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! 

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