Tuesday, March 27, 2018

What I wish families and friends knew....

I am continuing with the questions I was asked by a young man writing a report about DID.  My story is one of complexity and triumph but there were many difficult days that were made harder because family and friends didn't understand how complex my life was and still is. 

What do you think spouses, friends, and/or supportive family members should know about DID?

Fast answer: I'm not lying.  The different personalities have different perspectives and different pieces of information.  For me, no one of my parts had all the information.  So I could say things that were contradictory because each was true from a certain perspective. 

Thought about it:

Please listen to all of me.  For most of my life I didn’t know what was happening.  My sister shared with me that she would tell me the same thing over and over and I would act like it was new information.  What neither one of us realized, it was new information to the one she was talking to.  Imagine for a moment that you lived in a house with multiple rooms with no door ways or windows.  I would pop into a room and have that set of information and nothing else.  Things that caused switches for me were going from work to home or my parents house or church or it could be an event or a reaction.  Counseling helped me to first put windows so I could see into one room while still being in another.  Then I eventually put in door ways and I could navigate through all of me any time I wanted.  The house with rooms is a good metaphor for how everybody functions because each person does behave differently at work, school, with some friends, family and many other situations.  The key is that a person is aware they behave differently in each place.  I didn’t know.  The biggest change I felt since integrating is now I do know, like everyone else.  I also remember what it was like not to know. 

I’m not going to hurt anyone if I can possible help it.  In the light of recent events with shootings and marches this is important.  There is enough suffering in this World without adding to it.  I am not going to grab a gun and start shooting people up.  Sadly, media will claim a person is mentally ill when they go on a shooting spree but they don’t have actual documentation this is true.  Seems like no one wants to accept that sane people do evil things.

I want what every one wants to be accepted for who I am.  I am a bit quirky, OK some people will say a lot quirky. I really am a nice person.  I want to help others.  I care about people being happy.  I feel sad when they feel sad.  I can’t always show what I feel, please, accept that if I don’t respond in the way you expect me to doesn’t mean I don’t feel an emotional response.  I just don’t always have the words to share or the ability to connect with another person. 

My theme song as I healed is from Westside Story...

There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us

Book I found helpful that helped me understand more:
Multiple Personality Disorder from the Inside Out, Barry M. Cohen; Esther Giller; Lynn W. (Editor), The Sidran Press, Lutherville, MD, 1991. ISBN: 0-9629164-0-4 
If I read only this book, it would give me more information than all the other books combined. I felt this book, written by multiples for multiples and their families, was key to my understanding how many challenges I face everyday, and a variety of suggestions to make life better.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

What I wish counselors knew.....

Occasionally, I'll write a post that is needed in both of my blogs.  If you read both, yes, this is on both of them. 

What would you like therapists to know about the experience of DID? Most of this applies to PTSD too.  

Fast answer: All of us are real.  Telling me that some of myself is not real pushes me to not believe myself.  I am real, all of me and me and me.  I separated out to work like a tag team specializing in coping with one specific area.

Thought about it:
There is so much I wish counselors knew. I was blessed that my first counselor’s experience was extensive and varied. I wasn’t the first Dissosiative Identity Disorder client he worked with. I wasn’t his last either. He preferred family counseling, I had a whole family in me. I wrote an interim post about how awesome my first counselor was. He was a tough act to follow for the counselors after him. I had 3 more. One I fired. There is so much I wish the entire medical field knew about DID, CPTSD, PTSD and many other mental and emotional conditions experienced by people.

Here is a shopping list of wishes...I may add to this as I go along.

I wish the medical field in general knew we were real. Yup, read more than one article or book claiming that separate personalities is a fake. Sadly, some believe this to be true since one of the aspects of DID is people pleasing. If they believe they will be accepted by saying that their alters don’t exist, they will say it. It is sad that outside pressure is how DIDs are created and to survive saying we don’t exist happens. I was allowed to be real by my first counselor.

The counselor I fired didn’t believe my experience was real. I was livid, only lasted two visits. However, the experience underlined how little is actually taught to therapist about DID or PTSD and CPTSD is still trying to be fully recognized.

I wish counselors understood how terrified I was. I practiced over and over what I would say, not to rehearse a lie but to get past the conditioning I experienced to never tell on the threat of death. A child believes those threats are real possibilities. Opening up and telling the truth takes tremendous courage and energy, please, do not belittle those efforts because I practice to say what I need to say.

I realized I could write and write a whole shopping list of what counselors should know and do. However, reality reminds me therapists are human with their own prejudices, styles, histories, and short comings. At some point, every counselor will mess up and say something hurtful or wrong for a client.

