Twenty helpful, and sometimes surprising, things that my therapists said to me.Read More
Author: Carolyn Spring
A couple of years ago, when I was going through an extremely difficult time, I came across a concept from Marsha Linehan (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) which she referred to as “A Life Worth Living”. Many of my alters at this time were in a constant life-and-death struggle; everything seemed hopeless and pointless; and the grim reality of living everyday with overwhelming flashbacks and pain was getting too much. It was through spending time working out this issue – of what would make life worth living, and how that would actually look in practice – that I began to move through this particularly difficult suicidal phase. I asked some pretty fundamental questions: what kind of relationships did I want to have? What kind of job or work did I want to do? What kinds of things would I like to do for leisure or as hobbies? What did I want out of life? They are easy questions to ask in your head, but harder questions to actually write the answers down to. I realised through doing this that I wasn’t giving myself time or permission to enjoy life – I had become so focussed on therapy and abuse and managing DID and dealing with atrocities that I wasn’t spending any time actually enjoying myself. In fact, I didn’t really even know how to enjoy myself! I knew a lot about...Read More
It’s not a definition or some bullet-points on a page, a menu of things that were done or could have been done, or might yet be done. It’s something to do withme as a person, the me that I’m so scared to show you, that I’m so scared to be, because of what happened, because shame like a dog’s blanket has been wrapped around me and I can’t get away from the grime and the stench and the yukkiness of me. Child sexual abuse is when you’re powerless and betrayed, and you’re all alone and you mustn’t tell, and there’s confusion and pain and deep down inside there’s the fear that it’s all your own fault, that there’s something wrong with you, something terribly and toxically wrong with you, and there’s nowhere to go, and no-one to run to, and no way to stop it because you’re small and weak and stupid and if only!! – if only!! – if only you had known, if only you hadn’t been there, if only you hadn’t said what you’d said, or done what you’d done, or felt what you’d felt. Somehow you know that it’s all your fault, that you’re dirty and disgusting and naughty and bad. And different. So you hide and you don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to have friends and you don’t trust...Read More
What is it like to be me? What is it like to be the me that is me-not-you, different, alone, DID? You – in my minds you are you-not-us, but who am I to you? Can you know me? Each day me – tip-toeing through life (your life, your world, your complex unknowable system of rules and experiences), a desperate yet futile quest to hide my oddness. I smell urine when you do not, feel blood trickling when you see none, shiver with cold when you are warm – and all the time a compulsion (need or die) to HIDE. Shame – thick, black, tar-like, slithery shame – that I am not like you and I don’t want to admit why. Shame – because someone (all of them) chose me to hate, me to humiliate, hurt and revile, and you might join with them (why wouldn’t you?) and react with tummy-sick disgust at my foulness and evil. Shadows: a ghosting of fragment-memories that are true/not-true (how true I cannot know), images – flitting, wraith-like, colour-blanched – that make me gasp for breath and are gone, or replay in sadistic slow-mo in the terrifying here-and-now sense of what you as therapist/husband/friend will say was THEN. I hear noises (threat, alarm, signal) that you barely register and I am ashamed that I do. How can I be like you? I am...Read More
I hate my body. It was there, always there, during the abuse. My mind went away but my body could not. My mind could forget. We parcelled up little chunks of our mind, bit by bit, and sent them off into dim little rooms where they could be forgotten and not heard. We didn’t want to watch, we didn’t want to see. But our body was there. Our body remembers. It always remembers, and it doesn’t lie. Sometimes our mind looks on and we’re at war – always at war sometimes it seems – our body reacting like it can remember what our mind cannot. It pulls away, it arches, it hurts, it screams, it recoils, it goes limp, it aches with tiredness, it refuses to settle, refuses to sleep. It’s confusing. Sometimes, our mind can’t remember anything. Why is our body reacting? we think. Because our body hasn’t forgotten. It’s learnt to react and it just keeps on reacting. We’ve trained our mind not to react, to look away, to pretend we weren’t there, to pretend we don’t know. But our body doesn’t lie. Sometimes our body talks to us. It tries to tell us stuff we don’t want to hear. Our body remembers what we cannot. It shouts about it, clamours to be heard. Our mind won’t listen, it won’t hear it. So our body hurts. Really...Read More
I developed dissociative identity disorder as a result of chronic childhood abuse.
Yep, that’s right. Multiple personalities. Lots of them.
But not because I was mad. Not because I was mentally ill.
But because dissociation is the only way a child’s mind can deal with overwhelming trauma.
Dissociation isn’t a sign of something going wrong in the brain. It’s a sign of something going right. It’s there to protect us, to keep us sane by compartmentalising the trauma into different parts of our brain.
But that’s only part of my story. A bigger part is how I’ve recovered from DID. And an even bigger part is how I believe in hope, recovery and life. I blog about the bad stuff, the good stuff, and the beautiful stuff.
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