When This Is All Over: A Letter From My Future Self

I am feeling rather low right now. I am in fact struggling somewhat with suicidal thoughts. To motivate myself to keep going, I’m writing a letter as if it were say 2021 (because in 2021, everything will be okay) and I am writing to myself right now. In other words, I am writing a letter from my future self to my current self. Of course, in this letter, I’m assuming that by 2021, I’ll be in long-term care. I really hope and pray I’ll be in long-term care much sooner, but I know that at least they won’t be able to deny me funding by 2021.

Dear you,

I see you. I feel your pain. I understand 2021 seems like far away and I know you hope to be granted long-term care funding earlier. I know you need it. I know you’re struggling right now, seeing that your application is likely to be turned down. I know your support staff are fighting like lions to get you funding. Please appreciate that.

Please don’t end your life now. Things will get better. I am here, in a suitable supported housing facility, looking at you. Look at me and please give me a chance. I don’t want to be dead.

Please, for the sake of me, keep going. You’ve been through so much already. I know that isn’t particularly motivating to keep going, as each disappointment drags you further down the rabbit hole of depression. However, I am here to guide you through.

Please, for your husband, keep going. He loves you. He supported you through the twelve years up to this point and he’ll support you through the rest of the time needed to finish this thing.

Please, for your parents, keep going. They may see you as manipulative. They may have felt in 2007 that the main reason not to kill yourself is that they’d have to pay for your funeral. They no longer do, but they don’t deserve to be proven right about the manipulativeness. Please keep on fighting and show them you can be a happy, positive person.

Please, for your support staff, keep going. You have the best support coordinator you could wish for. She fights like a lioness for what you need. She believes you. Please don’t let her down.

I know you want to be included on the Autistic Memorial Blog if your suicide is successful. Fine by me but I’d rather you be a living person rather than a statistic on a blog. I know you say that your suicide might wake up the politicians and policy-makers involved in healthcare, but they’re already working on changing the law. They can’t speed up things just because you’re gone.

And what if you attempt suicide but fail? Then you’ll be exactly where you are now, except that you’ll be there to remember your parents being proven right about your manipulativeness. Because quite frankly, killing yourself for political reasons is manipulative. I know that, if you ultimately decide to attempt suicide, you’ll not be thinking about this, as you’ll most likely act in an impulse. However, I am here on your blog to remind you that, as shit as this may be, suicidality won’t get you what you want, or even what you need. Look back at yourself in 2007 for that. You might get temporary relief from the current situation, but it won’t last and you won’t be relieved from yourself, except if you truly die. Which I know isn’t what you want or need either. Please, stay safe.

Me

Healing From Childhood Trauma: Progress I’ve Made #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the #AtoZChallenge, day eight. It’s already nearly 9PM as I start writing this post. I wasn’t home from day activities till 5PM, then had dinner and then drove 50 minutes one way with my husband to pick something up he had bought. On our way back, we stopped by McDonald’s, which was fun.

Anyway, today’s theme is healing. I was inspired to choose this theme by yesterday’s post, in which my final goal was to heal from my childhood trauma. Let me share today how far I’ve come on my journey.

My trauma-based symptoms first became fully apparent in 2009 or 2010. I had moved from a locked acute psych unit to a resocialization unit in early 2009. Once I developed trust in my staff, I apparently felt more ready to uncover the trauma-based conditions I’ve been living with all my life. You see, my trauma started early on and is in some respects ongoing.

When I started to open up about my symptoms, it still took a long time for them to be diagnosed as first dissociative identity disorder and PTSD and later borderline personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder shares a ton of symptoms with complex PTSD and I think that’s what I have.

I have never been in formal trauma therapy. The reason is that, first, it was hard to find a therapist with expertise on DID. Once I’d found one, my diagnosis had been changed and I was assumed to be making it up.

As a result, I’ve done most healing on my own. I got the book Coping with Trauma-Related Dissociation as soon as it came out in 2011. I worked through some of it on my own, but that wasn’t helping much. Talking a lot about my experiences was.

