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.

 

The influence my past has upon my today

Over the past few weeks I have found myself struggling as the past invades my present, my here and now. It came to a head when I received a letter from the hospital saying my psychiatrist appointment had been amended, I would no longer see the doctor I was expecting, instead a random stranger. I haven’t seen the original doctor for ten years, but the fact I knew he was ok had made my transition to the new team bearable, suddenly I was now being faced with a stranger, someone who might judged me and that triggered me.

 
I found myself hurtling back into the past and then came the tears, irrational thoughts and fears which culminated in me deciding I just wouldn’t go. Now if course on reflection I know not going isn’t helpful its just plain avoidance.

At the time I didn’t understand why I felt so terrified, so wound up and there wasn’t space to think rationally. I had thoughts of negative coping strategies which scared me too, but seemed the only solution. I really felt I was terrified of this person, that he was unsafe, bad even.
In the end once I had decided I wouldn’t go, the fear dissipated and I felt able to survive the day, but I couldn’t help wondering what it was I was really scared of. Using strategies I have been taught in recent times and speaking to my psychologist I began to think about why I reacted so badly, eventually I realised this was my past hurtling at full pace into my today. The fear wasn’t this doctor, it was the fact he could judge me and I hate being judged it fills me with horror and memories of my past.

You see in my past I was constantly judged, I wasn’t ‘good enough’ and no matter how hard I tried I didn’t hit the mark of perfection that certain people wanted. When in hospital I was reminded of this by professionals who didn’t understand me, who made assumptions that were often incorrect and then judged and labelled me – which caused consequences that impacted upon my life. Of course my reactions to the doctors back then, were influenced by my experiences as a child when no matter how hard I tried I seemed to mess up. So when I faced the thought of seeing a stranger who had the power to judge and label me, I was reminded of the past not just my previous experiences in hospital but those as a child.


I couldn’t stop my past racing back into my today and spewing my thoughts and thus my reactions, which looking back were illogical and very much out of proportion. But despite controlling in a fairly safe way the impact of this trigger, I felt wounded, drained even and so weak and vulnerable, it hit me with such force. In fact it’s taken me a while to recover not just from the event itself, but also from the reality that I am still so vulnerable to full on triggers. I think that has been as hard as the trigger event itself, coming to terms with my own vulnerability and accepting I still have a long way to go on this road of recovery.

I can recall a time not too long ago when triggers would impact at this force numerous times each day, but in recent months I had been coping much better. I really found this incident a huge shock, it reminded me just how vulnerable I can be and how unable I am currently to stop such events from happening. I guess you could call it a wake up call to my reality, the reality of a past that wasn’t great and that led to me having Dissociative Identity Disorder.

So I have tried to take more me time in recent weeks, I’ve been more gentle with myself. I have given myself time to think, to reflect and to deal with triggers as they appear. I faced a similar judgemental trigger last week and I realised straight away what it was, I just couldn’t stop my reactions or my tears.

I’m aware that I feel more sensitive and I have needed to accept I will be crying more often, to let out this mix of emotions racing around inside of me. I have sought advice about the upcoming psychiatrist appointment my first in a while, and I will be attending now. I’m no longer going alone though, I’m taking a relative to help support me and I have prepared a list of things I want from it and that I want to say.

I’ve been empowered to attend and take control of the appointment, so I aim to tell them I fear being judged before they start. You see I can either go in all meek and mild and let them control what is in effect my time or I can seize charge of this time. I’m not going to be bossy but I will be assertive, I will explain my condition and I will tell them that I fear they will make wrong assumptions. I also will tell them I know me better than anyone and all I can hope is that they respect what I say, if they don’t I have a right to challenge wrong assumptions.

I am afraid of the appointment but I’m also afraid of my past and I need overtime to stop this, my past has no right to control my life now. I’m slowly learning about the psychological theory behind my triggers, why they happen and what is going on in my brain. I’m finding ways to start to challenge this past as is hurtles into my life here and now, I realise in time I will hopefully manage to stop the past controlling how I react today.

