‘Dear Mother’ – a daughters hurt and anguish

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This blog post may be difficult to read please exercise self care at this time.

This blog post is written to someone who will not read it, it is a heartfelt letter to the person who caused me so much pain. This outpouring of feelings is I believe a necessary part of my moving forwards, in this time of grieve and hurt as I come to terms with the past. As a victim I was robbed of so much and slowly realising just how much, is both hard and gut wrenchingly painful. This letter to the person who in life was known as my mother is my way of processing some of that pain.

 

Dear Mother

I’m unsure if you deserve that title anymore you never earned it, in truth I can think of a million other names I’d like to use but none of them are polite.

You see you never seemed to realise the damage that you did to me, the pain and scars you left behind or the suffering you inflicted. You didn’t comprehend just how each moment of my childhood was robbed by you and the damage has lasted all of my life. Not only did you take away my innocence, you and the people you allowed to hurt me destroyed my very being.

I never realised until this week just how much damage you did to me, I knew you’d hurt me, abused me, but well what you did was more than that. You took away my self believe, destroyed my right to have fun, even ruined my ability to enjoy simple pleasures and you left me fragmented and scared physically and emotionally.

You twisted my thinking patterns to such an extent that even today I can’t stop those automatic negative thought processes and I probably never will. You made me feel worthless and you left me wanting to die, such was my pain and anguish. The sad fact is I still feel judged and there are times when I feel nothing more than worthless, someone who is only fit to be used, hurt, betrayed and abused.

I guess I will always feel like the commodity I was to you, I still see the things I was worth to you when I close my eyes some nights, do you remember that Hoover, the washing matching, even the cash your friends gave you in return for time with me. I wake up at night sometimes, sweating and in terror as if it’s all happening again and yet I know it’s 2014 and these things are in the past yet they feel very real to me in that moment.

Do you really comprehend the feelings I hold, the lack of self worth I hold, I am always putting myself down just like you did to me on a daily basis. It’s as if I’m doing your work for you now, I’m the one who inflicts pain when I self harm, the one who punishes myself for mistakes and the one who starves herself because I don’t feel worthy to eat.

The damage you and your friends did wasn’t just skin deep, it didn’t just last that few moments of an incident, it’s lasted nearly half a century and I didn’t deserve that, I didn’t deserve any of these things. I wanted a childhood like everyone else, I wanted a mum who loved me and didn’t hate me and I wanted to laugh and play, to have fun. I wanted to feel safe and secure and I desperately wanted stability in my life but you didn’t give that to me.

Instead you betrayed me, sold me and abused me, you hurt me in every way you could and you left me bruised and emotionally scarred. I didn’t have a childhood to draw on when I raised my children and so I wasn’t the best mum in the world but I tried and they learnt to laugh and play, to feel loved and accepted, they were secure and safe. It wasn’t easy and we were blessed with help from others to fill in the gaps were I fell down, people who played with them instinctively, who took then on a beach and paddling. People who I am Indebted to for giving my children the things I couldn’t give them, because of what you did to me.

The hard things I’m facing aren’t just the memories or the hurt it’s the basic rudiments of life like how to have fun and accept that I can enjoy myself, that it’s allowed. It’s the constant challenge of refuting my own self critical comments, telling myself I have a worth and I am good. You see I’m trying to learn that I’m not silly or stupid or a thousand other things I label myself on a daily basis.

It’s the reality of what I have lost out on, missed out on, I paddled this week at the seaside and it’s the first time and I’m over 48, I should have done that as a child not now. I did it with a smile and laughing, it felt odd but boy was is good too. Yet it hurt also because I have avoided ever doing it with my children, I didn’t think I was allowed….that is your doing! You made me this person who can’t have fun, can’t participate in fun, doesn’t feel worthy of fun, who finds play and larking about strangely odd and awkward.

I’ve been making a list of the things you robbed from me in the hope I can at least do it now, things like having a picnic sat on the grass, throwing a frisbee, paddling a bit more, playing in the sea, going crabbing, and making snow angels. I hope that in time I can achieve all of these and so much more, but right now I’m hurting and I guess I’m grieving for what I’ve lost.

If I’m honest life feels so unfair and it hurts so much, I want to heal and move forward but progress is going to hurt and that seems so damn unfair too. I am angry that I missed out on so much and I’m angry that you screwed my head up so much. I’m angry because I just wanted a mum and instead I got you and you didn’t deserve to be a mum.

