So, I had a psychotic breakdown in November 2012.
The voices in my head took control over me and demanded that I had to leave my flat because there was a demon in it and I wasn’t safe there any more.
I went to my downstairs neighbour. I think it was about 5 am on a Tuesday morning. I cried on her shoulder and told her I needed to go down to the ER. She kindly drove me down.
When I got there, I was so upset and scared I could hardly speak. When the nurse was going to register me, I had to give her my ID card, because I couldn’t speak and say my name.
I was quickly led to some nurses who gave me very strong sedatives. After a while I was able to relax a bit and tell them my problem. I told them about the voices, and that I had lost control over them, that they scared me and that they had scared me out of my flat. I begged them to commit me to a mental hospital.
They took me seriously, and that was a good feeling.
After having talked to me for a while, they sent me to Vinderen hospital with an ambulance. A small part of me was going: “I’m in an ambulance! I’ve never been in an ambulance before! Weee!”
The ambulance personnel had to support me going up the stairs to the hospital. That was some strong sedatives!
I was met by two therapists and a student. They took me to one of the common rooms for an interview. I was still scared and had still problems talking. I found that it was easier to talk in English than Norwegian for some weird reason. It was the student who interviewed me. I don’t really remember much of it. I remember that I said that the voices wanted me to harm my cats. I exaggerated, because I was afraid of not being taken seriously.
After I was interviewed, I was led to a room and given a bed and a pyjamas. I slept through the entire day and night.
I don’t remember much of the week I was at Vinderen. I was pretty heavily sedated most of the time, because I was so scared. When the sedatives worked, I remember sitting peacefully working on jigsaw puzzles. My mum came and visited me every day. She also looked after my cats. I remember I wrote down what the voices were saying to me. I thought I was hearing the gods, and that everything they said was important.
When my mum visited, I would sometimes get overwhelmed by the voices, so I had to go and sit in the quiet hallway and pull the hood of my jacket over my head to cocoon myself.
After a week, I was transferred to Vår Frues hospital. I stayed there for three and a half months. The first few weeks I was still very busy writing down what I heard. I filled three thick note books.
I did a lot of diagnostic interviews at Vår Frues. I also had therapy sessions, and then we had different types of group therapy. Music therapy, physical activity, art therapy, crafts therapy and group talk therapy. So, my days were kept busy. I couldn’t take part in the physical activity or the music therapy though, because loud noise made the voices more prominent. It was difficult in the evenings. For the first couple of months I couldn’t read, because the voices read with me, and they always read to a set rhythm, so it was very annoying. At least I had been able to go home with one of my friends one evening and fetch my knitting.
I was first put on the anti-psychotic medication Risperdal. It didn’t help. All it did was slow down my metabolism and make me hungry all the time, and it made my nose stuffed so it was a bit difficult to breathe. Then I was put on Zyprexa, That one didn’t help, either. It also messed with my metabolism and suppressed my ability to feel full after a meal. And it made my body swell with water. Those two meds made me gain 20 kilos (44 pounds) in 2 months. The third medication they put me on was Seroquel. That one didn’t help, either.
It surprises me that in all the therapy sessions I had with therapists, not one of them had any strategies for how to cope with hearing voices. I had to learn how to cope with them on my own.
After some weeks, the voices changed. They began to say that they were my Christian ancestors, and that they were angry with me for following Loki. They kept harassing me and tried to make me stop following Him. They tried to ruin my faith in Him. That was though. I cried a lot during those weeks. I had stopped writing down what the voices said, after they changed.
I told my therapists what I thought the voices were, first gods, then ancestors. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I took that very hard.
I began to notice that the voices went quiet for a little while when I participated in art therapy, and crafts therapy. So, I began to spend my evenings in the art therapy room. I put on a CD with some nice music, and would sit there and draw and paint for a couple of hours. That was how I first learned to control the voices.
After some weeks I was able to block them out so much that I could begin to read again.
After three and a half months they had to let me go. I wanted to stay longer, but that was the maximum you could stay there. I didn’t at all feel ready to be on my own, so my mum came and stayed with me for weeks. I had sedatives I could take in the evening, when I became overwhelmed by the voices, and very upset. The voices never shut up. They talked constantly and it was exhausting.
I found that reading, watching tv series on my laptop with headphones on, and playing computer games helped to block the voices out. But I got no mental rest. I had to have a constant mental focus to try and block the voices out. At least the voices had stopped saying they were my Christian ancestors. Now they were “just” being harassing and negative in general.
I had a contact person who followed me up after I was “released” from the hospital, she was a psychiatrist, and with her help we tried to add another medication called Zeldox, to the Seroquel. And that helped. That was in May 2013. The old, harassing voices disappeared, and for a couple of weeks it was almost silent. I only heard one voice, which kept repeating “paint me a rainbow”. Then after a couple of weeks, this new, single voice became more talkative. In the beginning, it sounded very childlike and endlessly inquisitive. It was exhausting. It never stopped asking questions about what I was doing, all the time. Then, it seemed to mature, and began talking to me. It claimed it was Loki, and for several months I believed it. We had many conversations about this and that.
During the autumn of 2013, I participated in a research project, where they did research on people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I went to a lot of diagnostic interviews.
By then I had stopped believing that the voice was Loki.
I was re-diagnosed with having a schizoaffective disorder.
Since then, in 2014 and 2015, I have been working on blocking out the voice.
Now I hear it only say a sentence or two in the morning, and it’s quiet the rest of the time.
I spend my days watching my tv series, reading, chatting and writing.
Twice a week I go to a place called Cafe Svovel. They have painting classes on Tuesdays and ceramics classes on Thursdays. I love going there! I also meet other people who struggle with mental illness there. It’s a great place.
On Saturdays I try to meet up with friends and go for lunch.
I play table top roleplaying games with my friends twice a month.
Once or twice a month I have movie nights with my best friend, where we order take-out.
My mum comes and makes dinner for us four times a week. I usually do the dishes.
I have reduced Seroquel from 800 mg to 50 mg. In two months I’ve lost 8 kilos (17,6 pounds).
I don’t know when I will be able to go back to work. I got disability pension on March 2014. I still have to take each day as it comes. My energy levels still varies a lot.
I have been able to start meditating again, without hearing the voice when I don’t have an external mental focus.
It’s been a long and hard journey since November 2012, but I am much better than I was. I read a bit through my notebooks, after I was doing better. It was unsettling. It was filled with nonsense and very weird word associations. I couldn’t even recognise my own handwriting.
I have hope now, though, that some day I will be rid of the voice in my head for good.