This week I had to face doing something which I knew might be stressful, it was certainly allowing myself to be slightly out of control as how events unfolded relied on other people’s actions. It taught me a lot about myself and it also offered me an opportunity to recognise yet more signs of when I switch alters.
Imagine if you can suddenly becoming aware that your entire body posture has changed in an instant, yet you don’t think that you feel different emotionally. That was a feeling I encountered this week, suddenly I went from sitting calmly in a neutral position to my arms folded and a rather hunched up position as if in a rather petulant moody mood.
That was what happened to me, from nowhere my body posture changed and I thankfully recognised I was no longer quite in the driving seat of this body of mine, but somewhere between the back seat as an observer and the drivers seat. Not quite out of control but not fully controlling us either. Internal dialogue at a hundred miles an hour seemed to ensue as I asked to stay in control explaining that at this particular point I really needed to be the one in charge of this body.
Thankfully I didn’t dissociate and I managed to stay in the present and carry on driving this body of mine that I share with the other parts of me.
At the time I wasn’t aware if the other people around me realised that I had come close to dissociating, had they seen the sudden changes in me. I wasn’t even sure if I had been aware of all the changes that might have happened so I guess I felt a bit of confusion.
Afterwards I talked to my PA and she and I managed to discuss this from both our perspectives, she had seen the body change, apparently so did my face. Yet other people around us were we think totally oblivious to the changes they certainly didn’t react in any way.
My PA and I managed to laugh about what might have happened if I had switched alters, if a moody annoyed part had come out at that moment it certainly might have been difficult beyond belief. I think it may have shocked a few people who were around, and probably resulted in some damage limitation exercise afterwards. But my PA and I managed to laugh about the possible consequences and how she might have had to intervene. We even laughed about how this particular part of me had surfaced at times in the past and how that had resulted in lots of difficult issues.
The reality of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder is that life is always for now at least going to be about trying not to dissociate uncontrollably. Instead it’s about giving time and space for the other parts of me, my alters to have time in a safe and structured way. It’s not about constantly walking a tightrope of pretending everything is fine instead it’s accepting that I am fragmented and different and that I need to just do things a little differently to other none D.I.D people.
Yet instead of feeling constrained or blocked by this difference, I am learning to embrace it and I’m certainly learning to laugh at the idiosyncrasies of being dissociative. That includes laughing at those times when I open my wardrobe door and gasp in shock at whichever item of clothing has recently been purchased by another alter. Things I would never wear in my wildest dreams and yet they now hang proudly amongst my clothes.
It includes laughing at the times when I find six of the same product in my house, we have forgot that we bought said item and so bought it again. Right now I’ve got a few bottles of shower cleaner taking root in my bathroom cupboard as we seem to have gone through a phase of buying that product each time we have gone shopping. I’m currently trying to tell all parts of me we don’t need shower cleaner, I’m not sure if it will help or not.
My children and I laugh too about the things they notice, even when I have dissociated and they recount things to me afterwards. There are classic tales we share too, one about the time I took my adult son on a children’s ride in Disney and a little me decided to keep moving the car up and down so he got sprayed with the water jets every time we past a water shoot. Then I as adult me wondering what on earth he had done to get so wet, showing that frustrated mum attitude that all mums get at times, scores highly on my favourites list.
My daughter can tell you how I used to tell her when she was young to get dressed in a morning and then complain about why she was wearing the very clothes I had earlier picked out for her. Dutifully and rather confused she would change into another outfit and then face the same barrage of perplexity from a different part of me. At the time it wasn’t funny, at the time we didn’t know I had D.I.D, but now looking back we can both laugh at those events and that seems a good thing to be able to do.
It would be quite easy to fall into a pit of despair, unsure how on earth we will ever manage to cope. Believe me I’ve been there in that pit and it didn’t help, for the lower my mood got the more I ended up feeling awful and desperate the more I seemed to lose time. Stress does exacerbate my dissociating so it’s no wonder really that feeling low and stressed isn’t helpful. I’ve cried bucket loads before about switching, about losing things, about upsetting the children, you name it I’ve cried over it. Yet it didn’t stop it happening or change anything if I’m truthful it just made me feel more guilty and more desperately anxious and stressed.
You see no matter who we are or our mental health issues the reality is that if you can laugh about things it helps. It gives some light relief to the intensity of a situation and that is why right now I’m glad I’m learning to laugh at myself. I’m learning to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder, I’m learning it’s ok to be me, all the different parts of me.
Copyright DiD Dispatches 2014