When Things go wrong
An article by Peter Hawes
President of Voices Inc!
I decided I hate formal titles! :-P
I have decided after much reflection,research and observation that as a human race,a race that tends to be pack orientated. That we need to speak about our experiences be they good or bad , and share them with the pack.
The good because it gives us a sense of achievement and self worth and the bad because telling the story is a way for the body to heal by expressing the emotions attached to the experiences, and in telling the bad it losers its power.
I will give you an example. You ever go to buy something and get a stroppy clerk? Or ever have a friend do the wrong thing by you?
It goes round and round in your head doesn't it?
Then you tell someone this happened,I can't believe the bitch did that to me thereby expressing your anger and frustration verbally..
Suddenly the moment you speak about it with someone you feel a little better getting those emotions out.
I call this process venting. But what happens when you can't vent all those emotions? Or no one will listen?
You have two options, explode which is often socially unacceptable or push all those emotions down as far as you can until you don't think about it any more.
But in doing this all the chemicals associated with emotions end up being suppressed and stored in your muscle and fat tissue just waiting for a chance to be released.
You can never escape it and eventually it surfaces in other ways forcing you to address the problem and talk about it.
Such is make-up of the human mind.
But what other ways would this emotional anguish surface?
One that immediately comes to mind is bad dreams or nightmares which are the fulfillment of unexpressed emotions through out the day.
You would have all had nightmares right?
Usually in times of stress like before an exam or when something bad is happening in life.
You would all remember being a kid and having an argument with your parents because they wouldn’t let you go to the shop and get ice cream.
Then that night you dreamt you burnt the house down and killed both your parents.
That dream was the fulfillment of unexpressed anger at your parents.
That is the unconscious way of dealing with or forcing you to release these emotions, as it is unhealthy to suppress them.
I've had people say things like the dream was so real it scared me and I thought I would never wake up.
Has anyone ever seen a dream dictionary or heard of Carl Jung’s theory on dream interpretation?
Jung's theory was that there where a few stages of sleep but during the dreaming stage we entered a kind of paralysis so that we didn't hurt ourselves as we ran, jumped or even fell in our dreams.
His theory included such things as dream meanings, we're all symbolic and had metaphorical meanings to relevant events in life.
But has anyone ever had day dreams where you just zone out?
That’s kinda like dreaming while awake isn't it?
Lets go one step further and say what if you could move, function and live a life while dreaming, going to work, seeing demons from your nightmares or walk on air while you went to school? But that’s not possible, or is it?
I'm here to tell you it is very possible and I should know cause I do it.
My Theory on why I do it is that due to a life of trauma I suppressed a lot of my emotions.
Now because dreams are the fulfillment of unexpressed emotional states throughout the day and given I suppressed more emotions due to trauma it makes sense to me that I would have more suppressed emotions to express in a dream like state.
Hence I dream while awake!
The doctors say I have a brain disease called schizophrenia.
I disagree there is no biological test to prove I have a defect.
I would have thought that by now with modern technology they would have found a test to prove that I am defective.
Terrible thing to say about someone isn't it?
Doesn't give them much hope for the future.
Would you like to be told you were defective or broken?
I once tried to kill my brother but thankfully didn't, I did this when I lost myself in a fit of rage from years of suppressed anger at his emotional abuse.
I, having heard voices since I was 11, and not told anyone went to the shrink to get some help maybe talk about what my brother did to me and learn some ways to be more assertive.
Maybe get some anger management so I could stop it happening again.
I figured the first question they would ask would be why did I do it.
They asked many questions and it was all going good until the psychiatrist asked me do you hear voices?
Me being young and naive thinking it might help if I admitted it now, said “yes I do hear voices”.
Next question did the voices tell you to kill your brother?
Yes they did I replied.
Ok how would you like to come stay in hospital for a while?
I was confused I had never before felt such rage and never before committed such a violent act so maybe they where right maybe it had something to do with the voices, so I agreed.
I spent the next 13 years in and out of the ward I admitted myself over 52 times believing I was as it said on my file homicidal and suffering from schizophrenia.
A psychopath A nutter and crazy I believed, I disowned all responsibility for my actions and medicated myself until I was a vegetable, at the doctors request constantly upping my meds to erase the voices, but it never did.
I just stopped caring about myself and I stopped trying to get better, I didn't even bother talking about my feelings any more.
As the feelings of a delusional psychopath were not relevant.
I was not relevant.
I had that which we all treasure most stolen from me My identity.
With the label of schizophrenia came the words of what I could and could not do and cautions not to expect too much from life because due to my illness I would not be able to handle a job a wife or too much stress.
So they told me no one would love me and no one would employ me and worse I couldn't do too much cause I couldn't handle it.
Right there with those words they destroyed my life.
Over the years I became disgusted with my life I got to 150kgs, I talked slow and by any means could have been mistaken for a mental retard.
So it was no surprise I tried to kill myself on multiple occasions and started self harming to help me release the pain both old and new as I was re traumatized by the psychiatric system and the diagnosis I was given.
The worst thing they ever did to me in my opinion is made me scared of my emotions particularly anger.
Anger is good and healthy as it's a secondary response to hurt, Granted the way I handled it was not the best way, They would have been better teaching me a way to handle it better.
Unfortunately the system sees voices and erratic behavior as a mental illness and therefore believing it's biological make no effort to help one modify there behavior and in most cases tell them it's just a symptom of there illness and to take your meds.
I went to the doctors for help to deal with my pain as a small boy and instead was given to a quick fix that’s destroyed more then it fixed and I grew into a man in pain.
After being on way too much meds for far too long I collapsed and started to convulse.
I was taken of all my medication and found I was suddenly able to feel again.