I’m angry with myself too, that I allowed you to ruin so much of my life and I’m angry that when you were still alive I just wrote to you and I didn’t have the guts to knock on your door, face you and demand answers. I know I told you what I thought and felt about you in my letter but I had so much more I could and wanted to say, I had so many questions the biggest being Why?
Why did you hate me, do this to me, what did I do wrong, why did you betray me and rob me of my innocence, my childhood and damage all these years since.

I know it’s too late for answers, and I know that this week I have had to stop myself from getting too angry with you. If you were still here and alive I know I’d have hit you, and you would have deserved it. I have had thoughts of standing in a very public place and shouting your name and saying what you were like, reading out a list of charges and declaring you guilty. But I know that would not solve anything and it wouldn’t help me move forwards either.

So instead you get this letter in my blog which you won’t ever read, but I feel better for writing. Yes I’m crying and I have right to cry and to grieve for all that happened, for all that I was robbed of, and for all that I have lost out on. I have a right to hurt and I have a right to have a future too, it may take me some time but one day I will leave my past behind and I will be the person who you tried so desperately to prevent me from being. Someone who laughs, has fun, self belief and self worth, someone who can achieve so much more in this life and who one day will look back and see just how far they have come.

Carol

Tears of Denial -Dissociative Identity Disorder

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Trigger warning : some people may find this post triggering please exercise self care. 

This last week in my therapy session I actually felt like I was being me, I allowed myself to be honest and say how I really believed the week had gone. I was able to say that I had messed up, not given time to the alters and how that made me feel. It was a really important session because I was able to cry my own tears, not the feelings of one of my alters, but my own hurt and pain came tumbling out.

Now I am known to be good at tears, well a part of me is as she finds it hard not to cry and yet I find feelings weird and odd, so I tend to hide away my feelings and I certainly want to mask my tears and hurt if I can. Therefore crying out my frustration and hurt wasn’t something I’d normally do and yet here I was sat in a room sobbing.

Therapy often surprises me, and this week wasn’t any exception to that rule I realised so much about me and my thinking that I hadn’t really considered. I wasn’t just messing up I was frustrated and I was ignoring my alters and why, because I didn’t want to accept the past. I ended up saying ‘it wasn’t fair’ as I talked and cried about my need for psychiatric medication and the words really resonated with me as soon as I said them, I knew they were important.

It wasn’t and still isn’t fair that I need to take medication, it started when I was young they were prescribed to help me cope. It’s taking me time to come off these meds and despite my best efforts it’s not been an easy journey. But that wasn’t the only not fair going through my mind even if I wasn’t quite being so open about it, my psychologist seemed to get that.

My childhood wasn’t fair, the fact things happened wasn’t fair, the way I’m still allowing someone who is no longer here control my behaviours isn’t fair. I kind of let out some of that pent up frustration in my tears and we rationalised things a bit too with the help of my psychologist. I needed to rationalise things it was something I really had to do, to refocus my mind and get myself back on track. Many of the ‘it wasn’t fair’ pointers relate to the past and that’s my biggest issue the past and my desire still to at times deny it’s existence.

I’m sure that I’m not the only person with Dissociative Identity Disorder who wants to deny their past, it’s easy to try and convince yourself that the alters were hurt not you. That if they didn’t exist it would all go away, not just the D.I.D but the past, the truth about the past.

You see I feel there are times when I would rather be mad, than have been abused. Times when I don’t want to accept that the people who were meant to love me, like my mum, didn’t give a toss about me except what I could give her. I wasn’t a daughter to her just an object she could control, hurt and give to her friends to entertain their perverse tendencies. I was someone who she got a lot from, but she gave nothing back too and that’s what I’m finding hard to deal with.

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Denial is the glue in dissociation, I mean I dissociated to avoid the pain of incidents that as a child I couldn’t cope with or face, I wanted to deny. The truth being without dissociating I doubt I’d be here, it would have been far to much for a child to cope with. But dissociating led me to deny the reality of my existence and that’s making it hard to take on board that pain and hurt of those times.

I can accept my mum was an awful parent, a bully and controlling and yet it’s harder to accept what I know is true, that she abused me. It’s somehow too hard to take on board without a fight.

