Feeling flat and unsettled

Last week I felt excited, I had had a day of little me’s playing and having fun and I had a whole new week to look forward to. Fast forward 7 days and I’m sitting here feeling flat and unsettled and I’m not really sure of why, it seems so unfair to suddenly find myself overawed by everything once again. I realise that I have had a busy week it’s been full of builders coming and going as they work on creating a safe space for me. There hasn’t been a spare moment really and at times I’ve felt like I’m juggling way too much and I’ve just wanted the world to stop so I could get off.

 

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But like I always do I’ve tried to push on, put on my fake smile and just keep going, but then that doesn’t seem to be as effective these days. My family seem able to see through this and my fake smile seems to wear off quicker these days too. My body starts to let me know when I’m struggling whether it’s aches and pains, upset stomach or painful headaches, it finds a way to communicate it’s unhappy.

Yesterday my plans to be at a training event were thrown into chaos as a headache overwhelmed and I just wasn’t able to keep going. Physically I felt drained but emotionally I was gone, I had nothing in reserve all I seemed able to do was cry. I conceded defeat, well more my family made me concede defeat and accept I needed to rest, I needed me time. I slept for most of the day struggling to stay awake and yet I was stunned by just how drained I really was.

In between the sleep I was thinking, thinking about why I felt so rough and why my mood was lower than usual. Having workmen in the house as been hard, it’s meant really early mornings and lots of intrusion, it’s been harder to just sit and relax. I haven’t found it easy to just sit and watch cartoons or do art, or many of the things that I’d normally do, I have been constantly aware of switching and worried more when I lost time.

On one day I couldn’t get out, I had to be in for the workmen and for a delivery, I found myself feeling restricted and couldn’t help feeling uneasy. All I could think about was not being able to go out, no fresh air or space either, I guess looking back I probably had ‘cabin fever’. It reminded me of days in hospital when there was no space, no place to hide from anyone and of being confined to the ward. I spent nearly six weeks at one point locked inside my secure unit, no fresh air or space or escape I hated those days and I realise that just one day of being stuck inside my own home made me feel back in that time.

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I also realised that I haven’t had time as much for me or my alters; the different parts of me and that I think has played a part. I have tried to give parts time, but if I’m honest I haven’t been as effective at doing so this last week. So today I have tried a little harder, I’ve watched cartoons, done a few hours of art and I’ve taken time out from home. Just knowing I can go out even if it is for a cup of tea at the local coffee shop somehow seems to lift my cabin fever feeling.

I’ve sat and worked through my diary, it’s still too busy whilst the building work continues but I have marked out a couple of days for me. Time when I can be just me, a person living with alters, a person living with Dissociative Identity Disorder, no fake smile, no hidden emotions. I’ve also restructured the next few weeks so they are less chaotic and more self caring, after all I hate this feeling of numbness, of emptiness, that I have currently hanging over me.

I do currently feel flat and unsettled, I know that won’t shift overnight but I can try and help myself to make this period less distressing. I can be honest and say sometimes life’s tough, sometimes it feels just too much and that at times I want the world to stop so I can get off. I am conscious there maybe an underlying issue that I need to resolve, some of which I can’t  post in a blog, but I am aware of it and that is a start. I have therapy this week and I hope I can try and discuss some of the issues that I’m aware of in the hope it helps. I need to be truthful about how I feel and truthful about my fears, I need to be honest about the reasons deep down that I think might be exacerbating my current mood.

Years ago when I felt like this, I’d give up and I mean give up, I’d succumb to harming and worse, but not now. Now it’s different, now I’m able to rationalise things a little better, understand why I feel like I do and I have the skills to at least attempt to help put things back on a even keel. I’m able to know that this is just a phase in my life, a period of time which might be a struggle but which will pass eventually. I also have access to services that can help sustain me through this period, people I can talk to and people who can help me help myself.

