This past week I am slowly learning that having Dissociative Identity Disorder means my life is very different from most people. I thought it might be helpful to explain how being a multiple impacts upon every day in ways you wouldn’t imagine.
I start each day with the task of trying to internally communicate with my other parts, they don’t speak back so it’s a very one-sided conversation. I run through the plans for our day, the tasks we must do and those it would be good if we do, I then invite the alters to present themselves through feelings as we go through the day. It’s my way of letting them know I will try to be receptive to them throughout the day, take their feelings and views into account and allocate time for different groups of alters.
As my day progresses I am helped by one of two PA’s, these people are invaluable to my daily life and I would be lost without their help and support. It means my family are able to be just that my family and not my carers, the children don’t need to be looking after me their mum all the time. I am, I am told hard work and thus it wouldn’t be good for any of us if we had that additional pressure upon our relationships all of the time.
I have to plan each day to include activities for various groups of alters, so cartoons for the younger parts of me. Art for the parts that are creative or just need to express their feelings through words and pictures alongside a range of other activities which suit different parts of me.
If I don’t give time to the alters then life is more chaotic and that is what I am trying to avoid. So each day despite switching lots and losing chunks of time, forgetting important things and feeling tired and exhausted from poor sleep or protecting parts trying to shut me down, I have to allocate time to things others would not need too.
Throughout the day my feelings my fluctuate from one extreme to another and with no warning, so one minute I might feel happy and the next be in the pit of despair. I can like today suddenly find myself unable to stop crying and yet having absolutely no idea why I feel so bad. This is draining in itself as well as time-consuming and confusing. I cannot be certain but I am assuming that the feelings I encounter are changes in alters, and the feelings I feel are the ones they carry for me.
I have to undertake periods of further internal dialogue throughout the day, it doesn’t matter where I am if I feel an alter I need to acknowledge them in this way. It’s not uncommon for me to suddenly go very quiet as I talk internally in the hope that the alters hear me.
Now once a week I attend an appointment with my psychologist for my therapy session, but therapy doesn’t stop in that one hour a week it’s something I have to continue to work through over the week. The concept that a therapist can heal me is long gone as I realise now that this is a partnership and they can help me but I have a lot of work to do, and most of this I have to do in the times I am not in the therapy session. For example internal dialogue is something that has stemmed from therapy but it can’t just happen once a week it has to happen more than a few times each day.
I have to be honest and say that I lack skills in some areas of my life that I wish I didn’t and this exacerbates my difficulties and means I need more support and help. I find understanding others emotions hard and it’s tough for me to build up relationships or trust. Many of the issues I have stem from my past and the lack of nurture and care I had as a child, I am learning that how I think, feel and perceive the world is slightly skewed at times.
Overall my days are busy, chaotic and no two are ever the same, I seem to struggle with balancing the needs of many with each and every moment. I am after all living a fragmented life, all the different parts of me separated by this amnesic barrier which was built a long time ago. I know many people with D.I.D have managed to move further forward than I have as yet, working, running a home etc, but I also know no two multiples are the same.
In my case I hope to move further forwards in time, therapy is a long process and it’s going to take a long time to heal the damage done over decades of abuse. I also know I have a tough road ahead in that I have to also not only learn about the other parts of me, I also have to retrain my brain to think in a wholly different way. Most of all I guess I have to learn the skills I have never learnt, developmental stages which were broken and in some not developed during my chaotic and traumatising childhood.
There is hope though, I am making progress and I can see that in many ways, 6 years ago I was in hospital a long-term patient. 2 Years ago I had an intensive 24 hour care package involving numerous staff, at home. Today it’s not as intensive, just 2 PA’s, with my family providing my support at night.
In the past before my health deteriorated I worked, it wasn’t easy but I did it and I have manged to study with lots of help and encouragement since then? I have to hope that I will keep moving forwards, one step at a time. right now though I have to focus on treatment and that means medication to help with symptoms, therapy and all the daily homework I guess that comes from it .
I’d like to run to the finish line but this race I have learnt isn’t about finishing in the fastest time, it’s all about learning to accept who we are, learning to live with the issues of dissociation, being a multiple and coming to terms with the horrors of our past.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014