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How ‘Hearing Voices’ Led to My Disorganized Schizophrenia Diagnosis

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

We’ve all heard of “the little voice in your head.” It’s a common phrase people use when talking about their conscience. As a child, I assumed that’s what they were. I assumed everyone else heard the disembodied voices telling them things. My first memory of a hallucination is of 4-year-old me sitting in front of the stove as my mother was talking on the kitchen phone and making supper. I heard a deep voice telling me, “Reach up and spill it, it’s OK!” I looked and saw the voice was talking about the handle of a boiling pot of water. “Reach up! It won’t hurt!” I reached, but my mother snatched the pot before I could get to it. I didn’t realize the voice was a hallucination until 12 years later.

Things like that happened all throughout my childhood. I never knew to tell anyone because I didn’t realize it was different. At age 16, depression hit me and stopped me in my tracks like a brick wall. The psychosis worsened the deeper depression went. One day, my Sunday school teacher told us to try and think two things at once. Supposedly most people can’t. My thoughts always overlap. A dozen at a time. The angry voices continued to get louder over time. There was one voice, neither male or female, never yelling but always full. It told me to ignore the others, but the others yelled at it. I began crying and told my dad, “I can think more than one thing at a time.” I had tears streaming down my face. He said, “Baby girl, are you saying you hear voices?” I’d never thought to say it like that. Yes. Yes, I was hearing voices.

My dad took me to a nearby hospital that helped us find a youth psychiatric hospital two hours away. There I was diagnosed with depression and psychosis. A year later and many hospital stays after, my diagnosis change to disorganized schizophrenia. It happened slowly. Beginning as psychosis in my childhood. I saw a therapist when I was 12 due to a family friend’s attempt to rape me. They had mentioned psychosis not otherwise specified (NOS), but I didn’t know what that meant. Symptoms piled on from there and developed rapidly around ages 16 and 17.

It is never too early to talk to someone. If you or a loved one think you or someone else is experiencing something like this, get them help. It may be difficult, but their life depends on it. My dad saved mine. You may just save someone else’s. Don’t be afraid. There are places in communities designed to find you help. Keep trying.

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Originally published: November 6, 2019
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