Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Ouch

My body hurts.
This is always a sign that my therapy session was hitting nerves somewhere, if not with 'me'.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

About the chatter in my head

Eliza asked me how I felt after the last blog post where I typed up some of the internal conversation in my head. It's not something I actually reflected on much at the time. After writing down on paper what I could hear, I went straight to sleep (a coping mechanism or was it just the relief of getting it down on paper?) and after typing it up on the blog I didn't hang around  long to ponder my feelings either.

So how do I feel? Erm, OK? OK, so maybe I am just a bit detached from it all. I think I have to be that way. When I see things like that on paper, I either will get freaked out and fall into the vicious trap of alternating between 'what the fuck happened to me?' and 'what the fuck is wrong with me that I would make something like that up?' or the alternative is to not think about it. Quite often these days it is the latter and because I have done this writing exercise several times now, I'm just not so shocked by what I see on paper. I just acknowledge that it's there but try to avoid thinking about it too much. Sometimes I don't even acknowledge the writing and just forget I even did it.

The first time I did this writing exercise was very different. I had no idea about dissociative identity disorder. I knew about dissociation, because it had been happening to me and my psychologist had explained what it was (I had just put it all down to 'one of those things' that you can't explain. I still have a few of those things. Maybe they are all part of this? Note to self: add that question to the list for T) but DID?... multiple personality disorder? OK so I'd heard of the latter condition, but I knew no more than your average naive, clueless individual. I would have sooner believed I had undiscovered special flying powers than think I could have DID and not know about it.

I had been talking with the psychologist and somehow the topic of the chatter in my head came up. I was quite taken aback to hear the psychologist telling me that no, not everyone does have this going on in their heads. He asked me what the voices were saying and this got me thinking (or listening).

So that night, I sat down and really tried to listen to what they were saying. To be honest, I'd never taken all that much notice of them before as I just thought it was my mind processing all the shit of life in the background. I got a pen and paper and wrote down whatever words I could make out and as I did so, it became easier to hear what was being said and, like the other day, it wasn't nice. Only, unlike the other day, I had no idea that this stuff was coming from some other parts of me that I wasn't connected to and it scared me out of my whits.

I still remember sitting on the floor in the living room in the middle of the night with the papers, too scared to leave the room but wanting to run up to Adam and pull his arms around me and cry. I wanted to tear up the papers and pretend they never existed but I knew it was important I shared what had been written with the psychologist. I knew this was some kind of breakthrough even if it felt like I was breaking through the walls to hell.

I put the papers in an envelope and left them with a note in the psychology department for my psychologist. In the note I explained that I needed to get them out of my house and that I was really freaked out and I asked if the psychologist could ring me, which he did. I don't really know what I needed from him. I think I just needed comfort and reassurance that I wasn't crazy. At the time I felt let down by the conversation. He said that what I was going through wasn't unusual and happens to other people. I think he was talking about the voices thing but I just felt he was being really patronising about the depression that was affecting me. What I heard was: 'a lot of people are depressed so get over it'. I couldn't see how telling me that other people feel the same way could possibly help me in the slightest. In hindsight I feel pretty sure that's not what he was saying at all. He didn't offer anything in the way of an explanation and just kept saying we'd 'talk about it on tuesday'. I felt alone.

When Tuesday came, he had some questions about the things I had written, but I don't remember getting any answers. I don't know how many weeks later it was that he drew me a diagram of the inside of my mind which consisted of various circles, some of which were near each other and some which were very separate. There may also have been some that overlapped. He explained that these were parts of me and that somehow they had become more separated than usual. That was a light bulb moment. Well, in some ways it was a light bulb moment, in that it helped me make sense of myself; yet in another way it was like I already knew it and was just getting something confirmed to me at last.

I was always (am always) reserved in therapy but at that moment I wanted so much to leap up and grab the psychologist and hug him and thank him for drawing the inside of my head and explaining 'me' to myself in a way no one ever had before.

I know I could cope now though. I can tolerate the writings. They still confuse me and would freak me out if I let them, but I keep it at an intellectual level and try not to analyse things. In short, I just don't allow myself to feel anything about them.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Someone wants us dead

I have promised myself I will go to bed early tonight as I have been so unbelievably fucking tired this week but not in the usual unexplainable way: mainly just because I haven't had enough sleep.
I did feel extra tired after going to therapy on... when was it?... Monday? Whenever it was anyway (the days are a blur at the moment). I think because I was getting out of function mode in the session it was quite draining. I feel that since then I have been coming more and more back to being aware of the alters and with it brings it's typical challenges.

Yesterday I was pondering on how I felt I was in a nice place. I was feeling more in tune with the others but not overwhelmed by them. I was comforted to feel them again. I sensed Pan and Little C on more of an emotional level than before, where I just observed that they were out without feeling anything. The same for some of the others.

Then I went to bed last night and something changed. I couldn't settle. I felt anxious and fearful. I looked about me and felt the world a dangerous place. I tried to let my breath out slowly but relaxing my breath felt like letting go of the bars on a theme park ride (you know you're not going to fall because you're strapped in but you hold on to them for dear life anyway). After a bit I switched on the lamp and grabbed a note pad from the floor (the great thing about being pathologically messy is that you're never far from something when you need it) and my husband's special pen from his drawer and did what I do when I feel the way I was feeling: write down what I can hear in my head.

