Saturday, June 5, 2010

Parenting the Inner Kids

It's a new and somewhat alien concept to me... I can provide the constructive parenting that my inner kids needed and never got from my mother. I've gotten so used to simply reacting to inner chaos and turmoil, and basically trying to tune the kids out. I'm now working on listening to their needs and wants, and finding constructive ways to accommodate them.

For now, crayons, coloring books and drawing pads seem to be doing the trick. The kids get an outlet that's constructive and soothing, rather than just reaching for food as the only soothing presence we'd ever known as a child. It's been frustrating, because "I" am determined to eat healthily. But my inner kids make choices that are NOT in that category, especially when they're not being listened to.

In a way, learning to acknowledge, understand and ultimately parent my inner kids will help me on several fronts. The obvious implications for therapy are huge, but it also impacts my goals for health and fitness. I'm learning... If I let the kids color or play with Legos, etc., I can avoid a lot of the compulsive eating that is done simply for soothing. It's a win-win situation.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Spiritual Journey

We were diagnosed with DID in 1991. Spent quite a few years in therapy, many of which were with a therapist who trained with Dr. Kluft (sp?), a pioneer in dissociative treatment. Stopped in 1997 when the money just wasn't there anymore. Continued to do powerful work on my/our own, and got to a place where things worked pretty smoothly most of the time. Information was shared between alters, and there was very little "lost" time.

Although we'd been told as early as 1991 that we wouldn't be able to continue working, and that we should file for disability, that didn't actually happen until 2002, after a series of powerful stressors. The final stressor caused the whole system, which had been weakened, to re-fragment and fracture. Life became horribly frightening and very chaotic.

Eventually, even in the midst of all of this, there was recognition of the gift in the middle of the rubble. Although our professional life was over (at least in the form we'd known it), that didn't mean our ENTIRE life was over. Far from it! We now had the luxury of time - a commodity in woefully short supply in years previous, especially when working 80+ hr weeks in high-tech. Jo realized that not only did she not have the answers in life, she no longer had the right QUESTIONS.

In-depth spiritual studies had called to us, particularly our inner sage, Wise One, for many years. Wise One has been with us as far back as anyone can remember. She's a Native American woman, roughly in her 60s. No doubt, at some point she'll chime in, perhaps clarifying the Native nation from which she originates, or her age. Then again, she's really rather timeless, so it probably doesn't mean that much.

We began studying Earth-based faith in 2000, something that Jo and others in the tribe had been fascinated by for nearly two decades. Self-study was intense, but appropriately solitary. Eventually, we enrolled in classes regarding Earth-based faith, and found a community of welcoming people who were delightfully eclectic, creative, and a bit outside-the-box. We quickly felt at home.

After a couple of years of classes, an opportunity presented itself - a yearlong Multi-Cultural Shamanic Apprenticeship. The decision was made to commit to this process, and a powerful transformation began. (The man who oversaw the apprenticeship is a deeply spiritual, gentle and caring person, still a beloved friend in our life - though we don't see him as often as we'd like to, because of the now roughly 150-mile round-trip to his location.)

During the year-long process, an enormous amount of insight was gained, and powerful healing techniques from most continents on the planet were learned. Much of the "core" work facing the shadows of the childhood abuse was done in this setting. Countless tears were shed, some in class and many more outside of class, but it was a cleansing, healing process.

One of the things I learned about life, and about myself(ves) is that spirituality is woven through every fiber of our daily lives. A moment of enlightenment is possible at any given instant - provided we are open to it. Each burden or challenge contains within it the seeds of an important gift. Learning to recognize such opportunities is the key.

My mother's recent death has been a very challenging experience for me. Especially in light of her ~begging~ me not to come down to see her for the last time - how could I not feel rejected? But I'm learning...

