Healing Hurts!

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They say that time is a healer, and maybe just maybe that will prove to be true, but I have realised this week that sometimes that to heal from the past means hurting too. For years now I have been plagued with memories and flashbacks from my childhood and I’ve spent decades blocking out the past. Whilst my mind is allowing me to slowly break down this amnesic wall I erected as a child it also means confronting the emotions I have blocked out.

As a child I dissociated when things were too overwhelming, it was my sane reaction to the insane circumstances that were my life. But I also switched off my feelings of that time too, they weren’t forgotten but stored away deep inside far enough away that I could cope with the nightmare that was my reality.

It’s hard to face the past, it’s hard to process the painful memories that I can no longer deny, that I can no longer block out. Because to face the past, to process the trauma I need to feel the emotions of the past, that means dealing today with the anguish I should have faced as a child but wasn’t able to.

Today I have spent the majority of time feeling awful, feeling such turmoil and anguish because I am dealing with the feelings that I carry from an event that happened some 34 years ago. 34 years ago the trauma that happened I couldn’t cope with so I dissociated, I disappeared and another part of me took the trauma, the pain and the memory. 34 years ago that part of me dealt with the horror but I didn’t and I have never faced up to the horror of that incident. In fact it’s only in recent years I have been aware of the whole incident, of what happened to me as a child. I was a vulnerable child who couldn’t prevent what happened to her, who sadly was abused by someone far older, far stronger and intent on hurting me.

Over the past years I have been plagued by the recurring flashbacks of that time, it’s one of many incidents from my chaotic childhood. Those flashbacks render me frozen in terror, it has felt at times like it’s all happening to me all over again. The first time I had the flashback it felt like I was being raped by this particular man for the very first time. I had no memory of the event at the start, another part of me held that memory. As the flashbacks came and went I would struggle to accept, to believe and I felt shame and guilt on a scale you never think humanly possible. I have felt guilty and I felt angry too, but not at him, but at me for not stopping it.

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I’ve learnt recently that in order to prevent these memories, this flashback from gripping me in fear every time I relive the nightmare that I need to process my emotions from the past. That means today I have grieved, I’ve cried, I’ve screamed and shouted just as perhaps I ought to have done 34 years ago. I am processing my feelings from this time, I’m slowly learning that it wasn’t my fault, there was nothing I could have done to prevent it happening to me. I’m feeling the emptiness and sorrow that comes I guess from knowing I was violated, I was abused. I’m grieving for what I never had, I only ever wanted to be safe, to be like all the other kids in my class. I wasn’t after an idyllic childhood but one where I was safe, loved and respected.

At times today I have just wanted to hide, to bounce off into the wilderness and never return, today I have wanted to escape this pain and I have had thoughts of self harming. Harming in order to express the pain I feel inside in an outward way, because at points today that internal pain has overwhelmed me. Yet I so desperately do not want to resort back to old habits, I know I am stronger than that even when it all feels too much to bear.

I’m also coming to terms with the fact this happened to me, I can’t deny the truth anymore nor can I pretend it was an alter he abused, because my alters are still parts of me. 34 years ago I should have felt bereft instead I feel like that tonight, 34 years ago I should have felt anguish and in turmoil instead I have felt like that today. Yet all the while I know this isn’t a current threat or risk, I am processing a memory from the past.

My psychologist tells me that over time I will lessen the hold these memories have on me, that time will heal. Other survivors tell me that too and their words of support and understanding have been a lifeline today, knowing others comprehend these feelings I have really does help. Healing hurts I can’t deny that fact, it simply does and I need to slowly learn to accept that. In time I can only hope that I will process enough of the past to stop it having the hold over me it currently does. In time I can only hope that I will gain strength and move forwards on this journey that I find myself currently on.

I’ve spent a lifetime blocking out the horrors of my past, I’m not prepared to let it destroy me anymore, I’m not prepared to let it rule me or my life. I want the future I deserve, to be able to fulfil my potential in life, I don’t, I won’t let the legacy of my past control me, control my future. That’s something I can achieve,  to have control of the future.

