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.

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.

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.