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.

What is This Disorder: D.I.D.?

wp-1487886252433.jpg

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.

wp-1487879827228.jpg
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.

wp-1487879535971.jpg
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:

wp-1487879672434.jpg

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.

My Littles are Screaming

The little people inside my head are screaming. Uncontrollably. They don’t like change. I am not sure how many there are, but there seem to be at least 4 under the age of 6.IMG_20130226_131124_cr

Personalities that are still little. That don’t understand why the body is so huge and clumsy. They tend to walk the body into corners of door openings. They don’t allow for the whole body as it is now.

The littles don’t like change. Not one bit. They weren’t sure about having a husband here, but now that he isn’t here usually, they don’t like the change.

We are getting ready for a trip. There are a lot of uncertainties included within such an adventure. Many of my personalities not only enjoy, but CRAVE such travels. Not the littles.

IMG_20130226_133236_crMy littles have to make sure their needs are met on a trip. Are there going to be enough stops to pee? We don’t want to get a belly ache about peeing, because that will mean bad triggers.

We are taking our service companion, Athena. She will help keep me/us centered. She is good at that.

But the littles are still screaming. How do I comfort pieces of my brain?

Triggers – Can I Control Them?

Do I have ANY control of this “system” as my therapist calls my MEs? Can I control who comes out?

I have been pondering on this idea for a few weeks.

How to control which one of ME is in control.

DSCN2979
Random Pigeon walked up, Luckily NOT a trigger

How do I do that?

Can I “trigger” myself?  

Can I, myself, trigger a different personality to come out at will? I don’t know.

I get mixed signals back when I put it to the system. Apparently, that is one of the “benefits” or “side-effects” of my medication of choice.  According to “the system,” cannabis enables me to compel the more “rational” and less angry and “affected” personalities to come forward.
Just a bunch of me I am trying to figure out whatI have wondered about the possibility of experimenting with this theory by perhap abstaining from my medication just previous to therapist visits, so that he may be able to communicate with some of the “angrier” and “more affected” personalities.1263847552085

On second thought, perhaps that should wait until I don’t have impending plans that could be catastrophically effected by the wrong personality having control over my body.
(Those times when all forms of electronic communication should be hidden, if you know what I mean.)  

There are times when I can’t access medicine that I need. Just that fact, is enough for anxiety to build. When I can’t control whether or not I have medication; I am even more anxious about controlling what goes on inside of my brain.

Then, what goes on inside my brain, effects how the personality in charge (depending on what age that person is, and how rationally or irrationally that person views the world; through what tint of abuse-colored glasses) reacts to each and every situation I am in. Those situations can be a replay of a memory in my brain, spurned on by a simple otherwise innocuous word on the radio… and then all of a sudden I am reacting as if my life was the hell that it was as a child.

0325151845cThese are some of the reasons I do my best to control the outside. I absolutely DETEST being in the same area as random-input devices: radios and televisions that play broadcasted material. Topics can come up a radio show that just by the drop of ONE word… my day is ruined: a trigger has happened.

What are “triggers?” They are those situations, internal or external that cause a reaction. Usually a swift one.

Internal triggers can be feelings: Physical pain, fatigue, hunger or even the urge to urinate.

External triggers can come from movies, radio, social media or live social situations. The more a person interacts with the world; the more potential triggers they are exposed to.

This is probably one of the reasons being alone is comforting to me.

Most of my MEs get along with each other. Sure, we have arguments & some of them do and say things I don’t agree with…. But they are safer to be around than the rest of the world. 

1391449000786
A tiny bouquet from hubby

There are times, especially since I have started trauma-recovery therapy, that my husband would rather walk out than trigger me once more. These are times when it seems that every word or action of his seem to trigger a memory or a feeling…. These are the rough times.

But can I trigger myself, on purpose, to bring out a personality to handle working on school work? Why hasn’t my system decided that there is one that can do it? Why do others still keep coming out and messing up my work?

Frustrating questions. And I am only six months into therapy. This is all new to me. I have much to learn. As I learn, I will share; that’s just who I am!

