Alters, Dissociation

Loving Myself/ves

Ah Valentines day, tomorrow all my social networking feeds will be full of expressions of love. Its very heartening to see but, it is a true reminder that I live a mostly solitary life. (Not including The Insiders) My marriage ended five years ago and I have been single for three. Reflecting back on all of my romances I have never celebrated valentines day with the gifts, cards and flowers.

I really struggle with self love. There is a lot of things that I really hate about myself. I could spend at least 10 minutes listing everything from my weight to my mental health but ask me to say one nice thing about myself and I would look at you like you had grown 3 heads.

So I sat for a little bit and thought about what I liked about myself and The Insiders.

  • Myself- I love the despite everything that I have been through, I am able to be kind.

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  • James- Despite the fact he can be incredibly hard on me, he is able to be incredible patient. He has a dry sense of humour and wit.
  • Dream- She is rarely afraid of anyone, her courage shines through in every single action she does.
  • Sara– Her ability to take care of the younger insides is nothing short of a miracle. She does an amazing job taking care of them and me.
  • Jodie- She is impossibly sweet. When I watch her on video I feel comforted.
  • Carole- She makes amazing comforting meals.
  • Jamie-Her innocence speaks volumes.
  • The Communicator- He gives a voice to the unheard, helps the younger parts communicate.
  • The Children- Every single one of my little’s offers something unique that I love.

Finally I had to sit long and hard about Jack.  On the surface he brings nothing but pain, anger and frustration to the table. However, 13 years ago I felt exactly the same about Dream. I love Jack’s passion and the fact he is able to see things that I might miss.

Tomorrow I refuse to be miserable, I am going to have a coffee with a friend. I am then in the evening I am going to go my writers group. Do the things I love.

I don’t have a crystal ball, maybe next year I will be in love with a lovely woman but, I know that I will never truly be in love until I learn to love all the parts that share this body.

Are you doing anything for Valentines day? 

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Dissociation, Hobbies

Harry Potter and The Girl He Saved

I was 14 years old when I first picked up a Harry Potter book. I believe it was the Goblet of fire at the time, I cant really remember.

I was instantly transported to the rich world of the wizarding universe but, I began to realise I wasn’t just reading Harry Potter because of the magic and adventure but, because I recognised something in Harry that was in myself and it wasn’t because I was the spitting image of him just in female form and no scar.

The first being we were both Leo’s and secondly I realised that despite all of our trauma, neglect and abuse both of us were still able to be kind.

Harry experienced neglect at the hands of Aunt and Uncle, they did it wilfully in the hopes that by doing so it would suppress his magic. He lost his parents at one years old and survived when the wand was turned on him.

Despite all of the abuse and neglect he grew up to be a compassionate person, he sacrificed himself so Voldemort could die. He was an incredibly brave and loyal friend. Yes he could be hot headed and prone to temper tantrums but, he was teenager.

J.K Rowling was incredibly good at painting complex characters. Dumbledore who worked harder then most to be good and make amends for the folly of his youth. Snape who turned turncoat to keep the son of the woman he loved safe but, Harry was for me that one identified with.

As a teenager I was already skilled at escaping, I had subconsciously developed this amazing survival mechanism to dissociate to keep my mind safe from the enduring trauma I was experiencing. Books were my arsenal, I could read for hours and the world would pass me by.

Growing up and waiting for the next Harry Potter book to be released gave me a reason to survive. Even now at the age of thirty when things are getting difficult I turn to Harry and his world.

I know if I ever got the letter to Hogwarts I would have been sorted in to Gryffindor, I would embody what being Gryffindor means.

Harry often questioned himself mainly about where he belonged. He was almost placed in Slytherin but, he was able to ask for Gryffindor. That was the first moment he was able to be brave.

Harry lost everything by the time he entered the forest to die in the final chapters of the final book but, yet he was still able to face Voldemort and lay his life on line. That is what being brave means.

I am often told I am brave. I have recently started wondering what that means. I am quite open about my mental illness and my history and a year ago I had to be the bravest I have ever been and had to put my children’s needs before my own. Bravery is doing what is right despite the pain it might cause.