Someone posted today on social media that ‘ there is healing in tears and strength In facing anger, there is so much hope no matter how confusing or chaotic it maybe right now’.  I can only hope that I find my tears healing, for I know I deserve a future, a chance at life beyond the memories, beyond the legacy of my past.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

The Reality Of Living Life With Many Parts

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My adventures today really highlight what it’s like having Dissociative Identity Disorder and the complexities of living as someone with various parts or alters. I ventured to the Lake District National Park and a place called Grizedale Forest, it is an area of dense forest with various woodland walks and country sculpture trails. It’s the perfect place for someone with young alters as they have been able to have time today when I have taken a back seat and let them assume control of this body we share.

This has meant that at one point today I was being the very sensible, capable adult that I assume people see when they look at me, well I do have the body of a mid to late forties woman. Then without so much the blink of an eye I have been the little parts of me, gasping in awe at the colours of autumn leaves and kicking those leaves. My younger parts of me were desperate to do the children’s trail which featured the characters from the ‘Gruffalo’, a children’s book, not that I or they have ever read this book before. However they can read it now as it appears we have purchased a copy of that book today, which is fine except I wasn’t planning on spending the £7 it cost on a children’s book!

My teen parts have had the opportunity to do art, and to be fair they have shared that time with other parts to, so we ended up with a collective piece of artwork. If that collaboration hadn’t occurred I would have probably had to do a number of pieces of art, so I am glad the teen part concerned worked with the other parts of me. All of these changes in one day gets confusing for all concerned, me, the alters and those with us; who I’m sure must wonder at times who I am.

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The reality is of course that everything that has happened today has involved me, it’s just there are different parts of me because basically I am fragmented. Being fragmented means I don’t always have control of this body we share when the other parts of me take over. Sometimes today it’s felt like I am watching them (the alters) but unable to intercede or prevent any actions a bit like being a back seat passenger in a car. At others I have not a clue what has happened unless other people tell me, I not so much a back seat driver at these times but somewhere hiding in the trunk of the car.

It’s quite funny to recall today thinking I have been switching all over the place, internal dialogue has been nearly non stop all day. Be that teen parts or other adult me’s wanting to let me know their views or express their emotions, I know at least one teen alter was pleased she could take photographs of the landscape. Whilst an adult alter was non too pleased at strolling in the rain, and rather put out that little parts thought it funny to keep taking down our hood, so we got wet.

Yes having D.I.D is a constant surprise to me and those who know me, today it’s felt at times like I’m taking an entire family on a day out. Trying to accommodate the wishes and desires of many different alters who have differing likes and dislikes and need vastly different things to satisfy them.

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I find having days like today tiring, but I also find them beneficial too, they allow me to juggle better the fact I have different alters. They allow me a chance to practice in a safe environment sharing my time and giving control to the alters on a pre planned basis. It offers the ideal opportunity to practice using internal dialogue and enhance internal cooperation, which will hopefully lead to me being able to use these techniques to help with day to day life.

Yes it has been a busy day in ways those without D.I.D would not understand, most strangers who walked passed us today wouldn’t have realised what was happening. Yet if the result of such confusing and tiring days is enhanced opportunities to work as a system, that’s positive. If the things we have done today are worthwhile, life enhancing and beneficial in the long term that’s progress, real tangible progress.

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copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Blaming Myself For The Abuse I Endured

Please note some people may find the content of this blog difficult, please exercise self care.

Therapy has given me many different experiences so far, this week I’ve encountered a whole new approach to dealing with the trauma that plagues my mind. I spent time not going into the fine detail of an event but instead processed the emotions that lie behind the flashbacks which disrupt my nights. Whenever I have begun working on these traumatic events before previous therapists have appeared intent on digging and digging into the inner recesses of my mind wanting to know everything about an event. Thus when my current psychologist discussed trauma work I’ve been very nervous and very apprehensive. However time has led me to feel able to take that leap of faith and move along this journey of recovery by stepping into trauma work. I was assured that I would be in a safe environment inside the therapy room and that this was the place to finally be me, to feel and to process the past.

