As I continue further into therapy and attempt to get to the point where I can build a bridge to communication to the other aspects of myself who seem to go by different names and each possess different needs or desires, I begin to find myself in a horrific and strange place. This place is somewhere in my psyche, but it feels like a real location.
Hazy and confused, I emerge from this place often left with only a strong lingering scent in my nostrils and an overwhelming sense of dread. I suppose I am one of those folks who emerge from “switching” with temporary head and leg aches. And, I come back feeling so very tired.
I am trying to piece it all together and hold on to the memory of this place. This room. This appears to be the place where “everyone” stays. “Everyone” must be waiting for his chance to come out. And, “everyone” seems to be competing to get out and gain control over the shared body. And, “everyone” seems to feel entitled to this one body as if it is his own.
Currently it is a battle of sorts. A fight for control. The goal is to get “us” all together. To get “us” all on the “same page” — working together toward integration. A shared psyche that will allow me — or “us” to function in life as one. There is a block coming from “me” which is keeping this from happening. So, the exploration continues as my therapist and I work to break down the block (or blocks) and bridge a way toward communication.
But, for now, I’m left with my thoughts, nightmares, and odd discordant memories from that place “we” go when “one of us” breaks out and takes over the real-time action of life. …disconnected from each other and rather lost. A scary exploration of the mind. A mind damaged by years of child abuse. A mind splintered off into odd emotional segments designed to protect. Trying to figure it all out and remember…
first i notice the smells
the scent of vomit, sperm, blood and wet grass
i notice the damp feeling
the repugnant odor of what must be rotting flesh
the grimly lit room
i can see
or is it “sense” the beds lining down against the cracked wall
how many beds?
but, there are more than a couple.
my eyes can only make out the feet
the uncovered dirty feet hanging at the end of each bed.
like from some european film?
are those feet blue?
are those the feet of a dead person?
is that a child in the back of the room?
he is trying to hide from me.
is that child me?
he looks like me.
who is speaking?
it sounds a bit like me
in a disguised voice or dialect.
“come in here. take your place.”
i touch behind me.
started to gag from the scents
that permeate this place.
i want to leave.
where is the door?
“you can’t leave. why don’t you lay down and rest with us?”
It has been close to a year since three doctors sat down and told me that I have D.I.D. or Dissociative Identity Disorder.
I guess the best definition comes close to the following: DID is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a condition in which a person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities (known as alter egos or alters), each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. In the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems the name for this diagnosis was Multiple Personality Disorder. In both systems of terminology, the diagnosis requires that at least two (but usually more “personalities” or “aspects of a personality” routinely take control of the individual’s behavior with an associated memory loss that goes beyond normal forgetfulness.
The terms are always changing it seems. It’s not like SYBIL or anything you might have seen displayed in movies or on TV — tho, The United States of Tara comes close to being realistic in the goofiest and silliest way possible. I think only 2% of those diagnosed with DID display the level of personality shifts as shown in that program.
I’ve hinted about this on my blog from time to time, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually written directly about it. I’ve decided to own it. And, I miss blogging. The problem is that the vast amount of my time is spent working through this disorder to over come it. To get my life back.
Of course this always begs the question – have I ever had my life in full or in parts? Over the course of this hardcore therapy which now includes hypno-therapy I’ve discovered that I’ve been losing time (or switching) most of my life. This explains a lot. For years and years I’ve wondered why, with my exceptional memory, I am often “cloudy” on certain spans of time or actions I’ve taken. And, all those torn out pages from my journals over the years. Or things I did at work but couldn’t recall except through the covert gathering of information from others. The funny thing is that I never once questioned these losses of time. I simply plowed forward with little or no thought.
A sort of fuzzy “re-boot” of my mind without owning it.
This all started at the time I was abused as a child. What the psyche can’t handle the brain tries to find ways to distill it so that the psyche survives. Survival is the name of the game. And, oddly, that has always been my motto. …”I am a survivor!” …I can deal. …I can wing it. …I will succeed no matter what. …And, I always have. But, with great costs.
Like most men with DID it wasn’t until my 30’s that things started going haywire and I couldn’t fully deal or hide the confusion. The stress of a big career, relationships, the issue of the abuse I suffered — all of which I do remember–, and the changes of hormones in the body resulted in everything coming to a thudding crash in late 2008.
I lost my newly found and beloved job here in San Francisco as I attempted to understand exactly what was wrong with me. As my partner helped me cope and we went from one doctor to another — the first great therapist I found recognized the problem almost immediately. However, my condition was a little beyond her experience as a doctor. She slyly referred me to another doctor who had served as her mentor. As it turns out this doctor is a god send for me. She has been working with DID relating to men for over 25 years.
I guess it took me well over six months to fully accept that I was dealing with DID, but I accept it now.
