Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Alters taking over during therapy sessions

This is the second half of the last post so you may have read it before. I decided to split it up into more bitesized chunks!

Recently in therapy, my psychologist and I ('I' being the part that attends therapy most of the time) have been talking a lot about the issue of switching in therapy and parts talking to her. For the most part, T's communication with my alters has been via me telling her what they think or are saying from the level two section. Quite often she will ask what the parts think about this or that, or if any parts have any views on x or y. Normally then I will go quite for a bit while I listen to what parts inside may or may not be saying and will then express these views to her. 

This works well in theory but has two limitations: one, is that I tend not so much to narrate but to edit what others are saying to make it fit in with my expectations as to what T will be OK with hearing; sometimes I might ignore a view completely if I don't feel the expression of that view is something I have the confidence to put out. The second problem is that it's not always straight forward. I can't always hear everyone well and make sense of things. There may be so many people are speaking at once that I can't make sense of it at all. Or, there can be a sort of whirlwind that starts up in my head and then I get overwhelmed and feel completely clueless altogether (this may be a way of parts protecting themselves from me being able to give away their secrets: I'm not sure). Sometimes, the parts are all at level three and I don't have a hope of being able to know what they think. So this way of communicating has it's drawbacks.

I think T and I both agree that if some of the parts were able to speak to her themselves it would be useful for them and for 'us' as a system (group of alters). Now, this has happened at times. I know that some of my alters have come out to speak with T in the sessions. Most times it has happened, I have been aware of what was happening. There may have been times I'm not aware about, I like to think not, but then maybe that's naïvety again. Most of the time, when my alters want to get out to speak to her during therapy it isn't just a simple switch because of the main person who attends the sessions. This is because it can be difficult to give up control and let others out, mainly because I am afraid of what will happen if I am not in control i.e. what will they say or do and how would T react to that? This can result in a huge struggle of parts against me (or the person who attends the sessions) which can lead to a static state of anxiety and dissociation which doesn't result in anyone getting the floor. 
Some of my alters have also communicated with T in the form of letters or pictures. This has been useful in a way, but not enough for them. I know they all feel they have a right to be at the sessions and meet T and speak with her themselves and I agree, they do deserve that. It frustrates me that I haven't been able to let them speak to T more often because it would make my time at therapy sessions a hell of a lot easier if I didn't need to be the one talking all of the time! My alters get angry with me for not being able to let them out. I get angry with myself! But at the end of the day, it has been an instinct my entire life to protect myself from hurt by hiding things from others and even myself. I spend my life keeping alters in in order to maintain normality and sanity and it's hard just to go the opposite way, against my instincts. The other thing is, if I do let alters out and something goes wrong (we get hurt in some way), it will be me who gets the blame for this. So you may understand the apprehensions.

The issue came up again a couple of sessions ago as a result of the letter I sent to T. The discussions headed along the lines of 'what can be done to help us get unstuck and allow others to feel safe to speak and me to feel safe to let them speak?'. This has been a frustrating question for me as I truly don't know the answer, or have any ideas of possible suggestions! I have felt it is something I can't get by. After expressing my 'stuckness' and discussing things more, T told me that she wanted me to leave the issue with her as she could see it was a big burden on me at the moment. When T said this, I had one of those moments in life where I truly felt cared for and understood. I felt such a relief that I could have leapt up and hugged her at that moment. Sometimes it can be frustrating when therapists don't feel they are there to provide any kind of suggestions or ideas in the way of practical help. I have sensed that the idea is for me to come up with the answers myself. This has always angered me a bit. I'm not a stupid person (on average) and if I had the ideas of how to get better in myself, I would have been trying them out before now! So T giving me a real answer to a problem (if only that she would hold on to the issue and think about what could help over the next few weeks) is like another breath of fresh air. She has given me a few of those lately.

Part of me says she won't come up with any answers, but partly I doubt that negativity. T has surprised me more and more with her ability to find answers to seemingly impossible situations. And even if she doesn't come up with anything, it has been such a relief to not have to think about the issue and try to solve it on my own over the last week or two. She has given me other homework though, which I will tell you about some other time. So for now, the issue of how I will be able to let parts out when they want to speak is just 'sitting'...but not with me.


lindaandtherestofus said...

i can completely relate. I have been diagnosed with did for about three years now, and my alters only speak straightforwardly to a select few, one being my therapist, the other my baby's daddy, and the third my very best friend in the entire world who suffers from did as well. However, I don't think any of my alters came "outright" until I underwent emdr therapy in a specialized hospital. It's no picnic and my heart goes out to you.

Candycan said...

Hi Linda, why do you think the EMDR caused it to happen that your alters came out afterwards? This is really interesting. I am due to have EMDR in the future although I have no idea when and I don't understand much about it. Have you written about EMDR?