Friday, 30 September 2011

A day in the life of Candycan

Not a typical day, but one I want to tell you about anyway....

This week in clinical psychology T asked me what I wanted to talk about. She seems to be asking me this most weeks lately which is odd because she usually has her own agenda. I am guessing she is 'playing it by ear' because of my current phase of detachedness (is that a word?). I was unsure what to say. I wanted to talk about the discussion with my GP about what to call DID on my medical notes in the hope that she will offer to contact my GP again to explain, but I was apprehensive about bringing this up with her for some reason. I also wanted to tell her about my dad coming to visit because it is a huge thing for me and I feel like she should know huge things when they're happening... but I didn't want to actually talk about it. I knew if I brought it up it would be the focus of the session and maybe in a way, I feel like because my sessions are precious time to me, did I really want to allow the subject of it to be someone like my father?

It's like aggressive, ignorant drivers who get annoyed with you for no reason and blast their horns and try to intimidate you by driving right up close behind (you get them in all countries don't you?). I always feel upset and shaken up by it but I tell myself that I shouldn't let someone so ignorant affect me and I try not to let them affect my life by making me upset. I get annoyed with myself for feeling anything. It's the same with my dad. I didn't want to have my life affected by using up one good session on him. Yet, isn't he probably the main reason I need to go to these things? I think that's why I feel so adamant not to spend time thinking about him, because he has already affected my life so much.

So I sat in silence for several minutes internally debating what I wanted to talk about and becoming more and more anxious that I wasn't actually going to say anything before the session ended and eventually blurted out: "My dad's coming to visit". Fifty minutes of talking about my dad later and I left feeling frustrated and newly aware of wounds that I had fooled myself in to thinking had healed up.

Needless to say, I felt really ill all day afterwards. In fact, I ended up taking the day off work all together. My appointment was in the morning, first thing and because it's close to my house, I drove home afterwards to get changed for work. Except I took of my jeans and instead of putting on some decent trousers (pants), I climbed into bed and snuggled up with my two teddies. I wasn't feeling ill by that stage, just weary and drained, but the thought of going to work was not appealing and I eventually decided to call in and use a day's annual leave. The decision was helped by the weather, which was like summer all over again (well, more like the summer we didn't have). I think this decision caused me temporary relief from the weariness and I suddenly felt energised and on top of the world. I remember someone saying to Adam: "Let's go for a picnic and climb a mountain and stay in bed all day and order Chinese and do gardening and spring clean the house and go shopping and have a duvet day and watch movies all day have a pamper day and go on an adventure!" He laughed at me and pointed out that we couldn't do all of those things. Eventually he settled on the idea of having an Ulster Fry (a cooked breakfast, Northern Ireland style) to start us off and we drove down to Tescos to get the ingredients. By the time we were back and Adam had the pan on, I was lying in a heap on a blanket in the garden with a cracking headache and feeling not too spritely at all. The session had caught up with me again.

It didn't improve much although I took some pain killers and several cups of tea and managed to do a little bit of gardening, after almost having a panic attack about the prospect of planting bulbs and using the compost Adam bought for me: the reasoning being if they don't grow I will feel bad and this seemed overwhelming (it's a similar thing to the fear of decorating: what if I do it wrong?) and that if I used the compost up I'd have none left and this would be awful too.  I never learnt how to do gardening as a child (one of many things I never learnt) and it's completely new to me. Some people say it's so easy, but I think of it in terms of how I might say cooking is easy. It's easy for me to cook because I do know the basics, but if you've never chopped an onion, the prospect of making a bolognese can seem overwhelming. Well me and gardening is the same.

In the spring I bought a bag of meadow seeds and compost and a few pots and planted the seeds, not knowing really what I was doing or how it would turn out. I now have a variety of pots with all sorts of strange combinations of plants growing out of them. One with orange marigolds, one with blue flowers, one with marigolds, blue flowers, pink flowers and white flowers... one with not much at all in it. I looked at the pots of flowers growing in my garden and said out loud to myself that "none of this life would be here if I hadn't planted it". I realised that my apprehension about planting bulbs and seeds is that if they grow and then die, I will feel like I have killed them and I can't bear to be responsible for death. I also struggle with endings and completing things and this is why the prospect of using up all the compost was so overwhelming.

So I reminded myself, that as it stands, the bulbs and seeds have no life lying in packets in the shed anyway if I don't plant them. I don't know why things like this can send my heart racing. I felt really scared, but with Adam's encouragement (and reassurance that if I used all the compost he would buy me more), I was able to spend some time digging out weeds in the front garden and I planted about twenty bulbs. It took me hours to do because my head was pounding every time I bent over and my strength was completely gone. My body was like lead, but I did do it. I feel a little bit proud of myself now! I feel like, if they grow up in the spring it will be great. I feel like I have given us a gift. I do feel proud.

These things may seem so simple to you, the idea of planting a few bulbs in your garden. I can't express how difficult I find doing things like this. I can't explain how much of my life is reflected in my feelings about making changes like this. For me it is huge.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Do medical doctors believe Dissociative Identity Disorder Exits?

Oh my poor neglected blog! When is this 'state' of nothingness going to end?!

I have been getting my writing mixed up all day at work today, putting letters round the wrong way and writing different words than I mean to write. This is either a sign of a certain alter who you met once being around (I don't really sense her although I was in a fierce mood this afternoon at work) or that I am extremely tired. I am doing my best to correct this as I type.

Between T and I, we have come up with a few theories as to why I have been so unable to believe or feel like I have DID and so disconnected from the 'others' for a while now.

1) T: because she told me not to think anymore about the issue of who was going to speak to her and when, in sessions. We had been trying to come up with a plan for how this would work and I was getting overwhelmed by it. In 'taking it off (my) hands' she relieved alters of the need to hassle me into getting a chance to speak and hence, I am now not hearing any of them.
I don't know about this theory; I can see what she means but it doesn't really fit for me. If anything, they'd be more likely to be coming out, at least in sessions, because I might have let my guard down a bit about it.

