Hearing voices ‘a common experience’

Hearing Voices Network WA state co-ordinator Amanda Waegeli.
Hearing Voices Network WA state co-ordinator Amanda Waegeli.

Ms Waegeli said she started hearing voices in her teenage years, which went away and came back after the birth of her sixth child.

She said hearing voices is not a stand-alone illness or condition but a common experience.

The voices themselves do not cause distress but some of the things people hear can be startling.

‘It is a common human experience, 280 million people will hear voices during their life,’ Ms Waegeli said.

‘Certain Indian and Aboriginal cultures, for example, consider hearing voices to be a spiritual experience.’

Ms Waegeli said she had positive, guiding and helpful voices that aided her in daily life.

But there are negative, challenging voices that had left her in hospital from distress.

‘It is something I’ve learned to live with as a part of daily life,’ she said.

‘Our approach is about accepting the experience rather than eliminating it.

‘People don’t know enough about it and assume it is caused by mental illness.’

Ms Waegeli has been involved with the organisation for six years, and her recovery started eight years ago.

‘The first point of my recovery was hearing ‘there is another way’,’ she said.

‘I had never heard that I should learn to accept the voices rather than silence them, it really helped me understand the experience.’

The organisation allows people to talk to others with similar experiences and learn new ways to cope.

‘It enables us to talk about what we hear in a safe environment and let a little bit of it out,’ she explained.

Her methods of coping include fishing, playing guitar and exercise.

Ms Waegeli featured in a commercial for the Lotterywest community stories campaign to raise awareness for the hearing voices network.

For more information, phone 9350 8800.