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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Internal communication, dialogue and chit chat

There are days when it feels like my alters are far more evident, days when I don’t block them and instead listen away to the cacophony of voices filling my head. This past few days it’s really been noisy inside and I feel closer than ever to a few of my alters; the other parts of me. I thought I’d share some of what’s happening at the moment.

Following a few days of low mood and a lack of motivation out popped one of my littles, M was nervous about therapy which was scheduled for Monday. She was around first thing in the morning as we watched cartoons side by side, she was certainly in control but I didn’t lose time instead it was as if I sensed her feelings and watched my body from afar. My analogy of being side by side is that of driving a car, sometimes I am the driver of this body, other times the passenger in the back seat aware of what’s happening but oh so not in control. Being side by side means I’m in the back seat aware of events but not in control.

M is quite nervous and gentle in nature and she was bothered she had upset my therapist from the week before. So despite lots of reassurance and my therapist emailing to say he wasn’t annoyed or cross M was clearly nervous about our scheduled for that evening. When my therapist had to unexpectedly cancel our session it really worried her, she was distressed and all her worries from the week before came rushing back. Yet I knew logically it was just one of those things and well we’d be fine till next week, we have skills we can use now to help us. But M didn’t understand that and so my morning was spent reassuring her and giving her time and attention, I knew communicating with her was helping as we now have two way dialogue and so she was talking back to me. Giving M time really helped settle her worries and that in turn helped me, I gain a better perspective on situations sometimes as a result of trying to explain something to one of my alters.

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Tuesday morning was L’s turn, initially I thought of her as a precocious little alter a bit cheeky and quite confident, but I realise the more I get to know her she’s not like that at all. Yes she appears to be quite confident but deep down she’s nervous and scared, she is fearful at times and worries a lot. She and I enjoyed chatting on Tuesday and as always she asked lots of questions, it’s clear she likes to know what’s going on and I think I can understand why as fear is a big issue for her. Watching cartoons with a little alter like L or M, sensing their excitement and hearing their giggles is an odd feeling to get use to, but it also brings a new joy. For I am learning to have fun, to switch off from the humdrum of day to day life and see the little things in life that really matter. L likes having time and she is getting better at sharing time with me and other alters, she is also one of my alters who likes to cook and so our chat on Tuesday was all about our next adventure in the kitchen and what could we make. We sat and watched a children cookery programme together and that graves us some ideas for our next adventure together.

Of course I don’t just hear one alter everyday, it’s not that easy or straight forward, I can be in dialogue with a number of alters at once, and will hear, feel or sense many of them each day. Yet the constant noise in my head, the rush of emotions and feelings that I encounter seem at times to be just normal now after all this is my life, my life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I am slowly realising that understanding my condition is helping, it’s helping me to accept who I am. With acceptance of course comes less denial and that’s meant less blocking of the alters, so a little less losing time and a little bit less chaos at the moment.

On Tuesday afternoon I gave up my time, my control of this body and allowed my teen alter to take the reins. For me that means not blocking my alter, getting out the art equipment and just allowing her the chance to be herself. The creative art she accomplished in the space of a couple of hours was wonderful, and I felt so relaxed when I finally came back to the fore. My teen was more settled too and that’s helped with our ongoing work of trying to get to know her better. It was a real achievement today to actually have a dialogue with her, we still use ideomotor signals to converse and yet I am getting better at asking yes/no questions more naturally. Sensing her emotions is less frightening now than it was just a few months ago and the frequency of her overwhelming me has lessened. Some of that’s down to being able to converse with her when I sense her struggling and that calms her down, helping both of us.

 

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I know if you read this blog and haven’t got D.I.D you might think internal dialogue or chit chat is odd, you may well be sceptical of ideomotor signalling, I know I was when we first began using it. But talking internally and starting to get to know the other parts of me is helping, I may not be the best person to explain it, I may not fully understand why it helps but I know it does.