My first encounter at trauma work this week with my current psychologist did feel safe and contained, I felt able to express myself and my feelings honestly. Most of all though I didn’t need to go into the inner depths of regurgitating the memory instead I was able to think about my feelings and my emotions, what a difference such an approach made. Don’t get me wrong we did discuss the memory but only in so far as I felt able and was needed, I didn’t need to recount every single moment of the incident, much to my relief. By the end of the session I wondered why I had been so apprehensive as this approach felt right, it seemed much more contained and far less chaotic than previous experiences.

Today looking back and beginning the work I need to carry on doing of getting to know that part of me who endured this particular nightmare, I can see some key issues that stand out. One of those is my feelings towards that alter as sadly I felt angry at her, I blamed her for not stopping the incident. Yes there is anger at the people involved who caused me such pain and anguish, who betrayed me and belittled me but I also blamed her. It’s hard to realise I blamed a part of me for something they had absolutely no control over, I’m not excusing myself but I am aware I grew up with negative comments that apportioned blame upon me. I lived in an environment where everything that ever went wrong was my fault and my many abusers gave constant reminders to me that the abuse was all I was good for.

But my blaming her is so not helpful to me, because she is a part of me and so I was blaming myself for the incident. I was taking responsibility for the acts of others who were far stronger and far older than I was, people who many would regard has having a duty of care towards me. I’m slowly realising the reality of that time and that when she stopped fighting she was making an intolerable decision to take the abuse in order to protect my life. I’m not sure if today I’d be courageous enough to make such a brave decision to take their punishment, their depraved acts of abuse because to carry on fighting you know would most likely cost you your my life. It’s really a difficult decision for anyone, but even more so for a young teenager who hated the consequences of no longer fighting this particular abuser.

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I’m also aware that this abuser was both determined and dangerous, I believe he would truly have carried on hurting me physically, he wouldn’t have stopped until I stopped fighting back. If I’m honest I think I realise now his actions may well have ended my life such was his rage, if I’d fought on, so this parts bravery and her decisions saved me. The sad thing is that I have sensed time and again with each flashback of this incident the absolute terror she felt at that point, when she had to chose. It’s a terror I cannot explain fully in words, but one I wouldn’t wish on any living creature. The other night I sat frozen in this terror unable to even move from my sofa where I’d been sleeping, I knew I was in my house I knew this was a memory of a time long ago and yet the terror I felt gripped me like a vice.

For too long I’ve blamed her, blamed me and that as to change, I can’t keep doing this it’s not right or fair. Instead I need to nurture this part of me, reassure them and offer comfort, I need to give them the love and care they so rightly deserved as a teenager. This maybe the first time this part of me has ever experienced such love and care and so I need to ensure I do this right. I also need to try hard to communicate with her and build a rapport, find out how this part of me feels. But I need to do this slowly and not rush things, I need to be careful and take care of all of me at this time.

This part of me has feelings too and I sensed those this morning for the first time. I know the terror of that incident is the key here, it’s more significant than the abuse itself and I truly think she hated that terror. She has been able to allow me access to that terror as if to show me the reason why she stopped fighting to prevent the abuse. She wanted me to know why, to know she wasn’t to blame and I’m thankful that I now know the truth. I realise that this part of me hated the feelings of helplessness and of knowing there was no way out, I also believe she felt as if she’d failed. Failed when she knew she couldn’t get free that she couldn’t stop what was happening. Today feelings of being belittled, misunderstood and of not having a voice are all issues I struggle with and I’m sure these stem from this particular time as a young teen. They are a legacy of the past and so often my encounters with health, institutions and professionals have evoked the same feelings this part of me feared and hated.

