Eleanor Longden: The voices in my head

Hi Everyone! Have you ever gone down a Ted Talk Wormhole? I do it all the time. Also, Wikipedia Wormholes, but that’s a different story. In any event, I came across this TedTalk by Eleanor Longden. In it, she talks for just shy of 15 minutes about her experience of hearing voices. Her story, speaks perfectly to several aspects of the Mental Health Recovery Movement. She talks so eloquently about how the first mental health provider she interacted with framed her experience as a dangerous and unacceptable illness. This in turn actually led to a decrease in functioning. Her rock bottom got lower and lower making it harder and harder for her to come back. But she did come back. Her example is both extreme and inspiring. Extreme because you don’t have to hear voices to have a mental illness profoundly affect your life. Inspiring because she was able, with the help of peers, professionals, and family, to restore her level of functioning and conceptualize what was happening to her in a way that made sense. What would have happened if someone had helped her define hearing voices as an interesting mental difference instead of a dangerous mental illness? Once again, if it’s not a problem, it’s not a problem, and for Eleanor it didn’t start out as a problem at all. What if there was a paradigm shift, and she saw things differently? That's exactly what happened.

Eleanor talks about the Hearing Voices Movement, which you can find out more about through Intervoice: The International Hearing Voices Network. This is not to say that the experience of hearing voices is always benign, or that medical intervention is never necessary. It's important to work with a professional if you're having mental health symptoms that are causing you distress or if you feel unsafe due to what you're experiencing. However, this strikes me as a group that wants to take control of their own experience, and that wants help on their own terms. I can respect that. I'm not affilated with this group, and I can't vouch for everything they have to say. It looks like a good place to get more information, though.

The big take-away for me after watching this is that recovery is possible. Even when the situation seems extremely bad, it is possible.

This video raises lots of interesting thought questions, and I’m curious to know what you all have to say about it. Let me know what you think in the comments below, or drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you. And if you think this would be useful to someone else, don't hesitate to share.