I’m someone who likes to logically rationalise and understand things, but there are times when I realise that all the matters is does something help, does it work. Trying to build a relationship, a rapport with the alters is helping and hopefully it will help me into the future as we progress through trauma work. But all of this takes time, time and effort, I know that it’s not easy and I mess up a lot and it can feel like I’m taking 2 steps forward and then 1 step back every time. It’s hard work and there are days when I wish others could understand what life is really like, the constant juggling of competing demands, the ever changing emotions as my mood speeds from high to low and back again. I can feel low in a morning, overly excited in the afternoon, fly to the land of confusion and mixed emotions at tea time and then be in utter despair by night time. My different parts all have different feelings, different likes, different needs and yet they are all a part of me, so I feel all these different feelings. I’m often asked which alter are you now and my answer often is I don’t know who I am, and that is how it feels some days. But right now my daily aim is not to block the alters out, it’s to accept and understand them, it’s to realise that internal chit chat is actually a good thing, it is ok.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Back to Reality

Well my vacation has finally come to an end, it was a good opportunity to understand my alters better and to be myself, whoever that me might be. Yet it was challenging at times too especially when I became overwhelmed emotionally and descended into floods of tears. One of the things I have realised these past 12 days is that my threshold for dealing with somethings is less than I would like.

So when the theme parks were busy I panicked and felt desperate to escape, sometimes we did have to leave early or head to another activity just to avert mass meltdown. The same happened when my outward flight was delayed and I felt like I couldn’t face a second day of the airport, on this occasion melt down did happen, floods of tears and anxiety levels off the scale. It was at these times that I would disappear, lose time and dissociate, my means of escape I guess from things I cannot deal with.

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It’s hard to comprehend that I still naturally dissociate when things become too much for me, my inbuilt mechanism is to hide. My window of tolerance isn’t great and so my brain instantly kicks into overdrive and the fight or flight response kicks in. In my case their isn’t much fight, no I take flight and dissociate unable to deal with things that I guess for most people are manageable.

I’m also aware that whilst there have been many moments of co-awareness during my time away; times when I may not be in control of this body of mine or my speech or reactions I am at least aware of what the other parts of me are doing, there have been periods of lost time. My daughter tells me that I have switched quite considerably at points and sometimes it has been hard for her to keep track of which part of me is out.

I know that I have found it hard at times just to know who I am, to understand which alter, which part of me is in control. I know that it’s not me but even then I can’t say which part of me is most strong, most in control and I find this frustrating as it’s something I feel I ought to know. Perhaps I’m being a little hard on myself setting expectations that are just not possible to meet at this moment in time, but it still feels frustrating.

 

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Over the past 12 days I have been very aware of certain alters who have been more prominent and the time away has given me a chance to get to understand these parts better. There are a couple of little parts who clearly have enjoyed the characters we met and rides we went on, but I’m also aware of their fears too. They clearly feel uncomfortable having fun, they stress over getting things wrong and they worry there will be a price to pay for them enjoying themselves. I’ve spent so much time trying to reassure them and can only hope they see that today there aren’t consequences like in the past. I now know my teen alter is terrified of the dark and I do mean terrified, yet I have found reassuring her at these moments has helped. I’m even more aware now that she has an artistic nature, it’s been a joy to be co-aware whilst she has looked at the designs and textures all around her.

Now though we return back to normality, back to everyday life and I am nervous of how that will go, will it feel overwhelming like the last time I went away. I’m worried I won’t be able to be myself, to give all the different parts of me time in the way I have been able whilst we have been away. I’m concerned I will block my alters once again which I know isn’t a good thing to do. I guess only time will tell and my main job now is to keep moving forwards and to keep trying to work with my alters.