2) Me: It's to do with the pressure of my new job. Having to deal with DID is a huge pressure and one I can change by 'not believing' it anymore i.e. dissociating from it, where I can't really do anything to change the work pressures.
This is to me, potentially one of the reasons. I am thinking about taking some time off work, maybe a couple of weeks on leave just to give myself a mental break and see if this helps me get back in tune with the others. The problem is, I'm so busy at work that this probably won't be possible for at least another two months and as I talked about before, I find it hard taking time off because of the inevitable pain of going back and settling myself into the work routine again.

3) Me: I felt like internally, earlier this year things were changing and building up to a breakthrough or something huge in terms of progress. Perhaps it was parts feeling ready to talk to T. I think maybe I panicked at what would happen and have slammed the door shut on it, to the extent that it doesn't seem to even exist anymore.

4) Me: I never had DID at all and have just 'come to my senses'. T totally disagrees with that but often now it seems like the most likely answer. But it doesn't explain why I felt like DID fit for so long. I must have been lying to myself as well. It also doesn't explain why I am still sleeping curled up with two teddy bears every night.

So, if it's the first one, then if T gives me back that burden, will it start up again? If it's because of work, then I have no hope of progress unless I give up work or cut down hours: neither of which is an option for me while Adam is out of work. Can I just put therapy on hold for a few years? Or would I need to choose between the job I'm doing at the moment and progressing in therapy? If it's because I subconsciously got overwhelmed and 'shut it down' then what can I do? I obviously did it for a reason; because it was too much to cope with.

Maybe, just maybe.... maybe I don't actually need to be aware of what's going on for progress to happen. What happened last week at the session is evidence that me feeling it's all a lie doesn't stop it being there inside and it didn't stop the conversation about the issues I have during sex from happening successfully. It didn't stop my body from reacting the way it did to T reading aloud about a certain alter (I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing though: is re-experiencing trauma in therapy a healing thing? Because it doesn't feel like it is). If it is that I never had DID at all and nothing bad has happened to me, then things are going to get pretty awkward with T when I never do 'remember' any trauma.

I like the idea that things might still be able to move forward without me being in the middle of it all. Maybe the other alters could all just do the work in therapy and leave me to get on with the rest of life! That would work well for me, although I really don't know if DID treatment can work this way and besides, the level of co-consciousness I seem to have with lots of them means I would be affected by what they are talking about. Sigh.

In other news, my GP called me back to see her AGAIN. I feel like I'm never away from the place! She must like me! Anyway, it was just  to tell me that I have thrush and give me a prescription. Really! Did I need to go all the way there for that? I've had thrush treatment a million times, surely she could have just given me a message to pick up the prescription! I took the opportunity to point out that I had been reading my medical notes over her shoulder and that I wasn't sure if 'Disscociative (conversion) disorder' is the best reflection of what I have, mainly because I don't know what 'conversion' means and that I have been told I have 'dissociative identity disorder'. She again pointed out that the letter T sent her says nothing about DID on it (I'm not fucking lying woman!) and given that her GP computer system didn't have the option of DID when she looked through the list (there were all kinds of 'dissociative' whatnots on there, one of which was actually called 'Dissociative Stupor'! Yikes, I'm glad I haven't yet been diagnosed with that!) she changed the diagnosis to 'dissociative phenomenon' which is what T actually did say on the letter. Now, maybe I'm just odd but I feel uncomfortable being treated for something so huge, which I supposedly have, which doesn't even have a name that it can rightfully be given on a GP database!

It's similar in my opinion, to someone who had schizophrenia having their medical records state only 'psychosis' or something vague like that. It doesn't sit will with me. Either I have DID or I don't. On one hand I've got T telling me that without doubt I do have it and then my GP on the other side acting like she thinks I am making up porkie pies. I guess it bothers me because of my own doubts. I want to see it in black and white because I feel it would help make it more black and white in my mind. It's the same as the occasional discussion T and I have about why I would like to have an official diagnosis from a psychiatrist. (Incidentally, I looked into how much it would cost to have a psychiatric assessment privately by an NHS based psychiatrist and it £300 for one appointment! Genie Mac!)

I'm wondering if I should ask T to write to my GP and explain exactly what is wrong with me, without using the words 'phenomena' (does anyone else think of crazy people who think they have been abducted by aliens when they see that word?), but then she's going to want to know why it's so important to me and I'm going to feel stupid trying to explain that I don't want to have something so fucking vague wrong with me. Why did I have to choose such a controversial illness to develop?!

I read a shocking statistic, which I can't remember but basically showed that a lot of psychologists and psychiatrists don't even believe DID exists. How much more so then would doctors be likely not to believe it? And why would the NHS provide treatment for something that is not evidence based if so?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Physical memories of trauma (Therapost) and guess who's coming to town?

I've just taken a diazepam so hopefully by the time I've finished writing this post I won't be having palpitations and blood rushing through my head making my veins bulge and I'll feel more on top of the world instead of the world on top of me.

Monday was a surprisingly intense session at clinical psychology. I didn't expect it to be so, given that I still feel separate from other parts (don't worry, I'm not going to start talking about my 'I don't have DID' crisis again: suffice to say, it hasn't passed yet). I don't really feel like talking about the session but I think I will regret not making a note of it when I read back in future so I'll keep this part brief (later edit: Ha!).

Basically, T had copied the summaries of alters and compiled them into a wee table for clarity (which I felt very chuffed about). She gave me a copy and I noticed that she was missing a couple of people so I pointed it out to her. One that she had missed is a child alter who tends to initiate sex, especially oral sex with Adam, but then usually leaves again and leaves another part (sometimes Ebony) to endure sex when they don't want to. We talked about this part a bit and about what happens for me during sex. I explained how I often switch during sex and it can become... like it's not Adam... and very, very painful.

