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In The Beginning

It Started in the 1990’s

I had married a military man and had moved away from Colorado to Alaska.   I was in the midst of an identity crises – literally.   My first marriage was in its death throes and I was …  empty. I had no sense of identity and was suicidal, again.  I went to see a psychologist.  I had had a couple of appointments with her when she gave me a standardized test.  The results arrived and she wouldn’t tell me what the results were, but she did tell she couldn’t see me anymore. Essentially, I was fired by my shrink.  I took the rejection hard.  The psychologist did give me a couple of names and numbers for a doctor she felt more appropriate for the help I needed.

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Journal: February 6, 2021

I’m reading “Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook”, by Deborah Bray Haddock.  I like it because it is an easy read, written in such a way that the average reader is engaged and comprehending. 

I’ve gotten to a section of the book where she is discussing how DID is not just something awful that we’ve survived, but a strength she calls adaptive functioning.  In that section she describes how a patient’s different parts are present for a family dinner and how the different parts served a purpose for nightly events.  I had to stop reading for a moment and breathe.  This is so real for me, not in a bad way.  We just sat there on the couch for a long minute, snuggled in our blanket, and held the toddler who cried and cried and then another part just sat stunned feeling an empty place in her heart, the part who rages felt vindicated.

In therapy we talked about parts and how they protected us from what we survived.  He asked me to journal about it.  I agreed to it, but I was uncertain what I had to say about this topic because it seems self-explanatory.  Bad stuff happened, we went away and another part came forward to cope with what was going on.  Or, in the case of our youngest parts – bad stuff happened and the toddler who was went so far away she never came back; a new personality was forged where the toddler’s personality was.  All the other personalities come and go, just the toddler stays gone.   New meaning to the statement, innocence lost.

There is more to say about parts and how they protect us.  The job they do isn’t a one and done event.  The ‘One Who Rages’ steps up when she perceives that we are being mistreated in social or work situations.  She handles it like the adolescent she is, she gets a rebellious attitude and smarts off or if unchecked will rage and say terrible things and stomp her feet.  Then she fades away and the rest of us are left embarrassed and responsible for the blowback from whatever The ‘One Who Rages’ did.

It is easy to get lost in the story of the disaster train that happens when the ‘One Who Rages’ comes forward, but what is pertinent here is that she comes forward when she perceives a threat.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a genuine threat or a crisis of ego.  When the ‘One Who Rages’ begins to chatter loudly in the ever present conversations in my head, we pay attention and consider her point.  We then take steps to deescalate the threat by having a conversation with ourselves or trusted friend.  We ask the question, is this threat real?  And, then we ask the next question, what can we do about it before the ‘One Who Rages’ starts the disaster train?

One of the biggest influences on our ability to work with the ‘One Who Rages’ is depression. If we are depressed it is truly difficult to work up the energy to care about anything.  Or, if we are so self-absorbed in our depression we might miss the warning signs of the ‘One Who Rages’ chatter.  This is why we have learned to stay aware and listen.  Not just for the ‘One Who Rages’ but for all of our parts.  If one of them chimes in ‘there’s something wrong’ or ‘this doesn’t feel right’ it is best for all of us to stop what we’re doing and pay attention. 

Journal: January 30, 2021

The uncertainty over my job has resolved itself.  An ADA is in place stating that the Topiramate caused cognitive disfunction.  I go back to work and living a graveyard schedule next Tuesday.  The depression has broken up into a mist of yesterday and I’ve gone back to doing portraits.  A success in it itself, but as an added bonus I did the first of practice portraits on my sister-in-law.  For some reason I hadn’t been able to put pencil to paper for her before.  It wasn’t bad for a first attempt. 

I have also been doing a lot of reading, specifically re-reading one of my favorite authors.  She’s very prolific at almost 30 books in this series.  I began at the logical place – the first book in the series.  I know I’ve read every book in this series, but I was shocked to find that I don’t remember significant parts of the books.  After this happening in a couple of books I noticed a pattern.  The parts of the books that I remembered were the parts that were about sex (soft porn).  Anything not related to sex was like reading the book for the first time.  At first, I wasn’t certain what to make of this.  Now that I’ve had a chance to consider it, I think the Sex Addict read the books the first couple of times.  Now someone else reading these books with their own sense of enjoyment and surprisingly, criticisms.  The sex in the book is still delightful, but the stories are refreshing and feeding my imagination.

When the husband had a heart attack he quit smoking cold turkey.  The wife, in support of the husband quit too.  Now those of us who like to smoke have to do it when the husband is not around.  We had been pushing our wish to smoke for a while.  This morning the husband went to spend time with his children.  I chose to stay at home.  After he was well and gone, we went out and smoked our first two cigarettes in 6 months.  They were amazing.  We miss smoking.  More accurately we miss sitting on the swing thinking unimportant thoughts smoking til we were satiated.  We resent having to smoke in secret, but it is better than not smoking at all.  

