Is this really progress?

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Having had a weeks break in therapy it’s resumes early this week and now I’m desperately trying hard to keep things on a even keel before the session. The past 2 weeks I have seen some amazing progress, well I think it’s amazing progress but I won’t really be sure until I have spoken to my psychologist.

I am as usual doing my thing of doubting myself and my abilities, but I am clear that I have made progress it’s just how much I guess. The difficulty is I am rarely positive in therapy it’s as if I cannot go in there and shout out loud it’s been a good week! Oh how I wish I could.

The other week my psychologist told me I should be really pleased about something I had achieved with the alters, yet instead I had catastrophised the whole thing and felt it was a disaster. It was so hard to see this event as positive, as progress, yet in hindsight I can see that actually it is something I should be pleased about.

I think some of my difficulty is the fear I have of fun and my inbuilt belief I’m not good at anything, so many times fun came with costs I’d rather not have. Whilst fun would come with consequences so did any perceived under achieving, I was never good enough for many people especially my mother. Even straight A’s were a failure in her eyes and there were many negative messages as a child.

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Yet in the past two weeks I’ve seen signs of progress and I so want to walk into therapy and shout it from the rooftops, but as therapy day approaches I’m terrified I will falter and end up walking in full of fears and concerns and not sharing the positivity I’ve felt this past fortnight. I’m afraid I’m going to sabotage my positive progress and falter at this last hurdle so close to therapy day.

I’m not saying the past weeks have all been easy they haven’t, I have had times of tears and sadness, concern and doubt, I’ve messed up with the internal dialogue I’m trying. Yet in the mist of all of this has been some real moments of hope and inspiration, of progress. I feel like my teen; who now has a name, and I are slowly developing a relationship with each other and that feels amazing. I’m kind of thinking that I’m making progress with internal communication too and that is huge as well. There are lots of things I want to share with my psychologist and yet I’m afraid I won’t be able too.

Now it’s not as simple as just having a fairly good weekend and then going into therapy still with a smile on my face, I so wish it was. I have a week ahead which always causes me difficulties, it’s nearly 15 years since my Dad’s passing and I always get emotional at this time of year. I don’t want that emotional overload to weigh me down and spoil this moment of hope.

So I’m having to dig real deep and use all my inner resources to keep thinking things are ok, to keep level headed and calm and not sink into that pit of despair I usually sink into at the start of each September.

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I’m also keep needing to tell myself that it’s safe to step forward and say I think I’m doing ok, I think I’m getting this right and that internal talking is helping. But deep inside if I’m honest I’m afraid that I maybe wrong and that what I think is progress really isn’t that much or isn’t going to be ‘good enough’.

Now I know my psychologist will not put me down as others have done in the past and yet here I sit anxiously worried it won’t be good enough. That what I think is progress may not actually be progress at all, but the only person who is judging and doubting me now is myself. I can’t run away from myself I have to face me every day and this is really about changing inbuilt beliefs from my past.

My aim this weekend is to fight that inbuilt mechanism to judge and doubt myself and to keep my mood as level as I can. I am self caring for me with time out relaxing and giving lots of time to the alters; the other parts of me too. I’ve cleared my diary of business so I can just not worry excessively or feel overwhelmed.

I guess I’m protecting me because my aim is to walk into my psychologist this coming week and say proudly and positively ‘I think I’m making progress, I think I may have made huge strides forward’. That’s my aim, now all I have to do is make it through the weekend and into therapy with a smile on my face, one that says I feel good about myself.

Wish me luck.

 

copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Dissociative Identity Disorder Before Diagnosis

This is the first of a series of posts about life pre and post diagnosis -the early years.

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When I first began to realise I lost time I had no idea I had alters, or that I had Dissociative Identity Disorder. In the early days before my diagnosis I would often be told that I had said or done something I had no knowledge of and of course I would deny this emphatically. I’d be told I’d been seen here or there and missed appointments and being places I should not have been, life was chaotic to say the least.

