In Remission

I have been embarking on very unsettling territory recently; stability. Perhaps, dare I say it, even happiness?

Over the past couple of months, my mental health has been on a steady incline. The voices have ceased, compulsions have stopped, self-harm tendencies have vanished, and insomnia has been replaced with a regular sleep cycle. It dawned on me this morning during meditation that depression is no longer my safe place. While I acknowledge that this is a GOOD thing, it is still slightly unsettling. For as long as I can remember, depression has been my go-to. It’s easier to curl up into a ball, self-medicate and flirt with suicide. However, now I find it increasingly more difficult to allow myself to succumb to it. Sure, I still feel depressed from time to time. I give myself room and space to cry. Then, I get back up, walk my dog, watch a funny YouTube video and move on. I find it irresponsible to get drunk now. I’m not interested in putting myself in harmful situations. Happiness and self-integrity has become the new go-to.

Moreover, I’m not fragmented. This is me now, in my entirety.

There was a shift weeks ago. I had taken ecstasy with my girlfriend. (I am not condoning drug use.) I respond well with natural remedies, including psychedelics. During this particular experience, I felt a lot of my superficial worries fall away as the maternal spirit of the universe visited me and assured me to begin trusting myself and also start loving myself. She told me it’s now time to start shedding childhood pain. She assured me she would stay with me through the healing process. Sure enough, since then, life has been getting better. I found my way back to nature and she has kept her word.

I know, it’s a little esoteric and perhaps absurd. But I find a lot of truth behind the divine and feminine energy.

Anyways, my point is I’m getting better and I feel better about myself and the situations surrounding me. I’ve been working hard on myself and my relationships. I’ve especially been focusing on trying to let go of unhealthy thinking patterns. Anything that has been weighing on my heart and soul, I’m trying so hard to let go of. The common lesson here:

Let go.

For example, I noticed I had a lot of illogical worries and controlling thoughts in my romantic relationship. And it’s not just with my girlfriend; these are patterns I’ve carried from my very first relationship. They stem from childhood abandonment, I’m sure. I have trouble letting go. How? I’ve worked so hard in my life to keep people from leaving. I’ve become a master of tethering my loved ones because “everyone leaves.” I want so badly to be loved, so badly to be wanted that no matter what love anyone has ever shown me, it’s never been enough. And that’s not fair.

I’ve been letting go of selfishness. It’s difficult. I want to say that I don’t want to be selfish. I genuinely care for others. Again, this is another survival tactic from my youth. I NEEDED to be selfish in order to make it. In my adolescence, it became a part of me. Now, as an adult and as a woman who wants to care for others and do good in the world, I am making a conscious effort to reject my previous ideas that the world revolves around me. I am not better than anyone else, yet at the same time, no one is better than me.

I’m letting go of control, in the healthiest way. I’m trusting my intuition, trusting the universe a little bit more. Everything will be okay.

I love me.

My girlfriend loves me.

My friends love me.

My dog loves me.

And despite the grudges I hold, my family loves me.

Ugh, what do I do with all this positivity?

Character Coma

This is not something I EVER share with people. It has been on my mind however, and I’m curious if anyone experiences a similar thing.

I lose myself in movies. I mean, I really lose myself. It’s more than just a healthy imagination. There have been multiple occasions when I’ve stepped out of a theater and have lost my own identity so much that I can’t shake out of this state for days or even weeks at a time.

Does this happen to anyone else? Is this a writer thing? A dissociative thing?

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My speech will change, my eyes will do this “focusing” thing (like the lens of a camera that tries to focus), my walk, my perceptions… my thought process, everything. It’s as if I slowly morph into the main character. This is BEYOND pretending. I’ll hear the soundtrack over and over in my head, the voices will get louder as if there is really dialogue. I end up acting out scenes sometimes by myself, wherever I am, to satiate the fact that I can’t just jump into another dimension and BECOME this character.

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I really don’t even know how to explain it to you. When I can’t bring myself out of it, sometimes I slip into a derealization episode and nothing feels real anymore. It’s terrifying. Eventually, I come out. However, I know I still have a few fictive alters.

