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Psychosis (young people)

Having hallucinations, paranoia and delusions

People’s experiences of psychosis can be very varied. In our interviews people described experiences including:
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Tactile hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations 
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • False memories
  • Thought broadcasting and thought blocking
  • Heightened senses
  • Loss of Inhibitions
 

Hannah thinks it’s a misconception that everyone who experiences psychosis hears voices. She describes the first time she saw a “visions”.

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Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 15
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I think it can be a bit of a misconception that someone with psychosis hears voices. That I never have heard, heard voices. I just see things that aren't there. So I think that's useful to know if you are someone who is experiencing it and you don't have voices, don’t hear voices. That you can still be experiencing a psychosis. 

And tell me a little bit about your experiences? Is it something that's always been there?

No. I think it started when I was about 14. So that's five years. It wasn't a problem before that. I basically just started seeing like images that were- that other people couldn't see. And it did affect me quite badly. 

What were you doing at the time? What do you remember about that time, so was there a sort of first time it happened or a first time that you realised that other people couldn't see those same images?

Yeah, when I think the first time it happened, I was walking my dogs. And I saw something and I knew that it wasn't real, because it I looked at this figure and it was there and then it wasn't there and I hadn't experienced that before. So it was like something from a film. Like how- like when people were dreaming or remembering something then it flashes and it's gone, sort of like that. 

Okay. And how was it, but obviously it sounds like it was different to a memory although you talk about it as like a memory, because it looked like a visual thing.

Yeah. That's how I, I relate it so people can understand. So like in films if it's in a—it comes up as somebody’s memory. That's what it looks like and it just fits goes in there sort of thing.
People could experience one or more of these at one time and these different psychotic experiences could feed into each other. But experiences didn’t always fit neatly into any of these descriptions, and could be harder to describe, such as invasive negative thoughts or losing touch with reality.
 

Andrew Z, had “buzzy thoughts” and couldn’t concentrate on his studies or when he was talking to his friends.

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Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 20
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I started becoming kind of weird thoughts, weird interpretations of social events. Kind of getting slightly stressed. Kind of the weird thoughts were kind of affecting my ability to function with my flatmates, with my course mates with everyone and then they cut my, 'cause I had a support mentor, specialist tutor since I was, when I first went there, because I have Asperger's as well, when I was diagnosed when I was eight. They cut that, because it was- for everyone not just for me- in November. I then got really stressed, really piled up my work and I couldn't really concentrate on my work for more than about five minutes. Whenever I've had psychosis, I can't concentrate on my work and I can't concentrate socialising. You know, I mean the buzzing thoughts mean I can't sit still. I can't concentrate on conversation. Often sometimes the thoughts would be so concentrated fully on my head that I kind of will start reacting them. So, I would be talking to someone and suddenly my facial expression will start smiling or something and obviously becomes or comes across as a bit peculiar. It was just a bit frustrating, because obviously I kind of the only thing I really enjoy doing in life is kind of socialising and talking to people. And I go through periods when I've got psychosis and I kind of can't really do that, which is quite frustrating. And I kind of like the people contact. 
Invasive thoughts and “voices” 
 
The most common sign of psychosis is hearing voices that others don’t hear,“but not everyone who hears voices is distressed by them or seeks help (for example research suggests that as many as 10-15% of the population report experiencing hallucinations*)”
 
Some of the people we spoke to easily identified with “hearing voices” but others talked about having intrusive “thoughts”. Lucy describes: “thoughts in my head not being from me… almost like a voice. In that I didn't feel like I was in control, or thinking it myself.” She didn’t think of her uncontrollable thoughts as ‘voices’, until a nurse used the word.
 

Peter’s thoughts are like a “running commentary” that make it difficult to concentrate or have a conversation with someone on the phone.

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Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
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And so I’d always had kind of depression and anxiety. But I’d never really sort of noticed how deeper it went, or kind of how much worse it got during this period. And so I think it was during this time I started to notice things like voices in my head. My own sort of voice became a lot more vocal in my head. I started to talk, talking to myself a lot more, and started to hear my own voice doing like a running commentary a lot. Yeah. A lot of the time it was mostly at night time as well, when you kind of, lay in bed trying to go to sleep and then you can notice a running commentary in your head. But yeah, it was probably just during this period when I was kind of noticing it more. But not really at first thinking of what to do about it. Because I’d always kind of heard about things around depression and how it can have - sometimes they call it like intrusive thoughts. Things like that, or. And I’d always just kind of assumed I suppose that most people had kind of a running commentary, or had their own voice talking to them a lot. So I didn’t really sort of think of it as anything too serious, just something to kind of go through with. I suppose sort of until about a year ago, probably while I was at a different university. I started to notice it a bit more because I was kind of going through a difficult time at university. Yeah, while it was sort of - I was noticing a lot more kind of thoughts going through your head, and kind of related to things around paranoia. So kind of a lot of delusional type things. Like hearing voices and things like that. So I was noticing that more, and I was thinking 'oh, this is getting - seems to be getting worse', as an effect of stress.
But some very clearly heard “voices” which could seem to be internal or external. Voices from outside the head could seem very clear as if there were someone standing nearby and speaking.
 

When Emily first heard a voice, she was sitting in a classroom and turned around to ask her friends if they had heard it too.

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Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 21
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I remember like it was yesterday, 'cos it was so weird. I remember sat in a classroom, I think we were doing religious education and I was sat with my friends and all of a sudden out of nowhere, something just said to me, kill yourself. And I sort of, it didn't, it's not, it wasn't my voice, it's like a different voice, female voice. And I thought it was my friend messing around or being nasty. Looked around and everyone was sat down still writing and I said to my mate, did you hear that? She went what? And I said, did you not hear what they said? Thinking someone was picking on us. And they just went, looked at me as if I was like on a different planet. So I was just sort of sat there for a minute and I ended up getting told off, because I was so distracted, they thought I was just messing around. But I just remember a feeling. So, like strange and sort of thinking, oh god, you know, it's happening to me. 'Cos I knew what it was like with my dad, you know, when he got ill. So I just sat there and thought, oh, no, you know, not me I don't, I don't want that. But obviously I had no choice, it just happened. 
 

Joe, who had studied biology, said his voices come from different places in and around his body and he associated them with colours. He wonders if different voices come from different parts of the brain.

