One of the difficult things about living with Dissociative Identity Disorder is the fact that I lose time, it is irritating, confusing and frustrating. I seem to have lost quite a bit of time so far this week and that has led to certain things not getting done, which Is something I find particularly annoying.
I am fortunate that at times, my family or my support workers can explain to me afterwards what has actually happened in the time I have been away, it can be extremely unsettling and disturbing. Yet somehow it is annoying to find minutes or in the worst cases hours have gone by and I have no recollection of them at all. It certainly makes planning things difficult and I know that I can’t always complete everything I had intended in a day because of the fact I am losing time.
At the lesser end of losing time I can find myself missing odd parts of conversations, a sentence which is somehow crucial to the conversation and can leave me feeling perplexed. It’s not uncommon for me to stand looking blankly at a person thinking desperately what were we discussing, frantically searching my mind for the last point of conversation that I remember. I often have no idea how much time as gone by at this point and yet the other person may have no idea how confused or disorientated I feel.
I am slowly learning to rescue myself from such situations, but I am told I often make statements or comments that are a little out of place to the conversation thread. I try and laugh these small incidents off but inside I am usually feeling anxious as I always worry people won’t understand or that another part of me has said or done something I would find embarrassing.
Currently the worst extreme of losing time I am experiencing is that of losing hours; not the days I have lost before, it is so difficult to find that in what feels like a few seconds time has moved forwards. Knowing that I have no recollection of what this body of mine has being doing or saying in that lost time is frightening. It can feel extremely scary and I usually frantically try to establish what exactly has happened in those lost hours.
The other day I was sat watching tv at home, in a sort of co-presence state between the little parts of me and me; Carol. The next moment a couple of hours had gone by and though the TV was still on the programmes had moved forward as had the clock, I also had rather grubby hands and there was sticky sweet wrappers by my side too. Feeling disorientated I asked my son who was at home if he knew what had happened in the time I had lost, fortunately I guess on this occasion he could fill in the blanks. Apparently one of my alters; another part of me, had asked for his help to complete a task and they’d even had a conversation with him. Slowly I was able to build up a picture of that time, I had planted some seeds in the garden and chatted on the phone to my daughter too.
I found myself feeling unsure whether to be pleased for the alter or annoyed, I mean they had taken control of my body. But I began to realise why maybe this had happened and it was as much my fault, I had allowed this alter to choose seeds at the garden centre last week to plant and then actually planted some of them myself. No wonder they took control and seized an opportunity to have their turn at doing the activity I had promised them.
It was reassuring that I hadn’t done anything unsafe or embarrassing, I was glad they had planted the seeds and had handled equipment safely. I’m not sure digging the holes for the seeds with a stone was a good idea, but it worked. They hadn’t hurt us and they had apparently had fun too, they had got anxious afterwards as they were unsure if I would be cross. Hence why they had called my daughter, who thankfully explained everything to me about their concerns. In the end I spent time reassuring them and letting them know that I wasn’t cross and that I was quite pleased they’d had fun. I made it clear it would have helped if we could have done it together, but that I accepted some of that was my fault too.
Life with different alters isn’t easy and I still find myself learning about this condition and living with it on a daily basis. I still make mistakes and that probably causes some of the lost time instances if I’m honest with myself. This week has been rather stressful and so maybe that’s why I am losing time more, it kind of makes sense to me.
When I was first diagnosed and realised that this losing time was for a reason and wasn’t because I was mad; which is what I initially thought right back in the beginning, I felt some kind of relief. But I did also get angry at the alters for robbing me of time, which is how it felt.
Now I take a different approach, I now realise that the alters are different parts of me and so even if I lose the time, another part of me knows exactly what has happened. It is still difficult and it’s not so easy to accept that I am made up of fragmented parts which co-exist often in isolation, separated by a brick wall of amnesia. However it could be so much worse, I now lose no more than a few hours and I’m usually in the safety of my own home at these times surrounded by people who understand.
There was a time when I lived on my own and lost days, I’d find myself in strange places with no idea how or why I was there. I often found myself standing next to a train line, teetering on the edge of a station platform or next to a canal. People failed to understand my distress or my upset and confusion at these times, I couldn’t explain what had happened it was impossible to find the words. In hospital I have found myself covered in self inflicted injuries and yet with no idea why or how they had happened. Staff would say I was attention seeking and fail to understand that I had lost time, to me it felt like someone else had done this and yet no one seemed to comprehend.
For now at least I don’t face this level of dissociating, yes losing time is still a part of my life and yes it impacts every day and it is frustrating and upsetting. But I do know that things could be much worse I could still be losing days and the fact I’m not is something for which I am extremely grateful.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014