I was going to describe what came out but maybe I will just type it directly on instead... hold on while I drag myself off the sofa and go upstairs to get the notepad which is still lying on the floor...

OK I'm back. Thanks for waiting. It appears that the first part is more like a conversation or random statements and words which I think are coming from more than one part. It then seems to shift to more of a rant by one part, which you will see shortly when I stop rambling and let you get on with reading it...

Just to warn you, it is not very nice and may be upsetting so take care and think before you read.

OK here we go:

"I don't like you speaking on my behalf
Pressure
The pressure's on
Watch yourself
Wait and see
You're gonna pay
Pay back
What
You don't deserve that
Still
It's what becomes of people like you
Bastard whore
She said
Silence was golden. Now you know we're still here.
I hate you 'Candycan'
You're dead. I'm going to kill you. Watch yourself. You think your wrists look nice now? Suffer. You will.
Show you... death... you will die
Stop it. Why are you hurting her? She's one of us.
This is not real. I'm making this up. It can't be real.
Re-al re-al re-al re-al
Your noise is drowning me out
Pay back pay back. You won't hide me. Bitch. Fucking shitface whore.
All you're good for is sucking dicks. In the cage. Her in the cage. Is she worth more than that?
Special pen pen pen pen special pen
Bad bad
It's only ink. It's not wrong. Who fucking gives one...
Sleep slapen slap micro
Listen. Listen to me. Please, I want to say... there are no memories. blackness blankness. Was I ever a child? Was I ever real? How did I get here to this life? Who is he? Why am I living here? I know the facts. I moved here with my family. But was that me. I've come into someone else's body and taken on their life. I have to presume those memories are mine.
What do you remember 'Candycan'?
A dress. A pink dress. Fasting. Feeling thinner. School. In school thinking about the end of the world.
No no not the bedroom. Please not be ours. Please not be real.
Hurt us hurt us hurt us
The door the door. Underwear. Man. legs. water. beard.
In the cage. In the cage.
Man breath. Read me a story daddy. Don't go to sleep mummy. Am I the best girl? I am going to be a mummy and will I love my babies.
Hang yourself. Cut yourself. Kill yourself. Burn it. You are a worthless shit. Those men only want you cos you're such a fucking worthless shit. No one would love you. Only fuck you.
That's all they want. They'll crush you and fuck you and leave you broken and polluted and stained. Don't let them. Fuck them hard to be your own boss then fucking kill yourself.

Stop it stop it stop it. We can be better. We can get help. 'T' is going to help us.

Don't open your fucking mouth and tell me that shit. You fucking think anyone can fucking help us? You think you won't be let down again and left again? You're a joke. I don't know why you're so naive. Don't go back. Just don't go. She won't care. You'll never hear from her and we can all move on. It'll be as if it never happened. Like the good old days again. She'll be glad to get rid of your whiney fucking cunt face. You repulsive shit. You make me sick. Why haven't you killed yourself yet? Why are you still writing everything like some nerdy dick. Gathering evidence so you can run to your precious 'T' and ask her to help you? You're a fucking retard and the sooner you get over yourself and... the better.
Jump off the building... dressing gown chord...cut your wrists. Take the tablets. How many options do you need? Who gives a fuck. I am going to do it anyway. Sooner or later I'll get you when you least expect it. I'm going to fucking kill all of us."

The end.

I fell straight asleep after this and doubt I would have remembered writing any of this down if I hadn't seen the pad there by my feet when I got up this morning.


Obvious Child



Paul Simon - The Obvious Child

How could anyone not love this song? Even I feel energetic with this one on. It just gets better and better.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Ending friendships

Sometimes I go through periods of wanting to shut myself off from other humans. I don't want to engage in conversations; I just want to be alone. This is very easy for me as I don't have many relationships anyway. At work I have the option to chat with colleagues or keep my head down. I can invite others to join me at lunch or wait until others have eaten and take myself off to sit alone in the staff room.

As you may know, I have very few friends. I find it really hard to make friends. Usually I can act normal enough to pass myself in general conversation for a short time but I find myself freaking out at the prospect of people getting emotionally close to me. I think people don't tend to want to get close to me because I am slightly weird and hard to read. People probably find that off putting. I tend to hold people at a distance anyway and I think this is because I'm trying to protect myself from the inevitable hurt that comes from relationships.

I made friends with Pou when we both worked together in my old job. I had always liked her, possibly because like me she is not originally from Northern Ireland and was a bit of a cultural misfit in our very specific workplace. I think I could see she was a bit different from most people too and this made me warm to her because of my being different. I now feel pretty much convinced that her being slightly different is much more than just quirks. I will come to that though.

Shortly after we started meeting up outside of work as friends, I went on sick leave because my depression and dissociation was so bad I couldn't function. We continued to meet and would spend hours enlightening each other on what it was like to be us. Eventually I shared my DID secret with her and she has talked to me about her OCD and mood problems. To be honest, more often than not it was her talking and me listening, but I generally didn't mind because I guess it's a nice break being able to forget about my own issues and listen to someone else's for a while. I felt valued too as a listening ear.