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Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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Well, I used to get different voices. It's a sort of recent development that I don't. So I would have my grandfather's voice would come from there [points to behind right shoulder]. I would have visual hallucinations going from sort of up there [points about forehead]. I could sort of see them like on a screen, about there [points in front of face]. I would have purple ones. I do them by colours, because of what they kind of feel like. So, grandfather's voice is yellow and black. There were purple ones about my shoulder blades, which would just whisper at me. And I couldn't, I could never really tell what they were saying. There was a blue one, which was about here [points out to the left], which sounded exactly like my voice. And that was an awful one, because it used to agree with him, because it sounded - because it was coming from me, it sounded more convincing. And then there was a red one who was sort of about there [points to the back of neck], behind me, who would - who I got on with, who was sort of helpful. But as an aside, because I did a biology degree, we did quite a lot on sort of mapping brains, and how - where nerves are, in relation to different things. So we did a lot of stuff on owls, and how they have like a cluster of nerves, and the nerve that detects sound from over there is there, the ones from there is there. So it actually physically maps in the brain. So I wonder if that's a similar thing in humans, that you can actually get hallucinations coming from physically different parts of the - going into different - That's just an interesting aside. Something I've just wondered over the years.
 

Nikki has been hearing voices since she was 14. She hears up to twenty or thirty voices at a time, some are just sounds rather than words. For her they are “real” and always negative.

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Age at interview: 19
Sex: Female
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So like when you hear voices, it's a really really weird experience. You know that other people can't hear it, 'cause they're not reacting to it. But, you wonder why other people can't hear it. And you are like wondering where the source is and you're looking round like where, where is this coming from? And, it's impossible to really concentrate on anything else. And it's loud and it's annoying and it's intense and it's hard. And it's not until you start to speak about them and learn coping strategies for them that you learn to manage them in a healthy way. It is just really difficult. I can't remember what I was gonna say next. Having visual things, that that's difficult as well. 'Cause and like and the beliefs that you can sometimes get is just it's so convincing that you don't know where reality is and where it's not, yeah.

And do you think that your, the actual experience of the psychosis itself has changed over the years for whatever reason?

I don't think so. I think since I was 14 it's been pretty similar. It's all negative. And it's very frequently, if not constant. It gets worse when I'm stressed. It gets better when I'm happy. And that's pretty much how it is. 

And I still hear voices pretty much almost constantly. I'm able to live with them a lot more like, I hear probably about, I can hear, sometimes I hear up to like twenty or thirty different things like, it's difficult, it can, it can be like crying, that you hear or breathing or screaming or words and, for me, they've always been negative ones. I've never really had any positive ones. But I know everyone's different. Everyone has very different experiences with it. Just, for me, it was always negative. You know, it's difficult, it can really affect concentration. I have to concentrate kinda twice as hard, because I’ll be hearing loads of voices but I also have to concentrate on what I'm doing now and like the person I'm talking to and listening to. Trying to distinguish between what's reality and what's not. Even though, like hearing voices is very much real to me, yeah. 
Voices varied considerably and were described in different ways by people, for example like a background noise, like overhearing people talking, or hearing crying or screaming, or they could be describing or commenting on something the person was doing. Voices could also talk directly to the person, criticising them or telling them to do things. For a few people there were familiar voices - someone they knew like a father, grandfather or acquaintance, or it could be their own voice. Joe described the voice as the “younger me”. Voices could also be unfamiliar, but might have specific personalities that were recognisable. Voices could be “persecutory”: Nikki’s voices say “you’re disgusting… why would you do that… this person hates you”.
 
When voices gave direct orders or “commands” this could sometimes have devastating consequences. Chapman hears voices telling him to steal things or take drugs. Lucy and Emily have thoughts/voices that are like bullies telling them to kill or hurt themselves. People also talked about voices giving them an ultimatum. Green Lettuce’s voices told him he would die if he slept, and he said “once, I was up for eight days because I thought I’d die if I went to sleep, that was a nightmare… I literally just passed out on the eighth day.” But people didn’t always act on them: Sam hears voices telling her to hurt others but has never acted on them. People who hear commanding voices could also learn to manage them.
 

Dominic hears clearly identifiable voices. At one point he heard seven voices. The constant “chit chat” was “intense” and made him angry. The loudest voice would give him commands telling him to hurt others.

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Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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It was one voice and then it became two voices and then it became three and then it became four. And at one point, I had seven voices going on. This was before medication. 

And they were sort of identifiable and separate. 

Different, different tones of voice. I can't pinpoint, 'cause voices are supposed to represent a person you know or a voice you've heard. Sometimes it's your own voice in different tones. Like one of mine is, younger me. He's a very temperamental little twat. One of them is my dad's voice. One of them is my very good friend, [her] voice. And when it was seven, there wasn't any chance to identify them, because it was just constant flow of talking in my head. Do you know, I don't know if you've seen Bruce Almighty. You know he's in the restaurant and he's hearing all that. It's literally, it was like that, constantly over and over again. And I had no breaks. For once, because I wasn't smoking weed at the time. I wasn't doing anything. I wasn't drinking or I wasn't smoking weed. I was just living and it was just constant and it was exhausting to say the least. And it was so intense that it would get me angry, throughout the day while I was working, it would get me angrier and angrier and I'm trying to find a break and trying to have just a few seconds of peace and there was none of it, ever. And, that made me very angry. Made me a very angry person, in general. I didn't, I didn't need any more anger. I wasn't short on anger I had plenty of it. And I was getting increasingly angry. And, then the orders became the loudest voice, so I had all the chit chatter, and all the chit chat, every now and again, ‘Go and hurt that person. Go and put his head on that fucking pavement’ or whatever and it would be very oh, no, very loud and very [moves hands from head to demonstrate angst], you know. 
 

Green Lettuce describes his voices having conversations with each other as well as commenting on what he was doing, and telling him not to leave the house.

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Age at interview: 25
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 20
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So what were the voices saying?

They said loads of different things really. It depends. Sometimes it’s like in the third person, sometimes it’s just voices, like it was like, different people were having conversations to each other through my head, and I couldn’t make out what it was about, because it was just like so frequent and fast that I couldn’t make out exactly what it was saying. Yeah, it was really weird.

Can you remember the first time you heard a voice?

Not specifically no, because it all like started at the same time. 

