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

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Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder is a Challenge

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This week I have been trying to focus on self care, that’s a bit tough when I’m struggling with all kinds of issues some I can’t write about at this moment in time. The news has been full of triggers and so has social media, so I have had to avoid these at times. Alongside this is of course my ever ongoing switching and losing time which is both frustrating and irritating and I seem to dissociate at the first sign of stress or people judging me.

I tried to pace myself, so planned a day of fun in the middle of the week alongside time for work, household chores, art and cartoons. But still plans to cope better with dissociation went array, all because of the actions of one person. It seems life with Dissociative Identity Disorder is a constant ever changing challenge and for ever couple of steps forward there is at least one step back.

On Thursday I was all set to do some paperwork, things that urgently needed my attention and that I really had to complete. I popped to the village to get a few things and in the process was made to feel judged. I’m not sure if that was the intention but it happened all the same and it destroyed the rest of my day.

Feeling judged is a trigger and as such by the time I arrived home I was switching, I felt tearful and desperately sad. I dissociated and lost time, I’m told that I was very distressed my alter who took over felt alone, vulnerable and isolated. They communicated with my son who tried very hard to reassure and help, but somehow it wasn’t enough and in the end we fell asleep.

When I woke I felt frustrated, I felt confused and I also felt in desperate need of reassurance, I’d messed up the day and I had lost precious time which meant I couldn’t get all my jobs completed.
My son is great and he can reassure me, but it’s never the same as that given by his sister who somehow is able to help me rationalise better. I wanted more than anything a hug, a hug of comfort and reassurance, a hug that said it’s ok and you can deal with this.

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My daughter bless her is at work in the daytime now and so it meant she wasn’t instantly available to help, I knew she’d be at work for a short while yet. I waited desperately and as soon as I knew she’d be free I called her multiple times until I got a response. I asked if I could call round to see her there followed a period of hugs and comforting words, a cup of tea and the assurance I really needed. For I needed someone to tell me that it was ok not to achieve everything, that my expectations of me were too high, I didn’t need to feel bad or judge myself. That the reason I dissociated, the trigger, was not such a huge threat, the person who judged me today wasn’t going to punish me as happened in my past.

I am fortunate to have that help, to have people who are able to understand me and my D.I.D, I know I’m blessed to have that, many people I have met with Dissociative Disorders don’t. They struggle alone and with little support or understanding, if I’m honest I don’t know how they manage.

Triggers have been an issue for so long now, that I know some of them well and can try and avoid hence why I haven’t watched much news this week. Yet others surprise me and spiral me out of control and into a cycle of fear and anxiety. Maybe that’s why when I was asked this week what my ambitions were for my future my answer was that I desperately want to have a life with less triggers, less switching, less chaos and less dissociating. In time I hope that’s what I achieve but I also want to deal with the feelings of hurt and anguish that I carry and to develop my coping skills, my life skills and that seems so hard to do.

I realise that in truth there are so many things I want to achieve but they are not your average, I am sure people didn’t expect the answer I gave. I don’t think of a new car, or house, or job I think of skills I lack and desperately wish I had, I think of a future which is just less of the mess that I seem to have right now. But how do I explain that to people who don’t understand Dissociative Identity Disorder, who seem to be unable to comprehend the unfamiliar, that is my world.

My aim right now is to try and keep moving forwards and if not to at least stand still, that means to self care as much as I can and to survive the short break I’m having from my psychology sessions. Right now I just want to survive the chaos that is going on in my life, the chaos that isn’t always of my choosing but which causes me a great deal of stress and thus triggers.

I have to trust that the difficulties in my life which exist currently, the situations which are causing me additional stress at this time will soon be dealt with. I hope that once my psychology sessions restart and I get back into that routine of therapy, I will feel better equipped to deal with situations like I have this week. I’m learning I guess that life with Dissociative Identity Disorder is a challenge, a challenge that I am still determined to win one day.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Making my journey with D.I.D bear-able

Making my journey with D.I.D bear-able

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My Little parts are keen for us to introduce our special friend

Ever since my melt down point a decade ago I have had the company of a cuddly creature to keep me feeling safe. Initially this was a rather large creature who filled my arms and to be fair wasn’t so easy to carry. After 2 years my children and I chose a new creature whose size made it easier for me to carry and to discretely transport around.

Now my cuddly creatures are not live animals, no there are teddy bears called Cuddles and Ted, between the they have been with me throughout my journey through the mental health system. Now cuddles was rather cumbersome due to her size, it made it difficult to carry her around and so she is now retired to safe storage but Ted she has been with me for 8 years now and is a daily part of my life.

I’m not afraid to admit I have her, in fact until a couple of years ago I couldn’t leave her at any point in the day. Ted was carried in my arms daily, at home and when we went out she has been a source of comfort and in many ways has given my little alters a sense of grounding and security which has been significantly helpful.