I realised after my session that I still blame me which I know is ridiculous, I couldn’t stop what happened and I could not have changed any of it. Yet I feel guilty, I want it to not have happened so much, maybe I’d quite like to override history and change it. If it only it was that easy, we all know that it isn’t but I’m sure many victims have tried.

The sad fact is the past controls me today, my thinking patterns are skewed by the way I was raised and parented by her. I may not be able to change all of those thinking patterns, but I can learn ways to change how I respond to them. But like most things that’s going to take time, and I guess I get exasperated at the years I have wasted already never mind how much longer will it all take.

I’m having to learn to be patient, to understand therapy is hard, that healing hurts and accepting the past means grieving and significant amounts of pain. Last weekend I ignored my alters because I desperately wanted to deny my past, but that’s so unfair on them.

You see I really care for my alters, they are a part of me and I really want to get to know them and understand them. Yet I so wish my past hadn’t happened, so wish I had had a mum who cared, so wish I hadn’t been hurt in the ways I was. But the other parts of me didn’t ask for any of this either, and me ignoring them isn’t going to help any of us.

That’s why this week I’m trying to rebuild bridges and get back into the practise of giving them time and acknowledging them. I need to redress some of the things I did wrong, I need to try and do this at times difficult juggling act, to ensure I can meet our needs. There will be periods when I get it wrong, mess up again even, there will also be times I struggle with denial.

Yet it’s ok if that happens, what matters most I think is that I learn to understand me and my thinking traits and I learn to understand denial is just a part of this journey. None of what happened to me was right and I can’t just erase it, or change it but I can change how I am today and in the future.

That’s why I need to give time to the other parts of me, hence why I’m on a journey of learning to juggle the demands of many. If that means methodically stopping every so often and thinking ‘alters’ need care and time then so be it, eventually it will become more natural and instinctive. Till then my alarm will help nudge me into remembering and giving the other parts of me time.

 

copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

 

 

The Roller-Coaster Journey of Discovering my Emotions

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The past week has felt particularly difficult, I have found sleep hard to come by and I have found myself doubting my own abilities to stay safe. The fact is like many survivors of abuse I struggle on a daily basis to cope with the damage my past has caused. It’s often like a roller-coaster ride sometimes it feels as if we are making progress then suddenly we get hit by what feels like a downward spiral.

In the last few weeks it’s felt a bit like we are on a downward spiral, the flashbacks I wrote about the other week have really hit me. It has made my sleep more difficult and it’s also led to me thinking and ruminating about my past and myself. I have found myself struggling to not resort to self harm, or laden myself with guilt and shame, one of my negative default positions. The reality is of course it isn’t easy when your struggling and yet I am trying to take from this any positives I can and there are positives, let me explain.

Over the past year I have been slowly reducing my benzodiazepines and in the last few weeks with the reduction in that medication and helpful techniques from psychology – I am feeling. Feeling for what feels like the first time, I now sense some of the feelings that other parts of me carry. Those feelings are currently mostly negative, so I sense deep sorrow, hurt and pain leading to me crying without warning. Crying that is often uncontrollable and for which I still have limited understanding as to why. I sense the hurt of a part of me whom until recently I didn’t even know and I know that is progress on my healing journey yet it is still hard to deal with.

I have also found that my vulnerable part has been more evident too and her default is to cry, be anxious and stressed, so I am currently going through plenty of tissues. Feelings are strange things they seem to have more strength than I ever realised. Perhaps that’s because I am feeling for the first time instead of being an automated, robotic person where I box all emotions away.

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The flashbacks have led to me having difficulty sleeping so the past few nights my sleep has not been great part or parts of me have tried to keep us awake, I don’t know why they just have and they are quite good at doing that. I haven’t slept before 2am at the earliest and the worst night was a 5.15am bedtime!

In sheer desperation the other night I plucked up the courage to call the crisis team, normally I avoid them at all costs. Yet I was hurting so much that I knew it was a battle to stay safe and I was really losing that battle. The care plan I have allows me to call them out of hours, so I tried only to find that the number I had on my care plan no longer worked. I couldn’t access crisis support it felt horrendous and I became angry and even more distressed, it was awful. I ended up calling my poor family at nearing 4am begging for some help I felt so confused and distressed. They were great, very understanding and supportive even if I had just disrupted their sleep. With their help we were able to keep me safe till morning when I was able to fall asleep. My family thankfully have ensured I now have the correct number to call the crisis team on so in the future I can hopefully access the planned support from crisis.