I don't really want to go into all the details at the moment, but while T was talking with me on Monday, in fact even when she was just reading aloud the description of that child part, I started feeling really sick in my stomach, like I was going to throw up. My body started having all kinds of reactions and T said that it was clear I was having a physical reaction in response to this and that it was a physical memory of things that have happened in the past. Now, I'd like to point out that the reactions were purely physical and emotional, so in my mind, I was still that person who doesn't quite believe they have DID anymore. I was so confused as to why I was feeling so sick and breathless and agitated and everything else. I felt upset but separate from it all too. I couldn't understand why my body was behaving this way and why I was feeling so emotional about this when I didn't remember anything bad happening to me. I was crying too (well, my eyes were crying; it didn't feel like me). I said: "I don't know why I'm crying!" and T said that perhaps there is another part that feels sad about the things that have happened. I felt sad too when she said that. I felt like a meanie. Why can't I know that part and what it is they went through?! I remember also exclaiming at one point: "I hate myself! I hate myself so much!"

I was really struggling by the end; I think time changes for me in those moments. T says, 'time takes on a more elastic nature' or something like that, because when I looked at the clock, it was half past one and I'd come to see her at twelve! I was mortified, it's supposed to be strictly a 50 minute appointment. I felt so guilty for keeping her back. I couldn't get myself 'grounded' enough though and T decided to ask for Grace to help me. I felt so close to switching to Grace but I don't want T to see Grace properly because it would be such a dramatic difference and the thought of that just embarrasses me (I don't know why because I can guarantee she would much prefer Grace to me). I was able to hold her inside but she helped and I pulled on a sort of smile and said I was OK and picked up my bag, then T pointed me towards the toilet explaining that I had a bit of a mascara situation going on (Cringe!!!!).

I felt so ashamed of myself for having let the session go on so late again, after all we went through just a few months ago with the time issues. I don't want to go back there again. It makes me scared that there will be another confrontation. And I know she was sympathetic this week and seems to understand that I'm not aware of the time passing, but she always was before when it happened, until one day when she announced it had to stop and that on some level it is under my control. Grr! Leave it in the past Candycan! I don't want to think of T being annoying because most of the time she is amazing and although I'm scared to death of her most of the time in the sessions, outside of the sessions, most of the time I feel comforted when I think about her. I also felt bad for her on Monday because she wasn't feeling well and I could tell she was a bit out of sorts. The last thing she really needed was someone re-experiencing an apparent trauma in her office when she probably just wanted to be at home in bed.

What was also not great about this whole thing, was that I had a clinic starting at two o'clock and here I was at half one (one thirty, for any foreigners!) in a dissociated state with mascara all over my face. You can imagine how my clinic went... or can you? Well, it actually went just as well as usual (the wonders of having multiple personality disorder!) except that the 'me' running the clinic felt like she had just been lifted by an ogre and slammed flat on her back on a concrete floor. I had strange pains all up the back of me into my neck and over the back of my head. The front half wasn't feeling too good either, what with still feeling like I was going to hurl at any minute.

Since Monday, I haven't 'dwelt' on it at all, that's probably why I didn't want to write about it and didn't actually come on here today with the intention of writing about it at all. I haven't felt too top notch though and I've been a bit mentally slow or something. I feel my work getting on top of me again, perhaps because my focus hasn't been too great. I've been struggling with time.

But there are other things on my mind too.... work pressures are building again, just the way they were a few months ago... I have an interview next week (always good to stress me out)...


my father is coming over from England soon. I hate it when he visits. I hate seeing him. Each time is more painful than the last. I don't want to see him! He does this really annoying passive thing where he just announces on his Facebook profile that he is coming and hopes he might see 'people'. He won't directly get in touch to ask if I want to see him. He does that because he knows then that the ball is in my court. Either he wants to see me but is too proud to make a gesture directly to me because his ego is so fragile or he doesn't want to see me and is just trying to tick the box so that I can't blame him for not making any effort. It makes me angry. He's so immature. My sister removed him from her Facebook over a year ago when he refused to come to her wedding because his new wife wasn't invited and after just recently being reunited on Facebook, he posted on her wall that he 'hadn't even noticed he wasn't her friend'. What a dick head! It's like the time he contacted me the day after my birthday to tell me he had a reminder on his phone that it was 'Candycan's' birthday but he couldn't remember who 'Candycan' was (just to clarify, it wasn't actually 'Candycan' but my real name). Either he has DID too (I very much doubt that) or he was just trying to hurt me. What fucked up twisted shit wants to hurt their own daughter? Meet my dad.

So I don't want to see him but I feel like I should, because he is my father and I owe it to him. I explained this to Adam just before I started writing this and he said something which almost made me cry (God help us: if I cry about my dad, I'll never stop). He said: "If you don't want to see him; don't.Your dad's taken as much from you as he's given you."

I would like to feel I don't owe him anything. I don't know if I'll ever stop feeling that way.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

How your house can reflect your life

This week's therapy session....

T had a bad cold and was sneezing like mad. She said she hoped I wouldn't catch it. The part of me that is a  little bit obsessed with T (I will say 'part' because I don't want to take ownership of what I'm about to tell you!) thought that they wouldn't mind catching T's cold because it would be like some kind of physical link to a person who can seem so unreal when I'm not with her (I mean 'unreal' in the sense of, not existing). How sad is that?!

I was quite annoyed to then find that my sister in law had a bad cold when I saw her later that day. Now I am getting a cold and I don't know if it's T's or my sister's, so I will just presume it's T's. It's so silly, yet in a way I think perfectly understandable! It's not like I can ever hug her or hold her hand the way you would do with someone you felt close to. So I guess I will have to settle for a stinky cold to make me feel closer to her. LOL

Anyway, T pointed out that we have never actually talked about my childhood. This was because I was telling her some nightmares I'd had recently and in one I was back in an old childhood home. So I was recounting the facts about the houses I lived in and the jobs my parents had. I feel unable to talk about my childhood very well because I feel there are few details to give; it kind of frustrated me that all I had to say was what age I was when we moved here and there. We got on to talking about how I have moved house so many times and T asked if I felt rootless, which I agreed I do. She asked me about where I'm living now; if it feels like home. Does my home feel like home? In a way, yes it does. I feel it's mine and Adam's place, where we can shut out the world, so yes it is. In another way, it doesn't feel like home because it's so unhomely. I have never decorated and it's not very well looked after. We don't even have any blinds or curtains.

