Rolodex switching and amnesia

I am still recovering from my inpatient stay at Sheppard Pratt’s trauma program. I suppose your average person doesn’t understand why one would need to recover from being in an inpatient program.

My brain feels as though it is loosely held in place, and on any given day it can spin and spin so that I don’t know which way is up. My recent 4 week hospitalization at Sheppard Pratt was like that.

I believe being in an inpatient environment is always a very triggering situation for me. As one of the therapist put it, it makes sense for me to be triggered as whenever someone paid attention to me as a child like is done at SP, it always meant abuse was to follow.

Needless to say, that trigger and the fact that truthfully I am not in control of my life behind the locked doors of SP, my defenses are at their highest.

I learned from this last hospitalization that my childhood go-to defense was to keep me and my entire system so confused that we couldn’t put two sentences together. This last hospitalization played that defense out.

I had trouble remembering things before I went in, but once in, I couldn’t remember hardly anything. My treatment team believes I was switching so much that the “Rolodex switching ” kept my memory from working. That’s one theory, and possible, but other theories are equally possible.

I am home now and I had desperately hoped my memory would improve as the degree of amnesia I was experiencing was terrifying. It is a little like temporary episodes of dementia that come and go.

My memory is a little better but still troubling. I went to a restaurant last night and was in line with my family to order at the counter. As I walked away I had to ask my spouse what I had ordered. I had been so present and in control until I wasn’t.

Today I was thinking of my son’s birthday. I couldn’t remember the day and year for sure. I asked him when his birthday was because he is still at the age where “when is your birthday” is still fun to answer. I feel guilty that I couldn’t remember.

Things seem settled down, so why am I struggling so much?

I know I am confused and nervous and certain about this new direction in my therapy.

I learned at Sheppard Pratt that I must focus exclusively on internal communication and cooperation as my most pressing goal.

Only problem. There doesn’t seem to be a clear formula and I am honestly both certain it is the way to go but dumbfounded as to how one goes in that direction. Talk about needed manuals.

I have therapy tomorrow. In the past I was never short in the talking department, but feel confused how this new therapy approach works with my therapist.

In the past, we dealt with whatever that came up, but now I realize I must be more intentional about my work.

Perhaps I will begin by remembering to bring my new system map to the appointment. Last time I forgot.

I am afraid of this new but possibly old fractured mind that works in a state of confusion. I am sure I can’t do justice to explaining how someone can operate on the tightrope between ok and blank mind syndrome (not real).

If you can’t imagine it, count yourself lucky. It is truly terrifying.

6 thoughts on “Rolodex switching and amnesia

  1. I get the Rolodex switching and amnesia thing you are referring to recently I have found out that my parts are
    Coming out and actually into leaving me to clean upth chaos that ensues this is so unnerving I also find that being in my apartment and having work I have to do ( which leads to anxiety and implicit memories of not being able to perform in school which leads to switching and
    Losing time. So lately it makes me lose the whole day I find my parts have been moving piles of work to do all over th apartment in th hopes I guess that in the living room chair, on th bed,, at the breakfast table; or at my desk I perceive hoping to find somewhere I can get grounded. Anyways when I come back to me, the host, and see that what I wanted to accomplish which is in piles all over the apartment and bam my anxiety triggers a new part to come out and the process continues. I did this a lot When I lived in Savannah about ten years ago. Anyways I am concerned about how ungrounded We are and so I am doing kathy Brody’s internal ‘the Sad bear’ Program and although we keep losing our place and have to start over I am thrilled To have some sort of guidance to create internal communication of my system. l

    Because as of yet my alters are pretty “ fuck you” to me the host when i asks them to talk to or and trust me with their words. I get it though they keep hoping their words will be heard an we usually blow them off. Jesus
    This is so hard and normal people have
    No idea how much of a disability I live with.

    God I hoped that recovery would be quick if I worked really hard but now I know this is going take a while so I too am getting back into my ‘life’ for if I do not I will have to figure out what happened from 42’on.

    Sorry if the above does not make sense! I keep switching but tried to proof it. These days Every time I try and communicate people look at me like I have three heads which is kind of funny for if the normal person ( ie the singletons) knew just how many heads they were talking to they would lose their mind and bolt which most of them do when they find out anything about who I am. Sooooo anyways fuck it life must continue to go on and I will continue to fight to be ‘normal’ ie not disassociating my present life away.

    God I hope one thing above makes sense but if not just erase it and move along which is kind of how I feel most people do anyways around relationships with me/ us.

    God sorry so depressing my sad part obviously was writing at least some of the time.

    Namaste SF

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  2. Internal communication and cooperation … yes! I have a good set of normal “fronters” with whom we have established IC. I don’t speak directly to all of them, but usually can get communication from them through other parts (think: the telephone game).

    But I have 5 other systems internally with whom I don’t have IC. Sheppard Pratt, this go around, seemed split on how to help me with that. Some of the docs had ideas while others had different ideas, and it ended up pulling me in 2 different directions. Towards the end, I got the most out of Staff Contacts, where we focused on non-verbal means of IC (collage, art, cognitive task skills) and orienting parts to the present throughout the day.

    I think brining your system map is a great idea. I am doing BDAs before going to my counseling appointments so I remember to bring stuff like that.

    In the meantime, I keep doing orienting and safety checks. I started a new collage, but IC is going to be slow with these other parts until we find a DID therapist.

    Thinking of yous,

    -Nel

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    1. My internal communication is going slow since I have been home. When I hear other parts in my head, I take that opportunity to talk to them. That is not a very efficient way to do IC as I have a lot of silence since being home.
      I can reach others through journaling, but I was discouraged by SP doc to use that as a long-term means of communication strategy as he believed it wasn’t productive enough in the long run.
      I have no idea how many parts I am not reaching through IC as my system is intentionally designed to keep me confused.
      For now, just focusing on one foot in front of the other to keep me stable.

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      1. Yes, it is terrifying. Thank you all for writing about this. I am doing parts stuff now – my torturer abuser mother has taken the last 2 sessions – my T seems to know all about it – I am trying to act “normal” in the world and I feel anything but. When will this torture ever end. Sending you guys much affection. TS

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      2. TS, I don’t know for sure, but I think it only ends if we stop living in the past and live in the present without abuse. I know for my parts, it is extremely hard to let go of what happened to us in the past and what they still want today. Some are still looking for a new Mom to replace the one we were born to.

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