Friday, July 27, 2018

Grief and Dissociative Identity Disorder

This is a post I've had saved for nearly a year now. I can say, with near certainty, I have had it written once already, but we scrapped and delete the entire piece because it wasn't sitting right. There were things missing and too much fluff. Which for those of you who know me, myself, you will understand why that was bothersome. I will not be discussing every loss, but at least one of us misses every individual within this post.

I've come back to this title stored on my laptop countless times over recent months and even back to the end of the last year; I never could get myself to find the correct words, that is, until it hit me that there likely are not "correct" or "incorrect" words. I wasn't failing, nor struggling (truth be told parts of me are). It wasn't the shortcomings of my internal thesaurus or a lack of ability it stringing sentences together in a coherent manner... No, this was something more, dark. Sinister. Consuming... A barrage of idiosyncrasies stumbling around my mind like cannon fire, yet I could not place a single coherent thought. That is, not until today.

Grief can be a challenge. How those challenges influence us vary, yet the struggle and impact is ever present in those of us who are left after a death(s). In recent years, we've come to know Death intimately. (I capitalize her name to show her the proper respect, I believe, she's earned. Though I admit my mind bends more towards twisted musings.) She has been ever present. We've lost friends, pets, relatives and family.

This image was taken by Bob a few years ago.
The onslaught began over four years ago with the death of my grandmother. The only grandmother I have. Keeping up appearances is exhausting, but therapy has been beneficial in that I can now rebuke the idea of the other woman who in a biological sense, is also a "grandmother," yet is so far from that she may escape even Dexter's grasp. He'd for certain need the devil's hand for assistance. If you believe in that sort of thing. To the topic at hand... My grandmother was taken from us via cancer. The all encompassing "C word," the c word I find most heinous given it's more substantial impacts on the livings well being and inevitable lack their of once Death summons her to an individual(s).

We were able to speak with her, in length, before she passed. Something for which, we will be forever thankful. I know I was quite 'switchy," but we were mostly silent- at the beginning- and let her speak. I know we expressed concern for her as well as our own well being after she passed. She asked us for promises, some we will keep and others we told her we would not...but without disappointing her we did tell her why we would not be able to. We expressed to her what we had learned the year before at the Mayo Clinic and in our follow up appointments. I disclosed to her my diagnoses and even the big one, I told her all of those missing pieces of my life will come together; I will work on it even though she would not be there to see the jigsaw that is me live in peace and all of the other adjectives that depict a "pleasant being." She was silent for several minutes and then seemed to let out a breath I hadn't picked up...She said simply, "I am glad some dumbass (doctor) finally found the answers that fit and now you can begin to live. < One reason we don't call ourselves survivors, but I now have the desire to live. We were married to Sean in her home in Chicago just under two weeks before her Death came...and then all hell broke loose.

Jynx & My Grandfather-welcoming him home from his Honor Flight

Me as a baby helping him blow out his candles.

My Uncle "J" an amazing man and friend
That same year we knew other loses, but were overwhelmed and consumed by avoiding behavior. It served it's purpose and we worked through some of it, admittedly we are still working on things especially in regards to my grandmother. We miss and think of her daily. My mother-in-law passed not long after and that was another blow and toll paid to Death. Then an uncle whom we were very close, but had lost contact with due to the unfortunate nature of relative relationships or lack there of within the tangled mess of branches that hold our family tree.

Losing my mother-in-law was and still is difficult. We visit her grave often, and specifically allow Jynx and another their time to grieve her. They were quite close for some time, but relationships die and things fester. So there was also a lot of hurt and anger surrounding this relationship. I'll keep some of the privacy's still, but she too was taken by the "c word." While in hospital we were able to visit her that final week. We went there every day to sit and chat with her. It was clear she wasn't leaving and she said as much, to us, but kept up appearances for her families sake. We had some wonderful chats and I can't imagine any of us who had that final opportunity will ever forget them. She was a strong woman and when final decisions were being made my father in law and husband (other relatives too) seemed to look to us for assistance. Jynx did what she does and got to work...planning and putting together the funeral for the mother she lost, but never had enough time with.

I don't want to get into every loss over our lifetime or the massacre of every life Death has taken from us in recent years, but the final one we will be sharing with you is the loss of the first person we were tasked with protecting. My little brother. One of my earliest childhood memories is of my great grandmother. I remember the sight of her, how she smelled and every crease on her weathered face and hands that stemmed from a long life. She was in a nursing home and my mother enjoyed visiting with her...most of the time. That was unless her 'mother' was present; which admittedly wasn't often but did occur on a handful of unpleasant spite riddled occasions. Pressing on... My grandmother was one of the kindest most sincere woman I had encountered. Which at that point in our life, was an uncomfortable surprise; given who her relatives were and specifically who we knew her child to be. This woman we didn't have the opportunity to know better through life because she passed away when I was quite young. But I remember the smell of licorice and hard candies. I recall her warmth and her frail body wrapped around my tiny big eyed frame. There was a massive discomfort with touch and still is, but she felt safe. One of the smaller weak physicality's on any individual we've seen to date, and yet strength was there. I don't know her specific diagnoses but do recall hearing "she isn't quite there," i.e. dementia. She always adored seeing me, and to my knowledge always recognized me and even had recognition for my mother... My little brother was born early and remained in hospital for some time, but upon his release we (our mother & us) brought the new baby swaddled in clean linens to visit her.