One of the things we noticed is the direction of our thoughts is different, the wife’s fantasies are not our fantasies.  While we smoked we didn’t fantasize at all.  Now that we are back inside, we are thinking about chores to get done and about our next portrait attempt.  The wife is thinking about bed (trying to get back into the habit of living a graveyard schedule) and drifting back to sleep with her favorite fantasies. 

Journal: January 19, 2021

Depression has been worsening.  It takes a lot of energy to get up from the couch.  Boredom is palpable, pressing me down into the space that I sit.  All the things that there is to do I’ve done before and there is no urge to do them again.  Inertia. I’m reminded of a piece of wisdom a dear one of mine once said.  She’d trumpet it like a battle call, ‘A body in motion stays in motion.’ 

What gets me in motion is that the dogs need to go out.   Once that task is done, I stand looking at the couch, a profound longing to take my seat again fills me.  The battle wars within me.  I could just sit and close my eyes and drift.  Nothing to do and nothing needs to be done.  I’m tired of sitting and reading or playing games on my phone.  I could just sit and close my eyes, meditate.  Thinking about meditation reminds me therapy and things we could be doing to help ourselves.  It would be easier to just sit on the couch and surrender to inertia.  Instead, we bring ourselves to the laptop and blog.

This is the third or fourth week I’ve been on paid leave from work.  I admitted to my employer that I was experiencing side effects from Tropiramate; cognitive disfunction -being easily distracted and unable to concentrate.  I also let my employer know that I have stopped taking Tropiramate, but that didn’t prevent a series of events from unfolding.  My employer sent me home that evening and then Human Resources got involved.  They wanted a form from the American Disabilities Act (ADA) to be filled out by the medication management team so my employer can decide if I can keep my job. It took the medication management team a week to fill out the ADA paperwork.  Now I wait for my employer’s Human Resource agent to decide that the ADA presents them with information that makes them feel good about keeping me on staff.

I miss working and I miss my job.  I’m on the fence about missing the people I work with.  I like feeling useful, as if what I do has meaning or purpose.  I want to go back to work.  I’m also afraid that if I go back to work that I won’t be able to stay focused and do the job well.  I dissociate at work all the time.  There are several of us who work, most of us do the job very well.  But stress is a trigger and there is plenty of stress at work.  And then there are non-work related stresses that cause triggering.  This last time dissociation was triggered by one of my co-workers having a heart attack.  I didn’t see it, but I heard about it.  I immediately started having flash backs to when the husband had his heart attack.  The chaos that ensued, his drama and trauma being in the ICU unit for several weeks, how hard it was to watch him suffer, how it felt to cope with his bout of insanity brought on by his medicine withdrawl and PTSD.

Being here at home these past couple of weeks has given me the opportunity to indulge in drawing portraits and learning more about how to draw.  I’ve also started crafting a hand fan and unpacked a box from our last move.  I’m being paid to stay home from work and it doesn’t feel good.  The question of ‘what am I going to do if my employer decides to terminate me’ looms over me.  If I were to actually retire I’d take classes at the community school to fill my time.  But if I were to retire now I don’t have enough to live on.  I have five more years before I qualify for Social Security unless I want to push for disability.    I don’t want to retire, I want to work.  The work I do requires the ability to concentrate and make decisions.   On bad days, when stress is high dissociation interferes with my ability to concentrate and make decisions.   Perhaps I should find another job.  I’ve dusted off my resume and started looking for work.  Now if only I could get all of us on the same page for finding a new job instead of letting inertia nail us to the couch.

Journal: December 31, 2020

I’ve lost momentum on the portraits – a complete stop.  I’m depressed.  The husband has been mean and shouty to us for the last two days.  I sit here and stare at nothing at all while my brain just grinds over and over disjointed thoughts.  Half-hearted motivations to do something anything.  Frequently something, anything is moving from the office chair to the bed where I can read.  This way when the husband comes with his mean and shouty and I get distracted I can get back to where I was, or simply lay down and pull the covers over me.

The problem is, for both the husband and I, is that I’ve begun having cognitive difficulties that are very noticeable.  I work in a lab.  For a moment I couldn’t determine the working end of a pipetter (common piece of lab equipment).  I’m making poor decisions, having bizarre accidents/oversights, and my performance level has slowed down.  At times I’m not able to express myself clearly or understand simple instructions.  I’m in danger of losing my job.  This triggers the husband’s insecurities and PTSD and steers our communications into ugly interactions.  Communication gets complicated when you can’t keep up with topic.  Very frustrating.