My appointment is next week, I will let you know how it all goes though I do feel better equipped than I ever have to attend such an appointment. I guess that’s a sign of progress in itself, I just need to remind myself of that fact, especially as the appointment approaches and the panic sets in as it undoubtedly will.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Surviving a Therapy Break

For the past couple of weeks my psychologist has been on vacation and that has meant no therapy for me. Whilst a couple of weeks may not sound like a long break it hasn’t been easy and I find such breaks difficult to cope with. The reality is that a two week break has meant I’ve had no therapy now for approaching three weeks and that is an extremely long time. 

Now don’t get me wrong I know my psychologist is entitled to his holiday and I’m grateful he only takes a two week break, I’ve had therapists who take a whole month off. Yet it is never easy for despite all the stabilisation techniques I have learnt I always seem to find myself struggling, when there is a gap in sessions.

image

Now I’m fortunate in many ways as I can still email my psychologist if it’s desperately needed, though I am not guaranteed a response. Previous therapists have just gone off on a break and left me high and dry which believe me is much much worse.
The break this summer hasn’t been easy and I have tried to plan ahead in order to mitigate the impact of no therapy. So for the first week I took myself off on holiday, surrounded by family who I knew would support me if needed. Having something to distract me helped and the holiday did work for the first few days. The second week I made plans to go out for the day and took myself off to the middle of nowhere surrounded by the sound of a babbling brook and beautiful scenery. The fact it rained wasn’t an issue but despite the attempt to distract and fill my time I found myself struggling,
As more and more thoughts raced through my mind and I began doubting myself and my own self worth, I realised things were not going great. The longer the break the more I struggle or so it seems and by the second missed session I was floundering, in the end I had to resort to sending an email, disturbing my psychologist and admitting I was finding things tough. The main concern for me wasn’t a flashback or a memory as such, but the feelings of anger and frustration I felt about the abuse I had endured. I also found myself consumed with grief once again, grief about my past and grief that these things, these dreadful things hadn’t just happened to an alter, they had happened to me.

image

In the end as I typed my email I realised I needed to vent, I needed to let go off the anguish that was consuming me, overwhelming me. I knew that the best thing I could do given I had no idea if or when I’d get a response and that even if I did my psychologist wouldn’t be able to rectify how I felt was to vent. So in true style I opened my car window and screamed at the top of my lungs and poured out the anguish and anger. I cried buckets in the process and I guess most of all I admitted to myself these feelings of grief that I held.
My screams and tears helped a little but they couldn’t take away my fears or concerns about messing up, or my worries that I’d get it wrong with my teen alter. Thankfully my psychologist responded the next day and his words well they kind of resonated within me. He told me not to forget I wasn’t meant to be my alters therapist, that I wasn’t in this alone and to remember we were a team. The fact that he can assist me in my sessions and help me to process the anguish, the pain and the grief is reassuring. The fact I’m not alone of this journey of recovery is a positive, the reality is I have a therapist willing to help me on my journey and together we are a team.
Yet of course the break in sessions has been difficult and I have found it at times over whelming, currently it is a team of just me and my alters for my psychologist isn’t here, he’s away. This coming week sessions will reconvene but as is normal I am likely to find it hard for the first couple of sessions after the break. I can’t help this its just a fact of life, for me a break impacts upon my trust levels and my therapeutic relationship with my psychologist.

 

image
Breaks in sessions are never easy there have been times in the past when I have spiralled out of control and resorted to negative coping strategies. Yet today I find myself more able to cope and the fact I have email access is a huge benefit. The truth is being able to see myself as less isolated helps me and the stabilisation work we have done is really beneficial too. But an absence of two sessions is as much as I can cope with currently, I am so relieved that after this weekend my sessions recommence.
Looking back I’m glad I now work with someone who isn’t off a month at a time, the impact of that would I know cause me much more difficulty and hinder my long term recovery. I wonder if those therapists who choose to take a month long break realise the impact on their clients if they did maybe they’d think again.

