I think I have always heard voices and seen things, for as long as I can remember. The voices haven't always got in the way, sometimes they really help, especially when I was growing up and struggling, they helped distract me, they where in my little world where I couldn't hear or see what was going on and no one could hurt me.
Sometimes now the voices are good, some of them are positive and encouraging, especially when I am really anxious about going out, it's the 'we will be fine, nothing bad is going to happen, you have to do it' and sometimes the voices are bad and saying horrible things, this tends to be when I am really distressed or feeling low, it's kind of like a kick while I'm down, 'there are people over there are looking at you, oh now they are talking about you because you deserve it!' and things like that.
If I am in a bad way they can really affect me and make me ill if I can't cope with what they are saying. Sometimes its just loud noise, it's too loud I can't cope, I can't think straight and I just want them to stop.
The first time I knew I felt different was when I was in school, it was in my 5th year of primary school and I ran out of the classroom to the playground with my friends and there was a man with his hood up wearing all black and standing in the middle of the playground. I stopped dead. But no one else could seem to see him. He was scary. I started seeing him more and more. He would appear in different places all the time. I saw a lot of black cats too, to other people they where not there, but to me they couldn't have been more real.
Are they real or not real? It's a hard question. Physically no, but they are real to the person experiencing it and for someone to turn round and say to you it's not real, just makes you feel more alone than ever.
I never told anyone that I heard voices, the first time I told someone was when I spoke to a friend. It wasn't direct, it was because she came with me to an appointment to see a psychiatrist and he was asking me questions about my voices. I ended up getting admitted to hospital that day, her reaction at first was to get upset and cry, but I think I would of reacted in the same way if it was the other way round. I would be upset that she was sick and struggling and that I couldn't help her.
But since then I've been in hospital 3 times and I'm getting more comfortable with talking to people about my voices. Some people find it difficult I know, but the way I see it is that I'm the one that is going through it, I have to deal with the voices, so my good friends will stick by me and try to understand.
Recently I went on a day course about understanding young people and hearing voices. It really did me the world of good and made me realise how common it can be. I now believe that because horrible things have happened to me in the past, this is how my body and mind want to deal with it, and that's okay.