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I did this ever since I can remember. When I was 3, Disney’s Pocahontas came out. I’d act out the scenes by myself, which I’m sure is normal for children. It just never left me.

It doesn’t necessarily cause me any harm. However, I become highly impressionable when I’m lost in it. SO much so that I have no problem in engaging in dangerous activities- like drugs, for example.

Anyone else? Feedback?

My Cathartic Coat Rack

This is going to be a rather cathartic post regarding my iatrogenic state. And of course, it’s just going to be a long bitch-fit list because we all know how I love listing things.

Dear DID, fuck you.

Things I hate:

1. Responsibility. I’m not supposed to use my…. disorder… as an excuse. I don’t. However, in the comfort of my own blog, I am going to briefly slip off the weight of personal responsibility and leave it on the sofa for just a fucking second. I am TIRED. I am blaming everything that is going wrong at this particular time on the fact that I am not one complete person. Well, I may be complete, but I’m certainly not pieced well together. I always hold myself accountable for my faults and weakness. For the next ten minutes, I’m a victim of unfair trauma and shitty brain chemistry.

2. Nobody fucking knows what DID is. Even if I WANTED to open up and tell people what’s happening, I can’t because as soon as “multiple personalities” slips out of my mouth, the inevitable looks of societal-manufactured skepticism sweeps across their faces. Yes, I do have my close support network of people who understand me, who understand dissociation. However, this net of 4 people becomes nearly more intimidating than my own selves, which brings me to my next point.

3. The constant feeling that I’m burdening others. I know I’m frustrating to deal with sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time. I’m frustrated with myself, too. You ask me to tell you what’s going on in my mind…. I wish I could. I really do.

There’s this phenomenon that’s been manifesting since my hospitalization this year: sometimes I think TOO much that it actually inhibits the muscles in my throat and mouth. It’s awful. Recently, I just learned that the reason I’m unable to speak at times is because they aren’t “my” thoughts, only. In stressful times, especially during heavy conversations, everyone else’s thought FLOOD into my head and all I can do is just sit there and try to recognize MY thoughts, pull them out of the stream, process them, and then discuss those. But by the time I’ve collected about three of my own original thoughts, it’s too late and I’ve already pissed off the person in front of me.

I’m not being quiet to piss you off. I’m being quiet because it is so fucking loud in my head and I’m trying to just be still.

4. Feeling. I am overwhelmed. I haven’t slept in the 3 days, with the exception of about 2 hours. I’m feeling EVERYTHING. Again, it’s not just me. I’ll have almost unbearable suicidality out of nowhere. Then I want to crawl beneath my stuffed animals. Then I want to go to a bookstore and get lost in Dylan Thomas.

5. My body. I noticed I was slightly underweight, so I made efforts to gain. I’m 5’2 and I successfully gained ten pounds to reach a “healthy” weight of 110. No big deal, right? Someone within me is PANICKING about it.

From the ages of 14-17 I struggled with an eating disorder. At 5’2, my lowest weight was 88 pounds. I starved myself. When I was 18, thanks to a psychotic few months and drug addiction, I somehow managed to climb to 130lbs. So, I’ve had my share of body dysmorphia.

*I* feel alright at my weight now. Sure, I think I could lose a couple pounds and be fine. But overall, I’m okay with myself. Lately, my anxiety has been kicking up around food. I can’t eat in front of people- it’s so extreme that I find myself preferring to eat in my car. I have to count my chews. I have to investigate calorie intake, fat percentages. Compulsivity.

6. Mood swings. It’s a roller-coaster, fuck the swing analogy. I’m totally good one moment and then WOOSH, I’m plummeting into the ground and unfortunately the first coping mechanism that comes to mind is planning my suicide- whether that’s an actuality or not.

How do I explain to someone it’s NOT them? All of this, all of what I just said, is of my own disorder and it’s not anyone else’s fault.