Copyright DID Disptaches 2015

Care Plan Meeting – treat me as an equal

In recent days I have begun planning for my CPA early next week and I started to think about the things I need to cover in the meeting. After all this meeting will involve my new care coordinator from the new team my care is transferring to, I haven’t met them yet. It will also involve my existing social worker and my psychologist as well as my daughter, who goes to represent the family and support me.
I know that in the past my interactions with health care professionals haven’t always set off on the right footing, I usually find it hard to trust new people. I certainly have difficulty when professionals treat me like some second class citizen and not the equal that I am. My last experience of the new team dates back some 8years; it wasn’t so great and so I do have some reservations.

image
I so want to explain to these people that I am not like many of the people they will have worked with, I have a condition they may never have heard of for starters. I am at times able and capable to do most things and then there are times when I things are too overwhelming and hard, times when I need support and help and times when I need them to step back and let me get on with it. Of course those times fluctuate from one day to another, in fact from one hour to another, depending upon which part of me is up front and driving this body we share.
I want them to know how I find each day, what its really like to be me and yet I’m not sure how I tell them that. The fact is I’m not sure my current team get how complicated and complex life can be for me. I’m certain they don’t understand the juggling I have to go through each day just to stay on an even keel, so how can I really expect my new team too. Yet I’m desperate that they do get me and they get the real me, why, well if they misconstrue me then they will judge me wrongly. They will like many before label me, stigmatise me and make assumptions about me which aren’t true and yes that does bothers me.

 

image
I know I need to say things at the meeting about how I’m doing, what’s going on in my life right now and yes I can tell them about therapy and what’s happening. Yet I feel drawn to tell them about the things I’m really struggling with, because I need them to know. Yes I have made huge progress in the past 18 months and I’m really glad that I have, but there is still so much I need to do. For starters I want to be able to understand why I’m crying when I cry and yet there are many times I don’t. I want to be able to stop worrying about being judged but it feels like a mission impossible currently for me.
I want so much to be able to sleep in Bertie bedroom, that’s the name I’ve given the room in order to make it feel less scary, yet right now I’m able to just manage sitting in there for short bursts of time and then I need to leave. I visit the room a couple of times a day to get dressed and undressed but that’s all really, I can’t face sleeping in there and I can’t say when I will. It is as I’m often reminded a work in progress and it’s been months of hard work and effort just to get this far, that’s the joy of fearing a room because of linked memories. My bedroom of course is safe; I know that, but bedrooms and beds weren’t always so safe and that’s the issue. I have to overcome a fear that is ingrained in me from when I was young and sadly it still affects my life.
I want to be able to sleep in a real bed and not face struggles doing that, and yet currently I can’t. In fact I’ve slept on a sofa for 9 months now and that’s not so easy to admit to a random stranger; who I want so desperate to see me as an equal. In fact admitting or discussing most of this to someone who can impact my life in either a positive or negative way isn’t easy at all. So my dilemma is do I tell them at the CPA what’s concerning me or do I sit and pretend everything is perfect just because I have a new team.
How do I really trust these professionals who have the power after all to detain me against my will, give me treatment I don’t want and who can forcible medicate me or lock me in institutions all under the guise of healthcare. The power imbalance that exists between me and the professionals is a bit like having a pink elephant in a room, we all know it’s there but no one talks about it.