The cognitive difficulties are coming from a prescription for Topiramate, a known side effect.  The psych medication provider wanted me to try to offset the weight gain caused by one of my psych prescriptions, Ariprazol.  I put in a call to the psych medication provider asking if I could quit taking the Topiramate.  Their process is slow and cumbersome.  I didn’t hear anything back quick enough, so I quit taking the Topiramate all together.  The psych medication provider wants me to take Metformin in place of the Topiramate.  I won’t do it.  Metformin had a bad interaction with one of the other medicines I take causing critical loss of potassium and a similar crisis to what I’m experiencing now. That crisis (February 2020) ended up with me committing myself; which I’m no where near doing at the moment.

What am I going to do?  Take one day at a time.  When necessary, take one breath at a time. I feel my awareness of things becoming sharper each day that I’m off the Topiramate.  The husband has found his peace point so he is no longer mean and shouty.  I’m hoping the focus to draw comes back or some other interest comes to be so I can stop staring at nothing.

Journal: December 27, 2020

The Christmas holiday is over.  It’s been a year since the flashbacks led to awareness of the trauma I survived as a three-year-old at Christmas. This holiday season was much easier, more peaceful.  No more revelations.   Christmas music wasn’t a trigger this year.  A huge breath of relief and a prayer of thanks has been lifted.

I’ve read in dissociative forums about those with DID who have survived traumas at young ages and have alters they call littles.  I have developed a habit of thinking of my earliest parts as littles; those parts of me who survived trauma in a pre-verbal stage and then again at 3 year’s old that Christmas.  My therapist and I are trying to sort out names for all my parts.  My best guess is the pre-verbal little doesn’t have a name, she just is.  Our three-year-old little is Gussie.  Neither little has much interest interacting with people around us, usually I, whoever I am, don’t notice when they are aware.

There are times when I find myself holding the tv remote in my hand with no clue how to use it, experiencing the inability to express myself in the face of someone else’s rage, and hearing myself tell the husband that his rage is scary to the young ones we protect. 

Then there the times our pre-verbal just wants to be held.  It usually happens when we are walking alone.  We see ourselves being held close and carried.  We then feel a slight moment of vertigo, as if we are falling and then caught up in strong arms that hold us close and carry us.  It is very peaceful and comforting.  This lasts but a moment and then it is over.

Journal: December 24, 2020

What’s my name is a tricky question.  Frequently the answer depends on where I’m at and who I’m with.  In other blog posts on Lark In The Dark I’ve referred to a group of us named ‘the ones who work’. 

Where we work requires the use of a handheld radio.  When we started our current job we were shy and intimidated when it came to using the radio.  Rarely we would pick it up and feel comfortable or confident.  Occasionally, in the early days of my employment I’d pick up at the radio and say what needed to be said without worrying about radio etiquette and confidence.  At one point we told someone, truthfully, in our past we were a radio operator.  Last night I was stunned when I recalled that conversation because that means that one of the ‘ones that work’ is lj.  When we lived in Alaska we lj was our name.

Journal: December 14, 2020

I’ve begun therapy again.  And, as usual, therapy asks for a journal to be kept.  Not that I begrudge the journal it’s a good practice.  Just that we’ve fallen out of the habit.

Feeling a bit tongue tied at the moment.  Or rather trying to sort the message from the chorus of words in my head has my fingers hovering over the keyboard.  The nice thing about therapy, it give us a chance to be us rather than trying to pretend to be ‘I’.  Sounds like a good reason to journal more often doesn’t it?  An opportunity to be us instead of I.

A goal was set during therapy this past week; that only ‘the ones who work’ be present when the body is at work.  This is to allow us all to be safe from drama caused when ‘the ones who work’ are absent from work and things happen.  Which leads to the question who are the ones who work and why are they absent from work?  Is it an oops ‘We dropped the ball’ or a response to stress that they don’t want to deal with?

This weekend, in addition to chores like laundry, We had the pleasure of a painting class offered by an old friend of ours.  The one who attended is lj.  Which leads us to wonder if the one who sketches is lj as well?  That doesn’t feel right.

We’ve been learning how to do portraits.  A couple years ago we did an astrology portrait of our nephew.  We’re getting ready to do one of our niece.  The astrology portrait for our niece has taken a back seat for the wedding portrait we’ve felt driven to do for our brother.  It involves a ¾ portrait of our brother and sister-in-law along with the nature spirits that were present.  Turns out ¾ portraits are quite difficult.  We’ve been putting a lot of time into gathering resources and learning how to do this.  I think I’m almost there with my brother’s portrait.

So who am I?  I don’t know.  How would I sign the portraits? Gus? Is this really important?  We’ve functioned all this time without labels.  Do we have to have names.  I don’t want to have a name. 

I’m not Gussie, she’s the baby the one we protect.  Laurie is one of the ones who goes to work. Lada and lj are the witches.  Dharma is one of the ones who goes to work.  Sunny is the sex addict.  There is the wife, who is the wife?  Who really knows?  Nobody seems to want to say which is upsetting.  Is there more than one Laurie.  The one who goes to work and the one who is the wife, or are they the same?  Is that important? 