She always brightened upon our visits, there are photos of us assisting her in holding the new bundle and we cherish them, as we don't have many photos of her. I recall being in one of the nursing homes halls in a corner near the nurses' desk that held a few chairs when she teared up. She glanced around, gave a slight nod to those standing nearby and in a hushed tone she said, "Protect him. Protect him from the monster." I recall the physical feeling of my eyes widening, I was instantly pulled from my body (dissociation) and watching this exchange from afar, but clear as day my skin crawled, I became nauseated and those words will forever be ingrained into my brain. We failed her in a way and parts of me struggle with this deeply. She was kind and loving towards us, never a cruel word...again not directed towards me at least, and September last year that small bundle wrapped in linen died before he reached the age of 25. Death came for him, he lied to us.

An example of one of the countless IMG's I've found but not taken.
He lied by expressing countless times, "I can't die" or "It's like I can't die dude." The heavy implication of his unspoken words and our own failings in helping him weigh heavy. His clear silence of, "I've tried," still floats around my thoughts. After, what we view as failed attempts given conversations we had as adults. His own villains ran deep and he thought himself an evil upon the world, never taking a good turn. Not even once. These later conversations we had with him were painful to think back on, as some of my parts believe they could have helped him or we should have tried harder. She wouldn't have let my dad try and try again. We had a method, we've helped others, but the one person we were tasked with keeping safe, we could not protect from his greatest danger... Himself.

He traveled quite a bit and in the end he passed away - from currently defined "unknown causes"- in Florida with family. I am vastly aware that any relative that may one day stumble upon this post will hate it with unparalleled vengeance, but Death is funny that way. She takes, yet also gives piece to the taken. He was a heroin addict. On and off in recovery, the hard life he lived perpetrated havoc on his very thin, yet strong body. A difficult childhood full of secrets, turned to a rebellious angry teen and an inevitability fucked up adult life. Rehab never stuck long, and constant running and battling his own mind and people around him, took him before he really was able to live.

My parts spar with the constant guilty thoughts and I can't imagine that will ever completely subside, but maybe one day it can become better. We were only a little over 6 years his elder and protected him through childhood to the best of our abilities, but as stated, we could not protect him from himself and his own mind. Something some of us still try to decipher, but to no avail.

Death and grief are two different monsters that play off of one another's woes. Something they seemingly enjoy doing, as it is their purpose. I know Toon has cried heavily, onto the shoulder of our uncle. I returned to my parents house with Sean having just seen our new home with our realtor and after making the decision to put in the offer. We had spoken to my brother only days before about house hunting and he sounded well, pleased for us in the way he was able. Unfortunately, as every tale such as this goes it was the last time we spoke to him. I'm only pleased it was a short and "normal" sibling conversation. There was no wicked tongued fight from either side, it was simple. Standard. Enjoyable even.


My little brother & Jynx at Christmas
He always did better in Florida...For him the environment was pleasant and felt more like home, though I hazard the guess he never really felt that sensation of "home" anywhere, but amongst my parents and our younger sister. He enjoyed certain people, a chosen few, most of whom he met while in Florida. He chatted the night before with our uncle down there, bid his goodnights and went to sleep never to wake up. I do not know what his specific cause of Death was, but I have no misgivings that heroin played a part. Either directly or in that it wreaked havoc on his body and mind for so long that his flesh could no longer sustain him.

My parts have struggled with anger, fear, fear of additional loss, anxiety of the next person close either connection based or by proximity, and even hatred. Hatred of so many things and cast towards so many individuals within situations such as these. Trust has been broken all over again and that is not something we often give again, if ever.

I'd like to leave you with well wishes or hope as we often do with our more difficult musings, but I have nothing to give you. Dear reader, thank you for sticking with this lengthy fulmination. I detest the sentiment of "hold your- - whomever- - close because you don't know how long you'll have them," so I can't bring myself to say this. It is nonsensical to me and I've no need for nonsense in life. I have no 'but' for my previous statement, truly, I can't stand the statement. I can say, grief is for the living and only that is my envy of the dead.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Self Harm Broken Down

We touched upon Self Harm in our previous post on Tips & Tricks, and expanded upon them on Surviving My Podcast in our discussion with Matt; but so what? What now? It was mentioned that we would bring you another installment of this ever important discussion so here we are...

NOTE: The content of this post may be triggering to some AND does contain explicit and graphic content 18+. This Trigger Warning is being issued because we want it to again be known it is up to you to know your own limits and care for yourselves, please do so.