As a young mum I had caring responsibilities that required me to be stable and consistent, I realise now I was far from either. At the time I used to just feel frustrated, over whelmed and often very perplexed, I’d be accused of changing my mind frequently without any realisation I had.

My children tell me that it wasn’t uncommon for me to tell them to wear one thing, only to question ten minutes later why they were wearing the said clothes. They’d try and tell me that they were doing so because I’d told them to and yet I would say no I didn’t, I wasn’t being awkward I really had no idea. Now I know different parts of me where giving different and often conflicting instructions causing untold chaos and confusion to them and to me their mum.

It wasn’t just clothes, it could be anything and everything about each day, whether we were walking to school or taking the car, doing this activity or that. Looking back I’m surprised they are not angry at me, after all their childhood was anything but settled and stable. Yet in their eyes it was stable and settled after all they lived with their mum and their dad who both gave them time and attention and my behaviours didn’t feel odd to them, it was all they knew.

They thought most mums changed their minds lots, were forgetful and did odd things, it wasn’t until years later they began to realise the were brought up by a multitude of different parts of me, their mum. I can recall losing track of time so often I’d have to cover myself, make excuses and feebly attempt to make things look normal.

I spent a lot of time out of the house and engrossed myself in work and other activities, it was easier than admitting I was struggling and couldn’t keep track of my actions in the home. Family members helped me to look after the children and so I was able to just about cope when they were young.

At work I realise looking back I often lost time, appeared to change my mind frequently and would forget I had done tasks and repeat them again. I can recall leaving work and wondering why it took me so long to get home, realising time had gone by and I couldn’t explain what had happened. I used to find things I had bought but had no recollection of buying and wasn’t averse to buying the same thing over and over again.

When I was self harming, there would be times I knew I had self harmed and then others were I would find a wound that needed medical attention. I often had no idea where these wounds came from, how they happened or what with, try explaining that to your family or the medical profession. You can imagine the confusion and fear I felt, I use to think maybe someone was doing this to me, it didn’t make sense.

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I was often accused in hospital of being angry and yet have no recollection of any anger and I knew I didn’t feel angry. No matter how I tried people couldn’t understand and I would get frustrated and annoyed, staff couldn’t comprehend that I really found this difficult.

I’d telephone the crisis team or my care co-ordinator and then later on call them again, without realising I had already called. They would get frustrated and I just felt more and more confused and perplexed.

I’d find bank account details and credit agreements that I had no knowledge of, I had apparently gone shopping without any awareness of doing so. I know at one point I’d realise I’d spent money in a certain place and yet I thought I had stayed home that day.

If I am honest by the time I was in hospital and being assessed for this thing called dissociation I had no idea who I was anymore. I certainly didn’t feel normal and I felt on a constant roller coaster of emotions, they’d flit from one to another without warning. I could be euphoric and the next minute desperation would grip me and I feel suicidal. My head was in utter confusion and I was drugged up on medication it was hard to remember the real me anymore.

I was plagued with memories and flashbacks that filled my days and my nights, I was aware at times I felt small and wanted to skip, I’d catch myself in a mirror and wonder just who was staring back at me. Yet in this chaos I found it hard to accept who I was and when I asked by the psychology team to undertake work to try and decipher who I was, it was hard. Hard to explain I felt little, felt moody like a teen or just different from me and hard to confess I had found toys in my room.

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By the time I was diagnosed I could no longer deny what I clearly knew deep down, I had alters, I lost time, I was a we. Yet my diagnosis wasn’t something I found easy to accept, it wasn’t something I wanted to have and so yes like most people I guess I denied it. I tried hard to say they were wrong, it didn’t make sense and yet deep down it did.

Looking back I can see it was just me and my alters fighting for space in this body that we share, fighting to have control. When my feelings changed, when I lost time, when I did or said something I couldn’t recall doing, that was when another part me had taken over control and I had dissociated and gone away.

To the world it was just this person they all knew as Carol, except I now know Carol is made up of many parts, many alters with differing views and experiences. My alters have their own likes and dislikes and they have their own skills and talents too, they also have their own feelings and emotional states.

