Its not easy being me 

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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

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2 envelopes 8 years apart – from suicidal to survivor mum 

Trigger warning : please exercise self care. 

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This week I came upon an envelope, on the outside were handwritten instructions of desired funeral arrangements and the envelope was addressed to three young teenagers. Shaking I gripped hold of this envelope as thoughts raced through my mind. Was it wrong to read it, would it stir up memories and emotions I wouldn’t be able to deal with or was it best to leave this well alone. Yet as I sat transfixed my eyes focused on this emotional heartfelt letter I knew what I needed to do, it was time I read the words that I once had written to my own three dear children.

As I carefully unsealed the envelope I examined every word written on the outside, it hit me that these were my funeral plans, plans I had at one time felt so vital to record on paper. I hadn’t wanted my children to have to make those difficult choices so I told them simply what I would like. The letter was long, it started with an apology, and those familiar words of I love you, I am sure many people will never understand the thoughts that raced through my head when I had written this letter, but 8 years ago when I wrote it I didn’t feel like I could survive.

You see back then my trauma, my past were destroying me and I felt I could take no more, the turmoil and anguish I felt were basically consuming me. Each day was a torment, painful and soul destroying, it felt like I was being abused over and over again, as the flashbacks consumed every minute of every day. If not the actual flashback, the fallout from them filled every day and I couldn’t take anymore of this anguish. I can recall the feelings of desolation I had felt at that time, and then the decision which seemed like a rational, sensible one to me was made. I’d end my suffering, I’d end everyone’s suffering and instead of being the nuisance to my family; that I felt I was, I’d give them a fresh start. They wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore, they wouldn’t have to watch me being consumed by the past or see my torment; which was the result of my memories. Suicide I had felt gave me the best solution, best for me and most certainly best for my children.

That was my mind set the day I wrote lovingly to my children, fast forward 8 years and here I was sitting with this letter I had written them. I digested every line, each word and I sensed the anguish and the torment I had been in when I wrote to them. It seemed somehow to seep out from within the pages, it was palpable and so clearly evident that I was suffering. I recorded the distinguishing traits of each one of the children, the things that made me proud and their individual strengths. I told each one how much I loved them and why this was the best outcome for them. I apologised numerous times for all the pain I had caused them and how I just wanted to make things right for them and I  begged for their forgiveness. By the time I had finished reading it all, tears streamed down my face and my body was shaking as I sobbed and sobbed uncontrollably.

You see I know how close I had come, how close I was at that point to no longer being here with them. I had planned so much, it wouldn’t go wrong and yet somehow it did and somehow I’m still here looking back retrospectively at that dark time. No longer in that dark unforgiving place, that once overwhelmed me and made life seem impossible to live.

I couldn’t help think of all the things we had done as a family since that time, all the highs and the lows. This was written before my stay in forensic psychiatric care, before my being sectioned under the mental health act. But it was also before any of them had graduated, before I even began to study for my degree and before they had celebrated milestone birthdays. There is so much we have done since that time, so much I so nearly missed out on.

I have had the joy of watching these teenagers grow into amazing adults, seeing them all receive their degrees and feeling such motherly pride as they did. We have shared so many Christmases, birthdays and holidays together, things that I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on. I’ve enjoyed learning to have fun, to laugh at myself especially when I splash in the sea and I now gaze in awesome wonder at the beauty that I see in this world all around me. I appreciate it from a different viewpoint today, as I see things from the perspective of my little parts of me.

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But when I wrote that letter I didn’t see any light, I didn’t see any hope, just pain and I thought it was best for us all for me to not be here. Now looking back I see that whilst it hasn’t been an easy journey and I have a long way still to go, I’m aware that I’m stronger than I ever believed was possible. I’m now aware that you can with the right help overcome those dark days, learn to live with the pain of the past and carve a new way forward. I’m learning the skills I need to cope with my life, with the damage that was once done to me.

Looking back isn’t easy, but it was important to do, it reminded me of how far I’ve come and of how much I have achieved. It’s allowed me to reflect and be glad that I’m still here, that I can tomorrow open other envelopes this time address to me and not my children. These envelopes will contain cards to celebrate Mother’s Day and I have no doubt that I will cry with joy as my wonderful children’s card tell me how much they love me.

