There is such an untapped wealth of knowledge and wisdom that comes from people’s personal experiences of finding their way through life.
Integrated Voices (its current working title) is a website being developed by Hearing the Voice in Durham and when I first heard about the plan to create this online resource, I got really and properly excited.
I don’t often get really and properly excited. I’m not an excitable person – I am more of a reflective and calm (outwardly anyway) kind of person.
When I do get excited, several of the voices I hear will start commenting on my thoughts and feelings. Especially one voice will get very active, telling me all the reasons why getting excited about anything is a bad idea. I am pretty sure she sees herself as ‘the voice of reason’ but I just find myself feeling more anxious when she comes along. I don’t like feeling anxious. She thinks a bit of anxiety is healthy and will keep me safe. We have debates about this, her and I, in my mind.
As far back as I can remember I have heard and sensed things that other people don’t. Invisible beings – both friendly and scary, critical voices in my mind, disembodied voices from my environment, repetitive voices, loud voices, supportive voices, annoying voices, presences using non-verbal communication and many more experiences like this.
When I was about 8 I realised that not everyone has these experiences and for the following 15 years I tried to figure out what was going on for me. And I was trying to figure it out on my own.
Back then the internet was just in its infancy, so most information came through books. I ended up reading books on spirituality, psychology and psychiatry without finding much that seemed useful to me. Eventually I started reaching out for help from others and in 2005 I joined a project in Aarhus (Denmark) for people who had experiences similar to mine.
It was such a relief to find a community.
Connecting with others, sharing stories, ideas and strategies and getting creative together about ways to cope when things were difficult. Sharing difficulties and joys, supporting each other and witnessing each other’s journeys. It was a new experience for me because I was used to feeling like a bit of an alien and on the outside of things going on around me.
Being part of the project fired up a passion in me for destigmatising experiences often seen as ‘abnormal’ or ‘psychotic’ such as hearing or sensing things that others don’t.
I know that I was lucky to find community and information that was useful to me. I have heard many people talk about how difficult it is to find information that feels relevant to their personal situation.
Even though the internet has come out of its infancy and is now bursting with all sorts of information, it is striking that there still isn’t a website such as the one Hearing the Voice is aiming to develop. There are particularly two things that got me wanting to get involved; the team at Hearing the Voice is looking for diverse experiences and they are wanting to make the website as engaging and accessible as possible.
We believe that it is important that this section of the website is developed by people with personal experience of hearing voices and includes a variety of different perspectives and experiences. We want the website to reach out to as many people as possible, to feel accessible, engaging and ‘real’, and to showcase knowledge gained through lived experience, alongside that which comes from research.
Hearing the Voice
From now and until May 4th I will be trying to collect as many stories, quotes and ideas about coping as possible. These contributions will help shape the Integrated Voices website and hopefully make it feel relevant to a diverse range of people looking for information.
I am getting support from my partner Rufus and help from the team at Hearing the Voice to do this work – and so far I am quite enjoying myself.
I am aware that calling it ‘hearing voices’ doesn’t resonate with everyone. We would love to hear from people who have experiences such as djinns, spirit guides, schizophrenia, auditory hallucinations, persecution, electronic harassment, intrusive thoughts, thought transmissions, inner voices, ancestors and invisible presences.
If you are reading this and you have personal experience of hearing and sensing things that others don’t, please consider if you want to contribute in one way or another.
If you are supporting someone who hears or senses things it would be great if you could make them aware of this project and find out if they want to contribute.
There is also a questionnaire for family, friends and supporters which you can find HERE.
We have launched an online questionnaire. It consists of about 10 open ended questions about everyday life with experiences such as voices, coping with these experiences and talking about them with others.
Go to questionnaires HERE
If you prefer a word document or paper version of the questionnaire you can contact me to arrange this.
We will be facilitating two focus group sessions – one in Manchester on Friday May 4th and one in London on Thursday May 3rd see more HERE
If you would like to share your experiences and ideas about coping in a 1 to 1 interview you are welcome to get in touch. We might be able to meet to do the interview depending on where you live but we could also do it over the phone. We would like to audio record interviews to make sure we don’t miss anything or misunderstand. Any material we collect will be kept securely and won’t be shared with anyone without your permission.
If you are interested or have any questions about interviews, please contact me by email email@example.com
Visiting Hearing Voices groups
I am arranging to visit different Hearing Voices Groups in the UK to have informal sessions where people can share their knowledge and stories. If you are a member or a facilitator of a group and you want to contribute you are welcome to get in touch and we can look at different possibilities.
Deadline for participating will be May 4th
Contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07926685432
Information about Integrated Voices and Hearing the Voice
Hearing the Voice is currently working with members of the voice-hearing community to develop Integrated Voices – a new online resource that will help people find clear, balanced and comprehensive information about hearing and experiencing things that could be understood as ‘voices’.
The hope is that Integrated Voices will make it easier for people to find information about different approaches to hearing voices and ways of supporting those who are struggling with the voices they hear.
The website will have 3 key sections:
- Understanding Voices
- Living with Voices
- Working with Voices
Each section will have modules linking to a variety of resources, multi-media, freely accessible research articles, personal narratives, reviews of the evidence base for specific therapies and (where appropriate) sources of support.
Hearing the Voice (HtV) is an eight-year multidisciplinary research project based in Durham, UK.
It combines insights from the humanities and sciences to provide a better understanding of the experience of hearing voices.
The project is funded by a Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award in Humanities and Social Sciences until 2020.
More information about Hearing the Voice: www.hearingthevoice.org