We talked about why it is that I haven't decorated and I talked about how hard it was for me to put up the two pictures in my bedroom that I have managed to put up. It was really interesting to think about the psychology behind why I am so scared to decorate my house and although T seemed to think it was one specific reason (she kept saying how passive I am about doing things), I could think of a few reasons:

1) I feel people will hate me if I show my true personality (as has happened in the past when I've been bullied) so I try to hold it in and be a blank slate. This is reflected in my house, where I keep it a blank slate so people can't judge my decorating and say they don't like it. T asked what I think people think of my house at the moment and I expressed that I'm sure they think it's odd but I'd rather it not be liked for having nothing done, than be hated for having done something. It's the same with me: I can cope with not being liked because I'm boring (blank slate) if it means I'm not hated for being me.

2) I am a perfectionist. If I do something it has to be perfect or I won't be happy, so instead of doing something to my house and being unhappy with the results or having to put a mammoth amount of work in, I would rather not do anything at all.

3) Part of me feels I don't deserve to have a nice, homely house.

4) It's what I was used to. My bedroom in one house I lived in as a child was concrete floors and unpainted walls with no curtains for several years until my parents got round to decorating. I guess these things just weren't seen as important and I've learned that.

5) Part of me is perhaps making a statement to the rest of me and the world. There's a part that feels they are in a very dark place but are forced to hide away so that 'I' can continue to function. Maybe they are making a statement that things aren't OK and the shambles of a house is a reflection of what's really going on inside.

6) I have so many varying likes/opinions that it is hard to commit to one colour/style because other parts might hate it.

7) I just don't have enough energy to do it.

8) I should have put this point first because it is a big one... I feel responsible for a lot of bad things that have happened in my life. If I hadn't done this or that, then this or that other thing wouldn't have happened. I guess in a way, I try not to 'do' anything now in life so as to prevent any consequences. It's a bit like point one really. This links to my father somehow. I felt responsible for his actions, like I could have prevented them somehow if I had not done this or that and maybe also for my parents' break up.

T reflected that she could appreciate therefore how big a step it was for me to put the pictures up in my bedroom. She wondered how I felt about them now (mixed feelings) and suggested that perhaps I should think about another step I could take now. I have been thinking about this a lot since Wednesday. Becoming aware of what is holding me back will perhaps help me move forward (Did she CBT me?!). I am so angry with my dad for the things he has done. To think that this is being reflected in something so personal to my life makes me want to change. I don't want to be affected by him anymore. I don't want him to hold me back. I don't want to look at the white walls and think that they are linked in a way to my parents. In a way, I feel determined now to change my house. But, I know it's going to be hard and I think T's right by encouraging me to take one step. I just need to decide what that will be.

Last week I saw a picture I really liked when I was out with Adam and he offered to buy it for me. I got really anxious thinking about where I would put it up and what other people would think of it etc and in the end it overwhelmed me and I had to leave it. Maybe taking a step like buying that picture would be a good step forward.

Do other people find things like this such a struggle?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Crying is weird and I'm scared of everything

Hello, this post is influenced by someone other than the usual blogger but you may not notice the difference so I guess there was no point in me saying that. 

I don't really have anything enlightening to say today (probably not a great opening line for a blog post I know, but if you're looking for enlightenment, you are probably reading the wrong blog... OK, I'm not helping things here!) except that I nearly cried this morning which is very unusual for me. Crying for me is not something I indulge in very often, mainly because I HATE CRYING. I don't mind other people crying; I'm used to patients bawling in front of me, but I just don't find a lot of enjoyment in doing it myself. Sometimes in psychology sessions I feel my eyes leaking; I suppose that's a sort of crying. Or maybe it's one of the others crying. Quite often my eyes just start streaming for no reason at random points throughout the day. I assume it's one of those random body things that don't mean anything although it seems more than a coincidence that it often happens at the end of something stressful. Like, quite often when I've just finished up a clinic and get in the car, the instant I shut the door my eyes start stinging and watering. Maybe it's my body telling me I'm tired or something or maybe it is just one of those random things.

In general though I don't properly cry... you know, the kind where you sob and need a whole roll of tissues to catch it all. This only happens to me once or twice a year and when it does I usually let it be about everything, so it's best if I'm at home on my own, because there's a lot to cry about... preferably with my giant Tigger teddy that my dad bought me for my 18th birthday. I always go for him when I'm in this state because it's a souvenir of one of the very few times my dad gave me any evidence that he cared for me. It's kind of bitter sweet. In general, I look at Tigger and feel hurt, but when I feel so broken, it's the closest thing I've got (or ever had) to a daddy who cares. I've woken up many's a time over the last nearly ten years from a sobbing induced black out with my arms wrapped around Tigger.

The last time I cried was after I went to the hairdressers a few weeks ago. I HATE the hairdressers (Hmm, this morning I decided I'd try to get through a whole day without being negative... oops). Hairdressers scare me. I very, very rarely go there; it's averaging on once a year. It's always difficult because I hate how I look in general. I look in the mirror and see ugly, ugly, fat and UGLY. So it's not surprising that when I get my hair cut I look in the mirror and still see UGLY. It didn't help that the hair cut wasn't what I wanted at all and that the hair dresser then argued with me when I tried to explain that I wanted more layers. I also don't like confrontation, so after this I walked calmly back to my car, shut the door and burst into tears. I felt so angry with myself though for crying about something so stupid and for wasting my precious cry on a time when I couldn't properly let it out, so I forced it to stop and gave myself a nice headache.

Today was at work. A GP confronted me about something I had not done which I apparently should have, although would have had no way of knowing I should have done it. She confronted me in a way which seemed as though she thought I just hadn't bothered to do the thing, however, it was only a misunderstanding in that I hadn't been informed of what I should have been doing so was only doing what I felt was the right thing to do (all very vague, I know). I defended myself; in fact I probably sounded annoyed, but I made it clear that I hadn't been told the procedures and that it needed to be made clear to me. But when she left the room I felt like I needed to burst into tears. I couldn't because I was just about to see a patient so I just sat there flapping my face with my hands to dry my eyes and taking deep breaths.

