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

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