Processing the emotions of my past

Processing the emotions of my past

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

Life’s been a bit tough this past week, tough because I’m in the process of trying to understand my past and the anguish that seems to come from the legacy of my abuse. I’ve found myself crying with real pain, but this is not physical pain, no it’s deep within and it consumes all of me. It’s a pain like no other, a pain of deep scars and ingrained thoughts knocked into me years ago. This hurt is the dawning realisation and acceptance that the abuse I recall actually happened to me.
You see it is often easier to just acknowledge the memory, to think it through but not get emotionally involved, to remember but not accept these events happened to me. Yet once you start acknowledging these memories, the hurt and anguish that goes with them it hurts so much more. Acknowledging the emotions that co-exist alongside the actual memory itself is far far harder and I’m slowly realising that this hurt is something I have to go through if I want to recover.
For years I’ve had memories, fragments of time that suddenly appeared into my subconscious taking over my mind and plaguing me with horror. I’ve been inflicted with flashbacks and body memories which do so easily catapult me back in time, to when the events were actually happening. But for years I lived under the premise of these events happened to this alter or that alter, I never thought about the emotional impact that I as a child felt when the events were actually happening to this body of mine.
I’ve tried hard the past year to accept these events, this abuse well it happened to me I may have dissociated during the actual event but I was still there. I may have shut the memories, the pain and hurt away but I can’t deny this didn’t happen to me. I can’t deny I was scared, I was afraid or that I felt anger or guilt because back then I did. I can’t deny any longer that I as a child suffered horrendously, that I felt terrified, that I wished I could stop them because I did. Looking back now I realise that I boxed my emotions from this time away, I wasn’t allowed to feel, to express an opinion I had to just lie there and endure, that was my role.
But today decades later I can feel, I can express the pain and anguish of those times and the inner child in me needs to do that. I need to be able to let go of the hurt, the fears and the anger locked deep within. You see parts of me have carried these feelings and these memories for so long and now it’s right that we express them, it’s time for them and me to let go of our emotions, to feel.
So this past week I’ve found myself crying, consumed with anguish and hurt because for the first time in my life I’m feeling the hurt from decades ago, I’m actually allowing it to have an outlet, to stop it from being locked in. I’m giving the emotional hurt from that time an opportunity to be expressed, the feelings I have well they are those carried by me as a child when the abuse was a daily event.
Today I maybe an adult, but deep within lies the emotional scars of a child who has endured so much and yet thankfully survived. Those scars need to break free and the emotions contained within need processing, they need processing by me. I’m slowly realising that it’s ok to grieve, to feel, to cry, in fact it’s ok to be angry, to feel fear and a thousand other feelings I’ve carried over the years. I do feel dirty, I feel used, I feel rejection and I feel angry, I’m angry that this happened to me. I’m angry these people felt they had a right to abuse me when they had none.
I’m slowly coming to realise just how much this impacted upon me, not just the physical scars but the emotional too. You see being unable to express emotions over the years has taken a real toll on me. I’m scared of anger, I’m uncomfortable when I cry or feel overwhelmed and I find my emotional reactions to events quite alarming at times, because emotions feel alien to me.
I know that feeling and processing those emotions, my emotions is a huge part of my healing journey. It’s so critical to feel and to understand why I think and feel the way I do about many things. To acknowledge my grief, my hurt and to accept that these feelings are ok, they are safe and I’m ok to express them. So right now I’m accepting I need to take care of me, that I need to let my tears flow and that its safe. I used to think they’d overwhelm me and never stop but I know now that if I needed to stop crying to answer the phone or deal with an emergency I could stop them. I know that if they consume me and it becomes too much I can take a break from the pain they hold, I can say that’s enough for now I’ll feel some more tomorrow.
I know that this hurt and pain will take time to pass, indeed processing the emotions from the past will take sometime. But I know it’s better to start processing than leave them unworked through and full of their deadly sting which they hold. In time processing will lessen that sting and it will mean these memories and the emotional baggage they contain will not be able to come bite me again, they will not have the same hold over me.
Right now I’m slowly learning to manage my emotions, I’m coming to terms with the past and all the scars it contains. I’m taking time out in order to allow those emotions to be safely expressed and I’m ensuring all the parts of me have time too. Time to cry, to laugh, to shout and to feel but most of all to have time to heal, for that’s what this journey is all about. So I’ve structured my diary to give me some space, some free time and I’m ensuring I have space to think, to communicate internally and to work through these emotions, this legacy from my past one teeny tiny step at a time.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

