Today, September 14th, is World Hearing Voices Day.
All kinds of people all round the world hear all kinds of voices that only they hear.
Three-in-four of us will have at least one period in our life where we do too, often around significant life events like major illness loss of a loved one.
About one-in-seven of us will be hearing a voice [at least one] that only we hear right now – so that’s about 1.4billion people.
We will likely be told that what we hear- what we experience – is not “real”.
People who live in different cultures will have different ways of making sense of, different beliefs of the meaning of such experiences – and so have differing experiences of what they do experience.
Even people born congenitally deaf who have never heard a human voice, hear voices too. I have met many.
Though we don’t hear much about it, and for obvious reasons: we have made a world for ourselves in which we can’t talk about what is a very common experience, most people who hear voices are fine, even find something meaningful, sometimes spiritual about their experience. And many who do struggle find ways and the support they need to find their way too.
Of course, some people do struggle, and some struggle greatly, with what they do experience and when they do find courage to share they find that other people don’t understand and that they can be shunned, vilified and treated as monsters, or otherwise very badly, so come to struggle more, and struggle alone.
More sadly, and for those who struggle most, often the voices that they hear and struggle alone with – often relate to difficult life experiences, and often difficult live experiences in childhood.
What voices say, when, how they say it, what they sound like, how we feel when we hear them often relates to those painful past experiences – the pain of which stays rooted within us and manifests in different ways unique to each of us.
“Trauma is not a story about what happened but what we hold inside in absence of empathetic witnesses.
When we cannot speak our pain, our pain finds its own voice – and speaks –
and only we can hear.
Hearing Voices Network
The Hearing Voices Network operates around the world in more than 30 countries on five continents and for well over 30 years to connect and support those who do struggle.
World Hearing Voices Day is about celebrating that.
If you want to do something to mark the day here’s a suggestion:
You can watch a movie documentary – made in Toronto – or free using your library card.
It’ll also be coming to TVO soon.
Be ye forewarned: I’m in it- but don’t let that put you off, and feel fee to fast forward, its not about me.
Drunk On Too Much Life follows a young woman in her search for support and understanding- and too their family’s search for the same. They came to a point at which they asked of the help offered by “the system”: “‘is that it ?”
And started to look outside of what was offered from health and other services and found other ways of understanding and making meaning. Thee movie shares some of that and some of the ideas and approaches they along the way.
This is an all too common experience. When we find ourselves struggle and seek help we often find the help offered isn’t very helpful, and doesn’t, cannot, does not how how to, or is unwilling to listen, let alone understand.
And, whether we find that what is offered to us is helpful or not, we will always benefit from asking questions like: “what else is out there?
We made the kind of very human struggle living in this world that we call “mental illness” all about half-truths, lies and drugs- and who has power to decide what is “normal”and what is not.
Its time we made it about people.
It is time for a different story .
Watch Drunk On Too Much Life
Sign up using your library card – or student / university login.
Drunk On Too Much Life – Trailer