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We are moving!

Dont panic! We are not physically moving! We have decided to move our blog with an official domain and we will no longer have adverts clogging up our blog!

You can now find us at: http://www.ourcollectivelifeblog.com/

See you over at the new place.

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Alters, Dissociation, Innerworld

Our Inner world.

That such internal environments are possible for individuals with dissociative identity disorder is well known and accepted in clinical and academic environments. For example, “The Haunted Self’ by Onno van der Hart, Ellert R. S. Nijenhuis, and Kathy Steele includes information about how alters can interact internally and sometimes never take active control of the body. Within this internal environment, alters may soothe each other or reenact trauma to cause subjective internal injury.
Did-research.org

I have been for the longest time wanting to write about two subjects System meetings and Our Inner world. This poured out of me this evening, its a true account of a meeting that took place about three months ago. Every system and each individual alter had a different relationship with their inner world. Some cant access the inner world at all. 

Turning my phone to silent I lay in the darkness and closed my eyes as I tried to access the inner world. I had called for a system meeting and needed to be there. Waiting a moment I felt my eyes straining against the bright neon light that I was stood under. I looked around at the bland grey walls and wooden floors and felt my shoulders droop as I wished it was brighter and more expansive.

However, the creator built it when the body was young. James felt that that it needed to be useful and practical. Walking towards the room at the end of the corridor I smiled at the doors that lined the expansive walk way. Each one concealed a private space for each Insider. One of the main rules was no one was allowed in a room without the individual insiders permission. 

A door burst open on my left side and a pair small chubby arms wrapped around my waist as Jade crashed into me. I rubbed her soft brown hair and got down to her level. She had this amazing energy, I was convinced her diet contained only chocolate and E numbers.

“Hey Jade, you okay?”
“Sara says I have to go to bed! I wanna come to the meeting, I wanna see the bad boy being told off!” I was taken back with how green her eyes were.
“Who said that Jack’s getting told off?” I asked as she grabbed my arm and pulled me into her room. I was met with an explosion of pink and purples.
“Wow..” I scrambled for a moment to pay a compliment as I HATED pink with a passion. She bounced around the room, her pig tails flying behind her. “Your rooms very pretty.”
“Do you like my teddies. Look I have a snowy here to!” She held up a large white dog and hugged it close to her chest.
“That’s pretty cool,” I said smiling down at her. “Listen I have to go to the meeting. I will come and visit your room again soon.”
“Can I come?” She asked again, a serious expression setting on her face. I held my arms out and she flew into them. I kissed her head again and then untangled myself.
“Not today okay? We are going to be talking about some scary stuff and its pretty late. So do what Sara says okay?” She nodded and ran towards her bed.

After a few moments I was back in the grey hallway and almost missed the explosion behind me. I managed to make it to James’s office without further interruption. I tapped lightly on the door and waited.

“One moment,” A curt voice called out as I heard the scraping of a chair. Steady footsteps got louder and the door swung open. James was wearing a crisp white shirt under a green sweater vest, his long legs were covered in smart black trousers and his shoes were shiny and black. His black tie was front and centre. He had sharp green eyes framed with a heavy pair of black glasses and his hair was a light blond and parted neatly. His entire demeanour screamed efficiency. He wouldn’t be out of place running a business.  

“Hey Boss, new tie?” James didn’t answer, just stared at me. “Ready for the meeting?”

“Almost. You go ahead, its the large doors to the left.” He shut the door in my face and I stared at it for a moment before I headed to the meeting room.

I entered the through the double doors and looked around. James had clearly built this as well, it was like a boardroom. Dream was already seated next to the top of table. She regarded me with a haughty expression as I sat at the other head chair. Her blond hair framed her perfect face as she looked away. We didn’t really have much time for each other.

The room filled slowly. James took the head of the table, bending his head low he listened to Dream whispering in his ear. His responses were curt and polite.  Sara came in next, she patted me on the back, her hair tied up in a messy bun. 

“Everyone is asleep,” she said softly. She took a seat next to me. Carole came in next she asked if I was eating properly, she only seemed content when I confirmed I was. She sat on my other side. Casius trailed in next, his eyes down and his fingers fumbling with the scarf he wore around his neck. Jodie came in next her face was beaming as she sat down.

“Where are the twins” Sara asked after a few moments of silence.
Jodie hesitated casting a glance at the door before she spoke. “Jack’s being difficult.”
“Of course he is.” James said curtly, shaking his head “No respect.”