Pou describes to me how at times her mood gets so low and dark that she can't get out of bed in the mornings, doesn't eat, feels so alone and hopeless and thinks death would be a release. Then, within a matter of hours her mood can spring to the opposite extreme. Quite often these swings will happen when I am with her. She may be manic; I find her really hard going when she's like this.

I can tell instantly when she is in this state. I might arrive at her house and beep my horn to collect her and she will burst forth from the house, dancing and jumping and reaching for the sky in exclamation of the beauty of the world. She is very likely to speak to strangers in this state. Quite often it's as though she thinks the whole world is looking at her. So where we might be sitting in a café together, her conversation will become louder and more like she is talking to everyone in the room than to me. She might make loud jokes and then look around to see who is laughing (usually no one is because unfortunately when she is in this mood, her jokes don't tend to be as funny as they are when she is in more of a balanced state). She sometimes behaves very inappropriately too. Last time we went to the cinema, we were walking past some popcorn which had been spilled on the ground. Pou said 'Ooh I'd love to eat some of that popcorn'. Adam and I grimaced and exclaimed about how disgusting that would be, thinking she was joking, but then she went over to it and picked some of the popcorn up and started eating it! I felt embarrassed because people were looking at her as though she was crazy. She didn't care though.

When she is in this state she will also try to wind me up. If she discovers something that annoys me she will do it as much as possible thinking it's funny. Unfortunately, she takes this way too far. I have told Pou on several occasions that I DO NOT like to be touched and I have explained that sometimes I can give her a hug but in general I can't tolerate touch. She will then use this information and try to hug and kiss me and once she even grabbed my boobs and nuzzled her face into them (see here). She can't help it when she's like this and she has lost friendships because of it. She has told me that sooner or later people always get offended or fall out with her for some reason and she doesn't understand why it is. She complains that people don't accept her for who she is. I feel sorry for her, yet at the same time I understand why people do it because when she is in this manic state, it's like she is someone else.

The Pou I made friends with was more placid and down to earth. I struggle with myself when she is like this. I think I need to be more accepting and not get annoyed with her, yet she irritates me so much and I then argue that I wouldn't have made friends with her if she was that person all the time. To be honest, I have always found her much easier to get on with when she is in the depressed state. I have asked her what triggers the mood shifts. She says it could be an argument with her boyfriend or not even an argument, but a perceived rejection. I don't know if there are triggers for the mood swings I see in her when we are together. In the space of half an hour she can go from normal to manic to extremely subdued and introverted for no apparent reason.

She feels her only problem is OCD i.e. because of OCD she becomes overly worried about something and then obsessively thinks about it, which makes her feel down. She doesn't have an explanation for the high times, but as she said herself today, why would she want to change them because they feel so good? How could I tell her that when she is like that she drives people away? Instead I said that surely the high periods are linked in some way to the low periods and is it worth feeling so low to have the high times: wouldn't a balance be more tolerable for her? She mumbled that she supposed so.

I struggle to know what to say to her about this. On one hand, I think I should just keep out of it as she is not the kind of person to take advice from me anyway. Yet on the other hand, I can see that her life is really affected by these swings. She is extremely insecure in her relationships. I've seen so many guys break up with her in the few years we've been friends and she's not been able to understand what went wrong, when to me it seems clear that they couldn't handle her instability. If she got help to find out what is wrong and got treatment for her, she could feel more secure and be more able to maintain friendships. But if I tell her 'by the way Pou I think you might have borderline personality disorder' I don't think she's going to take that too well. Secondly, I don't know enough about borderline personality disorder to be sure that's what she has and I know there are other conditions that could cause these mood shifts too.

However, I am struggling to know what to do about our friendship too. I said before that I felt valued as a listener but all of that has changed. Over the last year I have felt more and more uncared for by her. She often cancels plans with me, usually because she's had a better offer. Quite often now it's to spend time with her current boyfriend (who, by the way is 'the one' and she is already planning to marry him after just a few months, but what would I know about relationships... as Pou reminds me: she's had so many, she's an expert. I've only had the one serious relationship so what would I know? We've managed to stay together for ten years but hey what would I know?). When we do meet up, the conversation is more and more one sided and more and more it's about how amazing her boyfriend is, which is all very well, but I don't need to hear it non stop and forgive me for saying so, but it's very early days and he's just a normal guy. She's so obsessed with him that she's distracted too and it's obvious she isn't really in the present moment with me.

So, at the start of the post I said that I sometimes want to shut myself off from other humans. I've been doing this more and more in recent months. Pou was about my closest friend in the world besides Adam but it's been hard to maintain that with me wanting to push everyone away so trying to distance myself from her at times and her making it really hard for me to want to be her friend at all. A few weeks ago I found myself texting her to see if she wanted to meet up. I had no desire to see her as last time, I felt she had absolutely no interest in me as a person. But I told myself I am being too critical and should just accept her friendship as being more of an acquaintance who I can have a chat and coffee with.

So after much too-ing and fro-ing, because she wanted to make sure her boyfriend wasn't going to be free on a day we planned to meet (wouldn't want to miss out on an extra evening with him would she?) she finally committed to meeting today.

