I stood next to my mom in the cashier line at the run down Macys. She is 87, battling dementia, and growing weaker. There is only one cashier and she is moving slowly, so the line doesn’t really move. I tell my mom to move back a little from the people in front of us as Covid is raging through the community again. My mom doesn’t have the wherewithal to navigate social distancing and masking without me.
A little girl, probably 4 years old, is twirling around with her mother in front of us. My mom is watching her closely and can’t take her attention off her. My mom says to me “she’s going to be a dancer” and when I don’t acknowledge her familiar comment, she says to the little girl “you’re going to be a dancer” and the little girl looks uncomfortable and then away as my mom can’t take her gaze off her.
I suddenly feel shame pouring into my body as my mom attempts to give this unwanted attention to the little girl. I know I can’t stop her, so I begin to dissociate just a little to try to pass this moment. But the line seems to be taking an eternity.
Time passes as I ease back into the present and find that the line has moved just a little. The little girl is doing her best to entertain herself while her mom waits to buy her the outfits she picked out for her.
I honestly am not looking very closely at the little girl other than to admire the cool shoes she was wearing. In a slightly dissociated state, I find myself only minimally present in the line with my mom. I am doing my very best to tough out bringing my mom and her boyfriend to the mall to get her a Bra and him a belt.
I have been trying to set boundaries around being with my mom. She was recently verbally abusive toward me, which had stirred up a lot of parts within me. I was doing a good job seeing her less at her assisted living home. But, she had called one of my little parts the day before.
Calling a little part is not something I am used to her doing. This is a new thing she is doing to “motivate” me to do whatever it is she wants. She had called on a part that she used to sexually abuse when she would have one of her episodes of drunkenness and despair when my father would disappear on her.
My sweet little part knows that it is the present, but they are still stuck in thinking like an abused child who has to take care of their mom, no matter what.
My therapist did her best at trying to help the little one with the way they were thinking, but these beliefs are strong and certainly not going to be undone in a 50 minute therapy session. The little one was in a significant amount of distress over these boundaries and us not doing more of what my mom wants from us.
I gave in and pulled together my protector parts who know how to be around my mom without any emotion. I stood there without emotion as my mom is talking to me without me really being present. Then, I heard it. I heard the sick words that weren’t quite right for my only halfway present brain to keep pretending like everything was normal.
“Look, she is already acting like a woman.”
My brain swerved to come present. Sounding angry, I said “what are you talking about??” At the same time I knew exactly what she was trying to tell me. She says with a smiling gaze, “you didn’t see it, but she is doing things to let us know she is ready to be a woman.” I glance at the little girl and she is only sitting there playing like a 4 year old.
Shame fills my body. The lights seem to go out for me briefly as I next found myself shopping for pillows while she was still in line. I see that she is finally about to reach the cashier and I come over because my mom has trouble remembering how to do things, so I help her pay for her bra.
I look to the exit at the Macys and wonder if we can make it that many steps without something else happening. I just need to pull it together and pretend like we are a normal family. No one can tell the perverse sickness accompanying me. I try to push the shame far away as I know I need to get us out of there and get her back away from me.
To someone else, her comments may have seemed benign, but I knew better. I grew up with this woman sex trafficking and abusing me and others, so I knew these were the words of a perpetrator who forgot her moment in time and was experiencing pleasure imagining taking the little girl’s innocence from her.
It is so weird because in my mind I think I can’t go back to the past and understand the how and the why of my abuse. And then this woman with dementia shows back up in my life. And with this dementia comes parts of her who are from our past. They are ugly and familiar. They are twisting up my dissociative system something good.
I want to believe that because I survived this day and didn’t go off the rails that some good will come out of this. Maybe I am in fantasy, but I try to be hopeful. I mean, I have been so afraid of this woman my entire life, and now I can stand next to her and realize she is sick and twisted and can’t hurt me unless I let her. I am the adult. I have more power than her. I just need for all my parts to believe this new reality.
I didn’t see this coming, but my part “Wisdom” did. They told my therapist last week that maybe the ordeal I am going through with taking care of my abusive mom may be a blessing. Maybe so, but I am left feeling like I need to die a thousand deaths after today.
Positivity. Such an awkward experience for me every day of my adult life. A foreign language I never understood, so I don’t even bother to try to process it in my brain or body. Mostly I am just numb to it, but occasionally I feel physical pain to someone else’s positivity toward me. I hate that pain.
Bounce, bounce, bounce.
No matter how many times, or how it is done, positivity from others just bounces off my being. Never internalized. Never understood. Always wishing the other person didn’t say it because it just leaves me feeling awkward and confused about what to do with it. As usual, when I reach this uncomfortable state, I use the only skill I can count on to provide me relief: dissociation. With dissociation I have no mental or physical memory of it. It is gone. And I am relieved and back to my baseline of nothingness.
Nothingness is my familiar, and where I belong.
My therapist, ever the hopeful optimist, seems to think I will one day break free of this pattern and be able to internalize positivity toward me (let me be clear I am aware this is what normal humans are supposed to do). I would like to believe her, but honestly, I am an expert in facts and patterns as they pertain to me, and I have never been given reason to believe it is possible. How old do I have to get to prove my point that the attachment damage and mental programming of my belief system is forever stuck?