The One Who Rages is stuck at 13.  The Angry One is an Adult. 

February 2020

The morning had a rocky start.  The husband was in a bad mood that morning and was aggressively unpleasant when he took me to work.

When I got to work I felt stressed and disoriented.  Things at work required focus and problem solving.  I wasn’t up for it.  My anxiety levels were so high I went to my supervisor and let him know that I was having a bad brain day and needed to go home.  He agreed that I should leave.    I closed up my department and was preparing to leave when I realized I was not in the right frame of mind to see the husband and cope with his issues on top of my issues.  I chose to walk home. 

Home was 30 miles away.  I began with a long walk down a highway heading west.  While I walked the events of the day continued to spin in my brain.  It was all too much, things would be much simpler and easier if I were dead.  Then the debate started – would it really be easier?  How would I do it.  I certainly didn’t want the husband to find me dead by suicide.  He would never survive it.  I could do it at work.  There are places I could go there where I wouldn’t be found for days.  The question of where was solved.  How would I do it?  Do I really want to do this?  I do know that I don’t want to live this any longer.  Remembering things better left unremembered.  The stress over the lack of support by my sister and brother.  Why does it matter if they believe me?  Work stress – trying to work with all these parts and The One Who Rages pushing the agenda of suicide.  The husband’s mental health issues crashing into my mental health issues.  Life would be much simpler if we could just stay home.  The husband, my therapist and I had been discussing my taking social security disability.  How would we live?  Would being at home all the time co-existing with an angry resentful husband who opposed taking social security disability and retirement be any different from my current situation?

I had been walking for half an hour when an SUV pulled over.  The woman driving it offered me a ride home.  After a little bit of thought, I decided that she seemed safe enough.  Turns out she was part of a community service group.  I still didn’t want to go home, I’m was not ready to deal with the husband.  I decided to go to a nearby town and see my therapist without knowing if she could fit me in.  The good Samaritan who picked me up dropped me off the bus stop. 

I was fortunate, the therapist had a small opening to see me.  We talked about the events of the day, about how the husband is opposed to my taking social security disability retirement and evaluated if I should commit myself to a community mental health center.  Nothing was resolved and the therapist and I went our separate ways.  While eating lunch I decided to commit myself to the mental health center.  Doing nothing about all the aspects of my stress was not going to unplug the suicide debate I was having (and loosing) with the One Who Rages. 

I rode the bus to the mental health hospital of my choice – a place that knows and works with dissociative disorders.  It was around 4 pm.  They were full, no beds available.  They called a local hospital who sent an ambulance for me.  I waited at the local hospital until they found a mental health facility that could take me.  I was checked in at the mental hospital at around 2 in the morning.

The mental hospital I was placed in was not one that I would have chosen – at a point in my stay there I was told that dissociative disorder diagnoses were a contested diagnoses and that their protocols would label me as psychotic.  I was encouraged to see a psychiatrist of their choosing and retake the diagnostic tests after I was released.  The mental hospital followed a behavioral protocol known as DBT, Dialectical Behavioral therapy.  Ironically, the principles of DBT are very similar to what I learned in the 90’s as part of what I worked with that led to integration.

Although I did not find DBT to be helpful, admitting myself to a mental health facility did create the change I was seeking.  The first couple of days I was there I was kept in a ward for suicide watch with very little freedom.  I was able to use the quiet time in this ward to begin to work with my different parts that were up in chaos.  It was noted fairly early that part of what had been happening to me was due to a medicine imbalance.  In late 2019 my psychiatrist had changed my medicine.  The gradual affects of improper medicine laid the foundation for my current crisis.  The doctors changed my medicine and experimented with dosage.  When my mental health stabilized I was moved to a less controlled ward. 

I was in the mental health facility for a total of 8 days.  The worst, and best, repercussion was that it created the opportunity for the husband to ground himself in his mental health issues and allow himself to be there for me.  We had several hard conversations about what led me to commit myself, suicidal ideation.  He had no idea the direction things were going for me.  Since February we and the husband have developed a skill set for cooperation and communication.  The One Who Rages has been silent.  Life isn’t perfect, but it is better.

Awareness Event, January 2020

Trigger Warning: Flashbacks, Sexual Abuse

Day 1

We close our eyes intending to sleep.   Instead we see a dimly lit room.  We open our eyes and move beneath the covers.  We are back in the now, in our bed.

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Journal January 2020

Our experience with Facebook DID groups is that the group seems to function how we imagine group therapy to be. We are posting here our side of conversations we have participated in or posts that we have started as a way of trying to understand what is happening with us.

January 5; incontinence and dissociation

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