A Different Voice: Vanessa’s story

Editor’s note: Depression can be accompanied by psychotic signs which include auditory hallucinations. In this story, Vanessa talks about hearing voices, and shares what recovery means to her. She urges all to be equipped with the right information on mental illness, and encourages those who struggle not to give up on their journey. To us here at The Tapestry Project, this is an amazing testament of how hearing voices can be turned into voices for advocacy instead. Proud of you Vanessa! 

I would like people to become more aware of and accepting of mental illness.

Living with mental illness isn’t easy. It is like having a monster that eats you from within. Except no one can see this monster, so no one believes you when you talk about it.

I have been dealing with several mental illnesses for 5 years now. I am diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic disorder), psychotic depression, dissociation, self-injury and can be suicidal.

Life hasn’t been so smooth-sailing for me. Recovery is like a rollercoaster, with its high highs and low lows.

When I once told people about psychotic depression, you could see their facial expressions change immediately. You could see the fear in their eyes.

People equate psychotic depression with psychotic killers. Which is totally not true.

I was hurt at first by their strong reaction but I learnt to laugh it off.

There are lots of misconceptions on mental illness and it doesn’t help when people take words lightly saying “I’m going to kill myself because it is so hot”, or things like “I feel so bipolar or OCD” when they don’t really mean that they have that disorder.

Here is what psychotic depression / depressive psychosis is. It is major depression disorder that comes with features associated with psychosis, such as hallucination and delusion.

In my case, I have major depression, and have auditory hallucinations. I hear things voices that aren’t real, telling me to harm myself. It can be very intense which can lead to hospitalisation.

It wasn’t a nice state to be in.

The first time I heard voices I was terrified. I thought the radio was talking to me and that the walls have voices. It was very scary to hear demonic-sounding voices speaking or sometimes even screaming at you.

But after years of hearing these voices, I got used to them and I learnt to cope with my illnesses with the help of my mental health team.

My psychologist has really helped me in my recovery. I am not there yet and recovery is hard but I hope one day I can triumph over my demons.

I urge all those in this recovery journey not to give up. Healing is painful, recovery is hard. But don’t give up on yourself, you are so worth it. I hope one day people’s perceptions on mental illness will change for the better; to be more accepting and kind.

Vanessa is a 17-year-old polytechnic student. She is a huge Harry Potter fan, loves to read, ice skate and watching anime. Like every other teenager, she loves her sleep and includes eating as one of her favourite hobbies.

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