Today as I land back in the UK I am grateful I have a therapy appointment this evening, as this will give me an opportunity to talk through some of my concerns and fears. In fact I’ve never been more glad of a therapy appointment there is so much I want to discuss, things I need help rationalising. Hopefully jet lag won’t prevent me from being there or from being an active participant in the session, here’s hoping.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

On Vacation with my Alters

 

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I thought I’d share a little of what it’s like vacationing with alters, after all holidays are different and I guess more challenging as well. You see I am trying to entertain not just me the adult but my alters; the other parts of me too and that includes child and teenage parts, who all have differing likes and dislikes. My family tell me that going on holiday with me is a bit like taking a coach load of people on a trip, we are forever changing what we’d like to do and well you can’t please all of me at the same time.

For me it can be both interesting and challenging as I switch from one alter to another, and well my head is full of chaos and noise at times. There have been moments when I have felt overwhelmed by the competing demands and others were it’s felt just right. I think I am slowly learning to not be so hard on myself and to accept that at times I will get things wrong, but what’s important is I tried and that’s a start.

This past week I have found myself hugging characters with a glee and excitement that is surreal, as little parts of me take control. We have been on a flying elephant ride ‘Dumbo’ and gone in search of ‘Finding Nemo’ as well as watched Mickey and Minnie and Co dance around. Yet I have also found myself at the Space Center lunching with an astronaut and paddling in the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean. My teen has enjoyed the two art shops we ventured too, she certainly hurt my purse but I know she was happy and that’s what’s important.

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My packing for this trip was done by adult me, as I have taken a bit of a back seat this week much of that packing hasn’t been worn, my younger parts have totally different dress sense to me. My eating habits have also been erratic as different parts of me seem to like different foods, some parts are fearful of food so that’s made life awkward. In one restaurant we went to the younger guests were being encouraged to dance around on hobby horses in a parade, there was a strong desire from young parts of me to join in though it would have looked a bit odd to say the least. Thankfully my daughter managed to distract those parts with gooey pudding and my dignity remained intact.

Different alters like different activities, and sometimes what one likes another is fearful of and this can lead to feelings of fear gripping me mid way through an activity. I have spent so much time internally communicating that I feel as if I have neglected my daughter, who at times I am just too busy to talk to. Of course I’m not silent there is communication going on it’s just internally and others can’t see or ear that internal dialogue.

Taking a trip away is complicated, but it’s also good too and so far despite the odd meltdown moment we are surviving. I guess you could say we are doing better than surviving, I am letting go off control and giving over control of this body I share with my alters to the alters at times. I have been surprised by the amount of co-awareness that I have had during this vacation, it’s a positive sign things are slowly improving. I have established some key triggers so am now able to plan ahead and work around these more which is helpful. I’m also conscious of the needs of certain alters and by offering reassurance found that this has helped, it has certainly given my teen alter more opportunities to learn things are safer today; than in the past where she still thinks and feels she lives.

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I’m learning to have fun as well, paddling on the beach was my chance to experience an activity that until last Summer I wouldn’t dare undertake. I’m realising too that it’s ok to smile and laugh at silly things, that I don’t have to be serious all the time and I’m more aware of my own feelings. Most of all though I’m realising that the past doesn’t have to dictate the future, I can retrain my brain to think differently and to react to triggers differently. I’m also aware I have feelings for my alters yes I actually care about them, I guess that’s a sign of me nurturing myself and valuing myself. I guess overall I’m aware that despite my past, despite my Dissociative Identity Disorder life is safe today, I don’t need to let the fears ingrained in me as a child control today.

I’m off now to create some more memories, good ones that will last a lifetime and make me smile and laugh.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Emotional roller-coaster

 

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This week seems to have been a mixture of emotions so far, I started crying at the airport overwhelmed by the fact my Ted had been taken for a secondary security check. The physical separation was just too much for my little parts of me and so the tears and panic set in and I guess all the frustrations of my delayed flight didn’t help either. The relief when we were reunited were palpable and I soon calmed myself back down with a little help from my daughter.

Over the weekend at the conference I felt myself switch from one part to another, and my feelings altered too. There were serious parts of me who sat and listened to various speakers and others who participated in the creative corner activities. Throughout this time my emotions fluctuated and I found myself questioning why I suddenly felt tearful and sad. There were times I was bursting with excitement and I can honestly say I felt the younger parts of me quite a lot. But there was the notably absence of my teen part who for years has carried my feelings and I felt sad and concerned that she wasn’t around.

