Do I Hallucinate?

It’s not like in the movies

Well, yes actually. But it’s not like in the movies. There is no dreamscape or soft focus images appearing before us. There is no vision of God. There is no voice in my head whispering to me in a soft but clear voice that sacrificing a little child will save the unrighteous.

If you are imagining that is what happens to us, then perhaps you need to spend more time in the real world and less time believing anything you see in the movies. After all, only a crazy person would believe the entertainment media would have factual information.

It’s movement in the edge of my vision,

I divide my hallucinations into the visual ones, the audio ones, and the scent ones. Yup, I really do get scent hallucinations.

For the visual hallucinations, I don’t see any images. What I get is the sensation of things moving in the periphery of my vision, or out of the corner of my eye. I’d look around to see if someone was approaching, or if the dog was coming to be petted, but there would be nothing there.

or an unclear voice just past the edge of my hearing.

For the audio hallucinations, I tend to hear what sounds like voices in the distance talking, but I’m unable to hear the actual words. This has often led to to the amusing situation where I’ve shouted out to the other person in the house to find out what they asked me.

And of course they would say “But I didn’t say anything.” Which usually degenerates into a “yes you did, no I didn’t” argument. Since I might do this two or three times in the course of an evening, you can end up with an annoyed housemate / partner.

It’s particularly noticeable if the house is quiet or I’m alone at home. Then it can make me nervous because it sounds as if someone else is inside the house or just outside. Though now that I have dogs with big teeth, I don’t worry about this as much.

Or a smell that follows me around.

The smell hallucinations tend to be the most vivid. A typical situation would be that I walk past a garbage truck and get a whiff – eew!   But then, as I continue walking I still continue to smell the stink, strongly enough that I may look down to see if something got stuck to my shoe. The smell can continue even when I walk inside and completely away from the source.

The hallucination is usually about an nasty smell, but it doesn’t have to be awful. I’ve had the scent of peaches or apples follow me around after walking past a stack of them or eating them. More rarely, people’s perfumes trigger it, and I look around to see if they are in the vicinity.

It’s not ghosts. I ignore them.

The hallucinations don’t last very long – usually for a time period measured in seconds, and they stop once I start paying attention to what I am actually hearing or seeing. The smells can last quite a bit longer, but still less than 5 minutes.

The audio and visual hallucinations don’t convey any words or images – it’s more of a sense of sound or motion, an auditory or visual twitch, as it were. They’re essentially harmless and I’ve learned to stop paying attention to them.

It’s not ghosts.

I generally don’t tell people that I hallucinate or hear voices. No matter how I might phrase it, it always comes out sounding wrong, and I get the “you’re kooky” look.

Real images or words. Go and see a doctor.

By the way, if you do happen to have hallucinations where you see actual images or hear actual words or songs, it’s time for you to go see a doctor or a neurosurgeon.
 
 

UPDATE: Article to be revised.

It has been brought to my attention that my experiences are not the only ones, and the others have more intense and real feeling hallucinations. This article will be updated with the additional information soon. Please hold.

4 thoughts on “Do I Hallucinate?

  1. Hi,
    I think the things you describe as visual and audio hallucinations sounds to me like normal things that happen to most people. The smell thing looks more like a real hallucination. I could be wrong, though. I am just talking from my personal experience.

    This happens to be a delicate subject for me, because many years ago I had hallucinations for six months and the experience it’s not that far as the one they show in the movies. I mean, you can really hear and see things, and I personally talked to demons, angels and other kind of spirits and beings from different planets, I didn’t experienced it the same way as I experience the normal reality, it was like they were inside my mind but they were real at the same time, and the very only time I questioned them they told me it had to be that way because other people shouldn’t see them, only me. I know this sounds REALLY crazy and that I should visit a doctor. Problem is that, in the moment you are have that kind of hallucinations, you believe IT IS REAL, you DON’T NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE with reality so you can’t get yourself to visit a doctor, you’d rather visit a priest and ask him to exorcise you (and I did…). Only people around you see that there’s something wrong and that is how my family ended up taking me to a psychiatric clinic…