I'm pretty sure the doctor felt bad then for having accused me in such a 'telling off' and confrontational kind of way because she seemed to go out of her way to be nice to me for the rest of the morning. She even called in a few times to see how I was getting on and at one point touched my arm in a reassuring way whilst being all friendly and 'interested' in my work.

I felt annoyed with myself again for letting this upset me. I thought about why I felt so bad and realised that it's because there is part of me that believes I am really bad at my job and not good enough to be doing it. There's another part that feels I do it well, but it's sometimes hard to ignore the voice of doom telling me that I'm going to be found out one of these days. This, although seemingly insignificant to this jumping to conclusions GP, was for part of me like a confirmation that I am rubbish at my job after all. It's this thing about authority again. I shouldn't see a GP as having authority over me in my job role, but I can't help being scared of them.

The problem is, I see everyone I meet as having authority over me. I see myself as unworthy of being alive and so feel I need to apologise for breathing the same air as anyone I meet. I even feel guilty for writing this post because I have burdened the world with this shit. It doesn't take much to convince me I am bad. I left my psychology session last week feeling OK about things with my T; I knew she believed me even if I don't believe myself and I guess in a way I felt reassured that she mustn't therefore hate me. In less than a week I have convinced myself that she does hate me and believes I am a waste of time and space. I'm dreading going to my session tomorrow because I feel like she will probably tell me off about something, although I'm not really sure what. I think when things like this GP thing happen today, it reminds me of so many other times in my life. You had to follow the rules or else, but the people with the power didn't want you to actually know exactly what the rules were. So you never knew till you broke one of them... and then you knew all about it. I find life to be the same. No one has given me a rule book yet and I try to make things black and white so I know where I stand, but I'm just never sure when I might be doing something terribly wrong.

Talking like this is making me want to die so I am going to round this up and (hopefully) get to sleep.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Therapost and a lecture from my mum

I hope you are all having a more exciting Saturday evening than I am right now and that at whatever time you are reading this, that you are doing OK.

This week's therapy session followed a similar vein as last weeks in that T spent some time going round in circles with me as I tried to explain why I sometimes think it could be a physical problem I have, instead of DID. Although it's important for me to be able to talk about it, I did feel frustrated with myself for spending most of the session going over things again when I really had other things I needed to be talking about. We agreed that we needed to move on and not go round in circles although T said that it is important to 'at least go round the circle once', which I thought was a very good point!

It's funny because when I go through these periods of being so detached from parts/alters and feeling like it's 'just me', I miss the chatter in my head and the familiarity of other parts' thoughts/feelings/opinions encroaching on my own. I miss the company too, even though sometimes the people in my head aren't being very nice to me. Most of all I feel guilty because I think I have just been mistaken or lying. However, when it all starts up again I miss the quiet! It's hard having all of those feelings and voices going on in my head and sometimes I envy 'normal' people who just have the one mind to deal with. Life is certainly simpler when you are singular. I guess the times when things are quiet are as close as I've felt to normal. There have been times though when I've felt I have gotten a balance: I am conscious of others and aware of things but not overwhelmed by it. This is a good place to be, in my opinion. In fact, in a way I would be sorry to lose this co-consciousness if I was cured from DID. I guess I may be naive in saying that as I don't really know what my experience would be like as a complete person. I'd like to be out of the place I'm in now. I feel unable to move myself though. T has the key to getting me back in touch with the others. She could make it happen with just a few words. It's a risk though and as she said herself, it is useful to me to not believe it.

We also talked about the situation with my friend Pou. I found it hard to really concentrate on the discussion at this part of the session because she brought it up when we had only five minutes to spare and so I was worrying about the time. We did go quite a bit over time and I felt really guilty about this and wondered if T would be annoyed with me and if we were starting to get back into the old routine of going over time. I don't want her to be annoyed with me again and have to have another 'discussion' about it. I'm not in the right frame of mind to reflect on what we talked about with regards to Pou, but she did give some useful insights and gave me some things to consider. I don't have the desire or energy to consider them just now but they are on the 'to do' list.

My mum was giving off a bit yesterday to me and Katie (my sister) that we as a family keep too many secrets from each other and should share when we are struggling with things like mental health issues. My sister and I both expressed that in many families people might not tell others if they had mental health issues and my sister pointed out that she didn't feel certain people would react in the way she would want if she did talk about something like that. I said that I wouldn't tell anyone anything unless I didn't mind everyone in my family knowing. I say this because my mum is constantly telling me my other sisters' business and I know she would do the same if I told her anything. We all talk about each other but not to each other.

I also pointed out to my mum that our upbringing in the cult taught us that having any kind of physical illness or mental health problem was sin and a sign that we were not 'right with God' to which my mum gave me a nice lecture about how we weren't in that environment anymore and needed to 'unlearn' those things. Oh, right, thanks for pointing that out mum, I never realised that it was so easy to unlearn something that was hammered into you at a young age on a weekly basis. I must put that on the top of my 'to do' list.

The thing is though, I don't think my mum has really changed her beliefs about it. I know she doesn't see it as sin anymore, but I get the sense that it really irritates her when any of her daughters are physically below par. She's always going on about how our family have such strong genes and don't get ill and always live a long life. This is normally in response to someone sharing that they are having health problems.

As a teenager I suffered with really severe IBS. I have IBS now, but it's not one of my biggest issues. When I was a teenager however it was very bad and I would need to arrive half an hour early for school in order to sit on the loo, sometimes still being late for class because of it. I would often have to leave class early with excruciating cramps and run to the toilet.  When it was at it's worst point my mum gave me a stern lecture about how it wasn't acceptable to have this problem and that I needed to really pray to God for a healing. I was never taken to the doctors because that was frowned upon. My dad had similar problems was diagnosed with a severe bowel disorder when I was in my teens, after being ill for some time and eventually being rushed into hospital, yet no one thought to get me checked out to rule out anything sinister.

