Tag Archives: DID

The Struggle Continues

Please accept yet another apology from me for my absence from the blog. It was my intention in the beginning to post twice a week, and I haven’t kept that commitment to you.

I haven’t blogged, because I’ve been struggling myself. When I started this blog, I wanted to share my success story, my journey of recovery with you. Now it seems that I’ll be sharing my own struggles with you. I hope we can encourage one another. At the same time, I will be sharing what is and is not working for me. Perhaps we can be of help to one another.

For such a long time, I’ve been out of therapy, partly because I thought I didn’t really need it anymore and more recently because I just couldn’t afford it. Now that I’m back in treatment, after several visits, my psychologist and my psychiatrist agree that I am probably not fully integrated. As I have shared previously, I thought I integrated 11 years ago. However, when they told me, though I was disappointed, I can’t say I was terribly shocked. Several occurrences had caused me to wonder if perhaps someone or “someones” were still there.

I think it’s possible they’ve been afraid to rock the boat, because I was so convinced I was integrated. Lately, though, I think part of the reason my life has become so difficult may be because I haven’t allowed them to “be,” to share what they need with me.

The fact that I also have bipolar disorder muddies the waters of my symptoms and treatments. The dual diagnosis makes the work and the decisions of my psychiatrist and psychologist that much more difficult. Now, I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps I don’t have bipolar disorder at all. Perhaps the symptoms are caused more by the parts inside rather than dysfunctional brain chemicals. 

As I share this, I wonder whether this blog serves anyone’s needs. Please comment to let me know whether you want to me to continue and perhaps we can walk down this path together, though it is different from what I expected. I don’t want to continue posting if no one finds my words of comfort, encouragement or value, and my posts may be infrequent as I’m struggling to have the energy to write or the ability to think and communicate clearly.

Thank you for your caring and sharing.

Advertisements

The Truth of Mental Illness

By now, you may have heard of the death of Rick Warren’s son by suicide at the age of 27. This is just the most recent of several people I know, or know of, who have made this choice.

Because of the high profile of this man and, therefore, of the tragedy of the death of his son, I decided it was time to speak out on Facebook. This is not what exactly what I posted, but it is basically the same. I wanted people who don’t deal with mental illness to grasp what it’s all about in the hope that it would dispel some myths and grant a measure of understanding. And here I want people who do deal with mental illness to find hope to hang on to when they see there is someone who does understand, in fact, there is a whole community that cares and wants to offer help.

I want to make it very clear that, in spite of my comments regarding compassion for any person who takes his/her own life, I am in no way endorsing it. God knows the number of our days, and He is perfectly capable of knowing when it is time to call you out of this life. He does not need our help!

I am in recovery from dissociative identity disorder. The PTSD is a remnant of the abuse I lived through as a child. This sometimes causes me to be gripped by the memories of the past, unable to find my way back to reality. I relive the awful events all over again. Sometimes at night I awaken, heart beating rapidly, “feeling” the presence of one who is attempting to attack me, his hand clamped around my arm. I swing at the empty air trying to claw my way free from my invisible assailant, attempting to scream as no sound escapes, only to wake up still trying to determine whether the dream or the waking is reality.

I also have bipolar disorder II. This means that, at best, I’m only slightly depressed. I’ve learned to accept that that is just the way I have to live my life. On rare occasions, I have felt good, which is what most people would call “normal.” Others, I experience what is known as hypomania: times during which I become irritable and sometimes can’t turn off my thoughts, my constant activity and find myself thinking of doing things I would not otherwise consider. However, like most people who have bipolar II, I live most of my life depressed. Medication and therapy make a tremendous difference and are the only reasons that I am even close to the self I was born to be. Without those, I would either be impossible to live with, permanently in an institution or dead.