This is what I learned from my counselor:

1. My counselor is NOT my friend.

2. If I am not there to work on the hard stuff, don’t waste his time.

3. He has boundaries. I actually learned a lot about healthy boundaries because I kept running into his.

4. He can have an ‘off’ day and say all the wrong things for me.

5. He tries not to, but occasionally he will mix me up with another client. Called me the wrong name a couple of times.

6. He will not fix me. His job is to teach me how to fix myself.

7. His job is to work himself out of a job. This means he will teach me to function independently and the process of working out my own emotional problems.

8. He literally told me, “You are too messed up for me to completely help you work through all your problems.” He was right. He taught me the process which is the name of my PTSD blog: Accepting, Coping, Thriving.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Change of lens

The first counselor I worked with was so extraordinary. He understood me in ways that I didn't understand about myself.  He led me to answers, allowing me to find out about me and my life.  But he wanted something more for me.  Early in my counseling he stated, "I don't want you to just survive, I want you to thrive."

The following week I came back and my first question, "What is thriving?"  I didn't know.  I didn't know what it looked like, felt like, what it was - a complete unknown.  He explained it was different from anything I knew because I was raised in a fear-based environment.  It was all I knew.  Fear, threats, do it or else and I knew else was bad. KavinCoach went far beyond teaching me how to survive, he changed the lens of my life. 

The Ted talk below puts into words and pictures what my first counselor did for me.
I challenge each of you to take the time to watch this all the way to the end.  Less than 20 minutes of your time, with the possibility of changing you for life.  Power comes with passion and celebration.
I wish every counselor knew how to change the lens of our lives.  How to change fear, cringing, depression, terror, and all the evil and cruelty we've seen to viewing what is good, kind, loving, compassionate to celebrate the power of celebrating what is right.

KavinCoach taught me this.  He changed my life.  He always tells me I did all the work but he had the vision of things I hoped for but didn't believe actually existed.  He showed me thriving was real and possible for me, a broken soul. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Research Questions

About a month ago, the son of my friend, a fellow DID (dissociative identity disorder) wrote to me asking several questions for a research paper he is writing.  I gave him short answers then decided to wait and think about longer answers.  A LOT happened this past month.  Major life changes but I didn't forget about the questions.  I will share the short answer and the longer one over the next several posts.  Looking back is sometimes easier to evaluate what I did.  In the moment, all I thought about was putting one foot in front of the other and not giving up.  

What did you wish you knew about DID when you were first diagnosed?
Fast answer: I wish I had known that it was actually a complex protection from horrible events and experiences.  It was not intended for long term use but I didn't know anything else.  

Thought about it: Looking back in life is a different perspective than in the moment.  

My counselor knew before I did that my behavior was a bit complex.  He later shared with me that he listened to my husband describe me as irresponsible, forgetful, and unreliable then compared it to his view of over responsible, time gaps, and very caring.  He felt like he was hearing about two different people.  He recognized the behavior as two different people wrapped into one.  Later we learned I was 5 different people functioning together.  Rather than telling me I had PTSD, DID, or CPTSD he let me explore things on my own.  I started counseling in May.  In September he assigned me to watch the movie Sybil.  First he asked me if I had ever seen the movie or the 3 Faces of Eve. I had never seen either movie.  I couldn’t get a copy of Sybil any where except ASU.  I could not check it out so they asked me to use a viewing room.  Half way through I started to cry.  I was watching an outward expression of my inner life.  My life tilted and suddenly things that didn’t make any sense made sense.  My confusion of going to sleep on Monday and waking up on Wednesday and wondering what happened to Tuesday and why am I in trouble for doing or not doing something.  There was a reason behind it.  A number of events in my life became clarified when put into this scenario of different personalities being forward and other parts receding back to deal with different situations.  

I am glad I didn’t know from the beginning how difficult the journey would be to integration.  Sometimes not knowing how hard a task will be, allows me to keep moving forward because I did not think I could stop.  In some ways, I wish I knew sooner but I did the research of over 30 years of writing about DID and PTSD.  Bottom line, sooner diagnosis could have been hazardous to my health.  Early treatment included dangerous medications, institutionalizing in mental hospitals unequipped to address my challenges, and shock therapy.  More trauma heaped on those that are already traumatized.  There are still many who don’t believe it is real.  I lived it.  I now understand I created an elaborate protection system that allowed me to do things that a sane person would never do.  I survived extreme trauma; I did it using multiple personalities.  I tagged teamed myself to cope with varying extreme expectations and difficult experiences.  I wish I was kinder to myself through this process of integration and learning better life skills.  

