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.
the dog has been walked.
the litter box has been cleaned/re-newed/re-freshed.
the garbage has been taken out.
the house has been cleaned-up a bit.
the kitchen and the dishes are clean.
small lunch has been had.
unmemorable but beautiful visit to the beach has been done twice today.
no therapy this week. therapist is on vacation.
left to stew in all my swirling thoughts.
no money to take in a movie.
too easily distracted to read.
so, i sit at the window cigarette in hand and contemplate the possibilities that today could hold.
what could i do today if i were of a mind to do?
1. run naked down Geary Blvd
2. knock over a store and go on a wild shopping spree.
3. give Little Bagel a punk rock hair cut with the clippers.
4. sell everything i owned before i met Mr. B to see how much i could get for the junk i’ve accumulated.
5. walk from one end of San Francisco to the other and then it would probably be close to the time i need to leave to pick up Mr. B.
6. go to the mall, order a diet coke and watch the people.
7. attempt to shop lift a new hoodie from Nordsroms.
8. …maybe the gap is a better place to attempt shop lifting as i don’t think those employees care.
9. go to an expensive downtown shoe store and try on every shoe in the store and then toss one of the boxes up into the air and go on about the sad fashion of all the shoes and march out in a huff.
10. walk through Golden Gate Park and try to pretend that I love the “natural” beauty of the trees and other green things.
11. dye my hair green.
12. dye Little Bagel’s hair blue.
13. surf the net for nothing in particular.
14. essentially anything to avoid having to get too caught up in this mind of mine.
If Ann-Margret is the ultimate Sex Kitten, what would that make Goldie Hawn?
We drive out to the burbs of northern california to a Target Super Store. I’m following B down one of the many isles. I notice a nut full mixes and exclaim: “B! Nut mixes!” …I mistakenly think he is going to follow me as I study the various mixtures of nuts and dried fruits. I find two that look particularly good and healthy, turn and realize that he has left me long behind.
I panic. As I am panicking I try to calm myself down by repeating “This is no big deal. You will find B.”
But, I circle the store twice with no luck. I am sweating like a pig and feel ill. My legs and head are starting to ache. I decide to have him paged, but by the time I get to customer service the oddest thing happens. I forget my own fucking name. Complete blank.
I really go into hyper-panic.
What is my name? I just do not know.
And, then, the next thing I know. I’m standing in front of our parked car, cig in hand, crying, a car alarm is going off and I can tell I’ve just thrown up.
I walk slowly back to the Target Super Store from Hell and there is Byron standing with his cart full of stuff looking at me as if to say, “Where have you been?”
Suffice to say, the day just went downhill from there. But, here I am now — safe and sound at home. Welcome to the wonderful fun world of DID… Ugh!
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.
my mother has moved to san fransico. this is a good thing. it almost feels like it was meant to happen. she has arrived with a new attitude, re-new’d energy and is being very supportive. she found an apartment her third morning here — it is just two blocks up the street.
a lot of things have happened over the last several days. most not at all good. in fact, most have been quite horrible. but, my mother’s arrival has been a positive thing in my life. and, her’s.
changes, evolutions, revaltions, changing of wind and thought.
we had to stop the car. i was having one of these scary/odd experiences which i am told are “normal” for someone in my current mode of condition. i step’d out of the car, leaned on to the pavement wall over-looking this beautiful city.
i was trying to gather my thoughts and balance.
i lit a cigarette and heard a familiar voice call out my name. it was a former co-worker from my last job. …the best job i’ve yet to have. and, this former co-worker is someone for whom i have a great deal of respect and love.
i felt horrified, self-conscious and confused. but, she rushed to me and gave me a hug. and, though, i felt as if i were floating several blocks above the situation, i managed to speak.
as difficult as it was on one hand, it was so perfectly timed on the other. and, as it turns out, this other hand far out-weighed the first.
we only spoke for a few moments.
the exchange made me feel good. it gave me hope.
hope is so crucial, but these small moments glue the random pieces together to form a life.
…it’s the small moments that matter.
adjusting to this floating bubble of a feeling
stomach wanting for more
my pockets are empty
but, my heart is full of love
and this simple fact is more power(full)
than any pain
i close my eyes
and try to pull myself to the ground
…to the earth