Having attempted to call the crisis team once, I now think I will feel more able to call them before we hit the point we did in the last few days, I have said to myself that if I am still awake by 2.30am and feeling how I did the other night I should call them then instead of waiting till 4am. You see I now recognise that on this journey of healing I may well need more help at times and if I do it’s ok to ask. One day I will have the skills to stabilise myself and then I may not need their help but I guess in recent days I’ve seen my own limitations.

The flashbacks opened up a huge wound, before as a non-feeling human I tended to box away the emotions attached to these memories, somehow acknowledging logically the past I have lived and yet not taking the feelings or emotions that go along with that. Yes there were feelings and pain but I’d box it away, dissociate and not take that pain myself. I’m sure now that pain went somewhere possibly to the part of me that I’m now learning to feel or somehow it’s just boxed away deep within. Now I am feeling it’s much harder to box it away and therefore I have had face the raw pain that goes along with being a victim of abuse.

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My psychologist has been really helpful and understanding, he is helping me to accept feelings are ok and that hurting is ok too. He has tried to explain to me how I have boxed these things away and that I need to unpack them but only when I am strong enough. In other words when I have the skills to keep me; all of me, stabilised and safe then and only then can we unpack these boxes and the memories they hold.

He has also helped me to comprehend that this isn’t new knowledge that I have been abused, but my default position before allowed me to detach the human feelings that co-exist with that knowledge. Hence why I have at least one part who is carrying so much hurt and sorrow, that part of me hasn’t been able to share with me before just how much she is hurting. What I mean is I never felt it I just lost time and she took over and showed the rest of the world, yet I never knew what she did I just felt frustrated I had lost time. Now I’m feeling her anguish and though I can’t control her actions, her tears, I don’t dissociate and disappear that’s progress.

Perhaps for the first time in my life I am experiencing the rawness of anguish, the hurt that goes alongside each memory that either I or a part of me holds. It’s a tough realisation and in truth it’s been a wake up call, no one ever said this journey of recovery would hurt in this way. But I have to try and focus on the fact that hurting is a natural response to what we have endured and actually a positive sign we are moving forwards, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

I’m slowly coming to accept that I am most probably grieving, grieving for the past I wanted and didn’t get, grieving because of the hurt and anguish which I now feel. Not just logically thinking I was abused and I happen to have Dissociative Identity Disorder as a result but now feeling all the emotions that come with that abuse. Grieving as a victim who desperately wishes she hadn’t been abused whilst feeling the anger, the hurt, the distress and the fear and so much more too.  People say there is a grieving process and I’ve no idea how far into that process I am, I hope this is progress,  I so need this torturous pain to be for something good.

 

Copyright DID Dispatches. 2014

 

 

Denial and scepticism of Dissociative Disorders – feeling like a commodity

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Being  a victim of abuse has had many challenging implications on my life, Dissociative identity disorder is obviously the main one, however there are of course other psychological impacts of trauma which I still carry today.  This week I encountered one head on in an unexpected situation and it has been a difficult time trying to grasp the reasons why I felt so distressed over someones rather insensitive comments.

I had cause to visit my GP this week and during the appointment issues were raised about my new Therapy, the Doctors main focus was upon what was the cost, and who was paying. There were also clear evidence of his lack of understanding of  dissociative identity disorder and how it impacts my life., this isn’t an uncommon situation for many healthcare professionals seem unable to accept the disorder.

I was frustrated at the time and even a little angry but I didn’t expect  the reaction it caused within a short while of being back home I realised I was feeling switichy and agitated, the next minute I was aware I had erupted in a manner I wish I hadn’t; taking out my frustration on those around me.  I then proceeded to get very upset at the fact I had reacted badly and also I was feeling  deep sadness at being misunderstood once again.

Even before I was diagnosed with D.I.D I came across the barrier of labels and the closed mindedness of many healthcare professionals.  Psychiatry is clearly a system weighted against the patient and in favour of clinicians, its also very much a ‘them and us’ environment.  As a patient with mental health issues you are not always treated with respect, and yet everyone expects you to give them respect.

