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