Their words mean so much to me, because they know how close I came to not being here, they know we so nearly didn’t have this day. They have been through this nightmare with me and we have had to rebuild our relationships after the prolonged periods of my hospitalisation. I’ve kept the letter I wrote it’s hidden away in a box, I think one day when my treatments over I will burn it, till then it’s there and it’s my reminder of a time that once was desolate but now has beams of hope shining through it.

If I could have written to myself back then, it would have said quite simply ‘hang in there, it’s not going to be easy but you will get through this, you will get the help you need one day. Most of all you have a future, you will laugh again and even when you cry that’s ok, because often they will be tears of joy and of motherly pride.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

 

 

Blaming Myself For The Abuse I Endured

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

Therapy has given me many different experiences so far, this week I’ve encountered a whole new approach to dealing with the trauma that plagues my mind. I spent time not going into the fine detail of an event but instead processed the emotions that lie behind the flashbacks which disrupt my nights. Whenever I have begun working on these traumatic events before previous therapists have appeared intent on digging and digging into the inner recesses of my mind wanting to know everything about an event. Thus when my current psychologist discussed trauma work I’ve been very nervous and very apprehensive. However time has led me to feel able to take that leap of faith and move along this journey of recovery by stepping into trauma work. I was assured that I would be in a safe environment inside the therapy room and that this was the place to finally be me, to feel and to process the past.

My first encounter at trauma work this week with my current psychologist did feel safe and contained, I felt able to express myself and my feelings honestly. Most of all though I didn’t need to go into the inner depths of regurgitating the memory instead I was able to think about my feelings and my emotions, what a difference such an approach made. Don’t get me wrong we did discuss the memory but only in so far as I felt able and was needed, I didn’t need to recount every single moment of the incident, much to my relief. By the end of the session I wondered why I had been so apprehensive as this approach felt right, it seemed much more contained and far less chaotic than previous experiences.

Today looking back and beginning the work I need to carry on doing of getting to know that part of me who endured this particular nightmare, I can see some key issues that stand out. One of those is my feelings towards that alter as sadly I felt angry at her, I blamed her for not stopping the incident. Yes there is anger at the people involved who caused me such pain and anguish, who betrayed me and belittled me but I also blamed her. It’s hard to realise I blamed a part of me for something they had absolutely no control over, I’m not excusing myself but I am aware I grew up with negative comments that apportioned blame upon me. I lived in an environment where everything that ever went wrong was my fault and my many abusers gave constant reminders to me that the abuse was all I was good for.

But my blaming her is so not helpful to me, because she is a part of me and so I was blaming myself for the incident. I was taking responsibility for the acts of others who were far stronger and far older than I was, people who many would regard has having a duty of care towards me. I’m slowly realising the reality of that time and that when she stopped fighting she was making an intolerable decision to take the abuse in order to protect my life. I’m not sure if today I’d be courageous enough to make such a brave decision to take their punishment, their depraved acts of abuse because to carry on fighting you know would most likely cost you your my life. It’s really a difficult decision for anyone, but even more so for a young teenager who hated the consequences of no longer fighting this particular abuser.

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I’m also aware that this abuser was both determined and dangerous, I believe he would truly have carried on hurting me physically, he wouldn’t have stopped until I stopped fighting back. If I’m honest I think I realise now his actions may well have ended my life such was his rage, if I’d fought on, so this parts bravery and her decisions saved me. The sad thing is that I have sensed time and again with each flashback of this incident the absolute terror she felt at that point, when she had to chose. It’s a terror I cannot explain fully in words, but one I wouldn’t wish on any living creature. The other night I sat frozen in this terror unable to even move from my sofa where I’d been sleeping, I knew I was in my house I knew this was a memory of a time long ago and yet the terror I felt gripped me like a vice.

For too long I’ve blamed her, blamed me and that as to change, I can’t keep doing this it’s not right or fair. Instead I need to nurture this part of me, reassure them and offer comfort, I need to give them the love and care they so rightly deserved as a teenager. This maybe the first time this part of me has ever experienced such love and care and so I need to ensure I do this right. I also need to try hard to communicate with her and build a rapport, find out how this part of me feels. But I need to do this slowly and not rush things, I need to be careful and take care of all of me at this time.

