Continuing the Dialogue
By David Son
On March 14th 2015, the Montgomery County Hearing Voices Network held the event “Everybody Has a Story to Tell: Stories Under the Umbrella.” It was an opportunity for people who hear, see or sense things that others do not to dialogue with the community- families, friends, loved ones, neighbors, providers, supporters and other allies. The event built community connections by encouraging openness and increasing understanding of all the participants. Stories were told and people listened attentively, creating a sense of togetherness and familiarity. The dialogue during the event focused specifically upon the initial impact hearing voices had upon a person’s life and how people felt now. The dialogue was not to tell other people’s stories, but to share one’s own. This dialogue is just beginning and there is much more to explore and share. These were questions posed at the end of the event to be reflected upon and to spark future discussion:
What do you wish to be different about the way you relate to voices?
What do you need to make your wish come true?
Therefore, the dialogue needs to advance beyond this recent event and further make its way into the community. To do this, there are Taking Back Our Power Peer Support Groups which are held throughout Montgomery County, where voice hearers find acceptance and a place to share. There will be a Family Support Group forming on the first Tuesday of the month from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, beginning in April (location to be announced), where family members can tell their stories and relate their experiences. There will be future trainings on the subject to promote better understanding as well as a scheduled Forum to be held in the Lansdale area, which will foster acceptance and a sense of community. Moreover, the topic of hearing voices must become familiar and not startle, and be retold wherever possible. Such places as the Community Support Program meeting and the Certified Peer Specialist Professional Development Network meeting offer this opportunity to retell. Dialogues can continue at school, church and even at the dinner table. Truly, the conversation can occur anywhere and at any time- and it must occur if voice hearers are to take a rightful and active part in the community, breaking down the barriers of stigma and exclusion.