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Most of all I have a whole army of alters who hate me feeling like this and I know that they can in their own way help me too. Watching cartoons earlier with my little me’s gave me light hearted relief for a brief period, taking time to do art with my teen alter helped give me a sense of accomplishment. I guess I’m learning collaboration with my parts is beneficial for all of us, that we each have unique gifts and qualities that we bring to the mix. Yes it’s hard living with D.I.D but if I’m honest I can’t imagine being without my alters, they are all a part of me and together we make up the whole person called Carol.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s ok to feel angry

 

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This week I’ve learnt that it’s ok to be angry, to express anger in a positive way and that anger can have its uses, many people may already know these things, but for me it’s a bit of a breakthrough.  Whilst logically I know anger is ok, I tend to see myself as not an angry person and deep down I find anger quite a frightening emotion.

The breakthrough came as I talked in therapy, I realised I was upset and bothered about things and that yes I was angry, extremely angry at losing out on my past. Yet I tried really hard to just sideline the emotions as is my normal behaviour and so I belittled them as I tried to change the subject. But with a little help I was able to see that it’s ok to be angry, anger doesn’t have to be dangerous or bad in fact it can be a very healthy emotion to have.

Actually understanding how the anger I feel is helping to motivate me on my journey of recovery has been really helpful. It’s the first time I can accept anger might not be so scary after all, that if its expressed in the right way it can be a positive tool to help me. I still find this slightly weird and yet I can at least see that it may have a role to play and that it might not be so frightening an emotion.

I spoke to my Psychologist about how when I was angry before it always led to judgements and issues, and that as a child expressing any feelings was dangerous. In hospital staff would judge me based on my responses, so any sign of anger or even disagreement was seen in some way to be a big issue. I can recall so many incidents were my actions were misconstrued and I was labelled or judged in a totally unfair way.

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There was the time I challenged a nurse who had lost my medication tray from their massive metal cabinet, all I did was say it had to be there. This was construed as me challenging them, being aggressive and being uncooperative with staff. It was recorded that I shouted when I think the most I did was raise my voice a tiny amount and this was mainly because the nurse was shouting loudly at me. My records don’t show that the nurse failed to look for my medication, that they shouted at a patient or that they were rude.

Then there were times I declined my medication, now I know looking back it wasn’t the best decision I ever made, but then neither was filling me with so many pills that I couldn’t think. These times were construed as me being uncooperative and antagonistic, someone who failed to accept what was best for her. If I fought when I was restrained which I think any normal minded human being would, it was seen as aggressive behaviour. No wonder that I soon learnt that having opinions or showing signs of irritation, frustration or anger would just land me in more hot water.

Of course I wasn’t alone in being judged in this way and as I explained in my therapy session my hospital stays kind of made me hide my feelings even more. But now it’s different, now I can see that hiding away my feelings isn’t helpful, hiding away my anger is actually doing more harm than good. I’m not advocating people randomly go out and hit people or shout and scream, but anger when demonstrated in a sensible controlled way is actually beneficial.

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Telling someone I’m angry at them in a calm controlled way is ok, acknowledging I’m annoyed at something is fine too. Being able to request an apology, or ask for a time out, or for something to change these are all positive ways of expressing my anger. They can bring about positive change in a situation, as can channeling the anger that I hold from my past.

So from now on I’m going to try and allow my feelings to come through, no more blocking emotions for me, instead of slamming a door in frustration when someone annoys me I aim to tell people when I’m annoyed. My hope is that I can learn to no longer fear this emotion but instead utilise it to bring about change, change in others, in situations but most of all to motivate myself to change.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

 

Juggling the adventures of the little parts of me

Over the past few days I have juggled the needs of all of me, so I’ve been to a conference, played at being a soldier and visited a castle. Sounds like I live in the fast line, not really its just life with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

The two days I attended the conference we had to try and juggle the demands of me being upfront and in control as much as possible, whilst not neglecting the other parts of me. Each morning I woke extra early so there was always time to communicate internally and have cartoon time. I’m  slowly learning that it’s important to give other parts of me time and space, if I want to reduce uncontrolled switching and loss of time. Every morning after cartoons I would explain what we were doing that day, if anyone would be there we might know and try and explain that I needed to be in control of this body we all share.

My younger parts found this annoying, they don’t want to be blocked out so I had to make concessions and compromises. They could watch the event through me, talk internally to me at anytime and choose the biscuits at break times. Once conference was over each day it was there time, time to watch more cartoons, listen to music and yes choose what we ate for tea. I also bartered and agreed on the free day we had they could choose what we did, and be up front as much as was possible.