This part of me has feelings too and I sensed those this morning for the first time. I know the terror of that incident is the key here, it’s more significant than the abuse itself and I truly think she hated that terror. She has been able to allow me access to that terror as if to show me the reason why she stopped fighting to prevent the abuse. She wanted me to know why, to know she wasn’t to blame and I’m thankful that I now know the truth. I realise that this part of me hated the feelings of helplessness and of knowing there was no way out, I also believe she felt as if she’d failed. Failed when she knew she couldn’t get free that she couldn’t stop what was happening. Today feelings of being belittled, misunderstood and of not having a voice are all issues I struggle with and I’m sure these stem from this particular time as a young teen. They are a legacy of the past and so often my encounters with health, institutions and professionals have evoked the same feelings this part of me feared and hated.

I know there is still more work to be done to really process this incident, to deal with all the feelings and emotions that stem from it. I don’t doubt I will need to talk this over in other sessions, for I realise I still need to unpack the feelings, the pain, the anguish and the grief of this particular time. In the meantime this week I’m going to do lots of looking after me, giving time and space to deal with my feelings and this parts feelings. Trauma work is going to be a learning process, it’s most definitely going to hurt at times and it won’t always be an easy road but I’m certain I am strong enough to come through this. I survived the actual abuse and I will survive the trauma phase of therapy, one day I’ll look back on this time and realise how far all of me have come thanks to the help of a patient and dedicated psychologist. One day I will no longer be plagued by flashbacks, or memories that occupy my every waking moment, one day I will truly be able to say I was abused but now I’m a survivor.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Challenging Times and Flashbacks

This week I feel like it’s been a week of recognising the many things I have to do to deal with in order to live life as a person with dissociative Identity Disorder and a survivor of child abuse. I attended a meeting on Thursday organised by the survivors trust and NHS England and in order to be there I had to juggle time with the other parts of me. So two days have been spent giving time to my little parts in order to allow me the time I’ve needed.

Having Dissociative Identity Disorder has meant learning to be the master of time, ensuring I work in collaboration with all the alters; the different parts of me. It’s hard to explain that to people who don’t have D.I.D, it’s hard to explain how much all that juggling and organising tires one out. More than that it’s hard to explain why I can’t do a particular task today because it’s cartoon day for the little parts of me, or art for my teen. People just don’t understand if I’m truly honest and I’m not sure how I can help them.

Juggling is just one of the many skills I’m learning, but then again there are so many I need to learn in order to live with being fragmented. There are many developmental skills I wish I had, yet sadly don’t, for instant I find it hard to deal with stress and certain words spiral me back into a nightmare time. I find it hard if people don’t respond to my messages as I suddenly thing they don’t like me, or worse still I’ve done something wrong. I lack confidence in some ways and yet other parts of me have the ability to engage with others it must confuse people. I find it hard to have self belief and my self esteem is still low and yes I’m still inpatient and self critical.

I wonder sometimes will these things ever change, but I think it helps to believe there is at least the potential for change. I hope as I progress through therapy things will fit better together, skills I once lacked will appear and things I find difficult will suddenly get easier. There has to be hope for without it the daily challenge to carry on working at things would be much harder.

I have found this week that I’ve resorted to sleeping downstairs once again, it’s a mixture of fear and irrationality that have caused this. Sadly it’s crept up on me and a situation that once used to be the norm a couple of years ago is again now the only way to sleep. When I first came out of hospital I could only sleep downstairs so that’s what I did for a couple of years. Then eventually I made it upstairs and so it remained until about ten days ago.

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Initially I came downstairs as a result of a need to spring clean my room, it was meant to be a couple of nights sadly it’s become a fixture of life. On one of the nights I had a flashback, I coped really well I think despite being catapulted back in time in an instant. I worked at telling myself it was just a memory and not happening today and I reassured the parts inside that we were safe.

Safe however isn’t enough for me somehow, you see the memory links to another one I had a few years ago I know then I blocked it out, after a meltdown crisis and feelings of absolute terror. Today I’m not blocking it out, today I know its my memory, today I’m aware and able to accept I think this happened to me. Yet the fear of that time still has a grip on me, a grip on me that seems to have it’s claws well and truly fixed in me.