To carry on the conversation Matt, myself and a couple of my parts had on his podcast this post will contain further depths on the points being made during our chat. There were many who had reached out after we shared our post, but one of the more common questions we received after the episode aired was one of concern. Friends, relatives and loved ones bombarded our inbox --we've now since replied to everyone, but it did take time-- some, as I said, were concerned for the well being of others. There were those messages of course that came from a place of contempt and outright hatred, which we did anticipate and one reason why Jynx vets most/all of our inbox before the rest of us see the messages. (HINT: if you send a distasteful message attempting to intentionally trigger me, it will not work. Sorry move along.)

As I was saying... When I was discussing Stevy specifically, many had asked the differences between our reasons why. Why did Stevy self harm and what did I mean by the differences in our reasoning for causing such chaos? It's a fair question, and one that we can answer. Stevy did want the control, as many people do. That deep need for being able to hold the control over something in life, for Stevy this was pain. There was quite a bit of chaos going on in our life(lives) and she herself, as you may have read at this point, deals with a type of mania that can truly strengthen to a place where she is so beyond control and reality that when she starts to come down she will crave those feelings again and fear them, simultaneously. 

Now, for me I suppose the parallel to control can be made, but it does differ in my mind. Due largely to my thought processes and the way I, myself, experience the world I consciously and of sound mind, chose to harm myself or have others harm me in a negotiated and controlled environment. 

In short, I did this because I wondered if I could actually feel the physical pain and if I would react in an emotional way...As far as I knew I wasn't, yet at times (I was told) tears would be streaming down my face. I always found it odd, but both fortunately and unfortunately--I suppose-- I now know why that was. I was coconscious with a part that was experiencing the fear and pain. I'm not going to delve deep into some of these particular instances as they were of a very personal nature, but I can tell you we were safe and this was a choice I was allowed to make in my life before my DID diagnosis. The reason being, in the end it was beneficial to our wellbeing on both a physical and mental level. Something that, at the time, we couldn't find help with and if we did it was minimal and short lived at best.

I am a believer of trying anything at least once and not limiting myself. Luckily parts of me also held these ideals and so we found some acceptable forms of help despite the short comings we encountered in the mental health field, as you probably know, this is one of the biggest reasons for our Living with DID Talks and now the Living DID Course.

You may have seen some of our posts and discussions with people who are apart of the BDSM community. Though, many find this triggering the opposite is true, and there are just as many who find comfort within this community based in negotiation and consent. For trauma survivors these are two things taken from us so why wouldn't this community be one of safety and comfort? I'm not here to coax you one way or another merely pointing out theres major overlap and it is easy to see why.

Moving on... 

Why?

I cannot list all the reasons why some self harm and others do not. As I stated above, Stevy did so because she experiences the world in such an abstract out of control way she wanted that control in life...It does go beyond that for her though. She is a protector and when she is 'up' in that mental mania, of sorts, it's when she is most effective and protective. She is an example of one of my parts that protected us (mostly during sleep) but she also protected others in a major way. When she saw something wrong she spoke up and intervened in some extreme ways. I am now more aware of these instances after discussions I've had with friends who are still apart of our life and via therapy. My life is making more and more sense despite the timelines being tricky and the fogginess my memories still hold, but more things are coming together.

While why is one of the most important questions you can ask someone, it is not the end all be all. It is a starting point, if you ask why, I'd like to warn you that you may need to be prepared for answers you either will not like or that cannot fully be explained. 

"I would know!"

I really would like you to hear me on this... The "I would know," mentality really is not going to serve you or anyone else in this instance. If someone who is self harming does not want anyone to know, you really aren't likely to notice. Stevy is again a perfect example of this. She cut the bottoms of my feet, my palms and even my mouth. This is not exclusive to her/us, but is something people who self harm do when they aren't wanting help but to remain hidden. A quick sidenote for those that will be bothered by my discussing this...I am not condoning it, nor am I offering up ways for your loved ones to hide it better. They already know. They will be the ones messaging me in anger for my pointing it out, you don't need to.

People explain and offer compassion to those suffering with addiction, substance abuse for example, is a big one. Self harm does become an addiction. It offers a release to those practicing it; even if you cannot fathom why or how that could be possible, this is one reason why it becomes so dangerous. Because like with many addictions they tend to escalate and become more chaotic and the consequences more dire. 

Excuses, Excuses!

"I'm clumsy, haha."
"Ugh I know, I'm such an idiot, I was using a carving knife in art class and it slipped..."
"I sprained my ankle again..."
"Dude I don't even know! haha! Stupid right?"

We've used these excuses as to why I was limping, my hand was bandaged or whatever it was that someone noticed as 'off.' It wasn't that people always didn't notice it's that when they did we didn't want them to know so gave them a sound and reasonable explanation. Which is another one of our main points here... If someone doesn't want you to know and does not want your help, you're gonna hate it, but you won't be able to help them...not yet at least.

"So I've read your blog and follow you on twitter...Toon is only a kid what happened to her if you or Stevy were hurt?"

Another fair question we were asked many times, while we've been speaking about this was what happens to other parts when harm is coming to my body. It's a solid question and one I will attempt to explain...

