Stephen Groves is a singer song writer and voice-hearer.

Please tell us about this piece of work. How is it linked to your experience of hearing voices?

‘Mud River’ is a song I wrote a few years ago about a dark point in my life after my Dad died and my Mam had a stroke and was diagnosed with dementia. I’d been struggling to cope caring for my Mam as well as volunteering, and I guess the bucket got too full and started to over flow. Then one Monday morning I packed a rucksack and decided I was gonna walk out of my life and ended up sleeping rough on a bench by the river Tyne in Newcastle – hence the title ‘Mud River’. Although I was only gone a few days it was an event that led me down the path of not sleeping and started me on the path of hearing voices again.

‘Mud River’ is also supposed to be a metaphor for being weighed down with all of life’s problem and realizing that I wasn’t as far down the road to recovery as I thought.

How (if at all) does making art help you cope with or explore your voices?

Writing songs is great for my mental health in general which hopefully will help me cope with my voices better as the experience of hearing voices for me can feel very isolating.

What role do your voices play in the creative process? Do they inspire you or do they sometimes ‘get in the way’?

Although the song ‘Mud River’ isn’t specifically about hearing voices I do plan on exploring the experience of voice-hearing in other songs I write and have plans of writing another EP called Voices. In that sense my voices will be a benefit.

Most of the songs I’m inspired to write come out of moments of desperation and I’m at a point where I want to challenge the stigma surrounding them and show you can be a voice hearer and still make a contribution to the world.

What’s your advice to other voice-hearers thinking of using creative activities as a means of coping with or exploring their experiences?

My advice would be to do it. I’ve found that being more open about my voice-hearing has help take a little bit of the power the voices seemed to have over me at first. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore, and being creative, I think is one of the best, if not, the best therapies.

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