It has been probably about six months since I started researching DID and reading about other people’s experiences. It’s still all relatively new for me. Although the concept of dissociation was not new, knowing I have DID is something I have been struggling with and couldn’t really get my head around for a long time. Although I still have my moments, I feel that my reading has helped me so much. Learning about the disorder; how it develops and what others experience as part of it, has helped me to understand what is going on in my own head and to see that it does fit for me. So many little things that didn’t make sense about me now have an explanation.
I am quite a pessimistic and negative person. I see the negative in everything. I find myself reluctant to acknowledge when something is good and this is mainly because I am expecting things to quickly turn bad. This attitude is one I learnt to have and I’m not sure if it has helped or hindered me or both, but I tend to use this negative outlook as a way of protecting myself i.e. if you don’t expect something to be good, you won’t be disappointed if it isn’t and you might be pleasantly surprised. I think a lot of bad experiences also taught me that in general, things do go bad.
So, for me to have the realisation that I am about to share with you, is pretty special!
OK here it is.... I have been thinking about and realising how lucky I have been in my treatment for my mental health problems (I hate calling it that). For most of my life I have felt let down and angry that I wasn’t given help as a child when I cried out for it many times. I was angry that even at the age of twelve when my teachers found out I was self harming and told my parents, nothing was done to help me. It was all hush hushed and not talked about.
I started psychology over three years ago, before anyone including myself knew about my dissociation (I just thought they were odd experiences without explanation). I was referred to psychology for treatment for depression. The psychologist I saw then didn’t pick up on the DID initially (that I know of) and it was only after a few months that the dissociation issue was highlighted.
After three months in therapy my psychologist left the job and I had to change to a new therapist (T). I found this experience to be extremely difficult; I felt such a huge loss after learning to trust someone like I never had before. It was very difficult to trust my new psychologist as well after feeling so hurt by the last one.
Part of me was angry with the psychologist who left because it felt that if the psychologist had seen sooner that depression was just a side effect of everything else that was going on with me, they could have passed me onto T right at the start, knowing I would need longer in therapy and that they were leaving so wouldn’t be able to provide that. I wouldn’t have become attached to them and wouldn’t have had to deal with all the pain of them going (I don’t know why it was so painful for me but it was awful: logically I can’t understand why).
I thought “if only they had realised it was DID at the start, or if only I had just gone straight to T”. I wouldn’t have had to go through so much pain and be set back so much in learning to trust someone else.
Hmm, it doesn’t sound like I’ve been too lucky from what I’ve written, but thats just how I have always viewed it: that I have been really unlucky.
But, I am realising that there was probably a lot of providence in what happened. Well, I still wish I had been helped as a child but as T pointed out, perhaps if I had been helped it might not have made a difference at the time or been the right time for it or the right kind of help anyway. But now I am seeing I was actually quite lucky with the psychology. Having ‘Googled’ the name of my first psychologist (who hasn’t done that?!) I see that he had a special interest in trauma and dissociation and seems to do a lot of research on the topic. This was lucky for me because it meant he probably picked up on things I said or did and was able to identify them as dissociation where someone else might not have known what it was.
I have also realised, through lots of reading, that many people go through months or even years of therapy and may go through several therapists too before DID is identified. Plus, it would seem there are some therapists who don’t know much about DID and even some who believe it doesn’t exist!
So when I look at it that way, I was actually quite lucky to be referred to a psychologist with a great insight into trauma (I hadn’t shared anything about trauma with my doctor; in fact I thought trauma meant being in a car accident or witnessing a murder so I wouldn’t have even said I had experienced it) and dissociation.
Now I don’t know, I’m only speculating, but if I had been referred straight to my T that I’m with now, it’s possible she wouldn’t have identified DID in me, or it may have taken a lot longer. Her special interest is a different area. But as my case was passed on to her, she had the groundwork from the trauma psychologist. I’d like to think though that she is used to seeing people like me and would have picked up on it (that makes me feel more reassured).
So anyway, my point is, maybe the things that seemed awful at the time could actually have helped me to be in a good treatment setting now.
Another thing I am realising is that there are so many people who need help from clinical psychology that aren’t getting it and I am getting it. At times, when things have been really bad, I’ve felt the help I get isn’t enough and that there should be more support for me. It’s useful to remember though that I am getting help, even if at times I need more. I don’t have to pay because it’s NHS; I’m lucky to be living somewhere that has this free help.
Anyway, that’s enough positivity for one day!