Today she was not manic. Today she was down, very, very down. The reason? She had left her mobile at her boyfriend's house and wasn't going to be seeing him for three whole days so wouldn't be able to talk to him on the phone or text. Fair enough, that's annoying; but you'd have thought he'd just been sent away on a prison ship to Australia for the way she was carrying on. She was so preoccupied and must have mentioned at least ten times during dinner how upset she was about forgetting her phone. She looked like she was going to cry at several points. I tried not to say anything about it. At one point I suggested that it might be liberating not to have a phone but she firmly reminded me that she needs to keep in contact with her family because they are far away. Ever heard of payphones or Internet?

The phone issue aside, I think I spoke about myself for a total of about thirty seconds throughout the whole dinner except to ask her questions about herself. She just talked and talked and talked and talked. At one point she did ask me how it was going with T but to be honest, I don't want to talk to her about it anymore. It's hard for me to talk about my issues at the best of times but I don't feel she is a friend anymore. I don't want to share this part of my life with someone who couldn't care less about me. It didn't take much to steer the conversation away anyway as it didn't appear she was actually all that interested in what I had to say about T.

She invited me back to her house for a cuppa but by the time we had paid the bill I actually felt like I could cry. I told her I wasn't feeling well (which was true, the stress of it was making me feel ill) and I dropped her home. On the way to her house she started on about her phone again and I was so at the end of my tether that I loudly told her to get over it (in a jokey way). I told her absence makes the heart grow fonder. She didn't like to hear that; she said that he was absent enough without being able to even text him. I expressed that this would make the heart grow even fonderer (I don't think that's a word) but this just seemed to annoy her more. I then said that maybe it would be a good thing to remind her that she is her own person. I didn't mean that she has forgotten that (although it would appear she has) but she took it that way and told me I was really annoying her now and that she knew she was her own person and has had enough relationships to realise that (why does she feel the need to keep telling me how many relationships she's had?). I just laughed and let her stew in her annoyance. I was done with it.

So, dear patient enduring reader, what do I do?
Is it me looking for a reason not to be friends with her anymore and should I just keep trying to accept her for who she is even though at the moment spending time with her is about as enjoyable as poking pins in my eyeballs? Or is it clear to you that our friendship is hopeless and that I am flogging a dead horse and should move on?
Or is it something else? Be honest, tell me if I'm just being a dick about all of this.
Any thoughts/opinions/diagnoses welcome.

Once again, thank you if you have made it this far. It never ceases to surprise me when people read my posts and comment on them.

Shining Light



Not sure which version I prefer between Ash and Annie Lennox but seeing as Ash were the originals and they went to my school, today they will get the glory!
This is an ode to someone who is like a shining light in my darkness.

The project: who are my personalities?


Hello again. I would apologise for the abrupt ending to my last post however, it may not have been a bad thing for you, given the length of it (and the length of this one: I hope you have a cup of tea in hand... or a strong coffee might be prudent).

Today I got to the till in Tescos and loaded all my bags of shopping into the trolley only to find my card was not in my wallet and I had nothing to pay with. I had to drive all the way home to find it and go back again. I wouldn't be so annoyed if it was the first time it has happened. I wouldn't even feel so bad if it was the second time, but this has happened several times! I'd like to blame DID for this one but I don't know. I think I may just have a nasty case of carelessness. Anyway, that's just an FYI for you.

Let's go back to where we left off yesterday. I was telling you about therapy. T asked if I was happy to look at the project of trying to sub group my alters and find people who could act as spokespersons to prevent chaos. I agreed and so she handed me the pieces of paper with the descriptions I had jotted down.

I explained that I didn't feel I would ever be able to group them or know if one could speak for others so she suggested I just talk through what I had been able to come up with so far. I did well at first; sometimes being in function mode is not altogether a bad thing. T pointed out recently that I can talk about my issues at times when in function mode without feeling the intense emotions that often come with them. It's like the information is at a more intellectual level. She found this to actually be a useful thing. I don't know why it is like that sometimes but then at other times I'm so far from myself I can't engage in any reflection on alters whatsoever.

I talked through a few of the alters. I had come up with a system of labelling to identify three things about each alter:
  1. do they want to come out in the sessions?
  2. do they need to speak to T?
  3. are they likely to come out in the sessions?
The possible answers were: : Yes, No, Unsure, No idea.

T asked me to first tell her the ones that were a yes for all three so I talked about Ebony, Pan, Little C and Andy. I also talked about a few other parts.
T made notes and asked questions. I found it tolerable enough to talk about Pan and Little C and I didn't say much about Ebony as she already knows a bit about her.

When T read my notes about Little C she commented on the bit where I had written that Little C is scared of T but likes her. She said: 'Little C feels a bit intimidated by me?' I explained that little C is very shy and nervous of people in general. T then said: 'I think I can be a bit intimidating'.

Hold the phone...

Did T actually offer some personal information on herself on her thoughts about herself? This is huge! This is T, the one who nearly bit my head off when I asked her why she was going to be leaving for a year. The one who, when I enquired as to how her holiday went a few weeks back, was very quick to tell me that it was in the past and that she's back at work now and didn't want to dwell on it (i.e. I don't want to talk to you about my holidays so don't ask).
OK so in fairness, anyone who can claim the title 'clinical psychologist' could also rightly claim the label 'intimidating' alongside it. They could just call themselves 'intimidating psychologists'. Doesn't everyone feel somewhat intimidated by a psychologist? Isn't it that slightly irrational but inevitable fear that they somehow have the ability to look into your eyes and see every thought you've ever had (hence why I avoid eye contact with T for any longer than two seconds at a time)?
But the way she said it, it was like she was revealing an observation about herself and I kind of got the feeling that she meant she thinks she has more than just the usual amount of psychologist intimidation inducing ability.

