Caring for my primary abuser as dementia grabs hold of her

The woman who haunted and tortured me throughout much of my life is suddenly helpless and lost and desperate for someone to care for her (and her partner who also has dementia) as she grapples with knowing her mind is slipping away.

I have been forecasting what my mom’s demise was going to look like for about 7 years. I imagined all sorts of scenarios and I was just sure I was going to abandon her to some awful fate. That would be my revenge for what she has done to me throughout my life.

It’s hard to have mercy on someone who just 7 years prior subjected me to more horrific abuse that practically ruined me. As much as I wanted to believe the evil that I grew up with was somehow gone, she gave me a clear reminder that she was still right there prepared to show me the depths of hell to get her own needs met. She also very clearly reminded me that in her eyes, I was still nothing, would never be good enough, and had no value except to serve her needs.

I spent the next 7 years back in therapy after a decade hiatus, in-and-out of psychiatric hospitals, unable to work again, and struggling just to leave my house. Prior to that, I was living some semblance of a normal life, but I let her destroy me again. I didn’t even see it coming, and I have such programmed loyalty to my parents, sadly, I would probably do it all over again.

It’s weird how loyal most of us are to the families who ruined our lives. I am not amongst the group of people who decide to go “no contact” with their family. Mostly I decided to have contact because I convinced myself the serious abusive behavior was over.

For about the last 5 years, I have had minimal contact with my mom (my dad died 7 years prior). She had her boyfriend to make her feel like she was the queen of the earth. Boy, she struck gold with that guy. Does whatever she wants, no questions asked (a narcissist’s dream). It’s somewhere between cute and disgusting to watch.

Slowly over these last 5 years her memory problems started becoming more noticeable. Once the pandemic hit, and she stayed holed up in her house all the time, it started to become more evident the path she was on. The isolation definitely sped up her cognitive decline.

She would express worry about her failing memory every time I spoke with her. I would express concern to my siblings, and they would say she was fine and to just leave her be. We all have complicated relationships with her.

This last year my mom’s dementia started really ramping up. She is 87, and frankly it is an undeserved miracle she has made it this far. She has always been lucky like this. It has never been fair.

My mom would usually vacillate on our calls from sounding scared and helpless to scary and evil. Her dissociative identity disorder is not really relevant to this story, but it is fascinating and scary for me to see how DID can play out with dementia..

There were many times on the phone I felt like she wanted me to force her into assisted living or to live with me. Then she would scream at me at any mention of such a thing. It was a familiar whiplash for me.

Finally, it became clear that both she and her partner who has worse dementia could no longer prop each other up enough to continue living independently. My mom was unraveling. Parts of her I hadn’t seen since my childhood were popping out and behaving in ways she had been keeping contained. I hired helpers to come in, and she would do things like come to the door naked to greet them (a classic intimidation move from my childhood playbook). It wasn’t that she didn’t know what she was doing, she did.

Things continued to spiral downward until she finally got helpless and scared enough that she agreed to come up to assisted living by my house. Prior to this she had always lived a comfortable state away. My therapist was not thrilled about this decision as she knows the evil and power this woman has exerted over me, but as I teach my children, that’s the beauty of adulthood, getting to make your own decisions and mistakes.

After the initial high stress of getting her and her boyfriend moved in to assisted living, things have settled down. I have gone to see her frequently since she is only one block away from me. I have listened to her rage at me when she learned she couldn’t just leave the assisted living facility by herself given her dementia. I have listened to her have the same conversations with me over and over. The reassurance she needs reminds me of what my kids needed when they were young.

The surprising thing that has come out of this decision to bring my mom nearby was to get the benefit of exposure therapy by seeing her over and over. Through these many visits I now clearly understand that she is an old, helpless woman who can no longer hurt me. Finally.

As someone with polyfragmented dissociative identity disorder (I have a lot of parts), it has been really helpful to see we have switched roles: I am now in the parent role and she is the child dependent on me. This has been a huge relief to the many parts of me. Finally, the parts who have held on to the belief that she was this omnipotent person who would forever rule her evil over us have finally reached the point of seeing how helpless and weak she is.