It’s been a rough week – illness and DID

 

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The past week has been a bit of a nightmare I have had a really bad virus of some kind, so with a whole host of symptoms I have felt really quite unwell. The problem is that means I have just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide, I have had days were I just slept for hours, others were I’ve shivered and felt rough and others were I have had no energy at all.

The impact isn’t just physical however, as being unwell has meant many plans have had to change and that’s upset many of the different parts of me, my alters. My intended trip to the beach with my teen alter didn’t happen and time with the little parts was forgotten as I slept through the cartoon time. It’s not so easy being unwell but it seems even more difficult as someone who is fragmented, someone who has many different parts of me.

Now as I sit and recover I’m trying to rebuild bridges with those alters who have at times felt that I have once again neglected them. It isn’t uncommon for me to be building bridges it’s a skill I’m learning to be quite good at, after all I am forever making comments that I later regret and which upset some part of me. I’m also very good at trying to block the other parts of me at times and then have to re build a rapport with the part who I have just physically and emotionally ignored.

Some of my bridge building I’m told is because like many with Dissociative Identity Disorder I still have moments of denial, denial of the past and denial of the alters. I’m fortunate at times that the other parts of me are very tolerant and very understanding of my mistakes, we would be in a much worse state if they weren’t.

During the past week one of my little parts as been very vocal at reminding me she is around, when I couldn’t talk because I had no voice, she filled my head with her words. She made it clear she didn’t like feeling poorly and she was sick and tired of me coughing and coughing. She’s told me that she wasn’t impressed our daily routine of having time first thing each morning had stopped. It seems being ill was clearly no excuse for ignoring the other parts of me and I soon gathered that she was unhappy.

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Now as I have started to recover despite still having limited energy my little part has at least been happy to watch cartoons again and to be able to have that agreed time each day. Though she’s not too impressed my energy levels are lower than low and so I’m currently running at tortoise pace or slower. Other parts too are around some more prominent than others, I am developing a real bond with those parts of me who I now sense more regularly, my teen who only 7 or 8 months ago I would block and fear for being overwhelmed by her emotions is one such part.

It’s hard to imagine how she use to overwhelm me, take control and leave me a virtual wreck as her emotions, her pain, her anguish would flood me and I’d collapse in floods of tears. Today we communicate and that’s been the result of a lot of hard work,we still rarely communicate with words however, but ideomotor signals are amazing and so helpful. They have been a real breakthrough for me and my teen part and even today I know whilst I still know so little of her anguish, she at least is learning to trust me and I’m learning to not block her.

She has been truly great this last week reassuring me when I have felt down and dejected at feeling so unwell, she seems to know when I need that reassurance far more than other parts.
Despite missing the beach an activity we both enjoy and share, she has forgiven me and is far more able to understand the reasons why, than perhaps the little parts can.

 

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Of course all my parts, my alters are just different fragmented parts of me, fragmented as a result of my past. However I can’t change the past but I can learn to shape the future and even being unwell has been an opportunity to take time to reflect and to work at understanding the alters better. I realise being ill has impacted all of me, parts included and together we are trying slowly to recover on a steady slow path of progress. Each day if we manage one more thing then that’s helpful, I’m having to learn to pace myself far better and accept what I can and can’t do right now.