Solitude – Being Alone With All of MEs

Alone is not very…

Being a “multiple,” that is, a person with more than one personality, is less boring than being a “mono” (normal person, or at least a person who only developed one personality) according to my therapist. Sometimes I wonder if he admires those of us with many voices in our heads.Waiting on a friend in the Portland train station

Laughing. Seriously, it’s not like their talking TO me… but they ARE me, and also are talking WITH me. That is the best I can explain it.

Integration. That’s the goal with therapy and multiples. Becoming “one.” I wonder if I will end up feeling lonely. I wonder if I’ll have more or less difficulty dealing with the world.

Crowds are difficult for me. I prefer to be alone. At least with one person. And it has taken me a while to get used to not being completely alone.  Being married to a great friend is helpful.

Alone. I didn’t realize until 2010 that I was afraid to be alone. But I craved it. I needed it.

I wrote a poem about solitude during a very difficult time in my life. Only a few days after the poem below was written, the boyfriend I had moved in with, pushed me down for the first time.

Solitude…

Like a drug begging to be forced

into a vein….

and yet no where in sight…

I seek,

yet I shall not find

The one Lighte…

The lighte that shines

Brightest when alone.

IMG_20140216_155117_920When I reread the poem above, I am also struck by the fact that my conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints happened just a couple months later, while I lived alone. In an attic I saw the lighte. Fascinating.

While I’m alone, I’m not lonely. It took me a few years after my divorce from my first husband to learn this. I had lived with my mother, as a mother to my first two children, until I could afford a place of my own. Then I lived with my children, before my first husband moved in with us. I hadn’t had the opportunity to live by myself until I was actually homeless after leaving my husband, in 2010. I was 46. 

1759946034237I hit the road. From a fantastic little BMW Alpine 525 to a van I could write in, and travel each day, I had finally found my “alone space.” As my current husband and I plan out our new house, I am adamant about building me a space I can be alone within the first structures that are built. I believe that all of my “MEs” need that space and time to process the world.

Me Riding on the bus to my appointment at the UWMCThe world outside is LOUD, my world INSIDE is also loud. The more quiet I can get the outside world, the better I can understand the world inside. As I get closer to integration, I think I’m going to need a lot more time alone. 

Thanks for joining me on this journey.

My Me’s

Back in 2010, I started a blog called “The Me’s” intending to take everyone with me as I explored the many personalities that I was being told by my then boyfriend, that I was displaying. That boyfriend and one after him are gone. The one after him attempted to use my diagnosis as a weapon against me and that fact (as well as the fact that he was otherwise abusive) added an additional few years on before I would seek help, and a diagnosis.

I waited to seek help until I had been married to a husband for a little over two years. He pretended to be supportive. However he spent the time with me at the therapist’s learning my triggers, then would use them constantly against me.  When his choice of therapist supported him when the husband attempted to rape me, it was time for a divorce and a female therapist. 3453268246234

Now that the diagnosis has been made, I am trying again to start a place for me to keep the insights I am making. For me. And for anyone who chooses to join me.

Dissociative Identity Disorder. Multiple Personality Disorder. Disorder. Am I a Disorder?  I don’t think so. I do believe that my life has been made a challenge by the method my brain chose at a very young age, to deal with trauma.

My therapist, and I, together have identified over 20 different identities. Twenty. More than twenty.  And a few days ago I remembered a new name. Another.

Why am I writing about it? Because that’s how I deal with things. By writing about them. The harder the subject is for me to deal with, the more I write. This is something I know I am not alone in, so I decided to share it with others.

I have named this blog, My MEs. When I was a child, I had the initials “M.E.S.”, and I was constantly told that meant “mess.” As the many personalities that I have are coming forward, I came to the conclusion that they were just mispronouncing it all my life: It should have been pronounced MEEEz!

Laugh. All joking aside, lost time & absent memories are not cool.

wp-1487879827228.jpgNow I embark on my journey to discovering just how many “MEs” exist, and how they came into existence. This will involve uncovering all the abuse and trauma that I have survived. From the level of PTSD I exhibit, from incest and multiple rapes,  I have a tendency to believe this will be a long road.

You are welcome to join me on this journey. For now, this blog is semi-private. How it will be in the future, is anyone’s business.