Shooting some hoops, hopscotch, cartoons and children’s storybooks have filled many hours in the last few days as we sail towards the northern town of Alta in the Arctic circle. 2 full sea days has given me lots of time to think, feel and contemplate life as a multiple and my conclusion so far is that holidays with Dissociative Identity Disorder are far from easy.
I have come to realise that just because we are far from home doesn’t mean we can leave our DID behind us, indeed we have probably switched just as much as we normally do except now it’s harder to give the time over to all the helpful techniques we use at home.
Try giving yourself time to let those inner feelings out when you are aboard what is basically a big metal container filled with over 1500 passengers and around 800 crew. Finding space to be just me has not been so easy and so every once in a while I have to take myself off to the upper most decks and the basketball court to find space. The alternative is hiding away in my cabin and asking my trip companions to leave and let me be, not so easy when three people are sharing less than 300 square feet of space.
Thankfully the wonders of modern technology alongside a very willing psychologist has allowed me a virtual therapy session. I’m not so sure that the NHS would facilitate this kind of approach but thankfully it has been available to us this week.
By the time Monday came around I needed a chat with my psychologist and if I’m honest so did all of me. It certainly helped us think in a much more joined up way and allowed me the chance to accept that it was ok to ask for space and time and to stop trying so hard to be this perfect person I wish I was. You know the one who can cope with anything and everything and manage to have Dissociative identity disorder and yet not be affected by it, in my dreams maybe, but the reality is very different.
Finding a reason to excuse myself from dinner when we were sharing a table with a group of random strangers who we only met on Saturday in time for therapy wasn’t so easy, but we did it.
My main worry was we would have a technological blip and no signal or Internet connection when we needed one, but despite a dropped phone signal during my session we managed to have the majority of our session time.
I had anxiously worried as the captain had stated he was trying to race out if the port of Stavenger towards the Norweigan sea to avoid a storm and so my plan of the ship still being in sight of land was rapidly disappearing from sight.
Thankfully we still had a Norweigan phone signal meaning we could call England and at the appointed time and a virtual therapy session was both possible and useful. I think I was left with an overriding sense of relief that it had been possible as well a host of helpful advice on how to deal with our mishmash of emotions. I spent the following hours internally communicating, drawing, playing and being me, Carol, the person who has a whole host of alters with whom I share my life.
Something must have worked because I slept better that night and I even managed a lie in the next day. So since Monday I have made more time for the other parts of me, my alters, hence the plethora of activities we have been undertaking and I am sure we have given pleasure to some of the other passengers as I am certain I heard strains of muffled laughter as I feebly attempted to play hopscotch on the top deck of a moving ship as we bounced and bumped along a slightly choppy sea.
I am however hoping that my moments of meltdown have passed by with relatively few observations from others, as it’s hard to not be visible in this place. My feelings are as evident as ever so full on crying with an inability to stop is much harder to deal with currently, yet I know that part of me needs to express them self.
I think crying is one of the hardest emotions for me as when I was a child it wasn’t something i could do freely therefore today it still feels alien and at points scary.
During the last few days I have felt guilty at being selfish at wanting to undertake this trip, as it’s for me rather than my alters. I can’t even begin to explain why I wanted to try and see the Northern lights or visit the Arctic circle, I just knew I did, apparently parts of me are none too happy at my choice and have bluntly informed my daughter of this fact.
But I know it was right to give me time too, me the adult who in the course of this holiday so far has switched from adult, to young child to moody teenager and then back again and all in less than a day This isn’t an uncommon experience for us but it’s harder in the full glare of public gaze away from the cosy safety of our home.
My daughter thankfully has kept me grounded, offered reassurance and the occasional but much needed hug when the tears and my emotions have overwhelmed us. I was once told going on holiday with a multiple was like taking a whole coach party away, and yet thankfully my family are willing to encourage and support me and the alters on these trips.
In the next 3 days my daughters patience will be tested even further, in truth I will be tested and I’m sure my alters the other parts of me will be tested too. I am hoping to undertake 3 trips which all push boundaries and limits that for me at least are entrenched deep into my core, is this reckless well maybe, but if I have learnt anything in the past 40+ years of my life it’s that life is for living.
I was robbed of my childhood, robbed of years of security and safety, I have lost so much including the ability to feel and to believe in myself. I have been left scarred by the psychological impact of my past and now face each and every day not as a single being but as a fractured person made up of many parts. But I know that all of me deserve a future and a chance to rebuild our lives, to build memories that are happy, positive and above all made because we wanted too.
That’s why this trip is so important, because I am taking a tiny step forward to rebuilding a future filled with positive memories, memories that I hope will last a lifetime and bring me and all my parts a new sense of achievement and accomplishment.
Yes we have Dissociative Identity Disorder; its tough, but it won’t define me, my past won’t define me, how we live our life now and how we rise above the negatives and rebuild our life, and carve out a future will.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014