The Meadows Trauma Program—No to DID


From the Meadows website:

“For over 35 years, The Meadows trauma treatment program has been helping trauma victims heal and learn the skills necessary to cope with the devastating, and often hidden, effects of trauma. The trauma treatment program at The Meadows was specifically designed for trauma survivors by Pia Mellody and a team of world renowned experts including Dr. Peter Levine, John Bradshaw, Dr. Shelley Uram, Dr. Jerry Boriskin, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and Dr. Claudia Black.”

The world-renowned Meadow’s trauma recovery program is only meant for people with certain levels of trauma. 

You can’t have too little, or you better be extremely wealthy ($60k) because your insurance program is not going to pay for it. You can’t have too much because then they feel you are too high of a risk for suicide or some other lawsuit.

I put up a good fight arguing that my DID diagnosis should not exclude me from the option of getting treatment at the Meadows. Unfortunately, it appears the Meadows is basing their decision off the Hollywood version of DID instead of examining whether a person might be appropriate for their program regardless of a DID diagnosis.

I find it very fascinating that these treatment centers are more comfortable with people who are actively suicidal than they are a stable person with DID who is not suicidal. My therapist likes to say that these places just don’t understand the diagnosis, and I am beginning to agree that they are getting their information from Hollywood instead of real life.

I am the first to say that not everyone with DID is in a place to do residential treatment, but there are also lots of people with DID who are in a place to do it and be safe. I consider myself the latter, so this has been a personal frustration for me.

I guess what really hurts me with the Meadows (I have been rejected by many other treatment centers based on my diagnosis) is that some very important people in the trauma field stick their name on the Meadows as consultants for their trauma program.

I just don’t see how these people in good conscience can sleep at night by turning away those of us who have been the most harmed by child abuse, meaning those of us with DID.

It is absurd how afraid people in the trauma mental health field are of those of us with DID.

I have made it my mission to try to educate and change the current lack of resources available to those of us with DID.

The clinical director at the Meadows agreed with me that there are not intensive treatment programs for those of us with DID, but only a handful of hospitals that are in place for stabilization.

I don’t need need stabilization. I need treatment. I deserve treatment. This is not my fault, and it is not ok that the founding members of the trauma movement are not working to provide more services for those of us with DID.

As much as Sheppard Pratt and University Behavioral Health are doing to take people in when they are unstable, those programs are not going to help anyone heal.

Those of us with DID deserve treatment programs where the very best and latest treatment modalities are available to support our recovery.

Recovery is possible, but not for most people who don’t have access to the latest treatments offered at these trauma treatment programs.

For the past year I have been having the hard conversations with those who reject us because of a stupid diagnosis. I do not accept that we don’t deserve help because our trauma was so severe that we developed DID.

In my opinion, don’t you dare call yourself a trauma therapist and then say you don’t treat DID, and equally, don’t consider yourself a world – renowned trauma treatment program if you won’t help those with DID.

If you have DID, please confront these people when you encounter them. We must assert our rights to get better, and let them know that we are severely injured human beings who deserve to be at the front of the line when it comes to getting help.

Then they can sleep at night knowing they are helping all of us who have suffered severe trauma.

Today’s Treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder and Sierra Tucson


For the longest time, I have bought into “talk therapy” as the solution for helping me heal my DID. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is great value in talk therapy with a therapist who understands DID.

The highly respected Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD, has done significant research on the best way to heal trauma is to work with the mind, body, and spirit. I didn’t fully understand what he meant until I had access to these therapies myself.

I have found that the traditional treatment centers for trauma/DID are giving lip service to his research by adding yoga or “movement therapy” to their programs, and the rest being individual or group therapies only.

In my opinion only, the traditional treatment centers for trauma are backed largely by the members of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). ISSTD is the most influential organization when it comes to teaching practitioners about trauma treatment, and its members are doing what little research exists about Dissociation. I applaud them for this.

As a person suffering from DID and complex ptsd, I’ll be the first to tell you my brain does not operate like a non-traumatized brain. The long-lasting problems of trauma are with the brain, not the emotions so much. My brain did not develop correctly as I grew up, and so my brain stays in this constant state of fight/flight/freeze, which has caused me numerous health and psychiatric problems. Consequently, it has robbed me of living a functional life.

I don’t like to think of myself as a slow learner, but on this very important point I have been. I listened to the ISSTD and their current three phase treatment protocol, and subsequently have been depressed and hopeless about my lack of progress despite my very committed efforts.