I know there is still more work to be done to really process this incident, to deal with all the feelings and emotions that stem from it. I don’t doubt I will need to talk this over in other sessions, for I realise I still need to unpack the feelings, the pain, the anguish and the grief of this particular time. In the meantime this week I’m going to do lots of looking after me, giving time and space to deal with my feelings and this parts feelings. Trauma work is going to be a learning process, it’s most definitely going to hurt at times and it won’t always be an easy road but I’m certain I am strong enough to come through this. I survived the actual abuse and I will survive the trauma phase of therapy, one day I’ll look back on this time and realise how far all of me have come thanks to the help of a patient and dedicated psychologist. One day I will no longer be plagued by flashbacks, or memories that occupy my every waking moment, one day I will truly be able to say I was abused but now I’m a survivor.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Challenging Times and Flashbacks

This week I feel like it’s been a week of recognising the many things I have to do to deal with in order to live life as a person with dissociative Identity Disorder and a survivor of child abuse. I attended a meeting on Thursday organised by the survivors trust and NHS England and in order to be there I had to juggle time with the other parts of me. So two days have been spent giving time to my little parts in order to allow me the time I’ve needed.

Having Dissociative Identity Disorder has meant learning to be the master of time, ensuring I work in collaboration with all the alters; the different parts of me. It’s hard to explain that to people who don’t have D.I.D, it’s hard to explain how much all that juggling and organising tires one out. More than that it’s hard to explain why I can’t do a particular task today because it’s cartoon day for the little parts of me, or art for my teen. People just don’t understand if I’m truly honest and I’m not sure how I can help them.

Juggling is just one of the many skills I’m learning, but then again there are so many I need to learn in order to live with being fragmented. There are many developmental skills I wish I had, yet sadly don’t, for instant I find it hard to deal with stress and certain words spiral me back into a nightmare time. I find it hard if people don’t respond to my messages as I suddenly thing they don’t like me, or worse still I’ve done something wrong. I lack confidence in some ways and yet other parts of me have the ability to engage with others it must confuse people. I find it hard to have self belief and my self esteem is still low and yes I’m still inpatient and self critical.

I wonder sometimes will these things ever change, but I think it helps to believe there is at least the potential for change. I hope as I progress through therapy things will fit better together, skills I once lacked will appear and things I find difficult will suddenly get easier. There has to be hope for without it the daily challenge to carry on working at things would be much harder.

I have found this week that I’ve resorted to sleeping downstairs once again, it’s a mixture of fear and irrationality that have caused this. Sadly it’s crept up on me and a situation that once used to be the norm a couple of years ago is again now the only way to sleep. When I first came out of hospital I could only sleep downstairs so that’s what I did for a couple of years. Then eventually I made it upstairs and so it remained until about ten days ago.

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Initially I came downstairs as a result of a need to spring clean my room, it was meant to be a couple of nights sadly it’s become a fixture of life. On one of the nights I had a flashback, I coped really well I think despite being catapulted back in time in an instant. I worked at telling myself it was just a memory and not happening today and I reassured the parts inside that we were safe.

Safe however isn’t enough for me somehow, you see the memory links to another one I had a few years ago I know then I blocked it out, after a meltdown crisis and feelings of absolute terror. Today I’m not blocking it out, today I know its my memory, today I’m aware and able to accept I think this happened to me. Yet the fear of that time still has a grip on me, a grip on me that seems to have it’s claws well and truly fixed in me.

But the reason I’m still sleeping on my sofa well the original incident took place in a bedroom, not mine but a bedroom all the same. The thought of being in a bedroom is just one step too far right now, I can deal with this better sleeping in the lounge sleeping on my sofa. I want to deal with it you see I want so much the horror of that time to be finally unable to hold a grip on me, to no longer send me into a spin. I know it’s a part of me that holds this memory but the reality is it’s my memory they hold, this thing happened to me.

Whilst I know it’s not quite the right time to process this trauma, I also know I can’t just block it out either I need to at least acknowledge that time. You see it’s hard to face the feelings of pain and terror not because I’m frightened it is happening in today’s world but mainly because of the emotions that are contained within it. I am just not confident I can always deal that well with this memory and I really don’t want to distress the part of me who holds it or have too many disrupted nights. So I’m currently going to stay sleeping downstairs on the sofa until I’m ready to process this in therapy and I don’t think that time is too far away.