    After some months under certain drugs the hallucinations have gone and I had to go back to normal/real life, and it’s really shocking to accept that all the things you saw and heard during that period were not real, and it’s really hard to overcome the embarrassment caused when you realize the weird things you did (like visiting the priest). I lost a lot of friends, among other things. For many years I lost my confidence on my perception of reality too. After that episode I went through a deep depression. It’s the only episode I’ve had so far. But the fact that I had those hallucinations and the several depression episodes I had further were the main reason for visiting a lot of psychiatrists and psychologists, which finally lead to the diagnosis of Bipolar II. Now depression and hypo-manic symptoms are pretty under control, but although doctors said there’s no guarantee I won’t have hallucinations again, they told me that if I learn to cope with high stressful situations (negative like death of close ones, or positive like childbirth) it will be very unlikely to happen again 🙂 I hope it’s true.

    Well, that said, I think it’s great that you share this subject on your web. And if someone experience the same as you, I would told them they shouldn’t be very worried, depression is much more risky for physical and mental health than those kind of hallucinations (I think). I hope you NEVER have the kind of hallucinations I had.

    I also want to say that I hope I didn’t offend you or anyone who’s reading this. It was never my intention.
    And the last thing, I wanted to ask if I can write an article about this and you publish it on your website.

    Hope you are doing great with your life, your dogs (still have them?), your health, Ketamine, and all that stuff! It’s nice to see this site alive, keep doing the good job 🙂

    PD: I am sorry for the long writing.

  2. I am a bipolar and I can totally understand the things you just mentioned. For me it started with paranoia because I was hearing things. The voices were faint at first but later on, they became very vivid- some were nice while come were very very nasty. Then I would smell the strangest scents around me that people didn’t notice. It came to a point where I no longer recognized what was real and what was not. I had no idea that I was already having my very first attack. It had gotten pretty bad I had to be hospitalized. I got well but just like most of those who discovered that were bipolar for the first time, I was in denial and got off my medicines. Six months later, I had my second attack and the voices were screaming as if a whole town was against you. You could hear voices that seen to come from miles away. On top of the smells, voices, i now was seeing facial expressions on other people that they claimed later on never happened. Food even tasted pretty bad like you were eating spoiled food from the garbage can. I was not myself for more tan a month. Gradually, with the help of medications and prayers and support from my loved ones, these went away. I am now back in school and am lucky to have a new doctor who is very supportive. The very first time he saw me, he never even had an inkling I was not like any other normal person. He said that my medicines are working great for me. Initially, my first doctor put me on zyprexa, lamictal and nozinan to help me get back on track. Now that the voices are gone, i am only on lamictal and nozinan. It has been more than two years since my 2nd attack. I opnly remember hearing strange voices two months after that. now I am back in school. I get paranoid at times but I try to put it away and nobody knows that I am a bipolar patient. Hearing my doctor say that he has bipolar patients who work in the government and private sectors ( and even a seaman) gave me hope that I could live normally just like the rest of them. 🙂

  3. I’ve been trying to find some information for a couple of days now. I’ve been taking lithium for almost 3 years now for bipolar disorder.

    This week I hallucinated twice and I’ve never hallucinated before this. This first hallucination happened at night while I was in bed. I could hear a man’s voice speaking to me, in a whisper. He was trying to tell me something important, but I was straining to understand. I tried to ignore it, but the voice came at me from another direction, louder. I was very afraid, but then it went away. I don’t know what he said to me. My hubby slept through it and didn’t hear anything.

    The next day I hallucinated that I could smell cat shit. I sprayed vanilla room perfume literally all around me and I couldn’t smell any vanilla, only cat shit. My hubby said he never smelled the cat shit and he only smelled vanilla. This went on for an hour at least. I didn’t believe him that he could only smell vanilla. I had him sniff the cat’s ass too!

    I’m struggling to decide if I should tell my doctor, or stop taking my lithium. I don’t know what to do. Should I wait to see if I hallucinate again? It’s all very weird.

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