I am going to sound like a Republican here, which I am not, but I believe a handful of the private trauma programs run by corporations are doing a better job at treating trauma than the ISSTD traditional model.

Why? Because they are focused on the research done by Bessel Van Der Kolk, Peter Levine and others who get that the way to healing is through the mind/body/spirit, and have aimed their treatments in this direction.

I do not understand for the life of me why the ISSTD is not strongly supporting a treatment model that the mind/body/spirit approach addresses.

What I hear over and over from ISSTD trained therapists (and I am thrilled they are trained) is that they believe having a positive long-term relationship with the therapist is the solution. And don’t get me wrong, I do think it is an important part of the solution, but I believe this long-term talk-therapy only approach is doing great harm to the DID and complex trauma community.

Too many people either lose hope and give up on this treatment, or spend a big part of their lives doing only long-term talk therapy and only getting a little better and suffering through life. I have been suffering through much of my life despite access to good therapists and being highly motivated.

Recently, I had the accidental experience of going to the private psychiatric hospital Sierra Tucson. I wanted to go because their program is completely different than ones I had been to in the past, and they have a focus on the mind/body/spirit as the solution for trauma and the co-occurring problems that go with it.

I feel I must mention this about Sierra Tucson before I go further. As an institution, they are terrified of DID and don’t really want to treat it because they are afraid a person with DID will commit suicide while in their program. They had a series of suicides a few years back that got them into a lot of trouble, and as a result, they are skittish (this is what an admission’s person there told me). Of course, none of the suicides were from someone with DID, but the industry-wide fear and discrimination against those with DID persists.

I also should let you know that me, my spouse, and therapist had to beg them to let me come to their program. After two days, they finally agreed to admit me on provisional status.

That said, I want to talk about my experience there. Once I was admitted, I experienced that about 95% of the staff who worked with residents to be extremely caring and kind professionals. As someone who grew up not being cared for at all, and never receiving this level of care in any other treatment setting, this instantly created a huge change in my brain and how I perceived the world.

Once I started the program, I began individual therapy with a primary therapist, small group therapy with the primary therapist (where we were allowed to talk about our trauma), management of my treatment by competent psychiatrists, talk therapy with a somatic experience therapist, lots of good groups with a couple of exceptions, DBT therapy, family therapy, and the option to work on spirituality if you wanted to (though I would argue the entire experience is a spiritual experience for those that allow it to be).

I also got to experience what they refer to as Integrated Therapies. I went there in a lot of neck and back pain, so I got to meet with a pain doctor who got me off the opioid drug I was taking, and replaced it with supplements and a nonaddictive muscle relaxer. He set up for me to have regular physical therapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, and personal training to recondition my very unhealthy body.

Other Integrated therapies I experienced were acupuncture (which one time reduced my ptsd symptoms by 50%), Somatic Emotional Release body work, Shiatsu massage, Equine Therapy, Ropes Course,  EMDR therapy, Bio-Neuro Feedback, nutritional consultations (where they discovered I was pre-diabetic), yoga, Tai-Chi, DNA testing to determine the best medications that will work for my body, and psychological testing where the psychologist actually meets with you to go over the results (there were no surprises in my diagnoses).

Every person I worked with was on the same page and like a therapist to me. I got some of my best therapy from my physical therapist. The woman who styled my hair gave me an hour of solid self-esteem boosting therapy. The massage and acupuncturists all gave good therapy besides just their normal tasks. The chiropractor was fantastic and showed she cared about me. The techs who are in charge of knowing where you are were some of the kindest people I met. They were all so sincere with the love and care they gave me, which was such a healing mechanism in itself.

I can’t lie and say everything at Sierra Tucson is perfect, but their treatment modalities and culture of caring for patients is superb, and that makes me say you may want to consider it if other therapies for trauma haven’t worked for you in the past.

In my opinion, Sierra Tucson runs into problems because it is a corporation that clearly puts profit over client welfare. But, interestingly, as a business, they don’t realize what a gold mine they are sitting on for Trauma and Pain treatment, which are definitely their strong suits. They focus on advertising what a great substance abuse program they are, and in my opinion their substance abuse program today is only average, and I would definitely go somewhere less expensive if that was my issue.

Unfortunately, in my case, my primary therapist was depressed and dealing with her own trauma, and this greatly impacted what happened to me at their program. I had an opportunity to change because they were moving her to a less stressful group, and I made the critical mistake to stay with her and my group until I gave my trauma history.

