Monthly Archives: March 2012

Poking holes

I have been believing that I have these other parts to me, right? That I have these parts, these dissociated selves?

I am starting to poke holes in that theory.

I believe that I am one person. One united person. Do I have dissociation? Yes. Do I experience depersonalization and derealization? Yes. Do I have PTSD related to past trauma? Yes. Do I have DID, or DDNOS with alters? I am inclined to think not.

If I have these parts, then where have they been the past week. Where is this so-called “R”. Gone. Vanished. Maybe didn’t exist in the first place?

As others have brought to my attention recently, I tend to vacillate from one end of the spectrum to the other. That I swing from acceptance to denial. And apparently the way I am thinking now is me being in “denial.” To me, the way I am thinking is just common sense. I won’t believe something until it is proven to be true. Do these other parts exist? I don’t know. Can it be proven? Apparently it cannot. Therefore, why would I have any reason to believe it? I may entertain it as a possibility, but why should I function under the assumption that these parts are real and true when in fact they may very well be fiction. They very well be made up or imaginary. And what then. What if I live my life believing that I have alters, and so I treat these “parts” of me (and when I say “parts”, I mean the kind of parts that everyone has) as though they were their own unique people. Wouldn’t this in fact hurt me more than it would help me?

What I mean is, everyone has parts to them. For some people, these parts are more distinct, and they act independently (or relatively independently) of one another. People with DID for example. Then there are people who feel more or less whole. For me, I lie somewhere in between. I live in the gray area. Therefore, it only seems reasonable then that I can choose how to think of these different parts of myself. I can think of them as more separate, or I can think of them as simply parts of me. And for me, it makes more sense to treat them as parts of me. Of the whole me. Because that’s what they are. They are not people. They don’t operate independently of me. I am not one of many. I am one with multiple parts to me. There is a strong side of me. There is a weak side of me. Sometimes I feel younger. Sometimes I feel angrier. But I recognize it as me.

If I start to believe that I have dissociated selves, I start to feel crazy. It’s as simple as that. I have to be strong. I feel like I am the thread that binds my sense of self together. Cut that thread and I will come apart in pieces. I must be strong, I must remain positive, I must keep moving forward. Because forward momentum is the only thing that I know. If things were to come to a halt, I feel like I would cease to exist. I must keep moving forward. Ever moving, ever progressing.

 

Speaking of progressing…

 

I am going to do a training workshop to become a hiking leader! I am very excited about this. I made this decision today, because I want to get back in shape. This body is sorely out of shape, and I think I have used my back pain as an excuse to not get out there and be active and doing things for far too long.

The training is in two weeks. I have emailed the coordinator to see if there’s still space in the seminar. And then once I’ve done the training, I can start planning my first hike! Or it could even be a bike ride!

 

This weekend is a VERY busy weekend. Tonight I have a concert to go to, and then tomorrow, we have a friends birthday across town. Very excited for all of it! And so excited to be back on my bike!

More to come……………….

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Pedaling through the mountains

My partner is leading a bike ride in the mountains today. I’m very excited about for several reasons – I love riding my bike and have not done so in a long time. I also love being up in the mountains. I also have some worries though. I worry that my back isn’t going to be okay. I really haven’t done any sort of bike ride like this since my back was injured several years ago. I really hope I don’t make my back pain worse. I’m also nervous that there will be people there who I don’t know. The good thing is, with something like this, there isn’t much pressure to talk or socialize. If I feel like it, I can ride ahead, or pull back a bit if I feel like riding alone and no one will think it’s odd.

This will be a good test to see how my back holds up. And if my back does well, then I will be able to start doing more things like this. I do feel really out of shape, and have for the last several years. It’s amazing what a little back pain can keep you from doing. Or in my case, a lot of back pain… I have done easy walks and easy hikes, but not really any bike rides, nor anything really strenuous. I miss pushing my body. I miss going for long, hard hikes. I miss going for 30-40 mile bike rides and feeling sore and exhausted afterwards. So… Fingers crossed this will be a stepping stone to get me back to that point.