I tweeted earlier this week that life with Dissociative Identity Disorder is challenging and I truly belief that. But I also know I’m far more stronger than I used to be and that’s the result of good stabilisation work in therapy. Being stronger helps but it doesn’t make the challenge disappear that is something I have to face one step at a time, one day at a time.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

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Understanding the Fears of my Alters

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Part one 

Facing the stark reality of understanding the fears of my alters; the other parts of me, is hard at times especially when I realise just how much my past has influenced who I am, who all of me are. I encouraged my alters to express through art their feelings and concerns about beginning trauma work the results were at points difficult to comprehend.

Yes parts of me are anxious at trauma work beginning, they fear my reaction and responses to processing the past. Some are clearly fearful I will respond in negative ways and fall back into self harming or begin to lose control and get angry. But others have more deep seated fears, fear of people from my past and the fear of telling the secrets they were told I assume not to share.

Of course all the alters are parts of me, they are fragments formed as I developed as a child and dissociated to avoid the unimaginable horrors of my childhood. So their concerns are my concerns, their fears my fears, but they are deep seated within me and as such the adult me is far more unlikely to realise how important these issues are.

But of course they are important, I don’t want to fall back in old negative coping behaviours which at one time were my only survival technique. So my desire to not self harm or lose control and become angry is quite high and yet I hadn’t thought just how frightened I really am of returning to those dark days. Where I dare not get out of bed until I’d made the first cut of the day, I couldn’t express my inner pain back then and cutting seemed the only way of letting out some of the excruciating pain I felt. It was a bit like the safety valve on a steam generator, if it didn’t reduce pressure I’d have exploded from within, overwhelmed by the turmoil of flashbacks and memories that seemed to fill my days.

Parts of me of course are anxious about the consequences of self harming, the last time it was a major major problem we ended up being hospitalised, on observation levels we hated and in places I wouldn’t wish to ever return to. I have to say that not only do my alters fear this but it’s somewhere I vowed on my last release never to return to. Those feelings of not wanting to ever go back into that spiral of admissions are immense, such was the impact of that time.

Today of course I know I will be letting out that pain in a controlled and safe manner, I’ll be in the safety of the therapy room and I will be supported. Yet each time I will return home and need to try and utilise new techniques to help me stay safe in the days following each session. By realising the fear held deep within me I can at least think ahead of what those techniques need to be, it’s probably going to be a good idea to have support from a PA on the day following my session.
I need to ensure as well that I keep my diary relatively free on the day after therapy too, to allow me time to do art, to give time to my alters and to just be kind to myself.

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The anger I hold deep within too use to explode out every now and again this wasn’t directed at people, usually it meant throwing objects around. Throwing objects allowed me an outlet to release some of the built up pressure deep within. Just venting out some of that pressure meant I could carry on living for the rest of a day, of course I would always feel guilty at losing control and so tears of sorrow always ensued.

Even in my relatively new home there are shoe marks on walls were I have just vented, in what I now realise is an inappropriate manner. But my experiences as a child meant I couldn’t express the anger I felt about what was happening to me, so it got bottled up and left to sit deep within me for years. The inner turmoil I felt as memories came flooding back would often result in shoes or books being thrown, that or the pain would become unbearable and I’d resort to harming.

Yet today I need to find solutions to ensure I don’t leave more black marks on walls, or behave in a way that really is not acceptable. I currently don’t deal well with anger in fact it still gets bottled up, I hate it in fact as my experiences tell me anger is bad. Those experiences are based on being on the receiving end of my mothers rage and anger, or the anger and aggression of others.

Part of trauma work is to process the emotions and feelings of the past, I am going to get angry as a result of accepting what happened to me and rightly so, but I need to do that safely. Not throw objects but punch a pillow or bang on cushions and vent it out in words rather than in actions. Most of this processing will be done in the safety of the therapy room and I’ll have help to keep safe. My therapist has rules about throwing objects and damaging myself, other people or objects with serious consequences if I breach those rules. I know he can de-escalate me before it becomes too much and so I don’t fear breaching his rules as I’m in a contained environment.

