Therapy and life afterwards

This past week Therapy came to an end and a life transforming journey with my psychologist that lasted 4 years  is now over and to say it exceeded my expectationa would be an understatement. Therapy has provided me with an amazing opportunity  to grow, to develop an understanding of myself and establish a greater awareness of what is important. So I thought I’d explain a little of the journey and what the future holds too.

When I began I hoped that I’d find an opportunity to lose less time, to be a less unhappy and disfunctional person. Yet during the four years I’ve really changed, not only am I far more content and happy but I’m also more aware of how to live with my past. Letting go of the trauma, the anger and the guilt has really assisted me in coming to terms with that part of my life. Learning to accept and communicate with my internal me has enabled me to feel more at ease and to accept the feelings of my inner me’s are actually mine. Taking ownership of those feelings and no longer being afraid of them has taught me to no longer fear emotions however strong or overwhelming they feel. I’ve developed a resilience and found my inner strength to accept emotions, accept them and work through them.

By learning to have fun, something I was encouraged to do from early on in my therapy, has allowed me to recreate and partake in activities I had once been deprived off in my past. Whilst accepting that I cannot ever change the fact there were experiences I lost out on as a child, I can make up for that time by allowing myself the opportunity to have fun now. When I first paddled about a year into therapy I enjoyed the fun and also grieved for the loss of my childhood, but that grieving and the anger it stirred allowed me to heal in ways I never imagined. Being encouraged to be creative was quite enchanting, I never realised how relaxing art could be and yet now it is a regular activity I undertake and enjoy. My first few art classes I felt inferior and useless, yet my psychologist continually reminded I wasn’t and as I learnt to value my art, I learnt to value myself. Throughout my first years in therapy I continually derided myself, silly and stupid we’re commonplace in my vocabulary. These words a sign of the lack of value I felt for me, and that lack of value was continually oppressive and held me back. Each time I said a negative word about myself my psychologist corrected me, pointed it out to me so often that in time I found myself correcting me. This work over time allowed me to value me in a way I had never done before and that has been transformational on many fronts.

15 months in I had told my psychologist I was unable to sleep in my bed, and was fearful of my bedroom, he utilised CBT to assist me and I was advised to try venturing into the room each day and remove just 1 item from the clutter I’d used as a barrier to the room, soon 1 item became 2 and so on, the room soon cleared and whilst  I still felt fearful he persuaded me to erect a tent and camp in there.  I’ve blogged before about the tent but in summary I slept in a tent for months, still unsure if it felt right. Then just over 2 years ago I decided to go bed shopping, with a new found belief and value in myself, I bought a new bed and I bought fancy bedding and pillows too.  This investment in me was critical looking back, as it was a sign of my worth and my belief in that worth. Thankfully the bedroom no longer holds fear and I no longer have flashbacks or nightmares, indeed I quite enjoy my bed and my room, which to me is a symbol of how far I’ve come.

16 months ago as we persuaded my funders to continue my therapy for a further year, at the time I was fearful of therapy ending and of how I’d cope, I knew I wasn’t ready to walk this journey alone. Thankfully they agreed and so the last year has been invaluable. The last 15 months as been about growth, learning to live with the complexities of life that everyone faces. I learnt to say no when it’s needed and whilst that has shocked some folks it’s been helpful to me which is what matters afterall. I realised I had become a people pleaser which is actually quite draining and certainly not needed. If people can’t accept me as I am then that’s there issue not mine. So I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to do, and I’ve changed my commitments to suit my life not others. This increased belief in oneself is quite weird at first, but soon becomes truly inspiring, I have managed to do things alone I never dared belief possible and found I enjoy my own company. I’ve realised I can feel confident enough to travel alone which has been invaluable given my eldest child has relocated overseas. I have been blessed to enjoy fully family events,  this has included attending my sons wedding last year and no longer feeling insecure or vulnerable and I no longer feel like the cared for mum who was inadequate, but someone who can truly be there for their children. I’m fortunate to have become a grandparent this year and that has brought so much joy and in the last year I have grown in so many ways that I feel a better mum to my children, a better friend and a better person all round.

In truth I’m creating memories to replace the old tarnished ones, I’m building a future for myself and I’m gaining strength in so many ways. I have enjoyed picnics with my children where I’ve sat on the grass and been involved, this is so unlike the past, when I didn’t feel good enough or allowed to join in. Celebrating my birthday nearly 2 years ago allowed me to create positive memories of this date and I’m developing new Christmas traditions to again build positive memories for the future.

Therapy has taught me to belief in myself, to belief anything is possible if you try and that recovery and hope are there for the taking. I’d be lying if I said it was easy, because these past four years have been about work, hard work on my part and dedication on the part of my psychologist. Recovery is quite simply a journey, where a client and a therapist walk together side by side. I couldn’t have found the real me without both my hard work and the direction and skill of my psychologist.

As this chapter of my life’s comes to an end, I know I am ready for this third chapter of my journey of life, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly anxious because it’s been a long time since I walked life alone and yet I now have an Inner belief in me that says together all of me can do this.  I work in a collaborative way with all the various inner me’s, I’m no longer separate parts I’m one person with an inner system of inner me’s and we can and we will deal with whatever life throws at us.

I feel so blessed and so thankful to my psychologist, and my family who never gave up believing in me. I make no excuse for admitting I am a Christian and as such each and every week of these past few years I have asked for guidance when entering the therapy room and I truly feel God has guided me on this path. The transformation has beeen truly amazing and I am so grateful. Finally I’d like to say thank you to all those who have supported me in any way on this journey, the funders, the ‘DID’ community and my friends.

