One of the most canonical features or symptoms of mental illness is the hallucination. There are many known presentations of hallucinations. Some of them are one voice or noise. It can seem like it is exterior to our body or it can sound internal. Some voices talk with each other. There can be many voices. Some tell us to do things and are called command hallucinations. Others just prattle on and speak Ad Infinitim about just about anything.
By the time most people with schizophrenia or those carrying a diagnosis with psychotic symptoms begin to hallucinate the person is usually in the final stages of the illnesses onset. Very likely, the person is already isolated, delusional, and experiencing a litany of active symptoms. This is why so many people do not realize they are hallucinating, hearing voices or seeing people and objects that don’t exist for the rest of the world experiencing the same reality.
The most critical aspect of providing someone actively hallucinating with what they need in the moment is connecting them with treatment that allows space for their personal denial, uncertainty, erratic behavior and compromised safety to disrupt and limit delusional systems that will begin to form and fix around certain ideas of reference important to the person symptomatic. Therefore, home-based care is essential to someone with these symptoms. Most likely, the person hallucinating is already too disordered to make it into a clinic for treatment. Without connection to any services will likely mean hospitalization for the individual experiencing these extreme symptoms.
In the end, voices can be so disruptive that they frighten and are so compelling that they tell us to harm ourselves or others. Even tactile hallucinations can seem painful as if worms are crawling underneath the skin. People hallucinating may hear or see weapons that don’t exist for the general population and fear for their personal safety. I have had adverse experience in which I heard a countdown timer to what seemed like a bomb and heard loudspeakers threaten my home with force unless I stole from my roommates. The possibilities of adverse experiences are just as compelling as supportive voices or people hallucinates which operate as friendly allies in their growing delusional system.
Speaking from personal experience, and a gesture to the title of this blog post, my hallucinations were projections of my subconscious. I was isolated from peers, paranoid, fearful, and without support from friends and other students in the college I was attending at the time. This was partly due to the nature of the delusional system at work which when verbalized to others made them angry and they, my friends, in turn, choose to alienate me instead of confronting the real issue at the time which was to connect me to mental health treatment. Indeed, by the time I was finally hospitalized, only two friends of a dozen visited me during the healing phase of my journey with my disorder.
Alienation and mental illness go hand in hand when unchecked. My experience was unchecked. I was living in a room isolated and living out my fantasies and even had a person living closely that instead of refuting my delusions enabled me to continue living in the community despite my dwindling mental status and ability to care for myself. When my friends finally kicked me out of our home when my behavior became threatening this person that enabled me found me a new one, far away, and less likely to be visible to those that might have looked into my well being.
This is why people with a metal illness get victimized. People will do just about anything to ignore or quiet a person labeled a problem when in fact they need help. People will steal, harm, and bully those with a mental illness out of ignorance, misunderstanding or misdiagnosis to get there way or assert themselves over someone less able to voice their problems or seek the supportive counseling they need to make sense of the people around them that may be manipulative, enablers; or just unsupportive players in their recovery. Ultimately; a friend will hold space for you in manner which allies with your recovery and furthers your chances of ultimate survival in the world when you really need the help.