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Therapy / The Question

I had therapy with Bean today. It had been a week and a half since I had last seen her. I had meant to write a blog about how last session went, but I must’ve gotten sidetracked and never actually got around to it. Because I never wrote it down, I don’t actually remember what transpired during me and Bean’s last session together. I did remember one small detail and that was it – sitting with the swirling feeling in my chest, and connecting it with a specific traumatic incident. She had asked me the first time I ever felt the swirling in my chest, and I had told her that I felt it only after ____ had happened. And that I felt it ever since. But… this post is about my session today, so let me bring us back to that.

Today’s session was at her home office, since I was out of town on Monday – our usual session day – and she’s only in her other office on Mondays. So given what has transpired there, with her husband and all of that, I was especially anxious leading up to today’s session.

She asked me how the medication was going, and if I was having any side effects. I told her it was going well, and amazingly I was experiencing hardly any side effects. She asked me if it still feels like my brain is coming apart, and I told her no. She agreed that this was a good thing.

I asked her what we talked about last session, since I couldn’t remember most of it. I told her the only part I remember is the swirling in my chest. She said that yes, we did talk about the swirling feeling. And that while discussing the swirling, I got to a place where I couldn’t speak. It was then that she enlisted the help of R. She said that R came forward and spent a good amount of time talking with her. She said they talked about my anger, and what happens when I get into that angry state. I said, “what angry state are you referring to?” And she said, “well when [such-and-such] happens and that makes you angry.” (I have no memory of any of this.) She also said that she and R discussed that I may have “other parts” that I am not very aware of yet (??-not sure what that’s about). And she said that R was the one who ended up leaving when the session was over. Bean said that when R walked out, she was very calm. She said it the first time it seems I’ve ever left a session calm. For some reason that struck me as funny (maybe because it made me feel so self-conscious and exposed) and I laughed out loud. [I thought I hid my fear and anxiety better than it seems I actually do :/.]

I talked about the little kid I take care of, and how wonderful they are. I told her about how close we are and how I love to make them laugh. [I am using “them” because I’d prefer not to disclose the child’s gender.] I talked about feeling calm on the drive back with the family from the desert. How I actually felt peaceful and content, and what a strange and odd feeling that was. That my stress and nervousness and anxiety and racing thoughts seemed to have subsided completely, and what was left was just a warm glow. A contentment. I remember thinking, “I wish I could feel this way all the time.” And I told Bean that.

I brought up the fact that I am starting to believe that these “parts” of me are, in fact, made up. That they are, in fact, not real. That it is obvious that I dissociate, it is obvious that I have these different states that I get into, but that what happened when I was diagnosed DID by my ex-therapist was that my mind turned these states into something more than they really are.


Bean: Okay, I hear what you are saying, and I respect that. I am wondering though, after one of our earlier sessions you had written me an angry email and had signed it “R”, and then you had written me another email right afterward apologizing for the previous email and asked for me to please ignore that. How do you explain that?


Brandic: 
Well, like I said, I do have dissociated states that I get into, and when I wrote that first email was when I was in one of those states. It’s just that I gave that state a name, and that is “R”.


Bean: 
Okay… I see. I’m also wondering, do you remember when we spoke on the phone that time when you were having a really hard time and you were really dissociated? And you were really scared, and you couldn’t speak?


Brandic: 
Yes…


Bean: 
Well, when I asked if you could take a step back, and if R could come forward, you seemed to shift into a state where you were able to talk, and you were actually quite calm. Do you remember that?


Brandic: 
Yes…


Bean So how would you explain that then. Was it that you just shifted states? Because what I observed is that you went from being in a very frightened, scared, and overwhelmed place so much so that you were unable to speak, to shifting to a place where you were able to feel much calmer, and carry on a conversation. I imagine that it was quite a relief for you when you were able to get into that calmer state.