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Day one was fun, the voices in my head ranged from little parts telling me they were bored to a rather new adolescent saying it how it was. Especially when they were not impressed with someone’s comments, boy did I know. I ate cake at lunch that well somehow seemed to appear on the plate, it was obviously important to one of me. I found myself switching off mid afternoon as it felt just too long and I felt exhausted trying to constantly listen to the parts of me and the actual voices going on in the outside world. My Therapist was at this event though we sat in different parts of the room, but my littles were worried about that. There was an outstanding question they were desperate to have answered, and as the voices inside grew louder I knew I had to ask him.

That night having spent a day trying to be a ‘normal functioning adult’; whatever that actually is, I ended up watching lots of Postman Pat as my littles took over and I lost time.

Day two was more conference, again I woke early and planned out the day so all parts of me knew what was going to happen. I ate a sweet chocolate flavoured cereal for breakfast that other parts of me chose, and sang on the corridor back to our room. We sat amongst people we knew and that was reassuring and helpful, parts felt like they could watch was going on whilst I stayed up front. The sessions varied and at times I could concentrate and digest the discussion whilst at others comments made seemed to ignite a cacophony of noise from inside.

At one point a question was asked of a speaker that really upset my adolescent me, I had to stop myself from blurting out loud the thoughts that suddenly were racing around my head, audible and loud inside of me. At one point fearful of being triggered I actually stared at the blue sky outside, not focusing on the images on the screen. I’ll choose  more wisely  next time the sessions we attend. My little me’s would tell me when they were bored and I know they desperately wanted to draw at times. At one point we retreated to the sanctuary of the restroom, it provided a quiet space that enabled me to think and communicate more effectively with my alters.  On this day for lunch, I hibernated in the quiet stillness of a small side room as I couldn’t really network at that time. I needed down time and some thinking space, so that was what we found for ourselves.

There were opportunities at this conference for us to catch up with some people we haven’t seen in a while, including one of the specialists who originally diagnosed us. Plus we met some really interesting people who work in the field of trauma and dissociation, and we gained some knowledge too. But it was tiring and it meant parts of me didn’t get the time they needed, so at the end of day two I watched even more cartoons and promised my little parts time the next day.

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That’s why today I have lost quite a chunk of time, I haven’t been in charge today because other parts of me have. So this morning we ventured to a castle, it was one of my littles who chose this place to start their fun and wow did they have fun. I recall arriving at the castle, even paying to get us in and then I lost control to resume awareness a few hours later. In the intervening hours I had explored the castle, played at being a marching soldier and fired pretend arrows at pretend soldiers with sound effects. The parts took lots of pictures and one even posted on social media for me, I saw a canal boat which went whoosh! as it sailed by. I ate a big ice cream despite having a milk intolerance and they bought our trusted Ted not one, but two new outfits from the toy store.

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The only reason I know any of this is because my son came with me today, so he could help fill in the gaps and the pictures the alters took helped create a time line of events for me too. I have to say I am absolutely exhausted after all this fun, and yes I can say we had fun because clearly parts of me did have fun and they did enjoy themselves. I may not recall the events firsthand but I know another part of me was in control and they do recall what we did, this was their time and after the past few days they deserved it.

Thinking back I can’t recall me ever playing soldiers or making sounds like whoosh, or kerpow, but I so wish I had done as a child. I think it must be good to have such fun and excitement and to just see the world through a child eyes once in a while. My teen and adolescent parts need time too, my teen will get to chose things for the art room and my adolescent; who is quite new will get a treat in the coming week. I’m still getting to know them so it’s harder to know what they might find beneficial, though I’m certain they will tell me when they feel ready.

