Last weekend, I read an article in The Guardian entitled “I Talk Back to the Voices in My Head.”
The man in the article, Dean, is a schizophrenic. At 25, he began hearing voices and simultaneously began his personal journey of understanding his disease and treating himself. After years of unsuccessful medication, episodes of paranoia and self harming that led to several stays in mental institutions, he attended a mental health seminar where he heard about the Hearing Voices Network.
Dean met with the Hearing Voices Network. They gave him a simple tool. He was instructed to, “frankly and uncompromisingly talk back,” to the voices. The premise is that if any real person instructed us to hurt ourselves or those we cared about, the last thing we would do is follow their instructions. Instead of carrying out the instructions produced by their paranoid, schizophrenic minds in their real life, the patient actively combats them.
Dean began to try this. He would argue with the voices, reason with them and sometimes simply tell them he didn’t have time to talk right now and they needed to leave him alone. After time, he began to realize that the voices were the personification of negative thoughts he had about himself. That, he says, took the fear away and with it the power that they had in his life.
Dean has had success with this therapy. He is off medication and has successful relationships. He has even begun to hear a new voice – one that is positive and happy.
I found encouragement in Dean’s final quote: “I’ve learned that my voices themselves are not the problem. It’s my relationship with them that’s important. Facing them and working with them has changed my life and made me feel optimistic about it instead of scared.” I love articles like this because they demonstrate the amazing ability we have to overcome obstacles. We all have the ability to take control of our lives. Each of us has power if we will find a way to harness it.
My goal, as a mother both to Daniel and my more “typical” kids, is to help them find tools to harness their power. I want them all to realize they have a beautiful mind.