"I woke up to voices inside my head" - Andrew's story


Andrew first started hearing voices whilst studying to become a doctor at medical school. Although his psychotic experiences were difficult to understand and control, Andrew is now able to keep himself well by reading spiritual teachings and engaging in Sahaja Yoga and meditation.

I have a vulnerability to the sound of coughing, traffic and laughter, feelings of guilt, embarrassment and confusion over telepathic voices and unreciprocated love. This is a mental state I try my best to cope with on a daily basis. I follow Guru Shree Mataji Nirmala Devi and do Sahaja Yoga meditation, which is free. This meditation, and what Shree Mataji said and taught, does help me but this yoga is not widely acknowledged.

In 1982, I started at medical school to try to become a doctor but was immediately disturbed mentally by a relationship breakdown with a girlfriend. I was lucky to have Sahaja Yoga as I feel it pulled me back from the brink. It was such a traumatic time. Maybe the girl was jealous that she herself did not qualify for university.

  • I really couldn’t cross reference this experience with anything I knew.

I picked up some pornographic litter by the side of the road when on a walk and then was very embarrassed when I thought I was spotted. My guilt started to take root and I basically felt quite lost emotionally. I felt my face showed signs of distress and I really couldn’t cross reference this experience with anything I knew. I had no hope with finding the words. I felt painfully let down after no replies came from letters to some old acquaintances. I struggled on and reacted badly when my neighbor slammed doors on me. I physically attacked him. I was lucky this incident didn’t go further with the police and only with the college authorities. My final result in my degree was a Third-Class overall.

I was looking at a notice board at the clinical school when two students coughed aggressively. Their coughing startled me. I woke up to voices inside my head (what I call ‘telepathic voices’) and went through an ordeal where I thought a girl, who I was attracted to, wanted to kill me with the help of her boyfriend. Although this took place in the mind, I’d say there was some overlap with reality because I did actually speak to and interact with those students. I left medical school with the idea of returning, but although I dutifully attended psychiatric appointments, I wasn’t allowed back.

I also developed a fear of traffic after an incident at the beach. Traffic and horns put me on edge. One time, when I was in a place of work, there was constant CCTV surveillance, and it gave me a similar feeling. I was scared.

  • I was lucky to have Sahaja Yoga as I feel it pulled me back from the brink.

I retrained and managed to become a pharmacist. Nowadays, I feel I should’ve done something else as I personally believe that healthcare offers limited solutions, compared to what Sahaja Yoga and novels can do. There is a “most malicious cough” in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, for example.

I broke down again in 1997. I felt guilty about flirting at work and being assessed as ‘lacking in management skills’. All my past behaviours and my failure came back to mind, and as I was disintegrating, I had a fit: a vision of the end of the world. It was a psychotic episode. Doctors and a social worker came to section me for my third admission to a psychiatric hospital. After two years, I was allowed back to work, and I’ve plodded on since then.

I meditate using the pictures and techniques of Shree Mataji and Sahaja Yoga. I’ve written for the National Perceptions Forum’s website and the “I am 1 in 4” mental health blogging platform. In 2003, I was “highly commended” in the category of courage by the Beacon Fellowship Trust, for writing about my schizophrenia and for spreading awareness of Sahaja Yoga.

The stakes are high and there is all to play for. If you’re interested in learning about Sahaja Yoga, maybe start by watching “The Vision”, a 33-minute documentary on YouTube. Think about going to free local meetings run by the leaders and coordinators or read some of the books written by Sahaja Yogis. It has helped me.