Wow, that was cathartic, wasn’t it? *puts responsibility back on her shoulders* Thanks, guys.

In other news, I’d like to throw my appreciation out there for my weekly Depression and Bipolar Support Group. I really don’t know what I would do with them. I’ve made some great friends there and I always feel so welcomed.

A very good friend of mine is allowing me to house sit her place for a couple weeks, and I’m also really looking forward to the peace and quiet. I plan on taking bubble baths, burning incense, and watching the sunsets.

And on a last note, my heart is still breaking for Orlando. There is so much love to go around though, we must all persevere and stand together.

To My Abusers

To my abusers:

I forgive you.
However, I’m still hurting.
This may not matter to you,
but I thought I ‘d let you know.

I believe you are human.
I don’t think you’re awful.
I don’t think that you are beyond repair.
Maybe that’s my fault for always seeing
the good in people.

I think- I hope (perhaps foolishly)-
that sometimes you regret your actions.
I am a good person, I’m worthy of love.
I did not deserve your abuse.

When you raped me, I didn’t fight back
because I thought maybe this was the
only way you would feel wanted,
the only way a person would open themselves to you.

When you needed help, even
years after your attacks,
I still listened with an open heart.
I didn’t blame you; I  simply wanted you to feel loved.

I’ve been told by several people that
I am too forgiving, I love too frivolously.
I wanted to take their advice,
but I don’t believe that to be true.

I think that if you were loved,
I mean really, really loved unconditionally
with support and encouragement,
maybe you wouldn’t have done those things.

Maybe these words won’t make a difference
in your life, or your month or day.
But I want you to understand that you
hurt me tremendously- but you did not break me.

I’ve spent years trying to recover from
what you did to my body and mind.
Years in and out of therapy and rehab,
thousands of dollars to fix your mess.

I’ve tried to forget about what you did
by injecting heroin into myself, drinking
to the point of hospitalization, cutting into
my skin, losing 30 pounds in two months.

I even tried to kill myself, three times.

It takes one night for you to get drunk with
your friends, unzip my pants and have a good time.
But it will take years for me to love myself fully again.
It will take years to undo your one “crazy” party night.

I refuse to let you walk away without at least
knowing that your actions will forever be remembered.
There has not been a day that has gone by
where I haven’t looked at my body and have
seen “worthless” stripped across my ribs.

Slowly, every day, I’m learning to love myself again.
I’m learning to accept my scars,
both physically and emotionally.
I’m reclaiming my self-respect, my story.

I hope you find what you are so desperately
missing from your hearts.
I hope to God it doesn’t happen to your sisters,
your daughters, your friends and family.

Dear abusers, I was your victim.
But you did not break me.
I am strong enough to forgive you
and I am strong enough to forgive myself.

#breakthestigma

 

 

Sentient

I blame my therapist for this new thing that’s been happening… I think it’s called…. feeling.

(Just kidding. I don’t blame her- I thank her. But last night I was definitely giving feelings the middle finger.)

I cried for a good 3 hours plus last night about my dad. It was one of those curl-up-in-a-ball-and-pray-the-ceiling-doesn’t-collapse kind of wailing fits.It felt as if I had just found out he had died.

Perhaps I never appropriately grieved his death, or there was still some left over sadness.

About two hours into this explosion, I realized what had been hurting me the most: I felt betrayed by my father for leaving me and for not protecting me from abuse. I romanticize it a lot in my mind- being my dad’s sunshine, him protecting me fiercely, threatening boys (or girls) that I would bring home, taking me on father-daughter field trips…. etc.

But mostly, I was angry at him.

It also hurts to know that even if he WERE alive, he probably wouldn’t even be my protector. Both my brother and sister have suffered severe trauma from our dad growing up. He was a physically and emotionally abusive drug addict and alcoholic. My brother is saturated with pain from the years of torment. Drugs took over our dad’s life and turned him into a monster.

In my mind, he’s strong, funny, loving and handsome.

