People Living With Schizophrenia Share The Voices Inside Their Head.

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that impacts how an individual determines what is real and what is not. The following AskReddit users share their own personal experiences with having schizophrenia, and what it's like to hear voices in their head. 

Sources available at the end. 


Four voices. Three male, one young female.

The female voice howls, screams, and cries when I'm in public places. She whispers that people hate me and want me dead. She encourages delusions of persecution, paranoia, and violent acts.

One of the male voices is the complete opposite. He encourages me, tells me how much smarter I am than everyone. He encourages delusions of grandeur, power, and superiority.

The other two voices are wild and unpredictable. They'll tell me to kill everything and everyone. Then, they'll switch and lull me with lies about how in control I am, how I don't need medication, and that it's poison. My therapists are trying to wipe my brain and make me into a blank slate.

I've had auditory hallucinations since childhood. It took years to be diagnosed correctly. I had doctors say I was faking for attention because little kids aren't schizophrenic.

I've been in just about every antipsychotic medication available. I've been institutionalized. I was pulled out of high school and put into an alternative school.

I hate the medication, but I need it. I want to live like everyone else, but I can't. People don't hang around once they find out I'm ill. I'm jealous of normal people, and at times, I feel luckier than them. I'm never alone. They'll always be with me.

CuntyMcFuckerton

When I was six, when I was alone, I would hear ringing in my ears. If I sat there and made the ringing go louder (mentally, somehow), at some point, the ringing would stop, and I would hear voices. Just my name mockingly and laughter. It always went away as soon as I found someone to talk to, no one thought anything of it for some reason. After a few times, I just didn't make the ringing go louder and didn't have any problems after that. I was diagnosed with prodromal schizophrenia when I was eighteen and was part of an early intervention program. I was never hospitalized. I've had other symptoms, but I have dealt with them very successfully through breathing meditation. I'm on a new medication now and haven't had symptoms for three months. Medication is going a long way and has fewer side effects. I'm socializing more and making new friends, but I'll probably always be a little odd, but that's just a part of who I am. 

mashhog

I've struggled with this all my life. I usually hear screaming that no one else seems to hear. I try to put it out of my mind. I've gone to doctor after doctor, and while the medicine and therapy help a little, I know I am stuck with this for the rest of my life. If I'm in a public place, I've learned to just not act any different. Don't look around if I hear screaming (even if someone may actually be screaming). I know people judge people for having this condition, but it's really hard to live like this. I also often feel like I'm being followed by this shadow that harasses me. It won't go away.

corelanne

My grandma had paranoid schizophrenia, but she died when I was young, so most of my stories are hand-me-downs from my mom.

She had good times and bad times, but when they were bad, they were really bad. The most prevalent would have been when she would hear angels talking to her, which sounds nice, but these angels were telling her that the devil had infested the souls of people around her and that it was her duty to cleanse/kill them.

Schizophrenic patients aren't usually dangerous. We used to live next to a really docile schizophrenic who would just ramble. So, this isn't necessarily a representative example, but her hallucinations (and eventual delusions) were dangerous.

itscirony

This is really late, so it'll probably be buried. I hear one voice. It's a bit different from what I've seen described here. The voice is coupled with a visual hallucination, so I see and hear a young, teenage girl. She keeps me from loneliness, and I'm never without her. However, she keeps me from sleeping, and I literally have to be absolutely exhausted just to fall asleep. I can have interactive conversations with her, and I can feel her, but it's not an actual feeling, more like how you can 'feel' in a dream. Lately, it's gotten a bit worse, and she's begun telling me violent things like, "Kill", "Thrash", and "Bang", but I've not seen a doctor or told anyone about this because I fear people would view me differently, and as though I'm crazy. Although I will admit that mentally I am not at all normal, I also don't want to live in a world without her. I've been bullied and made fun of my whole life, and she brings me up and tells me how great I am, but at the same time, it scares me that this might actually harm me eventually. It's a love/hate thing.

NerfNidalee

My brother has schizophrenia, but I never really understood what it was like. He told me that he hears a little girl hissing, whispering, and screaming all at the same time, saying that he's worthless and that he should kill himself. That he should steal from people because they don't deserve it. That he should hurt people because they hate him, everybody hates him. 

traviesaurus 

It isn't easy, but I think schizophrenics are so stigmatized when a lot of us are just trying to get through our days without getting hurt! My hallucinations are often auditory. I had a voice who I thought was an angel telling me I needed to go back to God, which led to some very confusing and distressing episodes where I either tried to climb on my roof to get closer to heaven or tried to kill myself, very scary time in my life, but ultimately driven by fear that I was hurting people in my life on Earth, and I just wanted to keep everyone safe by leaving. 