The brain is a powerful thing. It has amazing capabilities, to the degree that most people cannot even begin to fathom. Basic dissociation itself is the perfect example of this. You may drive the same route five days a week to and from work, right? Or maybe you've lived in your neighborhood for, lets say, ten-fifteen years... Right now, what's your answer to the following questions? How many houses are on your block? What colors are they? Would you bet your life on what you know? Moreover, would you bet your life on what information your brain has filtered for you as important information? 

Deep breath. The fact you can't tell me this information doesn't mean you have a dissociative disorder, if you do--ANOTHER DEEP BREATH-- this does not mean you aren't being protective and taking care of each other or yourself. It simply means your brain is structured to filter information in a limitless number of ways. If you sat and thought about it you might be able to list every house on your street and maybe even the color, but this is beyond unlikely. It is your brain processing information into separate files, two categories being: relevant information and irrelevant information. This is one amazing thing all brains do, HOW they do it varies.

Here is an example of my own life for you. When Stevy was self harming, Stevy was the one doing this to herself. She wasn't hurting Toon, or others. Toon is an example of one of my parts that would not have even known about it. It's true I myself had come back to being in hospitals and having my hands/feet etc bandaged, or broken stitched... but that was again an oddity of the brain. My assumption here is that Stevy was consciously protecting Toon and others but not me. There could be endless reasons for this, and here is another example of why... There were times I had no idea that my body was injured and I didn't know until someone had pointed it out to me or until that limb simply didn't work. 


DID is a tricky and dangerous disorder. Dangerous for the person(s) living with it. Very rarely does it become dangerous to other people. Self harm is often an additional factor here.

Productive Destruction! 
In our previous post discussing self harm the final point seemed to be an amusing favorite for people, especially, pertaining to recovery.


We are certainly constructively destructive. <A favorite phrasing to many--you know who you are. ;) So we wanted to again elaborate some and end on a more positive note.

If you've been self harming, I don't care how long, you can retrain your brain. It's a patterns game and restructuring what you're doing-the harm for example- can be trained and phased out. Yes, it takes time... Alcoholics anonymous have a 12 step program. Use whatever steps work for you in recovery from self harm. 
For us it was figuring out why, if there were specific things that triggered those thoughts and then how to counteract them. Then finding the replacements for those behaviors. We chose to. It can certainly be daunting and a major challenge but that doesn't mean that when your brain tells you you're a shitty useless sack of steaming guano that you can't tell yourself to shut the fuck up. I am aware that is difficult but at some point choices are made. Hard unimaginably frightening and tedious choices are made. Make them.


Instead of well it's only one more line, one more cut, one more burn, one more....whatever the case may be. Destroy something (something not someone) else and not yourself. You know that you'll only feel worse after the fact of harming yourself in whatever way you do. Find what works for you. Find the thing, the community, the person that works for you in recovery and stick to it. Whether it finally is permanently or in short bursts until you can permanently stick.

Destroy anything but yourself. I'm not here to tell you, you matter. That's not particularly helpful, it wasn't for us, but I am going to tell you it's your choice. Harming yourself doesn't do a damn thing when you find the better options that are available.  



Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Karen: Busy Inside

There is no shortage of misinformation regarding Dissociative Identity Disorder. Which if you've been following our Living DID series here on the blog, you'll be aware of the endless challenges these people face. There are countless who seem to be intrigued and fascinated by this disorder as well as others who fear or ignore those living with it. Where ever it is you land on this debate I am certain you will be as curious about Karen and her system as I was...

Via our Twitter @TheWeinMe we came across a new documentary, Busy Inside. It is a documentary created by Olga Lvoff (Director/Editor) and Victor Llyukhin (Producer/Editor). They focused on a group of women in the States who live with Dissociative Identity Disorder and one women in particular, Karen.



Please consider checking out this hope inducing documentaries kickstarter page because they are so close to meeting their goal and with only 3 days left time is ticking!

We've had the pleasure of speaking with those affiliated with this film as well as Karen and some of her system while we were putting this piece together for the blog and it was nothing short of a hope inducing experience. There are people living with this disorder doing some amazing things and there is certainly hope for the future...For those that are unfortunately lost in the worlds of trauma where we all initially began and those decades from there who have found the help, worked through and fought hard as hell to come out the other side.

This post is one that like the others in this series we would like to put a Trigger warning on. Trauma is discussed within this series but hope and wonderful things that combined make these DID systems who they are!

So here we go...

Name: Karen

System Name: No designated system name. They say "we" and "us." Rosalee Posalee one of Karen's younger parts explained to me they either use the term "part" or "alter," but that depends upon to whom they are speaking because not everyone knows the language. (which is something you've heard us say many times at this point.)

Age/Body Age: Rosalee explained, "The Big One is 61yrs. old. She's old but not as old as us. I'm 123. 1, 2, 3. Because, because nobody tells someone 123 they can't drive..." 

Parts Age Range: 1yr old - 80 years old. (Other than Rosalee of course who is, 123.)