 

image
That power imbalance though is concerning to me, I don’t like feeling out of control and the fact the new care coordinator and her team can take control away from me is frightening. So as I plan ahead for the meeting that in truth can go one way or another, that could be either a huge success or a terrible failure I need to find ways to stay focused. I need to remember these people are not the enemy, they are professionals whose task is to help me recover and deal with my mental health. In truth they are as at much risk of being sectioned as I am, that power hangs over everyone of us no matter who we are, Doctors, nurses, service users we are all able to be sectioned if we are deemed unwell enough.
This meeting maybe a scary prospect but I realise it also allows me a chance to educate people about Dissociative Identity Disorder and about me. It offers a chance to show them that actually I am working hard, it offers a chance to demonstrate my desire to recover and live an effective life with DID. I know parts of me are frightened by the upcoming meeting, trust is a big issue for us and so getting to know new people is hard. But my job now is to stay calm, reassure my alters and focus on showing these people who I really am and how I expect to be treated as an equal partner in my care.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Therapy – what a difference 18 months makes

image

This week marks the half way point for my therapy, well it’s half way through the agreed three years of funding. I sat in therapy on Monday and thought about how I feel at being at this point, after all when I first started therapy I had so many ideas of what it would be like. In fact I had ideas of what I wanted to achieve and it’s been weird really to see were I am now.
My concept of successful therapy has been changed and the possibilities that have been opened up have grown as we have progressed. When I first began treatment with my psychologist I had previously seen a psychotherapist, she had basically helped me to regurgitate my trauma. She did understand D.I.D. which made a change from other professionals I had encountered. However we had not really moved forward, we still had 24 hour care and I had no internal communication of any kind.
So when I started with my psychologist what I really wanted was to move forward, to just be less chaotic in my life. I thought I had to work through all my trauma in order to progress and to remember absolutely everything that has been hidden for so long. Well 18 months make a huge difference to attitudes, to beliefs and it’s made a huge difference to me as a person.

image
I can so recall that first session when my psychologist told me that he had no magic cure, that he only saw me for 1 hour a week and that meant I had to work hard on my own the other 167 hours. I thought he was a bit forward and well I sat and thought I didn’t expect a magic cure, I knew I wanted to make it work so of course I knew that I would work hard.
I spent a few months trying desperately to check that I was working hard, that professionals knew I was trying my hardest – I guess that was my insecurity playing out. I didn’t believe that talking to myself, my alters, would make any difference and it sounded stupid and yet it’s being transforming. I soon began to realise the psychologist didn’t treat me like I was unequal, I didn’t feel like a patient in fact it’s often felt like I’m visiting someone who is an acquaintance or maybe a friend as we sit and have a brew and chat away as equals – I like that.
I think the first six months I was basically building up trust, that’s been hard for me and yet I did find myself being able to do the things suggested without much difficulty. I could say if it wasn’t going well and we rarely went into trauma, well not in any depth and that felt ok at the time. In fact I was afraid to discuss trauma and I was quite bothered about venturing onto that stage of therapy.

image
Six months in and I realised I knew more about myself than ever, I realised I had low self esteem, a lot of negativity and lots of issues with my own self confidence and self belief. In fact I realised that because of my childhood I had so much learning and developing to do and I began to see that there were many things I had never done. When paddling was suggested I thought it was daft and I can so recall how it felt as we spoke about it, but I began to consider it and thought maybe just maybe I can do this. That’s why exactly a year ago I ventured to the beach and splashed around like a child, self talk however weird it felt was helping me establish links with my alters and so one of them helped me on that day.

image
Building sand castles soon followed, painting and art became more regular, cartoons became a regular daily feature of my life and we even managed to have a barbecue picnic. I realised fun was a great way to get in touch with the alters; the other parts of me and I learnt giving them time was helpful to all of me. But with the fun times came the grief, that grief of knowing what I had missed and of starting to accept the trauma and the emotions that my alters carry.
We then began to do more stabilisation, so more progress with internal dialogue and understanding the alters better. I started to challenge myself when I was critical of myself and in sessions were before my psychologist would counter my negativity, now I was doing it myself. I think there was a period were I was dreading discussing trauma, dreading if I couldn’t cope and feeling afraid of it. But I guess my psychologist realised that and I was helped to feel assured and less bothered by it. In fact letting my tears flow in the sessions was hard back then, I have always find it hard to express my feelings. It has over time though got easier and now there are times I feel like a tearful wreck.
In the past six months I have continued to learn things about myself and I have continued to grow and develop, when I felt bothered by a session I was slightly surprised I felt comfortable to actually say – but I did. It was more than ok though, my psychologist was truly helpful at reassuring me. I realise that were as before I might have reacted very differently to such situations I am now able to think more rationally about things as I’m less impulsive, well except when it comes to booking treats which I do far more often – that’s because I now believe I’m worth it.
My ability to interact with other medical professionals has improved as I no longer see myself as insecure and lesser somehow, I feel I have a right to be an equal and to be treated as such. I can sit through a CPA without storming out in frustration and my adolescent part is now able to respond in a far better way. I am losing less time which is amazing and I’m learning so much more about myself and my skills and abilities.