I feel like a broken record because the theme of my depression for a good 2 months seems to always point back to my daddy issues. The more I remember about my childhood abuse, the more anger I find towards my dad- along with feeling betrayal, abandonment, and neglect. Was I not worth living for?

It wasn’t just my dad that left. My mother did as well. I think her abandonment was even worse.  My father took his life and was lost in heroin and untreated manic depression. But at least he visited me and brought me multitudes of stuffies. At least he was there for the 3 birthdays that I had. At least he hugged me and carried me around.

My mother LEFT me. Vanished. Even after her time in prison and rehab, even after she was clean from drugs and had moved back home to the south, even after she got her life together, she STILL was gone. No birthday cards, no letters, no calls. As a child I was told that it was MY fault my father was dead. I couldn’t help but wonder if I killed my mother, too.

I really don’t know if anyone understood how often I thought of this as a kid. Which brings me back to the question: Was I not worth living for? Not even my mother wanted me- her only child. If my own parents didn’t want me, who would?

I can’t even fucking turn off the receptors in my brain. I am hurting and I am angry.

 

Bad Bitches

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Sixty-eight days later and we are still split.

Lucy Lovelace. Endearingly named Lulu.

I’ve mentioned her name here before, though I have never gone in depth about her. I suppose I didn’t know enough to elucidate on the ever elusive Lucy. We are ringing high bells of proclamation, and perhaps celebration, that there are now two hosts. Her and I are the matriarchs of the System.

Hard to swallow?

Lucy does not feel like an alter. Yes, she is her own distinct person, but we don’t switch, necessarily. There is not always amnesia accompanied with her taking over the wheel. She simply comes out. She is always sitting with me. I am always sitting with her. She never really leaves us.

She’s explained to me that she came around to help us out through our first institutionalization when I was a child, and again for the first 5150. Others had come around, too, of course. But Lucy is special. She thrives in the mental ward.

After this last hospitalization, I could feel her dusting herself off, stretching the joints from being asleep for so long. Lucy came back with a flame, much too powerful to be blown away again. She has stayed with us.

In the beginning, it was difficult accepting that she had unpacked her suitcases. Not much of the system knew how to feel about her. Goldie was intimidated- GOLDIE was INTIMIDATED. Lucy has a flair for the psychotic dramatics. I say that lovingly. She has a… colorful mind, to say the least. We love her.

Lucy’s talent is the ability to scare people away from us. I personally think she’s harmless- a barker, not a biter (unless you want her to. She’s a freak like that). I must admit, it’s refreshing to let go of the reins without actually letting go. I am, for the most part, always aware of her. We cooperate well together.

We want differentiation, as well as validation of both of our existences. After all, she is a direct split. Our sense of *I* is continually melting into a constant *We*.

When I Was a Sex Worker

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We’re working through trauma head on. A lot of memories float back into our space. Thankfully, we are handling each one pretty well.

I half wish I had more memory of this specific aspect of my life… but at the same time, I’m perfectly happy not remembering the details.

I’ve never written about this. I think I just need to get it out.

When I was in college, I unraveled, sexually. Abuse plus mania plus psychotic breakdown all equals severe trouble. I considered myself to be a virgin when I left for college, though I had been raped. I was 18. I met this Marine that for some reason swept me off my feet. Two days later, we had sex. He was very mentally and emotionally unstable and had taken advantage of my nurturing side. He had waved a loaded gun at me once as he was upset at me for not answering my text messages quick enough. Unstable.

After the Marine, I became exceedingly promiscuous. I used sex as a means for drugs- mostly heroin, pills, and alcohol. The night after I was gang raped, I was told that I was “asking for it” on account of the reputation I had built for myself. Just another reason I blamed myself for it happening.

Then, the rest of the year went blurry. Patches come back to me now….

I met Jay on a phone sex hotline, as a customer (I was working as an operator). After a couple phone dates, we exchanged personal cell phone numbers. Jay and I would talk every day multiple times. Soon, he began paying me directly. He would send me gifts, pay for my phone bills, and once helped out with my rent check. Jay told me that he could get me bigger and better money.