During the period running up to my diagnosis, I encountered a different type of attitude  – that of scepticism, my initial doctor telling me that D.I.D wasn’t real even though many of her colleagues had said they believed I had a dissociative disorder. There followed a period of much debate amongst the professionals as to the legitimacy of the diagnosis and since then despite having a number of medical professionals,  including psychiatrists, forensic psychiatrists and clinical psychologists assess me as having D.I.D I have encountered on a fairly frequent basis the same lack of understanding and scepticism. I often wonder if the medical profession question physical diagnoses made by equally competent doctors as readily as they seem willing to question mental health diagnoses.

Much of this lack of understanding stems from a lack of knowledge, Dissociative Identity Disorder isn’t one of the key subjects taught in med school, even those doing psychology at University might never be told of Dissociation and/or D.I.D. So expecting my General practitioner to know about it is I guess asking quite a lot, after all GP’s get little enough teaching on mental-health.

But for me as a person with D.I.D it is actually quite hurtful when people question my diagnosis, because I know the impact this has on my life, I know being a multiple isn’t easy nor is it something I can just take a pill for in order to be fine. I have to work hard in long-term therapy to have any chance of understanding myself, my alters, my past and for any chance of moving forwards.

Having the diagnosis dismissed feels like you are being denied, for me at least it feels like my parts, my alters are being ignored and their very existence denied. I am only just coming to terms with my alters, acknowledging that they are a part of me and yet I felt angry for them when I felt they were being denied. I realise now I was being protective of them and that is a good thing because its time I learnt to accept them and if I can’t fight for them, who can.

So the GP’s comments showing a lack of understanding and awareness had made me upset, frustrated and a little annoyed, all of which I could comprehend, but as the day wore on  the sadness inside of me just wouldn’t shift .With my Therapy time fast approaching I began to find myself more and more conscious of why I felt so unhappy and it wasn’t so easy to admit. The GP’s random insensitive comments related to funding had made me feel worthless and treated like a commodity.

I am sure many victim will have at times felt worthless and being put down or misunderstood well  it reminds you of the feelings you held as a child,  I felt worthless back then too. As a child I also grew up feeling unloved and unwanted, but most of all parts of me the alters that took my pain when I dissociated they felt like a commodity, to be used and hurt by others. The feelings aroused by the funding questions had made me feel like I was being viewed as a commodity again and that was the main distressing factor.

With help I was able to express how I felt and I was able to let out some of the pain of the past, crying not just for now but for then too, it was helpful to acknowledge I had felt protective of my alters as well when I felt they were being denied. I don’t feel angry towards my GP indeed I am keen to ensure he and those like him are educated, for it is only through awareness that people like him will grow to accept, understand and recognise Dissociative Disorders, and that has got to be good for everyone, not just me but those fellow multiples who come after me.

If you have experienced similar scepticism of a dissociative disorder from within the medical profession, feel free to share your experiences by commenting on this blog.

COPYRIGHT: DID Dispatches 2014

Fearing my Care Coordinator

Fearing my Care Coordinator

In 2 days time I face meeting my Care Coordinator for the first time this year, I am somewhat reluctant if truth be known as it seems like forever since I last met him even though in reality it is about a month. I am concerned because when I spoke to him last week; he had to rearrange our appointment, he was asking lots of questions about my therapy. I have been seeing my new therapist since the middle of November  and things are going well but I view that what happens in therapy stays in therapy and it’s not really up for discussion with anyone else in my Care team.

I can foresee issues with the care coordinator whose knowledge of D.I.D is to say least limited, how do I explain my progress, which for me is vast and great and yet I know to him will be perplexing and seem slow, it’s not what he will want. I currently have some support in my daily life, so the Clinical Commissioning group fund the help I receive as part of a Section 117 after care package.  For those that don’t understand the Mental Health Act let me explain, when someone has been detained under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act they become eligible for Section 117 aftercare once they are released from hospital as long as their care needs remain.

In my case I was eligible for Section 117 aftercare, I am no longer on any section that detains me or takes away my liberty, but the aftercare has enabled me to leave hospital and live in the least restrictive environment with the support I have needed, I guess its similar to the care in the community concept and its less expensive. Now over the last few years that care has changed and reduced which is a positive sign of me understanding my D.I.D and also regaining some of the skills I lost as a result of being institutionalised by the hospital admissions. It is also as a result of my family agreeing to help me in times of crisis instead of me having to rely on individuals I didn’t really know.