After I’d been talking through my experiences for a long while with my resocialization unit staff, my classic PTSD symptoms started to fade. Unfortunately, they’ve been back to an extent lately. However, my emotion regulation issues are a lot less pronounced.

I still have dissociative symptoms. Accepting them and validating my alters has helped me manage these symptoms.

Since I experience ongoing stress that reminds me of my trauma, I don’t expect to find the peace to fully heal anytime soon. However, I really hope I can continue to make progress.

Was I Sometimes Raised as a Golden Child?

I have been feeling really off lately. I keep having flashbacks. I also keep having what I’d describe as flashforwards, where I imagine my parents’ reaction to the different possible outcomes of the long-term care situation. These then lead to more flashbacks. One particular flashback I keep having is to a phone conversation I had with my mother when I’d just been admitted to the mental hospital in 2007, or maybe it was shortly before then. She yelled at me “You can’t even wipe your butt without your support worker there”. While this was and still is exaggerated, I do have issues with my personal hygiene, including sometimes with toileting.

I have noticed that there’s a lot of shame attached to my needs. Like, there is this constant nagging voice in my mind saying that I really do manipulate everyone into giving me more care. After all, am I not getting by? This part of me is telling me to erase everyone from my life and just go live on my own, since even if I lived with my husband and no support, there was still my husband to be manipulated.

I was discussing all this with my nurse practitioner last Thursday. He said even if I do manipulate people (and I no doubt do, as does everyone else), these people also let themselves be manipulated. Like, if they have an attitude like they’d rather help me with every little thing than endure my frustration, it’s no wonder I become dependent.

There was this show on Dutch television last Sunday about a second grade class. I didn’t see it, but a term used in it that was repeated often throughout the week, was “curling mother”. I have no idea whether that’s the correct English term, but it refers to a parent who helps their child with everything until they’re eighteen and then magically expects them to have learned independence and leave the nest. My nurse practitioner was reminded of this when I described my parents. It feels odd, because even though yes my parents did help me with every little thing, this expectation that I move out at eighteen was made very explicit from an early age on. It wasn’t like my parents were hoovering over me not realizing that they’d not be there for me forever. In fact, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t wait for me to move out. It just ugh, feels so off. Like I was spoiled somehow because my parents did everything for me.

At this point, I remember a discussion in an inner child healing group in which the original poster commented on some author or speaker saying that the golden child of narcissistic parents suffers a lot. This person was confused, because the golden child is the child favorited by the narcissistic parent, the child who doesn’t get abused (or so it seems). Some people said that the golden child suffers a lot because, well, they are only the narcissist’s favorite as long as they live up to their perfect standards.

I was raised in a household where the golden child/scapegoat roles reversed repeatedly. For those not aware, the scapegoat is the main target of obvious abuse in a narcissistic family. As such, I can relate to a lot of golden child attributes. Like, I was often praised excessively, bragged about and let off the hook. Then again, I was, and this was always very clear, expected to livve up to my parents’ perfect-image plan for me. Once I stopped doing this, I was placed in a clearer scapegoat role.

It still feels off to think of myself as having been spoiled. I know Pete Walker says spoiling is a severe kind of trauma too. However, in society, it is often treated like the spoiled child is to blame for being spoiled. And they definitely aren’t. Only as adults can they choose to undo the effects of this trauma, but they have to admit it first. I have to accept this.

A Letter to the Insiders

I want to write, but I don’t know where this is going. In fact, until I wrote down the title of this blog post just minutes ago, I had no idea I was even going to write a letter to my alters. I was inspired to do it by the recovery-based letters some people write to their mental health conditions.

Another thing that inspired me subconsciously, was a conversation with a dear friend on the need to integrate as part of treatment for dissociative identity disorder. This is often seen as the only possible end goal, and this dear friend was even told so on her first appointment with a therapist. We feel very strongly about this. First of all, integration is the third and last phase of treatment for DID, so it feels very wrong to discuss it at the very start. Second, integration can also mean living a functional life (ie. integration into society). I know many therapists, including I think our psychiatrists, feel a merger of all alters as somehow more healthy than living as a functional multiple. Well, agree to disagree.