"Be Who You Are & Openly." -Karen

Diagnosis: As is the case for many of us, at the beginning it was difficult for Karen when seeking her diagnosis. She can't recall the exact year of her diagnosis but estimates it between 1988-1990. However, she was already doing amazing things with her life... 
She was struggling through her degree in social work due to flashbacks. She was able to pass those courses and has been utilizing her degree(s) to assist others ever since. At the time she was raising two teenagers with her partner (at the time). The DID seemed to assist in her ability to keep things together enough through all the chaos of her life at that time. 


"I know it helped." -Karen

In the early 90's Karen was the director of a LGBTQ+ Center, she had published a book at this point with her partner. Karen expressed to me that she eventually did come out about having DID. It caused a bit of a stir initially, but she was counseling the people who came to the center on living their lives as who they were and openly... So she decided to do the same. 

Karen had already gotten her masters in social work. She had initially went into therapy because she was assuming most of her issues at that time were due to being gay and not dealing with that part of her life. Still in therapy she knew something was off, but didn't know what. One of the problems, even still today, is the psychology field doesn't know or understand what to think. It's like you're dropping them in the middle of France only they can't speak French. Language is important. Karen had assumed her life was "normal." Not remembering things was just life and she assumed that's what everyone dealt with.

Now this may seem chaotic to you with so much going on how is it she possibly could have been getting her own help, raising teenagers, dealing with all of these ups and downs? Well, she was able to find a therapist who diagnosed her, but this was unfortunately not at all a good fit and so they moved on in their search for a trauma informed professional. Which they inevitably found!


"We hide. We too scared. Won't tell you anything until we know you. Don't trust until we know [them]."


Alters/Parts: Please watch the video linked here

"It's a stand off. We win. We win!! We number one!!!"



Relationships and Work: Karen and her partner live on the west coast and they've a doggie! Beyond that, she works with people living with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Something I myself find astounding and wonderful. Everyone within her system know to remain silent and "busy inside" so she can work and help others. The structure is remarkable to me in that the work Karen is doing has been and will continue to help people.

At a previous employer there were some struggles, but again a wonderful things occurred from a negative... There was a one sided argument with her boss at the time and she ended up on the bathroom floor with a tear stained face. She went back to discuss the problem with this authority figure and explained to him about being diagnosed with DID. He simply replied, "Oh. OK, that makes sense." 

Family: Both of Karen's parents are deceased but survived by her, 1 younger brother and 2 older sisters. One of the older sisters knows and had even gone to therapy with her in the beginning. She was told about Karen's having DID and did find it to be a puzzling thing. It took her (sister) about 2yrs to finally accept Karen's diagnosis. At one point her sister's local newspaper had an article about DID in it and she sent it over to Karen; which did have a positive impact on the situation because at that point it gave them hope. More-so than any other family members though, Karen is concerned for her nieces and nephew. Unfortunately, her younger brother doesn't understand and most family members don't seem to believe her. 

"I told them about the documentary." -Karen

The Documentary: I had asked Karen to share some of her experiences overall with the documentary crew, filming process and all that was involved. As some of you know we were also offered the chance to be apart of a docu-series last year, but did decline.

Working as a social worker and therapist, as well as, dealing with more severe client's can be a trying experience for anyone within the mental health field, but living with DID and now the documentary Karen is prepared to keep doing what she has been, "dealing with things as that come. Life is about learning and growing," she said which I do very much agree with.

People split differently. We figured out how to work together, Karen says. Healthy day to day living. Rosalee shared that "The Big One" manages the day to day of life, but we (everyone else in the system) get our time. "Hard to explain to other people, they not in our head, she says." We should support people wherever they are at in their lives. 

Until the video, Karen's system hadn't been out regularly speaking to people. There was some getting accustomed to that for her and the others. Though, as I found out Rosalee is quite smart and sweet child who did seem to enjoy the time she gets, as well as, a few others I was very grateful to speak with during our conversations over the last couple weeks. When in public they are never out. They have their designated times in the evening to enjoy what they want to do at home, but with the documentary things were much different. They were pushed and encouraged to speak out.

At times, filming was difficult. Karen was adamant about having a final say in things and if the pushing was too much she halted things and would leave the room. This was not a constant as she explained that the experience was largely a positive one, which was indeed encouraging to hear because there certainly is a need for a film like this to give people with the disorder & their loved ones, hope. Of course for the general public understanding that these things that we - the DID Community- live with day in and day out are not found on the set of a horror movie, but the mundane nature of day to day living...We just do things a bit differently in that regard.

Goals: Certifications to work across state lines. Working as a supervisor for clinicians.

What would you tell psychologists about DID?

"Understand that I'm scared too. I need time to talk and process."
"Don't treat us like idiots. Be nice. Don't get upset if we panic."
Be honest. They know when you aren't. Even if you don't really it. If they think you lied to them, you're done. No trust ever. So no want to talk to you. -Rosalee

"We read them & can tell way too much. Wrong if you lie. 
Don't like it."

DID Myths?

Karen, "I find them funny." She understand people can't make sense of it, but the biggest problem if when clinicians believe & say, "It doesn't exist."

