Crisis services – my experience 

I read about out of hours services today and it led to me to thinking about my experience with crisis services in the past. The first time I encountered a crisis team or out of hours service my experience wasn’t great they seemed to totally misconstrue me and failed to help or support in any way. I can recall one time when they visited me at home and having decided that I was safe leaving me there in a crisis and in chaos. I was suicidal and desperate and so clearly losing time and switching, but they didn’t see that they just me as inadequate, dysfunctional and a nuisance.

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They left me alone and still suicidal and so intent on dying that in desperation I tried to harm and then I dissociated, during which time I took off only to surface a few hours later some 60 plus miles from my home. I was picked up by the police for my own safety after they saw the distress that I was in and I was taken to a nearby hospital, they assessed me and admitted me to hospital.

Crisis at home had failed me, sadly it is often what happens, for me at least.
There was the occasion when I couldn’t live at home and had no where to go, I had been in hospital and discharged just a few days earlier but I had no place to stay. I had self harmed and the police had taken me for an assessment at the hospital, I sat waiting until the crisis team arrived and then they didn’t even talk to me except to give me a list of hostels. I hadn’t gone to hospital because I wanted a place to stay, I wanted to die, I had gone there by force and against my will and yet I was treated like I was a nuisance.

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Then on one occasion I was at home and struggling, crisis care was put in place and so for a couple of days they visited me. I saw a different person on each day, I never saw the same person twice and after a couple of visits I was put onto telephone calls only. The calls would be brief, wanting to know how I felt and then not really being able to offer any guidance or support really when I said how bad things were. By day four I was discharged from the crisis team to my regular mental health team, I wasn’t any better yet the crisis team support was only meant to be brief. I guess it didn’t matter that it didn’t work, or that discharge to me seemed too soon, too swift. Two days later I was seen by my community team and they admitted to hospital, I spent six months in hospital on that occasion, so crisis clearly couldn’t help prevent my downward spiral.

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The crisis team in recent times has just been telephone support, but if I’m honest I avoid calling them unless it’s absolutely dire. If Samaritans are not able to help and I’ve tried everyone else I can think of, then and only then will I call crisis, it is a last ditch attempt. The last two occasions have been pretty much the same really, I call, I say I’m struggling and they go through a list of techniques to try. ‘Take a warm bath, have a hot milky drink, try a nice walk or have you watched TV, tried to distract yourself?’ these are their usual lines.
They never assume I might have tried these things before, that I might have already thought of them myself. It never occurs to them that I don’t actually ring them when a crisis starts, or that they are usually the last person I try. It’s as if the staff manning these services are reading off a predetermined script and are unable to offer any person centred approach of any kind.

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The last time I called I was desperately trying not to self harm, struggling with grief and the difficulties of accepting my trauma. I needed some help to try and keep me safe, I didn’t want wrapping up in cotton wool I just needed some guidance to help me, help myself. Some advice to point me in the right direction to prevent that slide back into harming. I was desperate not to self harm, desperately busting a gut as I fought to resist the urges growing ever stronger. I had already tried all their suggestions before I even called them. In the end the only advice was have another drink, try some art maybe and call back if your struggling still.

About an hour later I did call back, this time I got a different person who initially went through all the same familiar suggestions. Then I heard another phone ringing and the nurse on the end of the line basically told me she was hanging up on me as there was another call and she couldn’t help me. In the end I stayed safe but only thanks to the support of those on social media and then later my family. The crisis team didn’t even inform my local community mental health team that I’d contacted them and was struggling, how is that joined up care.

The crisis service were and I believe are unable to offer any support or guidance that is of use to me, after all they don’t even know my diagnosis.

In the past decade my encounters with the crisis team of two separate hospital trusts have shown me that their understanding of dissociative disorders is limited. Their ability to assist and offer support is limited, in fact for me they are not there in a crisis because they can’t comprehend me or my diagnosis and without that they appear to be unable to help when I need them most.

