Tag Archives: Multiplicity

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

Five Years

Today marks five years since our DID diagnosis got removed and changed to BPD. I’m not sure how to feel about it. I mean, that diagnosis was most likely incorrect but so is the BPD (which later got downgraded to BPD traits, which I do think we have but then again who doesn’t?). I mean, we rarely if ever experience amnesia and don’t go around disclosing ourselves when it’s not safe, but we do clearly exist as multiple identities.

Besides, the therapist who diagnosed us with DID at least took us more seriously than any before or after her (except for maybe our current psychiatrist, whom we just came out to three weeks ago). She didn’t allow us to be out with the nursing staff, which was okay’ish with us, but she did allow all of us to talk to her and didn’t try to fit us in a therapeutic box. The therapist who changed our diagnosis to BPD did, mislabeling Jane as a “punitive parent” and telling her to go away.

We at one point insisted on getting formal testing for DID. The therapist administered the SCID-D (a structured interview for diagnosing dissociation) to us but never finished the report. I wish she had even if it showed we’re fake. I mean, we have a right to information, don’t we? She also never responded to our E-mail, once our diagnosis was changed, asking her whether she’d ever suspected BPD in us.

I feel really odd now. I don’t know where we’re headed with regards to our mental health treatment. It’s all so scary. What if we’re really all imaginary? Since it’s unlikely we’ll ever be diagnosed with a dissociative disorder or get related trauma treatment again, will we ever learn to not exist?

A while back, someone asked in an FB group what happens to those misdiagnosed with DID after they get de-diagnosed. Whether their parts vanish. I don’t know really what I hope happens to us. I mean, we’ve tried to hide for a long time after our diagnosis got changed, but it was unsuccessful. We’ve tried to identify with the natural/endogenic multiple community before, since we felt not having a diagnosis meant we shouldn’t intrude upon the DID community. That was unsuccessful too. Does the fact that we can’t hide successfully for a long time mean we’re real after all, or does it mean I’m just terribly stubborn? I initially wrote “we” instead of “I”, but of course if we’re fake, we are not we anymore and never have been.

Weekly Gratitude List (August 31, 2018) #TToT

It gets boring, but time definitely flies. Tomorrow it’ll be September already. Fortunately, the good weather isn’t fully over yet, as they’re saying Sunday and Monday it’ll be sunny and warm once again. I love that.

Since it’s Friday again, it’s time for my weekly gratitude list. I notice these have become somewhat of a chore, but I hope that by continuing with them, I’ll take care to appreciate the little things in life more.

1. The takeout roti my father-in-law bought for my husband and me on Sunday. Normally, we go for Chinese, which gets boring. This was a lot more delicious.

2. Several nice walks this week. I once again went for the long walk at day activities on Monday and also went for a walk with my support worker on Thursday morning.

3. Being nominated for my first blogging award on this blog. I was nomiated for one on my other blog about a year ago, but like I’ve said, I took that blog too seriously to do blog awards. I genuinely appreciated it this time.

4. Swimming on Tuesday. On MOnday, my staff at day activities decided to invite me to participate in the swimmin group, initially just for that week. It was fabulous! I really hope I can continue to go swimming, but a volunteer already offered to watch me if there are not as many staff people.

5. Being supported by a lot of people in the multiple community. I recently joined a group for those who don’t have full-blown dissociative identity disorder, because they either have alters but minimal amnesia (me) or have amnesia but their alters are not as formed. I don’t like labeling myself that much, but I do it for the sake of finding support. After all, when you’re multiple, it’s either trauma-based or endogenic (natural) and we’re definitely not endogenic. It feels weird to join groups for DID or other dissociative disorders when we don’t have that diagnosis anymore and are not really looking for it either, but we need the support somehow. Thankfully, the people in the dissociation group are very nice.

6. Starting back into adaptive horseback ridiing after the summer break. It was absolutely so relaxing. My horse, Angie, was more obedient and less lazy than she usually is.

7. Eating some fish this afternoon. Usually when my mother-in-law takes me to horseback riding and the pharmacy on every-other-Fridays, we go to the fish stand that’s near the pharmacy. They however were gone for a few weeks. Their fish isn’t great, but this time it was quite tasty and above all it was hot.

As usual, I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful.

A Profound Psychiatrist’s Appointment

So we had a psychiatrist’s appointment today. Originally, our psychiatrist had asked to see our husband too, but he didn’t want to come. I was a little late due to transportation issues, but we still covered many profound topics.

