Many people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder experience the troubling symptom of hearing voices. I hear voices. I hear them often. It’s a breakthrough symptom even for those of us on medication. But there is one time when I experience schizophrenic/schizoaffective voices the most.
Medication Changes Make Me Hear Schizophrenic, Schizoaffective Voices More
I hear schizoaffective disorder voices most often when I am undergoing a medication change. My doctor and I are changing my medication right now and the voices have stepped up in frequency. I am hearing them as often as twice a week.
I don’t know if the cause is that I’m going through a medication change and a period of adjustment to it, or the fact that medication changes make me nervous. I have a feeling it’s a little bit of both. In the past, anxiety has brought on the voices. However, more recently—during this medication change specifically—they seem to come out of the blue with greater frequency.
Hearing Schizophrenic, Schizoaffective Voices at a Restaurant
The din of other customers at a restaurant is a big culprit for making me hear voices. A few days ago, my husband Tom and I walked into an empty restaurant. Little did we know we arrived at the beginning of the evening rush—one by one, the booths and tables filled up. Suddenly we were in a very noisy restaurant.
Towards the end of dinner, I remember asking Tom to talk about something so I could focus on his voice instead of on the din of chatter around us. At that time, I thought I might be hearing voices but I couldn’t quite tell. I did notice that sometimes in the surrounding cacophony, I thought I heard people talking about me, a tell-tale sign that I am hearing schizoaffective voices. I knew for sure I was hearing them as we walked back to the car.
How I Cope with Schizophrenic, Schizoaffective Voices
I’ve gotten so used to telling myself, “people are not really talking about me,” while hearing voices that it’s become a reflex I don’t really have to think about. So has knowing—not telling myself, but knowing—that the voices aren’t real. I honestly don’t know what it’s like for other people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. I just know that, for me, it’s crucial that I don’t “buy into” the voices by letting them trick me into thinking they’re real or that the things they are saying are true. It’s also crucial that I find something soothing to distract me, like watching a DVD of a mellow concert (my favorite DVD for this is an intimate Tori Amos concert). I also drink a lot of water.
It’s frustrating not only to deal with a medication change–even though I know it will ultimately make me feel better–but to also deal with hearing voices more often during the transition. I would like to someday never have to worry about hearing voices. But, for now, I’m very lucky in that I have Tom and the rest of my family as well as my doctors to rely on for support. I’m fortunate I have developed coping strategies for dealing with the voices that work for me. I’m sharing them in the hopes that they may help you, too.