In the future when I call, if I call, I will explain what I need which is usually someone to help me mentalize things, someone to just listen, to know my pain. I don’t need pointers like a bath or a drink I just need five minutes of their time and for them to hear me. From now on I aim to take control of my interactions with Crisis services and hopefully that will educate them as we go. Maybe this way they can help me when I need it most, only time will tell.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Feeling flat and unsettled

Last week I felt excited, I had had a day of little me’s playing and having fun and I had a whole new week to look forward to. Fast forward 7 days and I’m sitting here feeling flat and unsettled and I’m not really sure of why, it seems so unfair to suddenly find myself overawed by everything once again. I realise that I have had a busy week it’s been full of builders coming and going as they work on creating a safe space for me. There hasn’t been a spare moment really and at times I’ve felt like I’m juggling way too much and I’ve just wanted the world to stop so I could get off.

 

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But like I always do I’ve tried to push on, put on my fake smile and just keep going, but then that doesn’t seem to be as effective these days. My family seem able to see through this and my fake smile seems to wear off quicker these days too. My body starts to let me know when I’m struggling whether it’s aches and pains, upset stomach or painful headaches, it finds a way to communicate it’s unhappy.

Yesterday my plans to be at a training event were thrown into chaos as a headache overwhelmed and I just wasn’t able to keep going. Physically I felt drained but emotionally I was gone, I had nothing in reserve all I seemed able to do was cry. I conceded defeat, well more my family made me concede defeat and accept I needed to rest, I needed me time. I slept for most of the day struggling to stay awake and yet I was stunned by just how drained I really was.

In between the sleep I was thinking, thinking about why I felt so rough and why my mood was lower than usual. Having workmen in the house as been hard, it’s meant really early mornings and lots of intrusion, it’s been harder to just sit and relax. I haven’t found it easy to just sit and watch cartoons or do art, or many of the things that I’d normally do, I have been constantly aware of switching and worried more when I lost time.

On one day I couldn’t get out, I had to be in for the workmen and for a delivery, I found myself feeling restricted and couldn’t help feeling uneasy. All I could think about was not being able to go out, no fresh air or space either, I guess looking back I probably had ‘cabin fever’. It reminded me of days in hospital when there was no space, no place to hide from anyone and of being confined to the ward. I spent nearly six weeks at one point locked inside my secure unit, no fresh air or space or escape I hated those days and I realise that just one day of being stuck inside my own home made me feel back in that time.

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I also realised that I haven’t had time as much for me or my alters; the different parts of me and that I think has played a part. I have tried to give parts time, but if I’m honest I haven’t been as effective at doing so this last week. So today I have tried a little harder, I’ve watched cartoons, done a few hours of art and I’ve taken time out from home. Just knowing I can go out even if it is for a cup of tea at the local coffee shop somehow seems to lift my cabin fever feeling.

I’ve sat and worked through my diary, it’s still too busy whilst the building work continues but I have marked out a couple of days for me. Time when I can be just me, a person living with alters, a person living with Dissociative Identity Disorder, no fake smile, no hidden emotions. I’ve also restructured the next few weeks so they are less chaotic and more self caring, after all I hate this feeling of numbness, of emptiness, that I have currently hanging over me.

I do currently feel flat and unsettled, I know that won’t shift overnight but I can try and help myself to make this period less distressing. I can be honest and say sometimes life’s tough, sometimes it feels just too much and that at times I want the world to stop so I can get off. I am conscious there maybe an underlying issue that I need to resolve, some of which I can’t  post in a blog, but I am aware of it and that is a start. I have therapy this week and I hope I can try and discuss some of the issues that I’m aware of in the hope it helps. I need to be truthful about how I feel and truthful about my fears, I need to be honest about the reasons deep down that I think might be exacerbating my current mood.

Years ago when I felt like this, I’d give up and I mean give up, I’d succumb to harming and worse, but not now. Now it’s different, now I’m able to rationalise things a little better, understand why I feel like I do and I have the skills to at least attempt to help put things back on a even keel. I’m able to know that this is just a phase in my life, a period of time which might be a struggle but which will pass eventually. I also have access to services that can help sustain me through this period, people I can talk to and people who can help me help myself.

