For some people, hearing voices or seeing visions can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. This distress can be linked to many different factors, including:
- Hearing voices that say horrible, taboo, humiliating or frightening things
- Hearing voices whose identity confuses or evoke fear (e.g. a dead relative or a historical figure)
- Voices that crowd someone’s mental space – making it hard to think, feel or do what they enjoy
These huge challenges have no easy answers. For some people it’s a case of finding survival strategies, holding on until they withstand the storm. For others it is more about finding a way of making sense of what these particular voices say that can reveal a way forward. There is no one-sized fits all approach to voice-hearing.
What can I do to cope with the voices I hear?
Whilst this is probably the most natural question to ask, it’s also one of the most complex. What works for one person will not work for the next, so finding a strategy that works for you may be very different to that of others.
Yet, if you’re struggling with the impact of hearing voices or seeing visions there are many different things you can try.
Rai Waddingham - Getting to know your voices
I hate talking about coping strategies – is that a problem?
Whilst the idea of coping can be empowering for some people, it is not universal. For those who are dealing with the impact poverty, social exclusion, racism and/or trauma, talking of coping strategies may focus on the individual rather than addressing wider systemic issues. For some people, the idea of ‘coping strategies’ is problematic. It can make them feel worse – giving the impression that it is easy to deal with voices when, in reality, it can be really difficult. For some it evokes a sense of powerlessness, as the idea of coping with voices feels unobtainable – an unrealistic dream.
Whether you find coping a useful framework, or not, it may be that some of the strategies mentioned in these links could be useful to you. Whether we’re trying to deal with the impact of voices/visions, stigma, isolation or the impact of trauma – having some survival strategies in our bag can be useful. Yet, if reading about this makes you feel worse – it’s OK to skip it. There is no judgement here. These strategies are there if and when you want to check them out.