Brandic: 
 It wasn’t a relief at all.

 

Bean: No?

 

Brandic: No because it didn’t feel like me. I wasn’t connected to that state at all. It didn’t feel like “me” at all. I didn’t feel calm.


Bean: 
So were you feeling scared of what was happening then?


Brandic: 
No, I wasn’t scared at all. I wasn’t feeling anything. I don’t feel anything when that happens. When I go into these states. I’m just watching.


Bean: 
So it sounds like you were simply in a depersonalized state then…?


Brandic: 
Yes, I was in a depersonalized state, but it wasn’t just a depersonalized state. Because these different states are different. They have their own way of acting and their own way of talking that stays consistent. It’s not like I’m either feeling like “me” or I’m feeling depersonalized. No. I’m either feeling like “me,” or I’m in another one of numerous states that show up and have recognizable ways of being and acting that are consistent. For example, with R, well, R has a unique way of being, a consistent way of acting. That’s not just simply depersonalization.

What happens after this, and what was said, becomes quite blurry. I think she may have asked me what I want her to say if another one of these states presents themselves, if she notices a change in me. What should she say, what language should she use that won’t upset or trigger me. I told her not to use “parts.” That was the word my ex-therapist used and I feel like it implies DID (even though I realize everyone has parts of them). I said I would prefer if she used the term “states.” She agreed to that. Also, she asked if it was alright if she used the term “inner world,” or if there was a better term. I told her that to me, the term “inner world” is for people with DID who have created this whole elaborate world inside their heads. Sometimes with caverns, sometimes with many rooms and many floors, and a room for each alter, and a garden, etc. I told her that I didn’t think I had an “inner world” since I don’t have anything like that. She said, well what can characterize what’s going on inside you? As opposed to what you are presenting on the outside… I said, “Inside. Just say, ‘inside.’ Because there are times, and this is quite often actually, when my insides don’t match my outsides. There’s a discrepancy. For example, I may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed on the inside, but be acting calm and content on the outside. The outside doesn’t convey what’s going on inside.” She said that was very helpful, and that she would start saying “inside” instead of “inner world.”

 

And then, THE QUESTION

Brandic:  So you don’t think I’m DID, do you?

Aaahh! Even though I asked the question in a very directed manner (with the seeming assumption that the answer would be “no”), and asked it in a very nonchalant way, the reality was quite the opposite. I had no idea what she thought or how she would answer. In fact, even asking it made me feel like I was hurling myself off a cliff. Once I threw it out there, I could never take it back. But somehow the words were out of my mouth before I could even stop them.

 

THE ANSWER

Bean: Well, as someone who studies DID and dissociation extensively, I can say that I think that DID is an area that is highly misunderstood, and that there are lots of falsehoods that people believe about it that we need to educate people on…

She went on, but I cannot honestly remember the rest of what she said, except that she never actually answered my question either way. She never said, “No, I don’t think you have DID.” She never said, “Actually, yes I do think you have DID.” She didn’t even partly answer it by saying, “Well, I’m not sure about the DID, but it’s obviously that you do have DDNOS” like so many therapists in my past have done. Keep in mind, these past therapists were not DID experts. She is.

To be honest, I am quite relieved she answered it like this. Because the truth is, I don’t really want to know. I think if she had said no, that she doesn’t think I am DID, I would have been upset. And I think that if she had said yes, she does think I have DID, I would have been upset. The former because it would feel like my experiences were not being given the proper credit they deserve. And the latter, because it would feel like she is just another therapist who is being manipulated by me into thinking something that isn’t even true and isn’t even real. The fact that she played it safe, and basically stated that DID is a misunderstood thing (without answering my question one way or another), made me feel good. It gives me a sense that it’s maybe a possibility for me, but that the diagnosis isn’t the focus of our therapy. I think she is also respecting my need to not know yet. I am still working it out for myself, and that is okay.