To learn more about DID I recommend several books on my resources page.  The book that I felt was most accurate:

Multiple Personality Disorder from the Inside Out, Barry M. Cohen; Esther Giller; Lynn W. (Editor), The Sidran Press, Lutherville, MD, 1991. ISBN: 0-9629164-0-4 
If I read only this book, it would give me more information than all the other books combined. I felt this book, written by multiples for multiples and their families, was key to my understanding how many challenges I face everyday, and a variety of suggestions to make life better.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Our internet is reconnected.  I felt silly without internet and longing to pop on to say hello in facebook, look up a question, or my children's address.  All of my stuff is online more than I thought.  I didn't think I was that invested until I was without it due to faulty equipment.  I am happily reconnected and struggling with what I want to do first.  A bit of Lumosity, a game or two, comments on blogs and general reconnecting with everything I do online.  I'm on vacation so avoided work today.  However tomorrow I will make sure the links work for training for my job.  I like my job and continually look for ways to improve.  Internet has a bunch of training online plus the school pays for some of it.  I try to get as much benefit as possible.  I also like animal, grandkids, and art videos...especially how they do it.  Amazing stuff online.  I'm thankful to be reconnected and bless my computer every night.  :)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Stop Adapting

My counselor took a while figuring out where I was at emotionally and what needed to be done.  Not his fault.  I had no memories to tell about my childhood.  The ones I did have I didn't share because I held to the 'past is the past let's get on with living.'  So he asked.  I didn't know.  Once the stories started coming out and my total lack of shock or surprise at man's inhumanity to man he carefully explained that I was not a weird little girl growing up to having all these problems.  I was a "normal" little girl raised in insanity and I learned to adapt.  Stop adapting.  Huh What???? Adapting is what I do best.  I can morph into anything that someone else wants me to be.  One of the movies he had me watch was Run Away Bride.  He told me to watch the bride.  The bride adapted her likes and wishes to every prospective fiance.  When asked what kind of eggs she liked, she didn't know.  She adapted her tastes to everyone else's.  To stop adapting I need to establish that I have basic human rights.  Then I  need an opinion.  That is right.  I did not have an opinion.

My counselor was fishing for an answer...what do you like?  What do you do that makes you happy?  What brings you joy?  I refused to answer every question.  He watched me carefully and was fully aware of me deepening distrust with every question he asked.  He decided to put off the discussion and wait for a bit until I was more willing to share my opinions.   I was rattled and upset by his wanting to know about what I liked, my preferences, what brings me joy.  I looked around the sporting department and found the biggest fishing hook I could find.  The hook measured about 3 inches long (over 7 cm).  I then bought an Almond Joy candy bar.  I carefully skewered the fish hook through the word joy on the candy bar.  I brought it with me the following week counseling session.  One look at the 3 D visual aid he knew I was not telling him anything about my preferences any time soon.  I associated very bad things happening if people knew what I liked.  My preferences, wishes and desires were twisted and manipulated to control me.  If I had no likes, they had no way of getting their hooks in me.  Very disturbing scary stuff and my counselor knew it.  He let that rest and focused on my Bill of Rights.   I highly recommend this activity.  I am reminding myself that I need to revisit what my rights are as a human being.  I shared one of my lists over on my other blog.....


I give a link to the book I read that had the information.  After writing my bill of rights I learned that I have preferences within those rights. 

For example one of my basic rights is I have the right to have extra food in the house.

For a person that was often expected to go hungry so someone else could have seconds this was a critical need.  However, what those food items are indicate my preferences.  Yes, I have extra soy free chocolate bars in my refrigerator.  I also have an extra apple.  I have some food on the shelf for years, I don't always eat the extra food I have the right to have it if I choose to.  It is amazing.  That I can do this now.  

So why am I writing all this now.  I posted my human rights list over 3 years ago, I wrote them long before that.  Why now?  My World changed abruptly with several major things hitting at the same time.  Other people are expecting me to adapt to these huge changes.  I am reminding myself, "NO I DON'T."  I am not the one that needs to throw out all my progress to be me so they are comfortable.  NO.  First, I need to reestablish in my own mind what am I protecting, what are my preferences and what do I like.  I'm in a situation I don't like right now, the recipe for misery is for me to adapt.  I'm good at it but I know it leads me down a dark horrible hole that I don't want to go back to...I must stop adapting.   

Sometimes you just have to turn around, give a little smile, throw the match and burn that bridge.
Awesome picture at http://cheezburger.com/8420808192

New one I found in my search for the source of this quote, "May the bridges I burn light your way."

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Weaknesses become strengths

I never understood this when I read it in scriptures.  I just figured weaknesses caused problems.  I could not wrap my mind around how they could become a strength. 