So far, my mom seems to mostly know how lucky she is to have me helping her and making sure her quality of life is the best it can be under the circumstances. My guard stays up, but not like it used to. When she yells at me now it is no longer as traumatic. It is mostly just pathetic and sad. This is where I try to show her mercy instead of payback. It’s hard when the days seem all too familiar to my childhood.

The few people who truly know who my mom is to me wonder why I am taking care of her. Why don’t I abandon her like she did me. Why don’t I show her the same cruelty she showed me. Why am I still loyal. I am the first to admit she doesn’t deserve it, and I think she may know that.

Right now, I have decided that the reason I am taking care of her as this helpless, old woman is because I am not her, and never want to be like her. If I turn my back on her, doesn’t that make me the monster she was to me growing up?

I am not a monster. I am a good person in spite of what she has done to me. I am a good mother and have taken good care of my children and never once abused them. That’s not who I am.

My mom. I don’t know how things are going to go. I have given up trying to predict anything. I can’t imagine ever forgiving her for robbing me of my life, but I can try to show her mercy as she approaches the destruction of her mind. She doesn’t deserve it, but I will try to be there anyway. Somehow I find comfort in being kind when I know she would have met me with cruelty. I can’t help but think about my first psychiatric hospitalization at 21 where she refused to see me and left me abandoned.

If she continues to live, the days will become harder for me. Her dementia combined with her DID and the evil within her is like a continuous gaslight coming at me. I am not sure I will always be strong enough to stay in my adult parts and withstand it. It will be like a constant storm approaching with me uncertain of how hard of a hit I will take.

Have to remember to keep breathing, and taking it one day at a time. I said I will try to take care of her, but I can’t promise it. I will not allow her self-destruction to become my self-destruction. I just pray I can keep my word to myself.

The hurricane strength walls blocking positivity

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.

Sigh.

A $45 bottle of ketamine got me out of a suicidal crisis & stabilized my DID in just a few hours

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.

My Experience

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.

Losing the vulnerable parts of me during the pandemic

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 have DID and feel paralyzed during the pandemic

This pandemic has done something to me that after almost an entire year of it, I still can’t really explain it. I wonder how many others with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) are in the same boat? I have moments of recognizing how my complex-PTSD affects me during the pandemic. But the DID, I don’t know.

Sadly, my therapist who is trying herself to survive this pandemic, is of little help to me as a therapist. She seems more like supportive friend material now. Maybe because our sessions are over the phone, it just doesn’t work well for most of me. I can also clearly hear her own stress most sessions as she deals with her own feelings through the pandemic.

I think the constant stress of the pandemic keeps me in fight/flight/freeze on a daily basis. There really isn’t anything to de-escalate it as the truth is the fear is real. None of us could have imagined our lives like this, and none of us know where we are headed. But, with this comes a constant cortisol surge. Part of why I know this is happening is because I am never tired.

If you are interested, I actually found a supplement that stops the Cortisol surge enough so I can at least sleep. I got the idea from an Amino Acids expert named Trudy Scott if you want to research it. The product name is Seriphos by InterPlexus. It is now a product I can’t live without, and more helpful than any psychiatric drug I have had.

Admitting there is little-to-no mental health help available to those of us who usually need a lot of it is an interesting thing. Honestly, I try really hard not to let my mind focus on that issue for longer than a split second. To do so is too reminiscent of a brutal childhood with no help and no escape. I can’t go there again.

I joked with my therapist the other day when she was expressing her pandemic fatigue that it was much easier for me because my DID gives me little sense of time. Intellectually I know how long we have been in this pandemic, but honestly, it feels like only weeks have gone by.

I am mostly coping without the help of my therapist. I am that child who got us through our childhood. That child who should not have survived, but somehow managed to. I keep my head down and keep pushing forward trying to get me and my family through this. It helps me understand how I might have survived something so horrific as my childhood. My auto-pilot survival part has taken over. Maybe those of you with DID have found this to be your experience too?

I made it 10 months before getting COVID. I was so careful, but one lapse in judgment, I let an electrician come into my home not wearing a mask because I mistakenly thought I was safe because I had on a mask. Never before have I let someone in my house without a mask. Perhaps the reason I did this is because this electrician was an abuser from my childhood. F-ing figures.