Whilst I found the diagnosis hard it made sense to my family, the children told me it made sense of their childhood and my daughter emphatically told me she had realised I had D.I.D before the final diagnosis came. Though it wasn’t until after my diagnosis she shared that information with me when I argued down the phone line that the professionals were all wrong. Yet this diagnosis that I chose to deny was right, it explained so much and yet it felt so confusing in many ways too.

 

copyright DID Dispatches 2014

How mental health services need to change

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My message to those in Power 

I’m often told to look how far I have come, how much progress I have made and I take that advice on board, but sometimes it is good to reflect and look back at what were my darkest times. I so want lessons to be learnt by those in authority, to ensure that no else ends up in the mess I was in. One of my biggest fears is that healthcare professionals will still misunderstand people in crisis and end up placing those people under further mental stress and strain.

When I look back at the various times I spent in psychiatric hospitals I can see some glaring issues that need addressing and then I wonder how I can get the healthcare professionals to listen. I think mental health services are often treated shabbily and funding is a huge issue, yet somehow the system seems to make the same mistakes time and time again.

The reality is of course that the powers that be who are in charge of our mental health services, the people who commission services, see one thing, funding! I know this only too well as every six months my Clinical Commissioning Group meet to discuss and review my own case. My care co-ordinator has to face the funding panel at least once a year to explain and justify why my therapy and support package should continue. I have learnt over time that it’s all about money, not about me and I’ve stopped stressing as much as I use to about these meetings.

The issues that I feel need addressing are simple and yet cost effective, I believe if you treat a patient right the first time you would reduce costs. If ten years ago I had been correctly diagnosed and treated appropriately, I wouldn’t have spent years in hospital thus saving thousands of pounds.
Instead I’d have received appropriate care in the community, psychological input that was appropriate and works, and I would be much further along my journey of recovery.

Instead of course like many people I was placed in a hospital, misdiagnosed and misunderstood, treated as if I was the problem and had no idea about my own issues. I was left to wander aimlessly through the revolving door of mental health and medicated to a point that left me hardly knowing what day it was anymore. I wasn’t entitled to an opinion about myself or my treatment and no one, but no one asked me how I really felt. I was made to feel guilty for self harming and like most patients ignored by staff on a frequent basis, who seemed so isolated and shut off from the patients in their care.

As I journeyed along I moved from hospital to hospital, I’ve seen sights I’d rather never have seen sights that to this day fill me with fear and sadness. I will never forget the women I met on one ward who was in so much distress she screamed day and night, the staff would yell at her to shut up, some patients would join in and there would be a chorus of people yelling at this lady in obvious distress.

She shared my name and I felt sorry for her, she was someone’s daughter and she was treated shabbily and without care. She needed appropriate support, most probably one to one care and someone to ask her why she was in so much distress who would actually listen to her answers.
All I ever saw was staff shouting at her and them giving lots of medication to her, anything and everything was about shutting her up.

Nor will I forget the patient who in secure services had her arm broken by another patient or the one who when she acted out her emotions was punished, placed in isolation and deprived of her belongings. I won’t forget the way I was made to feel either, the fear that gripped me when I was held inappropriately in secure services and told I had no rights. The way I was watched by staff; especially on close observations and treated that will never leave me.

Now I know the mental health system is not always like this, I’m certain some healthcare professionals care about their patients and treat like them like human beings with dignity and value. I have seen systems that work, for amongst all the darkness were glimmers of hope and examples of good practise and this is what we need to ensure is in every hospital and Community service.

The involvement of service user peer representatives on wards so patients views are paramount, open desk systems instead of closed offices enabling staff and patients to work collaboratively. In one hospital patients were allowed to read and add to their daily nursing notes it meant staff interacted with patients and patients views counted.

Access to talking therapies much sooner than is often the case currently is another essential, and more access to better equipped crisis support would help reduce admissions and ease peoples suffering too. Better community services are certainly invaluable and a less medicalised model of care.