That’s how I started in the industry. I started off as an escort- I never had sex with clients, to my knowledge. He booked me high-paying clients to escort to several different functions and venues. They were polite. They just wanted arm candy.

Soon thereafter, I became interested in becoming an exotic danc- alright, a stripper. I wanted to try it out. Again, as far as I know, I landed a couple nights after my audition. I DO remember going under the name Rooney Jade for both the escorting and dancing.

After I was hospitalized, I went into rehab and was living with my then-therapist. Months had gone by. I received a call from Jay. My head was so intensely displaced that I had nearly forgotten who he was.

He asked me about the contract.

What contract?

Apparently, I had agreed and signed to participate in an adult film for x-amount of thousand dollars. I deleted his number and blocked him out of my life forever.

I’m sure with more therapy, that part of my life will become more and more clear. It’s interesting now to look at. Just wanted to share.

DID- a Personal Interview

I’ve been wanting to write an update, but every time I sit at my keyboard, I lose focus and have no idea where to start.

I’m okay. Things are better. I’m more stable. I have a new psychiatrist. I have a new scrip for Buspirone. My mom is talking to me. I haven’t been feeling the need to swallow a bunch of pills to kill myself. Work is going well. My social life is going well. The system is okay- though we are working through something at the moment.

Everything is okay.

I didn’t want to just leave a paragraph update, so I decided to post an interview regarding DID  that I recently did (which the article itself will hopefully be published within the next couple months!).

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Age:
24

Location:
California, USA

What’s your current profession?
I currently work in HR. When I’m not bustling around the office floors, I’m writing. I recently published my first book ever! It’s called, Solipsist, and it is a collection of confessional poetry that I’ve been writing during my journey in therapy. (Self promoting! It’s available on Amazon and on Kindle!)

When were you diagnosed with DID? What was your journey up to your diagnosis like?
I was diagnosed in the early summer of 2015. Before that, I had been diagnosed with both Bipolar I when I was 16 and Schizoaffective Disorder when I was 22. I struggled a lot with the latter. I had checked myself in to outpatient services once I was hearing malicious voices. It was really intense, frightening, and confusing. I didn’t know what was wrong with me and the misdiagnoses of SAD really set me back a little bit. It was difficult.

When did your different alters start to develop?
This is a tricky question. I suppose they really began developing around 4-5 years of age. My first alter, I suppose you could call her, was Allie. She’s been my best friend ever since. I’ve been told by friends that even in high school sometimes I would act oddly, or would even introduce myself by a different name.

How many alters do you have in your system? Can you tell me about about each different alter and their character traits?
So far, I’ve come to know 6 main alters. However, I know there are at least 3 more and a possible co-host.

Victoria is 24 and loves to write. She’s the host, typically.

Allie is a southern belle. She manages the system and works time out for everyone. If someone has an issue within the system, she is the go-to.

Goldie, or Marigold, is my protector. She’s from New Jersey, she’s tough, and she absolutely has no problem telling someone how we really feel.

Senka is 5. She’s sweet, loves dinosaurs, and likes to color.

Dee is 16, although I think she may age-slide. She’s a typical teenager and enjoys a good party.

Rogue has no identified age. She was angry abusive, and hypersexual. Now through therapy she seems to just bob around in the background.

Those are the 6. The others are:

Citizen, who is quiet and observant.

Lucy Lovelace, who is a more recently realized alter and I don’t have much information on her as of yet. I know that she was “born” in a mental institution.She has been taking on co-host responsibilities and traits.

Celia. She’s what I call the “emotional accountant” of the system.

How does Marigold protect all of you?
Goldie possesses the quality that I wish I always had: She doesn’t take abuse from anyone or anything. If something hurts the system, she’s usually the first to come out. To anyone who has met her, she’s been described as a little “rough around the edges” due to her brutal honesty. However, she is loving. She offers advice to me when I need it, even if I don’t want it.