image
Half way through and I’m totally amazed by how different I am, in fact others now see that difference too and practically I need less care. I am able to understand myself far more, understand the complexities of D.I.D and the things I need to do to make life less of a challenge. This week I even realised that I have skills and abilities I never realised were there, I cooked Sunday lunch last weekend for my family and yet a few months ago I couldn’t poach an egg without dissociating and losing time. That marks progress in a practical way, but there has also been progress on another level too in that I can cope far more with things that life throws at me, I cope better with flashbacks, thoughts of self harming, attacks of negativity and self doubt and I know I can cope better with the trauma too.

I realise that I don’t need to recall or process all the trauma, just enough and I can work with and accept these memories are mine- they are just carried by the alters. I also see that progress is possible in fact it’s evident already. I can see that life is moving forward, there is less chaos, I am growing as a person and that is far more than I ever imagined would be possible.
I still have much work to do and yes there are times when it’s hard and that it feels way too much, there are times when I feel I can’t cope but somehow I do. Most of all I now realise having D.I.D whilst it is a challenge each day is manageable, it is possible to live with this condition and the impact of my abuse – to have a life – now I never thought that I would be saying that, especially at the half way point.

 

copyright DID Disptaches 2015

Sharing time and activities with my alters

Taking myself on a day out with my alters is anything but dull after all it’s a bit like a big family outing. Obviously there are challenges but those tend to be based around ensuring I allocate time for various alters and accept its ok to lose time and switch a lot.  Generally its accepting that I have to play the juggling game that comes as part of life with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

image

Yesterday I planned to visit a woodland were I hoped to see bluebells, these are one of my favourite flowers as they remind me of one of the few positive memories from my past. I knew I was likely to switch alters and I also realised that there is absolutely no way I can give each part of me individual time. I planned instead to give time to various groups of alters so little me’s, teens/adolescent parts and then adult me’s as this seemed easier. It takes a great deal of preparation and lots of internal dialogue to make such a day possible and I have to be extremely conscious of everyone’s needs.

On arrival at the nature reserve I visited the information centre, were little me’s looked at the children’s activities on offer, they find such things interesting alongside of course the play area close by. Now at my age I don’t think It would look good if I suddenly tried to go on a swing whilst actual young children waited, so I have to try and explain this to those inside. We have an agreement that if it’s quiet we can go on them but if it’s busy its best we don’t. They seem to accept this but I do wish at times we had adult only play areas equipped with swings and slides etc.

As we ventured for a stroll into the woods my little me’s we’re excited at the thought of seeing bluebells and possibly deers which we had been told might be sighted. All the time I was communicating with my alters discussing what we were doing and seeing, I’m learning its vital I notice every change in my feelings as often this is a way of noticing who is around inside of me. It is a mix of one way communication and two way dialogue and it varies from alter to alter. Also I  sensed the switching from one alter to another that was happening during this time.

image

There was great excitement as we saw the first bluebells, and lots of interest from many parts of me at that point. My teens and adolescents parts were more interested in the noises we heard, so the different birdsong and the noise of the rain and wind as it touched the leaves on the trees. It felt more intense with them and more detailed and my adolescent teen who enjoys talking with me as we enjoy the countryside near my home was keen to talk here too. I sat for a rest and she and I were able to talk, though we were soon aware of little me’s excitably watching a bird feeding close by. I had to try and play that juggling act of pleasing them all whilst balancing needs and that isn’t so easy.