Me being me, I took on board everything my mum said after the lecture and felt guilty that I was a bad Christian. I prayed to God for a healing one night shortly afterwards and strangely enough, I stopped having IBS symptoms from that day onward (Yes, perceptive reader, I have IBS now... it started again when I was being bullied on my University placement). I was so thankful to God for the miracle at the time. But did He really heal me? Nowadays, I try to keep an open mind. I do still believe in God and I believe God can heal people. I don't know if He healed me or not on that day. I also believe that the mind is very powerful over the body. I apparently had already learnt amazing skills in dissociation; maybe this overnight healing was part of it. It wasn't acceptable for me to express in a physical form the psychological issues that I was already suppressing from my consciousness, so maybe my mind stopped me from doing it. What happened to my issues then? I guess they got hidden somewhere else. The first times I remember having black outs were around that time. The black outs would happen when I got 'upset'. I'm not saying it's one way or the other and I hope God won't strike me down for being so ungrateful of a healing, but I'm sure God gave us logic for a reason and all I'm saying is that either explanation is possible (Dear God, please don't hate me!).

I remember that from time to time my mum would also 'accuse' me of being depressed. It was always said in a way that made me feel as though I had done something terrible and it had been found out. I'd get angry and tell her I wasn't and stomp off to my room feeling embarrassed. I think she was trying to be helpful but I don't know what she felt highlighting the issue to me would do. It's not like I would have been offered any help like counselling or medication. Both of these remedies would have been very greatly disapproved of in my church.

Nowadays, she's a bit different, in that she thinks she doesn't believe it's wrong to be ill anymore but she definitely sees it as weakness. She was asking me about my liver tests recently and I was telling her about being diagnosed with polycystic overies and my kidney now being bad too etc and then she proceeded to give me a lecture about how I needed to start eating healthily and how I could do that and that she thought all of these things are to do with diet. Urgh! All I heard was "you've brought this on yourself".

So yesterday I pointed out to her that although we weren't in the cult anymore I had still felt like she had thought my liver thing was my fault by what she said and that I felt she would always try to fix any problem. Bear in mind, that my mum works in mental health as well. She thinks she is the ultimate wisdom on anything to do with mental health and loves diagnosing everyone she meets. There is no way in this world she would be able to just 'listen' and not try to impart some kind of patronising advice on the topic. She took the point well and said that she hadn't seen it that way but now that I had told her, she understood and then she used this to highlight that as a family we need to all tell each other about our struggles so that others can be more understanding of them. Katie re-emphasised that she didn't feel a lot of people would be able to be understanding and so the discussion went on.

I felt paranoid when my mum was saying all of this. It felt like she was talking directly to me, although I admit, it is obvious to everyone that all of my sisters have at least as many issues as I do. In fact, I would be classified by my family as the person who has been least affected by hard times in their life but this is only viewed this way because I hold everything in and share even less with my family than my sisters do. I think outwardly, I appear the most normal of my sisters. Ha! If only they knew! I know my mum found my antidepressants when I was on medication because she tidied up my house one time when I was away (Grr!). She never said anything about it but I could tell she was dying to ask me from several comments she made. I wondered if she had told Katie though because when we were discussing this yesterday Katie used an analogy: "Say for instance, if one of us were depressed and taking antidepressants...."

I get paranoid that maybe my mum has found other things too. What if she's read my blog or my diaries? What if she knows all about me? No, I don't think so. I think she knows I have issues and wants me to talk to her about them but I don't think she has any idea as to the extent of them. She mentioned someone we knew yesterday who had been having 'thoughts of self mutilation' and was saying that to feel this way you have to be someone in an extremely dark place and that she was really worried about them. It was weird to hear people talk about how shocked they were that someone would do that and at how bad things must be. She said something about how it's a terrible place to be and that not many people know how that feels.

Then sometimes she talks about her patients. Sometimes she seems so harsh and uncaring and unsympathetic. She often talks about people who need to 'get a life' and stop wallowing in self pity.

So, given all of the above, how do you think my mum would react if I turned around and said to her: "Hi Mum, you wanted to know what's up with me.... well, I guess you already figured out I have depression but here's the thing: that's just one symptom of what I have. It's actually Dissociative Identity Disorder. Yeah, you know... the one people call multiple personality disorder and that usually occurs as a result of severe, ongoing trauma in childhood. Oh and by the way, would you like to see the scars on my leg from where I have self harmed and a few nice fresh marks on my arm? And did I mention I had an eating disorder from the age of twelve and you didn't even notice because you couldn't have given me the time of day? Yes, I starved myself for several years of my adolescence and then developed bulimia in my twenties and abused laxatives until quite recently."?

I think I can safely say she would:
a) tell me I don't have DID and try to prove why, one reason of which would be that I had a loving family and nothing bad could have happened to me (she might also be angry about this)
b) she would be really patronising about it all and suggest I need to 'get over it'
c) she would try to advise me on how to fix it all
d) she would be really upset and worry herself silly about me
e) the whole family and possibly the whole world would know about it within a week

and then she would probably try to hug me and look after me and I'd want to squirm and run away.

I know she loves me and only wants the best for her daughters and it hurts her that we won't share what's wrong with us, but she doesn't understand that she has been one of the ingredients in the big cake of fucked up Candycan and her sisters.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

This is my body... and I live in it

This week, amongst other things, I have been thinking about my body. I spend so much time thinking about what goes on in my head and how it affects me and I do spend a lot of time hating my body; but it puts up with all of me... all of us. When it works, I want it to break so I don't have to go on. When it doesn't work I blame it and worry about it. I never stop to appreciate that this old bag of mush that drags me around has actually put up with quite a lot of abuse. I never appreciate that it may not look the way I want, but it keeps me going. I have a lot I should be thankful for. At the moment, my body has been struggling a bit and I haven't really been doing anything to help it. Here's what's happening in a not so little nutshell...