I am not delusional about my parents. They were shit parents who did unspeakable things to me and I didn’t deserve it. No child deserves the emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual and neglectful abuse they raised me with. My parents would probably cry it is not their fault as they are just passing on generational trauma. Both my parents were raised by shit parents. Though I understand generational trauma is a thing, I also have to balance that understanding with the fact that I have not abused my own children. I would never, and I am not sure why my own parents chose differently.
Being raised in an environment where I was chronically abused and traumatized, my mind chose to survive instead of giving up. I don’t remember this negotiation within myself, but apparently I must have done so. There have definitely been many days where I am furious with my younger self for making this choice.
In order to survive, I had to make deals with god or the Devil or whoever was bargaining on any particular day. I suppose many times it was me negotiating with myself (or with my parts). I developed rules that I would follow to lessen the pain and suffering of my childhood. They didn’t always work, so I often had to refine them.
Refine, refine, refine.
In my adulthood, those rules became beliefs about myself and how to lessen the pain and suffering of life. I wish I could say pain and suffering ended with childhood, but it didn’t for me. The damage that was done to me delivered a very damaged adult to a hugely imperfect world filled with lots of damaged and cruel and sick people.
The rules don’t allow for a joyful life. I had to agree to give that up in order to survive. Joy is not allowed. Love is not allowed. Need is not allowed. Smiling is not allowed. Feeling good about myself is not allowed. Feeling accomplished or being accomplished is not allowed. Feeling smart is not allowed. Feeling like a good person is not allowed. Accepting anything good from anyone is not allowed. This list is never ending.
What is allowed? Hating myself. Feeling stupid. Criticizing myself. Giving myself negative internal messages all day long. Starving myself. Allowing myself to continue to be abused as an adult. Cutting myself. Smashing my head into a wall. Being a failure. Wasting my life. Giving to others what I don’t have or allow for myself. Not letting anyone care or love me. Staying isolated. Taking in every negative word any random piece of shit has to say about me. Believing the worst about me. Not giving myself any grace. And zero forgiveness to myself for the piece of shit I am even if it isn’t my fault.
These are the deals I made. The rules I agreed to live by. Apparently, I will be taking these to my death. It’s a shame that I am a person of my word and don’t break promises.
I will stick with the therapist who holds false beliefs about recovering from the childhood I endured. The alternative is death, and though many parts of me welcome it, most of us are not willing to do that to our children.
In her own selfishness, my mother didn’t teach me one ounce of selfishness. I will always sacrifice my own needs and desires for others, and I am glad my children will benefit from it. I won’t thank my mom for that, but I am grateful it is an unintended consequence of being severely abused by a narcissistic mother.
I have become super-annoyed by any mention of the 3 phase approach to treating Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). As put forth in the DID treatment guidelines by the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), these are considered the gold-standard recommended steps for therapists who are treating someone with DID:
1. Establishing safety, stabilization, and symptom reduction.
2. Confronting, working through, and integrating traumatic memories; and
3. Identity integration and rehabilitation.
It sounds like an easy formula for assisting those with DID, but like previous treatment recommendations for DID, this 3-step phased approach is seriously flawed and needs updating (it’s been 10 years of minimal success).
Unfortunately, the vast majority of DID patients get stuck in stage 1, or if they manage to get out of stage 1, it is too easy for them to get knocked back into the stage 1 need for safety and stabilization by triggers in life and therapy.
Talk therapy and learning new skills is not effective enough in helping people with DID to successfully master the phase 1 goal of safety and stability because it is too easy for them to fall back into deeply rooted familiar neural pathways that make them unstable again.
The deeply-rooted neural pathways of someone who has DID is what keeps them stuck in a dissociative reaction to stress, which is why it is critical to address rewiring the brain of a DID person in stage 1.
Instead of therapists challenging themselves to figure out how to successfully help their clients master phase 1, they are actually told by these same guidelines that some people just don’t have the capacity to get out of stage 1, and so they can therefore feel ok when their clients stay stuck in phase 1 and a life of misery. This is completely wrong and cruel to those suffering with DID.
It is quite frustrating that the majority of trauma therapists will identify Bessel van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps the Score” as the book that has most influenced them, but strangely, almost every trauma therapist has little to no expertise in helping with the neurobiological effects of trauma, which is kind of the point of this book.
I believe there is a small percentage of people who can successfully manage this 3-phase approach as it is, but what I see from the vast majority of people I know who have DID, people get stuck in the phase 1 need for safety and stabilization. They may get stabilized, but either by working on trauma or some other life trigger, they slide right back into the need for safety and stabilization, which leads the person with DID to feel like they are failing therapy because it seems impossible to maintain enough forward momentum to make progress in therapy.
When your brain is wired for dissociation and PTSD, you can’t simply rewrite the way the brain functions through talk therapy and skills.