My primary therapist dropped the ball on me from start to finish while I was there, and I believe this ultimately led me to getting administratively discharged in the middle of my program stay. I don’t want to beat up on her because she is a nice, well-intentioned therapist who in my opinion was working while impaired.

My Primary Therapist never asked me about my trauma history, so she had no idea how extensive it is. She gave me the assignment to give my Trauma History to the group, which at first I thought was a bad idea, and then I was feeling strong enough to do it without emotion.

I gave my extensive trauma history (only about 60% of what I know) to my group as she asked, and the next day she came to get me and said she was “worried about me.” At some point she asked me if I thought I had alters coming out trying to sabotage my treatment or wanted to leave against medical advice. This was 100% false as I am fortunate to have co-consciousness with my parts, and all my parts were quite happy about our experience there. I was never suicidal or wanted to self-harm while there. But the truth didn’t seem to matter as people who never even met me made the decision based on her statements.

After arriving back home, I am devastated that I don’t have the money or access to get the therapy I need. Needless to say, my depression and functioning is not good.

But, one very important thing I must say. My brain changed while there. I feel different. Not entirely by any means, but my brain feels a smidge healthier, and I have not had suicidal thoughts since I went there. And I don’t know how, but a traumatic event that happened to me over a year ago no longer has the emotional charge it had before I went. I can now think about it and not feel suicidal.

I can’t explain this change in my brain in words, but it was like I could feel what a normal, calm brain felt like. It is definitely different and not something I could ignore.

There really is an answer out there for my damaged brain to recover and leave the suffering behind. It is hard for me to believe, but also extremely upsetting because they put me out for no reason, and I can’t afford a comparable treatment program at this time.

In the long run, I am sure it would be cheaper for my insurance company to pay a reasonable amount to a comparable program, but I don’t think they think that way. I am going to try, so I hope those of you who pray will pray for me, and those of you who send positive energy, will send it my way.

Healing is possible…..

Arizona Desert


I am at a treatment center called Sierra Tucson in Arizona for pain and trauma. I have been here 11 days now, and I am having the most amazing treatment experience. 

It is the first time in my life I have felt like I mattered, and my feelings were important. They have a completely different approach to trauma treatment than all the other trauma programs I have gone to. This is working for me!!!

I get such a broad combination of therapies to help me. I am doing massage, shiatsu massage, acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, EMDR, somatic emotional release, somatic experiencing therapy, equine therapy, individual therapy, group therapy where we actually talk about our trauma, and lots of educational lectures and other services.

It is a grueling program, but I am hanging in there and doing it, and it is helping me so much.  I highly recommend if you are up for the challenge of pushing yourself. This used to be a self-pay treatment program, but they now take many private insurances.

I always want to pass along things that work for me, so if you are considering this and want more information, let me know. It may take me a day to get back to you, but I would love to tell you about my experience on this journey so far.

Sending love from the Arizona desert!

A Decade Lost


I never had a true suicidal thought until I was 21. Sure, in my teens I did plenty of things that looked like they were unconscious, wreck less suicidal behaviors, butnit really wasn’t conscious.

I’ll never forget when I first started having true suicidal thoughts and feelings. My life up to then was always extremely busy, and I was not the type of person who stopped to smell the roses. Then one day, it was Spring of my Senior year in college and my life came to a screeching halt. 

I suddenly found myself sitting on the benches of my beautiful undergraduate college and just staring at the trees and watching all the happy people walk by.

I had no idea what was happening, but I turned into someone else overnight, and my first response was to hide it from my closest friends. None of them knew I was circling the drain moreso as each day went by.

I was so confused. I had everything going for me and I was overwhelmed with sadness, depression, anxiety, and a desire to die. Where was this coming from? What was happening?

I went to college prior to the internet, so I had nowhere to turn to to learn I was having a Major Depressive episode. 

Though I don’t remember how, I did manage to find help through a wonderful therapist and psychiatrist who provided me with great care and concern.

The irony was I was living next to a private psychiatric hospital, and used to watch the patienrs down the hill as I walked my dog on the path of my apartment complex. Maybe I knew I would be one of them one day.

I was thrust from never having a suicidal thought to having them everyday. It’s a big change in your brain to make that switch.

Fortunately for me, I found help, and this was pre-managed care, so the hospital kept me for about six months until I was kind of better.

True to my frequent Identity shifts, I left that hospital and went back to the major city I was supposed to live in post college, and moved into my condominium I had purchased just before things went South for me. Oddly, I walked right over to the private psychiatric hospital in town with the best reputation and got a job there much to everyone’s puzzlement. I already had a contract signed with a major corporation for a job I accepted pre-breakdown.