Research shows that delivering appropriate psychological input reduces costs, more importantly it improves people’s lives and that’s what matters the most. My own case is proof that savings could have been made if I had been treated appropriately and not misdiagnosed, my treatment today is still saving costs as it’s cheaper than any admission. More importantly I’m much better with the right treatment and I’m regaining my life, a measure that is priceless.

I truly hope I get the opportunity one day to influence the powers that be so they change how they deal with mental health services. They need to understand how their underfunding causes pain and damage to so many lives, most of all it waste more of the valuable resources they are entrusted with.

Hospital managers need to address how they engage with service users and include them in the decisions regarding their care. I guarantee improving this would benefit their staff as well. They need to address how they run community services in order to provide a better quality of care. Finally they all need to stop sending people to inappropriate units run by the private sector which don’t have the patients interests at heart just their share holders.

 

copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Learning through Fun – life with Dissociative Identity Disorder

 

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Some days having Dissociative Identity Disorder can feel overwhelming, but there are times when I realise it’s going to be ok. Yesterday was one of those days when I realised there is hope, hope for a future that I once never dare dream was possible.

In the past week I have been to the beach in Wales searching for fun and ended up laughing so much it was hard to stop and my sides hurt from giggling. I was intending to go paddling and realised once I arrived just how windy it was and probably not the weather for paddling at all, so my son and I set off on a walk along the beach. No one has ever told me that sand can be muddy, it’s always seemed solid and fairly clean. So as I walked along the beach it was a bit of a surprise when my foot suddenly sank beneath me into wet muddy sand which tried to swallow my shoes and pulled them from my feet

I guess most adults would have been annoyed, but all I could do was see this with a wonder that comes from being such a novice at having fun. Beaches are new places for me really and so shoes pulled from the mud and thankfully recovered, bare foot I walked across the rest of this mud and back to a safer path. By now I was covered in mud and my shoes and socks were a mess, and yet all I could do was giggle and giggle and giggle.

Realising I am learning to have fun that is impulsive and enjoyable is a huge step forward. Even though I still panic and worry about the potential punishments I might face for having fun, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that today nothing bad happens when I enjoy myself. Old patterns of thinking that I have held for over 40 years are going to take time to challenge and change, but they are changeable.

I also realised that I can have this type of fun any time of year, I can build snowmen in the winter, jump into piles of autumn leaves, fly a kite on a windy day and yes I can build sandcastles on the beach in the summer. Fun is an all year round thing, it’s there for the taking and I look at this as a wonderful opportunity for me and all my parts to laugh and work together.

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It’s only been about 7 weeks since I started going to the beach, and yet now my teen alter and I do so with ease and much less fear than that first visit. I also realise that my teen and I share these experiences alongside other parts of me and together we are working at achieving a goal, in this case having fun.

Realising I can work with my alters; the other parts of me, has been crucial it’s helped me to persevere at internal dialogue and to not give up. It’s enabling me to focus on the fact I have to work co-operatively with my alters and take account of their needs too.

I’m using the same ‘working alongside’ concept in other things too and it was a joy to tell my psychologist yesterday that not only had I had fun this week but I had also achieved in other ways too. I’ve managed to use the same internal co-operation to cook a meal this week and whilst it wasn’t a huge grand dinner, it was progress. Internal dialogue is helping me to function and function better than I ever thought possible.

These may not seem like major steps forward to some people but to me they are huge and it’s not just the moment that’s huge, it’s the implications for my future as well. Suddenly I can see the reasons why I doubt and fear and I can understand how working as a team helps all of me. I’m seeing the possibilities of all this work and just what I might be able to achieve, things that once seemed impossible no longer do so. Yes it will take time and I have a long way to go on my journey but I need to take these moments and record them. They matter to all of me and they are milestones on our journey forward.