What if the very first step is impossibly flawed because therapists have been giving their clients the wrong advice on how to reach stabilization (DBT skills, mindfulness, CBT therapy, corrective therapeutic relationship, blah, blah). These methods can be helpful, but they don’t help the client achieve a strong enough mastery of safety and stability.
The type of stabilization achieved by talk-therapy and skill building is too weak to endure the triggers faced by the highly traumatized person.
Is it possible the answer to phase one stabilization is outside the traditional therapist’s wheelhouse, and involves neurobiology instead? Something that will rewrite the neural pathways?
Is it also possible that stabilization can occur in days-to-weeks instead of the years therapists typically spend on this with desperate clients?
I believe it is possible there is a much more effective and efficient way for traumatized individuals to get stabilized quickly.
An open mind and a belief in miracles is required at this point.
As the pandemic was nearing an end, I found myself loosening up on my fight-or-flight mode of survival that served me extremely well during those stressful months. As good as that might sound, what followed for me was a quick dump into the gutter of mental health hell. Apparently, my mind needed to do something with the build up of 14 months of limited parts activity I experienced to hold it together. If you are confused by this, try to understand that I was in the trauma of the pandemic, and to survive, I could only have around parts who were strong and didn’t feel, just like most of my childhood. The emotional and vulnerable parts were tucked away. The parts of me that had been frozen during the pandemic crisis were starting to rapidly thaw. Their emotions were overwhelming.
I rather quickly became depressed, suicidal, anxious, dissociative, and unable to deal with the stress of my children. Each day, I was becoming more unstable. I had reached a point where I had decided I was going to kill myself or go into a hospital (note, there are no hospitals that treat or believe in DID within my state, or even several states away, which makes this option less likely).
On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst), I was a 10 on the suicide scale. I couldn’t even hold onto the love for my children and what my suicide would do to them to prevent me from doing it. I was too far gone, and my suicide was becoming imminent.
How I stumbled upon Ketamine, stopped a serious suicide attempt, and saved my insurance company $30,000
In a complete fluke, a holistic doctor I work with for health issues had just prescribed generic ketamine nasal spray for depression and anxiety, and had no idea of the severity of what I was suffering because I hid it from them like I do most people outside a therapist’s office. I made the decision that I was going to try it as my last ditch effort before I checked out. The imminent risk and permanency of suicide outweighed any reservations I might have had.
The Ketamine Experience
I simply took one small spray of the ketamine in one nostril. I could immediately feel it coming down my throat as there was a slight burning feeling that lasted for a few minutes. After the burning sensation, I could quickly notice I was starting to feel what I would call a manufactured dissociation as it didn’t feel how I normally feel when I dissociate.
The dissociation lasted for 30-45 minutes, and then I felt kind of high. I was feeling emotions like funny, happy, and curious —funny and happy are definitely not normal feelings for me. I knew not to drive my car or make any big decisions. Though I did shoot off one very wordy email I kind of later regretted 😎.
The dissociation and high were gone within 2 hours of the nasal spray. I was left with a sense that my mind had been cleared of cobwebs I didn’t even know were there. I very dramatically had a mental clarity I wasn’t used to. I was much more aware of everything happening in my environment.
By the 3rd hour, I began to evaluate my thoughts and feelings because I knew this was a test to help me figure out what to do with my suicidality and depression. I scanned my brain for thoughts, emotions, or voices of parts, and to my amazement, my suicidal feelings were completely gone, and I had no sense of any depression, anxiety, or even dissociation. I was completely grounded in the present with a strangely crystal clear mind. I was actually worried I was going to have a manic episode because I was feeling so oddly good.
My suicidality went from 10 to 0 in just a few hours.
Later, when my kids each did their behaviors that had been over-stressing me these past few weeks, I felt like a super-parent who was not the least bit phased by their antics.
As it was approaching bedtime, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep because: 1. I always struggle with insomnia (and sleep meds don’t always work for me), and 2. I was worried the feeling good and crystal-clear thinking was going to make me want to stay up all night being productive at some random thing. Surprisingly, I took my normal low-dose sleeping pill and easily fell asleep. Even more surprising, I was able to sleep-in the next morning, something my anxiety hadn’t allowed me to do for years.
When the day of my first ketamine dose began, I was looking at either a $30,000+ psychiatric hospitalization, or ending my life and traumatizing my family and friends.
Instead, one spray from a $45 bottle of compounded generic ketamine completely removed me from that suicidal crisis and stabilized me.
My mind has stayed clear, like really sharp, and my emotions have been extremely easy to regulate.
My ability to emotionally regulate was put to the test almost immediately. The day following my first ketamine dose, I was scheduled for a therapy session with my therapist who I was having some serious attachment conflict. The session was indeed volatile, and one that would have normally sent me into a suicidal tailspin. Instead, I noticed I had a few fleeting suicidal feelings during the session, and I moved on, and they didn’t stick with me post session. A highly stressful situation was completely manageable, which is unheard of when it comes to me having attachment conflict in therapy.
Maybe some of you don’t see how big of a deal this is. Before ketamine, I was emotionally wobbly every day. I never knew what little thing might send me off into depression, suicidality, overwhelming anxiety, or into my constant dissociative response pattern that creates quite a bit of amnesia in my life.
