(The only surviving self portrait one of my PALS painted of herself. There were many more, but I destroyed them for reasons I’ll talk about another time. It’s signed “Simone” and was done in 2001. She knew how beautiful we all were, we were just hiding it back then)
It’s been an interesting time of connecting with people I went to trauma treatment a couple years ago.
The first place I went to was an inpatient trauma unit in Texas. It was mostly DID folks, which stands for “dissociative identity disorder”. If you’ve ever heard of it from TV or movies, that’s NOT what it is whatsoever. DID is an extremely creative way of a small child handling extreme trauma by creating parts or altars that kind of take over to handle the trauma so the core self can be preserved.
That’s not a scientific definition or what you’ll find in a psychiatrist’s bookshelf to diagnose people with it. It’s just my definition, and how I experienced it myself.
I found out from a family member that my first sexual trauma happened when I was around 18 months old. So I am finally coming out with it, yes I was diagnosed with DID in my mid 20s. People will either flock to me or run screaming or even worse I have a couple medical professionals who read my blog who may just decide to call me crazy after all.
I would personally like to thank my very creative DID brain for protecting my inner core. If you have DID, please take a moment to thank your incredibly creative brain for protecting you too.
I don’t call myself DID so much anymore. I’ve always hated labels in general. The cure, according to psychology, for DID has always been to integrate or have co-consciousness. I purposefully never read anything about DID as my trauma and how my brain created an intricate system felt very personal to me. I guess if anything, you could call me a recovered DID. I prefer to just call me, me and have many identities that have nothing to do with DID. I am a writer, a friend, an artist, a yogi, a helper, a mom, a chef, disabled, a seeker of truth, a book nerd, dog lover… as you see we all have different identities, even regular people, although I will not be called regular!
I recovered from my DID by coming up with the term “coalescence”. I don’t like integration or co-consciousness as it never fit what I wanted. Maybe this is a bit far fetched, but my DID readers may appreciate this. In astrophysics, coalescence is when many particles come together to be a star. Each part still exists, but together, you get to shine bright.
What coalescence means for me is that I do get to shine bright as my adult and very present self. I call what I get as twinges. It’s not anxiety, it’s just a feeling that something is off. When I get a twinge, I go inside my head, and say, “ok ladies, what is going on?” Sometimes it’s as simple as I put on a purple shirt when really most everyone wanted pink. So depending on time, resources, what’s clean, etc, we collectively come to a consensus of what can be done. If there’s time to change, I’ll change. If not, a decision will be made like maybe pink tomorrow. I can do this in seconds. I can do it if I’m having a conversation with someone else without them ever knowing.
Sometimes twinges are more serious. I live on a busy street. I’m not in a dangerous neighborhood, but every now and then a sketchy looking person may come down the street. As I pulled in my driveway after yoga today, I got a twinge. “Ok ladies, what’s up?” I guess there was a guy who looked a little weird riding his bike down the street and the consensus was that I would wait to open the garage door until he was pretty far down the street.
DID is about dissociating and not being present as when you are severely abused as a child, your brain literally can’t handle it, so you basically leave while some other part of you takes over to manage the trauma. Again, it’s about protecting your core self. It’s pretty cool and intelligent, except people with DID continue it into adulthood. Dissociating as an adult can put you into literal dangerous situations or you may feel like you are in a flashback and reliving a horrible past when your present may actually be safe. Or the ability to stay present can make your life safe.
I never say to get rid of your parts, or as I’ve always called mine my “PALS”. I just hope my DID friends can get out of their misery as I’ve met some very special people who deserve to live peaceful and content lives.
I write about this at this very early hour as I’ve had a bit of what I would call “survivors guilt”. DID is extremely hard to heal from. It’s emotionally draining, you have to find a committed professional or a few, maybe go to treatment if you’re lucky, or if you have a friend you trust, maybe they can help you. It’s simply not easy and the most daunting and impossible task that could ever seem possible. I’m here to absolutely say it is possible.
I have healed from so much of it. I still have really bad and heartbreaking days. I get days where i feel really low, but i also recognize my joyous moments. I recognize how many wonderful people stood beside me over the years and continue to. I have learned to just feel all my feelings instead of pushing them away and see them as a gift, even the bad ones as feeling them has led me away from anxiety and into peace. Those moments of crying in utter sadness and anger does not feel great, but I feel cleansed after.
I talk about survivors guilt as I’ve offered to walk beside many of my DID comrades so they can be assisted in getting out of emotional hell. You don’t have to do it exactly like me, but I like to be an example that there is life beyond trauma, even if life hurts and things are often uncertain, but that is the human condition.
In the past couple weeks, I reconnected just a bit with a couple people from that trauma unit in Texas, both with a DID diagnosis. One sent me a very ugly message that was very long but one line said something like “you talk down for fucks sake. Start writing textbooks”. (She has never read my blog that she said, so she has no idea what I’m doing with writing). This was after I sent a compassionate message about knowing things were particularly hard for her, and I essentially hoped I could help. She was mad as I had gone off the radar for a couple weeks. With being very busy out of town and spraining my wrists, I did. I actually had tried to send her a text while I was on the plane, but the free WiFi will only send texts to other iPhones and not an android. So the message was returned. After this being a series of very hateful messages calling me some of the worst things you can imagine, I had to set a boundary that I was done. This has happened several times with her. I don’t deserve abuse even by a severely hurting person, especially when I was working to offer love and support. So there’s my survivors guilt. I had to cut off a very hurting person as no one deserves to be called ugly names. If you can have a conversation about it or apologize and talk about why, that’s different. As I said this has been going on for awhile.
To end on a positive note, I also got to hear from a friend from that program recently. I hadn’t heard from her in a long time. I never took it personally. I just knew she was struggling and often the struggling times are the hardest to reach out even though it’s the most imperative. She made a beautiful and touching comment about how my blog has helped her, but also her family. It made my day, it made my week, it might even make my life. Thank you my friend. So glad to know you are still fighting!
Writing this blog can be hard to be so honest about life, but I’m also grateful that sharing my authenticity and journey of healing from so much and how I continue to help so many, makes it worth it to me. Every now and then I’ll get a comment or an email or a private message or even my primary care who passes out my card with my blog has told me her patients have loved it makes me want to continue to spread my truth whether I’m loved or hated for it. I’ll enjoy the love.
I love you the strangers, the new friends, the old friends, the friends that are like sisters, anyone who is working to be better, and especially those people I worry about who live in my heart and reach out just enough to touch me so deeply.