by Golya Mirderikvand
It was exactly four years ago when my voice hearing experience first started. Dazed, confused, and convinced that spiritual beings were communicating with me, I was taken to the psychiatric ward of our local hospital, where I was certified for about two weeks. If you were to tell me then that these voices would still be around a few years later, I probably would not have believed you. I always regarded this experience as temporary and something that will come to pass; a short-lived spiritual training as I thought of it then.
The magical reality and beliefs I had come to accept, came to an abrupt end when I was given a mental health diagnosis by the medical community. Trying hard to make sense of my new experiences solely based on the medical model was a harsh new reality. After several months of various pharmaceutical drug treatments, I became disillusioned that the medical model alone was going to “fix” me. The voices were always there, constantly, no matter what medication or dose I was on. Thankfully, I caught on with the Hearing Voices Movement at a fairly early stage on my journey of recovery. I reached out to my nurse and asked that she put me in touch with a support group where I would be able to connect with other voice hearers. I went to the Hearing Voices Study Club and felt extremely relieved to connect with other people who had similar lived experiences. This group is a safe and welcoming space for people to share their experiences and alternative strategies that work for them. It was learning about these alternative approaches that gave me new tools to work with and ultimately healed me.
I came to realize that the content of my voices actually matter and that they cannot be just silenced with medication. It was extremely helpful to talk about the content of my voices with a therapist who helped me deconstruct them and get at the root of the underlying messages, which were often times linked to my insecurities and core beliefs. I learned to engage with my voices constructively and set clear boundaries. In short, I have learned to co-exist with my voices. I no longer reject the experience and by accepting it, I have managed to establish an amicable co-operative relationship where there’s mutual trust and respect. These days, rather than talking to me and distracting me all the time, my voices pick certain pre-established times of the day to chat with me. I welcome this and let them have their moment. I feel in complete control of the experience and can simply turn it off when I don’t want it around. Why might I still want this experience around, you might ask, if I can very well make it go away? Well, this brings me to another important point: this experience can be made into a positive one. There is a good percentage of people out there who hear voices and have come to see their experience as life enhancing and valuable.
Thanks to these alternative approaches that I have learned from other experts by experience, I have been able to live a full, engaging, and meaningful life, which involves me working full time and being an active member of my community.