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.

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All of MEs on the Road

This last month has been one of the biggest challenges for me since my diagnosis. I will admit I did not behave perfectly, but I know I did my level best. Going through a divorce  for a marriage I was wishing never happened was only one small component in my January excitement. The car that ran on prayers got an oil change and was loaded up again as full as it could get with Athena and her 3 month old son, Ruger Bear and all of my possessions. Then I asked a friend to come along.wp-1485991832896.jpg

I have had a few companions in my travels across the country over the last seven years. They are usually the age of my adult children or younger, the perfect age for a road trip. My current companion, Jacob Larsen, is a professional photographer who had most of his life limited to the great northwest until “Miss Maggie” got a hold of him and took him to the Grand Canyon for his 19th birthday about five years ago. I’ve been wanting him to join me for a bigger adventure ever since.

Jacob has known me since LONG before I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. He was one of the few people around me when my best friend first voiced his suspicions that I might be a multiple. He was even with me the first time I ever watched United States of Tara (DID as interpreted by Steven Spielberg). With Cub (Jacob’s nickname) along, I am much less anxious about my changes. It helps to have someone who can joke about it along the way.

wp-1485992316494.jpgThere has been an interesting development: I have discovered that even when I have changed into a younger personality I still get impressions from the Holy Spirit about what I am doing (although, in this circumstance, I am curious if I switched because of the impression). During our travels through California, on highway 99 running southbound, the road was AWFUL. I got what at the time I interpreted as an “icky feeling” and asked Jacob to drive. Not 5 miles down the road, the muffler fell and was hanging on by a wire. I am normally totally freaked out and triggered by car problems. Thankfully Jacob was driving and my anxiety stayed in check. The “little” alter went back in her place in my brain by that time and Cub easily slid under the car and fixed the exhaust and muffler by the side of the road without incidence. It was to be the first of the minor repairs that have had a major effect on this trip.wp-1485992309385.jpg

This is a different type of trip. I am beginning to learn what I need to support my brain. Before I left Arizona, I was given the most incredible Priesthood Blessing by my Branch President. The words that I heard have strengthened my faith and given me hope. I was blessed to visit the Snowflake, Arizona Temple the day before my divorce hearing with a dear friend who knew exactly what I needed. Then I was able to visit the Houston Temple less than a week later. God is keeping an eye on me and I on Him, during this trip.

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?

Debriefing after a Break

Last week I lost it. Just completely and totally lost it.

Yes, there were triggers. BAD and horrible triggers. And I was unmedicated. Then, my therapist quit me.IMG_20150929_064655321

So, more and more triggers. Then, an absolute horrific result: my husband left. Adding to all the triggers. Or did it?

When it became apparent that his absence was not a trigger, but a relief, there were many realizations.

One of the most profound was the fact that in order to get to a better place psychologically, I must be alone to do it.

3664539207876A few of my “alters” are “protective.” They only come out when some weird primal part of me decides I need protecting. That happened this time. Two of them came out and attacked both my husband and my male therapist. My husband and I are working on a formal legal separation while we both work on personal matters now, and my therapist quit. Doing a lot of praying for a female specialist in DID who’s practice is nearby. I hope I can start again with a female.

Reacting to males is normal for me. Or it used to be. It is difficult to have relationships of any form with a gender that has been deemed as “attackers” from my psychi. I was victimized by males for most of the first 45 years of my life. As I go forward, I am hoping that I can learn how to develop relationships that won’t be the subject of attack by parts of me that remain scared, but to do this I can’t be helped by a male.Contemplative

In the “debriefing” process of the break many things became apparent. One of the most important parts of the debriefing process was to align myself back with the will of Heavenly Father. To this end, I received a Priesthood Blessing, then I went to my normal Friday shift working in the Temple. My supervisor and I spoke, and he suggested I take in a session instead of working right away. It was just what I needed. I prayed to Heavenly Father, and listened intently for His answer. It was more than I could have hoped for. I was reminded of His gift to us, The Holy Spirit. The comforter. My peace.

IMG_20130406_161137_cr-001Life is much different today than two weeks ago. It’s much different than one week ago when I was in the middle of a break, crying out to a therapist who couldn’t help. But life feel right. It feels peaceful and full of Heavenly Father’s love. I am at peace with it all.

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.

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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. 

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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.