I didn't quite know what to say. I do find T very intimidating at times. She has an air about her: she's so sure of herself and I sense that she would be quick to tell you if you overstepped a boundary. I am never sure of when I may do that, so my anxiety about doing something wrong is large. She is the clinical psychology services manager and I guess you don't get to that position without being a person with natural authority and confidence.
I didn't want to agree and say: 'Yes, you are very intimidating and it's not just Little C who thinks that.' I don't think that would have made her feel good. I didn't want to deny what she had said though because she is right, she is a bit scary. So I kind of just reiterated that Little C is very shy and that even with Adam, she can be over-sensitive. I think that was an OK thing to say, don't you?


When T was asking me about Andy I really started to struggle with myself. I could sense that Andy wanted to come out to speak to T directly but I was scared to let this happen. It always happens that when I feel an alter try to come out with T, I instinctively try to prevent it. The only way I can do this is by 'shutting down'. At worst this means dissociating. At best, it means not speaking so that nothing can be allowed to be said. If I keep my mouth shut, I will be safe. This is pretty much what happened yesterday. I was able to tell T that I was finding it difficult though and she asked me if parts were chattering inside. She wondered if Andy was upset because we were talking about him/her. I explained that it was not that Andy was upset but that he/she wanted to speak to T and I didn't want them to (I say 'he/she' because I don't know if Andy is a boy or girl. I think 'girl' but not a girly girl. Andy seems sexless to me. Neither male nor female, but doesn't mind being called either (unlike Pan who wants to be a boy)) and that this resulted in a struggle. I was also able to explain that it was very difficult for me to be faced with an awareness of parts again after almost coming to the conclusion that they didn't exist at all.

T is so understanding. I am amazed at her ability to grasp what's going on in my head. I don't think DID is her specialist subject. I think her main area of work is with autistic people; she must have just ended up with me because of my original therapist leaving, but she really gets it. It's hard to describe how great it feels to be understood at that level. Most people I know have no idea that I have DID. When I have tried to talk to people about it, I've always felt my experiences are too different from normality and it's been impossible for people to really grasp what it's like.

When I expressed that I was finding it difficult, T agreed that she had noticed I was slowing down considerably since she asked about Andy. She helped me then with some grounding exercises. I want to be a pessimist and tell you that these are a ridiculous waste of time, but I actually find them to be really helpful (apologies to any fellow pessimists; I have let the side down). I didn't find they helped me much when I started therapy with the first psychologist. I remember him telling me to be aware of my body in the chair, my back, my legs etc... I felt so exposed and part of me couldn't cope with a man saying things about my body. I remember one time him asking me to pull my shoulders back and sit tall in the chair and then he was like: 'that's gooood'. I think he was just trying to be encouraging but I felt so freaked out that he was perving at me (I have big boobs!). He asked me how I felt then and I told him I felt exposed. He seemed surprised and I think his theory was that if I sat tall, I would feel more confident. It just didn't work for me.

T uses some of the same techniques, i.e. saying to be aware of my body in the seat, but it's OK with her. I don't find this all that useful though. One thing T has started doing since the letter I wrote her a while back, is using Grace. In my letter I told her that in an emergency situation (i.e. Candy is so dissociated she can't get her to come 'back to the room') T could ask for Grace. T has now been using Grace as a way of grounding me at the end of the sessions. She asked me to visualise my safe place and I had expressed that I couldn't imagine it being safe and that no matter how hard I tried, there always seemed to be an invasion into it. T seemed a bit incredulous that my imagination could be so faulted, but if you've never felt safe, it can be hard to imagine what 'safe' feels like. Anyway, T then asked me to visualise Grace helping parts that are troubled and protecting the safe place. This worked very well, given that I know Grace is strong and not affected by the things the rest of us are affected by. She now regularly asks me to think about Grace at the end of the sessions.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it works amazingly. Grace is so different from me that even connecting with her internally without letting her take over can be enough to bring my anxiety levels down considerably. On the other hand though, I see Grace as a last resort. I see her as a separate person (where I know the others are all 'parts' of me) and I feel like the more I rely on Grace, the more I am giving in and letting someone else take over. I also worry that I will switch in front of T and that Grace would come out and again it comes back to my fear of how T will react (will I ever get over this?) to my alters. It beats the possible alternatives though and it's incredible to feel such a sudden improvement at those times. Sometimes I wonder why I don't invite Grace here more.

So that was my session in a big nutshell. I think it was hard to become aware of alters again and that may be why I felt so rough the rest of the day. Maybe I will type up some of my notes on alters here on the blog. I'm aware that in the main it is me who posts here, although I do see the odd post by others (the very short 'hello' was Pan. He was VERY chuffed to get some responses but didn't really know how to respond, hence the smilies) but I think it would be nice for the others to feel more included here and maybe it's time I did start talking about others more as individuals and less as my 'parts'. I know they don't see themselves as others. To them, I am an 'other'. 

For now, I think you should give yourself a pat on the back if you made it this far. Thank you for reading!
C

Monday, 22 August 2011

How many personalities do you have?

