Monday, 30 December 2013

What's it Like to Hear Nasty Voices?

This blog post is about what it is like to hear nasty voices and may contain triggers. Some people hear voices which aren't nasty and they can have a positive experience with their voices. This is about the nasty voices though, which can make life extremely difficult.

Seven years ago at the age of 18, I started experiencing my first auditory hallucination. This voice seemed determined to get me to kill myself and the first few days and weeks were extremely difficult for me as I had struggled a lot with suicidal thoughts before it started. At the time, I was at college, and I was getting in trouble a lot because I wasn't doing enough work. However, this wasn't teenage rebellion or laziness, this was because I simply couldn't hear the tutor over the noise of the voice. My concentration was poor too, and I was easily distracted by what the voice was saying to me.

Once I was able to listen to people over the noise of the voice, things got a bit easier in one sense. However, the content of what the voice was saying was still extremely nasty and it never really got easier to listen to it. The voice was joined by two other voices after three years, and for a whole year, I was plagued by these three voices. The original voice spoke nasty things to me all the time, even in my sleep, and it would be joined by the other two in the evening. The nights were extremely noisy for me throughout this year and sleep was very difficult to achieve.

The relief when those voices stopped caused my mood to soar high from the constant state of depression that it had been. It was too high really, but with additional mood stabilising medication I was able to enjoy the new sensation of silence. The silence lasted for over two years before more voices made themselves known.

I was able to hear other people over the sound of the voices pretty quickly this time round but it wasn't easy to listen to nasty voices again. It still isn't easy to listen to voices telling me that I should kill myself or that I need to harm others and I don't think this side of auditory hallucinations really gets easier. It only improves whenever medication or talking therapy helps the voices to dampen down or silence them altogether.

I will point out here that I have never harmed anyone and I never will harm anyone. Just because I hear voices telling me to harm others doesn't mean that I will actually do what I am being told.

Hearing voices can be an extremely difficult and even traumatic experience. For those suffering with voices, distraction techniques can be extremely useful. Finding things to distract the mind from voices, such as watching television or listening to music can work well. For those who are supporting a voice hearer, the best thing to do is to make sure the sufferer knows that you are there for them and will do whatever is needed to help them.

For an audible way to hear what voices are like, my YouTube video here gives a true to life experience of this phenomenon. Be warned though, this is as real as I could make it and could trigger anxiety. Keep yourself safe.


  1. This is brilliant. I've worked in mental health and it's so hard for someone who doesn't hear voices to understand what it's like, even with the greatest of empathy.

    So many people have the mistaken belief that voice-hearers are just hearing their own thoughts in their heads and thinking it's not them.

    This post and video make it clear exactly what it's like and how horrific it can be. It will aid understanding and reduce stigma. Fantastic work.

  2. I have heard voices in my head at the age of 18 so I know what it feels like. In my case it really helped when I realised that what the voices were saying was exactly what I was thinking deep down about myself-that I was worthless, that I behaved badly, that nobody loved me and that I really didn't deserve to be loved. I was a looser. Once I realised this, I could do something about it. The voices soon stopped.

  3. I hear government voices as I'm taking part In an involuntary study ( they inserted a chip in my brain when I had an operation) they too try to get me to kill or hurt myself as opposed to anyone else . I'm hoping my psychiatrist can help me identify these people especially the 2 that I see/hear most often . So far they've tried to say I have obsessive intrusive thoughts and I'm thinking these things which I most definitely am not and now they're trying to get me to take risperidone for schizophrenia !!!!'