe

    What a wonderful website. I think it’s brilliant that there is an online community where people can share their thoughts and worries about their ‘voices’. I’m 17 years old and I’ve had voices in my head since I’ve been about 6 or 7. I know this because when I was about that age I remember having ‘the devil’ in my head, and he would say things like “if you don’t run up and down the hallway 7 times I will cut your mums arm off”. (I also had OCD tendancies, I would have to do strange rituals like touching something four times if I touched something next to it before, because the second object would feel left out because I touched the other thing first.. strange, I know lol) Anyway,this voice used to scare me greatly and I would always listen to it and usually did what it said. One day I decided to tell my mum about it. She freaked out and I think I could sense how weird she thought it was. Strangely, the voice went away and my OCD got a lot better, I barely have the OCD at all now, I may have to do a ritual once a month or something.
    Now, I sometimes hear phrases in my head .. Or one word going round and round. Or a part of a song that I’ve never heard in my life before. Just going round …and I will keep remembering it throughout the day. It never really bothered me before and I didn’t think anything of it. Recently though I have been taking a lot of drugs and smoking a lot of weed. I think that this brings the voices out a lot more. The first time I got really freaked out by a voice was when I was really really drugged up [….]. It was about 4 in the morning and I suddenly had a feeling of pure dread… I had a voice going round and round in my head… ”this is it, youre going to die” and the word ‘****’ kept going round my head too. Luckily I didn’t die, thank god, but it really creeped me out and I didnt want to talk about it to anyone. It felt like it was my conscience, it was so DEEP and personal and on such a higher level to anything i had ever experienced before. I could really hear it so loudly in my body and in my head. It was genderless and I could also SEE the voice, the writing literally going round and round my head. Since then, I have only experienced a few voices/phrases when I have been stoned but they are not half as severe and I do not feel dread. Just paranoia, for example, when I am walking home in the dark I often hear funny noises like footsteps that I know arent there.. a voice saying ‘run’ (i know its in my head.. its like my subconscious) etc. But I was just wondering if drugs play a big part in other people’s voices or just mine? Please don’t judge me, I understand that drugs are wrong and I have cut down on them a lot recently since my episode (I am not an addict, I just use them recreationally on the weekends with friends). Anyway, thank you for making such a wonderfully helpful site. Peace!x

    1. Ellenoj

      Hello Zoe I’m 15 years old and I’ve also been hearing the voice since I’ve been about 6 or 7 and when i read your story it remind me my experience about hearing voice in my head because all what you just said in your story is exactly what I’ve been through. For example…when my left hand touch something my right hand should touch it to, and when I’m drinking water I must drink it in 7 seconds and sometimes 5 or 10 second and the worst part of it after the voice in my head say that ritual that i must do the voice in my head will say that if I don’t do what it just said something bad will happen to me, my family, my friends and even to your dog hahaha…so I will do it because I’m afraid that some thing bad will happen to us and when I do it I feel like an idiot. That’s all I want to share and thanks for sharing your story…:D and thanks to this site it gave me hope and now i know I’m not the only one suffering this voice hearing thing

  4. Zahra

    I suggest if it sounds like the voices are aggressive, try calming yourself down or listening to some calming music. Even if they are not aggressive, try this anyway. That works for me. You can always plug in headphones and find a song which doesn’t carry whispering. My therapist suggested saying “stop” in a command to the voices.
    If the voices are punishing, you might affirm to yourself that “I know God does not harm the mentally ill, or someone who is going through as much as I do.”
    If the voices are the devil, then you would want to overcome your fears as much as possible, because this tempting voice plays upon your fears.