My use of ketamine is like someone handed me a brand new life. A life that has been missing for over 30 years. I was finally free of the debilitating existence I had known almost my entire life.
I am finding the experience of my new brain extremely foreign. I don’t feel emotionally overwhelmed. I don’t feel depressed, suicidal, or even dependent on a therapist at this point (I have struggled with severe disorganized attachment, so this is kind of a big deal for me). My mind just feels clear and calm, which I really am not used to.
I waited a couple of days and did a second nasal spray of the ketamine. I was still feeling completely stable before this dose, but I wanted to do what was recommended by the doctor who prescribed it. With the second dose, it was barely noticeable and I didn’t experience the dissociative and feeling high side effects.
I have researched ketamine a lot since then, and I know others typically don’t respond for a week. There are several ways to take in ketamine, and an array of different dosing strategies. The doctor that prescribed the ketamine I used was a believer that low-dose and through the nose to get closest to the brain was the best method.
Ketamine seems to be a miracle for me. Although I live near a big research center that has all sorts of clinical trials going on for ketamine, I know I would be excluded from those studies because of my dissociative disorder (a familiar narrative for those of us with DID). We are just too much with our diagnosis for a lot of things..
Alternatively, there are many ketamine clinics that have set up shop in my state so that they can make a lot of money off this new treatment. Typical treatment prices seem to be around $400 a session, and insurance rarely covers it according to their websites.
For once, the compounding pharmacies seem to be the most economical place to get it, but finding a doctor who will prescribe it this way may be the challenge.
If you are a long-time sufferer who has given up on treatment for DID/CPTSD, or someone who suffers from chronic depression and/or anxiety, I would give ketamine a try if you can get your hands on a legitimate form of the medication. I am not recommending the street drug that is a higher dose of ketamine and will do who knows what to you. Try Googling ketamine near you and see what comes up. There’s lots of research, books, and articles about the way it works and what it has been used for.
There is a fascinating article about using ketamine with complex PTSD trauma survivors here.
I have to believe an angel dropped ketamine in my lap when I was at one of my lowest points. It clearly saved my life, and it just may be offering me the chance at living with a non-traumatized brain. As each day ticks by, I am still amazed at the calm and clarity I feel.
As a takeaway, I hope that each of you who reads this will consider that maybe people with DID aren’t succeeding not because they aren’t working hard-enough, committed enough, smart enough, or don’t have the ego strength or attachment stability to succeed in therapy. Maybe it really has more to do with how their brain is wired, and maybe there are easy fixes such a ketamine that will address the neurobiological effects of developmental trauma.
Just maybe, the most difficult repair is easier than everyone thinks.
During the COVID pandemic, I have been operating in “fight mode” these past 14 months. My extreme survival instincts kicked in without having to give it much, if any, thought. I remember telling my therapist “I” (meaning my DID system) was built for times like this.
Those early weeks of the pandemic, I remember sitting for hours watching the news and the circus of people who were supposed to lead us out of this mess I had never seen before in my lifetime. At some point it clicked. Things were really bad, and if I wanted to live, and keep my family alive, I had to hunker down into survival mode and follow the rules even as they changed and didn’t make sense on a daily basis.
I had to shed lots and lots of parts of me. I couldn’t afford to be vulnerable, soft, rebellious or childlike. I needed the strongest, toughest, smartest parts of myself to be here. The others would have to go.
I did not consciously choose to rid myself of the vulnerable parts of me, the parts of me that might get in the way of our survival. I experienced what I typically experience, as if a higher being inside me had made some choice to reorganize the system without my input. I just rolled with it as usual.
I had moments where my hidden parts were quietly active as the pandemic wore on. Still, their expression within me was very limited because I could not risk dying, and in “fight mode,” I needed only the best fighters.
Typically with dissociative identity disorder (DID), there is a lot of noise in your head. For me, that noise is different parts commenting on things going on in our life. Opinions, name calling, crying, planning, negotiating and more goes on all the time. So, I have learned to live with “noise.”
With all that noise, the benefit is I know what is going on with the parts of my system. I know when someone is upset, happy, or creating a problem within the system. This is critical information to have if I want to have some semblance of a life in the world.
So, with all the silence over the past 14 months, I don’t know the answers to questions about other parts of me. I have no idea how or what they are doing.
Probably more importantly, I have become phobic again to interact with the other parts. It’s a real thing, not wanting to talk to other parts, not wanting to know the answers to important questions, not wanting to experience them and their pain and other unpleasant feelings/memories they bring to the table.
Without acknowledging your parts, you can pretend like you don’t have a trauma background. You can try to pass as “normal,” but truthfully, if anyone looked closely, they would see you have an extremely limited range of emotions and history (hello DID amnesia). Fortunately, most people are so self-absorbed, they don’t even notice.
The parts hold the deepest shame possible for someone like me who has experienced horrendous abuse. Unimaginable things, things you wouldn’t even believe, they hold for me so I can function.
Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of what has happened to me in my past. But my parts allow me to stay detached from it. I have gotten close to them and felt their pain, and it is awful, and no one in their right mind would want to absorb that. I fear absorbing it and it truly becoming part of me, which keeps me stuck in recovery.
I started having something happen to me during the pandemic, and I really wasn’t sure what it was. It started with me waking up at the same time every early morning, making the loudest, panicked, god-awful sound that was kind of like gasping for breath while drowning. As I would get my bearings, my mind would immediately turn to self-harm and suicide because my body and mind feels so bad, and for whatever reason, those thoughts take it away. Except it started happening earlier and earlier during the night, and I can never go back to sleep after that cortisol surge.
I have been living these past few weeks on 3 hours of sleep. I didn’t tell anyone because I can still function fine with that much sleep. But what I didn’t count on was the toll it was taking on my system. It enabled a little part of me to come forward.
On que, a young part of me came out and had a lot to say about what was happening to us at night. I don’t know where she came from with so much to say. I never do.
I have been struggling a lot this past week. Lots of dissociation, memory loss (switching), suicidality, thoughts of self-harm, detached from everyone in my life, feeling depressed, and generally disconnected from the world.
Today, I was quite shocked to hear my little one reveal new memories in my head. She did not really speak of them, but I could see and feel them. I was horrified as I thought I was done with new memories. I don’t want anymore bad feelings. I don’t want new knowledge of trauma that I will have to come to accept whether I want to or not.
But, there she was. Seemingly out of nowhere. Telling the story of what is happening to us at night. She had so many answers, and I didn’t ask her for them, but she gave them to me anyway.
I worry because we are living in a different world. A world where therapists aren’t as accessible to me as they were before the pandemic. I had safe people and places to get the support I needed. I clearly don’t have that kind of help now as therapists seem to be the last to crawl out of the pandemic “hole of fear” despite getting their first responder vaccinations.
I worry for the little girl and others who share this memory. I worry for myself and what this new memory is going to mean to me. Will it change my history once again? I have a fear this new memory involves someone specific, and I don’t want it to, but it is pushing up against my consciousness.
I worry about the level of dissociation I am experiencing. I worry that I am doing things and not understanding what I am doing. I seem to be returning to an old, familiar, but troublesome way of living with my DID.
Yet, there is not much to do with that worry except to get lost in the dissociation that will make me forget I am worried. What choice do I have?
I feel like a broken record that no one is listening to. I guess this is in line with why I rarely express my needs. The fear that my needs don’t matter, as was my daily life in my childhood. Ugh, that sounds victimy, and I hate sounding that way.
Let me be perfectly clear. I have multiple mental illnesses that significantly impact my daily functioning. 33 years ago I had my first Major Depressive episode. 32 years ago I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (then called Multiple Personality Disorder) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I have had periods of high functioning, and also periods requiring psychiatric hospitalization and heavy outpatient support during difficult times. I have successfully worked for periods of my adult life, and I have been on disability twice in my life.
My symptoms I currently struggle with the most are amnesia, confusion, no sense of time passing, thoughts of suicide and self-harm that seem to come out of nowhere, inability to feel most things, disorganized attachment that affects my ability to parent, chronic anxiety, and flashbacks that make it extremely difficult to function.
I have come to accept that I will have a life-long problem with mental illness that needs to be managed in different ways depending on how I am doing. I no longer believe the delusion that I will be cured if I only find the right therapist or do the right therapy. This is not me giving up, but instead gaining wisdom with age.
Patience is something we have all had to learn during the COVID pandemic if we wanted to survive. The world was turned upside down, and life as we knew it was gone overnight.
Unfortunately, those of us with mental illness still have our mental illnesses and need extra help surviving in this pandemic world that is actually quite triggering for many of us with trauma backgrounds.
I care deeply about my therapist, but she has kind of abandoned me during the pandemic. I have tried to be understanding and empathetic that she has her own fears going on through the pandemic. But then she got vaccinated as a first responder. Then I got sick and realized that medical providers all over town were showing up for work and seeing patients without any problems. And then my teenager’s therapist started seeing her clients in person.
I talked to my therapist in one of our not-very-useful phone sessions, and I pleaded with her to come up with a plan for what she was going to do to see clients who needed to be seen in person. I was honestly shocked that she didn’t have any sense of a plan, and seemed to want to just continue doing phone therapy with people, despite the fact that she was vaccinated and had returned to normal life in other areas of her life. She promised me she would come up with a plan. Two months later, nothing.
Over the phone, it is quite easy for my therapist to ignore when I am suicidal and need her help. It is easy for her to say it seems like I am doing better when I am actually having a horribly destabilizing day. She doesn’t have to see my emotions, my pain, fear, dissociation, and need for her help. She can just pretend that she is doing her job and everything is alright, despite those moments when I gain the courage and tell her I am not ok and need her help.
My therapist is retraumatizing me.
She is gaslighting me when she pretends like I am ok even when I tell her I am not. She literally doesn’t even acknowledge those rare times when I tell her I am suicidal or struggling with self-harm. She offers me nothing.