The very first symptoms of my COVID were 3 nights of very bizarre dreams. I was telling a friend about the strangeness of them the morning I came down with the full-blown symptoms. I knew something was wrong, but couldn’t pinpoint it.

When I got COVID, it attacked my brain, which was weird because I was so worried about my lungs before getting it. I know to the average person that may sound crazy, but I don’t really care. When I was in the emergency room, the doctor there validated me saying “we know that COVID gets into the brain because we have autopsies that show the virus is there.”

I believe the bizarre dreaming was the first sign it was in my brain. Then came the headaches. Then came the extreme head pain that felt more like brain torture going on in multiple places at the same time. Then I developed what felt like severe earaches that would come and go. Then everything turned surreal, in a way that was different than my regular dissociation, and I thought I was going to die.

I abandoned traditional medicine and went with a treatment protocol that the NIH had been ignoring, but my kids’ infectious disease doctor believed in (Marik COVID Protocol, if you are interested). I had already been taking the supplements, but when I got the Ivermectin my brain symptoms and high fever disappeared within a day. It was a miracle, but like DID, most people assume those of us who believe in it are just crazy. No matter, but I share it here in case it saves one other person.

I knew with the Adverse Childhood Events (ACES), my age, and the fact that I had asthma, I could die from this. Strangely, the only two things I told the ER doctor were 1. I don’t want to become brain damaged, and 2. I didn’t want to die. It was one of those DID moments where I was surprised what came out of my mouth. Internally, I marveled that that was what I found most pressing to say in the moment.

Anyway, I survived it. I am proud that I did. I had prepared for it with all the right supplements and medications. I still have some lingering symptoms, but I at least survived it.

The “experts” say that COVID will often attack what is already weakened in a body, so they say people with psychiatric symptoms will likely see a worsening of those symptoms. That’s a scary thought since I can’t imagine worse. But, it is true so far that I have moved from horrible, but medication managed insomnia pre-Covid, to severe horrible insomnia post-Covid.

I don’t know why I am writing all this kind of interconnected stream of thoughts down. Except that I know I need to write to try to get myself back.

I have felt paralyzed during this pandemic, and that scares me. It also keeps me alive. But I know it is a terrible way to live long-term, and I have no idea how to change it. I actually miss the challenge of living life as a trauma survivor. At the same time, I enjoy the luxury of it being socially acceptable to stay at home everyday and do I don’t know what. With my dissociative skills neatly intact, the days just blur right by.

But, paralysis with my DID means that most of me is missing. Those many, many parts who make me who I am are just not here the majority of the time. No, it’s not spontaneous integration. I haven’t become a singleton. It means I am so terrified I am locked into survival mode, repressing the majority of who I am. It’s lonely and I feel almost nothing for a year now. 🥺

My Coronavirus Pandemic DID Check-In

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.

Until next time, friends.

The True Trauma Wound

Though I have been brutally abused both sexually and physically as a child, the pain of those instances is not what keeps me sick.

Those injuries play through my mind daily in one detrimental way or another for sure, but they are not what ruined me.

The psychological warfare done to me as a child has definitely left its mark, but still, it is not this that leaves me broken.

Abandonment.

I am sick, broken, and less than human because of abandonment.

My pain from, and fear of new abandonment, is what rules my days. It keeps me paralyzed, scared, and sad all rolled up into one messed up package.

I would like to think the blatant abuse by my parents and other adults is what has ruined me, but it is not.

The well of my pain stems from people turning their backs on me. People treating me as expendable. Instilling in me that I don’t matter, and that others are always more important.

This.

Recovering from humanity’s deep abandonment of my soul.

Surviving as either the walking dead or the walking wounded.

There is no beating it. It’s encoded in my DNA. Each and every subsequent betrayal reinforces the idea that I am only worthy of abandonment.

No matter how hard I try, I always find myself getting abandoned by those I need the most.

I try so hard to be “good enough” or “nice enough ” or “smart enough,” but I always land back in abandonment purgatory.