The reason I speak out is because there might be a teenager who is going through what I went through and I want her to know that there is life after the abuse and that she never has to be ashamed. The only people who should be ashamed are the ones being abusive in the first place.

It takes bravery to survive against all the odds but, it takes even more courage to live after. Maybe one day I will find that courage.

Hobbies

Hobbies

I have may have many mental health problems but; I have quite a few hobbies. Here I share what I get up to when I am not struggling.

Reading

Books are life. Since I was old enough to walk I have inhaled books, leaflets, magazines, websites and everything in between. Although I am technically minded nothing beats curling up on the couch, with a hot chocolate and duvet reading a proper paper book. My favourite books are  The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling, The Stonewylde Series by Kit Berry and The Hunger Games. Some of my favourite DID books include First Person Plural by Cameron West and When The Rabbit Howls (even though to be honest I haven’t touched that one in years, it’s an incredible book but very uncomfortable to read)

Books have played a massive part in my survival growing up and I soak up knowledge like a sponge. (Even though I didn’t know where Lisbon was but, I could tell you that the greatest magic in Harry Potter was Love)

Gaming

Gaming for me is a relative new hobby, I played World of Warcraft as a way to unwind once my eldest went to bed and then became the front of centre in keeping me distracted once life became unbearable and the girls were taken into care. I have several games on the go, the one I play the most at the moment is Neverwinter.

I also enjoy The Dragon Age Series, Fable, The Assassins Creed Series and Skyrim. There is just something about defeating monsters and enemies that gives me a thrill.

Music

I listen to music ALL THE TIME. Doesn’t matter what it is if I like it I will listen to it repeatedly. My most listened to song of 2018 apparently was From Now On by The Greatest Showman.

Not a hobby per say but…..

I am an out and proud Whovian. Doesn’t matter which Doctor you like if you can speak about Doctor without being a sexiest idiot then we will be friends for life.

I also like to write but, wouldn’t call that a hobby at all.

I only know a few of my Insiders likes and dislikes. I wouldn’t say James had a hobby, he is often to busy to do much else other than his job but I have compiled a list of a handful of my Insiders. (Maybe one day I will figure out why most of them begin with J)

  • James loves classical music: Beethoven Sympathy No 5 is his favourite music to listen to, he also loves to drink tea.
  • Jack listens to Emo music such as My Chemical Romance and he is interested in drawing and art.
  • Jade Likes to sing and dance.

I hope that this will give you a better insight of what I do when I am not switching.

What are your favorite hobbies? Why don’t you leave a comment below?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alters, Dissociation, therapy

Aftermath

Trigger Warning: This post discusses the aftermath of self harm. Please only read this if you are safe.

 

 

 

 

My throat is dry and my head is throbbing, I open my eyes and blink back against the glow of the light, I can feel the rough fabric of the sofa against my cheek and my arm is sore, my stomach churns as I know that isn’t a good sign. Rock music pounds away in the background and I try to focus on the lyrics as my heart beats like a drum against my breastbone. 

I steady my breathing and will myself to stay calm. There is so much going on inside its hard. Sara is trying to keep the Little safe, James and Dream are trying to contain Jack who is railing against the world. There is screaming and crying. Finally, I look down at my arm and almost pass out.

My normally pale skin was livid with cuts and streaked with crimson red blood. My white wool jumper is speckled with red and a jagged piece of porcelain lay on my desk.

“Oh god,” I almost throw up. The panic wells up inside me and tears stream down my cheeks. “What do I do? Should I phone an ambulance? No, they won’t take me seriously. Maybe I should ring Tim? No, it’s too late,”

I am still sitting on the couch, my hands are shaking and I doubt I could hold a sensible conversation, anyway. I quickly tap a message on Facebook and suddenly the room goes black.

The next thing I know I am in my bed, Sunlight is shining through a thin slither in the shut curtain, I pull up my arm and see its wrapped in gauze and no longer stings. Groping for my phone I focus on the screen and realise almost 3 days have passed by. I sit up suddenly. Three days! I stumble into the living room. It’s clean and there is no evidence of Sunday.

The journal we used to communicate is open on the fireplace and I let a puff of relief as I read its content. A mixture of James and Jodie I can live with. I know then I am safe. Nothing bad could have happened in those days. I am safe.

