A Colonoscopy, Ketamine and Polyfragmentation

When we were diagnosed in late 2015 with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), we initially came up with about 20 names that there was some sort of record in the brain or externally of the body having used. In three years of off-and-on treatment, the number of alters that have made their presence known some way or another has increased slowly to roughly 40ish. Then, late this March we were ordered to have a diagnostic colonoscopy. Everything has now changed.

We have described, previously, our ‘system’ (multiple personalities in one brain who function together cooperatively) as “The Enterprise.” Well….when we woke up from the colonoscopy procedure in late March, ALL of the alters were wearing Admiral Insignias and they were all trying to fit on the bridge… HUNDREDS OF THEM. Seriously.

Everyone wanted to be in front at once

We had no idea how many alters were hanging out on The Enterprise until it had to be grounded because the entire crew was trying to get into the captain’s chair!

Grounded, what did that mean? There were days upon days that the body went without being able to function. We stayed in bed for some of it…zoning out in front of mindless video drivel in the powerchair for hours when we were awake and up.

We had one clue, there was a shadow memory of someone telling us that we had been given a dose of ketamine during the diagnostic colonoscopy. Ketamine?! We remembered the medications that usually were given to me during general anesthesia: Propofol, Versed, and at times Fentanyl, but we had never been given ketamine during a gastrointestinal diagnostic procedure so the ghost memory didn’t make sense.

The episodes of polyfragmentation fronting continued, but soon we found that we could singularly front for longer episodes once a few days had elapsed from the colonoscopy on Wednesday. Around Friday, we started to crave some answers and we started calling the hospital and emailing the doctor who had performed the procedure. The primary task was to discern what had happened to the brain?!?

Downtown Seattle from Harborview is always a nice view

The gastroenterologist replied to our email that he didn’t think that ketamine would be given during the procedure, but he would have to check with the anesthesiologist and nurse anesthetist who performed the anesthesia for our colonoscopy and get back to us. The nurse who called from the hospital to check on us after the procedure also had no answers. No one could tell us what had scrambled our brain and grounded the Enterprise before the weekend descended. We were alone with a scrambled brain over the weekend.

Once Monday arrived, so did answers. Early in the morning we received a reply from my GI doctor confirming that we were given ketamine during the procedure (much to his obvious confusion as to why), then within an hour, our phone rang with the nurse anesthetist on the other end of the line. She also confirmed that we had received ketamine. In contrast, she had an excuse for giving it: To avoid giving us opioids when the body didn’t want to stay under.

We finally had confirmation and even had the rationalization, but the frustration was only beginning. Episodes of polyfragmentation were intermixed with episodes of dissociative fugue, which for us, in contrast to feeling like the entire enterprise crew has descended upon the captain’s seat, a fugue feels more like no one wants to take the seat or even enter the bridge! No one wants to “front.” The body is blahhh…with no one to take control.

Fugue states can be inconvenient for systems or individuals who have any life and regular schedule. We are collectively working on our Master of Arts degree, or we were, when this occurred. When the brain was essentially off-line for weeks following the procedure, our higher education career began to be in question.

We had recently transferred into the Master of Communications program in our college after an issue with our eyes during the winter caused us leave the English-Nonfiction Writing MA program. But the more agressive alters and those who weren’t entirely onboard with that idea became argumentative inside and out. Once again, the fact we were time-sharing a body with many different personalities became an intense struggle.

We worked intensively with Dr. S, journaling when we could and struggling in a class that wasn’t coming easy while we really wanted to finish our first book that we started in our last undergrad year. We impulsively applied to an exclusive MFA program at a college back east. We did not get in.

Apps like Bitmoji & Snapchat make expressing alters easier

Then we prayed: Should we try again? Was there a Master of Fine Arts program out there for us or should we stay in Communications? The answer was clear and we wrote about it here, publishing it on Odyssey.

Once we made a decision to made a change, we wanted to find the last few weeks in the communications class easier, but they weren’t any easier at all. We finally finished two days ago with a “B.” For a class we didn’t even want to finish after being in an extremely dissociated state for several weeks of it, we will be happy with that.

We are still having episodes of polyfragmentation, and we have learned that there are more members of The Enterprise System than we had ever thought to consider before the ketamine exposure. Our primary care physician has added ketamine to our allergy list and we have instructions to speak to the educational Harborview hospital about the exposure so that they can learn more about dissociative identity disorder and how people with it can react to medications with dissociative qualities. We have yet to make that phone call.