I’m sure that many healthcare professionals will think it strange that I’m being taught how to have fun, yet I needed that skill it wasn’t something I’d ever learnt as a child. There are lots of other skills I didn’t learn as a child either and in time with help I’m going to learn those skills myself, one by one I will conquer them.
I’m sure other professionals will not easily understand that by teaching me about fun my psychologist has taught so much more, he is teaching me about internal dialogue and co-operation. You see amongst all the fun there is a very serious side and that is learning about myself and my alters, learning to communicate and work together to achieve important tasks, learning to live life with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

That’s why this week I realise how far I’ve come, how well all of me are doing and how good that feeling of achievement feels. I never dare feel like I had achieved or done well as a child, there was rarely any opportunity to get praise for a job well done. Maybe that’s why I am still so averse to self positivity and I’m more likely to judge and be self critical.

But I am slowly realising that whilst I cannot change my past I can shape the future and it’s ok to be pleased at progress, progress that all of me have made. For in the midst of progress comes that flicker of hope, hope that there is a future for me, all of me.

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copyright DID Dispatches 2014

The impact of the Mental Health system on my life

 

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I sat this week just for a while and let my mind wander, wander back into that place I used to be, before I entered the mental health system. It was hard not to think of all those missed opportunities and long lost hopes and aspirations, those dreams I had of career promotions at a job I now no longer hold.

I also began to think of all the things I have learnt over this time and I realise how much I have changed as a result of my interactions too. I am far more sceptical of medical professionals, more willing to challenge and ask questions of those who are involved in my care. In truth I guess I’m a different person shaped by my experiences in a system that at times has felt more like an enemy than a friend who is trying to help me.

The reality is so much has changed since I first became unwell and so much of that change has been negative. I lost my job due to my mental health admission, it was it seemed impossible for my employer to employ someone who had been in a psychiatric ward. I can still remember being let go and thinking how unfair and unjust it was, I knew I wasn’t well and I knew it might be a while before I could work full time again and yet I so wanted to keep my job. It gave me hope and a future and something to hold on to and strive for and then suddenly it was gone.

I lost my dignity the little that I held, the first time I was forcibly restrained and held against my will – it didn’t feel good, it felt disempowering and it hurt. Here I was a vulnerable person being treated like an animal to be caged, no one spoke to me they just seemed to shout orders. I felt like no one cared and no one understood.

Before I entered mental health services I knew nothing about mental health law, sections, forcible restraint, forced medication, deprivation of liberty or locked wards. I’d never had to live by the law of a hospital ward, those that dictate when you can and can’t have a drink and even then it’s from a machine. I learnt to tolerate powdered milk and powered tea from machines that gave patients lukewarm drinks, some days I use to beg for a hot drink like normal human beings have. I just wanted to be treated like a normal human being not some second or third class citizen.

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Time off the ward was a luxury and one which once on a section had to be negotiated, pre planned and approved, suddenly I became adept at forward planning my entire life. That’s what being in a mental health hospital does for you, it makes you an automotive robot who is controlled by others rules and commands.

Before I entered the system, I didn’t realise how scarce talking therapies were, how things were time limited no matter if you were well or not. I can recall my first therapy was CBT and once I had the maximum number of sessions allowed, no matter how well I was it stopped. What a waste of public money to withdraw a service before it’s had the desired outcome, it’s a bit like taking a cast of a broken limb before it’s healed.

During my time in mental health services I learnt that good old saying that seemed to come from mental health nurses I encountered, “in five minutes” of course I soon leant that meant not now, go away. I often wondered why these people couldn’t be honest and tell me they were too busy.

I also learnt that people judge by appearances, so if you happen to look clean and tidy then they assume your mentally well and coping. Though of course that may not be the case, but they had their rule that tidy means well. The number of times I have been told but you look tidy and that equals well, I might not have showered in a month but because I didn’t smell they thought I was ok, they never asked they just assumed.

Just like they assumed if you challenged them or asked questions you were deemed aggressive and labeled as having violent tendencies. Of course it couldn’t be the case you were just asking a question or challenging archaic rules and regulations which made no sense to anyone but the hospital staff.

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I soon learnt about labels too the ones which medical professionals use at will and stick on a person like some kind of post it note. The very first label I got was actually wrong, yet it’s still on my file for all to see. The doctor who gave it me had seen me for just a few minutes yet his skill was such he could diagnose so quickly and as it turned out so wrong!