Most of all I’m learning that I can’t ignore my alters, even when I feel unwell they still need the time and space to be. I guess despite being a nightmare of a week I have still made progress, well progress that matters. For me that’s me and my alters getting to know each other a bit better and learning to work together no matter how ill we might feel.

(The pictures for this blog have been chosen by the little parts of me.)

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

One Gigantic Leap of Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feelings and Therapy

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It’s feels like an age since I blogged even though it’s less than a week, but so much seems to have happened. I haven’t had a busy week in fact it’s probably been a rather lazy one, I’ve tried to self care a great deal as I realised things were going array.

It’s really hard to juggle the demands and needs of life sometimes, recently I had attended a major sporting event here in the UK which took up a few days and entailed long journeys to and from Scotland. Don’t get me wrong I had a great time, but it was exhausting and it pushed me a great deal.

I wasn’t in the quiet countryside that I’m now used to, instead I was in a very busy cosmopolitan city which was extremely noisy. I was attending sports venues with large crowds and lots of activity and whilst I was enjoying myself, there were parts of me that clearly felt uncomfortable.

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By the end of the event I came home and was literally exhausted, this didn’t set me up well for therapy and I arrived with feelings of anxiety overwhelming me. I had that overwhelming feeling and tearfulness that seems to be a part of me currently, this is really not normal before therapy so it bothered me a bit. I realised that in my excitement and busyness I hadn’t given much time to my alters and that was probably not helping how I felt.  Juggling is a skill you need as someone with D.I.D, it’s like trying to organise a family with competing demands, wants and needs. The only difference now is instead of an actual family made up of separate people, there is just one body and my internal family of parts.

In therapy we discussed the reality that I’m still trying to control my sessions and which of me is there and I’m still in denial, denial of them, of my emotions and of my pain. In order to help with this I was set homework and I was keen to try and do this exercise, I really invested a lot of hope in it and perhaps that was part of my downfall.

The following day when I attempted the piece of homework my psychologist had given me things didn’t go to plan, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t what I got. I ended up confused and distressed and most of all I knew I had potentially damaged the relationship with my alters.

I’m not sure what I need to make me truly accept I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, that the alters are something that hold my memories. But at one point on Tuesday I felt like I needed a huge concrete wall to hit me full on in my face, and loud sirens shouting ‘wake up these are real’. I needed something to help me stop doubting, doubting what I know logically to be true and yet seem so set on trying to continually convince myself of the opposite.

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On Tuesday and the days that have followed I have seriously thought I wasn’t ever going to cope with this, that I’d never be able to not doubt my reality. That I’d never be able to just accept who I am, me and my parts of me.

Worst of all I have seriously thought that therapy wasn’t going to work, I have thought that my psychologist wouldn’t want to work with me. You name it I have thought it this week, so much confusion, doubt and concern. It’s as if a part of me is trying to undermine my sessions, undermine the good that has gone before and yet I don’t fully understand why.

I have spent lots of efforts trying to rebuild the damage I caused with my alters, I am grateful that my teen and I have communicated using the ideomotor signals which we have found helpful. These do work and yet at times I still doubt them, which I think frustrates me as much as my teen part.

Yet now as therapy draws near once again I’m nervous and anxious, how silly is that – I mean I emailed my psychologist the other day and he has told me not to worry. But worry I do, I think partly because I have read and re read the email I sent him and I guess I was angry and exasperated when I wrote him. The language I used in my email was blunt, contained rude words and demonstrates I guess that I felt pretty frustrated when I wrote him. I don’t think I’d have sent that kind of email I mean it not how I normally write, but I know did, I can’t say it was an alter because I know it was my thoughts I wrote down and my feelings that jump from the words.