Meeting old friends and new people at the conference was great fun, and at times I felt quite elated. I will write more about the conference on my return home when I have had time to digest all that happened there and I have settled down a little from this trip.

 

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On Sunday evening as I stood on the 15th floor of a hotel and watched the fireworks display over the Magic Kingdom castle I felt my younger parts excitement. it was strange as I didn’t lose time I was side by side or co-aware of the events going on, I just wasn’t always in control of this body all of us share. The little parts of me gasped in wonder and kept telling my daughter how pretty the fireworks were, they clearly enjoyed themselves. Whilst I felt happy that I felt their excitement and happiness which was palpable, I also felt a huge wave of sadness which I couldn’t understand at first.

On Monday I still felt waves of sadness crashing over me and as I sat stuck on a bus trying to head back to my hotel for a phone call, panic overwhelmed me too. So by the time 15 minutes late I spoke to my psychologist I couldn’t help my tears which had started to flow. Having a virtual psychology session helped so much, over 4,000 miles from home and yet thanks to my willing psychologist we still had our session. I was able to discuss my emotions, my tears, my sadness and the absence of my teen part. It was so helpful to be reassured that my emotions were natural and to be expected and to know that my sorrow was grieve for the childhood I had lost and yet now attempted to reclaim.

It may sound funny but just having time to to talk things through and to rationalise things really helped me and knowing I was placing far too much pressure on myself also helped to calm things down. Once my session ended I had a good old cry and let out some of the frustrations and fears of the past few days, it was much needed. Accepting and acknowledging grieve was vital and it was also vital I acknowledged that I missed my teen part. Yes I understood why she might be absent and yet I had not really acknowledged I missed her and I actually cared about her.
The last time I came to florida I didn’t have internal dialogue nor did I have any sense of co- awareness instead I just lost time. Today I feel like I am getting to know the different alters and I feel quite emotionally attached to some of them, these alters are after all me, just different parts of me.

That afternoon my daughter and I visited our first theme park and soon I felt little parts excitement and giggles, seeing Mickey Mouse I was filled with wonder and awe. I guess the feelings of the little me who never witnessed or experienced such feelings as a child, who wasn’t able to enjoy this experience first hand before. It felt magical and it was fun but most of all it felt good and all the while. I kept talking internally to ensure the alters and I shared these experiences together.

Late in the afternoon as I waited in line for a ride I found myself drawn to the designs and textures of the characters and theming, Suddenly I sensed my teen part was present, I chatted to her in my usual way and she responded using the ideomotor signalling technique we have learnt. To say I was elated would be an understatement, I was ecstatic to feel her because I really was concerned about that part of me. Sharing time and fun with her brought about it’s own mixture of emotions and yet these were happy ones.

 

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Over the past few days it has been an emotional roller-coaster ride, I have switched openly and freely and though I have lost time I have managed to enjoy some co-awareness as well. I have found myself grieving for the childhood I never had and also celebrating at the memories I am now creating for myself. I have been able to experience those child like feelings of wonder and excitement today and whilst they maybe a little late at least I am experiencing them now.

There has been a whole cacophony of emotions, ranging from sadness and sorrow to exhilaration and happiness. I have switched frequently and in doing so have learnt much about the different parts of me. I now know certain parts find the dark scary and need more reassurance, whilst others are just so happy to be enjoying this time away. I’m sensing the different characteristics of my parts more and that can only be good, as I will use this acquired knowledge to help us as we move forward.

So the forecast for the next few days of my holiday well it’s tears and tantrums, sadness and sorrow and happiness and excitement. I’ll update the blog again over the coming days of my adventures learning to understand the various parts of me, one things for certain life with Dissociative Identity Disorder is far from boring.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Escaping to fun.

