Hearing Voices Group and Network
Then a social worker contacted me and said ‘did you know there’s a Hearing Voices Group with Sheffield Mind’. So I said ‘no’. He said ‘Do you want to go?’ So I said ‘No!’.
Now I had become the archetypal schizophrenic, you know I didn’t wash, I was scruffy, I didn’t shave. But he persuaded me to go to this group. I went one day and there was ten other people there. What really struck me was they were all smart and presentable. I remember thinking ‘Well they can't be schizo. They should be scruffy like me’. So they started to share their experiences and I thought – this is where I belong. I can take the mask off that I had been wearing for years. Because my family said ‘Don’t tell anyone what’s wrong with you’. So I was stuck living a lie.
The social worker then said ‘would you like to come to a workshop?’. Now that term always baffled me. We turned up at St Matthew’s Church Hall and I thought – well where’s the benches – what we going to make?’
So in walk three people from the Hearing Voices Network and they started sharing their experiences of recovery. And what really struck me was that they were saying that the voices related to life experiences. I suddenly thought – perhaps there’s another explanation for all this?
The general perspective from services that I was getting was - you’ve got this degenerative mental health problem and you will have to take drugs for the rest of your life. I was also told I would never ever work again as well. So a very negative - your life is over -attitude. You are going to be stuck in this system, you are going to be dependent on other people.
So I thought well you know what, there is something else happening out there. Another viewpoint on this. But it took me a long time to go back to that train of thought I suppose, because I was trying to rationalize things. You know. I was trying to figure it all out. What is this crazy world that I am living in? I couldn’t make sense of it, because no-one had tried to explain it. So I decided to evaluate my own life.
At this point, I had stopped going to the group, and I didn't realise how much support I was loosing. I had stopped listening to Sally and to Paul. But I was very fortunate. They didn't give up on me.