In 7th grade, my teacher gave me a mercy grade of a D, instead of the F I earned.  She also gave me a bad spellers dictionary.  The dictionary put psychology in the S section.  Fast forward a bunch of years when I went back to college in my late 30's.  The first class I took was English 102, research processes.  I figured if I couldn't pass that required class there was no use wasting my time with the rest.  During those years computers progressed to MS Word with spell check.  That magical mystical thing that put squiggles under misspelled words.  The cool thing about computers it corrected me over and over again without pointing out how many times it corrected me.  I was learning to spell thanks to my computer.  I was very proud the first time I wrote an essay with no squiggles to correct.  I also learned to read voraciously.  I read not a few books but hundreds and thousands of books.  Put these two things together, I learned to take my awful spelling and poor grammar to become an editor for my sister.  I expanded this to helping students at school to editor their papers.  One student heard about my editing and asked me to help with his paper and he wasn't in any of my classes I helped in.  My miserable failing grade is now a strength. 

I am editing one of my sister's short stories.  These are my favorites; they share about love and old fashion courting and surviving and finding love and all read in a few hours.  I sometimes chuckle when she talks to me about a character in her books not behaving well and what could be done to help them find God and Love.  I wonder if people over hearing us think we are talking about a real place to visit. It is such a joy for me to share my weakness that is now a strength.  I feel blessed and can bless others.  I now understand it didn't happen because it suddenly magically changed.  I set goals to improve and a persevered and computers corrected my spelling over and over without complaint.  I understand the differences between there, their, and they're.  I look up things I am still not sure about.  Surprised to realize how really weird the English language is and how amazing it is to find a word that describes an idea.  Thanks Laurel Hawkes for including me in your adventurers. 




Friday, March 2, 2018

There's a Place for Us

Our symphony is playing West Side Story.  I saw the movie as a teenager.  I thought it was sad.  When I was in counseling and my World as I knew it blew a part the lyrics often ran through my head,

There's a place for us
Somewhere a place for us....

Only I was the only one singing it.  I chose to integrate but before that I felt the sting of repeated rejections because of how I functioned.  I didn't go out and decide I would use multiple personalities to survive, I was a terrified little girl in a crazy World that the more I tried to make sense of it the weirder it got.  More than once I felt like I fell down Alice's rabbit hole but there was no friendly creatures, kind of a White Rabbit gets Axed murdered by Stephen King. 

Again I was reminded of my feeling of isolation on the PTSD group on Facebook when a post asked are there others that use MPD. I answered yes, but chose to integrate.  Strangely now I don't fit either place.  I am no longer a multiple personality but I don't have the same thinking patterns of a singleton either.  I feel there is no place for me.  I feel isolated and struggle feeling connected.  Then I remind myself that almost every person I ever encounter also feels like they are not accepted.  Fully accepting someone else that is totally different from your self takes a willingness to be vulnerable and feel that difference.  Humans are hard wired to be attracted to those similar to themselves and bond in communities, neighborhoods, and groups of friends.  Outsiders are ridiculed and shunned as not being part of a group.  Stories, movies, songs and the news all attest of tragic results of not feeling accepted.  Then I come across a story that shows how people do connect, people that are different from each other helping each other.  I cry reading these stories.

I am different.  I knew as a teenager that I responded differently.  I didn't know why.  Finding out how I functioned was a shocker for me and my family.  I was rejected by people that I thought were friends.  Disbelief and fear were two reactions I became familiar with.  However, I did not integrate to become accepted by others.  I became a multiple to be able to appease my different abusers.  I didn't have just one.  I know how some of my personalities were brought into service.  My counselor once, and I mean once, made the mistake of asking me which one of us real.  He wanted to get me angry to get me to open up.  What he didn't expect was my towering rage at his question and my total shut down.  Took a while for him to get me on a more stable place.  He realized that I harbored deep anger, slightly miscalculated how fierce I can be.

My friend asked me about depression and how long before worrying about someone else that showed signs of depression.  I jokingly commented, "Without depression, I would be a raging bitch."  In jest, I spoke a powerful truth.  I use depression as a means of controlling the feelings of hurt and pain for suffering unjustly at the hands of those that should have protected me.  Most of the time I keep my feelings in check but every so often a reminder comes out that I lived through some of the worse that humans do.  I chose to survive against unfair odds.  I used creative ways of doing this.  Now, society condemns my methods.  I'm not sorry I was a multiple.  I am thankful I integrated and no longer lose days and weeks of time.  I learned many things along the way.  I believe the most important for me is my faith in Jesus Christ the healer of the World and there is nothing I experience that He does not understand.  With Christ, I always have a place.