But the reason I’m still sleeping on my sofa well the original incident took place in a bedroom, not mine but a bedroom all the same. The thought of being in a bedroom is just one step too far right now, I can deal with this better sleeping in the lounge sleeping on my sofa. I want to deal with it you see I want so much the horror of that time to be finally unable to hold a grip on me, to no longer send me into a spin. I know it’s a part of me that holds this memory but the reality is it’s my memory they hold, this thing happened to me.

Whilst I know it’s not quite the right time to process this trauma, I also know I can’t just block it out either I need to at least acknowledge that time. You see it’s hard to face the feelings of pain and terror not because I’m frightened it is happening in today’s world but mainly because of the emotions that are contained within it. I am just not confident I can always deal that well with this memory and I really don’t want to distress the part of me who holds it or have too many disrupted nights. So I’m currently going to stay sleeping downstairs on the sofa until I’m ready to process this in therapy and I don’t think that time is too far away.

I tweeted earlier this week that life with Dissociative Identity Disorder is challenging and I truly belief that. But I also know I’m far more stronger than I used to be and that’s the result of good stabilisation work in therapy. Being stronger helps but it doesn’t make the challenge disappear that is something I have to face one step at a time, one day at a time.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

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Learning to laugh at myself

 

 

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This week I had to face doing something which I knew might be stressful, it was certainly allowing myself to be slightly out of control as how events unfolded relied on other people’s actions. It taught me a lot about myself and it also offered me an opportunity to recognise yet more signs of when I switch alters.

Imagine if you can suddenly becoming aware that your entire body posture has changed in an instant, yet you don’t think that you feel different emotionally. That was a feeling I encountered this week, suddenly I went from sitting calmly in a neutral position to my arms folded and a rather hunched up position as if in a rather petulant moody mood.

That was what happened to me, from nowhere my body posture changed and I thankfully recognised I was no longer quite in the driving seat of this body of mine, but somewhere between the back seat as an observer and the drivers seat. Not quite out of control but not fully controlling us either. Internal dialogue at a hundred miles an hour seemed to ensue as I asked to stay in control explaining that at this particular point I really needed to be the one in charge of this body.
Thankfully I didn’t dissociate and I managed to stay in the present and carry on driving this body of mine that I share with the other parts of me.

At the time I wasn’t aware if the other people around me realised that I had come close to dissociating, had they seen the sudden changes in me. I wasn’t even sure if I had been aware of all the changes that might have happened so I guess I felt a bit of confusion.

Afterwards I talked to my PA and she and I managed to discuss this from both our perspectives, she had seen the body change, apparently so did my face. Yet other people around us were we think totally oblivious to the changes they certainly didn’t react in any way.

My PA and I managed to laugh about what might have happened if I had switched alters, if a moody annoyed part had come out at that moment it certainly might have been difficult beyond belief. I think it may have shocked a few people who were around, and probably resulted in some damage limitation exercise afterwards. But my PA and I managed to laugh about the possible consequences and how she might have had to intervene. We even laughed about how this particular part of me had surfaced at times in the past and how that had resulted in lots of difficult issues.

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The reality of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder is that life is always for now at least going to be about trying not to dissociate uncontrollably. Instead it’s about giving time and space for the other parts of me, my alters to have time in a safe and structured way. It’s not about constantly walking a tightrope of pretending everything is fine instead it’s accepting that I am fragmented and different and that I need to just do things a little differently to other none D.I.D people.

Yet instead of feeling constrained or blocked by this difference, I am learning to embrace it and I’m certainly learning to laugh at the idiosyncrasies of being dissociative. That includes laughing at those times when I open my wardrobe door and gasp in shock at whichever item of clothing has recently been purchased by another alter. Things I would never wear in my wildest dreams and yet they now hang proudly amongst my clothes.

It includes laughing at the times when I find six of the same product in my house, we have forgot that we bought said item and so bought it again. Right now I’ve got a few bottles of shower cleaner taking root in my bathroom cupboard as we seem to have gone through a phase of buying that product each time we have gone shopping. I’m currently trying to tell all parts of me we don’t need shower cleaner, I’m not sure if it will help or not.