Now as therapy ends I step forward in hope, hope for the future and hope for better awareness of the complex misunderstood conditions called Dissociative Disorders. With a inner belief that life is for living and that I have the strength and skills to live life in all its glorious technicolour.

: This blog is dedicated to my psychologist and my children to whom I will be forever grateful.

 

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Basketball, hopscotch, storybooks and tears…..the joys of D.I.D

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Shooting some hoops, hopscotch,  cartoons and children’s storybooks have filled many hours in the last few days as we sail towards the northern town of Alta in the Arctic circle.  2 full sea days has given me lots of time to think,  feel and contemplate life as a multiple and my conclusion so far is that holidays with Dissociative Identity Disorder are far from easy.

I have come to realise that just because we are far from home doesn’t mean we can leave our DID behind us,  indeed we have probably switched just as much as we normally do except now it’s harder to give the time over to all the helpful techniques we use at home.

Try giving yourself time to let those inner feelings out when you are aboard what is basically a big metal container filled with over 1500 passengers and around 800 crew. Finding space to be just me has not been so easy and so every once in a while I have to take myself off to the upper most decks and the basketball court to find space.  The alternative is hiding away in my cabin and asking my trip companions to leave and let me be, not so easy when three people are sharing less than 300 square feet of space.

Thankfully the wonders of modern technology alongside a very willing psychologist has allowed me a virtual therapy session. I’m not so sure that the NHS would facilitate this kind of approach but thankfully it has been available to us this week. 

By the time Monday came around I needed a chat with my psychologist and if I’m honest so did all of me. It certainly helped us think in a much more joined up way and allowed me the chance to accept that it was ok to ask for space and time and to stop trying so hard to be this perfect person I wish I was.  You know the one who can cope with anything and everything and manage to have Dissociative identity disorder and yet not be affected by it, in my dreams maybe, but the reality is very different. 

Finding a reason to excuse myself from dinner when we were sharing a table with a group of random strangers who we only met on Saturday in time for therapy wasn’t so easy,  but we did it.
My main worry was we would have a technological blip and no signal or Internet connection when we needed one, but despite a dropped phone signal during my session we managed to have the majority of our session time.

I had anxiously worried as the captain  had stated he was trying to race out if the port of Stavenger towards the Norweigan sea to avoid a storm and so my plan of the ship still being in sight of land was rapidly disappearing from sight.

Thankfully we still had a Norweigan phone signal meaning we could call England and at the appointed time and a virtual therapy session was both possible and useful.  I think I was left with an overriding sense of relief that it had been possible as well a host of helpful advice on how to deal with our mishmash of emotions.  I spent the following hours internally communicating,  drawing,  playing and being me, Carol,  the person who has a whole host of alters with whom I share my life.

Something must have worked because I slept better that night and I even managed a lie in the next day. So since Monday I have made more time for the other parts of me, my alters, hence the plethora of activities we have been undertaking and I am sure we have given pleasure to some of the other passengers as I am certain I heard strains of muffled laughter as I feebly attempted to play hopscotch on the top deck of a moving ship as we bounced and bumped along a slightly choppy sea.

I am however hoping that my moments of meltdown have passed by with relatively few observations from others, as it’s hard to not be visible in this place. My feelings are as evident as ever so full on crying with an inability to stop is much harder to deal with currently, yet I know that part of me needs to express them self.

I think crying is one of the hardest emotions for me as when I was a child it wasn’t something i could do freely therefore today it still feels alien and at points scary.

During the last few days I have felt guilty at being selfish at wanting to undertake this trip, as it’s for me rather than my alters. I can’t even begin to explain why I wanted to try and see the Northern lights or visit the Arctic circle, I just knew I did, apparently parts of me are none too happy at my choice and have bluntly informed my daughter of this fact.

But I know it was right to give me time too, me the adult who in the course of this holiday so far has switched from adult, to young child to moody teenager and then back again and all in less than a day  This isn’t an uncommon experience for us but it’s harder in the full glare of public gaze away from the cosy safety of our home.

My daughter thankfully has kept me grounded, offered reassurance and the occasional but much needed hug when the tears and my emotions have overwhelmed us. I was once told going on holiday with a multiple was like taking a whole coach party away, and yet thankfully my family are willing to encourage and support me and the alters on these trips.

In the next 3 days my daughters patience will be tested even further, in truth I will be tested and I’m sure my alters the other parts of me will be tested too. I am hoping to undertake 3 trips which all push boundaries and limits that for me at least are entrenched deep into my core, is this reckless well maybe, but if I have learnt anything in the past 40+ years of my life it’s that life is for living.

I was robbed of my childhood, robbed of years of security and safety, I have lost so much including the ability to feel and to believe in myself. I have been left scarred by the psychological impact of my past and now face each and every day not as a single being but as a fractured person made up of many parts. But I know that all of me deserve a future and a chance to rebuild our lives, to build memories that are happy, positive and above all made because we wanted too.

That’s why this trip is so important, because I am taking a tiny step forward to rebuilding a future filled with positive memories, memories that I hope will last a lifetime and bring me and all my parts a new sense of achievement and accomplishment.

Yes we have Dissociative Identity Disorder; its tough, but it won’t define me, my past won’t define me, how we live our life now and how we rise above the negatives and rebuild our life, and carve out a future will.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014