‘Believing me is crucial’: How to talk to somebody who is hearing voices

Rai Waddingham, who contributed to the BBC Horizon programme ‘Why did I go mad?’, first experienced a vision aged just seven. Of course, this unexpected event terrified her. Now, when Rai reflects on her experiences, she can find meaning in them and she has learned to live more in harmony with her voices, visions, feelings and beliefs. And so has her family.

Rai said: ‘My experiences don’t come with a guidebook. If friends, family and supporters want to understand what I’m going through, they need to talk with me about it. ‘It’s helpful if they position themselves as learners. They can learn from me about what I’m experiencing, if I feel comfortable enough to talk about it. ‘In talking about it with people I trust, I begin to learn things about my experience too – and ask questions of myself I’d never thought to ask. ‘A sound engineer once asked me whether my voices sounded different in different spaces – a small room or a large cathedral. It was one of the best questions I’ve been asked because neither of us knew the answer – I had to listen to my experiences in a different way. ‘More than that, it wasn’t a ‘mental health’ question – he was interested and open to hearing what it was like for me. It’s these kinds of conversations that have helped me feel less freakish and alone.’

Rai also agrees with Dr Gilligan about acknowledging her voices and emotions. She said: ‘It’s important to me that my friends and family recognise that the voices I hear and visions I see are my reality – I’m not making them up; they’re not figments of my imagination.

Source: Metro UK, 20th May 2018

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