Labels, judgements, assumptions all seem to be things I have learnt and in truth they are negatives I’d rather not have seen. I guess mental health services are an eye opener for those who suddenly find themselves thrown into this world of chaos and confusion.

Before I entered this system I wasn’t aware of so much disparity between mental and physical health existed. I also didn’t realise so many things about myself, I have faced many negatives and yes they have changed how I view the world and how it views me, but I have also learnt much too. Not just about the mental health system but about myself as well, I know now that I am a fighter, I want to learn to cope with dissociative Identity disorder and one day in the future I will get back to work. But it won’t be in the job I once did, oh no my aspirations have changed and I like to think for the better.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Feelings and Therapy

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It’s feels like an age since I blogged even though it’s less than a week, but so much seems to have happened. I haven’t had a busy week in fact it’s probably been a rather lazy one, I’ve tried to self care a great deal as I realised things were going array.

It’s really hard to juggle the demands and needs of life sometimes, recently I had attended a major sporting event here in the UK which took up a few days and entailed long journeys to and from Scotland. Don’t get me wrong I had a great time, but it was exhausting and it pushed me a great deal.

I wasn’t in the quiet countryside that I’m now used to, instead I was in a very busy cosmopolitan city which was extremely noisy. I was attending sports venues with large crowds and lots of activity and whilst I was enjoying myself, there were parts of me that clearly felt uncomfortable.

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By the end of the event I came home and was literally exhausted, this didn’t set me up well for therapy and I arrived with feelings of anxiety overwhelming me. I had that overwhelming feeling and tearfulness that seems to be a part of me currently, this is really not normal before therapy so it bothered me a bit. I realised that in my excitement and busyness I hadn’t given much time to my alters and that was probably not helping how I felt.  Juggling is a skill you need as someone with D.I.D, it’s like trying to organise a family with competing demands, wants and needs. The only difference now is instead of an actual family made up of separate people, there is just one body and my internal family of parts.

In therapy we discussed the reality that I’m still trying to control my sessions and which of me is there and I’m still in denial, denial of them, of my emotions and of my pain. In order to help with this I was set homework and I was keen to try and do this exercise, I really invested a lot of hope in it and perhaps that was part of my downfall.

The following day when I attempted the piece of homework my psychologist had given me things didn’t go to plan, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t what I got. I ended up confused and distressed and most of all I knew I had potentially damaged the relationship with my alters.

I’m not sure what I need to make me truly accept I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, that the alters are something that hold my memories. But at one point on Tuesday I felt like I needed a huge concrete wall to hit me full on in my face, and loud sirens shouting ‘wake up these are real’. I needed something to help me stop doubting, doubting what I know logically to be true and yet seem so set on trying to continually convince myself of the opposite.

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On Tuesday and the days that have followed I have seriously thought I wasn’t ever going to cope with this, that I’d never be able to not doubt my reality. That I’d never be able to just accept who I am, me and my parts of me.

Worst of all I have seriously thought that therapy wasn’t going to work, I have thought that my psychologist wouldn’t want to work with me. You name it I have thought it this week, so much confusion, doubt and concern. It’s as if a part of me is trying to undermine my sessions, undermine the good that has gone before and yet I don’t fully understand why.

I have spent lots of efforts trying to rebuild the damage I caused with my alters, I am grateful that my teen and I have communicated using the ideomotor signals which we have found helpful. These do work and yet at times I still doubt them, which I think frustrates me as much as my teen part.

Yet now as therapy draws near once again I’m nervous and anxious, how silly is that – I mean I emailed my psychologist the other day and he has told me not to worry. But worry I do, I think partly because I have read and re read the email I sent him and I guess I was angry and exasperated when I wrote him. The language I used in my email was blunt, contained rude words and demonstrates I guess that I felt pretty frustrated when I wrote him. I don’t think I’d have sent that kind of email I mean it not how I normally write, but I know did, I can’t say it was an alter because I know it was my thoughts I wrote down and my feelings that jump from the words.