Long Absence…Looking Ahead

I want to apologize to my followers for my long absence. Many trials and challenges have come forth in recent months, followed by many blessings. Some of them I did write about, and you can read at MaggieSlighte.com. Others, I kept close to my vest…which is never a good thing for people like me.

I have returned to northwest Washington state: The place I consider to be my home. I say it that way because as I frighteningly realized in the past week while filling out applications for services, I have been fundamentally homeless for over seven years. Since I left my first husband, I have been without a place to call my own.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t rented rooms here and there and paid my share of rents…but I have had no real “home.” IMG_20170213_181227210

As I embark on my last 5 weeks of my Bachelor’s program, I am also looking for a place to settle down. This will hopefully mean me finding a therapist who will be working with me. After I scared off the last one, that is a goal that brings with it much anxiety. Due to my strong religious beliefs (read more about them at SlightelyMormon), and several of my alters’ dislike of men, I have to find a female LDS therapist…near me. Or find housing near a female LDS therapist who has training in Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.) . Either way, just the idea of finding “her” seems daunting. So, I pray and I trust God. I know that He will lead me where I need to go.
I hope your lives are full of love and lighte!

 

Coping with Trials and Changes in a Car

I reallocated my housing funds to travel. The goal? To attend my daughter’s graduation from University in New Hampshire on Mother’s Day (I will be walking also for my Bachelor’s). Doing so, made it so that I had enough cash for gas, but not for fancy things like motel rooms. So, I stay in my car. Back when I had a van not many people said much, but in a Volvo sedan it is harder to hide. The 1983 chassis also gets it’s share of attention from the public without it being my home. 20170328_180537_hdr.jpg

The dogs, Athena and Ruger Bear, are my companions and security. They make certain that no one startles me (us) or tries anything funny. In fact, one of my self-defense tactics is to go towards my car (with  the dogs inside) if someone is following me or won’t go away and leave me alone. I used that not too long ago and it worked wonderfully: The person that was talking to me and not getting the hint that I wanted him to leave (he acted like he was on some type of stimulant), promptly got the hint when I allowed Athena (half pit bull and a bark from her daddy’s side) to “bark him away.”

Not too long ago, I was given the fantastic blessing of staying with a local woman in her apartment for a few days. I’m sure she felt a little slighted when I chose to leave a day earlier than planned after a couple of unexpected trials hit my plate. There is no way she could have understood that I was attempting to protect her from me. Not in a physical or even any type of abusive situation, but I wanted to protect her from having to worry about me and my mental illness.

I know I don’t handle change well. I know that it is a HUGE trigger for me. It tends to trigger other “alters” to come out. I don’t have full co-consciousness of them at this point, so I don’t know what they might say or do that isn’t up to my standards. Especially not the standards I prefer to maintain when I am staying as a guest somewhere new. So, when the $900+ check I was expecting didn’t show and I got the notice that it never would, I wrapped up my visit and went back into my car: An environment I could control.

wp-1491262020664.jpgI hope my new friend didn’t feel too bad. She blessed me with several nights of sleep inside, friends for my dogs to play with, home cooked meals and a few showers to start with. She was looking forward to beginning a new job, and I needed to focus on my school work and writing. I wish and pray for all the best for her and her family. But I needed to focus on me. I had to have my car fixed (new exhaust pipe and new muffler) and counted on those funds to help with that. WIthout them coming, I reached out to the church in the area. They said they had no resources to help me. Instead, a friend ended up wiring me cash from her savings to help with the repairs. God blessed me with the help I needed.

What about the 30+ people in my head? Well, we went through a significant depressive period. So much so, that I wrote about it on my main public page and blog, MaggieSlighte.com, naming it after the suicidal ideations that I was struggling with: Fighting the Permanent Solution.  Was I classically “suicidal?” Well, parts of me were. Other parts strove to keep me understanding I am a daughter of God. Still other parts demanded I “sit still,” and not act in any way, using methods taught to me in Recovery International.  I also was kept in check by my companion and service dog, Athena. Even the puppy, Ruger Bear helped out.

20170330_173931_hdr.jpgComforted by being alone (with the dogs) in a familiar environment that I could control, we managed pretty good this time. I am learning, step by step what it takes to stay in control. I used methods learned at Recovery International meetings to help me “stay still” and not act impulsively. I noticed a few missing hours, but no catastrophes or missing days. That is a start of healing. Then came General Conference, and I felt my Lord and Savior’s peace fill my soul. Just the boost I needed!