I've been in the doctors more times recently than I care to say. I feel like I am falling apart at the seams without actually having any definitive clue about what's wrong with my body. I'm still waiting for my hospital appointment with the liver specialist, however I have now found out I have something wrong with one of my kidneys too, which showed up on the scan I was getting to assess my ovaries... which, I have also now been told have lots of cysts on them. The thing with my kidney is something that happens as a result of some other underlying condition. My research tells me that the two main underlying conditions causing this kidney problem are pregnancy and cancer. My GP sent for me to bring in a urine sample which I have since found out was to test for pregnancy, which was negative. As paranoid as I can be, I very much doubt I have cancer so goodness knows what is causing the problem. I'm guessing that's going to mean a referral to the kidney people too. My lovely doctor is off on her jollies though so that will have to wait. She told me to come back in a month last time I was there anyway as she wants to keep a check on my mood (i.e. recommend for the 100th time that I start antidepressants again).

I was back today because I've had some pains which feel like they're coming from inside my womb and are like the pains I had when I first got the Mirena put in (No, not the place where you park your ship) and was worried in case it has perforated my insides (Arrgh!). I was really nervous about going as my lovely doctor is away and I know all of the other doctors there are men, one of which is like Indiana Jones in his approach to medicine and who I stopped going to see after he whipped a thermometer out of his blazer pocket to stick under my tongue and then rinsed it for about two seconds under a tap before popping it back in it's place in his blazer (which, to be frank looked like it's older than I am). So I wouldn't want to imagine what he's doing when assessing ladies' parts. One of the other doctors is the husband of someone I know so don't go near him with a barge poll and the third... well, he's actually OK, but is still a man.

I was happy to find out there was a lady locum doctor there today, not that I am happy in general to be prodded at in that region but I guess it has to happen sometimes. She was a bit patronising and spoke to me like I was seven. I may be getting old or something but she looked younger than me and also, I don't go to the doctors for the fun of it. I know when there's something wrong. She told me that as far as she can tell the IUS is in properly and seemed happy with that conclusion... gave me a smile and a nod as if to say: "You're fine; put your pants back on and off you trot". I reminded her that I was in some pain, that was much worse when I twist and came on suddenly and also that I had checked the IUS myself and the strings felt different and also that Adam felt it during intercourse which he never had before and what the heck was that about then? So she said she would send me off for a scan just to 'put your mind at rest'. I said nothing.

She was also asking me questions about where I live and what I do for a living. I didn't like this; maybe she was just being friendly but I like to keep the fact that I work in health care to myself and my normal GP. I recognised her name from referrals etc at work. I can't explain why I don't like it, but I don't. I also saw her clicking on an entry my GP wrote about my mental health (which she has recorded as 'dissociative (conversion) disorder'... what the heck?) and having a good read through it which I felt was really just nosiness. But then, I do the same with my patients too, so maybe I shouldn't be so judgemental. I think I was just paranoid because she was so young and where I live is such a small community compared to other countries; there's a good chance she knows people I know etc. I think I am being too harsh on her: I have experienced much worse GPs.

She said the pain could be a cyst that has burst (fair enough) or a UTI (also fair enough: I have had some kidney pain but I thought that might be the kidney thing aforementioned) and that it looks like I've got a yeast infection in my uterus. I suspected I had another infection; I seem to get these a lot, but to be honest, I've had so many reasons to go to the doctors lately that I haven't wanted to go about that again because I just feel I need to prioritise what I ask for help with in case my doctor gets fed up and tells me to piss off and stop draining the NHS of money. Plus having these infections makes me feel like a minger, even though I know it's not as a result of me doing anything wrong. I do everything right to prevent them but they just keep happening.

It is new to me to have actual evidence of things being wrong with me. I've always had strange physical ailments like IBS, aches and pains, migraines, random feeling sick and vomiting etc but I know so much of it is psychological i.e. my body's way of expressing stress. At times in my life when I have been suppressing things inside the most, I have also been the most ill. I don't think it's a coincidence at all. Could this be an extension of that? Maybe my body has been 'ailing' for so many years that it has now started to cause it to have actual diagnosable problems. Or, have I done this to myself? Could these things be a result of past bulimia and laxative abuse?

It would be good to get to the bottom of things though and find out what's wrong with my liver and kidney and now what the pain in my womb is and to find out for sure if it's chronic fatigue syndrome or something else that makes me so tired. I get overly anxious when there's something wrong with my body, even though I do my best at times to try to destroy it. It's funny that, isn't it?

So in the words of Tim Minchin:
"This is a song about that feeling I think we all get sometimes...where you feel like you're the smallest doll in a babuscka doll."
He doesn't know how true that is for some of us...

This is my body
And I live in it
It's thirty-one and six months old
It's changed a lot since it was new
It's done stuff it wasn't built to do
I often try to fill it up with wine
And the weirdest thing about it is
I spend so much time hating it
But it never says a bad word about me

This is my body
And it's fine
It's where I spend a vast majority of my time
It's not perfect, but it's mine
It's not perfect

Monday, 5 September 2011

Purple legs and feet

I was upstairs in an old friend's mother's house, looking for him so that we could catch up. He wasn't there. I made my way back down the stairs; the first set of stairs was short and lead down to a mini landing area where the bathroom was. I saw that the door was ajar. Through the door I saw purple legs and feet. These were at eye level. I knew instantly what had happened. I tried to scream but couldn't. All that came out was a muffled noise of fear. I wanted to run away but froze on the stairs. I knew he could still be alive. I couldn't run away. I had to go in and see. It wasn't my friend: it was his nephew. Going into the bathroom was a blur. He was warm; I pulled him down, I don't know how.
I woke up.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

On not believing I have Dissociative Identity Disorder

Hello curious people of the world. I hope you are well.

This week has been interesting for me in that I feel different. There is change inside me, although I'm not sure in what way yet so I won't try to analyse it too much.

As you may have noticed from my not too subtle blog post title (which took an embarrassingly long time to come up with), this post is going to be about the annoying tendency I have to stop believing I have dissociative identity disorder, or anything wrong with me at all. This is not a new problem, as evidenced by this post, written nearly a year ago.

I talked with T in psychology this week about this desperate problem. It's always been something that has come up from time to time. I might wake up one day and 'realise' I have nothing to feel bad about and wonder why on earth I have felt the need to make up all of these lies and have wasted years in therapy talking about 'parts' when I should have been getting help for this awful, shameful lying disorder. Usually, within the space of a few minutes to a few hours however, something happens, either outwardly or inside my head and I realise it is true: I do have DID.