As the bird flew on its way my adolescent was soon able to carry on having our chat, it was interesting to hear her enjoying this time. My teen who doesn’t talk was soon squeezing my arm, her sign to let me know she is around and we were then able to communicate via Ideomotor signalling. The sense I get from the emotions they bring forward is that they enjoy time to just be and time to be heard and that makes adult me feel better too,

I then took time for me, to stop the noise in my head and the thinking that rages on inside of me that often feels a bit like an out of control speeding car. So I tried to practice the techniques my psychologist has previously mentioned relating to mindfulness, though as I am still learning its not always so easy.  However sitting in the quietness of a fairly empty woodland with the birds playing their natures very own musical symphony it felt truly relaxing. I found it quite easy to focus in on the noises which surrounded me and was surprised by the variety of sounds. Time past quite swiftly and my mind settled down as did the various parts within, they didn’t go away but we’re just accepting that I needed time too.

image

As we strolled back to the main centre and time for a drink the noise inside grew, I now faced the battle within as to which part of me would choose the cake we were going to eat. The little parts won and were soon trying to decide which of the yummy treats on offer we could have. It ended up with a gooey vanilla slice which tasted delicious and certainly filled a hole. Part of me who is worried about weight found this hard, but we did enjoy it despite the vast calories it contained. The Ducks that played outside the cafe window attracted little parts attention and they were soon very distracted by them.

As we made our way towards the exit I felt happy but exhausted, its hard ensuring all of me enjoys time together. I think it’s the fact I’m trying to get everyone who lives inside of me to co-operate and to start working as a team. It isn’t easy but I do enjoy the time we get and I enjoy knowing parts of me get to experience things they haven’t done so before.  Most of all it’s good to know that despite having Dissociative Identity Disorder I can live my life even if it’s more complex and challenging than your average persons.

Though our day went well it came at a cost and I lost time soon after we left as other parts of me took control of this body we share. I didn’t lose time for long, about an hour or so and I realised it was most probably because I was so tired. Today I have needed to rest and recuperate and I’ve started the day giving time to other parts of me, I will get time but I need to ensure all of me has time too.

But I can feel happy about yesterday because I know through our hard work and perseverance a lot of me managed to enjoy a spectacle of nature, that ‘carpet of blue’ as the flowers filled the woodland floor. It’s a sight I was glad I witnessed and the birdsong chorus we enjoyed, well that was the icing on the cake. Juggling demands and alters can and does have rewards it makes life easier in the long run and for that reason I will keep on trying to enjoy activities with all of me.

image

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Its not easy being me 

image

 

Sometimes it’s not easy having DIssociative Identity Disorder, or being a survivor of child abuse and there are times when you just wish life was different, that it was somehow that little bit easier to deal with. I have been trying to collate data from my old medical records in recent weeks and that has involved trawling through case notes one page at a time. Reading some of the information about myself has not been easy, especially when it relates back to the time I was most unwell.

As part of this work I came across some old psychological assessments and they both perplexed and upset me, there in stark print was the assumptions of one clinically qualified person. I felt annoyed when I first read the document, was I really as bonkers as the report seemed to imply and if so why. I took the report to my psychology session today in the hope of gaining a better perspective and in truth I gained from doing so.

I found out that much of what had been written about me was accurate, the tests used are good tests to analyse someone psychologically and most of all its a fairly accurate assumption of me, my traits, my personality and my deficits. The tests were not designed to describe positive characteristics like kind or caring, instead they are meant to identify those things I find difficult, being avoidant or overly compliant for example. Talking it over in my session I felt tearful, but like I often do I batted away the tears and carried on in my non emotional manner. Except this time it hurt for me to do that and I was much more conscious of doing this, this act of blocking feelings, this act of suppressing my tears.