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I guess for once in my life I have allowed my feelings to be shared, to be seen and that is unusual for me. Whenever before I have shown my feelings be that anger or hurt it’s tended to get me in trouble, at times big trouble. Medical professionals especially find emotions difficult, they see an act and they react, rather than think what caused the initial action. It’s led to some really complicated and difficult periods of conflict and of pain, reactions are not always patient led they are punitive and harsh.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I’m anxious about my session tomorrow, maybe I’m worried about any reaction to the outburst of emotions in my email. I doubt I will sleep tonight I’ll probably be replaying in my head all the possible consequences for that lapse in my rigid iron wall that shuts all my feelings deep within to prevent reactions. I know tomorrow is going to be a long day as I wait for my therapy session, I can’t even imagine what state I’ll be in by the time I get there. Hopefully at least I will get there and I won’t bail out of going, believe me that thought has crossed my mind once or twice already.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

The Difficulties in Accepting my Alters

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There are times when I feel I’m my own worst enemy, I seem somehow able to put up barriers and obstacles that impact upon my alters; the other parts of me. These barriers create further chaos in my day to day life and I seem to lose more time as the alters take more control. The reality is of course I dissociate more when I’m anxious or stressed and I guess that’s how I have felt these past few days, more anxious and more stressed.

I believe that the cause of this additional anxiety is a sense that I’m at a point were I can no longer deny my past, no longer deny my alters existence and believe me I have denied so much. I seem to go from logically knowing all I can about dissociation and Dissociative Identity Disorder to spending time living in denial deep within my heart. It’s odd when your head and your heart are at odds with each other and you find yourself at a point of confusion and a plethora of emotions.

I know I’m not alone in struggling with denial after all as I have written before denial is the glue that hold dissociation together, I dissociated as a child to deny my existence, deny I was suffering and being abused. But there has to come a point when you can’t keep denying, can’t keep telling yourself that what you know logically to be right is wrong.

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It seems that every time I am aware that I have switched I try and ignore it, deny it, it’s as if I can’t accept that this is me that I have D.I.D. In recent times I have been more aware of some brief episodes of co-consciousness I guess and yet instead of welcoming this, I deny it. That leaves my alters feeling very confused and at times I can only assume distressed. They are trying to let me share control with them and not face those intense periods of amnesia and here I am trying to ruin that.

By questioning their existence I undermine them, I don’t exhibit a willingness to accept them and that doesn’t help with internal communication or working. By freaking out when I lose time and getting angry and annoyed I don’t help the alters to think it’s safe to share with me. When I sit on my way to therapy telling everyone internally it’s my therapy and I have this need to be in control I’m not being fair to any of us. In truth therapy is the one place that they and I should feel safe, safe to be, safe to let out all those feelings and emotions I keep locked inside. But instead of welcoming them to be a part of therapy there are times when I send the opposite message, only to contradict that message the following time when I sit and tell all of me it’s ok to speak out, to come and be in therapy.

No wonder that for me and I can only assume for them too, it feels that every step forward we take there are at least 2 back, I’m not standing still I’m in reverse and that’s scary. I need to learn to trust, trust in therapy to just be me and trust the alters to believe them instead of doubting.

I think part of the issue is that accepting them is accepting the truth of my past, which isn’t going to be easy. I’m anxious I won’t be able to cope with those memories that the alters hold, I know in the past flashbacks have destabilised me and I’m anxious of that happening again. I’m also anxious that I will mess up therapy, say or do something that makes my therapist want to stop working with us. I know these are irrational anxieties, irrational thoughts which are so unlikely to happen and yet I still hold them.

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Despite all the anxiety and at times negativity there are positives in all of this, I have a therapist who I feel really understands me, and who I respect. I have the willingness to keep trying even after I mess up and I am more determined than ever that I will keep working on finding a way forward. I want to get to know my alters, to understand them and learn about them and I want to find a way of working with them because I know it’s the only way forward for them and for me.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Accepting the diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder

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Trying to come to terms with my Dissociative Identity Disorder is not always so easy, the harsh reality is of course I am more distressed about the ‘why’, than the alters. The ‘why’ being what caused me to have D.I.D, the fact is it’s not very easy to accept that I was abused and hurt nor is it easy to accept that I switch between alters, lose time, find myself in places when I don’t really remember how I got there.

