The last time I saw my diagnosis a couple of years ago at the age of 14; I had emerging borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, recurring depressive disorder and high levels of anxiety. But the hardest thing for people to understand is the fact that I hear voices.
I have experienced a lot of stigma surrounding my voices
I have experienced a lot of stigma surrounding my voices. It’s like people instantly think you’re an alien or you should be locked up, when that is actually far from the truth. Hearing voices is just my brain’s way of coping with the things I have experienced in life, it doesn’t make me crazy, and it enables me to survive. Although these voices say hurtful things at times, I’ve learnt how to cope and manage them, but people don’t understand that for some people, hearing voices is a part of everyday life. Even though I hear voices, I still live a good life, I have good family, good friends, and I am now doing levels at college. After the trauma I experienced, my brain could not cope with life anymore, so it found a way that made it possible to survive, and now that I’ve learnt to cope with voices and am better managing my emotions, I am able to get top grades in college, see my friends and cope with all the pressures in life.
The first person I told about the voices I heard was a friend
The first person I told about the voices I heard was a friend, and they didn’t react in a good way, they stopped talking to me which just made me feel worse. Not everyone reacted that way though; my real friends and family were supportive. There was one time that stigma really hurt and I will never forget it.
My mental health does not define who I am
After coming out of hospital on a brief admission, I asked a friend if I could stay over, and she asked her mum, but her mum said no because she thought I would kill her children because I hear voices. This is because there was a story of someone suffering with schizophrenia murdering someone in the media; however this is very rare and should not be generalized to all voice hearers. This was so horrible for me to experience because the fact I hear voices, does NOT make me a murderer, and never will. 2 years on I still hear these voices, I am now 16, I’ll probably have to put up with them for a long time yet, but it doesn’t make me a murderer, or crazy, or alien or someone to stay away from. It does not define who I am. I can still live life and I’m not ashamed to share my experiences because I want to challenge stigma.
On World Mental Health day, I spoke out about my experience at college
On World Mental Health day, I spoke about my experiences to challenge stigma at my college, I told about 400 people and it was amazing to see how many reacted in a positive way, and I felt like a weight had been lifted that I didn’t have to hide part of myself anymore. Being a Time to change champion has helped me find a way to get something good out of everything, I can spread the word and challenge stigma, which I feel is what I want to do with my life, just make it easier and more acceptable for people to talk about mental health and understand that it is okay.