My little dog Mister is not a fully licensed service dog, but he is quite adept at doing some of the things I needed in a psychiatric service dog. The most basic would be calming me down. If I get freaked out I can hug him and pet him and he calms me down. He saved me from a near suicide attempt by constantly licking my face one night until I calmed down enough to go to sleep. And he helps me discern hallucinations.
This might seem strange. How can a dog tell you if you are hallucinating or not? It’s really simple, if I hear something I can see if Mister hears it too, either by him looking around, cocking his head, or barking. I hadn’t had a chance to test it out until last night.
I was hearing people run around yelling outside. I wasn’t sure if it was real or not so I was watching Mister, who was definitely hearing them. Sometimes I have to ignore things to appear sane (I often hear people call my name who aren’t there) and it can cause me to be oblivious to things which might be dangerous. Luckily they really were just running around yelling and then went away.
About a half hour later I was trying to go to sleep and I was thinking of a question (which I have now forgotten because I was too startled to remember) when a womans voice whispered No. In one ear, my right ear. Mister didn’t hear it. Definitely a hallucination. I was relieved, and because I knew it was just a voice I didn’t have to worry.
Something I read today which was interesting is that scientists have discovered during auditory hallucinations there is increased blood flow in the thalamus and not the neocortex itself. This means auditory hallucinations are peripheral impuses funneled up through the thalamus.
I’d really like to know more about tactile hallucinations, something I have experienced once during my psychosis. It’s barely ever talked about, but it’s there.
Having hallucinations doesn’t necessarily mean you have to believe them or your life will be affected by them, especially if you have a good dog and enough skepticism to tell a voice to fuck off.