And did you talk to anybody at the time?

I didn’t, no. 

And were the voices saying nice things, horrible things?

No. Bad things, usually.

Can you tell me what you are comfortable about saying what they were saying to you?

In the later stages they were saying, like I’d get killed if I left the house and stuff, and I’d die if I went to sleep, and that’s mostly it, and then I got, I had voices commenting on everything I was doing like, they were saying like, “[Name] is rolling a cigarette.” Or, whatever. Stuff like that. Like I was doing something and they were just commenting anything I did. So it just did my head in to be honest.

I can imagine.

Yes. 

And did you get any time when the voices weren’t talking to you?

Only when I was asleep and even then I could still notice it sometimes. So I didn’t sleep very deeply at all. 

Because of the voices saying I’d get killed if I went out. And it was like all the time, every second of the time, it was saying the same thing. In different ways to make it look, sound like to me but there is no way I can go out without getting killed. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s what it was saying all the time.

It doesn’t sound ridiculous. It sounds very distressing for you.

Yes, it was pretty bad.

And how were you coping at the time?

It wasn’t easy to cope with. I just thought all the time that hopefully one day it would go away. That’s all I, that’s all I thought really, most of the time.

And were the voices anybody you recognised?

No. Not, no one in particular, it’s just well the voices were different, like the actual accents and stuff, but I couldn’t pinpoint, they weren’t actually people I knew or anything. Just like pretty random. I was actually quite sure that it was people that could have been nearby, because I used to think that I could hear like other people’s thoughts, and they could hear my thoughts and stuff. Stuff like that, and talk to people in, in my head, and they responded. But it was obviously not real. 

You said earlier that you were starting to get quite paranoid?

Yes.
 

Andrew X describes his voices as “the good the bad and the ugly” and explains how they fed into delusions and have caused him to hurt himself.

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Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 14
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I started to hear things. So I heard three voices. I started to hear three voices. I called them the good, the bad and the ugly. 'Cause the good was always giving like a running commentary on, you know, how, you're sort of meant to be good all the time. You know, you have to be angelic and perfect. Difficult, almost impossible to attain. The bad one was, of course, for me that manifestation- Satan himself was telling me to do all these bad and horrific things. And then the ugly was, I viewed as myself, almost like the person in the middle giving the commentary. So they would keep me up at night and stop me sleeping, sleeping is really important to your wellbeing and as I said things started deteriorating. I also started to become really religious at this point. So I started to take on a very odd interpretation of Christianity. So I believed I was sinful. I believed that the delusions- and so I'd have delusion, delusional thoughts about myself, which I would believe were true and I'd punish myself as a result of those delusional thoughts. So I would, you know, let's say I thought let's say I thought I insulted you or did something like that. Then I would punish myself for insulting someone, even though I didn't, it was a delusion or the voices told me to do it. So I'd do things like whip myself with a belt. I’d punch myself in the head to let that stress and anger out like the—when people talk about mental health and particularly stuff like psychosis, psychotic episodes it was it's not physically hurting you, you know, it's mental health and not physical. Actually, my brain hurt. And you become really exhausted. And so you really do. It is, it you have, it manifests itself physically as well.
 

Ruby hears the voices of her younger self and her abusive father, which she now calls “Alice” and “Darren”. Sometimes Darren tells her to do things that involve self -harm or putting herself in danger.

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Age at interview: 22
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 19
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Darren is- my dad was abusive and Darren does the things that my dad used to do to me when I was younger and so, in a way, because I have no contact with my dad now, it's my brains way of trying to process what was going on, which, when I'm feeling how I am now, I understand that. But at the time, it's too real and too involved for me to be able to get that perspective and that Alice is me as that child that was being hurt when I was younger, desperately trying to get somebody to help me with the screaming and the other things. Yeah, so once we worked that out, it was a little bit easier I mean, I still experience them and they still cause me quite a lot of distress at times, but it's a lot easier to have them in the background now without having to worry too much if they're not interacting, they are just kind of there. It's kind of easy to live with. Yeah. I mean, they've got me into lots of dangerous situations. I mean, Darren tends to- so, for example, once I was at church and my friend, [name] who has epilepsy she had a seizure and Darren said to me, if you don't hurt yourself in a particular way 400 times, then that's gonna keep happening until you do. So I went and did that. And of course then we both landed in hospital, so it's not really an affective way of dealing with it. But at the time, I believe that if I don't do what he says, he has that control there are times when I believe he can get inside, other people's minds and control them and make them do stuff. Other times like once I saw Alice, she was on the train tracks and so I wasn't on the train tracks, but I was stood by them trying to convince her to get off the train tracks, but she wasn't, there was nobody there as far as everyone else was concerned. And so that led to a section, because obviously I was putting myself in danger, but I thought that I was helping. So it can be quite, yeah, difficult, because at the time you have no real awareness of the real world. It's kind of just everything is so intense with that experience, it just takes over. 
 

Dominic hears clearly identifiable voices. At one point he heard seven voices. The constant “chit chat” was “intense” and made him angry. The loudest voice would give him commands telling him to hurt others.

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Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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It was one voice and then it became two voices and then it became three and then it became four. And at one point, I had seven voices going on. This was before medication. 

And they were sort of identifiable and separate. 

Different, different tones of voice. I can't pinpoint, 'cause voices are supposed to represent a person you know or a voice you've heard. Sometimes it's your own voice in different tones. Like one of mine is, younger me. He's a very temperamental little twat. One of them is my dad's voice. One of them is my very good friend, [her] voice. And when it was seven, there wasn't any chance to identify them, because it was just constant flow of talking in my head. Do you know, I don't know if you've seen Bruce Almighty. You know he's in the restaurant and he's hearing all that. It's literally, it was like that, constantly over and over again. And I had no breaks. For once, because I wasn't smoking weed at the time. I wasn't doing anything. I wasn't drinking or I wasn't smoking weed. I was just living and it was just constant and it was exhausting to say the least. And it was so intense that it would get me angry, throughout the day while I was working, it would get me angrier and angrier and I'm trying to find a break and trying to have just a few seconds of peace and there was none of it, ever. And, that made me very angry. Made me a very angry person, in general. I didn't, I didn't need any more anger. I wasn't short on anger I had plenty of it. And I was getting increasingly angry. And, then the orders became the loudest voice, so I had all the chit chatter, and all the chit chat, every now and again, ‘Go and hurt that person. Go and put his head on that fucking pavement’ or whatever and it would be very oh, no, very loud and very [moves hands from head to demonstrate angst], you know. 
Seeing visions and images
 
A few people saw images or “visions”. These could be people, objects or characters that were familiar – for example, that they’d seen on TV – or totally unexpected. Visions could seem out of place. Barry saw a red car on a curtain and Lucy saw “people jumping out” of street signs. Sometimes visions could be horrific, frightening or violent. Some saw blood on the faces of people around them or scenes of a loved one or friend being hurt. Hannah described it as being like when people in films are remembering or dreaming of something which flashes up and then is gone. Tariq said he used to see dead people in graves and had visions of people following him around. The visions were so clear he was able to describe them in detail to the crisis team.  
 