All in all its been a busy few days and I do feel like I’ve attempted to juggle a lot, yet I also know that even in  everyday life it feels like a constant juggling act. Facing competing demands of various parts of me is an everyday occurrence , it’s just putting ourselves into a situation where it feels less safe, which is unfamiliar territory that evokes extra burdens. I’m hoping that the next time my little parts want to pretend play, we can do it together just like we are learning with cartoons. Sharing time and being co-aware is definitely the way forward and I quite like the idea of being a soldier in a castle, or maybe I could be a train driver or a space man or a fairy……the possibilities I guess are endless.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Funding Update

 

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An update on funding, well I have spent so much time chasing Clinical Commissioning Groups regards my therapy funding this week I think my phone bill will have quadrupled. However some slight good news came through at the end of this week which at least means my psychology session this next week will not be my last.

Despite telling me the decision to cancel my funding was concrete and non reversible, it seems that if you explain the guidance that CCG’s must operate under and point out you won’t just accept their decision, they take notice. I’m not sure if it was the numerous phone calls I made, my blog or the tweets that filled my time line on Monday and Tuesday of this week, but something made them think again.

I received a call from the team responsible for the funding from Shropshire CCG advising me that they had given some thought to the situation. They spelt out that the law says they do not have to pay for my treatment any more, but that Cheshire CCG now needs to and then what I was told stunned me. The lady said ‘However’ and then followed a pause that felt like it lasted forever as I waited with baited breath, the lady continued ‘we do feel it is important that there isn’t a gap in your treatment’. She went onto explain that whilst they negotiate with Cheshire, Shropshire will continue to fund treatment in the interim, to enable continuity of care. To be honest I didn’t believe her at first, after all I had endured so many closed doors just the day before when they showed no care or concern.

I’m not normally brave enough to ask for things in writing, but before I realised the words came tumbling out and she agreed to email me. Unsurprisingly I sat nervously as I waited, was this true had they had a change of heart, and then an email came confirming that for the interim whilst the two CCGs talk I’m not playing piggy in the middle. I asked Shropshire if they’d started dialogue with Cheshire and they said No, which I found a bit odd after all surely they need too, so in the spirit of helping things along I shared the telephone numbers of the opposite CCG with each of them. I’m hoping dialogue happens now as it most probably should have many months ago.

The call gave me a moment when I felt a wave of relief rush over me, immediately followed by worries over various ‘what ifs’ that crossed my mind. What if Cheshire say No, will treatment stop, what if Shropshire change their minds again, what if it all takes too long and funding isn’t sorted in time. Interim means just interim, short term, is funding within the NHS ever a quick process, I’ve never known it to be.

I have to confess I sent the email onto various people, to ensure my family and my therapist all knew that this decision had been made. I spoke to my current CMHT who were still very perplexed and felt truly in the dark about the entire matter, but I think relieved it was for now temporarily sorted. Then I just sat on my own and reflected upon the past few days and the future challenges we face. I cried part in relief and part in fear, such was the weight of emotional turmoil I have felt under this week.

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It’s clear I have really found this stressful and it’s an ongoing issue which continues to cause me anxiety, I’m aware that these funding changes also reflect other changes that I will now encounter. My CMHT is very likely to change and the hospital trust that will deal with me will change too, I don’t mind this as currently I don’t get seen in my locality and that I feel is something that should happen. I’m more prepared for these changes but I am still anxious about them, will the new team know enough about D.I.D?, will they treat me as a partner in my care not someone to talk down to, or someone they can do things too? I find I need to feel an equal partner in my care, my treatment otherwise I feel out of control and that reminds me of my past, my trauma. In my past I was controlled and dominated by my abusers, so if professionals exert control over me it has a negative impact.

For now I’m just hoping that when the changes happen we get off on the right foot, that if we don’t it can be rectified without too much grief. I guess I’m hoping it’s done swiftly and that all this uncertainty clouding my head over changes in services and funding is resolved. I have a great deal of recovering to get on with and so I’d like all these distractions to be resolved, so 100% of my energy is directed at moving my life forwards.

I’d like to settle things down a bit, as internally the past week has been chaotic, parts of me are fearful, were hugely impacted by the thought therapy was ending just as it had begun really. Parts of me really struggled this past week, parts I don’t know too well, are building trust with my psychologist even thought they haven’t to my knowledge communicated with him yet. They felt aggrieved, bereft even, at the thought someone they were just beginning to feel safe with wasn’t going to be there to help me deal with their memories and emotions. In fact he wasn’t going to be there to help them.