The first phase of treatment is stabilization. This includes getting to know your system, learning to deal with feelings, developing inner communication, etc. After this, the second phase is trauma processing. Only once all traumas have been processed can you begin to integrate.

We don’t do DID treatment and aren’t likely to get it ever at all. After all, the diagnosis process scares the crap out of us and we’re unlikely to be believed. As such, it’s all the more important that we validate ourselves.

Dear you,

Welcome. We appreciate you. We are glad that you’re here, for you helped us survive. Without you, we wouldn’t be where we’re now. Thanks for that!

We know you may feel sad, or angry, or confused. that’s all okay. It may not feel okay to you, but that too is okay. Your feelings are valid. They’re there for a reason.

We want you to know there are people out there to support you. Inside, you have an entire system of alters that will help you be the best you you can be. If we work together – and that includes you -, we’ll heal.

Outside of the body, you’ll meet our support staff. Maybe you’ll be able to meet our mental health team too. Most of the people in our current life are supportive. We know this hasn’t always been the case and that’s one reason you’re here. We are here to help you heal from those experiences. You can trust us.

You may not be able to disclose your true identity as an alter to everyone, but there are people in the DID community you can talk to as yourself.

We hope this letter helped you feel a little bit safe. It’s still scary, but things will get better.

Love,

Us

Self-Care: Doing Absolutely Nothing

Sienna over at Therapy Bits wrote about self-care today. She had a day of doing absolutely nothing, as she worded it. I loved the idea. Too often, my attempts at “self-care” include making all kinds of resolutions to do things for myself and not doing anything at all. Like, I’ve been starting and restarting blog posts for today at least half a dozen times, thinking I needed and wanted to write. However, then I quickly deleted the post again, thinking it was pointless. Maybe it is, but maybe that’s the point.

Self-care, to me, means listening to your own body and mind without judgment. It means not considering what others will think of your attempts to care for yourself (within ethical and legal limits, of course).

I consider writing an important act of self-care, but I also often judge my blogging attempts. I don’t write often enough, or my writing isn’t good enough, or whatever. Today, I am setting these limiting beliefs aside and just taking care of myself.

Besides writing, another good self-care practice is meditation. I often find myself judging myself over not doing it enough too, or not being focused enough when doing it. At other times, when I do successfully meditate, I find that the effect wears off quickly and I end up beating myself up over that.

Today, I have been looking at affirmations and inspirational quotes. I love them, but I still find myself wanting to do something “productive” with them. Like, several of these blog posts I started then deleted, were quote-of-the-day posts that I deleted for being pointless.

Maybe the point of self-care, of this blog and of my life in general is not to fulfill other people’s expectations of me, but to be who I am. To be who we are. There, Sienna’s “doing absolutely nothing” sounds appealing. I do “nothing” much of the time, but then I’m usually beating myself up over it. What if I could stop judging myself and start being in the present?

Mother As Source

I was finally able to read The Emotionally Absent Mother again, since transferring it from my computer to my iPhone. Until I did this, I was unable to read any of my EPUB eBooks, because the program I used for it was no longer supported by my screen reader. I missed reading this book in particular, since it had a lot of eye-opening questions in it. I last wrote about it last August, when I shared about good enough mother messages. Now, I am moving on in the book and starting with the roles good enough mothers have. The first one is mother as source.

This section starts with the assertion that mother is what we’re made of. It goes on to assert that, both literally and on a more spiritual level, we come from mother. Literally, we come out of her womb. Spiritually, nature is often seen as coming from the ocean, which is in mythology seen as a mother goddess.

This whole assertion seems a bit off to me. Like I said in my post last August, I was raised primarily by my father as a child. Obviously, I came from my mother’s womb, but this is hard to imagine.

One of the thought-provoking questions in this section is to imagine yourself in your mother’s womb. If you can’t imagine this, you are encouraged to imagine being engulfed by her energy. This gave me uneasy feelings. I have never felt able to see that I come from my mother. In fact, my parents used to joke that the neonatologist brought me into the world, not my mother.

