Fault

I am a very visual person.  I have to *see* projects and information in order to process them well.  Add that to a need for concrete things, and discussing child abuse in therapy (or any non-logical topic) can be interesting.  My therapist, bless her, helped me design a project that will allow me to visually release bad memories and difficult emotions regarding things that happened between my mother and me.  When I went to actually complete the project, though, something occurred to me: I’m not ready to put it all away yet.  I don’t mean this in terms of avoidance.  The project we worked out will be brilliant.  Eventually.  Right now, I feel like I haven’t even taken the lid off the memories sufficiently, so putting them away would merely disguise them further.

On that note, Thursday’s session was an exercise in overcoming fear.  I walked in to the therapist’s office, planning to explain calmly that I wasn’t quite ready to go through with the exercise, but what came out was a jumble of disjointed words– ‘I’m not ready to put this away.  I *need* someone to understand what it was like.  I don’t know why I need that, but I do.  *Someone* has to know…’  At that point, she put up a hand to stop me and told me in no uncertain terms that I should tell her.

We spent the next hour talking about three specific memories of situations involving my mother.  I kept apologising for shaking whilst I spoke.  As I talked, the therapist tried to help me see the illogical nature of the events.  If you’ve read this blog at all, you know my mother had DID.  If you know much about the diagnosis, you know mental health professionals often mistake it as schizophrenia.  This is the case for my therapist, as well, so we talk about my mother in terms of an untreated schizophrenic.  Right or wrong, I’m OK with this.  I’m not in therapy to be a champion for getting my mother a proper diagnosis, nor do I care whether the diagnosis is applied to me.  That said, the therapist came up with something I’d never even considered– in feeling like things were my fault, I have been basing my reality on someone whose sense of reality was distorted.  Maybe it isn’t my fault, after all.  No one else has ever got me to even consider believing that.

I left the session seriously questioning whether I was my mother’s biggest trigger, an idea I’ve held all my life.  This has brought up more Stuff the therapist and I will need to work with.  Even in her death, I feel a need to protect my mother.  When things I describe lead the therapist to say my mother was cruel at times, I feel like I am misrepresenting her.  She wasn’t a heartless monster who enjoyed hurting her children.  I feel like that’s the picture I’m painting of her, even unintentionally.  That, to some extent, makes me feel at fault again.  I feel like I’m whining about what my mummy did to me, childish and spoiled.  Still, the smallest inkling of hope in me exists that perhaps the blame was not entirely on me.

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On the surface, it looked so safe

But it was perilous underneath

That’s the place you shoved your doubts and

Hid your ugly scars

God forbid if word got out

About your house of cards.    

                                            ~ Mary Chapin Carpenter, “House of Cards”

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We’re All in This Together

I have been *angry* lately.  Not that frustrated sort of anger that goes away quickly.  The kind that makes you feel like you’ve got something volcanic deep inside that might erupt at any moment.  I’m irritated and quick-tempered, and none of this is like me at all.  It’s only been a few years since I’ve even been able to recognise the emotion of anger in the first place.  For the past couple of weeks, though, it seems like absolutely everything has been getting right up my nose.  My official diagnosis is Bipolar I Disorder, and while I doubted that for quite some time, I’m seeing more and more why the psychiatrist chose that lovely little illness for me.

Comordbidity and DID is an interesting question.  I have abandonment issues, which is something I only recently learnt.  That is a sign of several personality disorders, as are anger issues.  Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t quite fit– I’m priviledged enough to keep these moods for weeks as opposed to days.  Even though I can have an incredibly flat affect, schizophrenia doesn’t fit.  We *know* why I hear those voices.

What *is* difficult is distinguishing my feelings from those of individuals inside, finding who and how many are feeling the mood we’re dealing with, or just seeing that I’m generally grouchy at the moment, all on my own.  Lily frequently bruises my arms because she is so much smaller than me and sometimes doesn’t realise where my arm stops.  She goes full-force toward something on a shelf and only stops when she bangs my wrist– her arm had quite alot left to go before she could reach things.  I feel that way in an emotional sense.  Sometimes I can’t tell where my emotions stop and the dissociated emotions start.  Yes, as I’ve agreed with before, the alters are all me.  In the end, I understand that they are not separate people.  For now, however, they do hold their own emotions and experience their own moods.  It’s just difficult, sometimes, to figure out where a given emotion is coming from and take care of it before things spin out of control.

Music helps.  When I get so angry and tense that I feel as if I’m going to rip apart, certain songs can bring me back to centre.  Try ‘Red Rubber Ball’ by the somewhat obscure American 1960’s pop group The Cyrkle (that’s not a spelling error).  The imagery typically calms me down:

I think it’s gonna be all right.

Yeah, the worst is over now.

The morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball.

DID vs. Psychosis

Psych meds are a tricky subject, especially when you’re dealing with the ‘rare but serious’ DID issue.  I just finished a month-long course of prednisone for a physical issue, and the side effects from that made me think about psych meds.  Prednisone causes bloating, sweats, joint pain, and this lovely thing they call moon face in which your face literally rounds off like a moon.  Fun.  Unfortunately, that particular med is what helps when the physical issues I have creep up.  Prednisone rant over– I’m past that now.

My official psych diagnosis is bipolar I disorder.  I presented with what the shrink termed severe paranoia and extreme mania.  Bipolar or schizophrenia seem to be the going socially-accepted diagnoses for people who actually have DID, and I truly doubt their comorbidity.  My mood swings, anxiety, paranoia, et c. certainly *look* like bipolar mania and depression sometimes, but they look like different people internally.  That’s it– tell the voices in my head they’re merely chemical imbalances.  *That* would be interesting.

Based on all of that, I cycled through various atypical anti-psychotics with horrible side effects before landing on Seroquel which only had minorly horrible side effects.  I’ll agree that the Seroquel was probably necessary until I got back into reality, but now I don’t see the point in taking it.  In fact, I’ve only taken it three times this year.  While the side effects certainly aren’t as bad for me as they were with the other anti-psychotics, Seroquel still causes my heart to race and *really* drops my blood pressure.  Yeah, I’ll take my chances on being crazy with a functioning heart.  I’ve discussed this with the shrink, but she insists that Seroquel is necessary as a maintenance drug along with Lamictal (which really does help) because of my level of paranoia.  I hear voices, you know.

So here’s my question– how do you distinguish between ‘normal’ DID stuff and actual psychosis?  Based on my SRA background, I don’t doubt in the least that some of my hallucinations come from outside the realm of DID.  Neither do I doubt that some of my fear really could be paranoia.  I’m willing to bet, though, that the largest majority of it comes from DID and just trauma in general.

I’m able to recognise the voices of my internal folk, and when I hear a new person, it’s reasonably easy to tell that this is part of me.  Still, sometimes I get those voices that are distinctively Not Me, and they aren’t typically suggesting I take time to do something pleasant.  It’s probably due in part to a handy SRA technique called complex poly-fragmentation that causes alters and/or fragments to be so separate from the overall system that they seem part of an entirely different person in a physical sense.  That’s really hard to explain.  But, on the other hand, it could just be psychosis at that point.  I truly don’t know.

Merely being out of my tiny little mind would certainly be easier to conceptualise, but where’s the fun in that?