I have been holding on to shock and panic for five days, the only thing keeping going was releasing it in therapy but, because of the unexpected blizzard I can’t do that and I can’t keep it in anymore.

I know what triggered Jacks outburst on Sunday, his rage for now is in containment and is being supervised by Dream. Jodie was an absolute superstar, calm in a crisis and knew first aid I wasn’t even aware off. She switched out after I dissociated and grabbed a clean towel and cleaned all the blood off, gathered all the shattered porcelain and binned it. The next day Tim took the system shopping and bought plastic cups, plates and saucers. Jodie also locked the rest of the crockery in the out cupboard and Tim has taken the spare key.

Our therapist recommended to us a few weeks ago to remove all glass from the house. It never even occurred to remove the cups and plates.

I am not sure when James will let Jack out of containment. The simple fact is we can’t trust him to keep the body safe

I know looking back to that night I should have phoned an ambulance but; I didn’t want to be THAT patient again. Too many times I have blacked out and been in A&E, the nurses doing an excellent job but; me feeling like an attention seeker and a time waster. I also didn’t want to get discharged at two am and have to drag Tim out to come and get me.

I keep having to tell myself Jack isn’t bad. He is an unheard and scared teenage boy but, his rage is formidable and he is strong. He needs help not locking up but; we need to be safe. However, until we get to that stage he will stay in containment until James says so.

 

Friends

Friends interview-Tim

I thought today’s post will be a little different, our blog is about how DID impacts on all areas of our life. Friends are important and Tim has been one of the strongest friends in the systems life.

tim

Tim has been one of the most consistent people in the systems life. He has always supported us to achieve our dreams even when he doesn’t agree with my madcap ideas. He is a skilled artist, a great musician and just a good guy all round.

Tim accepts all members of the system and treats each of them appropriate to their level of understanding, age and needs.  He is also my carer and helps with basic life tasks, takes me to appointments and has supported me through the hardest period of my life.

How did you meet Katrina and The System? Katrina came into the Art Gallery where I was working. She was pretty quiet and downturn. She was struggling with suicidal thoughts.

How did you find out about the DID? I think you told me.

How did you feel when you found out about our DID? Just took it in my stride. I wasn’t shocked or aghast.

Who was the first Insider you met? James. (I think)

Was it obvious who had presented? After a while, yes.

Who is your favourite Insider? I like most of the alters but if I had to pick, I would choose Jade because Jade is no trouble and fun.

Does it ever get frustrating when we switch? No.

What are the recognisable signs of a switch you have noticed?  You clean your glasses a lot, you also rub your hands on your jeans and the body goes blank and you become none responsive until the switch has finished.

Was you aware of DID before we told you about it? Interesting question, I would probably say no.

What would you like to tell other supporters of systems? Try to look at all the alters as different people with their own set of needs and requirements.

What has been the most frustrating aspect of supporting the system?
Two things. First, the sudden way that the system can change from happiness to misery usually at the flick of a switch. I know that you can’t help it at the moment but, it’s hard especially if we have had a good day together. Second, the unwillingness of people not wanting to understand.

Some of Tim’s Pictures

Alters, Budget Goals, Dissociation, money, therapy

It’s expensive being ill.

This weeks blog post is a link up with The Money Freak. The Money Freak talks about following Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps in the UK. The Money Freak also offers excellent advice regarding budgeting. Well worth a read.

Having mental health problems don’t just impact on the mental and physical. It can have a significant impact on work and income.

I have been out of work for the best part of a decade. It isn’t how I saw my life. As a teenager growing up, I vowed I wouldn’t spend my life on benefits. I had it all planned out. I would be a teacher, happily married and would have two kids. I would be comfortable and not feel as powerless as I did. I often look back at my teenage years and realise how naïve I was.

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School

At school I was a hard worker, I excelled at English, Drama and Science. I liked Maths but, despised my teacher. I even I think won a student of the year award. Unfortunately, when I was 15 all my hard work has crumbled. Someone mugged me coming home from school and ripped a laptop bag off my shoulder. Two grown men against a tiny teenage girl.  The police investigated but, nothing was every done. I think it was the trigger my mind had been waiting for.

