The voices that speak inside someone's mind are as real as the one that is reading this story to you. Can you hear them?
They are called Auditory hallucinations, or also known as "hearing voices". Auditory hallucinations can range from primitive noises such as bangs, whistles, claps, screams, and ticks, as well as other noises such as speech and music. Commonly people who have auditory hallucinations hear voices which utter short phrases. Sometimes the person may recognize the voice as one of a family member or deceased friend, and sometimes it may be the voice of a stranger or even God. The voices or sounds can be thought to originate from anywhere. The walls, the ground, trees, or even a shoe are all possible origins of hallucinatory sounds.
An older lady who was petite in size came into the hospital a few years ago. Her daughter would visit almost daily. She said her mother would get so sick at home she would not sleep for days at a time. The less sleep she received the more manic she became.
As I was making rounds to check inside the rooms while the patients should be sleeping, I found this lady sitting on the edge of her bed with her hands resting in her lap. She smiled an unusual smile, "I am fine," she said calmly. I closed the door. Something told me to watch her closely but each time I glanced in her room she looked at the staff with her hands laying in her lap just sitting on the edge of her bed.
She just could not sleep but did not want to take anything to help her sleep, which was okay with me.
Back in the early times of working in the hospital it was normal for only one or two staff to work on a unit during the night. I never thought it was safe, but each unit worked with low staffing.
She weighted around 90 to 110lbs at the most. However, she had been known to show unusual strength on her manic days. When I opened the door around 3 AM and she was still sitting in the same spot something in my mind clicked; this was not right. I flipped on the big over head light to see better than what my small flash light was providing. She looked at me with wide eyes and panic. I asked her what was wrong, and then I looked down. Her fingers on both hands were pointing to the ceiling in the most unusual form. They were twisted and broken. I screamed for the other staff to call for help as she stood up to fight me. She had one finger left and was determined to break that one too.
I grabbed both of her hands and tried to pull them apart until the other staff returned. She was going to break the last of her fingers. She held onto her small pinky finger with all her might screaming, "No! Leave me alone; they told me to!”
When help arrived and we called for an ambulance to transfer her to the local medical hospital, she began crying. I had to know, so I asked, "What on earth made you sit and break your fingers?" She looked at me with a faraway look and said, "They told me I had to or they would kill my daughter." I asked her, "Aren't you in pain?" She shook her head, "No, it doesn't hurt. I saved her life; that is what mothers do for their kids."
This patients voices were so real, she truly thought her daughter was in harms way. She listened to them like she was held hostage and I guess in a way she was.
Angela Brooks has worked in a state-funded psychiatric hospital in Kentucky for 21 years as a nurse, assisting sometimes-dangerous patients who come in shackled and cuffed. At AngelaBrook.com, she offers stories of life on the inside of a psychiatric ward, and the site, as well as her company, offers support for nurses in the mental health field and helps them bring passion into their role at work.
On her BlogTalkRadio show, Mental Happiness with Angela Brooks, she shares some of her experiences “learning to love those others have forsaken” and gives tips on how to bring peace to your own life.
* Please note: I am not here to CURE, DIAGNOSE, Treat or suggest replacements for what a doctor prescribes – I am sharing my nursing adventures with you.
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