Those are the facts of mental illness. Those of us who deal with this are not weak, lacking in faith, demon-possessed or oppressed or anything else but suffering from faulty brain chemistry. Our disorders are no different in essence from diabetes or the disease with which I am most familiar, cystic fibrosis. Our family and my friends need to understand this and offer us grace and understanding.

The disorder affects my daily life: my ability to work, interact with other people, activities of daily living to the point of sometimes being unable to get out of bed or leave my house. I hate it. I hate that God has chosen this path for my growth and sanctification. Depression is my nearly constant companion. I rarely get a break. I wake up with it. I work with it. I go to sleep with it, knowing that tomorrow I’ll wake up and live it all over again.

Our disorders and illnesses affect every aspect of our lives. I have, at times, considered taking my life. In fact, as recently as a few weeks ago, I felt the temptation for days. I fought it day and night until I realized that fighting it alone was too risky and called friends who truly “get” it. I made a commitment to God, my family and myself on May 18, 2001, that I would never again try to take my own life, and I was determined to live up to that promise. My friends picked me up and let me stay with them until I made the decision to go into the hospital, where I spent a week getting daily therapy and adjusting medication. I came home much improved.

Why am I telling you all this? I am doing it, because you all may deal with similar issues. There are so many of us who suffer silently, because it is not acceptable to discuss mental illness. Cancer is OK. People have sympathy and understanding for that. CF, diabetes, MS and the multitude of other terrible diseases and disorders are acceptable. Mental illness is considered taboo. The stigma attached to it prevents people from getting the help they need, from picking up the phone, from asking for prayer. I’m telling you about my struggles to be part of the movement to de-stigmatize the many conditions that fall under the umbrella of mental illness.

Many, many people, especially Christians, negatively judge people with mental illness and especially those who have made the awful decision to take their own lives. A common statement is: “It’s the ultimate selfish act.” I have, in the past, been completely and thoroughly convinced that if I loved my family, especially my children, as I said I did, I would remove the evil (me) from their lives, so I would no longer influence them for evil. 

These are the kinds of thoughts that people who choose suicide experience. Yes, it is an unspeakable tragedy that leaves those left behind with the worst kind of pain. A pain that I can’t even imagine as they believe that the one who died didn’t love them enough to fight. I know those are the thoughts, the feelings of those left behind, but they are not the actual reasons suicide was chosen. In fact, just the opposite is likely true.

However, those of us who are here and dealing with our problems must realize that there is hope, and there is help. I hope that through this blog, I can be a beam of light in a world of darkness that many of you inhabit. I seek to be the hand that reaches out for you to grab and hold onto as you climb out of the deep hole of despair.

 


Sorry for my absence

Please forgive me for my extended break from blogging. This is not how I envisioned this blog when I began, but, as with most things worth doing, it is harder than it looks!

Life has been especially busy lately with both happy and difficult circumstances. I’ve had more work than usual, and my daughter has been sicker from the illnesses I mentioned in another post. I am hoping to get back to regular posting as soon as possible. I hope you can bear with me through this.

During my most recent therapy session, my therapist suggested the possibility that not every alter integrated when most of them did 11 years ago. If I had heard this a year ago, I would have been devastated, but I had begun to suspect that it might be the case. My hospitalization in August revealed hints that perhaps I still had parts holding onto information they had not previously been ready to share. 

Whether or not there are more parts still there doesn’t really matter to me. I know that I still have work to do, and I intend to do that work. The healing I have done so far has been so worth it, that I’m not willing to quit now. I have lots of living to do, and the healthier I am, the better I can take advantage of what’s to come.

It’s not that I’m not afraid. Therapy is scary and difficult, but I’m determined. I have children and grandchildren who motivate me. I want to be there, all there for them, and I will be!

 

 


Integration

For people who have DID, integration is either a happy end goal to anticipate or something to fear, like a kind of death. Many people think of integration that way: death of the parts. But it isn’t. Not at all. For me integration was like a home-coming as I welcomed my parts back to where they had begun — with me.