If I could say anything to my current CCG it’s that I wish they realised the impact of their decisions, how much torment, anguish and hurt it caused and I want them to know I’m truly grateful they’ve given us a reprieve. To the potentially new CCG I’d like them to see me as a person, to understand how much difference my Psychology is having upon my life. I hope and pray they make the right decision, that they honour the funding contract and give me the rest of the time I was assured of 14 months ago to undertake treatment. To my new Mental Health NHS trust, I’d like to say please see me as human being just like you, please treat me with respect and understand me, all of me.

As I write this I know nothing is certain, nothing is guaranteed and my future, my life and well being are no longer in my control fully, but in the hands of bureaucrats and medical professionals who don’t know me at all. It’s a scary time, but at least there is a sliver of hope that therapy will continue for a few more sessions at least. I guess over the next few weeks I’m going to have to learn to be patient and try my hardest not to worry more than necessary.

I will keep you posted on this continuing saga.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

 

 

 

 

Funding Crisis 

Years ago I was an expensive patient, inpatient care in some rather costly forensic and secure units led to heavy bills for my then PCT, indeed when I came out of hospital my care costs were expensive too. I have always appreciated the funding provided by the NHS indeed I have until yesterday always respected the people at both the PCT and now Clinical Commissioning Group. But yesterday my views were shattered by a decision that was both ill conceived and lacking in any regard to patient care. My current CCG Shropshire stopped my funding without warning for my much needed talking therapy, they didn’t do this because my needs have changed they did because it’s financially beneficial to them.

Last year I wrote a blog, asking for advice relating to section 117 aftercare and who should pay, I had found myself in a situation where my care was being provided by one CCG when I actually live in the area of another. This decision was based on legislation in place when I first moved back to my home area after my long stays in out of area hospitals. At the time who paid depended upon the place where I was when I was detained under the Mental Health Act, and in my case it fell upon Shropshire. But when I relocated nearer my family and back to my home area in Cheshire I was made to still access services in Shropshire. So my mental health team and the like are based over the border from where I now live and until changes in the law Shropshire CCG were liable to fund my continuing health care needs.  But the Government changed the law and suddenly a new document appeared called ‘Who Pays’, it clearly showed my funding arrangements needed to change. Simple you would think, but sadly it’s a chaotic, bureaucratic red tape nightmare with me as piggy in the middle.

So after months of trying to ascertain what was happening, being reassured numerous times that my Psychology would continue without interruption I am now faced with fighting for survival as funding has been instantly stopped without warning by Shropshire CCG. They have failed to transfer me to the relevant Cheshire CCG, failed to ensure continuity of care and failed to inform anyone involved from my care coordinator to myself of their decision.

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Yesterday in therapy I discussed how I had had the guilt trip played on me relating to my social care funding; my PA support, which ironically is still to be funded by Shropshire local authority. The local authority had wanted a cut in the number of hours I currently have and they tried hard to try and get me to agree to a cut in service not based on need but a purely financial decision.  As I spoke of my concerns about the CCG and my fears for the future I was then informed that our sessions maybe coming to an end not because I’m better or ready to move on but simply because the CCG is no longer willing to honour a 3 year contract despite being just 14 months into it.

So today after much soul searching I called Shropshire CCG, who passed me from one person to another without no answer in sight. They even promised they’d call me back but then didn’t. I tried calling my CMHT who knew nothing about the decision of the CCG, indeed they told me I had funding agreed for 3 years of therapy. The poor lady I spoke to was to be blunt baffled by this madness and as concerned as I was at the nonsensical decision. As always happens when you need someone there off sick, or out of the office so my Care Coordinator wasn’t available today. Having resorted to taking extra medication to try and calm myself down I realised this funding nightmare was making me spiral downwards and I don’t deserve that.