Escaping to Disney World allows me a safe environment in which I can be myself, it allows me the opportunity to let my younger alters take the reins and have fun. It’s a place where I know I can switch freely and not worry so much at other people’s attitudes and responses. Quite simply it’s a place grown ups can go to have fun, to be there inner child and run riot, within the law of course.
For me and my little alters it provides freedom and space to have fun as if I was a little child, to stand in awe whilst watching parades and run and meet disney characters.

I am aware that whilst it’s fun for my little parts it’s also exciting for the more adventurous parts of me, those who like fast roller coasters and the like. There is space and quieter areas too which appeals to other more gentle teenage parts and there is plenty for me the adult as well. Shopping and food are two of my favourite things so I’m not stuck for choice there as restaurants and shops are plentiful.

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Yet there is a more serious side to this opportunity to be more carefree about switching, the less worry allows me to let to of control of this body we all share and stop fighting and blocking my alters. It allows me a chance to try out working together with my alters, to improve internal dialogue and to work through some of those inbuilt thought mechanisms from my past.

This week I will be challenging the concept held by some of me, that having fun is dangerous and not permitted. That will mean lots of self talk, internal communication and positive affirmations.
I will also be continuing with the task set by my psychologist to not belittle myself, that means trying really hard not to use those dreaded words of ‘stupid’ or ‘silly’. Words which I tend to say too often about myself and always with a negative connotation.

So whilst all of me gets to enjoy some fun, there is a serious side to my trip as well and whilst it will be fun in parts I’m aware there will be low points too. My mood will be chaotic as I switch from one part of me to another and there is likely to be tears and possibly tantrums.

One little is desperate to see Donald and Daisy Duck another wants to see Minnie Mouse and my teen part is desperate to stroll on the beach. Lots of competing demands will make things far more interesting and challenging and I will be exhausted at the end of this trip and it will be tough to return home to a place where I feel more conscious of my switching, where life’s everyday pressures will overwhelm.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Triggers and the Power of the Brain

 

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The brain is an amazing organ it carries my memories in ways I find difficult at times to conceptualise. This week for instance a simple smell triggered me and sent my brain into overdrive, it was yet another example of the way my memories are stored away, hidden from my consciousness.

I had no idea time travel could be so sudden, but sudden it was and yes it does feel like time travel, as in my mind I was catapulted back to an age long ago. The simple smell of a workmen was just too much for my brain to bear and so it kicked into overdrive and protection mode. I’m told that the brain stores memories in many ways, smell being just one of them. In this case the workman triggered a memory that wasn’t pleasant, a memory that evoked fear and a sense of heightened risk.

Triggered by the smell my brain reacted and suddenly fear gripped me, fear of a man long dead but who still can send me into a spiral of terror. The reality of course is my body faces the flight or fight response and then in heightened alertness reacts to the memory that is evoked. Not long ago such a trigger would instantly send me hiding under a desk, or squeezing into a tiny safe space though thankfully not as often anymore. Now at times I am able to ground myself and reverse the time travel, the hyper vigilance and the fear.

On this occasion a part of me was back in 1970 and she was gripped by fear, but I was able to reassure myself and that part of me, that we were safe. I was able to explain that the risk we feared was only a memory and thankfully not real, we were just remembering a time from long ago. However it wasn’t easy as at first I was taken by surprise, I didn’t even know what had triggered me into feeling so terrified.

So unsure was I of the reason for this overwhelming fear that I had to ask internally for help, as I tried to rationalise the situation. The fact was nothing except having a workman in our home had changed, so it was quite easy to establish it was something relating to him. I soon realised his odour stood out and an inside part was able to make me aware that this was what was causing them such fear.

As my mind raced with memories of the man who I feared back in 1970, flashes of memories overwhelmed. I recalled his actions which I feared then and sadly fear now, I recalled the abuse he inflicted upon me as a small little girl. I recalled him, his shouting, his aggression, his awful actions which he inflicted upon me despite my protests.

