THEY started talking in 2013.
Personally, Rikki Luckman was in a bad spot, she was in a therapeutic community, hoping to resolve mental health issues but it wasn’t helping.
That is when they first called her useless, unloved and lazy.
She still does not know how many voices she hears but she knows none of them has anything nice to say and that when they start talking, they “won’t shut up.”
Mrs Luckman was identified as hearing voices after her rehabilitation facilitators heard her talking to them.
She is among four to 10 per cent of the Australian population who hears voices.
“I hear a lot of voices at the same time, I don’t know how many are in there because they get so noisy,” she said.
“I used to drink alcohol to drown out the voices but I am getting better and am overcoming the need for alcohol,” she said.
On a bad day, the voices and visions last all day; in the past she has confronted them and they have gone, others she has somewhat befriended.
Two years ago Mrs Luckman found solace in group therapy at Richmond Wellbeing where their Hearing Voices program and group therapy sessions empower people in similar situations to integrate into society and accept that voices and related experiences, such as visions are valid human experiences.
“Group therapy helps so I don’t feel alone. While it was difficult at first it’s great because I’m among people who hear voices and I’m not looked at as someone weird,” she said. “Every challenge I get through is a win and recently I have become a facilitator of group therapy.”
Mrs Luckman said she had learnt patience, empathy and respect from the group and a new sense of self-worth.
“I want to break the stigma associated to group therapy; it has helped me so much.”
Richmond Wellbeing in Cannington, a leader in bringing recovery practices into mainstream mental health standards, has been working alongside its program Hearing Voices Network Australia to enable acceptance and recovery for people who hear voices.
Through support from self-help groups, education and awareness, Richmond Wellbeing believes that by embracing the Hearing Voices approach people can find meaning and make sense of the voices and move on to lead a fulfilling life.
Group facilitator Corina McSwan said facilitating weekly self-help groups throughout WA, the organisation’s role was to enable acceptance of hearing voices and to promote recovery for people who hear distressing voices.
“Mostly when people think about voices they think of negative or distressing voices and forget that experiences come in diverse forms,” she said.
“The group is a great forum for people who have unusual experiences to come together to discuss those experiences without fear of judgment.”
To learn more about Hearing Voices and support groups nearby, contact Richmond Wellbeing on 93508800 or visit www.rfwa.org.au.