  5. Ben

    I’ve never told anyone about my voices… they’re terrifying most of the time. I’m only 16 (17 in a bit), but I remember hearing “ghosts” back when I was 9 or 10.
    Usually, it’s one very dominant male and a submissive female. The female likes to say good things, but the male quickly shuts her up. She doesn’t get to talk much, but he talks a lot. Very negative and scary things. Whenever I try to ignore it, he shouts. And usually I see a quick flash when he does. Just a quick flash, like someone took a picture, or a flash of lightning. He usually tells me to hurt people, or give up, or hurt myself… I have OCD, so I get scary thoughts a lot, but the man’s voice adds a whole new level of scary. The only traumatic things I can remember is watching my dad nearly drown my mom, and the way he would mistreat me when I was younger (he dislocated my spine once). And my best friend died last year. It was a heavy loss.

    Then there are other voices, usually girls that ask me questions, sometimes they ask about my plans for the day, or ask about my past. I usually don’t answer until I can’t bear it. And when people hear me talk to myself they either think I’m faking or crazy 🙁

    I’ve been on the verge of suicide twice, and I’ve cut myself several times, I can’t sleep at night because I can’t close my eyes without seeing things… well, I should stop being all sobby, it feels kinda good to tell at least someone about it. And to know I’m not alone.

  6. stephanie

    It is truly a great and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared
    this useful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. ell

    Hello everyone I’m 14 years old and I’ve been hearing the voice for pretty much as long as I can remember and its scared me for years. I’ve had sleepless nights where it just won’t shut up. But I’m happy to find out that I’m not the only one and now I feel like I can talk about it to people, thankyou.

  8. Filipino

    Hi..I’m Joaquin, 24 years of age an EMT-Nurse. I begun hearing these voices in my head almost a year already. I think it all started when I resigned from my job and made some huge mistakes during my career. I went into depression for a few months and kept thinking of my mistakes I made. I wasn’t able to sleep well and lost my interest in everyday activities. Sleep deprivation made me paranoid and I was withdrawn that I spent less time outside of our home. Then it triggered one day that my aunt got ill and I wasn’t been able to help her because I’m depressed that time and my health has also broken down. It felt like I was useless even though I’m a medical practitioner. I started to hear voices when I was with her in the hospital, my first thought was the nurses were gossiping about me and my aunt and went angry. When I got home I kept hearing voices that seems to be people around me criticizing me of my actions and my past mistakes that’s the time I lost control and start talking back to the voices. I didn’t immediately went to a psychiatrist until my family decided to bring me. It was hell during those days I kept hearing people talking criticizing me on everything and kept fighting back. I’m really don’t know what’s happening that time tome nor do I know why did it happen. I spent months at home and rarely go out and I cannot sleep because of the voices keeps ringing my ears like it was never ending and all of it was awfully negative. I was diagnosed with Depression with psychotic features then Bipolar II and I went through therapy. I’m so afraid of telling other people about what happen to me but a few good friends of mine comforted me and supported me. I don’t know if what I’m hearing are real or not but one thing I know that sometimes it seems to be telling the truth, motivating me though in a very negative manner. I tried everything from healthy living to taking my medications but still the voices remain. The medications doesn’t make the voices go away it just makes me drowsy and sluggish. So I stop taking my medications and started finding ways to make these voices go away!. Still with these voices I was able to finish my EMT course and even took a year in university for my masters. I always feel broken when I hear voices it’s very intrusive and bothersome.One of them is a woman who keeps criticizing me and a guy who acknowledges her. Sometimes they are three of them. I’m not crazy or something it just these voices are really there and I can’t control them but I can tolerate them. Until now I still have them and I feel I cannot pursue a career, live a normal life and be happy. I want these voices to stop and I want to live a normal life like everybody else. I’m yet to find someone who has the same experience I have and I think this site is very helpful. I hope you will have a support group here in the Philippines someday. Thanks

  9. Rachel Van Den Bergen

    I find that writing about my voices helps. I either write them down on scrap paper and throw them away or I write them on the computer and erase them. I have also had stuff published. I class myself as a writer. I didn’t get paid published as this would affect benefit and I used some of my sickness benefit to got stuff self published. I also do a lot of free writing. I feel like my voices are connected to creativity. I’ve also been to writer’s classes. I think that it is a shame that my voices had to be classed as an illness. I had to find the classes myself. The doctor and psychiatrist has no interest when I said that writing helped me and didn’t give me any advice on any outlets for this. This made me feel depressed and turned to illness. I’ve also found it hard to get advice on relationships as supported housing affected my friendships and relationships with other people.