Now I currently have 2 great PA’s, they are people my family and I chose who have had training in Dissociative disorders and who really empower me, support me and help me to live as best we can in the community. Now not everyone with D.I.D needs this kind of help, but I do and that is I guess partly down to  my dissociative identity disorder and partly the fact my childhood didn’t allow me to learn the life skills that others take for granted.

But my care co-ordinator is pushing for cuts, cuts in funding and services, he would like me to reduce even further the level of support we currently have, now I have given them over a 50% reduction in my care provision without any requests from them, when I have felt we could mange with less we have been the first to offer the reduction and of course the cost saving. But for the first time the care co-ordinator is suggesting more cuts and he seems to think that therapy will bring this about in super quick time. I only wish it could, but I am realising what I can and can’t do, the skills I have and  those I lack. Now I know people will think well just learn those skills, but it really isn’t that easy, many of these are linked to thinking patterns and thought processes that I have lived with and perhaps under for over 40 years. It’s not so simple to just learn, if it was don’t you think I would have done by now.

I lack skills in lots of areas, and sometimes its hard for people to comprehend, they see me as a mother and therefore well I must have done x,y and z, but the reality is my children’s upbringing is mostly not down to me their mother, but the fact that certain people have been so instrumental in helping them to develop and grow into the well-adjusted adults they are today. Their Dad, their Grandpa and Nanna have all helped them become who they are, to have a normal child hood, and to thankfully learn the skills that I their mother lack.

Now without my PA’s I would flounder and be lost, I’d go backwards and would soon end up back in the spiral of the revolving door of mental health admissions and crisis after crisis. I really don’t want that, nor do I want to cost anyone more than I have too, but my Care co-ordinator seems to think that therapy will be this panacea of solutions and be able to move me forwards at a rate of knots. I know he will ask how is therapy going, and I will say its going well, because in my opinion it is, just it won’t be getting him what he wants… he isn’t really bothered about me learning internal dialogue, or feelings. He isn’t bothered about me having more awareness of  D.I.D or of myself in fact all he wants is for me to be needing less care, less support and at a super quick time.

Truth be known I feel trapped, trapped between wanting to please him which is a default position and wanting to know my alters, understanding the parts of me and learning to work together with them instead of conflicting with each other. I fear going backwards and I fear being misunderstood and judged which happened so much in my childhood and into my adulthood. People assume that when you are abused as a child it ends as a child, but because my main abuser was my mother who I still had contact with until less than 8 years ago my abuse well the psychological and emotional abuse it carried on past my 40th birthday.

I have to change patterns of behaving, thinking and submitting formed over  40 years, not just a childhood. I have to stop telling myself I am stupid when I cry like  am now writing this and I have to learn that I have a value that isn’t about being abused, used or judged. I have to learn to trust people, trust them and know that I am safe for I live my life in this state of hyper-vigilance day in and day out.

Yes I can write a blog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle or have issues, it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t awake till gone 3 am this morning, that I didn’t have a crisis moment at midnight yesterday when I felt one of my alters who emotions are of fear, dread and a low mood I’d place as being in the pit of depression. I want to feel her, and I want her to know its ok to be there she is after all a part of me, but that doesn’t mean its easy.

I am dreading seeing my care co-ordinator because he sees me as the adult we are, but he doesn’t see whats going on inside our head, how we feel or how we function. Because he doesn’t understand D.I.D he doesn’t comprehend the complexities of our life, he isn’t open to dialogue about it. He just wants a budget saving and to hell with the human cost to me, my system of  alters, my family or the impact on our progress long-term in both therapy and daily living.

Perhaps he needs to go on a course about D.I.D, or to spend a few days working with me, instead of one the PA’s maybe then he might understand what its like to be me. this mess of a multiple who suffers the impact of the abuse I endured far longer than many would have ever imagined.

Helpful techniques to live with a Dissociative Disorder

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Since I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder I have learnt so much about myself, I have come to realise that I am much stronger than I ever dare to imagine. I am no longer a victim but a survivor and I intend to keep it that way, life is after all for living, seizing each and every opportunity to move forwards, have fun and enjoy.