And then, before I knew it, the session was over. I started feeling overwhelmed, I didn’t want to speak, the room started becoming shimmery, and Bean was asking me if I was “just watching.” I wasn’t just watching, but I couldn’t tell her that. I couldn’t bring myself back into my body. I couldn’t bring my attention off the shimmering bookcases, since the shimmering was comforting, and the rest of the room, and my body, and her sitting there across from me, well none of it felt safe because I was going to have to leave it. The world that I left behind for the shimmery world was cold, and harsh. The shimmery world was warm, and had soft edges. I didn’t want to be back in the regular world, so I stayed in this world as long as I could.

Then the doorbell rang, signaling that her next client had arrived. I didn’t actually register it for what it was (thankfully it is much more muted in that back room), but as soon as she said, “Oop, there’s my next client,” I began profusely apologizing, as though I had done something horribly wrong. I lept out of my chair and left her office as quickly as I could. I needed to use the bathroom, and so I looked at her pleadingly, and said (feeling very, very young), “Will you be here when I come out?” She told me yes, that if I hurried, she would be waiting for me when I came out. She ushered her next client into the office (thankfully I didn’t have to see him/her!) and was standing there waiting for me when I came out of the bathroom. She walked me to the front door and warmly sent me off. Even though I left feeling horribly anxious and vulnerable (which is usually how I feel upon leaving therapy), I also felt reassured that she cared enough to have her next client wait so she could say goodbye to me properly.

I don’t mean nothing to her… 🙂

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(Not) Chillin’ In the Desert

I will share that I work for a family caring for their child. They asked me to come on a trip with them to the desert to help watch their child while they are on their vacation. Since it would be a paid vacation of sorts, I agreed quite willingly.

I traveled with them once before, and although it was quite nice, I spent most of the time watching the child while the parents did other things. This time however, I get a LOT of free time to relax and do as I wish. Relax. Um, yeah.

Last night my mind was racing so much I ended up staying up until 2am reading. Like clockwork, every hour starting at about 10pm, I’d put down my book, turn out the light, and tell myself to go to sleep. And sure enough, my mind would be catapulted into activity. After endless minutes of trying to quiet my mind to no avail, I would flip back on the light, thinking reading would exhaust my mind and slow my thoughts. It didn’t…

So today, even though I’m exhausted (I had to wake up at 7:30am with the child), and even though I’ve had most of the day to do as I please (with the exception of the morning hours and the child’s nap), I have not been able to close my eyes and rest. I am now sitting having a coffee at a coffee shop, since I need a pick-me-upper to get me through the next few hours til after I’ve put the child down for bed, ordered some room service, and am finally able to go to sleep. That is… If my mind lets me!

As I was walking over here I found myself carrying on a conversation with myself out loud (in my tired state I wasn’t paying attention to these things) and quickly quieted myself (even though the conversation just continued inside my head).

Can you tell by the way that I’m writing that my mind is racing?

Anyhow, even though it’s not really “my” vacation, I would like to be able to actually relax and really enjoy myself during my time off. I guess the lesson learned is that even if you change the location of your body, the state of your mind doesn’t automatically change with it. Darn!

Brandic

Ps How does one slow racing thoughts? It’s not anxiety or panic, so I don’t need to try slow breathing. In fact, my breathing is quite slow at the moment. It’s just my mind is spinning on the fastest spin cycle. Anything that people have tried and actually works?

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Waves Crash

[An appropriate title considering the deluge of rain we’ve received today.]

Went to a birthday party this afternoon. My nieces birthday party actually. It was nice, saw the family, etc. For whatever reason, I felt myself transform during the car ride home. I watched as I grew mute and angry. My face bore an exaggerated pout. My partner kept asking me what was going on, what was I feeling, and all I could do was feel myself pout even more. I eventually curled up into a ball and fell asleep. When we got home, I watched myself timidly follow my partner into our house, which is when the waves began to crash.