Ted has been with me in all bar two of my acute hospitalisations, she’s been locked in a forensic secure unit and a non-forensic one too, she’s endured being detained by the police when we were repatriated to hospital in the cage of a police van. She’s been with me when I have tried to end my suffering and when I have self harmed, in fact Ted has been through every step of the journey since 2006. She has spent some 130 plus weeks in hospital, her predecessor cuddles spent approximately 65 weeks in hospital.

I guess when I carried her everywhere I stood out, she and I were a partnership and yes she was my security blanket if you like and some patients and certainly some staff found it difficult to deal with this women and her bear. I was unable to cope with life, with the memories and the flashbacks which filled me with dread and fear, with the confusion and anxiety I felt I just wanted the ground to swallow me whole to stop my anguish and my pain.

I can recall being verbally attacked by a stranger who took offence to me and my bear, he said ‘people like you should be locked away’ and I guess that was easy for him to say but I wasn’t always this wreck. I am a mum and I was once a wife, I worked hard and contributed to society I never expected to find myself in a mental hospital nor carrying a bear and yet it happened. I knew I had a tough start in life but I hoped I’d managed to leave it all behind, I thought I had, but then the reality was that it was just hidden away. You see in truth much pain and anguish from my past was hidden deep inside of me waiting to reveal itself when I was least expecting it. I didn’t need a random stranger attacking me for carrying a bear I felt bad enough about myself who I was and the fact I couldn’t cope.

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Ted has been a comfort that I needed through the darkest of days she has been there and I am not ashamed that I needed her. She has kept me grounded at times especially when I have suffered flashbacks and memories. I could keep telling myself & all my alters, all the parts of me that when bad happened we didn’t have Ted and yet now we did and that meant we were safe.

As a child I only recall one teddy bear he came from a bad person as a reward for being ‘a good girl’ for not telling when the person hurt me and yet I loved that bear. I remember coming home from school and my bear being gone, my mother had decided I had to be punished for something and taking that bear away was my punishment. I didn’t have another bear, unlike most children for me toys were rare and they came and they went as a form of control.

When my children bought me Cuddles I was elated and so grateful and yes she served me well when I first hit melt down, but her size made her harder to carry. But like Ted she took so many of my tears as I could hold her and let out the pain that ripped deep into me at that time, I find emotions so hard that it’s impossible for me to explain them to others easily, to express them and yet I needed to.

My cuddly friends have been a part of each day now for a decade and I doubt I could have managed without them, it felt like they were attached to me, it probably looked like that to the world. We were this person who went everywhere with her bear and people became used to that, some became so accustomed to her they no longer saw her.

About two years ago I made the decision to put Ted inside my bag when I went out, she was still with me 24/7 but she was no longer a visual constant in my day to day life. I remember the first time I placed her in my bag I felt bereft, but I knew it was the right time to stop carrying her in my arms all the time. Part of my decision was based upon the fact that my constantly carrying this bear had caused me significant muscular issues which required physiotherapy treatment. For years I had held her in my arm so had held my arm in a bent position this had caused muscle weakness and tension and when I realised that all this pain and discomfort was a result of my needing Ted I knew I had to take action.

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For a further year Ted was still a constant, she was carried around everywhere I went, the doctors, the shops, even for a McDonalds. Then one day I forgot her she was left sat at home on my bed and I ventured off to an appointment, by the time I realised we didn’t have time to return to get her. I had to face the fact that we would have to survive without her for these few hours and of course we did, we managed and it led to more and more organised opportunities where Ted stayed home. I had some control over this so if I was struggling or facing a difficult time Ted came along, but if I felt we could manage well then she stayed home.

Now Ted lives on my bed and there are times she comes with us, so every time we attend psychology she comes along too. When I face Care plan meetings Ted comes too, holidays and other times away from home involving overnight stays she is part of my luggage. But I can now manage without her when I am shopping, or attending the GP’s, visiting friends or going for a coffee. Ted probably spends 50% of her time on my bed and 50% of her time in my bag or on the sofa, it’s a far cry from my carrying her 24/7.

This week I’m attending an event which means I’m away from home, so Ted comes too she will stay part of her time on my hotel bed but I know she’ll be with me when I need her. There will be times when I do need her, times when I feel vulnerable or I am switching more and I need to try and ground myself.

Now it maybe hard for people to understand why I a grown women need a bear but of course parts of me are little and need the comfort a bear gives. She also allows me to know that the past is over and that is so important to me. I am fortunate that my family accept her as a necessary part of my life currently, they don’t nor have they ever judged us. In fact my children who are adults themselves will often say hello to her and they occasionally buy a new outfit for her. It’s as if they understand the role she has and continues to play in our life.

