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.

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)

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.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

What Are You Advocating? Why Should Anyone Care?

What are you advocating?

When our lines get crossed we send mixed signals, but sometimes we project well thought out and specific bits of information we are perhaps, passionate about.
Passion. Rage. Fear. Love. Hate.
All of these are some of the most intense emotional states a living being can express and experience, but what are you advocating and why should anyone care?

We’ve been having some interesting conversations in our DM’s and via email given a few recent blog posts and tweets they’ve brought up many things for myself and some of my parts.
Which lead me to ask this question... What are you advocating? Yes I know I’m beginning to sound redundant but an endless stream of tweets spouting “#EndTheStigma” only go so far. It’s a worthy cause that goes without question but it isn’t necessarily an action word/phrase. This discussion is one I had with the community and faith leaders in one of our Living DID Talks earlier this year.
Prayer. “I’ll pray for you.” Thank you, but what are you actually doing? If you want to discuss your higher powers purpose in your life and only stop the action at prayer then I pray thee, what good are you? What are you advocating?

The same rule applies here. The mental health community by and larger is powerful and vast, yet everyone travels (mostly digitally) in their own circles. So you and your like minded peers tweet each other about change and awareness but you’re preaching to the choir, aren’t you? Aren’t we? Who are you reaching to and why? Are you changing minds and attitudes, if so, how are you doing this? 

This post here began months ago but currently is being dictated via Notes. I just listened to Electroboy (Andy Behrman) on the @Voices4ChangeRJ podcast. As you know it’s one of our favorites but we’ve been “bad” and got behind on episodes... let me interrupt myself here, I was not bad. We were not bad. I do not mean this in the literal sense, I know that word can project negativity onto people within the mental health community specifically. I very much support the Lombardo’s and missed a few episodes, this is not bad nor should anyone self deprecate due to this creep of an emotion that sneaks in. I digress...

Andy brought up an interesting point on the podcast today, "We get too caught up in the word stigma," With that I agree to the fullest. You don't need to go far to find something inspirational, whether it be, a story either fact or fiction, a tweet, a blog, a website...Literally anywhere, there is someone with an inspirational story. They're doing it. In many instances, exceeding and support overflowing in what it is they can and know how to do, but why should anyone care? Yes, people deeply care, they feel less alone and that is definitely a powerful thing, but when so many like-minded people come together and share, the community grows, but is the cause? Does this strengthen the cause or is it more a pat on the back to everyone within this one community? These are only a few of the thoughts that swirl my mind day-to-day and I wonder...
IMG Courtesy of @Arien_Inspires

Yes, I am aware this will sound "mean" or "harsh" to some, this is not my intent. I'm seeking thought and real conversations. Everyone is guilty of it, in my opinion. You get overwhelmed or stagnant in life and just go about reposting, re-graming, rewording, re re re re re re... I get it. 
Life gets in the way, whatever that means for you, it happens. It happens to us-- myself and my parts-- too. But now what? What are we advocating and why should anyone care what we have to say?

I don't want every person to like or even accept us. I advocate because I want real information available to people who watch the media portrayals of mental illness--specifically DID in our case-- and fear it or view these portraits as absolutes. Life doesn't give many, if any, absolutes. I find it odd people even those advocating state this and at times, demand they are accepted, praised and adored. It's an odd thing in my mind. If I had to sum things up, I'd say I simply want people to think, have conversations and in turn come to their own conclusions.

Again, yes. I know "not all people." I find it obnoxious I thought, "yaaa you should probably toss in the not all people before you receive a barrage of messages regarding that very thing and ignoring the point completely." I did think that long mess of a sentence. I don't always think in perfect linguistics, in fact it's largely the opposite. Why you would care I've no idea, but I figured meh lets add another paragraph, yet again explaining myself. Why though? 

Shit is chaos, but you can navigate it.
If someone relates to this, then good(?), I do sincerely hope they don't feel alone and it helps, but I want people who have no idea what I'm talking about reading this blog. I want to speak to the people who do hate and fear the disorders of all sorts many of us live with. Not so I can change their minds about me specifically and say "all hail Erika, good job another mind changed," but because I'm selfish. Correct, selfish. I want to understand things that don't make any sense to me, at least try. I want to try. Hating and fearing someone I don't know because one person said something is odd. I don't understand it and likely never will, but I want to specifically ask you, "Why should you care?"

There is a limitless supply of love and support available to you, and yes you're correct there is plenty of hate, but that is not up to you. Some people will not accept you. Some will fear and hate, others will love and respect though. This is not meant as some lovely generic quote. It's simple statistics and probabilities based on numbers, demographics, and general communities at large. 