I realized I was hurting, I had been emotionally abused and had also had way too many operations for one person in a lifetime as well as having being bullied and raped and various multiple other traumas in my life..
I still had voices but had better control over them.
A close friend who I consider my only true brother decided to remove me from my traumatic situation. So I went to live with him and his family.
He taught me about art and life and many other things.
I spent many a night talking to him about what went on in the house and spent many nights venting to him and it was in doing that I felt better I felt heard.
I began my new life and got engaged and moved out from my friends place and to him I will be eternally grateful.
I moved on with life working at dominoes with my fiancee and going to art school and I got into glass as I had with my friend and me and my fiancee started a small business doing fused glass pendants and plates and eventually art supplies.
But I always felt bad about the people I left behind why had I recovered and they had not then Ron Coleman came to Horsham and spoke about hearing voices network and I had my way to give back and bring what I had learned to people to help them.
In the face of a traumatic life all us voice hearers wish to do is unburden ourselves of the trauma we have been through by talking about it.
In the hope that it will lose it's power over us or it will make the pain easier to deal with.
A classic example would be a friend I had in the psych ward who was sold off to a pedophile ring by his grandfather and brutality molested from the age of six on-wards.
I met him at the age of 13 a traumatized teenager who self harmed, heard voices and wished he was dead.
He had subsequently tried to fulfill this wish on multiple occasions.
One of which had landed him in psychiatric care.
I remember him telling his story to me one day and asking how could someone he loved do this to him.
Because grandparents were supposed to look after there grand kids went they?
I remember him asking me could I help him make sense of this.
I at the time could not but vowed to be the best friend I could to him.
I told him with counseling he might be able to talk about his traumatized life and they would help him find some sort of sense and inner piece with himself and perhaps acceptance of what happened.
I honestly thought this was the place for this.
How naive I was for my friend was told he was surely delusional and none of what he was saying could have happened.
They gave him the label of schizophrenia and a treatment of Largactil and forced ECT.
He wanted to be heard but instead he was re traumatized.
Our talks got less as the nurses insisted he was delusional and I shouldn't entertain in such encouragement of him talking about his delusions as it would only make life harder for him.
One day his father came in to bring my friend some cigarettes and I did the unthinkable.
I broke my friends trust in me and asked his old man if what my friend had said was true for I had to know.
His father proceeded to tell me the story of how he found out and then broke down into tears saying I should have been there for him and if only I'd known.
I got really angry how could the doctors do this to my mate.
He was not delusional because his father was not delusional, This actually happened.
This happened to that poor boy and he needed to talk about it and not only where they not listening they were denying it ever happened.
I consoled the father after burying my anger.
But my anger so very alive dug it's way out of the hole I earthed it in and me not being in tune with my emotions found myself punching a tree to the point my fists bleed a plentiful stream of empathy at my friends pain.
I was given Valium and told this was normal psychotic behavior and put in ICU for a day or two.
It's kinda ironic that if my friend had been abused and not developed voices there would have been countless support groups for him to talk through his feelings and experiences.
But no as soon as he answered yes to the question do you have voices his fate was sealed.
That mighty question that gives psychiatrists so much power and removes so much of our power.
Do you have voices?
Ask me that question and all 29 of my voices will say don't tell em don't tell em they will lock you up. Don't tell em they will destroy you.
In the past we were told this simple truth by the psychiatrists. Voices tell lies and we were told to ignore them.
Voices tell us lies, that in it's self is a lie from those who seek to help.
But in the case I described have they helped?
You know the voices don't tell us lies they speak to us in a kind of code like dream interpretation it's all symbolic and it all means something and it's all relative to our past experiences.
It's really the same with all the mental illnesses there is always a reason and it differs for everyone.
I now work in mental health and am founder and president of an organization called Voices Inc.
we are an amazing team of individuals who have ended up in the system and been burnt by it and then broke out dissected our experiences and recovered through dealing with past traumas and modifying behaviors.
We believe there is always a reason for something.
If anyone has ever heard of the Tabula Rasa theory that we are all conceived a blank slate to be written upon by life’s experiences, We find this very true.
We look at everything as a response to life’s experiences.
Either to trauma or as learned behavior or as a response to others behavior and multiple other reasons relating to life’s experiences.
We believe that every individual is different and we treat them and there emotional and mental distress as such, There is no one size fits all box.
We don't believe anyone is broken and we believe recovery is possible for all.
My gripe with the system is they medicate first and hardly ever ask questions.
I guess there just doing what they were taught but clearly it's not working when we end up with so many revolving door patients and a high suicide rate among those diagnosed.
Now is the time for a paradigm shift and it's rolling in fast as we all stand up and say we have had enough.
My stance on meds is that I believe they are a band aid fix and a last resort I believe they should be used in small doses and always with an informed choice about things such as side effects and withdrawal and no one should be on them forever and against there will.
I don’t believe in diagnosis or the DSM as I think its all a crock of shit.
What is a label or a book to define who I am and what I am capable of.
I got lost in my label for far too long and gave up hope.
Now no one defines who I am and what I can do, We define who we are and what we can accomplish by our actions and the possibilities as a human are limitless.
The crazy part is we have always had that power we were just told and taught that we were helpless and had to rely on the system and medication.
Its time we started taking back that which was stolen from us.
Our hope, our power and most important our identity!
It's time we all banded together and supported each other as we begin to understand our journey and relate our emotional and mental distress to our past life experiences and learn to better understand and heal ourselves.
I will never say the road is easy as I have worked damn hard to get to where I am but I will say it is well worth the hard work.
I encourage you all to make your choice and begin your own journey of recovery cause in the end life’s a journey really and no one has the power to direct us we make our own directions up along the way.
Vive La Revolution my friends!