Hearing Voices: Talk Therapy, Healthier Lifestyle, or What Else is There? Part 2

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Aside from prescription medication for quieting psychosis and voices, what else is there?  Part one of this post [here] looked at talk therapy as one way to learn to live with the symptom of hearing voices.  The organization Intervoice considers the ‘symptom’ a personality trait, and promotes a positive view of the experience.  Still, not everyone wants to live with the trait.

Healthier Lifestyle

On the website’s comment section which followed information about voices, one woman named Natalie explains how she found relief from the voices without talk therapy:

“I work out 2 or 3 times a week, and I do volunteering tasks, in open plan officy environments, combined with my Walkman on, and based at home, I’ll go out on shopping errands, to help me get fresh air, and not feel irritable, and do my knitting or cross stitching depending the mode I’m in, and listening to carefully selected music.”1

Another woman described her year-long experience with managing intrusive thoughts.  Esther posted the following:

  • “I did a onetime single dose of sleeping medication and that got my sleep cycle back on track.
  • I stopped taking caffeine.
  • I developed healthy rituals and was committed to them: eating healthy food at regular intervals throughout the day, in a proper balance with lots of raw fruit/veg and mostly vegetarian proteins. Lots of healthy fats/oils.
  • I took a multivitamin.
  • I went for a walk in fresh air everyday.
  • I did yoga and meditation. Yoga/meditation is supposed to re-balance any imbalances (hormonal, emotional etc). It really worked for me. Many real yoga studios will give you reduced rates according to income, or let you work in exchange for yoga classes. You just have to ask!
  • Antianxiety medications prescribed by a doctor
  • Stop using recreational drugs (for me it was weed – I had to quit because it was toxic for me)
  • Forcing myself to socialize every few days instead of secluding myself.
  • A ‘spa’ every night before bed. This was just a simple long shower with candles in the bathroom to make it feel special.
  • I had to ignore those voices telling me I didn’t deserve to feel loved or happy. I used positive reinforcements – sometimes even shouting them in my mind – I DO Deserve to feel loved by the universe. Meditation really really helped with this. Every time I looked in the mirror, I told myself that I am a good person inside. I am worthy of happiness. God or the creator or the universe or whoever Loves me TOO.
  • It took about six months for the thoughts to stop. It took another 6 months for me to start believing some of the good stuff. I still work at it. If I miss too much sleep, my anxiety comes back. I really have to stick with my yoga, healthy food and regular sleep.
    Hope this helps somebody. You are Loved.”1

Did Natalie or Esther have a diagnosis of schizophrenia?  I don’t know, neither is it clear what caused unwanted voices or intrusive thoughts.  Both women took a multi-pronged approach which, for Esther,  included medication for anxiety.

What Else is There?

If you cannot work on managing or eliminating voices as consistently as Natalie or Esther did, the  Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa New Zealand compiled a list called Coping Stategies2 which includes a variety of ways to help yourself.  On the 3-page resource you’ll find solutions such as prayer and healing alongside healthy eating and relaxation techniques.  “Ignoring the voices” follows “shouting at the voices” on the list, which shows no one strategy works for everyone.

Whether you take medication or not, you might find some of the suggestions helpful.  If nothing else, take comfort in the fact that others are finding ways to live with intrusive voices. Rather than fear what you’ll discover or dread the work it will take to decrease symptoms, pick one suggestion and ask someone to help you stick with it.  Then pick another…

1    http://www.intervoiceonline.org/support-recovery/a-practical-guide
2    http://www.intervoiceonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/25.pdf