She shared an experience while at a conference with other professionals in the field...

A therapist had stated that he would immediately hospitalize someone if they told him they had DID. Even if he wasn't their therapist and had a colleague consult on what to do...I told him, "I am a therapist living with Dissociative Identity Disorder." This seemed to shut down the conversation on his end.

I can only imagine what that encounter looked like. This is one of the problems. Do people need hospitalization at times? Yes, of course, but this does not mean every individual with a severe traumatic past that caused a Dissociative Disorder or DID is in need of this action. Over aggressive reactions are a major piece of the misunderstandings in regards to DID and they unfortunately do cause more harm than good despite the psychologists potentially positive intentions. Case by case assessments are necessary. 

Final Thoughts?

Having spoken with countless people at this point Karen's focus remains to continue her work in helping people through their trauma and further the much needed education surrounding DID. 

People need to ask questions when they don't know. Find assistance and reach out don't assume they're experts and understand that this isn't about you, but the person you're working with and trying to help.

Education and outreach is key. 


"When you become grow up...
Responsible for you and what you do." -Rosalee


A massive thank you to Karen and her system for taking the time over the previous weeks for chatting with me about their life and experiences with the Busy Inside film. I am certainly hopeful for what this documentary can mean for future generations and for the current climate we're living in. Thank you again and thank you for reading. Please don't forget the kickstarter campaign ends in three short days and they're so close! Tweet, share post and donate what you can!

"Normal is an Illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly." -Morticia Addams

Monday, March 5, 2018

Living with DID: Shirley Davis


So excited to bring you this post. Shirley Davis is someone we had the pleasure of meeting -via social media- a couple years ago now. She is an author, speaker and a tremendous advocate and voice for the DID Community. We're also very excited to be able to announce her joining us for the new Living DID Course, beginning this month!

As always with these posts we want everyone to be aware certain things discussed may be triggering so be aware of your own limitations and boundaries and practice self care. 





Name/System Name: Shirley Davis/ Morgan Davis
Body Age: 57yrs old
Parts Age Ranges: Newborn-57yrs old, 5 main adults and a whole bunch of 6yr olds.

Diagnosis: In 1990 Shirley was diagnosed with DID--at the time it was still called MPD, Multiple Personality Disorder. Her therapist had minimal training, at best, in regards to MPD but what this doctor did was invaluable. She told Shirley, the truth and was willing to gather the information needed to help them. 

Unfortunately, after 9yrs. with this therapist Shirley had to file for bankruptcy and lost her insurance. This was in of itself a traumatic experience because the person she had been working with for 9yrs at that point was stripped from her life. The office wouldn't even allow them to say goodbye to their doctor and get a referral or clean break.



Due to this it sent Shirley's system into chaos and they spent 7 & 1/2 years of their life in a psych facility. Nobody was available in their area to help at the time and given their life circumstances their was no where safe for them to go. While inpatient they did, however, find a therapist. They worked with this doctor for a few more years and ultimately she assisted them in getting their life back on a better track. Through this doctor they were able to reconnect with Paula. The original therapist they saw and who helped them for so many years through some seriously difficult moments in therapy. 

Shirley had told us that those first 2+ years in the facility are still all a blur and largely missing, but the therapist they found their lead them back to Paula.


"Ahhh Paula, I remember my kids [internal] being so excited to see her again. They were so loud I couldn't hear her." -Shirley

Prior Knowledge: I knew something was off, but I had no clue. My parents took me to a neurologist thinking I may have a brain tumor. I tried to kill myself at age 7; not one of those doctors thought something may have been going on at home. It's important to pay attention. One of our doctors noticed my body language shifts. Which is important because with DID you really need to pay extra attention to what we are not saying as well as what happens during a dissociative moment or crisis. 

Openness in Life: Yes completely, there are only a few places I won't discuss it. Church for example is a place I don't volunteer this information. 

Family/Relatives: One brother knows, I live with him. He takes care of my medications for me because I don't trust my alters with it. My other brother is in complete and total denial, I believe it is in order to protect himself. 

Life and The System: I looked in the mirror and didn't know myself. They all have their own styles and their own physical realities. Much of my life has been lived in jumps and starts. There were some struggles and resentments at first in therapy, but that's because of role changes. I was becoming the mother of the system, in a sense, and Bianca whom is 18 years old and knows the entire system, was struggling a bit with me (Shirley) being in charge and caring for everyone and working together. 

For our internal structure, I will go to our internal beach. I sit there and quietly wait if conversations need to happen we meet there. It's our safe place, I sometimes just picture it to relax a bit. Bianca was the first I met and she's my best bud.



There really needs to be a willingness to learn. There's a struggle for many therapists/psychologists to understand and they often think they should hold all the keys, but sometimes you need to learn and work together. You really won't see this unless you know it. 

Now in life we work together living one unified life. Shirley uses the brilliant analogy of an orchestra. Your seeking out a conductor, your psychologist can be placed in that role and train you to become your life's conductor by passing the baton in a manner of speaking. With DID the orchestra plays the best they can, but things occur and can cause problems. Similar to a renowned orchestra, they practice and work with the conductor, not against. 