Jack stepped through the door and the entire room tensed. His dark eyes scanned the room resting on James.
“You talking about me, Old  man?” His face was livid and he was clearly spoiling for a fight. James was composed as he stared back.
“Jack there is a seat here for you.” Sara gestured to her right, Jack’s lip curled as he looked at her. Her kind smile faltered as she lowered her arm.
“I am fine here thanks.” He snarled.
“Jack dont-” Jaime pleaded.
My stomach knotted. This is why I had called the meeting, our system was divided and communication was slim. James ran a pretty tight ship internally whilst I tried to deal the outside world. James’s lips tightened and his shoulders tensed. Dream rested her hand lightly on his arm and he shrugged her off.
“Was this your idea?” Jack spat at me.” Trying to take control, I wouldn’t bother your useless.”
“Enough.” James’s voice thundered as he slammed his fist on the table. Everyone looked at him in surprise. James very rarely raised his voice, choosing to use a curt and cool manner. Jack smiled as he stared at him. “You are skating on thin ice.”
“I am not scared of you.” Jack stood his ground, looking at James. “What are you going to do? Lock me up!”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I will do,” James said evenly. “Hurt the body again and there will be clear consequences.”
Jack laughed his voice hollow.
“Fuck you!” He said as he walked out the room, Jaime got hastily and started to follow. She stopped at the door, her eyes pleading.
“Please don’t lock him up! Hes sad.” She said before leaving the room.
After an uneasy silence the meeting became underway and we hashed out a list of rules, trying to find a way to keep the body safe. Two weeks later Jack was contained after a serious attempt on the body.

I better stop there! There is more I wanted to write but, I can maybe do a second part next time.

 

 

 

 

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“No, you cant speak to Kat!”

I will preface this by saying that none of my current friends have ever done this! They seem to have common sense.

The switch lasted a few moments before James stepped back. He seemed disgruntled by something and I could see his tense back briefly before I fully stepped forward. My care coordinator looked at me expectedly.

“Kat, I have told you that I will only speak to you.” She said impatiently sighing as she shifted her notes.
“I cant control this.” I responded warily as I rubbed my face trying to ground myself, I could feel Jack stirring in the distance and his rage was building.
“Your going to have to try. Its no good if your flashing about all over the place. We are not getting any work done because of your alters coming out.”
“….Flashing?” I asked confused as I shifted in my seat trying to breath in deeply. I tried to ignore the fact that we are not getting any work done because she was triggering my alters out in the first place.
“Oh, whats your preferred term? “Switching”.” She smiled as she used her fingers to signal air quotes. She looked at the my face and her smile faltered. My breathing was jerky now as Jack stepped closer and closer. His rage like a hot kettle which dowsed me from head to toe. Each and every drop burned under my skin. “Well I think that’s enough for today.”

 

2wtx93

Important!

If someone states that they have DID please don’t treat alters like the experience that we have had. Even though James isn’t the type to wallow in his emotions he is very clear that it is hurtful. When alters come forward in that moment they are the real person. Yes we share a body and we are part of a whole but, all of my alters feel emotions, have opinions, likes and dislikes like real people.

Every single one of my Insiders deserves to have their voice heard and being treated like this causes pain and division as it seems to favour one Insider over the other. To my Insiders it made it look like my voice was more important then theirs.

Its not just professionals who have done this in the past I had a partner for two years who would trigger an specific Insider because she was useful to him. This is abuse and incredibly dangerous.

Luckily the friends that I interact with on a regular basis are respectful about my alters coming forward and will make them welcome. I also have been fortunate to find a therapist who is accepting of any Insiders that come forward and often reiterates that all of them are welcome.

One day I will believe her!

But, safety first!

The only time I believe it is okay to ask another Insider to come forward is if it is a crisis situation. For example: A little comes out towards the end of therapy and she is in a highly triggered state. In this case it is okay to ask for a more stable Insider to come forward and finish the session.

This isn’t rejection, this is common sense. That way the little can be taken to a safe space and we go home safely.

My DID isnt going to go away if you ignore it long enough. My Insiders are not going to go away if you refuse to talk to them. The only way that we can achieve system cooperation is allowing each insider to tell their story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alters, Dissociation, therapy

Shifting

I have spent the last few days staring blankly at screens not really taking things in. Words don’t come as easily as they did a month ago and I am finding myself silencing my voice as the words spilling out is often meaningless and empty.

I feel like I am changing, inside layers that have been hidden away are seeing the sunlight for the first time.

Cracks in my highly constructed facade are becoming wider as I lose control on the system that I have fought hard to maintain.

I know that I should lose control and allow my alters more freedom to be themselves but, I am afraid.

For the longest time I believed having Dissociative Identity Disorder was a gift, it was a super power. After all it allowed me to survive the unspeakable. However, two years ago I started to hear that my DID was unsafe, unstable and dangerous. I started to believe it and it became difficult and I began fighting them, suppressing them and causing my alters to be angry and frustrated.

I have fought my Insiders in therapy, where I know that they are safe to be heard. My guilt knows no bounds but, yet still I brace myself against the door and fight back. They hammer at the door insisting that it is their turn.

I have wrestled my Insiders around friends who I know wouldn’t judge me. Covered up switches out of embarrassment and deleted posts off Facebook out of fear.

To often the fear of rejection has ruled the roost but, when it is all you have ever experienced it begins to live in your head rent free.

Hopefully in time I will learn to allow the Insiders to be heard but it is baby steps.

I am changing, their is a feeling beginning to grow inside me and I am not sure where that is going to lead. I am forever growing and forever shifting.