  10. Christine McWhirter

    Can anyone tell me if there is any kind of support group in the Glasgow area, my mother who is 81 has been hearing abusive voices for the past year.?

    thanks

  11. Dr Terence Nice

    I wanted to say how moved I was by your stories. So thank you for this. Although I am not a voice hearer I have worked as a psychotherapist with many young people and adults who hear voices. We are holding a workshop with professionals in a couple of weeks and I wondered if I could use a sample of the above. I would completely understand if you would not like me to share your very personal stories. I thought I would ask and thank you again for having the courage to speak out. I have enclosed my email and look forward to your reply.

    best wishes and warmest regards

    Terence

  12. Bill George

    I do not hear voices. But I have had visual hallucinations and severe delusions.
    My trauma was when I was 13. When I was 20 and 21 I had breakdowns during university exams. For 55 years I was unable to see the connection. But Jacqui gently suggested in a Tweet that there probably was one. I looked harder and, without going into personal details, I found it. My health has improved greatly as a result. Incidentally, I am now 77. Bill George

  13. cora

    hi….I am tortured by voices…anytime I spend time with people later that day I will hear them talking/gossiping about me 🙁 calling me names and gossiping…I can hear the tones of voices from the people talking about me as if they were still next to me! ANY ALL ADVICE GREATLY APPRECIATED 🙂

  14. Lindsay Pivin

    When I was under the age of 8, I shared a room with my younger brother. Sometimes I’d ask if he saw the things I was seeing in the room (leaves falling, skeletons, people, angels). He never could and I just thought he lacked “imagination” and expressed this idea to him and he agreed. As I grew older I realized it was not OK to see things other people didn’t so I stopped sharing what I saw.

    Fast forward to 15. I heard voices giving me instructions to do things, feel a certain way, nothing malicious, but a little confusing. Within a year, they turned malicious. I struggled with drugs until I was well into my 20s just trying to run from what went on in my head. Kill yourself, kill your friends, kill that random person – I knew the instructions were insane but didn’t know how to get them to stop. I had severe mood swings, wanted to hide in my room all day, dropped out of college, I didn’t know what to do and was beginning to think death was the best option because I was really afraid I’d lose the little control I had over my mind and actually hurt someone.

    2 years ago I found the HVN. I watched videos and read articles. I cried. A lot. I had no idea people who seemed “normal” suffered very much like I was. I was brought up on the whole stigma that voices were BAD. That you should get rid of them. That there is nothing good in hearing or seeing what “isn’t there”.

    Today I know where my voices came from and why. What things I went through affected me and when I ignored them growing up, why they became so loud and hurtful. I have two voices now and I embrace them. They are usually quiet unless I am under a lot of stress – now I understand why and how to deal with them. I understand that they are a part of my mind that has no idea how else to tell me something is wrong/uncomfortable. I take their advice and they trust my judgement – as my own thoughts should. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. Thank you, HVN: You saved me. =)

  15. Lisa-Marie Enaaja

    I hear voices everyday. Usually a man and a woman. I call them God and Goddess. They sound superior like they are real GODS. The other voices sound angelic.
    I have a suspicion that what doctors have classified as schizophrenia is actually God. Sometimes the voices do not seem like they are helping you, but I feel like their underlying intention is to help you in some way. Even if it is negative.
    Usually the voices and music are coming from the sky. It feels like I am in a different place, though I see our material reality, the world. The voices seem to come from outside the space time continuum, or celestial realm.
    At night I wake up sometimes and they talk to me, usually about my dreams.

  16. Chantell

    I understand where u all r coming from well some of u

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