Yesterday I shared a reflection on the first of four parts of the “Hearing Voices That Are Distressing” simulation in which I recently participated.
Now it’s time to move onto the second station:
After several minutes of shamefully unsuccessful attempts to complete the problem solving tasks, I was relieved to shuffle over to the second station – the reading comprehension activity with the psychologist. I was looking forward to this station because I am usually good at reading comprehension, as opposed to the visual spatial problem solving tasks at the previous station.
The psychologist who administered the reading activity, however, managed to turn it into a daunting task by giving us only five minutes to read a one-page essay on how to break into the music industry and then to answer several questions about it. I tried to be strategic, scanning for keywords and details, but as I attempted to speed read, the voices kept distracting me. I could not block them out. They became persecutory. They cursed at me. Shit, shit, shitty. You’re shit. This seemed ironic to me, since I know that I’m usually skilled at reading comprehension. So, even though I couldn’t block out the voices, I managed to not give into the meaning of the words they were feeding me, disallowing them from influencing my belief in my ability.
As the voices continued, however, I found myself reading the same sentence repeatedly, lacking comprehension. The pressure of the time limit continued to build. The psychologist spoke up and reminded us that we only had a little bit of time left, so we needed to hurry, while also reminding us that this important, so we needed to take it seriously. I hurried through the remainder of the passage, and when I got to the quiz, barely any of the material seemed familiar. I must have missed a lot of details due to the distracting voices and the time pressure. Hey! You smell. I did my best to make educated guesses based on the content I had read.
When the psychologist announced that time was up, we put down our pencils and checked out answers. Stop it! Stop! She asked us to go around the table and report how many we had answered correctly. All of us only answered a few of them correctly, well below a 50% grade. She made us patronize the person who answered the most questions correctly by clapping for her quietly. I was relieved when the psychologist finally dismissed us to the “waiting room” so that we could wait to be seen by the psychiatrist.