Good afternoon fellow bloggers, I hope you are well and having a great day. Today I am having a rare day off of work. I say rare because I had to use a lot of this year's holidays last year to go on my big trip, because my annoying manager wouldn't give me more time off on unpaid leave. However, I do find myself reluctant to take time off work because I get out of the way of working and it seems I inevitably spend an excruciating few weeks after any holiday trying to get my head back around the idea of getting up and spending eight hours of my day working. I question whether it's actually worth it.


I wonder if my issue is partly because the person who goes to work is one of my alters, therefore when I take time off it somehow disrupts the switching process that normally takes place on a daily basis. I don't know. Maybe I'm just internally built like a ship (some might say 'externally' too :S ) where any change of direction is a slow process. There can be no sharp turns for corners, or in the case of the Titanic: icebergs. So once I steer myself off course for a break, it's a huge energy expenditure to steer her back in the right direction again. 

Whatever it is, when I say I wonder if it's worth it, I'm not joking. I find myself almost dreading (well, not 'dreading' but I can't think of a milder word for it at the moment) any holidays now because of the trouble I know I'll have getting back into a work routine afterwards.

I don't know why I started telling you this! Let me think....

Oh yes! I was going to tell you about my day, as I am off work today (Monday). I took it off as I went away on a family camping weekend which ended yesterday and I knew that I'd likely be physically exhausted if not psychologically exhausted by the end of it (turns out I was both). I had a bit of a lie in which was much needed and went to therapy a little bit later than my more recent 9am appointments (which I'm still undecided about: morning appointments are just being tried out at the moment. T thought it might be better given my dissociation tendencies. I'm really not sure how the time of day could help but anyway. We'll see.)

I was back home and in my jammies by 1130 and haven't had much energy today. One of those days where I am made of jelly. It's annoying because there were things I was hoping to do in the house but I've just been flaked out and feeling annoyed with my body. It could be the after effects of therapy.

T was unsure as to what to talk about today. She said she didn't want to put me on the spot with anything if I am still in function mode (it's so great that she is learning about how to deal with me in my different states. It's so amazing to be understood by someone despite my being different from anyone else I know). I told her I felt it was time she started forcing me to talk about difficult things again because it's not reasonable for me to stay this way forever and I can't get out of function mode of my own volition at the moment. So she suggested we pick up a project which I had been supposed to be doing in my own time. T had asked me to try to get my alters grouped into smaller groups with one alter who could act as a spokesperson for their group. I never really talk to you about how many alters there are because, well I guess I don't really want to admit it to myself, but there are a lot of us (numbering in the twenties... as far as I know, so far... please God, don't let there be more that I don't know about!)

:(

I think in my head I feel I could accept having four or five or even six or seven alters, but having multiple multiples somehow makes me feel ashamed. I don't know why this is. Maybe it's my own judgemental attitude that I've had in the past when reading about other people with DID. Some describe themselves as having hundreds of alters: I have marvelled at how that could be possible. Maybe I doubted that it could be possible. I guess part of me felt that they must have been making it up to sound impressive or were just confused about what 'alter' means and were mistaking 'feelings' for 'alters'. I accept that this is a view that is possibly very naive and don't mean to hurt anyone who does have many alters, I'm just being honest about how my doubts challenge me (and as you may know from other blog posts, I have alters who don't care to believe I have dissociative identity disorder at all, so it's not surprising I am challenged with these thoughts at times). So being presented with a number that is multiple times six or seven, presents me with a reason to doubt myself as to whether it could be true for me. Because I am not always aware of everyone, it feels like there aren't that many of us. Seeing them all noted on paper in one place at one time is therefore alarming to say the least.
I guess I also like to tell myself that I have a mild form of DID and that I'm not that bad off with it. I think partly, knowing there are many alters just scares me and confronts me with a fact I don't like to acknowledge: that something seriously fucked up my head for me to end up this way.

Anyway, back to my project. So T asked me to try to group them and agree spokespeople. This turned out to be a really difficult task and something I wasn't able to manage on my own, partly because it involved looking at all of the parts and this freaked me out as aforementioned due to the sheer number of us. Partly, I just can't sort people into groups and I don't know if some parts can speak for others. Partly also, I am not the all seeing eye and working on a project like that when I only have fragments of information about alters is like trying to do a puzzle when you don't have all the pieces or the box with the picture on it. Being in function mode just made the whole thing doubly difficult too and I ended up not doing the grouping part at all. I managed to write down a summary of each alter that I am aware of on separate pieces of paper which I hoped could be used to try to get some order but as I was freaking out about how many of us there was, T took the project off my hands (quite literally as I left the pieces of paper with her and we agreed I needed to take a break from it).

OMG totally forgot we were writing this blog post today. I guess she will do the rest tomorrow?

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Questions for my therapist

I had a session at psychology today which for my standards went very well. I was nervous about going in function mode but T has been really good about it. She kept things at a tolerable level and didn't try to talk about 'parts' too much. Instead we chatted about function mode itself and why it happens. I also got to ask some more of the questions that I've been wanting to ask for a while. I had gathered a list of questions which I never really get a chance to ask and last week I suggested that I would like to ask them. It has been a good time to do this because it gives a focus to the sessions where we are taking a step back temporarily from the more intense work we have been doing while I am in function mode.