Feeling confused, anxious and overwhelmed by my emotions and the complexities of D.I.D is all a part of my life now and I am slowly getting used to this diagnosis and who we are.
I realise that the past has shaped who I am, it’s led to negative thinking patterns and patterns of behaviours that are at best unhelpful and at worst self destructive. It’s also left a huge amount of pain, hurt and anguish which is not so easy to come to terms with.

Today I am having to face up to some harsh realities, the dawning realisation that I am somewhat different from many people who I might pass in the street. I have a condition that isn’t my fault, but which currently governs my life and impacts us in so many ways.

The diagnosis of D.I.D came just over five years ago, it wasn’t a label I understood or knew much about and yet by the time it came I had all the symptoms and yet I refused to admit I recognised any. I was switching but I didn’t see it, I didn’t understand that I was this person who suddenly became totally different. I can recall being in hospital and having arguments verbally with the staff as they told me I was angry and yet I didn’t feel angry, or I had done x,y or z and yet had no recollection of it so would deny it. Of course I wasn’t really aware that I was switching and if I was I guess I had an in built defence to be blind to the fact.

I would find myself in unusual places and couldn’t work out how I got there, I’d think I was losing my mind for not remembering. I would often see things suddenly get bigger, the people around me, furniture, other objects and I would feel unusual, more timid and afraid. I never thought I was switching alters or losing time, it didn’t figure in my thought process at that time if anything I really believed people were lying to me and that I was going mad.

I was asked once by a psychologist to sit and think with her about the different me’s others were seeing, and we used magazines to help us formulate a picture of the various parts that people around me were recognising. At that time she didn’t refer to them as parts or alters, just what did I think others were seeing, she steered me a little into thinking about what others had been saying but not in a way that made me feel I was being pushed into a new label.

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I had no concept of Dissociative Identity Disorder I hadn’t heard of it, though by this time I now know I had completed at least 3 dissociative screening tools and scored rather highly.
The professionals had already made up their minds but I was just refusing to accept that I switched, or was anything other than mad, bad or different.

The original list of parts were a little toddler, a young child, a teen who got angry, and 2 adults, I think I still have the collage we made somewhere hidden in my loft. Then she left me with the task of thinking about who it was others were referring to when they pointed out I had switched or had done something I didn’t recall. It was a strange eye opening concept over the next few weeks as I began to realise that I had lost time, that I found myself in positions only a child would sit in, or when things felt big I felt small. But even then I still tried hard to deny any of this notion that I was actually the one being small, angry, confused and a multitude of other things too.

By the time they suggested I was formally assessed and the psychology professionals said they thought I had D.I.D, many months had gone by, staff and patients had seen different parts of me which I still didn’t see. I was confused, I felt perplexed and I felt as if I really didn’t know where time has gone and yet for the most part I was just blind to this chaos going on in my life. It was impacting me and yet I couldn’t accept I was unaware of what I was doing for chunks of each day, I wasn’t willing to accept that I became little and child-like, or angry and moody like a teen.

Yet in the wait for that assessment with still no understanding of dissociation or dissociative disorders I had started to recognise some things, but I didn’t want to tell anyone. I mean the fact I a grown women wanted to skip outside, or play on a swing was silly wasn’t it? I had caught myself colouring one day, well I came too and there were the crayons and the picture. I had found myself aware that I was doing some odd behaviours for an adult women, I didn’t have feelings as such but I experienced odd little snippets of emotion, so I could tell I had been angry by what I’d written and yet had no concept of writing it. It was strange, confusing and complex and I wasn’t willing to share these experiences with people, I really felt I was mad, truly truly mad. I imagined they’d lock me up forever if I admitted what I thought was happening, and yet here I was in a locked secure ward scared and afraid already.