The poor workman had no idea he had caused me such distress, but in truth he hadn’t, all he had done was kick my brain into overdrive. Now hyper vigilant I realised I needed to act so I opened windows, lit fragrant candles and tried desperately to reduce the odour. I did my best to avoid the workman and when he had finished I grabbed the room freshener and sprayed it around everywhere. All the time I was internally communicating to those parts who were frightened, offering reassuring and trying desperately to ground us into 2015.

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As the odour dissipated my brain reactions slowed and began to get back on an even keel, the time travel that had gone on in my mind stopped and I was firmly stood in today. I was able to settle myself down and resolve the fears by thinking logically and yet also acknowledging the past.

The reality of life with Dissociative Identity Disorder though is that there will be times when I am triggered, by smells, sounds, objects of one kind or another and by people who just so happen to remind me of others. These triggers will occur without warning and they are all around me, it’s impossible to avoid them all. I’m aware of some of the more frequent ones, but not all of them and yes there will be new triggers that I unearth,

The truth is my brain stored those things as being dangerous, and associates those triggers with risk, with pain and fear and so today the brain reacts accordingly when it senses the danger. My brain goes into overdrive yet by doing so it keeps me safe too, it instantly sounds the alarm that risk and danger may be around and I have time to react. It may at times be inconvenient, it maybe difficult to deal with and yet it demonstrates my brain is functioning and doing it’s job of warning me of protecting me.

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Today I just need to be able to establish what risk there really is and act accordingly, I know overtime I will get better at doing that and my time travelling will lessen. I’ll be grateful when that happens, till then I best keep my tardis close to hand.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Upsetting My Alters -when head and heart collide

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There are times in life when your head and your heart don’t agree, when your conscious thoughts and your subconscious thoughts don’t tally. This week I feel as if my subconscious thoughts have finally burst through and no matter how much I pretend I can no longer hide my true feelings on one issue and sadly it’s caused a lot of upset.

I have always felt in my head at least that I accepted I had Dissociative Identity Disorder, the reasons why and all it entails, but for quite some time now others have disagreed. The main point of contention has been that whilst logically I understand it, consciously accept it my subconscious thoughts are not quite in agreement. I have accepted in part some of what others have said, but I guess I didn’t fully agree, not really anyway.

Yesterday was a turning point, it’s kind of hard to ignore things when you here your subconscious thoughts spewing out at 150 decibels as you scream angrily. It started over something really silly but I realise now looking back it epitomised one of the bug bears for me of having D.I.D . I had an item of clothing that I needed to return to the store, but to do so I needed the receipt, the receipt had been placed in a safe place. Now because I do lose things a lot I had been very careful with it and so I knew or so I thought exactly where it was. But when the time came it wasn’t were I last left it and thus all my hopes of going to the store and returning yesterday were ruined.

This may seem silly after all it’s just a piece of paper, but it summed up so much more for me, I hunted the house high and low, looking for this random piece of paper. I searched and I searched and as time past I got more and more angry, more and more frustrated. In the end I was shouting at the top of my voice and I was stomping around my home like a woman possessed.

You see I it really wasn’t about the receipt at all, all my actions they were because I knew another part of me had probably moved the receipt. Another part me had taken over control of this body we share and moved it from my safe place and that irritated me far more than anything. The receipt epitomised the reality of life with D.I.D, it was a symbol of life were half the time you have no real idea what’s going on. It was a stark reminder if I ever needed one that I share my life with the other parts of me, and that I am not like most people.

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As my frustration grew out spewed words that came with venom and feeling, my subconscious thoughts and feelings bubbling to the surface of my life. I screamed out loud the words “I am f***g sick of others interfering with my life”. This wasn’t aimed at a person, it wasn’t aimed at my PA’s or my son who by now had listened patiently to my ranting for quite some time, no those words were aimed at the alters who share this body, my body….they were aimed at the other parts of me.

The moment the words left my mouth and resonated in my mind I knew the cost, the cost of telling inside what I really felt. Almost immediately I realised that for months I have been kidding myself when I say I have accepted I have D.I.D, because deep down it hurts, deep down I haven’t. The truth is that whilst logically I get Dissociation and I understand why I dissociate and I think I understand the things I need to do to move forward, my heart feels differently.