Even with my limited means, I am learning what I need to do to stay in control and manage my massive anxiety and the rest of my symptoms associated with the dissociation. One day at a time.

What is This Disorder: D.I.D.?

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We have been writing on this site for almost a year about the realities of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.), but we never really got into the diagnosis and what we are fighting against every day when we choose to live. Why do we say it that way? Because every moment that we don’t listen to the temptations to escape this world we are choosing to live. We are choosing to exist. But we know it is a choice every single minute.

While researching this disorder, I came across this quote, “DID is arguably one of the most misunderstood and controversial diagnoses in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). But it is a real and debilitating disorder that makes it difficult for people to function.” OH HOW we agree with that statement!!! Although previously thought to be a rare disorder, it has been found that 1 to 3 percent of the general population actually meet the criteria for diagnosis of D.I.D., making it just as common as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Also, not all personalities are obvious changes, it isn’t like the movies or TV shows that have been produced about multiples.

The most comprehensive description that I could find that really explained D.I.D. was on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website:

Dissociative disorders are characterized by an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. People from all age groups and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds can experience a dissociative disorder. Its estimated that 2% of people experience dissociative disorders, with women being more likely than men to be diagnosed. Almost half of adults in the United States experience at least one depersonalization/derealization episode in their lives, with only 2% meeting the full criteria for chronic episodes. The symptoms of a dissociative disorder usually first develop as a response to a traumatic event, such as abuse or military combat, to keep those memories under control. Stressful situations can worsen symptoms and cause problems with functioning in everyday activities. However, the symptoms a person experiences will depend on the type of dissociative disorder that a person has.

NAMI also lists the symptoms of dissociative disorders:

Symptoms and signs of dissociative disorders include:

  • Significant memory loss of specific times, people and events
  • Out-of-body experiences, such as feeling as though you are watching a movie of yourself
  • Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide
  • A sense of detachment from your emotions, or emotional numbness
  • A lack of a sense of self-identity

The symptoms of dissociative disorders depend on the type of disorder that has been diagnosed.

Our particular diagnosis is D.I.D. which includes this explanation on the NAMI site:

Dissociative identity disorder. Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, this disorder is characterized by alternating between multiple identities. A person may feel like one or more voices are trying to take control in their head. Often these identities may have unique names, characteristics, mannerisms and voices. People with DID will experience gaps in memory of every day events, personal information and trauma. Women are more likely to be diagnosed, as they more frequently present with acute dissociative symptoms. Men are more likely to deny symptoms and trauma histories, and commonly exhibit more violent behavior, rather than amnesia or fugue states. This can lead to elevated false negative diagnosis.

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Some of the littles

The way OUR diagnosis was explained to us was that we began to “fragment” or split into “alters” when we first underwent trauma as a baby. My physicians and therapists agree that we were under 6 months old when this happened. Because we have a very intelligent and creative  brain, the way that our psyche coped with trauma was to create other sections that didn’t have to remember the trauma. When a trauma reoccurred, there was an “alter” to take the abuse, the main personality had little or no memory. The more traumas happened, the more alters were created. It is still our brain’s way of dealing with trauma: We split, creating another alter. One more name added to the long list.

In the last 18 months since the diagnosis was confirmed, we have discovered the names to no less than 28 alternate personalities or alters. There is an overwhelming feeling that there are more that exist.

We have started a project, asking our “system” of alters in my brain what photos of ourself or relatives that they identify with, attempting to give myself and my therapists a visual aid. This has proved difficult, but it is cathartic. It helps to look at a photo with the age that alter claims to be and see who those personalities feel they look like.

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Some of “The Littles”

We are about half-way finished with the ones with which we have any co-consciousness (we hear them to any extent).

Here is a representation of “the littles” or small children in our brain:

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The only alter who has chosen a photo representation that was not a photo of us (so far), has been a “protector alter” named George. He wanted to use the photo of my grandfather, George R. Slighte. So, we allowed it. We just want to know what THEY think they look like. It does explain why some of my little ones always get bruises on our arms: They think they are still little kids!

As we progress in therapy and in this process of recovering from the trauma we underwent as a human, not just a child, we will be sharing more when we learn it. We appreciate your support and your interest. Thank you.