It’s 2:04 AM where I live. Just pulling out/coming around from the scary part of dealing with Dissociative Identity Disorder. When I first accepted this diagnosis, it came after several months of denial. I had lost time here and there, chalked it up to my body’s response to trauma and physical ailments that would just “shut me down”. I thought I would fall asleep at inopportune times and wake with little or no memory of what had happened. I was being treated at the time with antidepressants and some anti-anxiety meds and was aware of anecdotal tales of other people who had similar time lapses during their days. But then something happened that made me reevaluate all that….and scared me to death.
I live in a suburb outside of Philadelphia. One late afternoon I woke up/ came too in an unfamiliar place. I found myself sitting on a bench in Chicago O’Hare airport departure area. One problem…..three days of my life were missing, I dressed for Philly weather and not the October chill of Chicago, I had a ticket stub in my pocket, and I had NO IDEA how I had gotten there. Family members back home had no idea where I was, and I had no idea how I had gotten to Chicago….or why. Fear gripped my heart and soul. My thinking was still a bit muddled. I managed to make it back home and immediately started on a quest for answers. I won’t bore you with all the details along the way, but then it happened again. This time, I had a witness who provided me and my health professional team with a first hand account of my bizarre behavior, physical transformation, personality change, and his impression as well as his fear. He at first thought I had been invaded by some “evil spirit” and my behavior from his point of view just defied logical explanation.
Well, this was my first confirmed and verified account of DID…..although in hindsight there had been others. Since then, I have transitioned/ dissociated many times. It took a good two years for me and my treatment team to find an approach that showed hope for recovery…..after much trial and error. I do not have many of these extended episodes of losing time anymore, but it still happens. The number one trigger that I am still trying to find ways to cope with in a healthy way is that of direct or perceived violence directed towards me.
It’s not perfect. I am not cured. But I have made real strides toward recovery with the goal of integration or coöperation within the distinct and unique personalities residing in my physical body. Conventional psychology states that severe trauma from early childhood…..events so horrible that they produce emotions that are truly too overwhelming for the preschooler to handle, cause a split in the development of self…..allowing for alternate personalities to emerge as a protective mechanism for the one being abused.
It has been a humbling experience, dealing with this diagnosis. It also comes with a whole host of personal, medical, career, relationship issues that i never dreamed were possible before I actually lived them. And there is no ONE treatment plan that works for all people…..as is the case with most psychological issues, it is trial and error.
So, I have made real progress in my recovery. But I know I am not out of the woods yet. My recent surgery and interaction with the traditional medical system sent me into a brief relapse, And for anyone out there who has never experienced this emotional illness, the best analogy I have for it comes from Alice in Wonderland. It truly feels like I fall down a rabbit hole and enter an alternate world that cannot be rectified with my view of reality…..yet it happens.
Imagine waking in the morning, going about the routine of you day, and then somewhere along the way your entire memory just goes blank. You think this has lasted for few minutes, but everything else in the real world shows you that it has been days. Terro then sets in…..what did i do, where did I go, did i do something to hurt myself or others. In a word Terror.
So dear friends, I recently fell down that rabbit hole again. And I am trying to quickly resume my recovery and get back on track. But it takes time, and support. I do not have a history of drug abuse or alcoholism. I held a six figure salary job as a female home builder developing new home communities up and down the East coast of America, I raised my children, and gave much time, knowledge, and inspiration to the young women around the country competing in élite level gymnastics. But all that is all on hold now.
As scary as this sounds, and believe me it terrified me at first, I am determined to move forward and creating a second adulthood on my terms in a way that allows me to give back…..to contribute. Thanks for hanging in there, reading this post, and trying to understand. I am here as a source of support and information for all people dealing with mental illness of any kind. I appreciate all the support I have received along the way, and wish to pay it forward.
- DID: Dissociative Identity Disorder (justsouno.wordpress.com)