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

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