Visions could be extremely upsetting and feed into people’s fears, such as fear for their own, or their loved one’s safety.
 

Joe’s first visual hallucination was very upsetting. When it finished he believed he had hurt people he cared about. Afterwards he discovered none of it had happened but to him it felt as though two realities had happened at the same time.

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Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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But, yeah. So I was sitting in the library this one time. And the purple one started up, sort of here [reaches behind back with arms], just going [unintelligible whispering]. As they did. And I was looking around, thinking 'okay'. So I, I texted on of my friends, who - well, two of my friends who live together, and said "Look, I'm really struggling with this. Can I just come over and do my assignment at yours, because I can't deal with being on my own?" But they lived about forty minutes from there. Or eight minutes on the bus. And I got - So I got up, packed all my stuff up, walked out. And the bus was coming. I saw the other leaving, and the bus was coming in like seven and a half minutes. And it was that thing about not being able to sit still. It was like 'no, I'm just going to go'. And so I walked for forty minutes, just hallucinating my arse off. And it got quite bad. And I - Like proper full-on screaming. But that was the first time I had a visual hallucination. Well I say visual, first time I had one that involved all my other senses. But, as I said, a lot of my hallucinations revolved around people I cared about, being hurt. So essentially what happened was I walked, you know, sort of down the road. Got to the roundabout, walked along by the Tesco’s. Got to the house. And then I remember - I remember not even - I remember it actually happening. My friend opening the door, and me just somehow having a knife, and killing both of them. And then I remember my grandfather's voice saying "Okay, now. Now, you can go." As if I was a child being told off, "You're going, going to have to watch this, and then you can go." And then I woke up, in the middle of that roundabout, bawling my eyes out. And then I walked back to the house. Because - Because at that point, I - That had actually happened for me. I was basically going back to see if I could do anything to help. And then I got to the house, and they both opened the door, and it was completely fine. And my world just kind of melted together. Because it was two completely conflicting, but both completely real things happening in tandem. And, yeah. That was the first time I had a visual hallucination, or one that involved other senses. And that's what I mean about things being - whether you can if things are real. Because both those things, according to my sort of linear perspective on life - both of them happened around the same time. And both were exactly as real as each other. The only difference is, I'm living in a world with the results of one of those. But I could quite easily be living the other world, with the results of the other.
 

Dominic had visions of hurting people and heard commanding voices. He didn’t leave the house for three years after his diagnosis because he was afraid he might hurt people.

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Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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One of the worst symptoms is my rage. I get images of hurting people way too often. But it's not just hurting them, it's murdering them. It's torturing and I can look at a random person walking by and my mind will flip from that person's face to that person's face in the torture chair and me really hurting them and that sort of thing. And I also get similar, along that same line these bursts of just fury where I, everything inside of me wants to punch the person in front of me. And those are the ones that scare me the most. Those are the ones that affect me the most. It's not the voices telling me I'm a worthless piece of shit all day. I can deal with that. I handle that. It's when I'm just sat in town, with a friend and all of a sudden I just wanna cave their face in. I don't, I don't know why. I don't know that came from. But that's the one that really affects me. That's the one that keeps me indoors, sometimes. 

Is there a kind of build up to it. Do you know what's happening. 

No, no, I, it, there is warnings signs. But they're just the same warning signs I get on a day to day basis where my voices don’t want to leave the house. My voices make me, if I—every time I, every time I leave the house, I'll get images of what could happen. The voices say, voices say, if you leave the house this is gonna happen. And if this happens then this is gonna go wrong and your whole life's gonna end. And it happens every single time. And they're the same warning signs for when I'm gonna be having those angry days. So I can't, I don't let them. I could let them keep me indoors and hide away forever. But I don't, I—for a very long time, don't get me wrong. For three years after I was diagnosed, I didn't leave the house because I was just terrified of hurting people. I'm a lovely person. I don't like to hurt, I like to help people. I don't like hurting people. That was the old me, you know. And… every time I left the house I was convinced I was gonna kill someone that day or I was convinced that was the day that I was gonna lose control and really, really kill someone and it crippled me for three years where I used gaming as a big coping mechanism. 
 
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Chapman once saw a group of people gathering in his house and opened the door to find no one was there.

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Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 20
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I used to hallucinate, I used to see things, see people, see stuff that weren’t there when I, there was this once when I, when I went back home, I looked in the window to see if there was anyone in because my window was broken because everyone used to smash my windows. So I looked in the window, I saw a group of people gathered in the, in the living room and I was scared to go in. I fought my fear and just opened the door and when I got in and looked in the living room there was no one. And there was this other once when I was hallucinating, I saw someone trying to kill me with a knife. I put a wardrobe, put a wardrobe on the window so that he couldn’t come in but I didn’t know what was happening really. I got admitted again, they asked me if I wanted to be sectioned and I said, “No,” because I didn’t think I had a mental health problem. 

It’s difficult to, well I’ve seen like I just told you in my living room, I’ve seen people who used to live on the same on streets as me and they’ll be, they used to steal stuff from me. I saw an, like them in the living room and when I went in there was no one. I’ve seen an image of my brother and a man from the asylum team who was trying to help me out and I don’t know what they were saying. But they were, I was sleeping on the ground and they were just like right in front of my face and looked so real. When I went like that there was nothing.

What’s it like when, when those things happen to you?

Scary, it makes me angry but there’s nothing I can do?
 
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The faces of those who had bullied and tormented Tariq flooded back and he couldn’t put them to back of his mind.