She has abandoned me. I definitely agree there was a time when it was right for her to isolate in fear of COVID, but that time is long past since she has been vaccinated, I have COVID antibodies and have been vaccinated (solely in hopes that I would be “good enough” for her to see me then). This rejection of me sets off a cascade of attachment craziness no matter how understanding I try to be.
I have come to the conclusion that either my therapist just won’t get help with facing her own fears about COVID, or she has realized that she can get away with doing this half-ass teletherapy so it makes her life easier (she often runs errands in her car during our telephone appointments, and she doesn’t have to actually sit with my pain).
My therapist, whom I love dearly, has become more like a close friend whom I pay so I can periodically confide some of my secrets over the phone. We aren’t doing therapy, and for a while, that was ok. But I have held on as long as I can.
It’s not clear where I should turn. My therapist may have abandoned me, but I struggle to abandon her (hello attachment issues). There are few therapists in my area who understand dissociative identity disorder. And because the pandemic has created its own mental health crisis, most therapists aren’t even accepting new clients because the demand is so high.
My first go-to is to decide to give up. To end this lifetime of struggle and suffering. Then I argue with my selves that I will not abandon my kids. My kids need me to help them get to adulthood.
So this leaves me in the familiar childhood quandary of there being no right answer. Nothing that is going to save or even help me. So I am on my own, spiraling downward when I shouldn’t be if I just had some help. This isn’t fair, but I know the very first lesson of my life was that I should not expect my life to be fair.
Living through the Coronavirus pandemic with Dissociative Identity Disorder makes for some interesting times.
I find my life is probably really disorienting under this sheltering-in-place set up. In some ways, it is perfect for the way I live. I now have an excuse to stay home everyday and no one thinks anything of it. The one huge difference is I am locked in with my spouse and two children every-single-day.
My days go by quickly and are very much a blur. My memory troubles me a great deal as it is very noticeable to me that I am losing time and not remembering much. I have internal conversations on the daily as to whether I am developing dementia or it is just the DID.
If I lived alone in this stay-at-home life, I think I would accomplish a lot, but I imagine it would really suck. My days go by quickly because I am actually having to run a household for my family. So, in some ways, I am doing more. I am cooking, ordering the groceries, running the family budget, helping both my kids with their own therapies and school work, doing some laundry, helping my kids with their medical issues and more.
I have moments where I forget about the DID and think about getting back to work soon. God knows our family needs the money. Then I catch myself throughout my days not being able to remember even the most basic things.
Truthfully, I think I could probably get away with working with the serious memory lapses I deal with. Most people are too distracted or self-involved to even notice —thank god. It creates incredible anxiety within myself, though. Always fearing I am going to be found out by those who think I am a competent adult.
Though in some ways this damn Coronavirus has made my life easier, I worry that it will continue on and my life will be one endless blur until the end. Maybe it would be anyway if life was normal, and maybe the normal life distraction just doesn’t allow me to realize how messed up it all is.
I’ll be honest, I am not one of the writers amongst us. I am pretty sure I am not saying much here. However, I do know other parts of me have lots of good stuff to say. I don’t really know why they aren’t writing anymore. Maybe this trying to be normal for the kids all day is just wearing us down or it keeps us from getting vulnerable.
My outside kids have not much to do but to notice when I am being different. God knows I don’t want to screw them up any more than they are, so I am really trying my best to be in parent mode, which doesn’t allow for much vulnerability.
My parts are being amazing with trying our best to hold it together so we can parent the kids and take care of life in a pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, we have had a few moments, but not nearly as bad as I would have thought.
In some ways I realize my childhood of nonstop trauma made me built for living through this awful pandemic. It gives me the excuse I need to stay I fight or flight, to be planning for our safety, and to stay safely in our home.
I wasn’t doing therapy for a while (can’t remember how long—weeks or months), and my therapist contacted me in a moment of weakness. I talk to her on the phone once a week most weeks, though I do try to cancel when I can to save money. Therapy over the phone, or even scarier over the video, doesn’t work for me like in-person therapy does. It doesn’t feel anything like regular therapy to me, so I feel guilty spending the family money on something that is more liken to a check-in or chat.
I know I have had a few seriously destabilizing moments that I needed my therapist, but I now can’t even remember what they were all about. I do know I have had some suicidal moments, but honestly, not as bad as before all this happened. I think it is because I know my family needs me to get them through this.
I am getting kind of tired of being the together one to lead us through these unchartered times. I dunno, maybe it is better this way to force me to do something productive.
I hope we will start writing again as I think we have some useful things to share.
I have been away a lot lately. It’s been a combination of extreme stress going on in my life and losing time.
I find that I am losing time and not realizing it, which makes me sad.
Facebook is a big revealer of lost time. I look back at memories from past years to see sweet pictures of my kids, but lately noticing all sorts of writings that I have done over the years and have zero remembrance of and no idea what I am even talking about. It is not that I sound incoherent. I just have no understanding or even a remote memory to what I might be talking about.
Somehow I have been living in this cloud that has kept this losing time from me. I have been diagnosed a long time, and I like to think I have a good bit of co-consciousness, so normally I can figure out enough to understand what the heck I was talking about.