I had a logical reason to block things, I’d gone with a list of issues I wanted to discuss and I felt I needed to get through the list, not get sidetracked by emotions. But as I travelled home my tears began to flow, I couldn’t stop them in fact it felt like I was never going to stop crying, but of course I did eventually. I realised that I wasn’t crying because I am someone who is overly compliant or a person who has clearly got a plethora of psychological traits that are negative, I was crying with grief. Grief at what an impact the past has had upon me, you see I can sit and read this report and understand why I do the various things it states I am more likely to do, than your average person.

I am overly compliant for example because I lived in fear as a child and I learnt it was safest to comply with the demands of my abusers. I’m someone who has a low view of herself because for years I was told daily what a pathetic child I was. I fear people thinking I’m bad or no good because as a child I was told the fact I got hurt was because I was bad. These traits are basically the psychological legacy of being abused, neglected and hurt.

Yet I also knew the tears related to my fear that I’m bonkers, and I began to think why am I fearful about this, then it kind of all made sense. You see as a child when I was first referred to psychological therapies I was terrified, the fear then was as a result of being told it was because I was mad, which was all my fault and if I didn’t improve they’d lock me away. Mad people get locked away was a mantra I learnt so much as a young adolescent. My brothers had previously seen psychological services and I was informed it would make me be just like them, except my brother was an abuser, he was the last person I wanted to be like. So confused I remained terrified of the child psychologist for years and in my adulthood when things did get worse, I ended up hospitalised and I was demonised by some staff who I encountered. Staff who failed to understand me, or the reasons I was unwell. These negative messages had a big impact upon me which was aided by the negative put downs of my mother and brother who still had contact with me at that time.

My fear I guess is that if I’m bonkers, or more to the point if people think I’m bonkers will I get locked away, will I become like my brother the person I fought desperately to not be like. So the tears I cried today were tears of grief at the fact I do have a number of personality traits as a result of the damage inflicted upon me as a child. Plus I worry that I will be viewed in a way that isn’t fair or true, and that people will not understand but instead judge and berate me as happened in the past. But most of all the past infiltrated my present when the fear of being just like my abusers filled me with dread.

I know it was wrong today to stifle those tears of mine, I should have let them flow inside the therapy room where I could work on resolving issues. Instead by blocking them I now face them at home and the fears that I held for a thousand days or more come flooding back.

I’m trying hard to tell myself it’s ok to grieve, it’s ok to have these traits because many people do and it’s not my fault. I’m trying hard to remind myself that I’m not bonkers just because I have some issues, I’m not mad or bad, just me. These traits don’t make me like my abusers, in fact I’m anything but like them and I succeeded in breaking the cycle of abuse that often infiltrates families generation after generation. I broke those chains I didn’t become an abuser, I chose to walk the right path.

It’s often a painful journey trying to work through the damage that has been left, my traits including having a Borderline personality disorder are part of that damage. I know I need to talk through the feelings I encountered today, to talk through the reasons I think they came to the fore and my fear of being a bit bonkers or skewed in some way. I also know I need to face the grieving that I have to do in time, my childhood wasn’t perfect it’s left a painful and difficult legacy. I’m determined to find my way forward to overcome as many of these traits and difficulties as I can, to break free from them in time. But today if you see me crying please understand, it’s not easy being me sometimes.

 

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Funding Update

 

image

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

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

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

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

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

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

image

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

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

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

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

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

I will keep you posted on this continuing saga.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

 

 

 

 

The Blame Game

I’m really not too sure why it happens, I really wish I knew what it was that causes me to take the blame for things going wrong in my life. Yet it seems from early years I learnt to blame myself for the difficulties I encountered and it appears to have continued ever since. As a child I used to think people hurt me because I was bad, I’d disappointed them and it was all my fault. As an adult when I was losing time and struggling to keep my life on track I would feel a sense of shame at not coping, I’d blame myself and there would be lots of self critical words being spoken. In hospital it soon became the norm to be blamed for my behaviour, my reactions to situations and my self harm, people encouraged and proactively assisted me to keep on blaming myself.

