Life as a voice hearer

This video is a clip from training delivered by Peter Bullimore to care workers in Sheffield in April 2013.  In the clip Peter talks through how the Hearing Voices Network suggests it is possible to support and work alongside a voice hearer.  Peter talks about the process in the context of his own experiences.

I still have my voices, they are there all the time, I don’t want to get rid of them, they serve a protective function.  Classical psychiatry would say Peter Bullimore can't be recovered because he hears voices all the time.  But my working week is 70 or 80 hours, if I go over 80 hours my voices get very loud and very destructive.  They start talking about the past when I was disempowered as a child and had no control.  I look at the metaphor in that.  My voices are telling me not to create a vulnerability in myself like when I was a child, you need to take control and reign things in a bit you had no control then but you do now.  As a child I couldn’t change things but as an adult I can, I can stop and slow down. I need to look after myself.  My voices are my early warning signs.  If you took them away  I wouldn't have them to warn me and I would probably run myself into the ground. 

I want to work with my voices.  We live in a world that is very keen on distraction techniques, which can only ever be a short term solution.  It might work for a voice hearer for a while but you can’t distract for ever.  If you have children and they want your attention they persist until they get it: Mum – just a minute!  Mum – just a minute!  Eventually you have to stop and say – what do you want?  It's the same with voices – if you continually ignore them they will persist and become angrier.  I have got a message for you and you are going to listen!  The relationship is not there.  You have a relationship with the children whether that’s good or bad.  It's the same with voices – you can have a relationship with them.  You can argue with voices – I’ve argued with mine for hours on end, maybe I should step back it takes two people to maintain a conflict.  Maybe I should listen to this person's point of view and what they are trying to say.  Because its metaphorical its difficult to work it out sometimes, voices can bring awful messages but we always say don’t shoot the messenger.  They have something very important to say – we have to listen to them. 

My voices are there all the time, in the background, but I know when I have to stop and take notice.  If they want to get a message across they will get very loud – so I know with the tone and the frequency that is when I need to turn my attention to them.  April and May are very difficult for me so in these months my voices get very loud and very critical.  Both my parents died in April and I had a son that died in May – there is nothing we can do about death and loss but we carry guilt because we like to keep loved ones alive so my voices will feed off the guilt and persecute me for that.  In the past this has led me to suicide attempts but when I started to listen to the message of the voices and they are saying things like – you murdered your mother, you murdered your son, I go to the cemetery and the voices can be very loud.  I lay flowers in remembrance and I thank the voices – than you for reminding me its this time of year.  So it turns the whole thing around.  It actually turns it into a positive.

On a day to day basis I can tune away from the voices, so my voices are here now but talking to you is more important so I am focusing on what you are saying.  You can understand though, how confusing and difficult the world can be for someone who is hearing voices for the first time.  They are in torment.  Performing basic social acts like holding a conversation or listening to instructions is almost impossible.

Hearing voices
Life as a voice hearer