Good enough mother-sources are able to create a positive and welcoming environment for their children with their presence. They make the child feel proud to be of her. As such, the next question in the book is whether you wanted to be similar to your mother or as different as possible (or anything in between). If someone were to say you’re so like your mother, would you be proud?

I have to clarify here that my mother herself didn’t and still doesn’t have the healthiest self-esteem. She used to say, and it came across only half jokingly, that I inherited all my bad characteristics from her and all the good ones from my father. As untrue as this is, I didn’t grow up feeling proud to be like my mother, because she didn’t convey that she had any characteristics to be proud of.

With respect to my father, who primarily raised me, I wanted to be like him as much as possible. Until I was an adolescent, I saw my father as the ultimate embodiment of success and every other positive quality. Then I started realizing that he too has his flaws. I now feel more closely related to my mother than to him.

The next question is whether you can imagine being proud to be of your mother. Do you identify yourself in relation to her? My short answer to this is “No”. I identify myself more in relation to my mother-in-law than my own mother.

In short, I do not feel my mother was able to be a good enough source. Of course, physically she wasn’t, by no fault of her own. By this I mean that all her pregnancies were complicated and the one with me ended in my premature birth. I don’t want to say that somehow she rejected me, because I know she didn’t. Once I was born, in fact, I was more unconditionally – or should I say less conditionally? – welcomed by her than by my father.

Of course, the stress of having had four pregnancy losses prior to being pregnant with me, could’ve caused her body to be less welcoming to a fetus. That, however, and I want to be very clear about this, isn’t her fault, or anyone’s fault. There is nothing my mother did to cause my premature birth!

Activities That Give Me Inner Peace

I’ve been feeling a bit low again, but not as low as I was early last month. I’m not even really depressed, but just rather uninspired. I’d rather play games on my iPHone than do something productive, like blogging. To get myself writing again, I looked at The Self Exploration Journal once again. One of the prompts is about activities that give you inner peace. Here goes.

1. Yoga. I really need to do this more often. I don’t practice yoga much, as it feels like exercise yet doesn’t lead to weight loss. However, it does have other benefits. For example, it can help with my flexibility. It can also definitely help me find inner peace.

2. Meditation. I have Insight Timer, a free meditation app, on my phone. I love it, but I don’t practice meditation nearly enough. I tried it again yesterday, but when I was in the middle of a guided meditation, my husband came home.

3. Listening to soothing music. I used to always have calming whale sounds on when in the snoezelen (sensory) room at my old day activities. Unfortunately, I couldn’t copy the CD when moving day activities and it’s no longer being sold. I have yet to try to listen to my own soothing music on Spotify when in the sensory room. I really want to do more imagery-based activities using soothing music too.

4. Walking. I love going for walks. It truly helps me process my thoughts and move towards greater inner peace. It’s a more active way of creating inner balance, whereas the above three activities are more passive. I mean, yes, yoga requires movement, but it doesn’t require as much movement as does walking.

5. Exercise. Going on the elliptical has the same effect as walking, but amplified. I do this alone, whereas I always go on walks with other people. This means that I can quietly process my thoughts when on the elliptical, while at the same time getting my much-needed activity.

6. Writing. I really want to do this everyday, like I did when starting this blog. I really want to do more freewrites or diary entries too. This should definitely help me process my thoughts and gain inner peace.

What activities give you inner peace?

What I’d Put Into a Self-Care Kit

So I eventually gave up on the #Writ31Days chalenge. I couldn’t cope. It had become too much of a burden. But I still want to write. Today, I am sharing another personal growth-inspired post. I am writing about those things I use to take care of myself. A Dutch blogger posted about using a self-care kit, which is a box with self-care/positive items in it. Here is what I’d put in my self-care kit.

1. My crisis plan. I cannot read print, so I’d have to either type out my plan in Braille, which is too much work, or put a simple reminder on the box lid to read my crisis plan.

2. Stuffed animals. I as well as the inner children love the stuffies! Rainbow/Sofie, the stuffed unicorn we got at our old day activities, is best used for fidgeting. The inner kids prefer our toy sheep. When we’re cold, we prefer the sensory cat, which you can heat in the microwave and then gives off a nice lavender scent.