My children and I laugh too about the things they notice, even when I have dissociated and they recount things to me afterwards. There are classic tales we share too, one about the time I took my adult son on a children’s ride in Disney and a little me decided to keep moving the car up and down so he got sprayed with the water jets every time we past a water shoot. Then I as adult me wondering what on earth he had done to get so wet, showing that frustrated mum attitude that all mums get at times, scores highly on my favourites list.

My daughter can tell you how I used to tell her when she was young to get dressed in a morning and then complain about why she was wearing the very clothes I had earlier picked out for her. Dutifully and rather confused she would change into another outfit and then face the same barrage of perplexity from a different part of me. At the time it wasn’t funny, at the time we didn’t know I had D.I.D, but now looking back we can both laugh at those events and that seems a good thing to be able to do.

It would be quite easy to fall into a pit of despair, unsure how on earth we will ever manage to cope. Believe me I’ve been there in that pit and it didn’t help, for the lower my mood got the more I ended up feeling awful and desperate the more I seemed to lose time. Stress does exacerbate my dissociating so it’s no wonder really that feeling low and stressed isn’t helpful. I’ve cried bucket loads before about switching, about losing things, about upsetting the children, you name it I’ve cried over it. Yet it didn’t stop it happening or change anything if I’m truthful it just made me feel more guilty and more desperately anxious and stressed.

You see no matter who we are or our mental health issues the reality is that if you can laugh about things it helps. It gives some light relief to the intensity of a situation and that is why right now I’m glad I’m learning to laugh at myself. I’m learning to live with Dissociative Identity Disorder, I’m learning it’s ok to be me, all the different parts of me.

Copyright DiD Dispatches 2014

Things I Wish I’d Said In My Therapy Session

Trigger warning: This blog may be difficult for some people, please exercise self care.

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Feeling Not Good Enough

When I was a child there was one phrase that seemed to sum up my days, it was a phrase that seemed to be said by so many different people. This phrase was said in so many different ways but it amounted to the fact that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough to be a daughter, to be anything other than an object for others to hurt and abuse and even then I wasn’t good enough at that.

This phrase really summed up my childhood and it was how I learnt to feel about myself, that somehow I was a failure at everything. That everything that went wrong in my life was my fault and that I deserved all the things that happened to me because I wasn’t good enough. If I sit in the still quiet now I can hear my mothers voice uttering those words, I can hear the countless friends she had who hurt me uttering those words and it still hurts.

This week I have felt yet again that I wasn’t good enough, I have no proof of this fact but it’s how I felt all the same. I feel an outsider in my community sometimes, it’s nothing anyone has done it’s just how I feel. I mean I am the one person I know of in my village who has Dissociative Identity Disorder and I am sure some people think that this means I have 3 heads. Maybe I’m vulnerable to feeling like this, but I am a relative newbie in my village and it’s a typical rural place where most people seem to know one another and I don’t know very many people.

Since I began this journey of hospital admissions, labels and diagnoses I have lost much of my social circle of friends, work colleagues etc, I have some friends but I no longer have the number I used to. I lost my job following my first psychiatric admission and so went my friends at work, I am no longer part of a couple so lost friends there also. Now I find myself feeling a misfit sometimes and thats how it was this weekend, I felt isolated and vulnerable. In truth I felt not good enough once again and that hurts, it probably hurts more than I can explain in writing this blog.

So I went to my psychology session a couple of days ago and found myself in tears explaining yet again that I hate D.I.D. and I hate me. It’s strange to suddenly realise with passion and feeling that you mean what you are saying, that you actually hate who you are. The reality is that I hate the fact I was abused, I hate the fact people said it was all I was fit for and that even then I wasn’t good enough. I hate the fact I feel I was a failure as a parent, as a wife, as a daughter and as a human being but I can’t help those feelings, feelings which consume me and I can’t seem to shake off.