Yet I realise I really need to plan ahead so at home I’m going to attempt to make reminder signs for key rooms where I usually escape to, to throw objects, my bedroom is a key room for this. A sign that gives me other options maybe helpful as a prompt so that in the heat of a moment I can stay safe. Giving myself de-escalation techniques of my own will help too, I guess I’m going to need to spot the signs of being overwhelmed by the intensity of a moment and reduce agitation at that point, so I learn to contain myself.

If anger is allowed to fester that’s when it can become an issue, and my current style of anger management is to block it, deny it and let it fester. Well I’m on a steep learning curve right now but I really hope I can adapt and learn to not let my emotions be blocked, denied and ultimately fester to a point were they become a problem.

Understanding theses fears and anxieties before we start trauma work is really helpful, at least I can be proactive instead of reactive which in my world of living with D.I.D is a rarity right now.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Hospital Restraint procedures – a survivors perspective

Trigger warning : some people may find the contents of this post distressing.

Yesterday during a meeting I was asked questions about my time in hospital, one question though was really tough and related to my being restrained. It’s so hard for me to describe in detail my experiences of constant observations and restraint procedures, these are the most difficult of experiences that I have ever encountered in hospital and they stir emotions and feelings deep within.

Being manhandled by other human beings who weald control and hold all the power is impossible to forget, in fact it’s hard to not feel the panic that I felt at the time of those events all over again. Watching others being restraint was scary enough but then when it happens to you it seems so unreal and yet so terrifying. I know that at times I dissociated during these episodes such was the triggering element they contained. I thought it might be helpful to write about the impact of those days so others might understand what it’s like.

It’s hard to choose which incidents to write about but I have chosen two incidents as they reflect I think the many other such times I was forcibly restrained by the so called caring profession.

Having been returned to the unlocked acute ward following an attempt to leave the unit I was manhandled by the police officers from their vehicle to the ward. Nursing staff took over the responsibility of me and a posse of nursing staff grabbed hold of me, in an agitated state I was placed in the locked high dependency area of that ward. I hadn’t threatened anyone indeed I hadn’t done more than choose to leave the hospital environment which had been my home for some weeks. Once behind closed doors the staff laid me on the black solid seating face down and then let go, I immediately began to pace up and down and I did keep telling them I wanted to leave. 2 rather burly nursing staff began the task of looking after and observing me and one kept barking orders at me to sit down and stop pacing. A senior nurse came back into the room holding a medication pot and told me to take these as he moved the meds pot towards me. I refused saying I wanted to leave and I didn’t want their medication it would only dope me up. He told me there wasn’t a choice but at this time I wasn’t sectioned and so I felt he couldn’t make me take anything, how wrong was I. After a few minutes he left still holding the meds I had refused, and I continued pacing.

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What happened next startled and frightened me, it happened at such a speed I had no control and no indication it was coming. Suddenly a number of staff appeared in this small area and pounced, I was forced to the floor and held face down. It felt like I couldn’t breathe, hands seemed to be everywhere and they were hurting me. Not being able to breathe is absolutely terrifying, no matter how hard you try it’s impossible to move your head to catch a breath and I honestly thought I would die. I felt someone pulling down my clothing and then as I fought and fought and they grabbed and pulled and hurt I felt a stabbing pain. Whatever they gave me I’m not sure, but I know they injected me with some kind of drug and it’s aim I guess was to calm me down. I had been agitated before this happened but now I felt even more agitation and I had been triggered too. I am a victim of abuse and being hurt in this manner by staff some of whom I didn’t know was too much to bare for parts of me. A whole cacophony of emotions raced through me and thoughts of are they going to rape me filled my head. I had no control, no rights, no one listened to my cries for help or to stop, they just carried on doing what they did whilst talking to each other. They continued to hold me on the ground for sometime though they turned my face to the side their hands still held me as if in a vice. After a while they lifted me up to my feet my arms still held tight, they manoeuvred me to the seating bench and laid me down. Barking orders about staying still and behaving they released their grip on me, laying there I felt drugged and confused. Most of all I was terrified, my arms felt heavy and sore, my legs were hurting and my head too, my trousers were still not fully pulled up and yet I dare not move to do this.