I'm learning that my mother's life (and death) can be a springboard for me. I'm going for what I call the Anti-Mom Action Plan (AMAP). The idea behind AMAP is to do things completely the opposite of what my mother did. I will not live my life in fear. I will not put off self-care and end up with Stage IV cancer that could have been fought if detected earlier. I will not make excuses about nutrition and exercise. I will not postpone my dream of writing, and I will make my voice heard. My life and my words will count for something.

This is not meant as disrespect for my mother. Rather, I am choosing to take her suffering and death and make it mean something. I/we can learn much from her example - on how NOT to go about living and dying.

Wherever you are, Mom - we miss you, despite everything.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Covered! The Good News and Bad News

I am very fortunate to have full coverage for mental health (MH) services under my insurance(s). It is rare indeed to have 100% coverage for MH services, especially with no co-pay or deductible. Further, there are no limits on the number of times I can receive services within my lifetime or per year, etc. I am very grateful.

That being said, however, now that my psychologist has learned that I do indeed have coverage like this, that I wasn't just pulling her leg, I feel like the proverbial cash cow. I have office visits two, or sometimes three, times weekly. All in all, the care is good - the woman whom I see is professional, strong, and doesn't let me fall into a caretaker role with her. But I do feel as if I'm her dedicated revenue stream - perhaps she's purchasing a summer home? I don't begrudge professionals their income; the work they do is sometimes quite challenging, and it's worth compensating well. There's just a feeling of, I dunno, entitlement I guess. It bugs me. It's entirely possible that I'm just projecting, although projecting what, exactly, is beyond me.

On some level, I know that focusing on this issue is merely distracting me from the real, substantive work that awaits. I need a tighter focus, and an iron will to move through all of this. Courage is never lack of fear, for that is simply foolhardiness. Instead, courage is feeling the fear, but moving forward despite it. Onward!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Phasmatis intus Tribus (Ghost Within the Tribe)

WARNING: This blog is written by a dissociative adult survivor of severe childhood abuse. It is entirely possible that this material may be uncomfortable for some readers. If you have any doubt as to whether this may “trigger” you or make you feel unsafe in any way, please STOP reading and click elsewhere. If, while reading this or at any other time, you find yourself feeling unsafe or contemplating hurting yourself, please IMMEDIATELY contact a crisis line or mental health professional. Please – be safe, and be well.

If you or anyone you know is having a crisis and feeling alone or potentially unsafe, please consider using one of these resources. You'll notice there are organizations around the globe, including LGBT-targeted groups like PFLAG, and groups for survivors of different kinds of violence.

Here's a link to a list of resources.

Please know that I care, and many people in your life care. It's a sign of true strength to reach out if you're hurting; people want to offer their support. You are NOT alone.

Wow.  I knew that dissociative structures, mine included, could be wildly diverse and endlessly interesting.  That being said, I thought I had a handle on what my structure looked like, pretty inclusively.  I would think 18 years (or so) after my initial MPD/DID diagnosis, I should have ~some~ freaking clue.  Well, this week proved that I can still be surprised.  And this latest one is NOT particularly pleasant; at minimum, it's surreal and a bit creepy.  And at worst?  Well, let's not dwell on that.

Within the Tribe, I just learned there is a ghost, a vague translucent version of my younger self, before some of the worst atrocities happened.  Apparently, the endless games of let's-strangle-her-until-she-passes-out-and-then-when-she-wakes-up-we'll-do-it-again took their toll.  As I understand it, one of those times, I died - well, at least that younger, more innocent self did.  Whom I had been prior to these events was left as a ghost, unseen even by me, and certainly not acknowledged by anyone else.

As the repressed memories of the worst atrocities begin to come to light, I am having to remind myself that I (we) have already survived the worst.  Now, it's just processing the emotions and feelings surrounding these horrific events.  Not allowed even to cry at the time, the pain, trauma and grief were all put into a sort of containment.  That's really what dissociation is - containment.  I had to be able to go to school and be the perfect little girl I was expected to be.  If I'd retained knowledge of what happened at night, that would never have been possible.