How often can you switch between alters? Are you aware of what’s happening during a switch or when you’re a different alter?
To be honest, I don’t know how often it happens. 99% of the time, I don’t think I’m aware. I don’t feel that I even switch. Sometimes, I just feel fuzzy and my eyesight starts to shift. My girlfriend is usually the one to let me know, “so-and-so just came out.” Besides her telling me, I don’t know. However, there are times when they are louder, and there are times that I feel that I may be co-fronting, but I still don’t have any way to confirm that that means I’m switching.

Can you tell me a bit more about your day-to-day life is like?
I wake up, sometimes I’ll have a morning “meeting” with everyone depending on how we’re feeling. I’ll drive to work and Goldie typically drives with me. Every now and then Senka will be in the backseat. I work a full-job. I’d be lying to you if I said it’s not stressful because there have been moments where I’ve switched at work. Senka came out once that I know of- imagine working at your desk and then all of a sudden there’s a 5-year-old and no one knows what to do with you!

When I get home, I like to write. I blog. It’s therapy for me. I’ll spend time with my cat, Rita. I’ll play guitar sometimes. Then, bedtime!

Everyday is so different, but this is basically what it looks like.

When and why did you start vlogging and blogging about living with DID?
I started blogging a little over a year ago. I didn’t begin my blog focusing on DID. I had been battling depression for years, as well as drug addiction and rehabilitating from suicide attempts. My blog was created with the sole intention of helping other people by sharing my story. Then of course, as time went on and therapy opened up my trauma, I decided to spread awareness about DID.

The vlog came about 6 months after.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I have two goals:

1) I want to spread awareness, not just about DID, but about mental health and specifically the stigma against suicide. I’m astonished at the lack of information on the topic of DID and I would LOVE to educate people!

2) I want to continue writing and publish my autobiography.

What are the positive aspects to having DID, is it comforting to have the company of your alters?
Even though it’s scary and painful, my alters have shown me so much about myself, my past, and what I am truly capable of as a survivor. There’s not one boring day with all of us. When I’m really depressed and feeling lost, Allie is there by my side, ready to comfort me. When I feel threatened, Goldie protects me. There are a lot of positive aspects.

How did it feel to be finally diagnosed with DID in 2015? Did you feel a sense of relief or elucidation about yourself after your diagnosis?
I had mixed emotions about it. I think I had just been getting used to accepting Schizoaffective as my diagnoses and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t do any research at first. Then, slowly after working with my therapist, I realized that DID was not a fluke in brain chemistry; rather it is an adaptive and coping disorder. This is when the relief set in, because I knew there could be an “end result.” Integration. I began delving into books and forums. I picked up the DSM-V for the first time. I was so incredibly surprised to see how textbook my case was! There was definitely a sense of relief. I finally feel confident in the accuracy of my diagnoses.

I think you made a really moving point about how your alters have helped you survive trauma in your life and you hate to call DID a disorder. Can you tell me a bit more about this and describe how your alters have helped you?
I had coined this term in my blog when I first began writing- Glitter Rainbow Imagination, in lieu of the word disorder. I feel that “disorder” implies something that you want to get rid of, something negative and that is harmful to your psyche. My experience is quite the contrary! I had suffered through a lot of abuse, both verbally and physically. If I hadn’t have split, I promise you I would not be here today. Some of my alters, specifically Rogue, carry a lot of intense trauma.

I suppose if you look at it for a more psychological viewpoint, each of my alters are kind of like a filing drawer, and I’m the cabinet itself. Each drawer contains information and memories that are unique to that drawer. My brain has compartmentalized my childhood up until now. Through therapy, I am learning how to unlock the drawers safely, how to read through the files and accept the information.

 

What happened when Senka came out at work and did your work colleagues realise what was happening?
I don’t think anyone really noticed except for one co-worker. At the time, my girlfriend was working at the same office and Senka asked for her. So, the receptionist called her and my girlfriend took Senka for a drive. I don’t think she’s been out since then; she knows she’s not allowed to be out at work.