When I was assessed I tried really hard to stay me, to not lose time, to give nothing away, but of course I did lose time and I switched. The specialist Doctors knew what to look for I guess and despite my best efforts they got the real me, the me that has Dissociative Identity Disorder.

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One specialist well he called me ahead of our appointment a number of times and by the time he came he’d apparently spoken to at least two parts of me, I had no idea that this had happened but it helped him in his decision. He completed the SCID-D apparently and yet I didn’t realise that at the time I just knew he seemed to ask lots of questions that seemed odd and times very irrelevant, or just plain nosey.

The other a forensic psychologist spent hours with me, over two full days he saw me for about 18-20 hours. There weren’t breaks other than me walking to and from the medication room and bathroom stops, it was persistent, draining and demanding work. He tested me with a plethora of psychological assessments the SCID-D included, he asked me questions and tested my memory which all felt very odd and at times annoying. I guess because of the lack of breaks and the pressure of all the tests I switched, lost time, and he saw the real me. I can recall him telling me my answers had changed since we had done this particular test before, yet I had never seen or done this particular test before and I argued with him.

Looking back it all makes sense but then it made absolutely none, I can recall being given the diagnosis and thinking these professionals are stupid, they are mad, they don’t know what they are talking about. I rang my daughter expecting her to understand how stupid these Doctors were, instead when I told her she just said ‘That makes so much sense mum’, ‘ now I understand why my childhood was so chaotic’ I recall hanging up on her in anger and frustration and crying.

Just over five years on and I think I am now accepting of the diagnosis, yes I have D.I.D, I have parts, I’m fragmented and I have had a difficult past. But accepting doesn’t mean that I have fully dealt with the ‘why’, It’s full of grief and hurt and pain and so in my current psychology sessions I am slowly coming to terms with this ‘why’. I believe it’s a work in progress and all of me has a long way to go to fully comprehending the harsh realities of my life. I am in the first phase of therapy ‘stabilisation’ and I have a long road ahead of me. It has taken me a very long time to get to this place, to the point were I now at least accept in an non-emotional way the past but I think the journey to fully accepting and dealing with the grief is still ahead of me.

I’m no longer ashamed of my diagnosis, but I’m still learning about D.I.D, I’m still getting used to switching, losing time and often not really knowing who I am. Most of all I’m still getting used to my alters the various parts of me, I’m learning who they are, getting to know them one by one and accepting the alters are parts of me.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

Accepting my alters, facing upto the past.

 

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This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a conference on trauma and dissociation, it was an interesting event and very informative. As I sat listening to one of the speakers they said something which led me to think about myself, my past and my alters which I thought I would share.

When I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder initially I felt very perplexed, in truth it didn’t seem real, this diagnosis though it seemed right somehow sat uncomfortably with myself. It was I believe the fact that the lead up to diagnosis was chaotic and at times frustrating, people would tell me for example that I had done this or that and I knew very well that I hadn’t. I thought at the time everyone else was making these things up and suddenly I was faced with the dawning realisation that in truth it was me that had been wrong. Some part of me had been angry, some part of me had been drawing like a child, some part of me had skipped as we fed the ducks, I could no longer deny this reality that I was a person fragmented and with various parts, parts whose existence I had no idea of.

Following my diagnosis I called my parts names, I felt of them as separate beings because in all truth they do have their own thoughts, feelings and ways of perceiving the world. Therapy in the early years seemed to allow me to place the horrific memories of the past which had been unveiling themselves to me for a while by this point, on the alters, these memories belonged to them and certainly not to me, Carol.

As a multiple fragmented person, I was someone who had dissociated since a small child in order to avoid the pain and suffering inflicted upon us, the alters held and in many cases still hold that pain and those memories. It was therefore easier for me to allow there to be a very distinct separation between myself and the alters, it allowed me not to face the harsh reality that these dreadful memories belong to me. This denial allowed us a chance to live this rather chaotic life existing with D.I.D, losing time, switching uncontrollably and with a huge brick wall between me and my past. Of course I had no real control over this amnesiac barrier or the losing of time, chaos and switching which were and still are part of my everyday life.