Had a period of time where I was convinced I was a part of the Monarch experiment, which was basically the idea that the government was controlling me and had a trigger word to set me off (for me, it was the word "purge", which is still an awful word for me, and I feel ill even typing it). 

When I'm unmedicated, I'm usually worse. I am sure there are more things that I do that I don't realize are schizophrenia things. Most of the time, I don't know the difference between what is real and what is not.

spencercore

It's usually a T.V. broadcaster speaking in another room, even though the T.V. in front of me is off, or a family member talking to themselves, even though I don't live with them. I talked to a doctor about it, and we both agreed that it's no big deal, so long as it doesn't disrupt my normal life. He gave me no further tests as a result.

wordsworths_bitch

Nearly a year ago, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, depressive type.

Every day has a different mood or tone. Good days, it's like I don't have it. Bad days are... very, very bad. One several bad days, I've taken extreme measures, trying to harm myself. I've tried to kill myself five times before.

It's hard for me to talk about this. I hid my symptoms for most of my life and only recently was I diagnosed. Even now, I'm kind of still hiding it. I lock my meds up. I ignored whatever I hear and see, and pretend that I'm fine. Only my therapist and my parents know.

What a lot of people talk about is hearing voices telling them to do things. It was never like that for me. I could always hear the voices, just in the other room, mumbling, and occasionally I could hear my name.

Like this: "mumbleuglymumble[name]mumble[laughter]

I could never find the people talking about me. I used to call out for them, "Hello? Who's there?" but I never got an answer. It drove me insane. I would run around the house, trying to find them, and make them stop talking about me- how ugly I was, how fat I was, and how useless I was.

Mirrors are the worst thing about it. This is probably the fourth time I have ever said this, but I think that "doctors" spy on me through the mirrors, and if I don't complete my ritual of wiping down the mirror, splashing it with water, and wiping it down again, then they could hear everything I said or did. I also used to think that doctors were hiding in my walls, listening to me, and that if I pressed my ear to the wall and held my breath, I could hear them.

I have torn down walls before to get to them.

I know the "doctors" aren't real. There is no government facility tracking my every movement and recording me through reflections. No doctors hiding in mirrors, and no they aren't trying to kill me because I know about them. But still, I get a little anxious around mirrors and like the same with being photographed and recorded.

I used to think that if I didn't splash water on the stove burner after making a meal that would mean the doctors had poisoned it, and I would die if I ate it. I don't eat any food that I didn't prepare because it might be poisoned. That's probably one of the silliest things I've had.

Recently, however, I've been experiencing more and more nightmares and visual hallucinations. The most common one I get is this dark shadow, a full body silhouette of a man, standing against the window. It doesn't matter where I am, or even what floor I'm on (I've seen him standing outside a window that's on a third floor), he's there. I usually ignore him. He's been there so long that it's kind of normal for me to see him.

Other visual hallucinations include people running, an owl with incredibly big eyes, and things like that. Nothing really "horror-movie."

I also used to self-harm. I've mostly stopped, thanks to therapy.

This will sound weird, so stay with me.

The doctors are trying to replace us with better copies. The copies don't eat or drink, and their eyes are actually recording devices.

Of course, this is insane, but I believed it, but I also knew that this was impossible at the same time. It was like the rational part of my brain and the irrational part were warring with each other constantly. The doctors were after me, and there were no doctors. Mirrors are just mirrors, nothing more, but also they are recording devices. The showerhead is a normal showerhead, but at the same time, it has a camera hidden inside of it.

Now, a usual day starts with me getting out of bed and performing the ritual on my bathroom, so the doctors don't record me. I've been trying to stop, but if I don't do it, I get a little panicky. So, I blast music. I pull down my curtains. I try to distract myself. I force myself to eat what my parents made me. I go to work and smile, and tell myself, "It's not real, it's not real, don't listen, you're doing good!"

I think I'm making progress, at least.

It's weird now too. Occasionally, thanks to my new medicine, the voices have stopped, and it's just silence. It's really, really strange, but they have been with me for so long that I feel strange when I can't hear them anymore. I still hate them more than anything, but I also feel weird when they are gone.

It's definitely getting better, easier. When people sympathize with me and my symptoms, I don't feel like a freak.