In sheer desperation I called Shropshire CCG back who told me bluntly, I wasn’t the only person this was happening to, that the decision has come from on high and that they’d written to the receiving CCG back last year, but they couldn’t say that they had ever chased a lack of response.  In fact they clearly hadn’t or I wouldn’t be in this mess. I tried to explain the guidance, about mediation between CCGs and in the end said if it wasn’t resolved I’d have to legally challenge their misguided decision. Surprisingly they now are going to call me back and promise to keep me informed of what is happening, but they can’t guarantee that therapy won’t stop. I’m not holding out much hope given the way this particular CCG has behaved in recent days. You see the guidance issued to CCGs back in September 2013 clearly States :

7. The safety and well-being of patients is paramount. The underlying principle is that there should be no gaps in responsibility – no treatment should be refused or delayed due to uncertainty or ambiguity as to which CCG is responsible for funding an individual’s healthcare provision.

8. Since it is not possible to cover every eventuality within this guidance, the NHS is expected to act in the best interests of the patient at all times and work together in the spirit of partnership.

9. NHS England expects that all disputes will be resolved locally, ideally at CCG level, with reference to the guidance in this document and coming to pragmatic solutions where responsibility is not immediately obvious or where it may be shared. In cases that cannot be resolved at CCG level, Area Teams of NHS England should be consulted and should arbitrate where necessary.

Yet Shropshire CCG Appear to have ignored the guidance, no transfer date was agreed, my needs have not been paramount and treatment is being refused/terminated by them. Bonkers or what!

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I then called the Cheshire CCG who claimed not to have received any letter and they knew absolutely nothing about me or my case.  But they were at least helpful, supportive and understanding, they appreciated I was piggy in the middle and my care and well being we’re being overlooked by Shropshire. They even agreed to call various people to try and start finding out more about the case and were adamant it would be detrimental if my therapy was to stop. But funding is a complex matter, funding panels have to be convened, reports written and it all takes time. Given no one in my locality knows anything of my Mental Health I’m not seen by the local team, this is not straight forward. The lady I spoke to even gave me her name, that hadn’t happened in Shropshire they seem to not be bothered and were really uninterested. To be fair to the Cheshire CCG they are being left to pick up the pieces of another CCGs mishandling and mess, they didn’t know me till today but they have at least shown compassion and care, for which I am grateful.

So where does this all leave me, I’m currently facing an end to the one treatment in the past 12 years that has made any significant progress. I’m facing an end to trauma therapy, with no closure work and unresolved trauma still to be dealt with. I’d only started trauma work a few weeks ago, so this is a crucial stage in my treatment and now it could all be crashing down around me.  I’m left wondering if I will ever get treatment again, will I ever actually have a chance to recover from the past and I’m left worrying that I’m going to spiral back into that revolving door admissions cycle I endured just a few years ago.

Most of all I’m left knowing that this disruption is all so utterly needless, my therapy costs the NHS less in a year than any impatient admission did and my care needs have reduced by over 50% in the  last 14 months since I started the therapy. When I was at my worst and in forensic Psychiatric care my care costs for just two months would most likely have paid for all three years of my therapy. Yet no one bothered about paying to send me to a place that didn’t work. Now we have a treatment that’s cost efficient and effective and they stop funding. So the NHS is going to end up spending more on my care needs, crisis support and future hospital admissions as a result of this funding cut than they are saving right now.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how illogical this decision by Shropshire CCG is.

Right now I’m coping just and trying to remain focused on fighting for funding, it’s easy to fight when your fighting for survival. That’s exactly what I am doing right now I’m fighting to stay afloat, fighting for the treatment I know that works and fighting to not return to those dark days when all I wanted to do was die. I’ll keep you posted on what’s happening and if there’s any good legal minds out there who could help or assist right now, please get in touch, I need all the help I can get right now.

 

copyright DID dispatches 2015

2 envelopes 8 years apart – from suicidal to survivor mum 

Trigger warning : please exercise self care. 

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This week I came upon an envelope, on the outside were handwritten instructions of desired funeral arrangements and the envelope was addressed to three young teenagers. Shaking I gripped hold of this envelope as thoughts raced through my mind. Was it wrong to read it, would it stir up memories and emotions I wouldn’t be able to deal with or was it best to leave this well alone. Yet as I sat transfixed my eyes focused on this emotional heartfelt letter I knew what I needed to do, it was time I read the words that I once had written to my own three dear children.