I know my system was designed to keep this stuff from me, but I also thought I was further along than I apparently am.
Yesterday, I got on my daughter’s phone to deal with some boys who had sent some inappropriate texts. It took me about 6 hours to realize it wasn’t me who did that talking to those boys and threatened to call the police on them.
I wonder how many times I do this subtle switching in a day. How much am I forgetting?
I belong to a secret FB group for survivors of DID and ritual abuse. I used to get support in that group, but I stopped because I realized I had all sorts of posts under my name that weren’t from me. They weren’t from child parts, but parts similar to me, but definitely different in some major ways. It became too overwhelming to see post after post that I didn’t recognize and didn’t have any sense of losing time.
I was thinking this morning that my biggest disabling part of DID is the memory loss, which is not news if you follow me. Yeah, I am suicidal and have attachment issues and CPTSD out the wazoo, but that is all manageable compared to the memory. Then I was thinking for me, do I really have a mental health problem as opposed to a neurological problem since my memory seems incapable of storing and being accessed correctly.
I know, it probably doesn’t matter to you what it is called or how it is classified.
It saddens me, though. To know I am living a life where I am missing so much of it. I guess it is a little like Alzheimer’s, but knowing you have Alzheimer’s which I think is more painful.
Now that I am getting older, people just attribute all the mental lapses as old age (though I am not that old). The neurologist who gave me an exam where I had to remember things was perplexed how severely I couldn’t remember the things she was testing me for, but in the end just attributed it to cognitive decline due to old age.
I was around my family over the holidays and I am hearing myself call my perpetrator brother my son’s name, and he call me his daughter’s name. We joke as if it is old age, but I know it is more likely that we are triggered and our parts are having trouble keeping things straight.
Anyway, why is Alzheimer’s a neurological condition and my similar memory impairment is a mental illness? Maybe someone can explain it to me.
Yeah, I am frustrated about my memory, but avoiding the tough conversation I need to have about something big I/we need to decide. Indecision is another curse for another day. If I remember.
I have wondered to myself a lot over the past year why I can’t just pull myself together and go back to work. I have wanted to go back to work because my family needs the money. Yet, every time I think of it, I feel overwhelmed.
I try to play it through my mind to see if I can do it, and I am besieged by little voices saying we can’t do it. Crying voices. Scared voices. Sad voices. Frustrated voices. They all say no.
About two weeks ago, I found myself sad and replaying the difficult end to a friendship about 2 years ago. So many parts of me want to fix this relationship, but there isn’t really a way to do that.
You see, my spouse told an untrue story to this ex-friend that still remains unclear to me. The vague understanding of this story is that my spouse lost her shizzle because I was depressed and suicidal on and off, and basically not functioning in the world. This lack of functioning was the result of some major traumas I had just been through.
Somehow, I am to blame for “triggering” my spouse to go off the deep end because of my depression and lack of activity in the world.
In her “triggered state” she proceeded to have a restraining order put on me, try to take my kids from me, turn my church against me, and lose several friends.
All of these people chose not to look at the person they had known for years, but to go off my spouse’s triggered feelings that I was somehow a vague danger to the family.
She will admit that I never did a single thing to deserve this characterization. Never threatened anyone. Never, ever physically or emotionally violent. The opposite. I was withdrawn, and for that, I got a restraining order put on me and was removed from my own home.
Some find the story hard to believe, but it is not. Even the sheriffs who removed me from my own home said she never specifically said I did or threatened to do anything. In my state, the court system just believes a woman when she comes in and asks for a restraining order. They leave it to a judge to sift through the facts 10 days after the restraining order.
I never had my day in court. My spouse caved about 8 days into it. She removed the restraining order and let me see my kids. It was all a “big mistake” according to her.
She went briefly into a psych hospitalthe next week. I suppose this was her attempt at penance for her sins against me.
In the meantime, when my friends and ministers found out I had dissociative identity disorder, they assumed I was crazy and a danger to my children. Even though they had never experienced any crazy or unstable behavior from me, they jumped to these conclusions and have stuck with them.
Though my family is back together (I decided to do what I thought was best for my kids), and it is a few years later, the church and my friends still hold the same opinion of me that I am crazy and dangerous.
I have been trying to move on from this place, but feel stuck in quicksand. I can’t even do myself justice by saying how incredibly hurtful this experience has been, and continues to be. Words fail me.
I wish I could just remove myself from a world where I am constantly reminded of how other people believe I am some form of evil (que the beliefs from my childhood about myself rooted from severe child abuse).
It leaves me paralyzed.
Unable to function unless in a dissociated, nonproductive state each day. My days disappear into nothingness. My main focus is to make sure my kids are ok each and every day. That’s it. No other living going on.
I have tried to fix what has happened. Honestly, I have come to learn it is not fixable. I don’t forgive my spouse even though I live with her still. I survive by dissociating it from my awareness as much as possible. I do this because my children love her, and they want us to stay together as a family.
Everyone has to choose their path when faced with this kind of stuff. Some people choose to leave and make that work, but I looked at my choices several times and I keep deciding to stay for my children. I don’t want them to become victims to a war they have no part.