These were nursing staff who were meant to be looking after me, instead they bullied and terrified me. I no longer trusted them or had any faith in their abilities I had been degraded and treated and manhandled like a piece of meat. In a police station this would be classed as overly forceful in a locked hospital room it’s called acceptable and necessary, police stations have camera to record conduct of officers – hospitals don’t.

If staff had allowed me to talk, to express why I was agitated, to understand my feelings,  the reasons behind those feelings and behaviours then they wouldn’t have needed to restrain me.  If they’d been more observant they’d have seen my distress earlier in the day and supported me more appropriately so I wouldn’t have left the ward in the first place.

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On one of my nights in secure services I became upset, I was on constant observations and a male staff member sat a few feet from my bed. I didn’t want to be on constant observation, I couldn’t understand why this was needed I hadn’t harmed or shown any signs I might do so. Having a male sat in my room so close to my bed was terrifying in it’s own right, I stated I was unhappy and I said I wanted him to leave. The situation escalated as he became frustrated and moved his chair nearer to me and I became more and more distressed. In sheer frustration I began banging my head against the wall, other staff including some males appeared demanding to know what was going on. I tried to be calm to say I wanted to stop being watched, to say I didn’t feel safe with a male, but my rational pleas for understanding fell in deaf ears. Once again I began hitting my head but by now there were a number of staff and 1 of me, they pounced and grabbed me. Holding my head forward from the wall and pushing it down towards my chest, others held my arms and others my legs. I screamed and pleaded with them as they hurt and yet they didn’t care, I recall one of them shouting at me as if barking orders. Stop fighting, stop screaming, stop…..stop…

A doctor arrived yet another male and began asking me questions, by now I wasn’t struggling I was compliant. Still held down I talked to this doctor and cried buckets, I felt so afraid I hated this place and I hated me. The doctor said I was going to take extra meds one way or another and I knew by now what that meant, I swallowed the pills or they’d forcible inject them into me. I guess I was learning because I agreed in fact I think I begged to be allowed to swallow his pills, I promised I wouldn’t mess about and I’d behave. That night I lay in bed with staff either side of my bed, my arms had to be visible as did my neck. I lay in this quiet room vulnerable and scared and terrified yet again I’d be hurt and no one but no one would know.

If staff had helped me to understand their observation policy, taken account of and respected my fears about a man so close to my bed I wouldn’t have got frustrated and hurt in the first place. It could have been prevented but the staff approach wasn’t to prevent such incidents but to forcible deal with them.

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These two experiences demonstrate the full horrors of being restrained by nursing staff on a mental health ward, at no time had I ever attacked or hurt staff and at no time have I ever been charged with any criminal offences. Yet I feel being restrained was a punishment and a gross abuse of power. I do understand that if a patient is unable to be calmed down or reasoned with in a safe manner the staff need to have a solution, but it shouldn’t be restraint in this way. It’s often used too quickly, too often and inappropriately. Things need to change, because right now patients are being held down, forcible medicated and hurt all under the guise of providing care.

I know on both of these occurrences there were other things that could have been done to help me, namely asking me how I felt, why I felt that way and listening to my fears, concerns and taking them seriously. Instead staff chose the heavy handed option I don’t understand why.

As I have said I was restrained on a number of occasions and I don’t believe it ever got any easier, the harsh reality is that fear grips you each and every time whether that be the first or the tenth occurrence. For anyone restraint procedures are terrifying but I truly believe for those who have suffered trauma or have complex dissociative disorders it is even harder to endure.

copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

 

One Gigantic Leap of Faith

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I have been seeing my current psychologist for approximately 10 months now and over that time we have done quite a lot of work regarding stabilisation. I’m learning to understand me and my alters, the other parts of me and how best to communicate and work as a team.

