What it’s like to live with schizophrenia

In this powerful Ted Talk, Eleanor Longden addresses "the voices in my head."


Gaby Dunn


Published Sep 6, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 7:07 am CDT

It started when Eleanor Longden heard a voice narrating her actions in the third person. The voice was in her head. She was then an insecure college student in her second semester yearning to fit in and have fun. But soon, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The voice multiplied. They became increasingly hostile and frustrated, mirroring feelings Longden said she could not express in real life. She told a doctor, who had her check into a hospital. The voices told her that if she completed a series of small tasks they asked of her, they’d leave her alone and she could go back to being normal.

They told her to harm herself and others. She wanted to drill a hole in her head to let the voices out.

Two years later, she had intense delusions. Her diagnosis led to extreme mishandling, mistrust, and abuse. One of her doctors told her, “You’d be better off with cancer,” because no one understands mental illness.

Longden’s powerful TED Talk addresses her own personal struggles and the treatment of individuals suffering from mental health issues. It’s a must-watch. Instead of asking “What’s wrong with you?,” Longden argues, psychiatrists should ask, “What’s happened to you?”

Screengrab via YouTube

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*First Published: Sep 6, 2013, 6:35 pm CDT