Dissociation, health

We are struggling to recover

Images swirled in front of my eyes and I couldn’t cope. I was questioning what was real. My hallucinations confused me and scared me all at once. Why was I seeing a pair of Indian women in sari’s sat silently across the ward next to the staff room. What was that image about a man in a spiral of water about? Why was the nurses trying to hurt me? I hadn’t done anything wrong? I was going to die in this hospital and I will never see my children’s faces again.

Why couldn’t I hear the Insiders? Maybe the truth has been revealed. Maybe I was faking after all this time. No that is stupid. I have lost so much why would I make it up?

The doctors said they had to remove part of my bowel. A hernia I had been living with since my youngest birth had become lodged into my c-section and wrapped around my bowel and the part died. I was lucky to go into the hospital when I did they said. How many brushes of death was I going to have before he finally takes me? I am edging out a cat on lives.
Unexpectedly ill

I became sick so quick and I am struggling so much with the fallout. One minute I was enjoying myself playing games and the next I am buckled over in unbearable pain and giving the demon from the exorcist a run for its money.

When I am ill it highlights how isolated and alone I actually am. Yes I share my life and body with 18* other people but they cant be there to physically help me. Tim came around to bring ice lollys and full fat coke.

James persuaded me to ring 111 and they diagnosed food poisoning. I felt dismissed and unlistened to as the GP advised me to try flat coke which bitherway tastes foul on the way back out.

By the time 111 agreed to phone the ambulance I was weak, shaking and my heart was trying to pound out of my chest.

I remember getting to A&E and that was it until I woke up after three bowel surgeries.

Recovery has been difficult, I developed a hospital bug called Cdiff, I also was told I might sleep apnea.

Coming home was a shock to the system, I am attached to a machine 24/7 which is meant to assist recovery faster but has caused me nothing but, stress. I am at the stage where I am gritting my teeth and bearing it because otherwise recovery would be slower and probably worse.

System wise emotions are all over the place, we have had plenty of surgeries but, this one came out of left field. I believe that an unknown Insider took on the trauma of being taken to theatre as I actually don’t remember cancelling with my therapist or updating Facebook with regular updates.

I am also fighting switches which is going to impact my mental health but, I am afraid to let a little out and they become distressed or cause further injury.

If I am perfectly honest, I am holding on to a lot of distress and I am struggling to release it. I am not sure what the solution is.

I am hoping I recover soon.

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DID Awareness Day

I have been absent due to illness over the last 2 weeks, I am going to write about it but, today is more important!

Twenty five years ago Multiple Personality Disorder changed its name to Dissociative Identity Disorder. This was mainly due to the fact that MPD was becoming better understood in the field of psychiatry and so they wanted a better term to reflect what was actually going on.

We still have a massive way to go when it comes to DID especially in the UK. 1-3% of the worlds population live with DID.  However, gaining the correct treatment still continues to be a lengthy and frustrating experience for many thats if you can get a correct diagnosis (Fun fact: People typically spend 7 years in the mental health system being incorrectly diagnosed before recieving a DID diagnosis- It took us 13 years)

Unfortunately there is always going to be the abuse of children and so many of these abused children will grow up to develop DID but, hopefully in the future they wont have the up hill climb to become well as many face. However, research is coming along in leaps and bounds.

Wellness means different things to different people. For some its the complete integration of all the alters in their system and for others like me it means Functional Multiplicity where we learn to live with our Insiders day in and day out in  a healthy way. There is no wrong or right way to live.

 

Alters, Dissociation, Friends

How we maintain friendships when living with DID

In all honesty if there was one area that I am lacking in life it is my ability to maintain long term friendships. I KNOW that I am extremely hard work sometimes and people aren’t able to withstand it long term.

It isn’t for lack of trying though. I can count on one hand the people I meet socially on a regular basis and none of them are my age. I do have a great network of people online via Facebook that we have formed through different forums that we have joined over the years and to be honest these group of women have been some of the strongest and kindest people I have met. However, internet interaction only goes so far.

Having a friend with Dissociative Identity Disorder presents many challenges. One of them being whilst I might like you, one of my Insiders could not. There might be a case that one of the Insiders might not even be aware of your existence, so wont even know who you are. Each Insider has different preferences, opinions and tastes.

This is of course difficult to translate online so for the most part can be hidden and covered up.

When you experience significant trauma it causes trust issues. “Is this person going to hurt me?”, “They are going to stop being my friend I am sure of it.” and finally “If I tell them that I have DID they are going to accuse me of faking and wont talk to me anymore.”

The truth is I HAVE had people stop talking to me because of the DID but, I have also had amazingly supportive people in my life who treat me and my alters with the respect that they deserve.

What advice would you give to a friend finding out about your DID?

  1. Ask questions. We for the most part will open and honest, if we don’t know the answer we will admit it and give you some links that may help.
  2. Treat each Insider as the individual they are. Insiders are people too with their own feelings, thoughts and perception of the world.
  3. If its to much for you be honest. Don’t ghost us out as we do notice when this happens and it hurts. Ask for space and we will respect it.

There is also a great video from DissociDID which covers 15 tips for friends here

Our domain will be changing this week, I will make a blog post when it happens! Hope you have a good week!