For me, as for many people, integration was not a big event. It was not something planned for a specific date and time in my therapist’s office. It was, instead, a natural result of a lot of hard work.

I had finally learned to listen to my parts, really hear what they had to say without breaking down into a crisis. I had to prove to my parts that I could handle the information they each held. I had to let them know that I would honor their trust when they shared their stories with me. It wasn’t always easy. The truth wasn’t always easy to hear. Sometimes it scared me; others it shocked me. It took practice plus a little courage. (Courage is something that gets stronger with practice. So don’t worry about not being courageous. Just work with what you have. Stretch yourself.) Compassion helped too. Each part had been terribly wounded. They had taken on painful, difficult tasks to protect me, so I could survive the abuse physically and mentally. I learned to appreciate them, and, in fact, thank them.

When I finally came to that place of accepting the truth one part had to share, that one would eventually just come home. So, one by one each came back to me. They didn’t die or disappear. Not at all. Now they’re here with me, and I am more complete. I have Georgia’s compassion, Little Caren’s sense of self, Rusty’s determination to protect myself, and George’s sense of humor.

Integration did take some getting used to. When they were all finally home, my head was quiet for the first time. No more arguments about how to answer when someone asked me a question. I had to learn how to make decisions all by myself without their input. And going to sleep at night was difficult at first, because I was used to listening as they sang me to sleep. Playing music helped ease that transition.

When I thought about it though, I realized I did have their input, just not audibly in my mind. I had their good judgment to rely on now that they were part of me. That allowed me learn to weigh different thoughts and be an adult making my own decisions. I learned how to trust myself and be less fearful of mistakes. Adjusting to integration was, like anything else, a process – one that has allowed me to grow up and be more comfortable in my own skin. I thank each of my parts for the job he/she did in protecting my child’s mind when I was vulnerable and too young to do it for myself.

After integration I remained in therapy, because the work certainly didn’t end there. I still had a lot of recovering to do.


Step 4: Trust the Process

Step 4: Trust the Process

Once you’ve made the decision to get well, you’ve begun to tell yourself the truth and you’re taking responsibility, you’re in the middle of your healing process. Now is the time for patience as you learn to trust the process. What does that mean? If you’re in treatment with a good therapist, and I hope you are, it means really listen and pay close attention to what you’re being told. Let it sink into the gray matter (your brain, your mind). Force yourself to faithfully do all the assignments you’re given. Journal. If you’re dealing with DID, let your parts talk to you or journal. Let them talk to your therapist and share what they’ve been holding onto for you.

Then, be patient. Recovery is a process: it takes time. Do your journaling and assignments, but don’t obsess over them, allow yourself to rest, take a breather. Live. As you remain committed to your decision to get well, your inner wisdom will let you know when it’s time to move on and what to deal with next. New memories may surface. Don’t panic! Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that your mind will only let the memories come when you’re ready to deal with them. It’s protected you this long, it’s not about to let you down now!

Don’t be discouraged if it seems slow. Slow is OK. Even baby steps are progress. And, you may occasionally get scared and slip back. If that happens, journal, call your therapist. Try to understand why it happened so you can avoid it in the future, then move forward again. As I said, this is a process, and no one can do it perfectly. I certainly didn’t, but I learned to look at even my setbacks as progress, because I learned from them.

Be committed to doing something toward recovery every day: journaling, working on assignments, reflecting, communicating with your parts – something. Just don’t let it overwhelm your life. Otherwise you’ll be living your trauma. You’ve already done that, successfully I might add, or you wouldn’t be here. However, part of recovery and life after recovery is balance. Start practicing it now.

Your relationships may have become somewhat one-sided, with you doing all the sharing and them doing all the supporting. Learn how to be a friend again. Find topics other than your abuse or your therapy to talk about. Ask them questions about themselves for a change. You will start to live your recovery, and it feels oh, so good. Try it. You’ll like it!