My heart, my subconscious well it feels angry and frustrated that I’m not ‘normal’, whatever normal is, that I was abused and in order to survive I dissociated and that has left the legacy of D.I.D.
I’m angry that I lose time, I lose control and I forget things, that I see things in different ways to others. You see objects can seem bigger if I’m a younger alter and I can meet people who seem to be strangers and yet they know me, well they know a part of me. My mood is like a constant changing traffic light, as I switch between the different parts of me, my mood reflects the part in control. I’m angry I was betrayed, let down, belittled and hurt by people who had no right to do the things they did to me. I’m angry I have D.I.D and all it means for my life and so losing the receipt summed up so many things, it meant I couldn’t avoid the stark reality of my life, a life with a legacy of dissociation.

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I spent time trying to calm down, I felt tearful and I felt hurt, my teen who carries much of my feelings was sad and I knew I was the cause of her sadness. My head was full of voices as parts desperately sought reassurance, and I felt wounded, wounded by the dawning realisation My head and my heart were not on the same page. I tried to offer comfort, reassuring words and I let my teen express her feelings all the time I was apologising for hurting her. I tried to express my sorrow, why I had said it, that it wasn’t about the alters; my other parts but about the past, about having a legacy which has a cause I’d rather ignore, I’d rather forget but can’t.

Last night my protector part became very vocal, he wasn’t pleased with me at all and he let me know. He was honest and to be fair he listened to me too, all he said was accurate and it needed to be aired after all those words did cause hurt inside. My words scared little parts who felt rejected by me, who thought they were in trouble and they were afraid of my anger. My teen was hurting too and other parts angry and frustrated because for months I have tried to build bridges with my alters and yet deep down I’d said they were interfering in my life.

I’ve spent a number of hours trying to rationalise things myself and then explain to inside, I care deeply about the other parts of me, after all they are me, we are just fragmented because of my past. But whilst I care about them, want to build relationships with them and get to know them better I don’t like the past that created them. I don’t like some of the things that come with having Dissociative Identity disorder including losing things, it feels like a quandary really as if I’m trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Accept but deny all at the same time, accept and like my alters but curse what created them.

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Thankfully my alters are forgiving, and whilst I still have to rebuild my relationship with them that I nearly destroyed yesterday, I am more able to be honest and say how I feel. Today I have had to give massive amounts of reassurance to certain alters, who keep nervously asking ‘do I like them?’ I have to keep reminding them it’s not them I’m angry at, it’s not them I dislike, and I need to keep reminding me that it’s ok to have these feelings.

For the first time I guess my head and heart are in agreement, I now consciously, logically understand the feelings I have locked away for so long about D.I.D. That has to be a positive things going forwards, but it is a shame the cost was so heavy I inflicted upon my alters a tirade of anger that wasn’t fair or just, and yes parts of me still feel rejected, scared and in turmoil as a result. I too now need to accept who I am, accept the implications of living life as a we, of being fragmented and having D.I.D.

As for that receipt, the thing that caused my subconscious to spew forth, well I asked inside if anyone knew where it was, explaining that it was important and I really needed it. In surprisingly it was located and I realised whichever part of me had moved it from my safe spot had done so with all the best intentions in the world, they’d moved it to an even safer place. How can I be angry at that, they were looking out for us and for that I am grateful, though perhaps one day we will be able to agree on a safe spot that all parts of me use, so the chaos encountered yesterday will be a thing of the past.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Escaping – Learning To Accept My Alters

Giving Time To The Various Parts Of Me

Just over a week ago I escaped to a rural part of England for a short break with my eldest son, he and I live together and it felt like a good idea to have time away. The break was well planned and in a safe place, on a car free woodland site which offers lots of activities which you can take part in, as well as having free wi-fi; something my son stated was a pre-requisite to any holiday.