I’ve taken a series of tests and it looks like I have a very good chance of defeating DID and coming to what they call a form of “integration” in which these fragments of my psyche can merge back into one. You see they are not “personalities” — there is only one mind and one personality. These are ways the mind found to deal with the pain and horrors that were too much for me to fully accept on certain levels. They are aspects of me that take over to protect me. As one gets older it catches up with you because these aspects are forever stuck in a limited emotional state the trauma created. They are irrational and unable to react in logical ways to every day challenges of stress. But, the mind is so wired at this point that when certain situations trigger panic — the “appropriate” aspect takes over and I involuntarily take a back seat as the aspect gets through the situation.
Of course I face no danger now. In fact, I haven’t faced any real danger since I was about 9 years old. But, the aspects do not get that. So, now, I spend three to four hours a week with a doctor trying to understand what each aspect is worried about — in addition to my own worries.
Confusion has become my operative mode of conduct.
When B and I went to Manhattan last week I was terrified I would “switch” and do God Knows What — however, luckily, I only “switched” twice. Of course this resulted in a couple of odd situations. Monday, I found myself on a concrete pier of the Hudson River somewhere near W67th Street. And, I had only $10 in my wallet. Guess who got to walk all the way back to W23th and 7th Ave! Fun! My legs are still sore.
But, I try to think of it as a sort of an twist of adventure in my life. And, I like to remind myself that I have not failed in my one quest — which has always been to never lead an ordinary or dull life. Tho, the time away from working is deflating and being dependent upon Social Security Disability and Medicare is so devastating to me — I am quite blessed that the support was so quickly approved. I have a home, a love who cares for me, a family and great friends who support me and I will get through this.
However, that doesn’t make it any less scary when I might be at my computer one minute and then find myself in a place I do not know around people who appear to know me the next. And, then realize that it has been several hours since I was actually at the computer.
I keep coming back to one thought. Once I do beat this — and no one is willing to put a time line to it — but it sounds like I’m looking at a couple years of tough mental work — I figure there must be a book in this some way some how. I’m not the only one dealing with this disorder and there are so many dealing with it who probably do not even realize it or are too afraid to face it.
Maybe in some way I can help them. Maybe. Fingers crossed.
And, I feel that I even have a fourth: limbo/lost consciousness.
It seems, for now, I spend a good deal of time stuck in the limbo/lost state wherein I am left wondering what I’ve just done, where I am and why I am ‘there’ — a bit different from all of the other three because in recent weeks there are bits of foggy/dream-like memory creeping all around me.
At some point, probably around the age of four, my sub-conscious created ways of coping or dealing with trauma or experiences that were both too painful and too scary to deal with on a fully conscious level. These resulted in a fragmenting of the mind — or a fragmenting of myself. Looking back now, I can see and am starting to recall times throughout my life when I do not have a clear memory of a certain time or — and this is particularly new to me — times/experiences which I simply did not remember but now suddenly do remember in fairly strong context.
For almost two years I’ve been aware of losing the state of consciousness — and then “waking up” to discover that I had been functioning perfectly well and fine. This, upon deep reflection, has been going on all my life. Looking back at my journals and thinking about it — most of the time (in my youth) I shrug’d it all off as effects of drugs or being just goofy. Later, I would shrug it off as a panic attack of some sort and most other times in my adult life I simply refused on some level to even acknowledge it for fear that I was going insane or that I had some sort of brain tumor I did not want to know about. I would actually manage to not think about it. …to the point that pages in my journal were either ripped out or scratched over to the point that I could not read what I had written. At one point in my adult life (my mid twenties) I was actually convinced that a pal of mine who was mentally unstable and who sometimes slept on my futon with a teddy bear (?) was sneaking into my journal and screwing around with it.
But, close to a couple of years ago this losing time business was really taking a toll. It could not and would not be ignored.
This had sort of happened before in the early 00’s when it was thought that I had suffered some form of nervous breakdown related to work stress. Every test was done on me from the physio standpoint and then the mental standpoint — and it was determined that I was suffering with PTSD.
Medication, therapy and lame attempts at reducing stress pushed forward with a vengeance.
It took losing a major career and a daring move cross country, falling in true love and finding a truly satisfying job and life before my brain’s clever fragments started to crumble as “defense mechanisms” and morphed into “self destruction” — not that these fragments/aspects/alters ever intend to cause destruction — the fact is that they all appear to be stuck in both their own specific time and state of emotion. …developed to react and protect me from things which have not been a part of my reality since I was 9 years old. …they have no emotional maturity or true logic. They are simply fragments of me from various times and experience that have “sort of” grown with my real self. …Or, Conscious Self.
Now, when something upsets me or I suffer some form of life/adult setback — these aspects/alters take over from my Conscious State and operate/react in totally inappropriate ways to my current life.
So, now the real hard part begins: Somehow removing myself as the block to understanding the needs of my sub-conscious self. My therapist has suggested that we work toward creating a sort of conference table where negotiations begin between my conscious self and my aspects/alters to understand what they feel they need and to eventually work toward the dream result of anyone battling DID: Co-consciousness. …At which point I get my life back.
It has been hell getting to this point. But the really frustrating — no, horrifying thing — is that this is only the beginning and it is only going to become more challenging, scary and difficult. Welcome to my mind.