When I was diagnosed I couldn’t deal with all the difficulties of losing time, confusion and switching ,never mind the memories and flashbacks it felt like this was all an impossibility and I really couldn’t see a way forward. But over time I have learnt that there are helpful techniques that I can use to ease the chaos that is more often than not my life, and by using these it isn’t quite so chaotic as it once was.

I tried journalling my thoughts in the hope it would enable communication between the differing alters, but for me that just didn’t work. I am still not sure if I ever will have any form of real co-consciousness, but I have learnt that if I make small manageable changes to each and every day then things can be easier to manage.

I thought it might help people if I shared some of the things I have found along the way that are helpful, now these may not work for everyone but they do for us.

Self care

Self care is critical, I have come to understand that I need to take time for me, time to just be who I am. I try to manage my diary so that I make sure it isn’t too pressured and that activities, appointments and meetings etc. are spread out equally across the week. I ensure there are times each day when I can stop and relax, whether that be going for a coffee with a friend or listening to music at home. Its important to ensure that I look after me.

That means sleep and diet are important too and even if they aren’t my best qualities, I need to try and ensure when I am me, that we eat sensibly and try and sleep well. This isn’t always easy, many of my alters find food difficult and sleep is something that for some is just too scary, but we try the best we can.

We have to take a number of medications for both physical and mental health issues too, and one  problem we have encountered is that we often forget to take our medication, mainly because of switching. However we have found setting an alarm on our phone sometimes helps to remind us and also using a daily medication box means I can easily tell if and when we have forgotten them.

Giving time to the alters

I now have to ensure that I fit into my day, times specifically for various alters now rather than try and make this individual to each one, I tend to group them together. So we watch cartoons for the little ones, its something I have realised they find useful, and we set aside time a few times a week to do craft activities as the slightly older young alters find this helpful as a means of expression.  You have to understand we don’t have control over our switching and we don’t have communication with the alters, but I have started to recognise certain types of painting stroke and colouring techniques. I can start as picture as me and some other part of me takes over and finishes it, some of my pictures can involve 2 or 3 alters, but its a way of them expressing themselves.

I am learning to give the alters the opportunity to express themselves when they are out too, so if I switch there is a means of them expressing themselves at hand, and I can look at the results when I return. That now means art materials are available in the house, these are easily accessible and age appropriate, they can draw or paint without me having to start the picture off.

I am also aware that when I feel one of the two alters I am currently feeling the emotions of, that I need to allow them a chance to be recognised by me, and the option to communicate if they wish. This means I have to learn to be receptive as well and its still very early days, so currently I feel just two alters but I don’t hear them at all, but I am learning to acknowledge them each time I feel them. That isn’t always easy but it makes me stop and recognise that the feelings I am currently experiencing are not mine, but another part of me.

I also have to try every day and do the internal dialogue my Therapist has suggested, so I begin and end each day with a little self talk internally in the hope the alters hear me and understand what the day ahead  involves, or at night we review how its been. Its still an odd experience for me but it is one we intend to persevere with.

art_supplies blog

Learning to set realistic expectations

I have found that we struggle more emotionally as a person if we set ourselves unrealistic goals or have higher expectations than are possible. So it is helpful to have someone who can rein us in if we do this, we have a good relationship with our daughter and she is able to tell me if I am either taking too much on, or have set myself an unrealistic goal. This doesn’t mean we don’t have melt down moments; if fact we still do, but it does mean they are less frequent than they use to be. So setting yourself good targets is important, try not to put too much pressure on yourself, after all you are dealing with life as a multiple and that is a huge challenge of its own, never mind dealing with life in general.

I have come to realise I have grown up carrying a huge amount of baggage from my past, so hold many inaccurate beliefs about myself and negative thought processes etc this mean I am left with a tendency of feeling insecure and to blame.  Being aware of this fact is helpful and means we can understand why we think or feel the way we do, so having an awareness is a helpful technique.

Having a good Support Network

Its vital to have a good support network, be that a supportive family, good friends, or a local group who you can relate to and rely on. I am blessed with a family who understand my multiplicity and don’t judge me, but I know many survivors and multiples are not so fortunate. My advice is try and build a support network for yourself wherever that may be, I have found social media has helped to provide a wealth of support, many groups exist that are full of like minded people who get what its like to live with dissociative disorders. But do remember everyone with a dissociative disorder is different so no two multiples will be alike, so its important not to judge yourself against others;  sadly this is  something I have done and then I have set myself off on the blame trail which isn’t a helpful technique.