For me the week was about giving time to my alters; the other parts of me, who I realised often get overlooked and blocked by myself. By blocking them and not giving them time, I’m aware that I am adding to the internal chaos we all face, as they will still seek their time usually when I’m least expecting it. Part of my on going therapy has been to encourage better working with the alters to decrease the amount of unplanned switching that goes on, but try as I might blocking still seems to happen.

So I packed my art things, cartoons and other DVDs into the cases and set off, I felt so determined to make this work that I even set up an out of office message on my email. I was intent on time limiting my access to the internet, wi-fi or not and I made every effort to stick with the plans of limiting my time on social media too. These few days were about me giving time to me, all of me and it was about relaxing, resting and de-stressing.

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During the break I had planned a day at the spa just for me, as a way of telling myself I wasn’t being ignored either. I didn’t need to worry about phone calls or food or cleaning or anything really, I just needed to focus on being me the real me. You see its not easy at times to let my little parts have planned time, after all I am very conscious of other people’s opinions and reactions. I even find it hard to sit and let the little parts of me watch cartoons when other people; including my PA’s are around. Art is similar, one of my parts enjoys art greatly but switching off and giving her planned time to come out and take control of this body that we share is hard when others are around.

Each day I started with internal dialogue talking to my alters and planning the day, cartoons followed as I deliberately gave control over to the little parts of me. The intention was to put them first and it helped, communication improved between me and them and I found myself able to just be me. Whether that meant being one of my little alters, a teen or indeed another adult me didn’t really matter what was important was the fact I could be true to myself. Not ashamed of my switching or anxious about who I was or which me had control, and my stress levels actually went down.

My teen had planned time for art, she was able to enjoy expressing herself in a way that doesn’t happen so often at home. I felt less pressure and I didn’t try blocking her as much, on my Spa Day I decided to invite her along and so side by side we went to the spa, yes I have one body but it was definitely occupied by two distinct parts of me at this time. It was probably the best decision I made all week, sat in there internally communicating with this part of me felt groundbreaking. It may sound odd but I really feel like I know this part of me better, I don’t know what causes her pain or the memories she holds from my past, but I do know her far more than before.

On our last day I really didn’t want to leave and I escaped to the pottery painting studio to switch off, my teen alter popped out and took control of this body for a while. I was able to watch her as she enjoyed more time, which made me feel good as well.

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Coming home was hard I didn’t want to have to refit back into the busy world, were expectations seem higher and more restrictive. You see whilst I was away I could be the real true me, I could give time to my parts, I communicated with a new alter and that felt good too. I still had uncontrolled switching, times when parts of me take over this body unannounced and times when I dissociated too. But the environment meant I could just accept this and not worry, not feel ashamed as is often the case.

Switching isn’t unusual for my son and he would just deal with whoever was around be that me adult mum or a little who wants to old hands and skip. I realise that the person who struggles most with the switching is in fact me, I’m the person who is far more anxious about this, more conscious and more bothered. Yet in truth this is just who I am and it’s only by being me and by giving time to the various parts of me that I can move forwards. But its not easy admitting to yourself that you have alters; yes I still deny it subconsciously, and it’s not easy admitting I’m different to many people in society. Nor is it easy admitting or accepting there are things I still can’t do that I so wish I could, yes I may have made progress since leaving hospital but sometimes it just doesn’t feel enough.

The first week back in the real world facing day to day life and all it’s challenges has been really tough, I have found myself attempting to block giving time to the alters. I am conscious of switching and I’m conscious of other people’s attitudes and there have been times I have wanted to escape and not return. I have shed many tears and I’ve struggled with sleep, my appetite is poor and it’s been difficult beyond words at times.

But I’m persevering and with support from my family I am attempting to set time aside for the various parts of me, so we have had cartoons and lots of painting, plus sport and other activities. I’ve even found myself listening to music I wouldn’t normally enjoy; some part of me has obviously acquired it. I’m trying to be kind to myself, realise my limits and most of all accept me, accept all the different parts of me.

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copyright DID Dispatches 2014