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Most of all I have a whole army of alters who hate me feeling like this and I know that they can in their own way help me too. Watching cartoons earlier with my little me’s gave me light hearted relief for a brief period, taking time to do art with my teen alter helped give me a sense of accomplishment. I guess I’m learning collaboration with my parts is beneficial for all of us, that we each have unique gifts and qualities that we bring to the mix. Yes it’s hard living with D.I.D but if I’m honest I can’t imagine being without my alters, they are all a part of me and together we make up the whole person called Carol.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Internal communication, dialogue and chit chat

There are days when it feels like my alters are far more evident, days when I don’t block them and instead listen away to the cacophony of voices filling my head. This past few days it’s really been noisy inside and I feel closer than ever to a few of my alters; the other parts of me. I thought I’d share some of what’s happening at the moment.

Following a few days of low mood and a lack of motivation out popped one of my littles, M was nervous about therapy which was scheduled for Monday. She was around first thing in the morning as we watched cartoons side by side, she was certainly in control but I didn’t lose time instead it was as if I sensed her feelings and watched my body from afar. My analogy of being side by side is that of driving a car, sometimes I am the driver of this body, other times the passenger in the back seat aware of what’s happening but oh so not in control. Being side by side means I’m in the back seat aware of events but not in control.

M is quite nervous and gentle in nature and she was bothered she had upset my therapist from the week before. So despite lots of reassurance and my therapist emailing to say he wasn’t annoyed or cross M was clearly nervous about our scheduled for that evening. When my therapist had to unexpectedly cancel our session it really worried her, she was distressed and all her worries from the week before came rushing back. Yet I knew logically it was just one of those things and well we’d be fine till next week, we have skills we can use now to help us. But M didn’t understand that and so my morning was spent reassuring her and giving her time and attention, I knew communicating with her was helping as we now have two way dialogue and so she was talking back to me. Giving M time really helped settle her worries and that in turn helped me, I gain a better perspective on situations sometimes as a result of trying to explain something to one of my alters.

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Tuesday morning was L’s turn, initially I thought of her as a precocious little alter a bit cheeky and quite confident, but I realise the more I get to know her she’s not like that at all. Yes she appears to be quite confident but deep down she’s nervous and scared, she is fearful at times and worries a lot. She and I enjoyed chatting on Tuesday and as always she asked lots of questions, it’s clear she likes to know what’s going on and I think I can understand why as fear is a big issue for her. Watching cartoons with a little alter like L or M, sensing their excitement and hearing their giggles is an odd feeling to get use to, but it also brings a new joy. For I am learning to have fun, to switch off from the humdrum of day to day life and see the little things in life that really matter. L likes having time and she is getting better at sharing time with me and other alters, she is also one of my alters who likes to cook and so our chat on Tuesday was all about our next adventure in the kitchen and what could we make. We sat and watched a children cookery programme together and that graves us some ideas for our next adventure together.

Of course I don’t just hear one alter everyday, it’s not that easy or straight forward, I can be in dialogue with a number of alters at once, and will hear, feel or sense many of them each day. Yet the constant noise in my head, the rush of emotions and feelings that I encounter seem at times to be just normal now after all this is my life, my life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I am slowly realising that understanding my condition is helping, it’s helping me to accept who I am. With acceptance of course comes less denial and that’s meant less blocking of the alters, so a little less losing time and a little bit less chaos at the moment.

On Tuesday afternoon I gave up my time, my control of this body and allowed my teen alter to take the reins. For me that means not blocking my alter, getting out the art equipment and just allowing her the chance to be herself. The creative art she accomplished in the space of a couple of hours was wonderful, and I felt so relaxed when I finally came back to the fore. My teen was more settled too and that’s helped with our ongoing work of trying to get to know her better. It was a real achievement today to actually have a dialogue with her, we still use ideomotor signals to converse and yet I am getting better at asking yes/no questions more naturally. Sensing her emotions is less frightening now than it was just a few months ago and the frequency of her overwhelming me has lessened. Some of that’s down to being able to converse with her when I sense her struggling and that calms her down, helping both of us.