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Age at interview: 21
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 18
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And the thing is that even the faces came flooding back, every face, you know, if I was to see all the bullies today I would know their faces. If I was to see all the teachers today I would know their face. It all flooded back, everything flooded back, even the traumatic, the pains that I was going through when I was having my surgery everything all came back. And I couldn’t put it behind me, and it was like when I tried to think of something I couldn’t, it was just right at the front.  
 

Joe’s first visual hallucination was very upsetting. When it finished he believed he had hurt people he cared about. Afterwards he discovered none of it had happened but to him it felt as though two realities had happened at the same time.

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Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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But, yeah. So I was sitting in the library this one time. And the purple one started up, sort of here [reaches behind back with arms], just going [unintelligible whispering]. As they did. And I was looking around, thinking 'okay'. So I, I texted on of my friends, who - well, two of my friends who live together, and said "Look, I'm really struggling with this. Can I just come over and do my assignment at yours, because I can't deal with being on my own?" But they lived about forty minutes from there. Or eight minutes on the bus. And I got - So I got up, packed all my stuff up, walked out. And the bus was coming. I saw the other leaving, and the bus was coming in like seven and a half minutes. And it was that thing about not being able to sit still. It was like 'no, I'm just going to go'. And so I walked for forty minutes, just hallucinating my arse off. And it got quite bad. And I - Like proper full-on screaming. But that was the first time I had a visual hallucination. Well I say visual, first time I had one that involved all my other senses. But, as I said, a lot of my hallucinations revolved around people I cared about, being hurt. So essentially what happened was I walked, you know, sort of down the road. Got to the roundabout, walked along by the Tesco’s. Got to the house. And then I remember - I remember not even - I remember it actually happening. My friend opening the door, and me just somehow having a knife, and killing both of them. And then I remember my grandfather's voice saying "Okay, now. Now, you can go." As if I was a child being told off, "You're going, going to have to watch this, and then you can go." And then I woke up, in the middle of that roundabout, bawling my eyes out. And then I walked back to the house. Because - Because at that point, I - That had actually happened for me. I was basically going back to see if I could do anything to help. And then I got to the house, and they both opened the door, and it was completely fine. And my world just kind of melted together. Because it was two completely conflicting, but both completely real things happening in tandem. And, yeah. That was the first time I had a visual hallucination, or one that involved other senses. And that's what I mean about things being - whether you can if things are real. Because both those things, according to my sort of linear perspective on life - both of them happened around the same time. And both were exactly as real as each other. The only difference is, I'm living in a world with the results of one of those. But I could quite easily be living the other world, with the results of the other.
Paranoia and delusions
 
Delusions and paranoia often involved what Andrew X described as “weird interpretations of social events”. Chapman and Emily thought that the television was talking to or about them. While Barry was in hospital he thought people he knew were being “trapped” inside the TV and so he would turn it off.
 

Sameeha describes being very “out of touch” with reality. Her mind seemed to be creating a “storyline” of its own, which she was acting out.

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Age at interview: 22
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 21
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And it was just regarding that time you lose kind of perception of time. There's a whole lot less awareness of everything that's going on, you kind of just like lose yourself. And eventually in the, the climax of it kinda thing. You are, you're just completely out of touch with reality and that what's happened to me, mid way I think it was half way through December. And yeah, I'd literally just left the house. I didn't know I was doing it. Walked outside, went to random places, spoke to random people and knocked on random doors. I thought loads of like delusional thoughts. Loads of, there was loads of paranoia. Couldn't trust anyone. 

Yeah. I was putting random things in random bags. I took the key that was in the door and then just walked out and I think I had a huge duffle bag with me, full of random things. Yeah and then I was walking around the place that I was living in at the time.

What was your intention that night, do you remember?

No, there was literally no intention, like I said, nothing has any reason or like any logic to it. It kind of, I think my opinion of it is how it works is, your mind is going through a mental blip and then your body is simply doing the things that the mental blip is giving out. So, it's giving out, I'll go walk around and go do this, go do that. And so you're walking around and the mental blip is still carrying on kind of thing. And it's just, your mind is interpreting all, every single concept that's ever been in your mind. So, your imagination is you think the CIA or whatever is being is following you. That there's loads of cases where people believe that. So, it just takes, it uses whatever storyline it needs for you to be able to comprehend it. For you to be able to like just be like, oh yeah, this is what's going on. Even though, in reality, if you are in the mental state you are now you'd be like well that's obviously a, a story as clearly your imagination, but in that time period, you’re your mind just wants you to feel somewhat grounded even though you're not. So I think, I feel like everything that the person thinks or is saying or even though it's weird and random, it's just them trying to cope with what's going on in their minds. Because the mind, you can't see anything. You can't see any of the lights or the electrons or anything running through it. So, it's simply it’s the reactions that you see. That's my personal opinion on how it works.
 

When Barry was in hospital he had paranoia. He would sit for the whole day just staring.

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Age at interview: 19
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 16
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I don’t think I had a diagnosis at that stage. And I was completely – I wasn’t with it at all. And I’d sit in the dining room and I’d just sit there. Right from - that was after getting, walking up and down the corridor, looking at the fire alarm, worried if it was going to go off. And when I finally got downstairs I‘d sit in the dining room. I’d stare at the separator, and literally be like this. And I’d be there right from eight o’clock in the morning, when breakfast opened and they got everyone up, right through till ten o’clock at night. And I barely just moved for the toilet and that’s it. People tried talking to me and I’d just stare. And this was going on for months. With very few signs of things improving. I was - anything I did was done - I was basically being nudged in the right way with some of the support workers' help, and other staff that was there. I would barely, I would barely touch my food. The support workers were basically bringing me a small selection of food and putting it in front of me. And I’d, I would barely, I’d barely touch it with a fork, and I would just stare. I was losing a lot of weight and - Yeah, I was losing a lot of weight. And things slowly got better. And I was on olanzapine, and [background noise]. 

Sorry about that.

That’s okay.

Okay so, do you think it was the medication then that slowly helped, or? 