Last week I asked about the plans for T's leaving as she hasn't talked much about it (I'll tell you about this some other time).

This week I asked about EMDR. T had talked about doing EMDR with me a long time ago and had actually tried it out briefly but I had become really anxious at the time and she didn't mention it again afterwards. I've been unsure as to whether it is going to happen or not so I asked about that today. T told me that it is still on the cards but would be later down the road as there is work that needs to be done with 'parts' before it can happen.

I also asked about my first ever appointment at clinical psychology. You may remember that I had looked at the Dissociative Disorders Interview Schedule recently and recognised that the psychologist I originally saw had asked me questions from it at my first appointment. I was curious as to why I was asked these questions as my referral was for 'depression'. I wanted to know if the psychologist just routinely asks these questions or if something I said even back then made him suspicious that I had DID.

T was not sure; she said that the psychologist I saw then worked a lot in the field of trauma so may have noticed something. She looked back at my notes from that day and read out that my first description of myself and my problems included that I had suffered depression on and off throughout my life and that I had memory problems which had been getting worse in recent years. I'd also said I didn't feel normal and felt different from other people. She said that the memory problems could have triggered him to ask me about dissociation.

It means a lot to me to think that my dissociative disorder may have been evident to the psychologist even back then at the start. I know it's silly, but even after all this time I still occasionally have periods of doubt about if I have DID. Sometimes I am just so separate from my memories of childhood that it seems impossible to believe that anything traumatic could have happened to me. Sometimes I just feel fine and like one single person and I think I must have been making up stories.

It's reassuring to find evidence to suggest I may not have made it all up after all. It may be hard to understand how a person could think they have made something like that up if they haven't, but DID in itself means a person can have so many different states of being that it is entirely possible that one alter could be so separate from the others that to them they are the only one. At those times, when I reflect that I have been going to therapy for four years I marvel at this fact and wonder what on earth I have been doing wasting valuable NHS time when there's absolutely nothing wrong with me. At those times I am blind to the others. I don't realise that they are not far away. It doesn't take much to bring back the part that sees life differently. I forget that not too many weeks ago I was passing the time by tying ropes around my neck and thinking about how appealing the bannisters looked.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Function mode: once and for all


OK, I AM going to write a blog post. I AM! I have tried to write a few recently and not gotten much further than one sentence before giving up or getting distracted.

Today I had one of those moments where you find out you have no recollection of having done the thing you are being told you did. Apparently I had a whole conversation with this woman on the phone and arranged to give her some resources that she needed for a group programme she's running. She rang today to say it is starting tomorrow and she hasn't received the stuff. I didn't even recognise her name and can't remember such a conversation. It's funny because I was only remarking to myself a few days ago that I haven't seen as much evidence of memory lapses lately. 

As the more observant and devoted followers amongst you (that's all of you, I'm sure!) may have noticed from previous posts I've been in function mode lately. I've talked about function mode here, here, and here to name a few (wow, I really like talking about function mode don't I?!) but in case you can't be bothered reading those posts, function mode is a state of being where I am quite out of touch with my 'parts' or alters and have few positive or negative emotions. Life can be quite easy in function mode. I do my job. I don't 'think' and am not in touch with alters therefore I am not affected by them and my energy levels don't get drained by the psychological stress of living with many people in my head. I might find I even have a bit of energy for things like housework or hobbies (not always, but sometimes). In function mode I have a universal lack of interest. I have no interest in myself; no interest in others; I neglect friendships as I drift off into a world of nothingness. It doesn't worry me that I'm shutting down from everything, because I have no interest. It's a catch 22 situation (or is it? I've never been entirely sure what that means... but hopefully you know what I'm getting at).

There are two ways to come out of function mode. One is when I catch on to myself and realise that I need to get out of it and then work really really hard at trying to get out of it over a period of time. I do this by listening really carefully to what's going on in my head (what the voices are saying) and trying to open myself up to communicating with others inside. I also look over things parts have written and sometimes reading my blog is helpful. Trying to write blog posts can help too (which is what I'm doing now. You wouldn't believe how long it has taken me to write this much). It's hard to get out of function mode this way as it takes motivation (something I lack in function mode) and perseverance.

The second way to come out of function mode is with a crash. This is a really painful way and is dangerous. It will most commonly happen if I attend therapy in function mode and am asked to think and talk about parts. Quite often I will feel the parts start to stir and it causes very unmanageable feelings. It could also happen if something upsetting happens in the course of my day, like a bad argument with Adam or if something big triggers me. Then I will most likely plunge from my clouds of nothingness into sudden despair and this I call 'dangerous' because self harm can be a likely option for helping to manage the painful feelings.

So how did I get myself into function mode and how can I get out of it this time? I think it was inevitable. It started off when my therapist went on holiday and I subconsciously (maybe partly consciously) felt it would be best to shut down any feelings or thoughts just in case I might have a crisis while she was away and not be able to contact her. It seemed like the simplest option. But she's back now and I've had two therapy sessions in function mode and am still in it, so what the heck is the problem?

I think it's simply that work has been so difficult lately and my health hasn't been so good so function mode has been a coping mechanism. Keeping on top of work, worrying about my liver and trying to figure out my head all just got too much and something had to go. It puts me in two minds as to whether it's a good idea to get out of it or not though. I'm obviously in it because it is a difficult time, but it holds me back from progressing in my therapy sessions and when will be a good time to come out of it (bear in mind I have spent several years in function mode in the past)? 