(insert inspirational Google image here) 

I'll spare you the generic Google image and save myself a search to fill the above blog space, but do you see what it is I'm attempting to express? What is it we want to say? What is it we are attempting to advocate? Why?
Is it equality, the betterment of our societies, or our lives? Yes, specifically have you been wronged and it angered you so now you want to shove it down the throats of everyone you encounter or anyone who will listen? Or have you had these painful at times, experiences and want things to change? 

If you seek change then you need to be prepared for backlash, and far more hate. I'm not advocating the "toughen up" expression here I'm, more or less, thinking aloud. Considering these various thoughts streaming through my mind and attempting to make them coherent written (typed) thought, able to be absorbed by anyone interested in reading my trimmed fat.

Just us waiting to see what you take from this post...
I suppose I got so lost in these thoughts after listening to Andy discuss stigma, among many other things because, well shit because it is important to talk about. When we do our living with DID Talks the one thing we tell every single group is "It's important to know what you can and CANNOT do." I don't want every gungho "baby" doctor to be all bright eyed and bushy tailed leap into their fields and say "Yes I can." I want people to think. To know themselves and say, "Hey, maybe I can't or shouldn't do this, but I know someone else who can." Referrals save lives, again my mind wanders and practically gallops about in a chaotic mess of words thought and phrases, but before this becomes a tangent I simply am curious and do genuinely want to know the answer to the question I've asked a dozen or so times... What are you advocating?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Brittany Simon: Alternative Lifestyles and Mental Health

I cannot express to you the excitement some of my parts experienced when Brittany Simon agreed to talk with us regarding her mental health and lifestyle. If you're unfamiliar with her corner of youtube she runs a channel on Alternative Lifestyles and assisting people through their journey's in the BDSM community, as well as, a "Gay as Fuck" (that particular Tshirt of hers is our favorite) advocate who openly discusses her life on her channel...

Recently, her channel's 33,000+ followers discovered more personal information regarding her mental health and how that impacts her life. She released a video discussing her diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder-BPD and has been sharing all of the new ventures going on in her life.

Some of those are major changes for anyone, but with a mental illness change can be even more challenging. From relationship's ending and a major move things, in short, have been a bit hectic for her lately.

That wig tho! When I first saw this img I could not believe
 Jynx or Stevy didn't own a wig like this! 
NOTE: The content of this post may be triggering so please practice self care and be conscious of your own limits if you continue reading. I'd call this post NSFW. ;)

When we connected via Skype we quickly found that in a sense we are opposite in some of our experiences. Living with BPD Brittany explained she feels emotions at a higher percentage than some one else would. For me, myself, I find I don't feel much at all unless coconscious with my parts...This is something I'm working on in therapy, but it does seem that I may be on the spectrum in some capacity. With trauma and DID specifically diagnosing other things becomes even trickier. We had a pleasant and candid chat with one another something I, myself, don't experience much. There aren't many people I find enjoyable in my brain to converse with but Brittany was a pleasant surprise. I find I would define the conversation as fun and informative. 

BPD & Relationships

In her earlier life she dealt with traumas and emotionally abusive behaviors from her mother. Despite those things she continued in the way that worked best for her... Something that we always discuss as beyond important. "Normal is an Illusion. What is Normal for the Spider is Chaos for the Fly." Day after day, time after time, this phrase comes up and is so relevant to endless types of people. 

Brittany: "I knew I was unique. I assumed I was just a normal hormonal teen, but as I grew I found I needed additional help. So I sought out a therapist."

Erika: "We can definitely relate to that. I watched people and other children since I was very young and saw that there were vast differences. I knew something wasn't quite right, but eventually I gave up seeking help--I discuss this because it is an example of what NOT to do-- but thanks to parts of me we found help. Some refused to give up on getting help and they eventually found our therapist we still see today."

Due to the heavy emotional swings Brittany experiences she began to feel guilty about her mood switches. It was difficult for her previous long term partner. He wanted a submissive in check. While she appreciated the friendship that grew and was negotiated to dom/sub (Dominant/Submissive) relationship she had to be honest with the fact they are just different people with different goals and directions in life. He unfortunately took some things personal, and that is definitely one aspect of a relationship to which we relate. My husband and I still struggle with this from time to time. 

He can do the, "what's wrong with you" thing and that as most of you know, isn't ever helpful. All people struggle though and so we work on it, but the dynamic of our relationship is quite different from that of Brittany's and her former partner.

"I'm not broken, I'm just crazy." -Brittany

BDSM & Healing/Working Through Trauma

Within the BDSM community, Brittany would identify as a submissive/bottom. While similar in nature those roles within the community do have differences both in type, responsibility, and level of intimacy. 