Yeah, it was helping, very gradually. I was, I was, I was practically nudged towards the medication room to take my medication. Because I would barely move. I slowly got better, I’d start moving around a little bit more. I’d still sit down a lot. And then all of a sudden, I’d sit down. And, on, on like a - on a surface, work surface? And leaning against the like, wall-ey bit in the middle was this little poster, and it said something like ‘world mental health day 2010’. It must’ve been there for ages. And it had like beau-, I can’t remember. It was like beautiful something, something, world mental health day. [Background noise]. And because of the windows, and the way the light was looking down at it, the light on the poster would change. And I’d, I’d be okay as the light was moving down the picture. Because I’d still sit there for hours on end. So I just saw the light moving down, then all of a sudden it got towards the bottom, and it 'world mental health day', and I was really, really worrying. Because I thought what it meant is, all of a sudden the whole world was going to suffer with mental health difficulties. 
 
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When Joseph’s mum didn’t make it to see him in hospital one day he thought she had died.

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Age at interview: 22
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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I would like to avoid telling war stories, because it's not necessarily helpful to people, but. I think some instances, it is. So for example I felt - Well for example, when I first got to the hospital, most of my family could make it, but my Mum couldn't. And I was being told that she's at home. And I just read that as she'd died. And it wasn't a dream, where you think someone's died, I actually felt - I kind of - I know what it feels like to have lost my Mum, because I reacted in the same way. Because that's what I genuinely believed at that time. And I think it happened with a few other people. And then even with my girlfriend, because she obviously had to get home and get some sleep. But I'd woke, don’t know if I was awake or not, I was awake at night anyway. And looked on my phone. And I was looking for her, and I typed in her name, went onto her Twitter profile, and her last post was about six months before. And I just interpreted that as that she had died. There was just no other way. That's kind of - shines a light on how you think when you're in that state. Like you just see 'okay, she hasn't posted for six months, that she's deceased', and that's the only way of seeing it. And then I reacted in the same way as if it had been a truth, that had been - yeah. And so it was all those things, I suppose. I mean it wouldn't have been as real obviously if it had happened, because soon as then I saw these people again, you then get the relief. And then - But it's still just - I can't say I've had flashbacks over the year, but I've certainly every now and then I'll just be gardening and I'll just remember. And, yeah. It is something you kind of have to live with for a little while. Even though you know it's alright. But that period of time, it felt very real, so. It's just dealing with that with care.
When they were having delusions a few people said it felt as though their brains were speeding up, and they sometimes believed they could achieve things they would not normally be able to do. Luke, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was two weeks into a new job when he began experiencing delusions and feeling “omnipotent”: “I started to think MI6 were onto me. I started to think that I was God. I thought I could predict the result of the Scottish referendum”. When he was in hospital Luke remembers going around to people’s beds and putting his hands on their heads and saying “you are healed”.
 

Luke describes putting information together in illogical ways and reading meaning into everything.

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Age at interview: 21
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 19
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You've got a million ideas coming at once, but they all make sense. So, like you know - when you're feeling normal, you might be on the way home from work, you might have an idea in your head. You might write it down on your iPhone. You know, when you - you could be having dinner with your family, your other half, you have an idea. And it goes to the back of your mind. And I suppose everyday life, we come up with ideas all the time. We're always thinking of different things. When you have psychosis, every single piece of information available to the brain, you seem to be able to access it, and it all seems so interesting. There's a reason for everything, there's a reason why this sofa is grey. A higher reason. There's a, there's a, there's a deeper meaning to this being grey. Perhaps because I sat on the grey sofa and not the red sofa, I'm the devil. Or whatever. You come up - And you put together pieces of information that have absolutely not logical pathway. And, but there's a true reason behind it, you are one hundred percent deluded into believing that something is real. And that's what makes it dangerous, you can do very silly things based on this, based on information that is wrong. Or not wrong, but at the time you thought it was right. And that's what I love about psychosis. You know? I think my life's been so much more interesting because I've had this, this, this condition. And if - Like what I've done when I've been psychotic, I just think - could be, it could be the funniest thing ever. You know? If you didn't have - don't have bipolar, you would never have experienced the high that people with bipolar experience.
 
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Sometimes Joseph felt like he was “bumping along the bottom” and at other times he felt like he was flying. He compared it to moving up levels in a computer game.

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Age at interview: 22
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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I would say it was over a short period of time, but still it was - it just started with the thoughts being a bit more - Well I'd say to start with for example, something quite mundane even. So at work, you want to perform a bit better, so you think 'oh, it'd be great if my brain was a bit more active'. Like if I could be - what it would be like if I was on top performance all of the time. It's just entertaining - everyone has funny ideas, entertain that, would it be possible? And then you start looking at maybe ways of doing that. Sort of over-clocking your brain, you could ramp up. So you're just always on it. And because, yeah, as a chef I think for some people it's they are - always sort of doing pretty good, there wasn't too much highs and lows. Whereas I felt there'd be some days if I hadn't eaten enough, then I'd just be really bumping along the bottom. Regardless if anyone really noticed or not, it's hard to say whether it's just something I felt. And then other times I'd have loads to eat, got enough sleep, and I'd just feel - yeah, just like I was flying throughout.

Felt like you were flying, did you say?

Oh, when I was - yeah, just in a normal sense. Just like I was just - yeah, everything was going out properly. And it was, I was enjoying myself. 

Yeah. Had you felt that way previously?

Yes, I mean, that's sort of over the course of the career. 

Yeah.

So, when - So, back to my point about starting with a mundane thing like that. And then eventually it grew to, well I was taking sort of caffeine supplements, and even just - Looking back now, it's really strange. But playing a video game, in like an order that if it, the video game, sort of ramps up slowly. So then the more, the harder the game gets, the sort of higher level my brain was working. So, delusions that. It sort of got - that each day would get a little bit worse.
People also described ‘thought broadcasting’, when they believed that other people could hear their thoughts, and ‘thought blocking’, when they believed that others were stopping their thoughts: Tariq said, “I had thought blocking where on occasions I couldn’t think for myself. Sometimes I’d think that people were taking thoughts away from me.”
 

Andrew X describes how difficult it was for him when he believed that others could hear his thoughts.