Blame played a big part in my life, prior to being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder I had a range of ill judged diagnoses, none of which turned out to be accurate. Yet in those years preceding the correct diagnosis the blame game continued, I was labelled and judged as a nuisance, dysfunctional, attention seeking and emotionally unstable. It appeared that the medical professionals were saying that I was to blame for my mental health problems, it was my fault I was losing time, my fault I was depressed, anxious, forgetful and confused. The healthcare professionals played the blame game with me for a number of years and sadly I wasn’t in any position to stop it.

 

image

Today with an accurate diagnosis there still exists a blame culture, many professionals don’t accept the diagnosis of D.I.D, they are sceptical about it. I’m aware of at least one psychiatrist who stated the fact I knew so much about D.I.D; which he didn’t believe in anyway, was indicative of me having a disorganised sense of self. In his opinion I was to blame for my carrying a teddy, for losing time and for changing personae. Of course I know it is he who was misguided and not me, but yet again medical staff placed blame were none was due, blame upon me.

This week in therapy I was undertaking some trauma work, it’s tough at times but I know it’s important too. As I spoke my psychologist made me stop and think, he made me reflect upon the words I was using because I was being self critical and negative. As I spoke of my past out poured the words ‘why didn’t I tell someone’ and ‘why didn’t I stop him’. Words such as ‘I let him’, ‘I never stopped him’, spewed forth as I continued to berate myself yet I wasn’t just berating me. In this case I was blaming the younger part of me who years ago took the abuse, of course at that time I had dissociated and so in reality I was blaming my poor alter.

My psychologist made me stop, made me think and I guess rationalise just how much I was blaming myself, and blaming my alters. He reminded it was a common theme in our work and that I do judge myself and my alters quite harshly. I couldn’t disagree with him because I knew he was right, I do judged them. I view my past and the memories of that time including the abuse I suffered through my adult eyes, I assume that I should have told someone, I should have hit out, screamed, shouted and fought to stop the abusers. Yet when I think of who I was at that time, a vulnerable frightened little girl who was being controlled through fear and betrayed by certain adults I ought to have been able to trust, I see things in a different light.

In truth at that time young me knew if I told I’d be in trouble, that no one would believe me, child abuse wasn’t talked about in my day it wasn’t recognised. The most safety advice I had received as a child was not to play with matches, and the green cross code. Younger me knew from experience that the aggression and violence that I had previously encountered would increase if I tried to fight back or stand up to my abusers. I had realised that it certainly wasn’t a safe option to object, or to tell, no in truth my alters did the best they could at the time. My alters, my younger me’s they took my pain and suffering so that I might survive to live another day.

image

Yet here I was blaming them for what happened to us, how unfair of me and how wrong. My psychologist enabled me to think about who was really to blame and slowly I began to understand were that blame lies, it’s with those adults who betrayed me. I’ve no doubt it will continue to take time for me to accept I couldn’t help what happened to me, to accept I wasn’t to blame. This is a work in progress and I have a lot of alters and a lot of me to forgive.

Blame is an inherent part of our culture, of our society and we judge and blame others far too easily, in my case I direct the blame at me, either myself or my alters. I’m learning that this blame is about forgiveness, it’s also about grief. Accepting it wasn’t my fault, that I’m not to blame means acknowledging I was helpless in these situations and that yes I was hurt. It means accepting I was abused and I couldn’t stop it, it means acknowledging that certain people betrayed me. It also means facing up to the harsh reality that I hold feelings of anger towards these abusive individuals and that yes I am angry at them.

It is hard to understand the blame game, to understand I am playing it too and that at times I have blamed my alters. But that is the reality I face right now, these parts of me who have enabled me to survive don’t deserve my blame, my judgement. They deserve a future and a future filled with hope, acceptance and understanding, in turn I deserve that as well. So I’m trying hard this week to end the blame game, to repair the damage done and to work better with my alters. I’m slowly learning to forgive myself and to accept that actually I did ok, I did more than ok. I survived to live another die.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015