It's better now than it's ever been. Now, when I think about killing myself, I'm a little more hesitant. It used to be like, "Kill yourself? Oh, yeah, okay, let's go." I told my therapist repeatedly that the only reason I was still alive was because I couldn't put my parents through the pain. It's morbid, but I was waiting for them to die. I even had the means, the note, and the location. Now, it's just, well maybe it will get even better. Maybe I should wait a little longer.

bittercynic 

Most of my hallucinations are visual. I see men who watch me from a distance. Sometimes, if I look away, they get closer. I can never look at their faces because they look like a smeared oil painting if I try to focus on them. Sometimes they scream angry hateful things telling me to kill myself or others around me. No matter where I am, there is always at least one around. It can be very terrifying, especially when it's dark and silent, and I can hear one walking closer to me. I haven't seen a doctor because I fear they wouldn't believe me. I'm not at all expressive in my face or voice, so people regard me as very quiet and emotionless.

4theodd

I have just diagnosed with schizophrenia a week ago. I actually had a really bad episode a few days go on Tuesday where I kept hearing knocks on my dorm door and seeing someone outside through my peephole. Every time I opened the door, there wasn't anyone there. I stayed up all night convinced by voices in my head that he was in league with them, and he was there to burn me on a stake. This was my first serious visual hallucination, but for about a year now, I've been hearing voices and seeing small visual hallucinations.

Stoic_Moose

It was pretty subtle stuff at first. People would remember our interactions differently than I did. I'd recall things that were happening in the background (all auditory, I've never had anything visual) that no one else heard- like conversations I "overheard". I started really picking up on it when I went through a few months where I was staying at friends houses a lot. I would go to bed early, so I'd "hear" things going on outside or in the house that I'd ask about the next day, and they'd have no idea. Stuff like that. Now, like other people have said, it's more like background noise. It only gets intrusive when I have trouble sleeping or something.

pause_and_consider 

My schizophrenia got worse when I was about 16.

I was convinced that there were people in Pikachu masks waiting outside, ready to get me.

I couldn't leave my room. I stopped going to college and spent days just at my computer, terrified.

I also couldn't sleep. I'd only be able to sleep when I passed out from exhaustion.

I have one voice that speaks to me, but unlike most people with this illness, the voice is totally in my mind. It's my voice. Hearing yourself say horrible things is concerning. You can't really block out your own thoughts.

I remember when I was younger, I told my parents that I could hear people shouting in my head. So, I guess back then, it was different. This was the earliest "sign" if you'd like.

I see "signs" everywhere. That newspaper article? That's a message to me. The lyrics to a song I'm listening to? A warning. I've mainly managed to keep this part under control now.

I also have a pretty severe sense of self-importance. I don't believe that anyone can be more intelligent than I am. I can't really think about it like if I try to rationalize it, "Oh, that guy is clearly smarter than me." My mind kind of just draws a blank.

There's also a large aspect of my understanding of everything in general, but it's pretty abstract in my mind, and I really don't think I could put it into words...

I recently(ish) thought my cat was a shapeshifter, which in retrospect is pretty funny.

01theone01

I take medication for social anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Sometimes I hear things like a crying girl, the sound of a large fire, water rushing through pipes, a constant banging sound late at night- like someone is banging a wrench against a pipe, but that's not very often. I mostly see things like a fire, swarms of bats, and most frequently, a man wearing a black robe. He usually stands outside the window at night, and it scares the hell out of me. I named him Dread.

Noodle0100

I had an ex who grew up in an extremely religious household who also had schizo-affective disorder and manic depression. She told me that I should only REALLY worry about her when she started talking about being the new messiah and communicating with angels because that was apparently what happened to her during her first big breakdown in college. She told her philosophy professor that she had consulted with the angels, and she knew she was the second coming of Jesus.

Anonymous

I knew that something was off when I heard whispers of voices out of nowhere and couldn't tell if it was coming from another room. I don't have super hearing or anything, but I thought it was odd. I would check another room to find out that no one was there. Then, the voices got louder, and I would ask my girlfriend if she was hearing anything as well, and she said no, but I didn't believe her. I suddenly got paranoid and thought that someone was watching me from the other side of my T.V. screen and computer screen. I smashed my T.V. and computer as well as my phone because of it. So, it cost me a lot of money. I was also talking to the voices in my head, and it negatively impacted my daily function. I was always afraid of getting schizophrenia because my mom had it. So, I have seen how it could destroy a family. I was in denial for the past six months. I was also afraid of leaving my apartment for months. Since recently realizing the voices weren't real, I am not bothered by them as much and have been getting support from my girlfriend. Even though it has been hard on the both of us, she has stuck by me. I have recently changed psychiatrists because the one that I was seeing was dismissive, barely seemed to listen to me, and just upped my medication, which did nothing for my symptoms. I'm hoping my new psychiatrist will be helpful this time around.

