Containment, for the win!

I had therapy yesterday with our therapist, K.  We spent the session reviewing some therapy homework.  At the end of the session, I told her there was something I needed to say.

K. waited, quietly.  Sometimes she takes the approach of saying nothing, to allow my to get internal communication or put my words together.

I continued, “It’s to do with being in the shower.  Nearly every time I’m in the shower, I hear things people said to me.  I never have a picture memory, it’s just these things that were said.”

K. waited.  I didn’t say anything.  “Do you need to say them outloud?”

“I don’t want to say them outloud.  I don’t want to hear it, even though I hear it in my head all the time.” My eyesight diverted to the floor as the shame came on.

“Could you write them down?” K. asked.

I thought for a moment. “Yeah, maybe.  I mean, it might work.”  I reach over for my journal.

K. stopped me.  “Would you rather write them on a sticky?  Instead of having them in your notebook, where it might be difficult to tear it out, if someone doesn’t want the words in there?”

I feel a big YES! from inside.  I nod.

K. hands me a stack of blue sticky notes.

I’m including the following words I wrote for support.  However, there is no expectation you read them.  Often, I click on trigger warnings out of curiosity.  I want you to know that the words below are NOT safe. I do NOT expect you to read them.  In fact, they are not necessary to “get” the rest of this post.

Trigger Warning:  Graphic words behind this break!
      • “You like that, don’t you?”
      • “She likes that.”
      • “I’m going to make you —.
      • “You’re going to —, NOW.”

 
I handed the sticky to her.  “I want to leave these here.”  I don’t remember if she read them or not.  But as I told her I wanted to leave them, we simultaneously spoke internally.  Parts understood that the memory/words would be left behind in her office.  Everything tough that comes along with it would stay there, safe, until next week.

It was a success in Containment! I did some grounding skills and was able to leave/drive safely home.  Today, I have had zero “fallout” from the session, which is a-freakin-mazing.

It’s great to be reminded that I can use these symptom management skills, and–oh yeah–they DO work!

After Group Fun Times

End of group (check in before we end):

Me: “I think I did pretty good tonight. I was grounded. I was able to hear everyone’s feedback and give my own input. If I’m being honest though,” I take in a deep breath because I’m afraid of what is going to happen next, “I became internally aware we must be ending group, and I started having a lot of self-harm urges.”

K. gave us props for being honest. She moved on to the rest of the group members. She checked in on everyone’s safety plans for the night, then she came to me last. “Nel, you’re staying for a second right? And when I say second, I don’t mean it literally.”

Meg sighs. “Sure. But we’re gonna try to get it as close to literal as we can.”

It was an extra 25 minutes. Could have been worse.

It was weird, though. She asked trickery questions to discover just how much passive influence/vying for control was going on. Then, she pulled out some really shocking grounding.

Grounding example: She blows out a candle that has been burning all group. She asks me if I know what’s different about the candle? Looks like a regular off-white candle. Barely any scent. No, I have no idea what’s different.

“It’s not wax.” She points at the melted liquid around the wick. “It’s hand lotion.”

I must have had the biggest WTF look on my face.

I touched it. She was right.

Thoughts on Plural Positivity World Conference & ISSTD’s viewpoints on DID

Sometimes, I think, even among survivors, I’m lost.  Even among the DID community, I just don’t get it. Here are some of our latest thoughts sparked by the Plural Positivity World Conference. 

I’m not sure how I feel about this conference.  I’m not overwhelmingly supportive of it, but I’m not writing it off as unimportant, either.  I’m wondering, though:  Is this REALLY what my fellow DIDers are thinking about healing and the professionals who treat DID?  They clearly begin with: we organized this against the ISSTD conference but we’re not against them BUT…here’s a litany of things we demand change and the ISSTD has wrong!  Yet…my experience working with the specialists at Sheppard Pratt, including past-ISSTD president, Dr. Loewenstein, is totally different.

The following quotes are from the Opening Remarks.

This is what led us to organize this counter-conference, intentionally timing it simultaneously with the ISSTD conference happening this weekend in New York.  Let me clear. We are not protesting that conference, nor we arguing against the ISSTD.
…using other language such as “metabolizing” experiences (Lynne Harris) rather than “integrating” them, now that integration has such a negative connotation that it’s actually become triggering verbiage in and of itself.

Is integration a bad term, though?  This is what I taught by ISSTD therapists, as recent as 10 months ago:  Integration refers to an integrated understanding of the current day, present, healed self.  Trauma becomes part of your life story, but not the main focus anymore.  This does not refer to integration of alters or parts.

I don’t think anyone associated with the Plural Positivity World Conference is lying.  I’m just confused where the disconnect is coming into place.  I would expect such a glaring misconception from our classic experience with therapists not trained in dissociation.  Why are these DIDers under the mistaken belief the ISSTD would support such an outdated view?

The general attitude regarding survivors having contact with each other needs to change, especially in regards to the online community. For years we have been isolated from each other and it was recommended we not have contact with one another. 

Again, this is a completely opposite view than that which the professional community supports.  In fact, at Sheppard Pratt, the therapeutic milieu is recognized as a core piece of healing.  Part of self-care, we learned, was talking to people who understand DID and are capable of having compassion for us.

 

We know, in differing degrees, but especially once we have been in therapy, that we are “parts of a whole”. Please interact with us as we present, just like you would for any other client. There is a reason why we function that way as a system, and listening to us will help you understand us more, and help us trust you more quickly.

This is where I’m going to end my post.  Because being “parts of a whole” was a statement I heard repeated to me on a daily basis by ISSTD therapists at Sheppard Pratt.  I felt like the therapists there understood even better than myself, exactly this statement.  That there was a reason we function as a system, and they were willing to listen to us for as long as we needed.

I was surprised to see this was the attitude in the Keynote.  I believe we do have a healthy, strong supportive network of DID survivors online.  I believe the dissociation professionals have come a long way in their understanding of treating severe dissociation, and we’re on the verge of seeing growth in the professional community as a whole with better understanding of trauma and dissociation.

Good wishes and healing thoughts to you all.