Drudging Thru Conflict

K. and I went over the painting I mentioned in our last therapy post. I explained to K. how I felt drawn in to the painting. She demonstrated an optical illusion in my painting. Apparently the farther and father you walk away from the painting, the girl in the middle disappears.

We also talked about the tinnitus. She challenged me when I tried to relate it to the NICU. I sat with the question and a memory fell into my consciousness. Needless to say, K. was right.

I’m worried about my DID friend group. Going through some tough things, and I hope no matter what happens, we still have one another.

Abusive Internal Messages

I’ve been doing a lot of care-taking lately. I fix people’s problems at work, I’m supporting my partner as he is dealing with his own personal issues, trying to support family through their stuff, and modding the /r/DID subreddit.

Phew.

Oh, yeah, and then there’s my own mental health.

One of my responses to the abuse, particularly as an adolescent, was to busy myself with as much extracurricular activities I could get my hands on, so as to be out of the house/neighborhood. My happiness became dependent on achieving tasks and receiving praise for all the hard work.

Today, I recognize I’m still stuck in the same pattern. Yet, I know I can do things that actually take care of my mind and body, like mindfulness and meditation. Why don’t I? I feel strange doing it. I’m not used to feeling calm and serene. It actually makes me more anxious!

Then, part of me comes forward, being judgmental. Telling me I should be able to do this by now. I should be able to manage my anxiety and my chores and my friends and my family and my work. “What is wrong with you?!”

And I realize that quote is not really this parts’ words. I’ve heard this before from my abuser, always trying to make me feel like I, a small child, was the problem. Which, of course, all small children tend to think when there is a problem.

My abuser reinforced that, and I learned to not trust my own instincts.

One of the things I forget is that I don’t need to argue with my selves anymore. I may not agree with this judgmental part, but I’m sure whatever she took on for me, it would likely help me realize, “oh, that’s why she is that way.”

I can discuss with them today. I can hold internal meetings where I can hear her thoughts and feelings. I can give her empathy.

I can do guided meditation or mindfulness, to even just give me a minute of serenity.

I don’t need to push away or avoid my parts.

And I recognize I am human. If I do slip back into avoidance, I can be brave enough to genuinely say, “I’m sorry.”

By doing this, I finally allow my mind its freedom.

Tinnitus and DID

Trigger Warning: Mention some medical procedure from when I was in the NICU as a baby.

I’ve had a high pitched ringing in my ears for as long as I can remember. I remember being very little and having it.

I’m fairly certain that the originating cause was my very low weight, premature birth. They say the NICU is quite traumatic for infants because babies (especially preterm/newborn) cannot distinguish between good/bad stimuli. It’s all overwhelming. And now here’s a baby getting stuck with IVs all over her body, heel sticks, and spinal tap with no sedation. Lots of noise, pain, and stimuli.

For most of my life, I have dealt with it well. I mean, it’s always been there, so what difference does it make?

But for one of my parts, the ringing gets louder for her and it drives her nuts. She gets so distracted by it and angry because she feels helpless because you can’t get away from it.

That helpless feeling triggers fear in another part who is ridiculously terrified all the time. So she’s easily switching forward and I can feel the terror.

Sigh. I went to an audiologist 5 years ago and he basically said there’s nothing you can do but play music or a sound machine to try to distract you from the noise. Sounds great except when (for work) I have to go to a meeting, or the prison, or the courthouse, I can’t bring anything like that around.

Well I’m not sure what to do about this one. I’ll have to explain this to K. on Monday.

Do parts really need to talk to our therapist?

This was originally posted to my blog November 12, 2012.

Note that all posts from 2011-2017 are no longer public.

I thought I would pull this one out of retirement, because it’s still such a great musing.

I’m taking a break from writing personal blog entries again.  This is not usually a good sign.  My blog is the least difficult thing I write.  Journaling is more difficult for me because it can involve switching and stir things up internally (That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen online, but it is less likely as we are looking at uniform typed font).  So — not a good sign, because it means I’m isolating and avoiding.

I really do want to make this blog post, but it is more important for my healing to also post what is going on with our therapist, K. and the trauma anniversary.  I’m promising myself right now that my next post will focus more on my own healing.

That being said, here’s the question that has been bouncing around in my head:  Do our parts REALLY need to talk to our therapist?

Is it necessary that each one of them build a relationship with her? Does each one need to process their emotions and experiences related to the traumas?

I’ve been thinking about this because the trauma anniversary involves a set of child parts who I have zero communication with, and who K. has never met.  I started wondering if it was a typical part of the therapy process that they go through what we’ve been through with parts like Alex, M., and MD.

K. has commented before that this is how this type of therapy works.  That in the therapeutic relationship, the parts get to know her, build some level of trust, and talk about what they need to talk about.  All the while, K. supports internal communication and cooperation with the rest of the System, including me.  She does this by encouraging parts to help one another.  She may ask Alex how she can help M.  She may encourage M. to share her thoughts in our journal so I can get to know her better.

Now, I need to give you a little back story as to why this question popped up.  The specific trauma anniversary we are living through involves M., our angry, teen protector, and her age regression around what she calls her “birthday” (which I discussed last year around this time).

M. was forward in our last therapy session, because K. was asking questions that were stirring up some child parts.

“Who are you protecting?” K. asked.