 

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I know if you read this blog and haven’t got D.I.D you might think internal dialogue or chit chat is odd, you may well be sceptical of ideomotor signalling, I know I was when we first began using it. But talking internally and starting to get to know the other parts of me is helping, I may not be the best person to explain it, I may not fully understand why it helps but I know it does.

I’m someone who likes to logically rationalise and understand things, but there are times when I realise that all the matters is does something help, does it work. Trying to build a relationship, a rapport with the alters is helping and hopefully it will help me into the future as we progress through trauma work. But all of this takes time, time and effort, I know that it’s not easy and I mess up a lot and it can feel like I’m taking 2 steps forward and then 1 step back every time. It’s hard work and there are days when I wish others could understand what life is really like, the constant juggling of competing demands, the ever changing emotions as my mood speeds from high to low and back again. I can feel low in a morning, overly excited in the afternoon, fly to the land of confusion and mixed emotions at tea time and then be in utter despair by night time. My different parts all have different feelings, different likes, different needs and yet they are all a part of me, so I feel all these different feelings. I’m often asked which alter are you now and my answer often is I don’t know who I am, and that is how it feels some days. But right now my daily aim is not to block the alters out, it’s to accept and understand them, it’s to realise that internal chit chat is actually a good thing, it is ok.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Back to Reality

Well my vacation has finally come to an end, it was a good opportunity to understand my alters better and to be myself, whoever that me might be. Yet it was challenging at times too especially when I became overwhelmed emotionally and descended into floods of tears. One of the things I have realised these past 12 days is that my threshold for dealing with somethings is less than I would like.

So when the theme parks were busy I panicked and felt desperate to escape, sometimes we did have to leave early or head to another activity just to avert mass meltdown. The same happened when my outward flight was delayed and I felt like I couldn’t face a second day of the airport, on this occasion melt down did happen, floods of tears and anxiety levels off the scale. It was at these times that I would disappear, lose time and dissociate, my means of escape I guess from things I cannot deal with.

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It’s hard to comprehend that I still naturally dissociate when things become too much for me, my inbuilt mechanism is to hide. My window of tolerance isn’t great and so my brain instantly kicks into overdrive and the fight or flight response kicks in. In my case their isn’t much fight, no I take flight and dissociate unable to deal with things that I guess for most people are manageable.

I’m also aware that whilst there have been many moments of co-awareness during my time away; times when I may not be in control of this body of mine or my speech or reactions I am at least aware of what the other parts of me are doing, there have been periods of lost time. My daughter tells me that I have switched quite considerably at points and sometimes it has been hard for her to keep track of which part of me is out.

I know that I have found it hard at times just to know who I am, to understand which alter, which part of me is in control. I know that it’s not me but even then I can’t say which part of me is most strong, most in control and I find this frustrating as it’s something I feel I ought to know. Perhaps I’m being a little hard on myself setting expectations that are just not possible to meet at this moment in time, but it still feels frustrating.

 

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Over the past 12 days I have been very aware of certain alters who have been more prominent and the time away has given me a chance to get to understand these parts better. There are a couple of little parts who clearly have enjoyed the characters we met and rides we went on, but I’m also aware of their fears too. They clearly feel uncomfortable having fun, they stress over getting things wrong and they worry there will be a price to pay for them enjoying themselves. I’ve spent so much time trying to reassure them and can only hope they see that today there aren’t consequences like in the past. I now know my teen alter is terrified of the dark and I do mean terrified, yet I have found reassuring her at these moments has helped. I’m even more aware now that she has an artistic nature, it’s been a joy to be co-aware whilst she has looked at the designs and textures all around her.

