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The voices in my head cheered for President Trump

Hearing voices caused me to become homeless. Here's what the voices said.

By David HeitzPublished 2 years ago 7 min read

I always thought that people who heard voices heard demonic messages about hurting people. But that’s not always how it goes. That’s not what I heard the voices in my head talking about.

It may be the worst of all mental health stigmas – hearing voices. It has taken me a few years to come to grips with the fact that most of the voices I heard for a few years were not real.

It all started shortly after my dad died in 2015. My mental health deteriorated very quickly. I was taken off Risperdal after more than 10 years and given a medical marijuana card instead.

Let me backup. I was not “taken off” Risperdal. My prescription ran out and my father, who had severe dementia and who I lived with, decided he no longer would pay for either of our medications. I did not work but watched after my father for several years. He covered my expenses.

Feeling better off my meds

Dad ended up in a memory care facility shortly after my medications ran out. I did go to work almost immediately after dad went into the facility, but I did not pursue refilling my Risperdal. I enjoyed the added energy. I had lost weight and was working again. Was I ramping up mania-wise? Absolutely, but I liked how it felt.

I need both an antipsychotic and my medical marijuana to function properly. Taking a psychotic person off an antipsychotic is extremely dangerous, and that’s what I basically did to myself. I enjoyed how I felt without the antipsychotic, which I was prescribed for bipolar disorder.

I’ve had several diagnoses since bipolar in the early 2000s, including post-traumatic stress disorder and schizoaffective disorder. This schizoaffective diagnosis lends itself to hearing voices, and sometimes the condition pairs with bipolar disorder.

Losing touch with reality

The first time I heard voices was after a particularly strange morning in 2014. I remember watching a morning show and thinking the hosts were talking about me. I felt high on ecstasy except I was not on any drugs other than marijuana, which very clearly does not cause psychotic symptoms in me.

On this day I became very anxious while walking to my father’s memory care facility, as though I had been drugged. I thought I saw dangerous criminals who were after me. I began to run to the assisted living facility, calling ahead to let them know I was being chased and to watch for me.

The real voices in the jail

They thought I was crazy and dialed 911. I ended up being taken to jail on a mental health hold after being beaten by Moline, Ill. police outside dad’s memory care facility.

Terrible things happened in the jail. I heard voices in the jail I later learned were real. I confirmed it with sources who were there.

But after that, I began hearing voices all the time that weren’t real. I had been so jacked with in the jail trauma took over. I could no longer distinguish between real and fake. Everything was part of a conspiracy.

After my house was shot at twice in my hometown, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I moved to Denver. Upon arriving in Denver, I immediately began hearing voices again.

Voices provided color commentary

The voices I heard essentially provided commentary on everything I did. “He’s now boarded the light rail and is headed to Littleton … he has no idea what he will do or where he will go when he gets there … now he’s taking out his laptop, it appears he is going to write something … He is nearly homeless but acting as though nothing is wrong … “

You get the idea.

Another time I heard voices was in the Denver jail. I had been thrown in there on a camping violation for covering up with a blanket along the side of the Platte River Trail on a cold day.

Voices called me ‘psycho’

I heard clear as a bell someone in the jail talking about me. The man had an accent and was reading my medical records aloud. “Mr. Heitz is psychotic, he has psychotic symptoms, he has psychosis, he is delusional, Mr. Heitz is mentally ill, my Heitz is psycho … He suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis …”

The man sounded like one of my dad’s doctors. And this doctor had the same last name as my brother’s doctor in Illinois. I thought he was part of a huge conspiracy to lock me up for mental illness.

Unable to tell where voices coming from

I used to wonder exactly where this doctor’s voice was coming from. I couldn’t hear it coming from the fan vent. It wasn’t coming from directly outside my cell. I had no idea where it was coming from, but I heard it, and there was not even the slightest doubt in my mind that it was real.

It was maddening. When doctors would ask if I heard voices, I would flip out and not answer the question.

There were a few different voices that I heard regularly. The doctor, the voice of a man I was convinced worked for the government and was spying on me, and his female associate. They would talk about everything I did.

Often, I would respond to the voices. This of course caused me to look like someone talking to himself. Usually, the voices said things that would upset me, but not always. They generally would comment on my situation in a very judgmental manner. No one had any idea what I was talking and screaming about when I would respond to the voices.

Voices commented on me having sex

Once I heard them talking about me having sex in my apartment. It was infuriating. I was not sure if they were in the apartment next to me or what, but I was sure I heard the voices. There was not a doubt in my mind they were real.

Once, while homeless, I was sleeping behind Cathedral Basilica in Denver, in an alley. I began to hear a parade coming down Colfax Avenue. I could hear President Trump in the parade. He said he was coming to visit me. “We’re going to see if David is still up,” I could hear him tell the crowd. “We think he is sleeping behind the church.”

I remember asking another homeless person sleeping behind the church if he could hear “the parade coming down Colfax.” And he said he could. Probably to just shut me up.

Voices cheered for Donald Trump

I should have known something was awry because the crowd was cheering for President Trump. It’s unlikely President Trump riding down Colfax Avenue in a motorcade would draw cheers.

Sometimes the voices would talk about events and crimes being committed. It left me completely out of touch with reality. I became enthralled with QANON and other conspiracy theories.

Before 2014 I never had heard voices or became obsessed with conspiracies. And thankfully, I have not heard voices or dabbled in conspiracies in three years. I don’t even know the person who did that.

Past still tries to haunt me

Unfortunately, social media giants refuse to remove posts I made while unmedicated. It hardly seems fair. I no longer have the emails, passwords or phone numbers associated with the accounts. I have emailed these companies dozens of times.

Hearing voices is maddening. I never understood it before it happened to me. When it happens, the voices speak clearly and articulately. I came to trust the voices and tried to analyze everything I heard them say.

It all led to a spiral deep into psychosis, heightening schizoaffective disorder symptoms and rendering me unable to function. I became homeless on the street, me, a person who once lived in a penthouse while working as deputy news editor of The Detroit News.

I’m like a diabetic

I am just a person with a disease who must medicate, like a diabetic who takes insulin. On medication, I can thrive so long as my past doesn’t define me. I am deeply embarrassed of how I acted while hearing voices and apologize to anyone I may have offended or upset in any way.

If you know someone who is hearing voices, don’t judge whatever strange story they are telling you. They completely believe what they’re talking about because they have heard other people discuss it. Listen and suggest treatment for symptoms such as agitation, but don’t suggest they’re hallucinating.

Getting a person hearing voices to a mental health professional is the first step in stopping the madness. I wish someone would have helped me early on, and that I would have let them. Instead, when people would offer me mental health treatment, I would become enraged that they were doubting what the voices were telling me.

At some point, I tired of the rage and began to take antipsychotic medications in the jail. From there authorities took me to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, where I received excellent care for almost a year.

Today I live a quiet life making a living as a writer as I have for many years. I take a quarterly injection for my mental health called Invega. I rest assured that if I’m on it, I’ll never hear voices again.


About the Creator

David Heitz

I am a journalist with more than 30 years' experience. Here at Vocal, I write mainly for Potent, Vocal's cannabis magazine. I have a PTSD diagnosis and a medical cannabis card. I have lived in a penthouse and also experienced homelessness.

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