My son has always denied hearing voices or having hallucinations, his main symptom was delusions. He has been on a monthly injection of Haldol for 5 months now and everytime he goes to get the injection they will ask him if he’s been hearing things or seeing things and he always says no. He even expressed frustration once saying “why do they keep asking me that”. Well the other night he brought it up and said he doesn’t hear voices but maybe his own voice. Would this qualify as hearing voices or just rapid thoughts? And, if it is, why would voices start now after becoming stabilized on the injection? Or could it be that the more stabilized he becomes he will begin the recognize his symptoms?
The experience of “hearing voices” for me is quite difficult to describe. At times it can be a bit like an inner monologue run amok or having an internal debate with yourself. Or my most common experience is it’s as if I hear something at the edge of my hearing and I listen closely and try to make out who’s speaking and what they are saying. There have been times when I’ve been in a crowded restaurant and I’ve tried to follow multiple conversations, sometimes I can follow them all, sometimes not, but it’s often exhausting. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve experienced the stereotypical disembodied voice people who haven’t experienced “voices” believe represents the experience.
For reference, I’d liken them more to “ear worms” of songs that pops in your head or your mind’s “ear” playing back catchphrases from your favorite movie or tv show, or familiar voices of parents or teachers “ringing in your ears”. Since you know these don’t exist, you don’t consider them voices and your psyche works overtime to create plausible explanations why you are “hearing” them to defend yourself from the distaste of thinking yourself “crazy”.
As a musician and singer, I have the ability to play back music in my head— to know how songs, go. It isn’t perfect and I don’t expect it to be, but to me it’s “natural” and I didn’t think it was unusual until I spoke to people who aren’t musical. I learned recently that some people (free of a diagnosis) have no inner monologue at all, just as some people (myself included) can not visualize, and was surprised to learn that people could close their eyes and actually “see” things from their imagination or even “see” things with their mind’s eye with their eyes open. We accept what is “normal” as our own experience.
Delusions are similar for me and some other diagnosed people. John Nash is famous for having replied to an interviewer who asked how he came to believe wild notions and conspiracies when he was such an accomplished mathematician. He said the ideas for his breakthroughs came to him in much the same way as delusional conspiracies did. “Voices” are similar to how ideas might pop in your head when “normal”. It can be confusing to figure out where they came from and how they popped into your head. Was it some Proustian event that triggered a memory, or maybe the lyrics to a poem or song? Who knows?
I can’t say exactly how he experiences these things or whether it will change over time. I would take him at his word about how he describes these experiences. I think “normal” people don’t realize how varied their own “realities” and thinking processes are, because they take for granted that their thinking processes are “normal” and have rarely been asked to explain and defend their thinking processes or have their “realities” challenged. If they did, they may come to realize how difficult it is to describe cognition and how frustrating it can be when people tell them they aren’t thinking or perceiving things “correctly” and would have more empathy for people with anasognosia.
Thank you @Maggotbrane ! I am constantly in awe of your ability to articulate aspects of this illness! Pointing out things that should be obvious, ie people without it are never challenged to explain their thought processes is such an enlightening perspective. I just felt like he was telling me that because it was bothering him and he was looking to me for an explanation or reassurance that he was okay. I never know exactly how to answer, like how to ease his concerns without disregarding it. I wish he would tell his therapist or nurse these things but the next time they ask him chances are he will deny it again.
Hearing voices is probably quite varied – anything from imagining nearby people muttering to loud, distinct in-your-face voices coming at you in a room. In my son’s case the experience is not ambiguous – he would very much agree that he’s bothered by voices.
My daughter has been on haloperidol dec shot for almost 3 years now. The most dramatic improvements were in the first 6 months, but she has steadily improved.
She still hears voices, still talks to them occasionally, and would never admit either to her psychiatrist, psychologist or me until recently. Most people with schizophrenia don’t have insight into their own symptoms. She doesn’t think she “hears voices”. She thinks she is in touch with several people who are able to leave their bodies to talk to her. One lives in New York, but talks to her here in Florida. That was and is “normal” to her, so she got offended at being asked if she “hears voices”.
By the way, I always reassure her if she has concerns that whatever is bothering her is not that unusual as millions of people out of the billions here on Earth have had the same experience. (Which is true, as 20 million plus people have schizophrenia according to the WHO.) Then I ask, “how can I help you?” and she usually talks it out.
It’s been almost 6 months that he’s been on the haloperidol dec shot and though we’ve seen great improvement, he seems to have definitely had periods of somewhat decompensation. Thankfully nothing major but you hate to see it when so much improvement has been made. I guess progress is never linear.
Hi @Cat_Nip . I can totally understand your feelings. It seems though that the important thing to keep in mind IS the improvement made. And not the symptoms that still exist.
My heart bleeds for people on this forum whose loved ones have not been helped much by their many attempts at improvement/medication/treatment.
I feel very lucky that my daughter has had so much gain in her battle with schizophrenia. I am very glad that your son is showing great improvement. It is likely to continue, the improvement, over time, in my opinion.
For example, my daughter just a few days ago, on her own, went to the YMCA and signed us both up there. It was her idea. She borrowed my car, went by herself, found out the details, negotiated a price, and signed up, telling me about it afterwards when she gave me the intro papers. She also did a trip, alone to California in July to see her aunt and grandmother, first trip to see them since before 2016 when her illness started. I made all of the arrangements (flight, hotel, sending them the itinerary) but she did it on her own, even navigating the huge Dallas/Fort Worth airport to another terminal for the connecting flight (with my help on the phone). Both of these achievements would have been totally impossible just a few years ago, even on her medication.
Give your son time, don’t pressure him, be kind, and appreciate your own successes in helping him navigate his new life. I wish you both the best.
That is so wonderful for your daughter! She is an inspiration and gives me so much hope for my son’s future! And you are right, my focus should be on where my son is now- safe and at home and actually doing extremely well considering where we were months ago. If things today were still completely chaotic with him I would be pleading to God to be where we are now! I also feel such heartache for those with much more challenging situations.
Thank you for the continued encouragement! It helps more than you know
You are so very welcome, @Cat_Nip . Encouragement and hope and acceptance are vital virtues for facing the turmoils of severe mental illness. I do totally understand you. I can never forget the absolute pits of despair I was in when my daughter first got ill in 2016 and during the years before successful medication. The sobbing grief and heart-wrenching helplessness were very real.
I am so glad to be able to help.