Finding good healthcare professionals to work with

If you can find a good supportive and understanding therapist you have a great source of help, or an understanding GP can be invaluable too.  It is so important to have people who you can rely on and build up trust with especially in the medical profession, I have come to realise that when people don’t have an understanding of dissociation its not their fault, very few healthcare professionals are taught about dissociation so perhaps we have to educate them ourselves. The First Person Plural DVD can be  a useful tool in these case, as it is easy to understand and can be viewed in bite size pieces making it easily accessible to busy GP’s, Community health teams, psychiatrists etc.  or there is information available from a number of organisations whose details can be found alongside information for First Person Plural in the resources tab.

I am fortunate that I have managed to find a good therapist with a knowledge base of dissociation and trauma, it hasn’t always been the case, my previous therapist and I parted company because I felt we were unable to move forward any further with her. I now realise that having someone to work with who I feel treats me as an equal is really important, for me personally having a male therapist has been helpful too, but that is because of my past trauma and the fact my main abuser was a female.

Be Yourself

Most of all I think it has helped me to know that I can be who I am and know I will not be judged, criticised or condemned, I spent so long trying to fit into society all the while knowing I didn’t. Now I live as a multiple, if I switch I know my family and friends won’t judged me and more than likely other people may not even realise we have switched. If they do I have become far more robust at no longer trying to be something I am not, yes I may make excuses and leave but I am slowly becoming more able to accept who we are, and not hide that fact from the world. I am a We and we cannot help that fact, it is just a much a part of us as any other characteristic. So I post my blog on my facebook wall and if people choose to take offence then that is their issue not mine.

But being ourselves has helped us, is helping us, as our all the other helpful techniques we have found as we progress on this journey of living life as a multiple.

If you have any other helpful techniques that you use I’d be interested to know, I may even write another blog listing some of them so that others may find something that helps them accept who they are and live a positive and enjoyable life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Remember none of us are alike and not all helpful techniques will work or be useful to everyone, we all have a different history and different needs, I am an expert by experience not an expert by medical qualification. So everyone needs to make their own informed decisions when trying to manage their life with dissociation, but I do hope that others might find some of my techniques helpful to them as they progress on their journey.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Melt down moment – the legacy of blame

This is a quick post but one I feel led to write. Today I have been so aware of how being a multiple impacts my life. Even when I am not contending with the switching or lost time, there are so many other aspects of dissociative identity disorder that impact my life.
This morning began with my ensuring time for my little alters so that entailed me watching cartoons as I know giving them time in the day helps with my sleeping at night.
But then I set time aside to try and get to know a specific alter, the one I have been feeling recently.  I could feel them but nothing else, so try as I might and with as much effort as I could muster I was hoping this might improve. 
I am not sure what I was hoping for but I felt if only I could hear them, after all they have communicated with my family so why not me.
But sadly nothing happened I sensed their presence as I was experiencing their feelings but I didn’t hear them. We just don’t have communication with them.
The situation perplexes me and causes me distress, I read on various social media sites that others seem to have this ability and they say they have co-consciousness too. What is wrong with me that I can’t make this happen. 
I began to spiral and get distressed this caused me to lose time, time I couldn’t afford to lose. 
When I came back to awareness I felt so low in mood, I felt a failure.  A failure because I can’t make the progress I think I need to, no one is placing these demands upon me except me.
But still I blamed myself and the tears began to fall down my face as I cried in sorrow and pain.
After sometime I managed to stop but felt plagued with thoughts of being inadequate and stupid.
Then it hit me, as a child I always felt to blame,  that everything that was wrong in my life was my fault. As an adult I still tend to put myself down and the feelings of failure today were just yet another aspect of the psychological damage which is a result of my past.
As a multiple and a former victim I have to deal with the psychological impact not only of the dissociation but also of the negative thought patterns that are part of my normal default. 
So a few hours later and I am no longer crying uncontrollably but I still feel an  inadequacy in me for not being able to communicate with the alters.
I can only hope this improves tomorrow and I know it’s something that I will need to raise in my next therapy session.