One great resource I had found was a DID conference in Seattle. With 200 plus people spanning six days it felt...well it felt like going home.

Morgan had taken on the role of leader in the 1990's to calm the chaos occurring and became the "elected mom."

"I felt like a stranger in my own skin." Shirley 

DID Myths: The supernatural powers and shape shifting thing. Also, no we don't eat people. I am not psychotic that is an entirely different disorder and problem. 

We wanted to again thank Shirley for allowing us a glimpse into her life and for joining us on the journey with the Living DID Course starting in less than two weeks now! 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On Deliverance

We recently read this amazing post from Theresa over at dis-sos.com She lives with Dissociative Identity Disorder and she is someone who has found solace in the church community. I want to let you just jump right into her post. This is written by her and available on her blog at the link above, but please take notice of this. What she shares, how she explains it was so very important. We are pleased to call her a friend an fellow advocate, and we hope you enjoy and learn from her post...




If you are an atheist or fundamentalist and looking for a fight, please go away. This article is not for you. I will not tolerate disrespectful comments. If you know that you will be offended by anything christian, please stop reading now. I am not attempting to offend and seeking offense is immature love. I am trying to educate people with a certain worldview. 


The church is full of abused people. And they are looking for help. It is not rare for survivors of satanic ritual abuse to look for safety, protection and help in the church. Yet often the church cannot offer it. And part of the reason is that christian counselors are not educated enough when it comes to psychological matters and so they will start working with deliverance ministry as soon as they see something strange happening. 
I am a christian. I believe in the spirit realm. I am also diagnosed with DID and facing the reality of dissociation as a psychological problem, not a spiritual one.
Dissociation is strange. If you are working with a dissociative client under pressure you will most certainly see strange things. And I dare to say that you will not be able to tell if this is a demonic influence or dissociation from just looking at it. Whatever you have been taught about demonic manifestations, they have a purely psychological counterpart in dissociation. If you use the tools of deliverance ministry you will re-traumatize your client.
Our goal is to make the church a safer place for people with high levels of dissociation and DID. As long as people believe that parts could or even should be cast out, it is safer for a DID system to hide their condition. 


Psychological symptoms you will most likely get to see when working with dissociative people:

Derealization: they might tell you that they feel dizzy, the room looks strange, the floor might look curved, there are no straight lines, everything feels like it is not real, they might get scared of you because you don't look real, your face might look like it is shifting into a demonic mask...

Depersonalization: they might be unable to recognize (parts of) their body, sense (parts of) their body and generally feel estranged from themselves. Their own emotions, perceptions and thoughts might feel distant and strange to them, they might not recognize their own voice, handwriting etc.

Amnesia: your client might forget (parts of) the conversation you just had. You might feel like you are back to zero, you might accuse each other of lying, you might get angry because they never did what you told them to do but they never heard you say it. They might be unable to recall situations. You cannot hold people accountable for things they can't remember.

Body issues: clients might lose their ability to see, hear, speak or use any of their other senses. Their muscle tension might drop so that they will faint or be unable to stand/ sit upright. They might be unable to move certain body parts, have strange sensations in body parts, the list is long....

Pain: they might feel pain as if the abuse is happening at that moment. That is a flashback felt in the body. Sometimes parts in a system cause pain to make their point. This includes wandering pains and pain suddenly increasing when a certain topic is confronted. There can also be sudden pressure in the head.

Mind: when confronted with difficult topics the client might feel foggy and struggle to think, they might experience sudden sleepiness, thoughts vanishing from their mind, voices getting really loud in their mind, including negative talk, the ability to speak might be affected so that the client seems to speak in a strange language. 

Seizures: stress and strong emotions can cause the client to faint or go into a seizure with uncontrolled muscle contractions, those might include strange sounds and foam building at their mouth. It is also possible that clients who experienced electro shocks as part of their trauma will show this as part of a strong flashback experience. (Please HELP them by getting them grounded instead of praying for „more Lord“)

Zone out: your client might zone out, freeze and become like a statue. They might or might not be able to see and hear in that situation. This could be a response to difficult questions or emotions. Their eyes will change visibly, look harder, darker.

Possession: dissociative parts can feel like possession for a DID patient who is unaware of what is going on. There are voices in their head, there are strange urges to do things they would not normally do, they might even see their arms moving and hear themselves speak in a way that they did not chose. they might feel like someone else is taking possession of their body and making them do things, up to self-harming behavior. This can be co-conscious awareness while another part is in control. 

Parts saying they are demons: some parts wanted to feel safe or they think they are really bad and so they told themselves that they are strong demons. Depending on the background of your client some parts might have been taught that they are demons, using psychological tricks, costumes, masks, mirrors and drugs. If someone tells you that they are Satan, and I know it can be creepy because the voice can change dramatically and the atmosphere shifts, you should be pleased to meet them, you will be talking to an important part in the system. Don't be surprised if there is more than one satan. In my 15 years in a charismatic church I have never seen a demon show up and speak through someone. If they say they are satan that is most probably a part. Be kind. Offer them candy. Or a stuffy. Those parts are usually very young and lonely. 