Which leads to the question: why not just stay in function mode forever then and forget therapy? Function mode has several down sides: firstly, I am more inclined to feel physically ill (somatization), secondly I am much more likely to self harm (suggesting that things are still going on, I am just disconnected from it: or as T might say, other parts are being ignored and trying to get noticed); thirdly, I don't feel bad but I am alone and eventually, sooner or later, I will feel that 'aloneness' once I have pushed everyone out of my life (not many people left until I achieve that!). Struggling through therapy is painful, but my reason for persisting is that in time, I hope to be able to experience not just 'nothingness' but happiness and peace and enjoyment from life. I hope that one day the world and everyone in it won't seem like a monster that's about to get me. One day I wish to see the world as a place where I belong and can feel safe.
For now, I will have to learn to let pain and frustration and hurt overwhelm me. It's a painful investment I will make which I hope will pay off in the end to give me the kind of life I see others living. One with acceptance... many kinds of acceptance.

This post contained excessive use of the words: 'function mode'. Once you notice it it's like when you suddenly notice the annoying canned laughter in a sitcom and then can't help but notice it at every joke where you may have been watching the comedy for years and it never bothered you before. I put this FYI at the end because if I'd pointed it out at the start you wouldn't have been able to concentrate on what I was saying for noticing my overuse of the words. You're welcome :P

Somewhere over the Rainbow




Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Not in the zone

I've been trying to get myself out of function mode.

8 hours later....

and failing

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Book Review Announcement

Just to let ya know we have a new book review on 'Today I'm Alice' by Alice Jamieson.

It's up there in the tabs, unsurprisingly under 'Book reviews'. I am gradually adding my reviews to this page.

Still to come:

'First Person Plural' by Cameron West

and

'Got Parts? An Insiders Guide to Managing Life Successfully with Dissociative Identity Disorder' by New Horizons in Therapy.
 
Bet you can't wait.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Not to worry me or anything...

...but my doctor called me back to see her on Friday to talk about my recent blood results and informed me that she thinks I may have a liver disease. She feels it's unlikely to be hepatitis because of the type of results but I have to go back anyway to get screened for it. I also have to go to hospital to see the liver people there (which, knowing the NHS will probably be in a few months at least) to get some tests done. She mentioned a few possible things it could be (e.g a gall stone with no symptoms) but she seemed to be leaning towards the scary liver disease theory. She said it is an autoimmune disease (where your body randomly attacks some part of itself as though that part were an infection) and can run in families. She said that it could also explain the periods of exhaustion I've been having. I'm not sure how to feel now! Part of me thinks, well I don't know what it is so there's no point in jumping to conclusions: it's probably nothing. Another part can't help but wonder why she would have spent several minutes explaining the details of this disease if it's not a large possibility that I have it.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Mental holiday over... back to therapy

After taking a mental holiday from myself while my therapist was away (see previous post) on her actual holidays, I was back at therapy today and boy was it tough! The down side of function mode is that, while it's great to spend two weeks thinking I don't have DID and being at best blissfully ignorant and at worst, confused about why I would have made up such an illness and wasted three years of therapy which could have been better used fixing my sick, twisted, malingering head; it is FUCKING hard coming out of it.
Coming out of function mode is always very difficult. It's like becoming aware of alters for the first time all over again. The internal stirrings are painful and make my anxiety levels go through the roof.

I had completely forgotten that one of my parts (Ebony) had written T a letter and I'd given it to her before she went on holiday. Even though I gave it to her, the act of doing so was like when someone gives you a note to pass on to someone else and you're not really interested in what's in it but you just hand it over out of duty. Even at the time I gave it to her, I couldn't really remember what was in it. I even read it myself a few days later yet still managed to forget all about it by today. I think my brain chooses not to remember things sometimes. T asked me about the letter today and I was surprised that I had forgotten about it.

I find Ebony hard to think about at the best of times. She is what I call one of the 'dark ones' and when I sense her stirring, I feel bad things. The emotions that come with her are unnameable. 'Bad' is the best I can do. In general, Ebony (and Little Ebony) doesn't get a look in because she brings pain and horrific images. Even writing this is difficult to tolerate. At best it is hard to allow her space. So can you imagine what it was like today going to therapy in function mode and being presented with a letter from Ebony and a T asking if she could talk to her? Ebony stirred, as she would. I felt like I was going to explode with the fear and panic that was rising inside me. I really struggled to hold it together.

I wonder sometimes how evident it is when I'm feeling like that inside. People often tell me I always look calm and that nothing phases me, when inside I may be freaking out. I think T is very good at reading me though and she didn't push things. She said she sensed my parts were quite passive today and that we would come back to it and then she helped me with some relaxation and grounding exercises (something she has introduced since the letter I sent her a while back). Perhaps I'll tell you more about these some other time.

Anyway, T said she was very interested in Ebony and is very keen to have a conversation with her. She also said that she would be happy for Ebony to write her more letters. Isn't that nice? It felt really good to hear that she is interested and doesn't hate it when she gets letters from the others.

Ebony will talk to her, I don't know when but she will. I know this is a good thing but it scares me so much because I fear what will be said.