As I carefully unsealed the envelope I examined every word written on the outside, it hit me that these were my funeral plans, plans I had at one time felt so vital to record on paper. I hadn’t wanted my children to have to make those difficult choices so I told them simply what I would like. The letter was long, it started with an apology, and those familiar words of I love you, I am sure many people will never understand the thoughts that raced through my head when I had written this letter, but 8 years ago when I wrote it I didn’t feel like I could survive.

You see back then my trauma, my past were destroying me and I felt I could take no more, the turmoil and anguish I felt were basically consuming me. Each day was a torment, painful and soul destroying, it felt like I was being abused over and over again, as the flashbacks consumed every minute of every day. If not the actual flashback, the fallout from them filled every day and I couldn’t take anymore of this anguish. I can recall the feelings of desolation I had felt at that time, and then the decision which seemed like a rational, sensible one to me was made. I’d end my suffering, I’d end everyone’s suffering and instead of being the nuisance to my family; that I felt I was, I’d give them a fresh start. They wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore, they wouldn’t have to watch me being consumed by the past or see my torment; which was the result of my memories. Suicide I had felt gave me the best solution, best for me and most certainly best for my children.

That was my mind set the day I wrote lovingly to my children, fast forward 8 years and here I was sitting with this letter I had written them. I digested every line, each word and I sensed the anguish and the torment I had been in when I wrote to them. It seemed somehow to seep out from within the pages, it was palpable and so clearly evident that I was suffering. I recorded the distinguishing traits of each one of the children, the things that made me proud and their individual strengths. I told each one how much I loved them and why this was the best outcome for them. I apologised numerous times for all the pain I had caused them and how I just wanted to make things right for them and I  begged for their forgiveness. By the time I had finished reading it all, tears streamed down my face and my body was shaking as I sobbed and sobbed uncontrollably.

You see I know how close I had come, how close I was at that point to no longer being here with them. I had planned so much, it wouldn’t go wrong and yet somehow it did and somehow I’m still here looking back retrospectively at that dark time. No longer in that dark unforgiving place, that once overwhelmed me and made life seem impossible to live.

I couldn’t help think of all the things we had done as a family since that time, all the highs and the lows. This was written before my stay in forensic psychiatric care, before my being sectioned under the mental health act. But it was also before any of them had graduated, before I even began to study for my degree and before they had celebrated milestone birthdays. There is so much we have done since that time, so much I so nearly missed out on.

I have had the joy of watching these teenagers grow into amazing adults, seeing them all receive their degrees and feeling such motherly pride as they did. We have shared so many Christmases, birthdays and holidays together, things that I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on. I’ve enjoyed learning to have fun, to laugh at myself especially when I splash in the sea and I now gaze in awesome wonder at the beauty that I see in this world all around me. I appreciate it from a different viewpoint today, as I see things from the perspective of my little parts of me.

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But when I wrote that letter I didn’t see any light, I didn’t see any hope, just pain and I thought it was best for us all for me to not be here. Now looking back I see that whilst it hasn’t been an easy journey and I have a long way still to go, I’m aware that I’m stronger than I ever believed was possible. I’m now aware that you can with the right help overcome those dark days, learn to live with the pain of the past and carve a new way forward. I’m learning the skills I need to cope with my life, with the damage that was once done to me.

Looking back isn’t easy, but it was important to do, it reminded me of how far I’ve come and of how much I have achieved. It’s allowed me to reflect and be glad that I’m still here, that I can tomorrow open other envelopes this time address to me and not my children. These envelopes will contain cards to celebrate Mother’s Day and I have no doubt that I will cry with joy as my wonderful children’s card tell me how much they love me.

Their words mean so much to me, because they know how close I came to not being here, they know we so nearly didn’t have this day. They have been through this nightmare with me and we have had to rebuild our relationships after the prolonged periods of my hospitalisation. I’ve kept the letter I wrote it’s hidden away in a box, I think one day when my treatments over I will burn it, till then it’s there and it’s my reminder of a time that once was desolate but now has beams of hope shining through it.