Brittany: "I'm always battling my own brain. I definitely don't cry with my tops. It's a different relationship."

Erika: "Absolutely. I can't define as a top. Only one part of me would call herself a dominant, more specifically a service Dom. I've seen in one of your videos you put it as you don't want that responsibility over another human. That is something that I very much agree with. I know me fairly well and no thank you. haha!"

Brittany: "Yes! When I was researching BDSM I read novels from Anne Rice and Hamilton. When I was 21yrs old my best friends mother took me into her home, she explained the BDSM community and specifically, gay leather to me. There's value in the past and we need to respect history."

Erika: "Oh yes, very much. History of anything is profoundly important. It is amazing you had that in life person to turn to and one of the reason's we adore your effort and work. You're now that person for 1,000's of people via your channel."

Brittany: "Thanks, yes. I felt honored she shared with me. It really helped me see what I was missing."

"I'm a badass. I trust myself better than other people." -Brittany

Brittany would identify herself as a control freak and work-a-holic. She comically explained that she used to think she was spontaneous but needed to plan out her spontaneity. BDSM is a Community of control. Allow me to explain that before you take it in a negative way...

It is a structured community of consent and negotiation. Which is why there is so much overlap from the Trauma Community and BDSM. That negotiated control and consent based culture can be found hugely beneficial when working through various trauma. 

The things that were repeatedly taken from many of us can be negotiated, with other(s) over the age of 18, in a safe and consensual way. We've had many reach out to us since we posted one tweet regarding BDSM a few months ago. Some of these things we did reach out to Brittany for and/or send people right over to her tumbr or channel. I am aware of what I know and we are aware of what we do not know. I am in no way an expert on BDSM, but some of us would identify as part of the community. 

As we've stated before BDSM is not a magical cure and the thing that'll fix and instantaneously heal. Brittany herself will tell you that and again, we found her open honest view of life in general refreshing. Healing and working through various life experiences takes work. This work is something MANY of us find worth it as we want to live our fullest potentials. That will of course be different for each of us, but with therapy and BDSM Brittany is finding her rhythm and how to handle her own mental illness and get the best for herself. Which is definitely something to be admired and to seek out for our own lives. i.e. "Find your own version of Normal."

"Pain is rewarding to my brain." -Brittany

We had discussed the potential impact (only a little pun intended) on ending a long term DS relationship along with an out of state move... She isn't worried about no longer being a sub and is transitioning to bottoming. Now that this post is up Brittany has completed her cross country road trip and you can see her travels across the US on her channel. Her vlog's are there along with her regular content.

DS is not the magical cure all. It can help people but is not to be used in loo of therapy. In combination many have found it beneficial to increasing their quality of life.

She went on to explain that early on in her BDSM journey, when she would participate in a scene she was dissociating (mmhmmm, yes, dissociating) from heavy impact play. Now that she's spent time in therapy and even longer in the BDSM community she knows so much more about her life. Through growing her brand and partnering with others she's continuing to help people on their own journeys with Mental Health and those in the BDSM Community.
Brittany Simon
Brittany on her recent travels. Vlog

"I don't need people to be perfect, I need them to be aware." - Brittany

She expressed a few concerns regarding the professional mental health community and like many or most of us they are indeed note worthy...

It took far too much time and money to obtain help.

She additionally needed a therapist who was familiar with the ins and outs of BDSM. In her former, Seattle that was not beyond a struggle, but now in the vastly more conservative, Southern California she has concerns for what that will be like. 

Brittany does have positive tools in her life now that she utilizing for balancing her BPD...

"I'm having less episodes." -Brittany

With this major move comes many uncertainties and instability. Being used to an 80+ hour work week this move will be ending that and she's planning on only a couple days of work per week now, plus considering school. A vast change, but she's optimistic in her ability to focus on her channel and brand in the months and years to come.

With her primary focus now being on her Patreon and YouTube channel she's excited for the things that will be unfolding in her life. Which if you're wondering about a few of those things is a book! We are quite thrilled and looking forward to this and her future content. She's considering a book of essays on her life as well as a BDSM-101 book of information. Largely those are the questions she receives on her social media. The "How To's" if you will...

We wanted to end with a quick thank you to the always wonderful Brittany Simon and a shout out to the podcast. The Kinkier World podcast, is a group effort and can be found with a simple search. We've been listening on Sound Cloud since the beginning and there is an enormous amount of information to enjoy. She's apart of this with fellow Kinksters, give a listen for more info and to give your ears some amusing pleasure. They really can be quite funny and with this diverse group of four working together there truly is something for everyone regarding BDSM.

Thanks again, Brittany you do indeed rock.

The cutest GIF to ever be a GIF. She's got adorable ears people!