Denying the memories as my own, allowed me the space to function at least in part and to not fall apart into an even deeper crisis. I convinced myself that whilst I knew logically the alters were a part of me the painful past was theirs to carry and not mine. Denial worked at protecting me from the heavy burden of the truth, the truth of my childhood.

 

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Over the last few months through the work in my psychology sessions I have stopped being so blinkered and I now accept that the alters are parts of me, yes we all have our own feelings, thoughts etc but in truth we are a fragmented, dissociated person who has one body with lots of different parts. The alters well they carry my memories not theirs, yes they endured the pain and the suffering whilst I dissociated but in truth it was this body of mine which suffered those terrible things.

Today I now know that I dissociated multiple times as a child and that at these times other parts of me were created to hold the memories of that time for me. The other parts of me, my alters have taken the burden for years of holding those memories away from my conscious being in order that I could function. Function that was until my melt down over a decade ago when the amnesiac barrier began to break and those memories that have so far leaked through became part of my reality. Yet denial still allowed me to cushion myself in a way by thinking the memories were the alters, I knew logically they were mine but I wouldn’t accept that fully.

Now I can hear the sceptics amongst the readers of this blog saying, how do I know these memories are true. Well it would quite simply be impossible to make up the things I have recalled, and the way these memories have revealed themselves is a clear indication they are true. All my life I knew I had a volatile childhood, my home life was not stable in fact it was violent and chaotic.
I suffered psychological abuse from a very young age, and some physical abuse too and I, Carol had carried those memories in to my present, but it was the worst of the trauma which I had dissociated from. I have Dissociative Identity Disorder and that isn’t a myth but fact, fact that is backed up by a wealth of professional expertise and significant research and medical knowledge. If people wish to be sceptical about D.I.D then that is their choice to hold that opinion, all I ask is that they allow me and the many others diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder the right to hold our opinions.

Of course for me now I face the hardest tasks of all, 1, trying to communicate with and have some understanding of the other parts of me, 2, breaking down that amnesiac barrier one brick at a time and 3, accepting that the memories which have been locked away for so long are in fact mine.

These are no easy tasks, I have to learn to co-operate with my alters, I have to try and find ways to be able to control at least in part the switching and loss of time. I have to work hard to internally communicate with the other parts of me, and believe me this is both tiring and time consuming, it is ongoing and a part of each and every waking moment. There will be a need to allow the amnesiac barrier to be broken in order that the alters, my other parts can share with me the past they carry. Yet most of all I need to be able to deal with the pain of that past, the memories which for so long I have been protected from. I will have to face each painful memory one by one, deal with the pain it brings and that isn’t just physically pain but emotional pain too. I have to find ways to live in the knowledge that this body in its younger days was defiled, betrayed, mistreated beyond words and in many cases by people who should have cared for me an innocent child.

Accepting my alters are parts of me has so far not been easy, it’s taken me over 5 years post diagnosis to get this far. Now I face the hardest part accepting the pain and the past, I know this journey won’t be easy but that I am supported by a loving family, and have the help of dedicated professionals who will guide us on this path. I’m hoping I can conquer the denial which is such an intrinsic part of dissociation and find myself stronger, wiser and more capable from facing up to the past, my painful past.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Denial and scepticism of Dissociative Disorders – feeling like a commodity

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Being  a victim of abuse has had many challenging implications on my life, Dissociative identity disorder is obviously the main one, however there are of course other psychological impacts of trauma which I still carry today.  This week I encountered one head on in an unexpected situation and it has been a difficult time trying to grasp the reasons why I felt so distressed over someones rather insensitive comments.

