If you care for a child experiencing hallucinations but don’t know what it’s like, these first-hand accounts may help you better understand and support your child.
This writer is taking medications, which help, but do not fully eliminate the hallucinations.
How hallucinations look/sound
“They look like I am looking into another dimension, their bodies fade into the background, but they sound real. I can tell that it is from another dimension but cannot distinguish it from other normal people’s realities because my reality is all I know.
“In general I find my experience with hallucinations unfavourable because they make other people in this reality quite distant. Learning complicated tasks is a hundred-fold more complicated for me to manage than regular people. I literally am disadvantaged by the hallucinations in the academic sphere, but seem to thrive with the hallucinations in other ways such as long distance walking and jogging. People should NOT interact with me when I am hallucinating because when I am hallucinating, it means I am being overpowered by another dimension and can’t understand what is going on anyway.
“If family members and friends are concerned about my wellbeing they should encourage me in a positive way to do different projects on my own like reading books about subjects that interest me or go on long excursions like long distance walking and jogging. Heavy exercise seems to alleviate paranoia and negative thought patterns like being suicidal or angry with others.”
–By Anonymous 1, who lives with schizoaffective disorder
This writer responded to questions I asked.
1. How would you describe visual/auditory hallucinations to someone who has never experienced these? What do you see/hear?
I often see people’s faces and gestures twist up and look and act angry. I hear my name a lot. I see people hiding and running to avoid me catching them and [people] watching me.
2. How do they look or sound?
Angry, abnormal colored skin, and strange upsetting body language.
3. Can you tell when you are hallucinating while it is occurring?
Sometimes…I don’t always notice right away but there have been times when I knew it wasn’t real.
4. Do you like or dislike hallucinating?
I do, because I feel like God is reaching out to me to protect people from evil.
5. How should someone interact with you if you’re hallucinating?
Calmly, if the situation has highly intense feelings and reactions I could go into a panic attack lasting 1-3 days.
-> Never raise your voice or let yourself become agitated
-> Try to take control of the situation
-> Take anything personally
-> Hand me things I can hold in my hand for centering (leaves, rocks)
-> Remind me of the people who care about me
-> Be honest with me if I ask how realistic it was
–By Anonymous 2, who lives with schizoaffective disorder
This is a first-hand account drawn from the SARDAA newsletter (Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America).
Somewhere around the age of 17 or 18, I noticed that I was not feeling quite right mentally. Things were confusing, not making any sense, and I started losing my sense of connectedness. I started drinking to cope and became an alcoholic when I entered college.
Anyway, I got sober by entering treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous about a year later. I was exhilarated, although things still didn’t seem to be quite right. I felt lost. About 14 months into my new life, I decided to find some meaning to my existence. While on a trip with an acquaintance I noticed things were really quite different. The leaves in the wind seemed to be talking to me. Cloud formations had special meanings. Television and radio shows were talking about my life. And I thought I could read peoples’ minds and communicate with them without speaking. I thought I had found what great spiritual leaders termed “being spiritual.” I truly thought I had been blessed by God and that I had a direct pipeline to Him. I felt happy and scared at the same time. I was in a different world.
About one week later I decided to travel out to the West Coast to really find myself, given this new-found power. While traveling, it seemed like God’s voice entered into my thoughts and told me to do something if I wanted real peace and power in my life. That being, to run my car off the road and leave the rest to Him. I did this only to find no peace, but a totaled car and a trip to the state mental hospital.
Since that time, I’ve been dealing with a disease called schizophrenia. It has been an uphill struggle. At the time of this writing, I believe I’ve found a way to pull myself out of psychosis and feel connected like before the alcoholism and schizophrenia. Today I feel peace, own a thriving business and have a wonderful relationship with my wife. We’re in the process of planning a family. This has been accomplished by the philosophy of Schizophrenia Alliance, Alcoholics Anonymous, and a few special people in my life.
Readers, what does your child experience?
Do any readers have a child (of any age) who can describe what they’re experiencing when their mental health is poor? Please share in the comments section, or if you wish to stay completely anonymous, please contact me and I will add your child’s story without any identifying information.