Many people hear things that others can’t hear. These are called hallucinations, but for the person hearing them, they’re real.
Sometimes the voices can be terrifying. They’re belittling and constant and overwhelming. They can be so loud it’s hard to ignore them. Occasionally they even tell the person to do dangerous things.
Voices aren’t always nasty, but when they are, they make life hard to live. Here are some ideas to help deal with chronic voices.
Medications. There are many medications that help with voices. Few people like to take pills, but if the meds soften the voices, they’re probably worth it. Ask your doctor for more information.
Sounds. Sometimes noise can block the voices. Listen to the radio, watch TV, read out loud, talk to another person, or hang out in a noisy place (like crowds). If you can’t make noise, use headphones to listen to music or watch a movie.
Distract yourself. Do something you enjoy, and focus your attention on that activity. Sometimes distraction will cloud out the voices. Consider playing video games, going for a walk outside, or taking a nap. For more ideas, check out 150+ things to do for fun.
Ear-plugs. Sometimes earplugs can block out voices.
Request. When alone, talk to the voices and ask them to go away. Sometimes they will.
Bargain. If the voices won’t go away, bargain with them. Often they’ll agree to be quiet now if you promise to listen to them for 30 minutes at a later agreed upon time.
Educate. Read about “auditory hallucinations.” Ask your doctor about your diagnosis. Find out about other people’s experiences and how they dealt with voices.
Mobile phone. If you must talk back to your voices in public, talk into a cellphone as though there’s someone on the other end of the line. This makes it easier to communicate with them without drawing attention to yourself.
Monitor. Consider keeping a “voice diary.” Sometimes recording the frequency, intensity, and severity of the voices can help quiet them a bit. Over the next week, measure how many times they crop up every hour, the volume, and how troubling they are.
Avoid. Avoid things that can make the voices worse. That might include street drugs, forgetting your medication, being alone, having nothing to do, or exposing yourself to stressful situations.
Relaxation. Sometimes voices diminish when you keep yourself calm. How can you calm yourself down? Consider mindfulness, meditation, keeping a journal, muscle relaxation, doing yoga or tai chi, or going for a walk.
If your voices are telling you to hurt yourself or others, please reach out for help ASAP. Go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.