If I could have written to myself back then, it would have said quite simply ‘hang in there, it’s not going to be easy but you will get through this, you will get the help you need one day. Most of all you have a future, you will laugh again and even when you cry that’s ok, because often they will be tears of joy and of motherly pride.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

 

 

Triggered at the opticians

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Triggers creep up on you when you least expect them, causing chaos internally and sending life into a spiral of fear. That’s what happened to me this past week and I wasn’t expecting it to happen as I ventured for an eye test, after all it was just an eye test. I wasn’t too bothered about the test except I was keen to not lose time and for me and not my alters to take the test, so as I sat waiting I was internally communicating with my alters; the other parts of me.

Suddenly the optician appeared and I was catapulted back in time, gripped by fear and absolutely in chaos inside. I knew this was just an optician, it was 2015 and we were safe, but parts of me didn’t see a random stranger no they saw a rather large, tall lady of similar build to our mother, they sensed the danger that came from our mother. Immediately my emotions were all over the place and as I tried to walk into the test room the terrified parts of me felt grew stronger and stronger.

Try as I might to reassure those parts it wasn’t easy, I kept saying that “we are safe”, “she isn’t her, this lady isn’t mum”, yet it felt like my legs were lead weights. We made it into the room as voices filled my head, the fear was palpable and yet I still knew this wasn’t her, this lady was just the optician. My little parts who were terrified of our mother couldn’t rationalise that at all, they clearly felt we were in danger to them I guess it wasn’t 2015 but more like the 1970’s.

I kept trying to work at staying there, staying present and staying in the here and now, parts wanted to bolt out of that room, to escape. Of course that is not an ideal response and I knew that, I knew we had to stay, we had to take this test. As the test began I was desperately clinging to be in today’s reality, to be upfront and in control of this body and so the internal dialogue between me and my fragmented parts of me was constant. I kept praising them, offering reassurance and telling all of me I was safe even though it didn’t feel like I was. My emotions were all over the place, terror, fear, anguish, anxiety and dread gripped me, my heart was beating fast, it felt like it was going to bounce straight out of my chest. My breathing was faster, I was taking short gasping breaths as the panic rose inside and I realised I suddenly felt extremely hot as if I was overheating. My throat felt tight and my mouth drier than usual, I was certain I was shaking, well it felt like I was trembling inside.

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Dialogue continued and I tried to stay focused on the test which the optician was by now proceeding with, unaware I think of just how much chaos was going on inside of me. She did say “there is no need to worry” a couple of times and she paused at one point checking I was ok, it was helpful that she explained every step before it happened. It also helped that she didn’t make any sudden moves or get too close, thankfully modern technology means eye tests involve less close contact. Every time she spoke kindly I was able to utilise that as an example to those inside that she wasn’t our mother, I kept saying “this lady is nice”.

Desperate to stay in control, I was constantly asking for that to happen and for my parts to trust me on this occasion. Voices inside were yelling ‘get out, we need to get out of here’, ‘we are at risk’ and ‘it’s not safe’. Every time I had to counter these statements, it felt like a battle to stay in 2015, to stay in that room and to stay in control of this body we all share. To deal with the physical symptoms and also stay focused enough to take the eye test was draining me physically and emotionally.

Thankfully we survived and when it was over and we were able to leave I sensed a huge wave of relief from my inner me’s, meanwhile I felt exhausted as if I had just run a marathon. Yet there was also a sense of achievement as I had faced a trigger head on, managed to not dissociate and survived. I realise that by using internal dialogue I managed to calm my alters enough to stay in that room, whereas previously I would have run out of the room in uncontrolled panic and anxiety.

Triggers are everywhere though and I cannot avoid them all so learning ways to cope like this is critical if I want to not be walking around in a constant state of hyper vigilance. It’s a bit like having a fear of spiders and spiders suddenly appearing everywhere, you couldn’t avoid them but facing those phobias and fears head on well I can tell you it’s not easy. For me my triggers invoke similar feelings of fear, but I don’t fear a tangible thing that you can see in the here and now, my triggers remind me of fears that are located back in my childhood. Those fears are every bit as real for parts of me today as they were for those parts back in the 1970’s and 80’s, they are unable to realise those days have long gone and it’s now 2015. I guess I’m slowly learning new ways of helping them to understand, to feel safe and in turn that will hopefully help me to live with D.I.D.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015