I came to realize this morning how my spouse’s actions have contributed to my lack of confidence in being able to go back to work. The trauma I have been a victim to over the past few years has left me terrified of the world. It is a scary place.
I used to be a trauma victim who just needed to be reminded that she is no longer a child. That her world is safe now. But the evidence tells me it is still unsafe, and will always be unsafe.
I try not to bring this subject up with my spouse because it sets her off into an angry, unstable rage. Her position is that I should be over it by now. She has done all she can do to make it up to me. I just need to forget it.
So, I live my days completely dissociated and forgetful of my reality.
I am present for my kids, but other than that, I barely exist. I don’t even care, as this seems like the best path for me given the choices.
I am rambling searching for some clarity.
The answer is my heart is wounded. The wound is not healing. It bleeds a little each day. I try to wipe up that blood to spare others from seeing my life.
As I often remind my children, life is not always fair. A lesson I am well acquainted with.
Don’t fear me. Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t anything me.
Growing up, I don’t have a single memory of my mom holding me or saying she loved me. No photos of me in her lap, or her holding my hand as we walked down the sidewalk. In fact, there are no photos of me with her period.
I wish I had kind memories, even if only a couple, but absolutely none.
Mother’s Day sucks for me. I try to dissociate its existence so much that I am barely present for my own kids’ desire to celebrate the day. Sadly, I would prefer to stay in bed and not recognize the day.
I do try to just focus on my present day, but all the messages coming from seemingly everywhere about what great moms everyone says they had/have, puts it right back in my face of what I didn’t have.
It is a day I feel shaky inside, trying not to let my thoughts wander to why my mom did what she did to me. Trying not to have the rapid flashbacks of what she did give me.
Logically, it doesn’t make sense that a mother would do what she did to me. She was the opposite of what we would call maternal. So, it is dismissed as she is just a sick, twisted, sadistic, narcissist.
I can’t remember a time in my childhood when my mom did not hate me. When I go back to my earliest memories with her, my body tenses up with fear, shame, and confusion.
When I think of my mom’s body, I am repulsed and frightened. I think about my very young self laying in her bed in my father’s absence. I am trying not to be tense for fear she will get angry at me. She scratches my back for a few minutes, and it feels good. Then she pulls me toward her naked body. This becomes a regular thing for us. My father is absent a lot, and she scratches my back before she sexually abuses me.
This is as close to love as my mother ever came. She didn’t even bother to pretend that she cared about me in public.
My mom, though functioning as an alcoholic, always knew how to get what she wanted. She was powerful in her social circles and our community.
My mom sex-trafficked me from as far back as I can remember to get what she wanted. It didn’t matter the who or for what. If she could benefit from turning my body over to someone, she did. Sadly, sometimes it was only for her sick, sadistic pleasure.
It is hard to survive a sadistic, narcissistic mom. Most days I wish I didn’t.
I am still here, and honestly don’t know why, except to raise my own kids. I don’t know why I am not a person who would do to my children what was done to me. I imagine my mom’s parents did really awful stuff to her.
It is strange or lucky to not be part of the generational abuse that goes on. I don’t know why I didn’t become her, but I do thank God I did not.
My mom is still alive this Mother’s Day, and it feels like she is never going to die. I stay away from her as much as I can. When we are together, I become this numb person who does her best to not think of her mom for who she truly is.
As a family, at some point it was decided that we would not speak of the past, ever. I can’t say this made my mom become a loving mom, or even an ok mom. We just pretend like it didn’t happen, and God forbid if I let my guard down.
I didn’t escape “ok” from childhood. It left me saddled with complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Not to mention my severe attachment problems. These 3 things affect my everyday life.
So, it’s Mother’s Day, the day I am supposed to celebrate my mother. I wish I could fool myself into believing she wasn’t that bad, or that she really does love me.
Unfortunately, when I was in my early 30s, I had just driven 4 hours to see my parents with my own family. I don’t really know what happened, but within 10 minutes of being there, I found myself confronting both of my parents about never loving me, and only loving my siblings. I can remember so clearly both of my parents just sitting there silently, neither of them willing to deny they didn’t love me, no matter the cost to me. I put my family back in the car and left after that conversation, never to speak of it again.
But in case I forgot, fast-forward another 15 years when my father is dying and I am the only one in the family willing to take care of him. I watch as my father shares his love for my mother and siblings when they would be willing to be in the room with him (because watching him die was just something they didn’t want to deal with). Me. By his side, everyday for months. Not once did he say he loved me. Not once. Of course, like the trained dog I had become, I would tell him how much I loved him.
My mother did not thank me for the severe trauma I went through during this experience of taking care of my dad (another story for another day). Instead, when I begged her to come out of her bedroom to the living room to see my father on his deathbed, she slapped me across the face with as much ferociousness as she could muster, and I just stood there as the wounded adult child.
This woman, whom I twice saved her life as an adult, just never let go of her hatred of me.
This woman. My mother. She will not be celebrated. But this trained dog will call her still to wish her a happy Mother’s Day.