My mental health broke down under all the pressure I was under trying to live with the repeated abuse and the surrounding secrets. The gaps of time I had grown used to over the years grew longer and my grades suffered. The internal voices became louder and my fear increased. I was also experiencing depersonalisation and derealisation. I didn’t feel real and everything else didn’t feel real.

Friends reported that I was being rude, aggressive and was acting different. They couldn’t keep up with my mood swings and the school expelled me when Dream hurt a pupil.

The school let me come back when I had to do my GCSE’s. I scraped by with 2 Cs, a handful of Ds and shamefully a U. That ended my dreams of being a teacher.

Employment and benefits

Over the years I have had several attempts at employment but, usually ends with me being fired and confused. Employers have fired me for things I can’t remember doing, saying I am too inconsistent or I have missed shifts. After a few years of bouncing from one job to another I had to throw in the towel and claim disability benefits. Which thankfully I have never had trouble with accessing but, I know how lucky I am.

I have had my fair share of assessments and I lived with constant fear it will be stripped away from me. I feel sometimes I don’t deserve it and am ashamed that I claim benefits.

Why is it expensive?

I have not only got mental health problems; I also have a complex heart condition called tetralogy of Fallots (Tetralogy of Fallot is a group of four structural abnormalities within the heart that occur together.) and in 2016 I was also diagnosed with a chromosome  deletion. I have had several significant surgeries since I was a baby.

For me being disabled has meant lots of appointments, medication and lots of car parking fees. I live in a rural area which means I have to travel a decent distance to get to these appointments. Getting a bus just isn’t an option when you need to be at the hospital 25 miles away by 9am. My carer Tim is fantastic at taking me to these appointments, his £62 a week carers allowance doesn’t always go far enough though. Especially as most trips to the hospital take a full day.

Tim also helps me when I have been admitted to hospital late at night and been discharged at 2 am after one of the insiders have attempted self harm or suicide. Tim also takes me to almost all of my therapy appointments.

Therapy as well has been an additional expense. Whilst I am lucky to live in the UK with our free health care the mental health services is lacking. I had to turn to private therapy as I wasn’t getting the right help on the NHS. The NHS is a wonderful service but, seems ill equipped to help DID patients. However, £40 a week for the long-term future is well worth the investment if it means becoming well.

me and tim
Me and Tim on the way to an appointment

Tim says:

Often Kat is great at giving me petrol money and paying car parking fees. The carers allowance barely covers my living expenses and I cannot work because of my health issues.

How does DID affect budgeting?

I have found budgeting difficult over the years until recently I was impulsive and couldn’t keep track of my spending. When I had the girls, I became better at making sure I met their needs. Over the years I have had a time where I can’t remember what I have spent the money on, I have also found things I don’t remember buying.

I have also ended up with significant debts because of struggles with managing debts. However, I discovered this very bossy man on YouTube. Dave Ramsey spoke about using the envelope system and James has implemented it into our finances. Hopefully, it will allow us to manage our money a lot easier.

My life isn’t set in stone and hopefully as I recover I can achieve those long-forgotten dreams and I will be comfortable physically, mentally and financially.

One day at a time though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alters, Dissociation, therapy

Rough Week (and it’s only Wednesday!)

I am tired. No reason actually but, have this overwhelming feeling of being so tired. I feel like internally I am being pulled in 18 different directions and I can’t seem to keep anyone inside happy, nevermind myself.

Small basic tasks feel like I am climbing a mountain, I am also dealing with the fact I believe yet another Insider has emerged. Monday night I had some “revolving door switching”, there doesn’t seem to be room to breathe as each part burst out and did what they wanted to do, it wasn’t until I went to bed after giving the night up as a bad job did I notice the writing on my arm.

The writing was repetitive and written in sets of threes; I know if I listen inside long enough I can hear a voice in my head as well who would repeat the same words repeatedly. However, I have started to listening to music as loud as I can at home to stay safe as the words set my anxiety on edge.

Our usual sources of entertainment are not holding our attention long enough to hold our interest. All I want to do is curl up on the couch with Pepper and sleep.