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 email@example.com. 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.
30 responses to “Real Stories of Hope: How Hearing Voices Groups Help”
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.
its gives me some hope
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
Hi Zoe, I’m really glad you’ve found this site helpful. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Everyone’s different, so there are no hard and fast rules … but some people do find that drugs can be related to their voices. Some people self-medicate with them (either because of the voices/visions or the life-problems/feelings that are overwhelming them). Others find that taking drugs (or drinking) can trigger voice-hearing experiences. The same is true of paranoia. Often, though, the voices/experiences can be linked to something that’s going on in the person’s life or their feelings. This can be anxiety, guilt, fear, shame or something specific they’re worried about.
We have also met quite a few people who link their voices to anxiety and OCD (with the voices telling them to do things or threatening them). Developing rituals to cope with that and to feel safe again makes perfect sense (even though it can become a problem in itself). We’re pretty open-minded, here, so nothing you’ve said sounds strange.
Also, as you’re 17 – you may want to check out Voice Collective too. It’s a site specifically for young people and has lots more information and coping strategies. They also support parents. Best wishes
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
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.
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.
Hi Ben, thanks for sharing. That all sounds really hard (both dealing with the voices and the things you’ve been through growing up – they seem really traumatic to me, even if they don’t feel it to you). Do you have any help for your OCD? It sounds like you could really do with someone to talk to about these things (even though talking about it can feel really hard too). It’s a really good step to open up on here, so I hope that speaking the second time isn’t too hard (you can even write it down if that’s easy that speaking). As well as talking to your doc or mental health team, you may want to look at this site for young people too: Voice Collective. Take care, and keep talking.
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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.
Hi Ell, thanks for sharing. I’m sorry you’re hearing voices that scare you – do you have any support for it? I’m really glad that reading this site has helped you feel less alone. There are ways of getting through even the most difficult experiences, but finding someone safe to talk too is a really good first step.
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
Hi, i’m glad you find this site helpful. It’s a shame you’re so far away, but I hope that Intervoice (www.intervoiceonline.org) may be able to support some work over in the Philippines some day soon. If you’re looking for ways of living with the voices, it may be worth trying this Rufus May article – Living Mindfully With Voices. Everyone finds their own way of dealing with things, but it may give you some ideas. It sounds like you’ve done amazingly well to qualify and go to university, even though the voices you hear are very challenging and distressing. Best of luck.
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.
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.?
Hi Christine, Time and Space are based in Glasgow and offer one to one support, counselling and peer support groups. It’s worth getting in touch with them to see what they can offer your mum. I wish you both the best of luck and hope that things get easier for her soon – http://www.nhsinform.co.uk/Support-Services/Details?group=10561
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
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
Hi Bill, thanks for sharing that 🙂
Hope that things are still great for you now, Bill.
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 🙂
Hi Cora, that sound really horrible. Especially as the voices take on the sounds of people you’ve been talking with … I could imagine that this would leave you feeling really worried about what people really think about you (and find it hard to feel comfortable with people, sometimes). These pages may be useful in helping you make sense of things and find ways of dealing with them: A Practical Guide to Coping With Voices and Changing Your Power Relationship with Voices.
Also, it can be really helpful to talk with someone about your experiences so you can get some help with them. You might want to try a Hearing Voices Group or our Getting Help & Support page. If you want to email HVN (or reply to this comment) and let us know roughly what area you live in we may be able to send you details of a group near to you.
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. =)
Thank you, Lindsay. That is really powerful – it sounds like you’ve been on an incredibly intense and difficult journey. It’s great to hear that you’ve found a way of making sense of, and relating to, your voices and that you no longer carry the stigma around the experience that society gave you. If you would ever like to write more about your journey, let us know. It’d be great to have an article about some of your journey (whatever you feel comfortable sharing) in our newsletter or in the personal experiences part of our site.
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.
Hi Lisa-Marie, thanks for sharing your experiences. It’s a really interesting perspective, that even voices that sound very negative they may be trying to help in some way. Rufus May (a clinical psychologist) wrote a really interesting sheet on ‘Changing The Power Relationship With Your Voices‘ which also includes some ideas about how difficult voices could be trying to help in some way. It might be worth a read 🙂
I understand where u all r coming from well some of u
I am now finally dealing with my voices and visions. Well trying to. I have had them since I was a child. Have been treated previously for depression but that is not an issue now. My voices still carry on but I am stuck in a system because I am not psychotic so I am not ‘bad’ enough for long term support.
Feels like no one listens have looked at this site before but now, that I actually feel on my own with this. I need to find my own way of coping. The information om here is really good. Hopefully I can find something to help me where others have failed.
It has to be me that gets myself in position to cope now. Not all my voices are negative but the ones that are I can’t cope with and I get distressed with.
Hi Cat. Thanks for sharing a bit of your experiences. I find it really sad that no-one listens to you – and that you experience a hierarchy where you’re not ‘bad’ enough to get the support you need. I hope you find something on here that helps you find a way forward. We encourage all Hearing Voices Groups to be as open as possible in terms of the people that can join – and not to exclude people because of their diagnosis (or lack of it). If you want to see if there’s a group near you, check out our Find a Group page. Having someone to talk things through with can really help.
This site is a blessing! So grateful I found it & to read the experiences of people who have lived through (and are living with) the same struggles as me. I’ve been hearing voices for over 3 years now and though they are not the same level of terrorizing that they once were, I remain in what feels like ‘active combat’ with them all day, every day. Also, the overall volume lowered which is a huge relief! For me, the psychosis I suffered (which was of course diagnosed as schizophrenia and yes, I too stopped taking the scary medications I was given) was as many others here said, like living in a horror movie. Absolutely FULL of terrifying visual hallucinations and of course, non- stop voices. It felt like I was being attacked by the voices literally from all angles. There is hope- I am constantly grateful that they are nowhere as horrible as they used to be and that I have regained much control over life though still get stuck in the house or fear to do things b/c of the voices criticizing. Often I have to say the Lord’s Prayer the entire duration of taking a shower because they mock me and berate me. Whether you know it’s “real” or not almost becomes irrelevant being that the fear still feels the same. It’s hard work. Believe me: I fight out loud with them constantly or am compelled to respond even to physical commands… or sometimes maybe with the nicer ones I may laugh- I still feel surrounded but it’s receded greatly in comparison to the initial horror. Truly I think stopping the medication helped and it’s amazing to see so many here that say the same. Reading this site today was a very important touchstone for my healing process and I thank you & the contributors for it.