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How to Handle Seeing Things That Aren’t There Dealing With Hallucinations

Imagine waking up from a deep sleep suddenly to hear the sound of screaming from the room next to you. You run in to see someone you love and care for standing on their bed while a flood of tears stains their eyes. You search frantically, but no cause for such distress is within your sight. They scream that piranhas are jumping up to bite them, and you can clearly see the fear in their eyes is all too real as you desperately struggle to find a way to fight these invisible foes for them. This is an example of a hallucination, and it can often leave those involved, as well as those who witness it, feeling powerless and petrified.

Those who suffer from such conditions as schizophrenia, delirium, Parkinson’s disease, and seizures can all experiences the symptom of Hallucinations. Schizophrenia alone has reported a 70% chance of visual Hallucinations with a 60-90% chance of auditory hallucinations in the form of voices. Although this seemly formless ailment leaves many feeling helpless, there are ways to aid yourself and the ones you love when they are suffering. Here are a few things someone can do for themselves, and a few things that can be done for someone else:

What Are Hallucinations?

The first step to helping is to know what exactly what a hallucination is. A hallucination can take over any and all of your five senses. This means it does not just involve seeing things, but to smell, hear, taste or even feel things that are not physically there. Gustatory hallucinations as an example have caused people to report fresh food to taste as if it has rotted or an entire meal to taste of pure sugar.  It is said stimulating certain parts of the brain will cause hallucinations, along with fevers, drugs, and other nerve disorders. That being said, depending on who you ask you will get a different interpretation of what hallucinations truly are.

Freudians may claim they are the unconscious mind speaking. Those who study cognitive processes will say they are a cause of a cognitive error in the mind. Finally, a biologist will clearly state that is wholly based on brain damage and chemical imbalances. There is still much to be discovered about this ailment, but these are the basics.

How To Cope With Hallucinations

Find someone to trust

Never be afraid to reach out for help. Having someone who is willing to listen can allow for a more firm grasp on reality. Speaking the strange things you saw, hear, or feel out loud may allow you better accept what is happening in the future. It is also a comfort having someone who knows your situation, so you don’t have to feel as if you are fighting these images alone. Even if they are unable to see what you see or complete relate, the peace of mind their perspective can offer at times is nothing to be shrugged off. Having a stable rock in your life can ground you when your mind floats away.

Write Write Write!

Keeping a diary is another way to help interrupt what you are thinking and feeling. Record everything you sense around you as you sensed it. Even if you feel it is unintelligible, it’s still important to write it in the best way you can describe it.

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Go with the flow and keep stress low

This may seem obvious, but it is important to note the things that cause you stress. Stress is a common trigger for hallucinations when you are susceptible to them. Whenever you are able to, try to remove things that cause you anxiety or to feel discomfort. Some suggestions are to distance yourself from toxic relationships for a bit, choose clothing that highlights comfort over style, or find a song creates a peaceful atmosphere.

How To Help Someone Who is Hallucinating

Gradually sooth the atmosphere

Adjust lighting or sound to remove anything that may cause trigger emotions such as anxiety and stress. Do this as casually and calmly as you are able to. Perhaps do a small change at a time while you converse with them. Example, ask what they hear while turning down a television, then ask what is being said while slowly losing the lights. Another thing you can do is promote self-care. Feeling clean and healthy physically can do a world of good when mentally they may feel disorganized. Whether they are in a panic or suffering from long-term hallucinations, just keep steadily removing possible stresses as you keep them as engaged as you can in conversation.

Open a dialogue

Honestly, the best thing that can be done for those suffering a hallucination is to keep a trusting and open relationship. Allow yourself to slowly get closer to them both physically and mentally while calming opening a dialogue. Here are a few conversation tips:

  • Be very observant of their behavior. This including trying to indicate when they are experiencing a hallucination. Sometimes they may start staring at empty space or talking to themselves. When these moments happen, it’s best to approach them and start asking questions gently.
  • Just keep asking about their experience in a sympathetic voice that does not condescend them. Since many can tell the difference between reality and the hallucination, you may you ask if they feel this is a hallucination, but only if the relationship is at a proper level.
  • Remind them that you are a team and that you are passionate about being a part of their situation. Knowing you are there and desire to be there can help make them feel less fearful.
  • It’s essential never to deny what they are experiencing, but also never encourage it. For example try not demand they are not hearing what they are hearing, but also do not talk back as if you too can hear or see them.
  • Don’t feel worried or frustrated if they seem unable to concentrate since they will be dealing with a lot of mental burdens at that moment.
  • Additional tips and information on hallucinating. 

Hallucinations are scary for everyone involved. No one is entirely sure how best to fight that which isn’t truly there, and it can take a while to find a way that works best for you. The only thing we know for sure is dealing with them alone and without the proper support can place people into even more dangerous situations. The only thing one needs to know is real, is that they will always still be themselves and that that person is loved.

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Britney K. Hall, B.A. Psychology
Britney K. Hall, B.A. Psychology

With a dual degree in Psychology and English, Britney has hopes of using her unique writing voice to inspire others. Although she has a passion for all areas of psychology, she mostly shows a love of topics involving technology and education.

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