Animal expressions: some parts think or were taught that they are animals. They might not speak but growl, snarl, hiss or make other animal noises. They might also move like these animals.  Ritual abusers use tricks like wrapping kids in plastic foil shoulder to toes, to teach these alters to move like snakes. Do not mistake it for some kind of manifestation.


Most of the „demonic manifestations“ taught in church could also be a dissociative symptom or parts acting in a way they were taught by abusers. Some dissociative symptoms even look like manifestations of the Holy Spirit or they are in line with christian mysticism.
That is why I am asking you to be very careful with this. If you see a client act in a strange way, help them to feel safe and grounded instead of a) going into intercession or b) trying deliverance. There is still time for prayer later. In that moment they might need practical help and smelling salts. 

Trying to „cast out“ any of these symptoms will most certainly increase them. Maybe the client will also shift from one kind of dissociation to another. Trying deliverance on a part is very painful for this part, it means deep rejection, shame, guilt, anger and extreme fear of death
If you push a system long enough they will present a part that can be „cast out“ to please you, and to make you stop. You are abusing them.. This is the clients soul trying to stay safe in a situation that seems life-threatening
In another equally worst case the system will ban that part and try to contain them so they won't show up and cause this trouble again. This containment might last for years and keep this part and the whole system from healing. Parts cannot be cast out. 
They can also not just go to the Father and be gone. Even with this well-meaning imagery those parts will just be moved from the surface and be contained, maybe not an inner prison but in a place they learned to call „the Father's lap“. 
Containing parts costs the whole system. They do not have a chance to be whole with parts missing, functioning might drop too.


If you know that you are working with a dissociative client I would recommend not trying any deliverance ministry. If a part shows up that you are insecure about, treat them with kindness and see if they want to get to know Jesus. If not, be kind anyway and see if they want to tell you something. You can also kindly ask them to step back to allow others who want to meet Jesus to come to the front. Never push a part who is getting aggressive. They are trying to protect, so you are looking like a threat to them already. Creating an atmosphere of acceptance, affirmation and safety will get you to places that confrontation never will. If in doubt, always treat it as a part. If in doubt, help with grounding first. And you should start to doubt the moment you learn that your client has a background of trauma and abuse.

If you client is levitating, throwing things without touching them, has glowing eyes or anything like that happening, that is not dissociation. You might want to talk about the occult with them.


Sin
Often your client will use coping strategies that are not healthy or that you consider sin. Please don't try to take that from them. It is currently the best way of coping they know. They would have to turn to even worse strategies if they are not allowed to use this one. Work on effective coping instead. Repentance means to change the way they think. It is not done with a prayer that renounces their former coping. You can also not cast out bad coping strategies. You can replace them with something better. If you want to do this in prayer, don't ask them to give up their coping strategy, ask Jesus to give them something instead first. That is the only way that letting go does not cause intense fear of death and more maladaptive coping strategies to make up for it. (yes, your traumatized client goes from zero to fear of death in a second and skips lesser fears, that is what trauma does to the brain)

Integration
I have heard people tell me testimonies of how systems with hundreds of alters were integrated by a miracle. I always nod and go away. Integration is not as hard as you might think it is. The HARD thing is to stay integrated. It is a known problem that people fall apart again. This is because they did not learn how to cope with their life as an integrated individual. Therapy is not over after integration. If dissociation is still the tool of choice to deal with difficult situations, emotions, relationships, sexuality, pressure and stress a quick „integration“ will not serve anyone. There is a lot more to it than fixing the splits. Please don't rush your clients. The success will not be permanent. They might even just fake it to please you, push their parts into the darkness and build up denial. It will prevent healing.


On behalf of those who seek help in the church I ask you to either get some really good training, for trauma, dissociation and how to work with parts, or leave this work to specialized therapists. If you are trying to help you will very easily end up being abusive yourself. Your client doesn't need more trauma in their life. There is proper training out there. DID is nothing new and nothing strange and you don't have to invent a strategy to deal with it yourself.
If you are willing to listen, love and pray this is a lot of support already. Don't get yourself traumatized by listening to too many terrible details of trauma. That is not needed to be supportive. Always make sure to take care of yourself and set healthy boundaries. We need more trauma-informed people in church who understand dissociation and who can offer safe support. Be one of those. And be careful with that deliverance stuff. 


As always you can comment to continue discussing this topic. Keep is respectful and curious.


A sketch one of my parts (Stevy) had done. Life's Exhausting 

A MASSIVE thank you again to the wonderful Theresa for allowing us to share her words with you.
There can be much more found on dis-sos.com we encourage you to go and please check out Theresa's content, but again, once I read this post I knew I desperately wanted her to allow us to share it as a special guest post here on our blog as well. Please keep in mind there are translations available on there blog, we shared the English version here, but her blog is also written and shared in German. Take care and we hope you all enjoyed this as much as I did and are excellent.