3. Essential oils and wax melts. I love love love essential oils! I do happen to have some faith in aromatherapy too, even though I know that it’s not scientifically proven. I would still someday like to create my own mmassage products with essential oils, but for now I just diffuse them. I have a box filled with over 20 different oils.

I also love wax melts, althogh my husband often gets a headache from the strong scent. I particularly love fruity and sweet smells.

4. My sensory exercise products. I have an exercise ball, which obviously doesn’t fit into a box, but which I love anyway. My air stepper pad does fit in a box. I’d love to someday get a Flowee spiky mattress too.

5. Soothing music. Nowadays I don’t listen to CDs. I get all my music from Spotify. I have a custom playlist with soothing sounds and peaceful music. I also love a lot of playlists created by Spotify itself.

What would you put into a self-care kit?

What I Like About My Body #Write31Days

Welcome to day 17 in #Write31Days. Man, this challenge gets hard and I have almost half the month still in front of me. Then again, I can show my persistence by continuing with it anyway. Today, I have yet another post about my body for you. I am going to describe the aspects of my body I like.

My body image tends to fluctuate a lot. Some of my insiders are not adjusted to living in an adult body, and as such they hate my feminine figure. I am quite curvy with large breasts, so I understand that’s difficult for the child and young teen alters. I must say though that most of the adult insiders are pretty content with my feminine body. It helps that my husband is attracted to my curves too.

The first thing I like about my body is my hair. I have long, dark hair. I need to make a hairdresser’s appointment soon, as it’s been almost six months since I had a haircut.

I also like my femininely narrow shoulders. My husband occasionally uses a quote from Schopenhauer about women with their narrow shoulders and broad hips being inferior. He doesn’t mean it seriously though and I also like my hips, although they’re not terribly broad.

Another thing I like about my body are my hands. I have pretty thin wrists and fair hands. Skip my nails for now, as I tend to bite them.

Lastly, as of recently, I’ve developed a greater appreciation of my feet. I used to have terrible toenail fungus. That is, until my husband sent me to the doctor and I got oral medication for it, since the topically-applied stuff wasn’t working. I still don’t really like my feet, but I don’t hate them as much as I used to.

What parts of your body do you like?

Resisting an Impulse #Write31Days

Welcoe to day 16 in #Write31Days. Today, I picekd yet another prompt from The Self Exploation Journal, but I twisted it around. Thhe prompt was to write about the last time you did something impulsive. Instead, I am going to write about the last tire I resisted a destructive impulse

I have been struggling a lot over the past few weeks. My husband has been working extremely long horus this past week and has been very stressed about it. Thankfully, he contacted his manager on it today and will be working slightly more normal hours from tomorrow on. However, today he wasn’t home till 9:30PM.

I hadn’t slept very well last night, because my husband was stressed out yesterday and I took over his stress. In my mind, it became worse and worse, until I was imagining my husband dying in a crash with his truck today. Needless to say, I was quite tired when I got to day activities in the morning.

On top of that, one of the regular staff was off sick, so there was a substitute. Because this regular staff would remain on sick leave tomorrow, the staff worked out who to find as a sub. Wednesdays are the busiest days at day activities, so I was quite scared that one staff would need to handle the full group on her own.

By 2:30PM, I was very irritable. I didn’t understand the jokes people were cracking. I was constantly worrying too about how to make it through the evening. I got an impulse to elope. Instead, I decided to try to walk around the building on my own while the staff checked on me tha tI was headed in the right direction. I did fine.

My staff did notice that I wasn’t coping thoguh. She asked whom I could call if I wasn’t coping while home. I decided to call my mother-in-law right then and she informed me my husband had already asked that I could eat with my in-laws.

Had I actually given in to the impulse and run off, people would’ve been a lot more worried than they already were. Besides, since this was my second time going to day activities for a full day, I might have been suspended. I don’t think I’d have gotten in any physical danger had I actually run off, as the day activities place is in a very quiet neighborhood. However, I’m still glad I didn’t give in to the urge.