I was trying to look something up on my phone and it wasn’t working. The page kept going back to another page that I didn’t want, and I began growing frustrated. But being in the already dissociative state that I was in, it was more like I was watching myself get frustrated from a distance. At some point, I watched myself scream several times and slam my phone down on the floor. At this point, I forced the body to go to the bedroom, where I watched myself pace back and forth. I had images of losing control fly across my mind. Shattering the lamps. Flying the covers off the bed. Tearing the curtains from the windows. However, I was able to fight to maintain control, and nothing was flung or shattered or torn down. I managed to go back into the living room to sit and write an email to Bean explaining all that was happening.

I wrote a letter to Bean explaining that I think there’s another part of me that I’m becoming aware of. A young-feeling part – a toddler I would guess – who wants to throw a full blown temper tantrum. With all the screaming and the throwing things and the breaking things that goes along with it. And even as I was writing the email, it was as though both myself and this frustrated child were vying for control of my body. I was able to type the letter to Bean, however this did not mean I was fully in control of myself. The only way I can describe it is being possessed. You watch your body behave in a way that you would never behave, say things it would never say, act in ways you would never act.

While I was sitting typing the email to Bean, my partner came into the room and began talking to me. I can’t remember exactly what happened, except I wasn’t able to speak, and… Did she walk away? Did I run into the bedroom? I can’t really remember…

The next thing I can remember, I was in the guest room/her room. She was sitting on the sofa. I came in and sat down on the floor, still very much feeling like this child. I put my head on her lap and I wrapped my arms around her legs. I think she asked me, “Can you tell me what is wrong?” And I think I shook my head no.

The next thing I know, I feel the room coming into focus, and I’m back to myself again. I sit up on the sofa next to her. I’m feeling fine, happy even, but she remains quiet. I ask her if she is okay, and she starts to cry.

She tells me how hard it is. How hard it is not knowing how I am going to be one moment to the next. How hard it is not being able to depend on me to do certain things, to plan certain things, since she won’t know what state I’ll be in. How hard it is “not being able to count on you being you.” That one… really hurts. I’m trying to stay present, to really listen to her, to support her and comfort her in her sadness, in her grief, in her frustration, but I can’t. I feel myself turning off. I feel myself shutting down. I sit there, I continue to listen, I continue to make eye contact (since I know that is needed in order for her to feel listened to), but I feel I am dying inside. That a part of me is going dead. My mind is saying things like, “what right does she have saying these things. She has no idea how hard it is for me,” all the while knowing how completely selfish these thoughts are. She has every right to her own feelings after all. She has every right to express them, and for someone to hear them. For me to hear them. For me not to be the only one in the relationship that can break down and cry and have the other one be there.

However, this breakdown of hers was caused by me. I did this. It’s because of the emotional turmoil that encapsulates me on a daily basis. It’s because of the unpredictability of how I am going to act one minute to the next. I don’t blame her for being frustrated. I don’t blame her for needing to let it out. After all, she is patient with me, day in and day out. Isn’t she entitled to get overwhelmed, to be distressed, to cry and share her frustrations and have someone listen to her? And yet, for whatever reason, I couldn’t. While she was talking, I began drifting hundreds of miles away. She even noticed and said, “You’re going far away from me.” I knew this would hurt her the most. When she was in the most pain, when she just needed someone to listen, to care, to empathize. To share her pain the way she shares mine. But I couldn’t. I closed myself up. I walled myself off. I couldn’t even respond when she said that. I ended up having to leave the room. To go in the other room and scream and cry. To go into the bathroom and try to breathe and prevent myself from having a full-fledged panic attack. Her having big emotions made me feel like the rug was being pulled out from under me. It made me feel like my world was collapsing. That the waves were crashing. And I couldn’t make it stop.

Later on I told her how sad I was that I am not reliable. Because that makes me the most sad. She told me that I am reliable in the ways that matter most. That my love is reliable. That my care is reliable. I have to trust that she wasn’t just saying that to try and make me feel better.