My psychologist was telling me not to compare myself with others, which I can do in my desire to be normal, to be accepted, yet it’s not so easy to stop. I do know that he is right of course, that the only person I can honestly compare myself to is me. Though in all honesty it felt a bit like one of those sessions where I so wanted to say something but did everything possible to avoid saying it, I can have them every now and then. But unlike most sessions I have, I left this one and sobbed a far bit of the journey home; even though I’d settled in my head at least that I was ok before the session ended. In my heart I now realise I wasn’t ok and I actually had so much else I should have said but didn’t.

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I so wanted to let out those feelings of anger and hurt that I carry, to finally let out the feelings I have kept locked deep inside for too long. But of course I didn’t, I mean how can I when all I have ever been told is that being angry isn’t good. If I was ever angry or answered back as a child, there were serious consequences, consequences that hurt and left me mentally more in fear. In hospital people don’t like you being angry either and expressing any kind of emotion well that was a no no, I used to suffer sanctions if the staff ever felt I was angry. Sanctions that deprived even more of my liberty and took away any rights I had, I’ve lost my right to live with my sons because people thought I was angry. Because people thought I had no right to be cross or annoyed, to feel the feelings I have and rightly hold.

Yet now I’m meant to feel and apparently it’s ok to express myself that’s what I’m told, but somehow I can’t do it. I can’t risk showing all the hurt and yes the anger I hold because I don’t know if I can stop it once I open the flood gates. I am angry, angry that I was failed by a society that left me in a home that they knew was unstable, in the care of someone they had labeled as pathogenic. People knew I was being abused, neglected, traumatised and they did nothing more than prescribe me an 11 year old child with Valium to help me cope with the difficult circumstances of my life.

I’m angry at her and her friends for all the things they inflicted upon me, for treating me worse than a piece of garbage. For all the physical, emotional and other types of abuse they inflicted upon me. I’m angry because I live each and every day with the damage that all caused, I live with my D.I.D and with the emotional scars that come from being a victim of abuse.

Yet now I can’t let out that anger, or the rawness of the emotions I feel because of fear, fear that I won’t be understood, that I’ll be deemed a risk. Fear that I will explode and not be able to contain or control the immense feelings that I have. Yes I feel not good enough to fit in anywhere because I am different, I am unlike anyone else I know. I am the child who was used, hurt and defiled, a child who was constantly criticised and belittled and a child who desperately wanted to be simply good enough to be loved by the person who gave birth to her. But most of all I am different because I am this person who hates herself and yet has tried to hide that fact for so long.

I know other victims have suffered too and many who make this journey won’t see light at the end of it, they are worse off than me, but my feelings of hurt are real and I was messed up and failed. Failed not just at the time of the abuse, but in each and every opportunity that was missed to stop the nightmare I lived.

No matter how many times I am told how far I’ve come it doesn’t help, because no one knows the anguish I feel, no one knows what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with emotions and unable to show them. Yes I have every reason and right to be angry, I just can’t let that anger out now and it is eating me from the inside and yet I’m still to frightened to bare my soul and show those who want to help me now the true feelings I hold. I missed out on the opportunity in my psychology session to let it out, maybe one day I might be able to, maybe one day I’ll feel good enough, I guess only time will tell.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

 

 

Self harm and the attitudes of medical professionals

Self harm and the attitudes of medical professionals

 

self harm

This week I heard from a friend who had to attend her local hospital to receive treatment as a result of self harm and her treatment was unfortunately not very helpful. This led me to thinking about the times I either attended A & E or was taken there by the police for treatment, usually as a result of self harming or being deemed mentally unwell and requiring treatment.

It is nearly ten years since my first ever hospital admission, but for many months before I had hidden the self harm that was taking place. I tried hard to wear long sleeves to hide the cuts and dressings which I needed to stem bleeding etc. I was determined not to require anyone to know that I felt so desperate and confused that I could only survive by self harming. This was in the form of cuts, burns, starvation, restricting my fluid intake or overdoses, by the time I was admitted to hospital my self harm was a daily occurrence such was the turmoil I found myself in.

I hid my self harm from medical professionals, my family and my friends no one but me; I thought, knew I was living this life. I can recall going out for days with the children carrying implements in my bag ready to harm, and hibernating in bathrooms and cutting during these days out. I would feel myself getting so distressed during the day that I couldn’t survive any longer and so self harm took place. Yet once it was done and I felt a wave of release that I had punished myself which I felt I deserved I could then calmly walk back out and carry on with life.