First, we went into why our husband didn’t want to come to the appointment with us. The psychiatrist was careful not to let me speak through her for my husband or vice versa. I liked this.

Then we went into our treatment goals and why we’re going extremely slowly with the dialectical behavior therapy program we’re following. Our nurse practitioner had already explained that he’d like us to fully understand the concepts before moving on to the next chapter, so that’s why in three months we’ve not gotten beyond the second chapter, which covers core mindfulness skills. There are 24 chapters in the course. Normally, BPD clients in group therapy do one chapter for each session and so they can finish the course within six months.

I started to explain how I find it incredibly hard to apply the skills into my daily life. Like, there’s one skill called observe, which is intended for taking a little distance (without dissociating) from an overwhelming emotion. For example, you can start by observing what you feel or think without describing it. I thought an example of this distance-taking was to do arithmetic in your head. My psychiatrist says that’s a step too far, as we first need to observe that we’re experiencing an overwhelming emotion (or physical sensation). Then we can take a step back and decide what to do with it. I mentioned the physical sensation of needing to use the toilet, which commonly overwhelms me to the point where I can no longer act fully functionally. (Because I am blind, in most places, going to the loo requires me to ask someone to show me where it is, which requires communication we don’t have access to when overwhelmed.) The psychiatrist told me that, if I do observe this feeling on time, I can still decide what to do with it out of my Wise Mind (DBT jargon for the right combo of feeling and thinking).

Then we went on to discuss the “pieces”, as we call the alters qwhen our mental health team are around (as to avoid self-diagnosing). Our psychiatrist asked us to describe some experiences relating to them, like how many are there (around 25) and what happens when we switch. She then asked whether all of us could agree that there is just one body, whether we like it or not. This was a truly profound question. First, she had us clap our hands and asked whether any of us are still convinced they could use those hands to cover their ears and not listen to what she had to say. That didn’t work, as we still dissociated a little. Then, she held our right hand and asked the same, repeatedly. This brought on a ton of emotional reactions, mostly wonder. We couldn’t say much, but later, when in the taxi back home, some of us were like: “I may not be able to cover my ears w ith those hands, but I can still run from that psychiatrist. Oh no, I can’t, as she’s holding my hand.”

We also went into how to do treatment from here on. We sort of sarcastically said maybe it’s going to take us five years. Our psychiatrist said that, if we truly want to make this work, to count on it that it’ll take that long indeed. I’m not sure how we feel about this. I mean, when we first started DBT a year ago, we were told by this same psychiatrist to do one chapter every two weeks and finish in a year. Of course, we found out pretty soon that this wasn’t working and a lot of other issues got in the way, so we restarted about three months ago.

We’ll meet with our psychiatrist and nurse practitioner together someday in September. Our psychiatrist will then explain a little about how to go from here and then we can hopefully decide whether we want this or not.

At the end, the psychiatrist shook our hand and said: “Now I’m giving you (plural) a hand and say goodbye.” That was such a validating experience. It was good to be validated like we’re multiple minds but also contained in that we only have this one body. As a side note, neither of us ever mentioned DID or dissociation. We think that’s a good thing, in that we don’t need to conform (yet) to any diagnostic box. After all, we don’t “want” to be DID, but we are multiple whether we want it or not.

I Am Autistic #SoCS

I am autistic. Or I have autism, as politiically correct parents of autistic children would say. I prefer “autistic”. After all, autism is an essential part of my identity. It’s not like labels don’t define me and are just there for insurance coding purposes. Yeah, well, diagnoses do not define me. I am, after all, also multiple even though I don’t have a diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder anymore. Others do not define me. But my characeristics, including being autistic, do.

Saying “I am autistic” rathr than “I have autism” is preferred by the majority of autistic people. We also refer to ourselves as “autistic people” or even “autistics” rather tha “people with autism”. This is called idetity-first language, whereas “people with autism” is called person-first language and is politically correctly preferred by people wanting to erase the impact of autism.

I know, there are some situations in which a person may prefer person-first language regarding their own disability or identity. I don’t think this is wrong at all. However, people without said disability or belonging to said group should not dictate how we identify.

Identity-first language does not mean we can be called whatever the heck someone wants to call us. For example, a person with an intellectual disability should never be called “retarded”. That’s a slur. Even if said person has reclaimed that word – the R-word has not been reclaimed yet that often, but it might get to this point -, you cannot assume as a non-disabled person that you can just go about calling them the R-word. If in doubt, ask what a person wants to be referred to in regards to their disability or identity.