The waves have calmed. The tide is receding. And now it is time for rest. Contemplation and reflection must be left for another day.

Goodnight.

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Sufficiently insignificant

I can’t quite describe it, but I’m feeling overwhelmingly insignificant at the moment. I know that I’m not. I know I have a partner who loves me to pieces. I know I have at least a few friends who really value my presence in their lives. And yet… the feeling remains.

My life feels like a flame that can just be snuffed out at any moment, and what difference could that really make. Sorry if this sounds morbid, but it’s where my mind is. Logically I know I must have some sort of effect on the world and on others, but all I can think about is how little effect it really is. Other people are important. Other people do significant things, they help change lives, they offer motivation to others around them. What do I do. I do nothing.

I can’t even help those around me even if I wanted to. I became emotionally stunted long ago, and I never learned the proper way to comfort, the proper way to support, the proper way to be. My words are empty and meaningless. My life is empty and meaningless. What motivation and encouragement am I giving others by this blog, for example. If anything I’m sure I must depress people by my constant complaining and constant negativity. I recognize this and yet cannot change it. I can’t press the happy button and transform myself into a genuinely positive happy person. It’s just not going to happen. But I wonder, how are people generally positive and happy? How does that even happen?

I feel lost alone in space. There is no one around me. There is nothing to hold on to. There is no warmth. There is no love. There is no connection. There is no light. There is no hope.

Where can I go to find these things? Anyone have any ideas? Where can I find things to hold onto, to find warmth, to find connection, to find light, to find hope. There is only one answer, and it is completely and utterly depressing: inside myself. I need to find these things in myself, and then I can start finding them in the world and in others. If I constantly seek connection outside myself, I will fall short.

I don’t want to find these things inside myself. In fact, I don’t want to go anywhere near myself. Inside myself, inside my mind, is pure chaos. It always has been. That’s why I’ve always tried avoiding it at all costs. Running, running, ever running from myself. But you can only run got so long.

I don’t make any sense to myself. My mind doesn’t make any sense to myself. My life doesn’t make any sense to myself. And the sad truth is, if you don’t make sense to yourself, then nothing else makes any sense. Other people don’t make sense and the world doesn’t make sense. I cannot be at peace with the world because I’m not at peace inside myself. And yet I don’t even know what that means. Is that some myth? To be “at peace”? To have calm and quiet inside ones mind. I can’t even imagine what that must be like. I can’t even imagine.

I can see why people go off to fight war. So that they can feel significant. So that they feel worthwhile, that their life is worth something, even if in the larger scheme of things, they are really being used as political pawns. But that’s again my morbid side coming out.

What could I possibly do that would make me feel significant. I don’t know, maybe join the peace corps? Or… I don’t know, live and volunteer for a year in some impoverished village in some far away country. Will any of these things help me get to the root of all the issues I’m dealing with? All the anxiety, all the panic, all the dissociation, everything? No. No, it would just be more running. Best course of action is to stay put and walk through the fire. Go through the process of healing in therapy. But I wonder, does anyone ever really come out the other side? Since I’m not on the other side, I really don’t know.

I yearn for these things however. I yearn for connection, for peace in my mind, for balance in my life, for a sense of significance. As the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait.” Sometimes it feels like I epitomize this statement. Waiting, waiting, ever waiting….

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It’s storming in my head

It is storming in my head. Maybe it’s the Zoloft I started on last night. Maybe it’s my mind splitting apart. Whatever it is, it is big, and it is chaotic. Right now I am having a moment of calm, and thought I would talk advantage of this moment of sanity and write a post. Not really for any purpose other than connection I suppose. Just the thought that there may be others out there who will read this. And that makes me somehow feel not so alone. Not so alone with this storm.

Regardless of what happens, or how long this lasts, I will keep pushing forward. Ever forward, because there never is any going back. It’s move forward or die. So I choose to move forward.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

X Brandic

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