I was confused to such an extent that I believed I needed to punish myself because that way I would be safe from others hurting me, and I was terrified that past abusers would come and hunt me down and hurt me. I even had a notion that because one of my abusers was my mother that I was bad as I had her blood inside me, thus if I bled enough I would rid myself of her badness.

Now all this time no one knew how much I was struggling, the GP knew I wasn’t too great but all they kept saying was ‘take time out and relax more’, and ‘all women go through these phases’.
They never asked if I felt suicidal or what scale my mood was, they did eventually arrange for me to see a doctor and thereafter just told me I was on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist. Yet in the meantime I was continually told to ‘hang in there’, occasionally they’d tell me things would improve.

Of course things just kept getting worse and when I attended the GP one day and I saw a different doctor who asked to test my blood pressure; because I looked like I was going to faint, he saw the wounds that by now littered my arms. Recent cuts had been deeper and the blood loss alongside starving myself wasn’t helping me feel any better. It was then that he made the call and I was suddenly being sent to the local psychiatric unit for assessment. At this time I realised my eldest child had sensed something was wrong and had suspected I was self injuring, but we had both said nothing until I was en-route to the unit.

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A & E staff from the start were slightly arrogant and mainly uncaring, if I had to attend as a result of cutting I lost count of the times I felt to blame by their attitude towards me. It was as if they weren’t best pleased to be treating me after all in their eyes I had self inflicted this injury upon myself, they never looked beyond the injury to the person. On only one occasion can I recall a doctor being helpful, he was actually concerned for me wanting to know why I hurt and was I getting help for my mental health. He treated me like a human being and not an attention seeking time waster which is what many other medical professionals seemed to treat me as.

The sad fact is the attitudes that I faced ten years ago still exist today, that means the medical profession has failed to learn about or understand self harming behaviours in a decade. That concerns me because I am aware of the efforts of so many different groups including government health organisations whose aim was to educate about self harm and improve outcomes for patients. A decade ago these organisation were trying to produce guidance to end the stigma that exists around those who self harm, if attitudes haven’t changed does that mean their efforts failed?

Self harm is not something we should ignore or take for granted for behind every scar, every injury there is human suffering. I didn’t harm for the fun of it and if I wanted to seek attention believe me I can think of lots of better ways of doing that. I wasn’t time wasting either, I was in acute emotional distress and I needed help. I couldn’t explain the anguish I was going through, the only way I could find to deal with the turmoil that was my life was to inflict injuries upon my own body.

Be that cutting, burning, overdosing or restricting the amount of food or fluids I took in, each act was either an attempt to deal with intense pain and turmoil, or the result of irrational thoughts. I wasn’t doing this because I enjoyed it, truth be known I hated myself for doing it, in fact I loathed my scars. The reality was I tried so desperately to avoid seeking medical attention as the last place I wanted to go to was A & E where I would be made to feel even more ashamed and be stigmatised.

Self harm controlled me a decade ago and at times of crisis it can still take control of my life today, it is sadly my default position when the pain is too much. Now when I lapse back into self harming I tend to injure in other ways in the hope it’s less visual, but it’s still harming all the same. Now I am not proud of the fact I self harm and I don’t want these feelings either, I would like to be free of self harm and yet I now understand it is a symptom of the life I lived as a child. A life which caused untold damage and will take a long time to deal with and heal from, my self harming is a symptom of my mental health not the cause.

The cause is my past and today I am having to face the harsh reality that I was betrayed, abused and psychologically damaged. Currently I am feeling emotions for the first time and I am starting to grieve over the fact I was hurt, I’m starting to come to terms with the dawning realisation that the horrific memories I hold and continue to recall don’t belong to my alters at all. They just carry my memories, and it was this body, it was me as a child and a teenager who the abusers defiled. Believe me that’s tough, it’s a harsh journey survivors walk there is a lot of pain and anguish that has to be processed and dealt with.

Perhaps when dealing with a person who is self harming instead of vilifying them and judging them medical professionals should remember to gently seek out the cause of this symptom. They should in my opinion treat those who self harm with the dignity, care and respect they so badly need, and they should afford them the right treatment to help them move forwards.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014