The therapists and spiritual philosophers always try to convince me I am not a bad person, and somehow this repetitive abandonment has nothing to do with me.

Of course, that’s not true.

It has everything to do with me, which is why it repeats over and over in my life.

If this is my final destiny, I am confused as to why I keep carrying on trying to prove it won’t happen again.

It always does, though.

Sometimes I see it clearly and try my best to stop the inevitable, and other times I am blindsided and never fully understand what happened.

Ah, back to my parents, and the others who created the permanent scarring of my brain. The deep state of confusion I am always meant to live in.

That’s it, you know. The deep abandonment wounds that can never be understood.

Healing. No. That doesn’t exist for me.

Only the slow drip of confusion and pain serves as the morphine of my life.

At peace with living my dissociated existence

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 hospital the 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.

I am barely here. And that’s ok.

Mother’s Day When Your Mother Doesn’t Love You

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.

Suffering with DID

I went back to therapy 4 years ago to deal with some new trauma, and some old trauma that was awakened by the new trauma.

I stayed in therapy because I had developed a lot of clarity about how inauthentic my life had become.

Honestly, I have never had an authentic life, as my family of origin and the community I grew up in robbed me of my life since as far back as I can remember.

My cup is currently overflowing with the amount of child abuse I experienced growing up. That may not make sense. Normally, my mind can only hold little pieces, but right now, it is in the unusual place of holding a lot of the abuse in awareness instead of dissociating it all.

It seems like the memories are never-ending, and they are not like memories I can deny or question the validity. They are memories I know to be true, but had somehow managed through my dissociation to forget.

Other people I know with dissociative identity disorder (DID), seem to be surprised by their memories when they get them. For me, that is typically not the case. For me, it is like remembering a horrible old friend you tried to never think of again.

I dunno, maybe I am just worn down with the shitty cards I have been dealt. The never-ending shame and depression I feel about the facts of my life. It has taken its toll.

I have lost all hope of living an authentic life. I have been staying alive these past 4 years for my children. I haven’t wanted to hurt them or ruin their lives by me ending mine.

Always the martyr.

I am suffering. I suffer every day trying to hold onto my life for my children. Jeez, I sound like a cry baby. But it is so fucking hard to hold on all the time.

I just want some peace, love, and understanding based on who I really am, not the imaginary many versions of myself that the world knows.

Almost no one knows me. Not even my kids, which especially breaks my heart. I never set out to be a fake parent. It is just what is best for them. 🙁

I don’t hurt people or do any awful things to deserve the horrible treatment I receive when others find out any of my truth, but I am rejected and tossed into the garbage or worse, just for being my authentic self. That is how we treat victims in our world.

Who is my authentic self?

I am a wounded survivor of horrific child abuse who developed dissociative identity disorder as a result.

That in itself is apparently enough to know about me to warrant the rejection of me.

My ex-minister and supposed friends tried to take my children from me when they discovered diagnosis alone. I hadn’t done anything. My kids don’t know I have it. In fact, out of both their parents, I am confident they would identify me as the saner one.

It doesn’t matter. People can’t tolerate the idea that my mind is what it is. They can’t tolerate believing I endured the level of abuse I have experienced.

So, they get fake me. The me that is probably copied from characters off television shows and people I have observed. And fake me, I really hate.

I don’t really know any other me than fake me, so that leaves me with hating the only me I know.

I hate me.

The world is an awful place, where perpetrators are protected, and victims are the bad guys.

I know I am a victim. I did not deserve the cruelty, extreme abuse, and lack of love I received.

It doesn’t matter, though.

My life is a shit show and I work hard to hide authentic me from everyone but my therapist.

This is no way to live. It doesn’t get better, but the cruelty remains because I am not allowed to leave. If I leave this shitty world, then I abandon my kids and hurt them in ways I don’t even understand, but know to be true.

Stuck.

My abusers. My family of origin. All the fuckers from my community. You have successfully robbed me of my life. I hate you all, and hope you burn in hell.

I will do my best to push through another day. It is getting harder. I won’t make any promises, but I will try with all my might to hold on another day for my kids.

Cruelty. My whole life. Nothing but cruelty.

That’s just the way it goes.