One thing we haven’t discussed very much though has been any trauma, that’s because quite simply it hasn’t been the right time. I need to be able to contain myself outside of the one hour a week of therapy, especially if I’m to start discussing sensitive issues such as trauma. At times I’ve realised we have talked about my past but often in a generic sense, my parenting and the skills I’ve never learnt.

Overtime I’ve learnt that I’m inpatient and want to run at 100miles per hour when in truth I really ought to be doing nothing more than a slow walk. I’ve started to communicate with some of my alters and I have begun to have fun, take calculated risks and accept that I have D.I.D instead of the denial that seemed to plague my days.

A couple of sessions ago it was kind of hinted in therapy that maybe it was time to think about my feelings and the trauma that is the cause of my dissociative disorder. At the time I was shocked and it felt as if I did everything I could to block such an idea, ‘what ifs’ flooded my mind as did reasons for this not to be the right time.

Since then I have found myself questioning my doubts and thinking about the issue more and more, I have had so many awkward experiences with feelings and emotions that I am averse to wanting to feel at all. That’s why at times I still find the feelings that I carry can overwhelm me and take control. It’s as if by trying to dampen them down and block them I just store up trouble as they need to come out and they do, just not at the times when it’s safe or suitable.

About a week ago I sat at home and something triggered me causing feelings to erupt and instantly catapult me back in time. I could feel the tears welling in my eyes as a memory suddenly flooded back, I did what I do best I blocked it. I switched off any feelings and refused to deal with the pain, the memory or my feelings. But it really caused me to think, how long was I going to allow this to keep happening especially when I have the opportunity to try and process some of these things.

You see whilst I still have flashbacks, some memories have either never been forgotten at all or have been a part of my conscious for some time. I remember the event or in many cases the flashbacks from a few years ago but it’s as if it happening to another being and not me. Yet I can’t keep on denying the reality that these are my memories, my pain and my feelings and it’s time I processed some of this. It’s not that I need to process or deal with every single memory or event that ever happened to me but I do need to process enough to enable me to deal with the feelings these evoke, to lessen their emotional intensity. I need to work through my grief and the negative effects upon my life, and my trauma. I need to accept this was me and not someone else who they abused and I need to come to terms with it all.

 

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In my last session I found myself raising the issue of trauma work and being honest about my fears and concerns. I seemed to have so many concerns, so many what ifs and so many doubts and fears. The conversation that followed this openness however has really helped me understand more about trauma work and it’s enabled me to think more openly.

If I wasn’t frightened it would I now realise be more concerning, my psychology sessions are a safe environment and the best place to be myself, feelings and all. The fact I won’t be alone with my feelings or the memories and that my psychologist can help me to stay safely contained, makes me realise I will have a virtual safety net. Understanding I will be supported in this process and it will be done at a safe and measured pace, is also reassuring.

That’s why this week I’ve agreed to work internally with the other parts of me at discussing the option of starting trauma work. I going to look at the fears and concerns other parts of me have and then with my psychologist we can work at trying to resolve some of those fears. I now need to make sure I protect all of me in this process, that means taking onboard the real concerns parts of me have, helping to reassure and put safety mechanisms in place ahead of starting the work.

I don’t know yet when that work will begin, but I do know I’m certain that I’m ready to begin trauma work, the second phase of the recovery model. I just need to ensure all of me is able to understand and deal with the journey I want to embark us all on. Yes this won’t be easy, it will hurt and at times it will overwhelm me and feel too much. It’s at these times I will need to utilise the techniques I’ve learnt in the past 10 months and to seek guidance and external help if and when I need it. I know for certain my psychologist won’t let me go too fast and if I need a break from the intensity of this work I can always ask to revert back to stabilisation work until I’m ready to move forwards once again.

I think my motto over the next few months needs to be slow and steady and not marathon runner, this isn’t going to be a fast race but that’s ok, what matters is I do this right – speed or perfection isn’t always everything.

Whilst I’m certain I am stronger now than I’ve ever been and I understand me better than I ever have, I also know this is a single step on a very long road. Yet right now it does feels like I’m standing on the edge of a huge divide ready to jump and take one gigantic leap of faith.