I had never in my life expected that I would one day be telling someone I had voices in my head, so had never exactly made a plan of how to do it. How exactly does someone go about telling another person that they are hearing voices? I was never able to find a manual explaining it.
The first person I told was my friend Martin. Although we haven't seen each other much since college, I will forever be grateful for the way he reacted with absolutely no judgement. I really don't remember what I actually said to him but I do remember that he didn't run away screaming. I had expected that there would be some kind of awkwardness and that maybe I would end up retreating into myself and pretend I'd been joking. Instead he was comforting. He pointed out that I was on mind-bending drugs for epilepsy which made me suddenly think, maybe I'm not such a freak. He told me about a bad experience he had when taking a recreational drug and it seemed that he understood that things can seem so real and scary, even when they're not real.
After finally talking to someone openly about what I was experiencing, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I was still being tortured by the voices and feelings, but I knew now that I could start talking about it.
Telling my family was terrifying. They have always been so open and loving but the voices were still telling me not to trust them. I think initially I just said that my stresses and anxieties had returned and I thought I may be having problems with my medication. At this point I had started seeing GP's asking for help which I had told my parents. None of them seemed to understand however and I was really having to push to see a Neurologist. I was exhausted and depressed and decided that I needed to go home to Dorset. I needed to go to the hospital that knew me and be with my family. So, I had to tell them. As soon as had, I knew the voices were wrong and that I could trust them completely.
The more I talked the more comfortable I felt. People weren't looking at me like I was a nutcase, they were just sad that I was going through this. It made me feel less alone and much more open. I still find it difficult to talk about certain things but the more I do, the easier things are to say. I have never had a negative experience from talking to people about my paranoia and hallucinations, just people not understanding. I hate the idea of it making other people feel awkward but usually that is just because they don't understand. Mental health is not something that is often talked about (hearing voices is a particular taboo) so how is anyone supposed to have an understanding. I have found that if I talk honestly and with confidence, then people feel more at ease and interested more than anything.
Being open about the voices hasn't solved all my problems but talking about it was my first step to getting better and just knowing that I am not alone.