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Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 14
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But I'd say the first, the first phenomenon, if you will that I remember in particular, a particularly difficult one. Something I think is called 'Thought Broadcast' and this was, out of everything I experienced out of the voices, out of the self-harm, out of the depression, out of the suicide ideation this was the most difficult to deal with. So I'd be sitting here and I'd be you know, just thinking, as people do and you know their mind is their sanctuary. They should be able to think what they want. But I felt as though people would be able to, that my thoughts would be broadcast to other people. So people sitting in the room with me would be able to read what I was thinking. So let's say, I thought, oh, you know, [friend’s name] has some really terrible shoes. I would feel as though [friend’s name] would be able to hear that. So that's really difficult, because then your thoughts don't become your own. So you're guarded about what you're thinking and you're stopping yourself being able to think. That's horrific. And that's really difficult to sort of manage and particularly when you believe it's true. And then you get paranoid about what people think about what you've been thinking about them. That's, that, that, that, that really destroyed me that did. That was a really difficult experience. And that's probably the most powerful memory from that, you know, the first memories. It took me a while to actually resolve that. Took a lot of counselling or therapy, whatever. 
 

Green lettuce thought his thoughts were being broadcast to the world.

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Age at interview: 25
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 20
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I used to think that people could hear my thoughts. And also that they could hear anything that was going on around me, like, if I was listen… listening to music, I thought other people around me could hear the music I was listening to, even if they weren’t able to so the distance or whatever. And like conversations that were, that I could hear, I thought other people could hear through my head kind of thing, at the same time. 

And things like, just noises, generally, that I thought everything, I thought I had in my head, I thought was broadcast to everyone around me, and further afield as well. Sometimes everyone in the world, I thought it was just broadcast to everyone like, at one point I thought I could control the TV, like what the people were saying on TV. And like, because I used to think what they were going to say before they said it all the time, it’s really weird. Just too co-incidental.

And what did that feel like for you?

I don’t know. It was just really weird. Just a lot to take in at one time. And I used to have dreams of adverts in and like in a week they’d be on TV.
Delusions could lead people to do things that were out of character. Max had a delusion in hospital that one of the staff members was going to hurt him and he “went after her” and was stopped by staff. This was the “complete opposite” of his usual behaviour. Ruby thought she could fly and kept trying to jump off things. For some people delusions could come at the same time as, and feed into, visions and voice hearing.
 

Dominic describes how paranoia, visions, voices and delusions can come together when he is walking down a street. He has learnt to manage them and says how important it is to celebrate the small triumphs.

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Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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There's a lot of things your brain can do. A lot of ways it can trick, trick you and trip you up. But, you have to learn yourself that not everything that happens in your head is real. It's called, confirmation bias. When something happens, if you're powered by something and you're constantly looking for evidence that that backs up that paranoia, rather than looking at the broader picture. So a lot of my paranoia is based around people. And, what I do is, if I'm walking down, walking down the street towards a group of lads in hoodies, it rushes and it goes crazy and it's, they're gonna look at you and they're gonna see you and they're gonna think you are a big guy. 'Cause I'm a big guy, I'm a big looking guy. They're gonna see me as an intimidation. They are gonna follow me, and if they do start following me then it gets even worse and they start, it starts racing and the voices start racing and then I get heart races and I start to get the images of them actually beating me up. And I used to get images of people laughing at me, because I'm on the floor beaten up - and all that happens. But what ‘I’ do is simply turn around, which is the hardest thing to do by the way. It is so hard to, to take all that and go, ‘I’m just gonna turn round look at 'em. If I, if I turn round and look at them and they're not following me, there's no power left’. And I do that. And I… [looks around him]… nothing. 

So you look to see that actually what's there right now isn't 

Isn’t what's happening in my head? Exactly. And, and I confirm that nothing's happening. And then I gather evidence around me - there's no-one there [indicates different directions]. There's no-one there and no-one there and no-one there, 'cause I start getting really ridiculous things: ‘If they aint following you, they rung their friend whose right on the corner there and then the other friend's right around that corner. They were gonna coral round’. So I just take simple steps, rather than… okay, well if they're gonna do that that that, I'll walk that way. Then what?

Simplifying it. 

Yeah. And that alone, they fizzle out a little bit. You know, they'll carry on talking but they're not so ‘Dom, Dom, seriously, they're round that corner there. They're round that corner there, there's one behind you and they're everywhere’. It's not that any more. It's ‘Didn't really work out did it. You're you're a fat fuck, Dom’. That sort of thing happens and they sort of give in a little bit. And then I feel so powerful. I feel so yeah, now what? What can you do to me for the rest of this day? You have nothing, you have nothing left for the rest of the day. And tomorrow it's a different day, yes. Tomorrow, I can wake up feeling completely shit again. But it doesn't matter. 'Cause then I can think yesterday they didn't win. So why would they win today? And it's really about being cognitive about that stuff. It's really about taking note of everything that you, every little battle you win. 'Cause there are so many throughout the day. There's so many battles that- you’re gonna lose, you're gonna win. But the ones you win feed off of it. Don't just okay, well, I won that and I'm gonna lose this next one now. Feed off of it and say, yeah, I won that. I'm gonna eat this and I'm gonna, I wanna build myself up with it. 
While people knew with hindsight that hallucinations and delusions weren’t real, there were sometimes real sensory experiences associated with them. For some the experience gave them valuable insights into another way of seeing things. Luke said that while bipolar disorder is “catastrophic” it also gives you a “different level of perception”, and allows you to see things differently.
 

Although Green Lettuce knows now that things that seemed real during his psychotic episodes, weren’t actually real, he still believes certain things that most people don’t, for example he thinks it might be possible to predict what others are going to say

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Age at interview: 25
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 20
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And did you speak to anybody about thinking that your thoughts were being broadcast?

Yes. I spoke to a lot of people about it. Yes. Yes. Doctors. My, my support worker. Parents.

What types of things did they say?

It’s not real. It’s not possible. Even to this day I think it can be possible. But no one will be believe me, but no one knows for a fact I don’t know how anyone can disprove that they’re impossible though, that’s the thing. 

And when you look back at these things, which are very different to how you are now, does it feel real what you went through, does it feel…?

Yes. It felt real at the time, it was real. Looking back at now, I know it was, going through withdrawal at the time, but now I know that it wasn’t actually real what was happening to me. But that’s only in retrospect, like looking back on it. I know different now. Because I know that those things aren’t normal now. Kind of thing. I still believe some stuff that most people don’t.

What types of things?

Just like you can talk to people in your head. But I’m not a hundred per cent on it. 

Almost like... sort of psychic stuff?