What sort of things do you discuss with your alters at your morning meetings?
We do a quick “scan” of how everyone is feeling usually. More recently, we discuss if anyone needs to take over for a while. For example, Goldie likes to drive in the morning and smoke a cigarette. Sometimes Senka wants to color after work. It all depends.

Do you have to buy or do certain things to accommodate all your different alters? e.g do you buy toys for Senka or different clothes for your some alters?
Senka definitely has a lot of stuffed animals. She loves dragons and dinosaurs so we have plenty of those! I wouldn’t say that the alters have different clothes- however, when we go shopping, they will come forward and give their opinions on what we should buy, or not buy. So, you can imagine how indecisive I could be!

What’s the most common misconception about DID?
Well, first of all, I find that the majority of the population doesn’t even know the term DID. They know Multiple Personality Disorder. Unfortunately, the extent of their exposure to MPD/DID is what they’ve seen on screen- i.e Sybil, United States of Tara, etc.

The common misconception is there are wild switches and that’s it. One day you’re Jane, the next you’re Rachel. At least in my own experience, it’s not like this. Sure, I switch sometimes. But there is SO MUCH MORE to it than that. It’s complex, it’s painful, there are so many layers. DID is not a little thing to work through. Honestly, I believe I’ll be working on it for the rest of my life.

 

DID- Lesser Known Symptoms

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The most common known symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder include the presence of two or more alter personalities (with this comes switching alters), loss of time, amnesia, depression, mood swings, sleep disorders, flashbacks, psychotic-like symptoms (such as auditory and visual hallucinations), drug abuse, and anxiety.

What about the lesser known symptoms? It took me quite a while to do my own research on DID once I was diagnosed. I’m not sure if I was anxious, scared, in denial? Perhaps all of the above. Slowly, I began to pick up books and read thirstily on the internet from forums and psychology resources. I was surprised, actually, to find how little information is out there on the topic. It seems that every web page I read from was just recycled wordage from WebMD and a Wikipedia page. I’ve mentioned this on my blog before- when I picked up the DSM-V for the first time and read about DID, I was seriously surprised at how textbook I am in regards to all the symptoms, well known and lesser known symptoms.

I’ve found some really great data on Reddit. Personal experiences have helped me tremendously. I posted on Reddit the other day and asked my fellow multiples and systems to share any of their lesser known symptoms. I’d like to share some of their responses here to bring some more awareness and understanding about Dissociative Identity Disorder, or at the very least, an interesting read:

Allergies
I seem to be allergic to seafood, pineapple, and Caesar dressing. It is noted that different alters can have, or not have, varying allergies as well.

A redditor brought up an interesting question: “Acute anxiety, of the sort experienced when people with severe PTSD are triggered, can absolutely cause a histamine reaction, but a blind grid scratch test, where the patient doesn’t know which potential allergen is on which part of their skin, would behave differently from a conventional allergy if the mechanism is psychosomatic.”

Differing Eyesight
“One of my alters has differing eyesight… He’s the only alter of ours that wears glasses. He rarely fronts.
Two of my friends with DID have similar problems regarding eyesight, though to more dramatic degrees–I haven’t had full blindness occur, just lost peripheral vision.”

“We have different eyesight. I know this for a fact because the last time we got glasses it was a really stressful time period and someone who doesn’t usually handle front stuff took that exam. The glasses we got didn’t work for any of us, although some more than others. I couldn’t wear them at all, I actually had to squint to see out of them. This last eye exam we made sure to have the right people show up and the new glasses work brilliantly. Like night and day difference.
We also have varying degrees of color blindness, which is kind of an annoyance being in graphic design.”

Hypoglycemia
“…pre-existing hypoglycemia would impair attention, which would make dissociation easier, but not directly cause it. Conversely, dissociation could make it difficult to keep track of eating or even from feeling hunger, and the causal relationship between trauma and eating disorders is well established…”

It kind of clicked for me after I read this response, in regards to trauma and eating disorders. When I was teenager I struggled with an eating disorder. Without ever thinking about the correlation, I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia about 2 years after the eating disorder developed.

