When you hear the word "hallucination" what does this conjure up in your mind? Do you immediately think a person is losing it? Would you assume they need psychiatric help? Does the mere word make you feel uneasy? If you've said "yes" to any of these - let me enlighten you about a subject drenched in stigma and misinformation.
I experience occasional auditory and visual hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations are simply noises such as a telephone ringing, or a bang or sound in the house, or sometimes distant talking as if someone is nearby but not clear enough to establish what is being said. These auditory hallucinations should not be confused with someone suffering schizophrenia who hears nasty menacing voices in their head talking directly to them. These are two very different things and important to understand the difference.
With Parkinson's there can also be fleeting visual hallucinations which can be a vision of a dog or cat running by in the garden or a person who has just walked quickly by. They only occur on occasion, usually lasting for just a few seconds, and are not present all the time.
At the beginning I didn't realise they were hallucinations at all. It was only when at a girl friend's house, did I keep telling her someone was ringing the bell at the front door, which she could not hear at all, and upon opening the door we found no one there, did I realise this was an auditory hallucination.
These auditory and visual hallucinations are not frightening, nor disturbing, and most definitely do not mean I'm going crazy! These strange yet harmless hallucinations are merely a side effect of the pills I am on, and were I to stop taking my Parkinson's medications, the hallucinations would immediately cease. Generally people don't like to admit they are suffering these odd side effects of the medication for fear of ridicule. As soon as people hear the word "hallucinations" they become wary and judgmental, so it's important family and friends realise I am not losing my marbles. Parkinson's is a complex disease where symptoms and side effects can cloud the picture. This is why education is so important preventing people running in the other direction from something they know nothing about.