I had cause to visit my GP this week and during the appointment issues were raised about my new Therapy, the Doctors main focus was upon what was the cost, and who was paying. There were also clear evidence of his lack of understanding of  dissociative identity disorder and how it impacts my life., this isn’t an uncommon situation for many healthcare professionals seem unable to accept the disorder.

I was frustrated at the time and even a little angry but I didn’t expect  the reaction it caused within a short while of being back home I realised I was feeling switichy and agitated, the next minute I was aware I had erupted in a manner I wish I hadn’t; taking out my frustration on those around me.  I then proceeded to get very upset at the fact I had reacted badly and also I was feeling  deep sadness at being misunderstood once again.

Even before I was diagnosed with D.I.D I came across the barrier of labels and the closed mindedness of many healthcare professionals.  Psychiatry is clearly a system weighted against the patient and in favour of clinicians, its also very much a ‘them and us’ environment.  As a patient with mental health issues you are not always treated with respect, and yet everyone expects you to give them respect.

During the period running up to my diagnosis, I encountered a different type of attitude  – that of scepticism, my initial doctor telling me that D.I.D wasn’t real even though many of her colleagues had said they believed I had a dissociative disorder. There followed a period of much debate amongst the professionals as to the legitimacy of the diagnosis and since then despite having a number of medical professionals,  including psychiatrists, forensic psychiatrists and clinical psychologists assess me as having D.I.D I have encountered on a fairly frequent basis the same lack of understanding and scepticism. I often wonder if the medical profession question physical diagnoses made by equally competent doctors as readily as they seem willing to question mental health diagnoses.

Much of this lack of understanding stems from a lack of knowledge, Dissociative Identity Disorder isn’t one of the key subjects taught in med school, even those doing psychology at University might never be told of Dissociation and/or D.I.D. So expecting my General practitioner to know about it is I guess asking quite a lot, after all GP’s get little enough teaching on mental-health.

But for me as a person with D.I.D it is actually quite hurtful when people question my diagnosis, because I know the impact this has on my life, I know being a multiple isn’t easy nor is it something I can just take a pill for in order to be fine. I have to work hard in long-term therapy to have any chance of understanding myself, my alters, my past and for any chance of moving forwards.

Having the diagnosis dismissed feels like you are being denied, for me at least it feels like my parts, my alters are being ignored and their very existence denied. I am only just coming to terms with my alters, acknowledging that they are a part of me and yet I felt angry for them when I felt they were being denied. I realise now I was being protective of them and that is a good thing because its time I learnt to accept them and if I can’t fight for them, who can.

So the GP’s comments showing a lack of understanding and awareness had made me upset, frustrated and a little annoyed, all of which I could comprehend, but as the day wore on  the sadness inside of me just wouldn’t shift .With my Therapy time fast approaching I began to find myself more and more conscious of why I felt so unhappy and it wasn’t so easy to admit. The GP’s random insensitive comments related to funding had made me feel worthless and treated like a commodity.

I am sure many victim will have at times felt worthless and being put down or misunderstood well  it reminds you of the feelings you held as a child,  I felt worthless back then too. As a child I also grew up feeling unloved and unwanted, but most of all parts of me the alters that took my pain when I dissociated they felt like a commodity, to be used and hurt by others. The feelings aroused by the funding questions had made me feel like I was being viewed as a commodity again and that was the main distressing factor.

With help I was able to express how I felt and I was able to let out some of the pain of the past, crying not just for now but for then too, it was helpful to acknowledge I had felt protective of my alters as well when I felt they were being denied. I don’t feel angry towards my GP indeed I am keen to ensure he and those like him are educated, for it is only through awareness that people like him will grow to accept, understand and recognise Dissociative Disorders, and that has got to be good for everyone, not just me but those fellow multiples who come after me.

If you have experienced similar scepticism of a dissociative disorder from within the medical profession, feel free to share your experiences by commenting on this blog.

COPYRIGHT: DID Dispatches 2014