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I guess for once in my life I have allowed my feelings to be shared, to be seen and that is unusual for me. Whenever before I have shown my feelings be that anger or hurt it’s tended to get me in trouble, at times big trouble. Medical professionals especially find emotions difficult, they see an act and they react, rather than think what caused the initial action. It’s led to some really complicated and difficult periods of conflict and of pain, reactions are not always patient led they are punitive and harsh.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I’m anxious about my session tomorrow, maybe I’m worried about any reaction to the outburst of emotions in my email. I doubt I will sleep tonight I’ll probably be replaying in my head all the possible consequences for that lapse in my rigid iron wall that shuts all my feelings deep within to prevent reactions. I know tomorrow is going to be a long day as I wait for my therapy session, I can’t even imagine what state I’ll be in by the time I get there. Hopefully at least I will get there and I won’t bail out of going, believe me that thought has crossed my mind once or twice already.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

The Difficulties in Accepting my Alters

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There are times when I feel I’m my own worst enemy, I seem somehow able to put up barriers and obstacles that impact upon my alters; the other parts of me. These barriers create further chaos in my day to day life and I seem to lose more time as the alters take more control. The reality is of course I dissociate more when I’m anxious or stressed and I guess that’s how I have felt these past few days, more anxious and more stressed.

I believe that the cause of this additional anxiety is a sense that I’m at a point were I can no longer deny my past, no longer deny my alters existence and believe me I have denied so much. I seem to go from logically knowing all I can about dissociation and Dissociative Identity Disorder to spending time living in denial deep within my heart. It’s odd when your head and your heart are at odds with each other and you find yourself at a point of confusion and a plethora of emotions.

I know I’m not alone in struggling with denial after all as I have written before denial is the glue that hold dissociation together, I dissociated as a child to deny my existence, deny I was suffering and being abused. But there has to come a point when you can’t keep denying, can’t keep telling yourself that what you know logically to be right is wrong.

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It seems that every time I am aware that I have switched I try and ignore it, deny it, it’s as if I can’t accept that this is me that I have D.I.D. In recent times I have been more aware of some brief episodes of co-consciousness I guess and yet instead of welcoming this, I deny it. That leaves my alters feeling very confused and at times I can only assume distressed. They are trying to let me share control with them and not face those intense periods of amnesia and here I am trying to ruin that.

By questioning their existence I undermine them, I don’t exhibit a willingness to accept them and that doesn’t help with internal communication or working. By freaking out when I lose time and getting angry and annoyed I don’t help the alters to think it’s safe to share with me. When I sit on my way to therapy telling everyone internally it’s my therapy and I have this need to be in control I’m not being fair to any of us. In truth therapy is the one place that they and I should feel safe, safe to be, safe to let out all those feelings and emotions I keep locked inside. But instead of welcoming them to be a part of therapy there are times when I send the opposite message, only to contradict that message the following time when I sit and tell all of me it’s ok to speak out, to come and be in therapy.

No wonder that for me and I can only assume for them too, it feels that every step forward we take there are at least 2 back, I’m not standing still I’m in reverse and that’s scary. I need to learn to trust, trust in therapy to just be me and trust the alters to believe them instead of doubting.

I think part of the issue is that accepting them is accepting the truth of my past, which isn’t going to be easy. I’m anxious I won’t be able to cope with those memories that the alters hold, I know in the past flashbacks have destabilised me and I’m anxious of that happening again. I’m also anxious that I will mess up therapy, say or do something that makes my therapist want to stop working with us. I know these are irrational anxieties, irrational thoughts which are so unlikely to happen and yet I still hold them.

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Despite all the anxiety and at times negativity there are positives in all of this, I have a therapist who I feel really understands me, and who I respect. I have the willingness to keep trying even after I mess up and I am more determined than ever that I will keep working on finding a way forward. I want to get to know my alters, to understand them and learn about them and I want to find a way of working with them because I know it’s the only way forward for them and for me.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014