“Wouldn’t you like to know.” M. scowled. “I ain’t tellin’ you. I ain’t sayin’ nothin.’ I know how this game works.  You ain’t talkin’ to nobody.”

“I don’t have to.” K responded, calmly. “You can talk to them.  You can help them.  You’re trying to help them right now, that’s why you’re here.”

There have been times when K. has commented that based on my facial expression or posture, that I’m about to switch.  She tries to get me to recognize this and communicate internally by myself.

Once, I was extremely dissociated (foggy state, zoning constantly, unable to be present), and I softly drawled out, “I don’t want to switch…this is my therapy…I don’t want…to miss it.”

K. supported me and helped me ground.  But she didn’t forget to help me ask internally who wanted to talk and what did they want to say.  I had lost it by then, and I became frustrated.

“It’s okay.” K. reassured us. “You don’t have to switch if you don’t want to.  We can work on you building the internal communication yourself.  But – and this goes out to anyone listening – I want everyone to know that just because we grounded you to the present doesn’t mean we are ignoring you.  You can write, draw, or paint how you are feeling.  It is safe to do that today.”

I’m not really sure how to answer my own question.  K. has answered it both ways.  On one occasion, she explained that severe dissociation is normally handled with each part building that therapeutic alliance.  On the other hand, she has supported me, or my parts, when they have not wanted to switch.

I feel like it is very important for those parts, especially with attachment issues, to build a positive relationship with an external adult female.  Is it necessary, though?  That’s where I get stuck.  I do have internal adult females, like MD, who are helpers and are very willing to role model that positive relationship.

There is something different.  Something unpredictable and risky about these parts reaching out to K.  We could just tell her that.  But is it enough?

Thank you ISSTD for having our backs!

I’m not sure how we missed this, but in February of this year, Psychology Today posted an article about Dissociative Identity Disorder by [redacted].

It wasn’t easy for me to track down this article.  After its publication on the Psychology Today website, the ISSTD responded to it with a formal statement entitled Holding the Line: Battling DID Myths and Misconceptions (Christine Forner, BA, BSW, MSW).

After ISSTD’s formal response, Psychology Today then took down the article.  They requested the ISSTD remove the identities of the authors, which ISSTD did in a gesture of goodwill (leaving the rest of the response intact).

It took me a while, but I finally dug up the article, and I saved it to my computer to read.

I’m not a member of the ISSTD.  I’m a complex trauma survivor who deals with symptoms of PTSD and DID daily as a result of the hand I was dealt in life, beginning before I was ever born.  I have no reason to offer the same gesture of goodwill.

But, as part of my healing has been learning to trust, I am leaning on ISSTD’s wisdom here, and I will follow their lead.  I, too, will not divulge the identities of these authors.  I know what it’s like to be tracked, stalked, and harrassed.  I never wish that upon another human being.  If you happen to find this article, I hope you follow in kind.

What I am going to do, however, is give you my takeaways from the information in the article.

  • The article begins with an introduction of 3 quotes which set the tone for the entire article.  The quotes paint Dissociative Disorders, not the result of a normal brain function used to excess, but as “fake” …. “There is no such thing…” and “artificial productions.”
  • Therapists either confirm the existence of Dissociative Disorders, or they see it as “dreamed up by the minds of Hollywood.”  I chuckled at this, because how silly is it to claim that the entirety of the behavioral health professional field box themselves in to only two, simplified possible outcomes on something–yes or no. Move along, move along, there’s nothing complex about being a human! (sarcasm intended)
  • And then they did it. They did what I feared.  They tried to make Ritual Abuse look like some bizarre circus side-show that spread due to panic; people clamoring to see the extreme trauma survivors claiming to have “more than one personality.” (yes that’s exactly how it is italicized in the article, lol)
  • The whole article is extraordinarily one-sided in favor of the extreme viewpoint that “not a single patient” has ever had “a credible presentation” of a Dissociative Disorder.
  • Then the authors outright lie, boldly stating that symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder do not stand up to scientific testing.
  • Lastly, Trauma Disorders are trivialized by putting words in quotes for emphasis:
    • The small amount of professionals dedicated to Dissociative Disorders …”devoted their entire careers to the “study” and “treatment” of the condition.”

shotsfiredYou can read the ISSTD’s formal response in the link above, but in relation to this blog, I thought I would quote the specific response on Ritual Abuse:

People with DID are often profoundly uncared for, lied to and victimised by criminals who have a vested interest in people not believing in DID. Most clients that I have seen, who have a history of being victims of organized crime, child pornography or other trafficking situations, all describe that the criminals/perpetrators knew about DID and used it to their advantage. The criminals, who I would venture are not searching through PubMed or Google Scholar to gather research, know that DID is a valid thing. The exception is that they use it to hurt others and protect themselves.

It’s maddening that there are people, ethically bound to do no harm, in the field outright lying about Trauma Disorders.  Especially when we know there are perpetrators out there who want nothing more than to discredit their victims, to keep their criminal activity a secret.  There can be fatal consequences to survivors out there, if we lose access to the only advocates we have fighting for our lives.

Thank you, ISSTD, and Christine Forner, for your response to this Psychology Today article and all the hard work you do to be our voice, when there are so many out there trying to silence us.