Now though we return back to normality, back to everyday life and I am nervous of how that will go, will it feel overwhelming like the last time I went away. I’m worried I won’t be able to be myself, to give all the different parts of me time in the way I have been able whilst we have been away. I’m concerned I will block my alters once again which I know isn’t a good thing to do. I guess only time will tell and my main job now is to keep moving forwards and to keep trying to work with my alters.

Today as I land back in the UK I am grateful I have a therapy appointment this evening, as this will give me an opportunity to talk through some of my concerns and fears. In fact I’ve never been more glad of a therapy appointment there is so much I want to discuss, things I need help rationalising. Hopefully jet lag won’t prevent me from being there or from being an active participant in the session, here’s hoping.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

On Vacation with my Alters

 

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I thought I’d share a little of what it’s like vacationing with alters, after all holidays are different and I guess more challenging as well. You see I am trying to entertain not just me the adult but my alters; the other parts of me too and that includes child and teenage parts, who all have differing likes and dislikes. My family tell me that going on holiday with me is a bit like taking a coach load of people on a trip, we are forever changing what we’d like to do and well you can’t please all of me at the same time.

For me it can be both interesting and challenging as I switch from one alter to another, and well my head is full of chaos and noise at times. There have been moments when I have felt overwhelmed by the competing demands and others were it’s felt just right. I think I am slowly learning to not be so hard on myself and to accept that at times I will get things wrong, but what’s important is I tried and that’s a start.

This past week I have found myself hugging characters with a glee and excitement that is surreal, as little parts of me take control. We have been on a flying elephant ride ‘Dumbo’ and gone in search of ‘Finding Nemo’ as well as watched Mickey and Minnie and Co dance around. Yet I have also found myself at the Space Center lunching with an astronaut and paddling in the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean. My teen has enjoyed the two art shops we ventured too, she certainly hurt my purse but I know she was happy and that’s what’s important.

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My packing for this trip was done by adult me, as I have taken a bit of a back seat this week much of that packing hasn’t been worn, my younger parts have totally different dress sense to me. My eating habits have also been erratic as different parts of me seem to like different foods, some parts are fearful of food so that’s made life awkward. In one restaurant we went to the younger guests were being encouraged to dance around on hobby horses in a parade, there was a strong desire from young parts of me to join in though it would have looked a bit odd to say the least. Thankfully my daughter managed to distract those parts with gooey pudding and my dignity remained intact.

Different alters like different activities, and sometimes what one likes another is fearful of and this can lead to feelings of fear gripping me mid way through an activity. I have spent so much time internally communicating that I feel as if I have neglected my daughter, who at times I am just too busy to talk to. Of course I’m not silent there is communication going on it’s just internally and others can’t see or ear that internal dialogue.

Taking a trip away is complicated, but it’s also good too and so far despite the odd meltdown moment we are surviving. I guess you could say we are doing better than surviving, I am letting go off control and giving over control of this body I share with my alters to the alters at times. I have been surprised by the amount of co-awareness that I have had during this vacation, it’s a positive sign things are slowly improving. I have established some key triggers so am now able to plan ahead and work around these more which is helpful. I’m also conscious of the needs of certain alters and by offering reassurance found that this has helped, it has certainly given my teen alter more opportunities to learn things are safer today; than in the past where she still thinks and feels she lives.

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I’m learning to have fun as well, paddling on the beach was my chance to experience an activity that until last Summer I wouldn’t dare undertake. I’m realising too that it’s ok to smile and laugh at silly things, that I don’t have to be serious all the time and I’m more aware of my own feelings. Most of all though I’m realising that the past doesn’t have to dictate the future, I can retrain my brain to think differently and to react to triggers differently. I’m also aware I have feelings for my alters yes I actually care about them, I guess that’s a sign of me nurturing myself and valuing myself. I guess overall I’m aware that despite my past, despite my Dissociative Identity Disorder life is safe today, I don’t need to let the fears ingrained in me as a child control today.

I’m off now to create some more memories, good ones that will last a lifetime and make me smile and laugh.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015