I never expected this small bear Ted would become so important to me and obviously carrying her everywhere day in and day out she has weathered quite a lot, but I can’t imagine replacing her she will just age and become more loved as time progresses. She may not come out with me as often and one day she may just live on my bed, but for now Ted will keep playing whatever role I and all my parts need her too. Be that grounder, comforter or as a sign of reassurance Ted is a significant part of my healing journey and I’m glad she is part of our life.

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Copyright: DID Dispatches 2014

Mine and Teds Hospital Adventure

 

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Monday 1.30pm:

I am writing this blog sat in my hospital bed post surgery, the surgery on my foot took place 3 hours ago. So far I have been very pleased at both how we are being treated and also how the different parts of me are coping with this experience. Having surgery for anyone is difficult, but for someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder it has added complications.

Prior to coming into hospital I had to do a lot of internal dialogue as I tried to explain to all of me the procedure we were to undergo. I had no idea if the alters would grasp what was happening, but I did know that I needed them to stay calm during the procedure.

There was the fear that we would be triggered or switch in the middle of the operating room, fears that me, Carol, would freak out too, I’m not very comfortable in hospitals. There was the added fear of how the medical staff would treat us, especially given my file had a huge M marked on indicating we had a mental health issue,

If anything so far the staff have been extraordinarily helpful, they have regularly checked on us and ensured we are comfortable, they have been friendly, polite and very attentive to our needs. In fact every member of staff who has seen Ted have asked her name and have said hello to her, that has helped us more than they; the staff, realise. My surgeon and consultant who knows we have Dissociative Identity Disorder made certain we were ready for surgery, checking I was settled and adult when he started the operation. I was grateful that despite not fully getting D.I.D he comprehends I can become a child alter, and he granted us permission to take our teddy bear into theatre along with our own music to help us stay grounded. He also put us first on the theatre list hence we didn’t have to wait around anxiously for hours whilst others were whisked to theatre ahead of us, these little actions have made such a difference to today.

Throughout the surgery he explained what was happening and checked we were ok, he ensured we knew when things would hurt or be cold. At the end he was certain to tell us what would happen in post op and he did hand over that I had D.I.D though I doubt the nursing staff knew what it was.

Throughout the entire procedure I was focused on telling my alters we were safe and that it was going to be ok, I have never worked so hard on internal communication as I have today and I do feel exhausted by it all, I am certain we will sleep well tonight.

Truth be known the worst bit was when the saline solution ran down my leg, as a heighten sense of anxiety rose inside I had to fight the desire to both panic and dissociate. The consultant must have sensed we were struggling as he kept explaining it was just saline and it was ok, his words were enough to help us stay in the present and not kick out with our good foot. I was concerned they’d have to restrict our legs but thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I had feared, and if was able to lay still on the operating table whilst I was tightly hugging Ted.

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The pin in my foot protrudes about 1cm from my foot, and we are not able to weight bear on that part of the foot. Now whilst I understand this I’m not certain all of my alters will get this. I don’t wish to tempt fate but I will be surprised if we don’t have to return to the hospital early to repair damage to the pin. I’m unsure how I would explain that though, as it’s not so easy for healthcare professionals to comprehend D.I.D at the best of times.

Away from the theatre, the ward staff have been great too, my daughter who drove me here this morning has been allowed to stay, it’s been reassuring to have a familiar face close by. The nurses I know have little if any understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder but they are aware we have a mental health issue and are sensitive to that fact. They have plied me with plenty of tea and a meal that was actually quite tasty, they are not judging me in the way I had originally feared at my pre-op.

It’s not going to be an easy few weeks, with limited mobility I need to remind the little parts of me that we can’t move around as freely. Internal communication will continue to be vital over the coming weeks as I keep all of me informed and up to date with what is happening to this body we all share.

I’m not sure how we will cope when our stitches are removed in a few weeks, it’s just yet another hurdle we will have to face together. I truly believe it’s vital all of me are aware of what is happening to us and how we need to help our body heal, I have a key role in this though as I need to keep us all informed.

Now we lay in bed on a ward waiting to see if we can go home today and if we can weight bear at all on my heel,  we know that we will have crutches but I am unsure if all of me will remember how to use them and move safely.

There is still internal talking going on and Teddy is close by being hugged like never before. Once we can go home the alters know that home a strawberry soya milkshake awaits us alongside a treat once we are fully healed. Perhaps that is bribery, it’s not meant to be,  more that I’m accepting and realising my younger alters need me to accept they require nurturing by me especially at this time.

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Having surgery at the best of times isn’t easy for anyone, but for those of us who are multiples, who have D.I.D it’s more of a challenge, a challenge which does benefit from understanding healthcare professionals and internal dialogue and reassurance which relies upon me being proactive at this time.

If you know me personally you might need to bear with me especially if I keep falling silent or seem extra distracted, it’s most probably me trying to communicate internally with my alters, the other parts of me.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014