Anonymous

I hear what sounds sort of like radio commercials. It sounds like different people talking for around 3-10 seconds before they cut off, and immediately someone else starts talking. Males and females. I can never really make out what they are saying though.

I hear a lot of whispering. Mostly just asking if I'm there, what I'm doing, who do I think I am, or trying to get my attention. I do my best to ignore them.

I can't stand silence, it gets too loud.

CatThighs 

I have multiple people living in my head, which is totally weird, but also kind of nice? Most of them are actually pretty cool (except Ryan and Kyle), and they leave me alone for the most part. Some of them are actually really talented at certain things, so if I ever need a math tutor or accordion lessons or whatever there's someone right there to help which has definitely helped keep my grades up during college. Hallucinating is weird. Most of my visual hallucinations are literal cartoons which are easy to manage, but I don't like mirrors because my reflection doesn't always match up with what it should.

broganisms

I am actually schizoaffective, which is the baby of schizophrenia and a mood disorder, in my case, bipolar. I experience auditory and visual hallucinations on a daily basis. I hear two voices, one male and one female. They team up against me to break me down. I see mainly dark shadow people. They are more than shadows, as they have a 3-dimensional shape. I also see people's faces change into grotesque, mutilated, and horrible versions. I experience delusions and paranoia also. Every time a car pulls out and is behind me at a distance, I become afraid they're following me. I also have delusions of those I love being possessed or replaced by demons seeking to trick and hurt me. But there is more than just positive symptoms. There are also negative symptoms such as brain fog, flattened affect, and emotions, as well as, others. I've had experiences of people not trusting me because of my diagnosis, and others say I'm lying. I've heard people calling for people like me to be fixed, so we can't have children. Calling for people to be institutionalized just because they're diagnosed with a disorder like mine. It can be scary for more reasons than just the symptoms.

LittlePusheenicorn

I'm 27-years-old and was just recently diagnosed with schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.

I'm on antipsychotic medications along with anti-anxiety meds and mood stabilizers. They seem to help tremendously. I'm fine most days as long as I continue to take the medication. I have some off days, and I still do have some disorganized speech and trouble concentrating, but overall, I can manage, and they have allowed me to lead a pretty normal and stable life.

That said, when symptoms do occur (especially when I'm not on meds), it can be terrifying. I'm sure symptoms and experiences differ for each individual, but for me, it's sort of like this:

I have some audial hallucinations, it's mostly visual along with a certain feeling. Imagine you're playing a horror game within virtual reality. You know deep down that nothing you're experiencing is real, yet at the same time, you are entrapped within another world. It's like I'm outside of my own body, and I'm sort of watching myself. I hear whispers, people screaming, lights tend to flicker. There are random "jump scares" as I call them where random objects or shadows flash before my eyes. During these episodes, I am in a constant state of fear. It's as if someone is behind me trying to hurt me, and I'm trying my best to run away, but I just can't escape. All "real" voices and people seem to be distorted. For example, if I look at my boyfriend or family members, their facial expressions may change, or they may begin to look like someone else entirely. I'm constantly paranoid. Everything is trying to harm me. People are vicious. Food is poisonous. Like I said before, it's like I'm stuck in a virtual world. Everything closes in, and I get tunnel-vision. Nothing is as it seems to be. I lose control of my own mind and body. The thoughts are not my own. What I see feels like I'm seeing it through someone else's eyes. I'm feeling things in third person. It's scary, and the worst part is, there's nothing I can really do except wait for it to be over.

As for the recurring voices, there's one who whispers my name and calls out to me, seemingly trying to help. I hear one voice screaming and talking indistinctively. And one is my own voice/thoughts, but they've turned, and often "tell me" to harm myself or other people or tell me to "run away."

Rhyvie

I have a little girl who whispers song softly to herself when I'm alone, and a woman who cries when I'm in public.

Chupathingy1

I don't have it, but my ex-girlfriend did. She told me she hears animals, dogs mostly. She also has told me that she sees people, just around. There was one she talked about in passing but never went deep into detail about. She called him Tom. From what she said, he's the one who encouraged her to hurt herself when she was younger and things of that sort. It was always very hard for her. I can't imagine.

StrangeApparition

Kids clapping and cheering. They keep clapping and clapping and laughing, like in a playground. Forever. Every hour of every day of my life.

numandina

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