And of course, I want to be referred to by name most of the time. Unless another part or alter has taken over, but then some of them will be rather in your face about their name.

Don’t assume that political correctness is always preferred, but don’t assume anything really. We are all humans, all different and that’s valid. We should be loved and respected for who we are.

Linking up with Stream of Consciousness Saturday (yeah I’m late). The theme for this week is “-ic” or “-ical”.

Call #SoCS

I just got my prescription phone call service re-approved last Thursday. The prescription phone call service is where I can call a mental health nurse at the psychiatric hospital for support when I’m not feeling well but not yet in full-blown crisis. This is for out of office hours, as I can call my mental health treatment team within office hours.

The thing is though, like I said before, I may need to be able to call someone in such cases for a long while to come. The call service got approved for six months and my nurse said we’d really need to look at whether I’d still need it after those six months. I believe I would, but maybe by that time, we’ve found another agency to fill this gap. Such as the disability service agency I get my home support and day activities from now.

I really hope that I can someday do without mental health treatment. People in FB groups were saying that I may confuse not having a mental illness with not wanting the stigma of a mental illness, when I said that maybe I’m just autistic and not borderline at all. I do obviously believe we’re multiple (ie. some form of dissociative identity disorder), but the mental health team doesn’t believe this. Fine by me. Then we don’t get treatment for that. We’re relatively functional anyway and we’d rather not have any treatment than a treatment that doesn’t validate us.

This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

Movement Therapy Yesterday

Trigger warning: strong language.

So yesterday we had movement therapy. We feel it’s really helping but we also switch a lot during this type of therapy. We’re not formally diagnosed with a dissociative disorder. Were formally diagnosed DID but that got changed to BPD five years ago. Our current mental health team’s opinion is that the “pieces” are allowed to be there but there’s no need for a dissociative disorder diagnosis or any form of specialized treatment. We do DBT individually with our nurse practitioner (not in a group because we’re autistic and would be overwhelmed by a group) and the movement therapist tries to incorporate some DBT too. We really try to fit our “pieces” into the DBT model of emotional/rationa/wise mind (we purposefully avoid the word “alters” as to not suggest we self-diagnose, as our former psychologist believed we made up the DID).

The thing is, Astrid is rarely out. That is, always when we think we’ve found the core or “real” Astrid, we realize it’s yet another alter. We don’t mind as most adults can present as Astrid and act pretty much normally. However, yesterday in movement therapy Katinka was out from the start (she’s one of the main fronters). Then for some reason Suzanne popped out and the therapist called for Astrid to come back. Katinka came back with some difficulty and explained that she’s fine being called Astrid but she isn’t Astrid. The therapist insisted that she may be Katinka now but Astrid was out at the beginning. It was quickly time to end the session and we were still pretty spacey but didn’t say so. To be honest we didn’t feel fully safe to go home yet (one of us was having destructive urges), but we didn’t say anything and managed to go home anyway.

Now some of us are thinking of quitting movement therapy or the whole mental health treatment altogether. We’ve run into just a little too many disagreements with our treatment team. I mean, they’re overall good people, not like our former psychologist who just was one giant bitch. We don’t need a fucking DID diagnosis (we’re not fully DID actually). We’re fine calling ourselves pieces or whatever, but we’re not going away. Now we’re pretty sure we’re going to be taken out of movement therapy for it destabilizing us. Well, whatever. If the goal is to keep us acting apparently normally all the time, then we don’t need nor want no fucking mental health treatment for that.

Starting Over (Yet Again)

I’ve had this blog for over seven years and have started and restarted it at least a dozen times. I keep being unsure of how open to be about my experience, but to be very honest, I need a place to write about my healing journey. I hope this time we’ll be successful. I don’t primarily write this blog for my readers, although I hope it’ll help some of you too. I don’t intend on going social with this blog too much, but if I make it altogether private, I’ve noticed that I miss the opportunity to interact and still feel restrained by this being WordPress. And yes, I’ve tried truly secure diary apps and sites, but none have satisfied me so far.

In case you stumble across this blog and don’t know me, I’m Astrid. That is, we’re Astrid et al, since the core of us, the “real” Astrid, is rarely if ever out. We are multiple. No, we don’t have a formal diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder, but we don’t care (or try not to care). We don’t experience amnesia much if at all, but that doesn’t make us any less real. We are a trauma-based system, but we’re fine with natural/endogenic multiples interacting too.

Here’s where we’ll share our daily struggles as well as our travels along the healing path. We’ll also post some random bits and pieces here. I hope you’ll feel welcome here.