Until I learned of my diagnosis, lo these many years ago, I had very little recall of my childhood at all.  It's as if I appeared one day, after my step-father was finally gone, and I began to "be" at that point.  Come to think of that's probably pretty accurate, interpreted literally.

Anyway, that's the latest.  There's more to come.  The floodgates have opened, and there is much work to be done as the waters rise.  But I have confidence that, much like the Nile River Delta, there will be fertile ground left when all is said and done, and seeds planted will bloom beautifully, and eventually bear fruit.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good Help is Hard to Find!

First of all, let me express my gratitude for a few things.  First and foremost, I am very grateful to have the blessing of primary and secondary insurance that will cover the cost of psychiatric services (therapy, meds management) IN FULL, with no deductible or co-pay.  Also, I am unusually blessed to have no limits on the number of sessions I can have per week, per month, per year, or over a lifetime.  The gift of this coverage is humbling, and I am very, very grateful.

So, the good news is that I have coverage to handle the services.  Finding a care-provider who takes my insurance AND who is willing to deal with DID has been a challenge, to say the least.  It's been 12 years since I was last in private therapy.  I made use of public mental health services during the limbo period during which I waited for approval of my disability claim, roughly 2003-2006.

During this period I also trained as Peer Counselor, since it was thought that my experiences and insight would allow me to offer a very deep, real sense of empathy when supporting my peers.  So, I have some training from the other side of the table.  I understand what Transference and Counter-Transference are, and how they need to be managed.  I have a deep appreciation for the work that goes into therapeutic "presence," and the ability to actively listen to a client.

So, with that background, I've approached my search for a new set of care providers with a sense of humor, patience, and a willingness to keep searching for the people who are right for MY situation.  It took awhile to find an appropriate psychiatrist to manage medications.  The first guy, affectionately known in this household as Dr. Asshat, totally chickened out after two sessions.  That wouldn't have been too bad, but he initially offered to do therapy as well as meds management, so the process of telling our story had begun - and then the trust was destroyed.  Thanks, Asshat!

We've since found a new psychiatrist, who seems to understand the intensity of the situation.  Got set up on the anti-depressant that worked especially well previously, Wellbutrin.  Also have a very limited supply of anti-anxiety medication, and some Ambien for horrific insomnia and night terrors.  Okay, check.  Those of you who've read my other blog postings understand that the meds need to be in place first, so that there is a safety structure built around the process of exploring therapeutic work.

After getting the new psychiatrist on-board, we moved on to calls regarding therapy with psychologists and therapists.  We worked from the insurance list of providers, and got some feedback from the psychiatrist as to who might be especially helpful.  Placed countless phone calls, many of which were just never returned.  Rude, in my opinion, but at least I know they're not the provider for me.

One psychologist, who of course has a PhD, called back to say that I probably just needed to change my diet - without asking, of course, what my current diet was.  She also said that my issues are likely caused by the fact that I'm approaching Menopause.  Oh, thanks, doc.  So, I just need to eat nuts and berries, and accept the fact that I'm ancient.  Nice bedside manner there.  I think we found Asshat version 2.0!  I chose to thank the doctor, hang up, and then laugh hysterically...

Fortunately, I'm at a place in life where I trust my own inner knowingness MUCH more than I did when I was 30, or even 40.  I'll be 48 next March, which while not YOUNG, exactly, is certainly not certified geezerhood.

I have since found a psychologist who seems like an excellent fit.  A strong woman with substantive clinical experience and (it seems) a familiarity with what DID looks like, and how to deal with the many facets of treating someone with it.  (Yes, pun intended.)

I know from all my previous therapy that it is I who do all the work.  A good therapist can assist me, rather like a Sherpa guiding an explorer as they climb Mt. Everest.  But ultimately, even with all the assistance and guidance, the climber herself must do the work to get to the summit.  That's how I look at this process.  It won't be brief; I'm in it for the long haul.

The work begins, and I know I am strong enough to see it through.