Recently, however, the doubting part of me is driving the bus so often and I have been really struggling to believe I could possibly have alters/parts/whatever you want to call them. I can think up completely logical explanations as to how it couldn't possibly be true and I convince myself that there has been a terrible mistake. The problem is, I am still doubting it, even in the middle of alters doing crazy things. It's not enough to get through to me. I'm struggling to really get out in words how difficult I am finding this. On Wednesday, I talked in therapy with T about this problem. It was she who brought it up actually.

The conversation came about because on Monday I self harmed. Not badly: just light cuts on my wrist and arm, but still, it's not really a good sign. It has been quite some time since I last cut myself. Probably the last time I properly self harmed was last year. So I feel let down/like I've let myself down. Disappointed. It is a sign as well, that no matter how disconnected I am from the others inside, they are still thinking and feeling.

I told T about it on Wednesday and first of all she asked me when I had done it and when I had last seen her and I wondered why she was comparing the self harm with the date of the last session. Was it because she knew the session took me out of 'function mode' and thought it could have been a result of that? Or was it because she knew I knew she was taking leave from work after the session and wondered if I was doing it in some kind of protest of her going away? Or am I just being really paranoid?

Anyway, it was not just after the last session and it felt in no way connected either. It just seemed to happen. I felt the same as I had been feeling i.e not much at all really... blank. And then I just started thinking about cutting myself and it became something that had to be done. If you had a sore that was infected, you'd have to clean it out and care for it: it might be painful to do but you would tell yourself you had to do it, because it needs done. This was the same. It didn't feel good but I just had a strong sense that it had to be done. So I tried to get myself to go into the background and let whoever it was who needed it done take over.

T asked me what I thought the trigger was and I told her I didn't know but then I wondered if it was anything to do with the internal conversation that I had listened to and written down last week. I showed T the conversation and also another piece of similar writing and she read through them and shared her thoughts about it.

One of the things that she pointed out was that even in the middle of the discussion that was going on between parts, there was someone saying 'it's not real, I've made it up'. She seemed a bit incredulous that there was still a doubting part of me in the middle of it all and started to say 'when it's so obvvv' and rethought her wording before saying that it was 'so strong that it is real'. I wish she would just tell me blatantly if it's obvious to her because it's not obvious to me and frankly, I do need some reassurance. Having said that, saying that it's so strong that it's real, is pretty much just the same thing and reassures me that she at least doesn't think I have a lying disorder.

I explained how I am struggling more than ever to believe it's DID and we talked about this for quite a while. T wonders if part of me feels a need to disbelieve it because it is too overwhelming. She told me that she is not trying to convince me but that my 'story fits'. She also told me that it seems clear to her from my other writings and drawings that they are describing traumatic events that I may not be consciously aware of myself but that are memories held by other parts and that it's clear that it's about an 'unwanted sexual experience' and that there is a lot of self blame.

Unsurprisingly I argued that I don't remember anything happening beyond a certain point and that maybe nothing did happen. She said that she didn't hold any views but that the experiences are held by other parts and she talked about how my experiences that we both know of would have affected me... the 'church' and my parents break up etc.

I know she is very careful, as she should be, not to put ideas in my head. Which is why she has never tried to convince me that I have DID. Today though, every time I came up with an argument as to what else it could be, she gave me reasons as to why that was unlikely to be the case:

 e.g. ME: I think it must be an organic problem; maybe from when I got knocked out as a child. T's thoughts: unlikely as there is no indication of this on a day to day basis and I am able to function very well at work and complete complex tasks. More likely that memories are just held by other parts and not accessible to me.

e.g. ME: where T says my story fits, for me it doesn't fit sometimes. T's thoughts: my experience of things varies and moves along a dimension of reality, so at times it doesn't feel real and bad memories don't exist whereas at other times it does seem very real.

...or she encouraged me just to stick with what I do know and keep an open mind. She said that what we do know is that certain things or triggers activate strong emotions and physical experiences and that it would suggest that I don't hold the memories but that they are somewhere.

I don't know if it has really helped to put my mind at rest. It's reassuring to know she is convinced, although I'm sure it must be frustrating for her that I keep coming back to this point; she has a lot of patience. I think if I had a patient who was so much in denial about something I'd want to shake them up and shout at them to get it through their thick head (just to clarify, I wouldn't do that to a patient... although it's not wrong to want to is it?! lol) I guess in one way, if I trust her, I could trust that she knows better than I do. If I do have DID, I can assume that she knows more about me overall than I know about myself, being that I am one part who doesn't share memories or experiences of others, but that those others have shared things with her. She would therefore have more of a rounded picture of things than I do. I also trust my husband, Adam and I talked about this with him and he has told me that he never doubts it and that it all fits for him with what he knows about DID. So the two people who know me so well both don't doubt that I have DID. Is that enough for me to go on?

I wish it was.

But what could help me to know for sure?? If I got an official diagnosis from a psychiatrist would that help me? In some ways I think it would but I know that at other times I would just tell myself I had lied to them about my symptoms... and if my research serves me, don't a load of psychiatrists not even believe DID exists anyway? Maybe this is going to be a permanent thing. I know it's not unique to me. I know it's a common trait for people with DID to doubt it. As Adam reminds me, the author of 'First Person Plural' (Cameron West) struggles with the same issue throughout his story. This doesn't help me though as it's not evidence either way. It's only proof that disbelieving DID is not evidence that I don't have it, if that makes sense. I need something to convince me.

T feels it is useful for me not to believe it all the time as it gives me a break from having to deal with it, but I wish I could just come to an understanding. It's not nice feeling like a fraud and worrying that I'm getting treatment for something I don't have, which then isn't going to help me to be better in the end. If I could just believe it once and for all, I feel I could move on and start learning how to deal with it. At the moment it feels like I'm just going round in circles, thinking I am making progress but then crashing back to square one every time these doubts come back in.

I'm just getting tired of this constant tug of war.