Yeah. Like telepathic and stuff like that. And being able to predict what people are going to say and stuff like that. There’s too much to it, that makes it seem to me, like there’s a possibility that it can be true.

And have you have looked any of this stuff up on the net?

Not really.

But being able to you know, predict adverts a lot of people are saying…

Yes, all these things have added to like a point that I believe certain things now. Just because it can’t be just a coincidence, the amount of times it’s happened. 
False memories 
 
Some people had false memories: they could remember things that didn’t happen at all, or could remember events from a long time ago as though they had happened yesterday.
 

Joe had memories that “weren’t real” or remembered things happening in the wrong order.

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Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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Like one of the things I had was - Either having memories that weren't real, didn't happen. Or I swear this party happened after that assignment was in. Like that was - that happened like after that, that project on maggots was in. But it definitely wasn't. Because I know I could see on the calendar that it wasn't. But I remember things in sequence happening wrong.

And then did you realise at the time? Or was there a point at which you realised that, that you were not remembering things in the right order, or?

Yeah. Honestly, there was one particular one which was, just around the August, so about two months before the first time I heard a voice. Me and my then girlfriend broke up. For completely unrelated reasons. And then I kept meeting her at parties, and she kept just calling me a freak, and saying awful things. And like yelling at me. And then I was like 'why is she being such a bitch, why are we arguing like this, why has she changed so much?' And then, like - I think at a party I actually confronted her about it. And she said, "But that didn't happen. None of this is - We haven't spoken in four months." And I was like 'okay, actually - that does make a real kind of sense'. Because that, yeah. 

So it was a visual - it was visual hallucinations then, and things?

I don't even know if they were - They were different from the other visual hallucinations I had. Because it wasn't 'I can see this happening now', it's 'I remember this happening', but.

Right. So it's a memory, rather than -

Yeah.

Yeah. Okay. A memory that felt real.

Yeah.
Having false memories could be like experiencing a different version of reality. Dominic says, “I was at some place and in my mind I’m in another place and I’m doing something else… which was surreal”. Some people were aware that the false memories were not quite right but others didn’t realise until sometime later that they had had a psychotic experience. Andrew Z’s first experience was when he was acting in a play and found himself remembering quite elaborate “very strange happenings”. While there was a “kind of subconscious pull” telling him it was real he describes a “rational reality check” telling him that he couldn’t have forgotten and then suddenly remembered something so elaborate. 
 
False memories could be continual, but often stopped eventually. Andrew Z has short periods of having false memories and Joe used to have them but they haven’t happened for a long time now.
 

After six months of feeling real “happiness” Dominic describes the moment when he realised everything he had been experiencing had been a false memory.

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Age at interview: 24
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 21
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I really started living at this point. But the problem with that was all good things come to an end. And it turned out that I wasn't actually experiencing happiness. I was going through an episode. A very very long episode about six months. 

What does that mean?

For me, that means all of the experiences I had during those six months weren't real. The person I thought I was portraying wasn't the person I was portraying. I would experience a whole day and walk away from it not knowing what happened. I thought that was normal. I thought that was just a way of processing it. And then I go back and I'd say, ‘that was awesome yesterday, we did this thing didn't we?’ They'd go, ‘no. What? We didn't do that yesterday’. ‘But we fucking did. I know we did, because I remember it. I can remember us going to there and doing it. I don't’, ‘that was like three weeks ago’.

So time was kind of lost.

It was all a bit freaky, yeah, yeah. And I started thinking—

So this was after the sort of CBT work.

It was after the CBT work. After that I wasn't as high. I was on this really high. And I was going through life thinking I was, I was in control and this is brilliant. I'm in this head space where I've got, I'm doing things and nothing's really, nothing's really going wrong. And it was all bullshit. It was all a figment of my, my imagination, it was—

What made you get to that point so people were saying to you, that wasn't yesterday. You started thinking well, what was that then?

Yeah. Yeah.

Why do I think it was yesterday?

Exactly. I started thinking ‘okay, they’re just fucking with me’ and I started excusing it. I think that's what, what happened a lot of the time, because there was a lot of, a lot of times in that six months where I'm looking at things and I'm going, ‘okay, that definitely shouldn't be there. This is, don’t worry’, because I was so happy and it was the first happiness I'd felt in three years, three years. And it was just like, it’s ma…it's literally like I was stuck at the bottom of a well, a shout went up and all of a sudden this massive floodlight shone down it and I could see. And it was, it wasn't a floodlight. It was a bit of sunlight reflecting off a mirror or something, it was fake. And I kept on, every time something was like ‘uh? No, Dom, you're happy. You're happy right now. Don't question it. Just don't question it, because if you question it, you're going to start crashing again. I don't wanna crash. So we're happy. We're happy that didn't happen and it was fine’. And, all of a sudden I me and my friends were quite messy. We were really heavy into our drugs. We were doing MDMA a lot, smoking ridiculous amounts of weed. And one day we had this “party” and I say “party” because we found an abandoned warehouse, had a fire, some shitty music. And we “partied”. And, after that, I had a big come down from the MDMA. During that comedown, I was awake. And I was, ‘what the fuck's happened. Where am I and how did I get here?’ And I ran. I just got up and ran from the warehouse and I went and I just went under—because by the warehouse was like a big bridge and I went underneath the bridge and I just sat there and just sort of started going through, going through the past six months and I was ‘this doesn't make sense, what is this?’, and that happiness that started to not be happiness, because I was, I was starting to realise that none of this was actually real. I was going through my phone and going through my texts to try and piece together some sort of memory of what's been going on. And I was reading through conversations with some of my friends and so many times in those conversations I've said something and they've gone, ‘that didn't happen’. And I've gone, ‘yeah it did, don't fucking say that’. And I've completely, just completely ignored them. I was reading through these conversations and-it was almost like someone had just shattered my glass on my, on my beautiful little window that I had and reality started pouring in. And it was like, oh shit. I actually haven't been doing these things. 
Whilst the people we interviewed identified their experiences as ‘psychotic’, there are organisations worldwide, for example the Hearing Voices Network, which offer alternatives to psychiatric ways of understanding the experiences discussed here. 
 
*Tien A. Y. (1991). Distributions of hallucination in the population. Soc. Psychiatry Psychiatr. Epidemiol. 26, 287–292 10.1007/BF00789221
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