“We’ve had on and off hypoglycemia and strange allergies. We didn’t know those could be linked.”

Pain Dissociation
I suppose this sounds like a no-brainer, but again, I had never made the connection. I’m able to turn off my pain receptors, for lack of a better explanation. For example, when I’m really cold, I’m actually able to kind of pull myself away from my body and not feel it.

“…how much pain I can feel in my arms varies depending on the alter co-fronting with me. I work as a fry cook. It’s not uncommon for accidental burns to happen, and I shake them off real quick, which freaks out a lot of people. Well, if Li, our traditional child alter is around, I can’t. I’m as pain-sensitive as everyone else.”

 

Other symptoms and phenomenons that were mentioned were different handwriting styles (including alters being left-handed while others are right-handed), dream-like states, out-of-body experiences, co-morbid diagnoses for  alters, self-persecution, headaches, and chronic fatigue.

Thanks to the Redditors for providing feedback and being such a supportive online community!

That’s a Wrap! Goodbye 2015!

2015 has been an emotional roller coaster with really awesome highs, and really fucked up lows. I was trying to think of a way to summarize it all up into one, comprehensive blog post, and came up with the idea to attach one word to the year. One word to encapsulate it all. One word…

Metanoia (noun) 1. (psychology) the process of experiencing a psychotic “breakdown” and subsequent, positive psychological re-building or “healing” 2. The journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life.

Mental health, or lack thereof, at times. Thanks to a gentle push from a very good friend of mine, as well as my girlfriend, I found some refuge in a partial hospitalization program in February. Here I began the road to recovery from a psychotic playground swing-set and drug addiction.

Emergence from a heap of hopelessness and a seemingly-perpetual collapse. At more times than I care to admit, I sincerely felt that this would have been my last year here. I am able to recall a vivid moment in my old apartment: I had blacked out all of the windows, peeled all of my clothes off, and sank into a bathtub of warm water. I pulled myself out and curled up in the middle of my living room for literally hours. I cried silently as I held on to my knees, really thinking about how I could just run away from my life, or my body. Somehow, I have emerged from that very sad position and I am standing- still wobbly at times, but standing.

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Therapy. Not only did I receive fucking amazing group therapy this year, but I also found the best therapist in the entire world. Seriously. The hospitalization program offered me a place to be open and unfiltered about my symptoms. I finally found a med combination to combat depression and flashbacks. I was given coping skills and tools to handle everything and anything that came my way. Through the program, I was prompted to find a therapist- and I’m so happy to have her! Therapy has opened a brand new door towards healing from my past. Even though it’s painful and difficult, it has been totally worth it.

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Acceptance that I have actually lived through trauma, that I have other personalities, and that it’s going to be okay in the end. I’ve accepted the fact that I need to stick up for myself more often, and that I need to also give myself credit.

Not giving up. Yes, this pertains to me not giving up on life, but more than that, the people who love me did not give up on me- or for this I am eternally grateful. My friends were there for me, 24/7, despite the fact that I may have disappeared for weeks at a stretch, they were there to listen and help me back up. My family- my actual family who supports me- welcomed me back home. My therapist has proven to be a stable confidant in my life and integration process. And my girlfriend… from the very beginning… thank you to the moon and back. I would not be where I am now without you.

Opportunities to be who I am, speak up about mental health, seek therapy, fall in love, find happiness, and much more.

Integration. I’m not there yet, but I am thankful for the moments of cooperation from my system. I’m thankful for the communication that has grown stronger, and for their protection.

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Appreciation. Every morning, no matter how shit-tastic I may be feeling, I manage to still offer my appreciation towards the people that I love and have in my life, towards getting better, towards my inner-system, towards the roof over my head and food on my table. I have grown to appreciate my family more this year. Especially through group therapy, I’ve developed a habit of gratitude lists everyday that really help ground me.

I am looking forward to 2016. I know there will most likely be some major speed bumps in the road, but I even look forward to tackling those as well.

I encourage you to find a word that suits your year!!