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.

Deadlines and Switches

Thursday night I had a deadline in a class at school. I wasn’t here. Not that I wasn’t PHYSICALLY here. but I wasn’t the primary personality. In fact, I have very little communication with that personality. It’s not that she is a “bad” person, but I had switched.wp-1483743967307.jpg

I experienced a trigger. Many triggers in fact. I had received a negative report about what my car needed to be functional while looking ahead at a cross-country trip. Then,  I had met with my mom after a long day of stressors, which included having my doctor refuse to see me for my asthma when I was 15 minutes late (after a 2.5 hour drive). It wasn’t a good day. It felt good to relax and sit down with my mom. Sometime during the conversation, I switched. I didn’t switch back to my primary personality until this morning.

Who was I? That’s always a good question. There’s usually a trail of digital breadcrumbs I can follow, as well as any journal entries that may or may not have been made. Now comes the “recap” phase. Now comes the debriefing stage.

This particular alter I have some, but not complete, co-consciousness with. That essentially means that I was aware that I had a deadline in school, so she was aware of the deadline. Instead of “giving up” consciousness to me, she did the assignment. What’s the problem in that? Well, SHE made some posts on the discussion board of my class that were not of MY “voice.” I also didn’t have complete memory of what was written under MY  name.

wp-1483744081348.jpgYears or even month ago, I would have panicked: I would have just quit the class and given up. I was in enough of an anxiety attack, I both emailed, then called, my disability advisor and asked her to look at the posts for me to make sure had inadvertently written something that was offensive or hurtful. I still haven’t had the “guts” to look at what she wrote. That’s next.

Then comes “clean up time.” I’m glad she knew how to drive.

Waiting for the End

I sit here, welcomed in a friend’s home, waiting to hear from a court to find out if I may appear telephonically at my divorce hearing.

The last six months have been eye-opening. Crazymaking it is called, when a person se0118151643i-mixts out to abuse another by causing them to believe they are “crazy.” This can be complicated when one partner has a mental illness. According to very reputable and supportive friends and professionals around me, I have been made a victim by a fraud who wanted everyone to disbelieve me, due to my “craziness.”

I long to be free of every bit of that relationship. The end was punctuated by me being confronted with the fact my husband had taken upon himself to begin another relationship with a single woman, calling her his wife to members of the community that didn’t attend our church after declaring himself “single” when I went on a preplanned trip to visit grandchildren.img_20160804_163237565

I am thankful that Heavenly Father showed me the person who was beside me before I had invested any longer in the relationship. The fraud he perpetrated was punctuated when it became apparent he attended therapy with me for the sole purpose of learning my triggers for his own use. That felt like the ultimate betrayal.

I sit here, waiting for the divorce hearing. Then, perhaps I can get on with the rest of my life. I look forward to that day. I want my last name back.

Then, I need to find a partner therapist. Soon. Very soon.

Twin Tears

The trip to return to my home state of Washington was full of setbacks, until I actually hit the Arizona border. From there on out, it was smooth sailing. 1334009706095

That’s not to say that I didn’t experience my share of anxiety; I always do when driving. However, the drive was also full of time for me to constantly conference with my MEs. We had a long talk. Actually, several of them.

I arrived on the afternoon of my twin granddaughter’s birthday. My mother (who I’ve been having a rough time with) was just leaving and was shocked to see me. I was glad I wouldn’t have to share my time with the girls, with her, considering the current rough state of our relationship.

3727423539945Our visit carried on into the evening with me promising to return the next day. I attempted to get photos of the girls with me, but there was a bit of contention in the air between the twins, and the photo idea was scrapped when they wouldn’t stop pinching and hitting each other behind my back.

When I returned the next day, I gave my extra wi-fi only camera phone to each one of the girls to capture pics or videos of themselves or each other. The girls LOVE to look in the mirror, so I figured having them make selfie-videos might be right up their alley. 1405134202423_cr

Unfortunately, not all the adults were on the same page. Their Poppa thought that one of the girls had taken his camera without his permission and responded with angry words and grabbed it out of her hand. He realized his mistake before only a few moments had passed, and returned it to the upset twin.

Her tears and big gulps of air as she tried to stop crying were all captured for perpetuity in digital. Yes, this Grandma saved it. However, we had to move it to an archive due to the empathetic triggers that it caused.

Just watching the video that my dear precious granddaughter recorded brought back so many memories of my own tears that I can’t bare to watch it. But it seems important to keep.

3665625995045He didn’t hit her. He just barely raised his voice and grabbed it out of her hand. A quick jump to the wrong impression. Easy to do. It happens every day.

But her big tears on her little face and a tiny voice that kept whispering, “mama” when I know her mama isn’t one, but she is being raised by her other grandma, broke my heart. And the littles inside cried with her.

 

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!