It turned out what I had learned for my myself in the hospital all that time turned me into a great mental health clinician, who could truly empathize with the patients I worked with.

I was good at that job, and loved working with the patients and co-workers. It felt like home to me. 

Unfortunately, as time went by and I continued in therapy, my life slowly started to unravel in the most curious way. I started realizing I lost time, couldn’t remember my childhood, had a fake relationship with my family, and had voices in my head frequently talking to me, and eventually taking control of my body.

I was privileged to be in the right place at the right time, so I didn’t have to wait the typical 7 years to get correctly diagnosed. I went to a reputable DID specialist who worked at the same hospital to find out what I suspected, I had DID.

The revelation of the DID seemed to cause my life to unravel even quicker. Sadly, I eventually became a patient at the dissociative disorder unit at the hospital I was working at. And from there, a decade of my life was lost to the mental health system. A decade I can never get back, and is mostly lost to dissociative amnesia.

The indifferent therapist who ruined me


There is a woman who lives just about a mile from my house who I have so far allowed to ruin my life.
She is not a lover, or anything so exciting as that. She was my first therapist after my 13 year hiatus from the mental health community.

From the first moment I spoke to her on the phone about a possible appointment with her, she touched my mommy transference button. Not because she was so nice, but because she was indifferent as to whether I came for help or not.

I came in to meet this woman for a ridiculous fee, and she told me I wouldn’t succeed with the first therapist I picked because my DID was too much of a problem. When we talked about me possibly seeing her, she was again indifferent. My mommy transference was triggered again.

I ended up coming to see this woman as my therapist, and it was the craziest, most emotionally dysregulating relationship in my adult life. She saw her indifference as empowering me. It destroyed me instead.

I had always been a person who didn’t need anyone. I can go to the movies or dinner alone and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I love being alone. But she was different.

Her indifference throughout our relationship of whether I was dead or alive propelled me so far into transference land that I couldn’t let go. I needed to do this “mom do-over” correctly, so that she would care about me, or at the very least care whether I lived or died.

As each day passed on, our relationship became more destabilizing to the both of us, though she probably wouldn’t admit that.

She has a need to be the perfect, expert DID therapist in town, so she would never want anyone to think she was less than perfect. Neat, orderly, perfect, and sometimes cold as ice.

I was still obsessed with making this relationship work, even though I started going to an anonymous bar after every therapy appointment with her. I felt suicidal most days over feelings I had toward her, or perceived feelings she had toward me.

I became obsessed with her abandoning me. Sometimes paralyzed by it. We spent endless hours talking about the subject, so I became very clear about her rules of when she would abandon me. She said she would have to abandon me if I ever tried to kill myself, which is kind of a ridiculous rule to have for someone who is DID, but I agreed to it.  She promised that she would never abruptly abandon me, and that if it ever needed to happen, I would know far in advance and it would be a slow, gradual transition to a new therapist.

My protector parts had much more insight than me and my younger parts because we were so attached to her. They listened to exactly what she revealed about herself as her weaknesses, and acted on them.

We were suicidal and we told her we needed to go inpatient. She told us she would help, and she didn’t. The next session we told her again, and begged her to call the admissions coordinator, and she didn’t. This was interpreted by us that she wanted us to kill herself, and we couldn’t bare the callousness of her not caring. What other rational explanation could there be.

That evening when we had given up all hope that she was going to help us, we went to a bar and had two beers. We spoke to her on the phone and refused to tell her where we were because we didn’t want the police to show up in our small town. I offered to walk home since I wasn’t far from it and live in a fairly safe area. She wouldn’t allow it. I ended up driving because I was really ok to do so, and couldn’t leave my car in the parking lot.

She had told us before that she had no tolerance for people who were drinking, and people who were seriously suicidal. The therapist became triggered.

I flew out that night on my own, from my own decision, to a treatment center for people with DID, and spoke with her the next morning. I asked her if she was going to leave me over this, and she promised she wasn’t and that “it is nowhere on my radar screen.”

After entering the treatment center and more and more time was going by and I hadn’t heard from her, I knew she had lied. I knew she wanted out. She didn’t have the courage to tell me this herself. She finally came up with this long list of nonsense that were new requirements to continue treatment with her. She knew my protectors would never go for the list as it was just too ridiculous.

At first my protectors rightfully said no thank you. Then I panicked in a huge way and begged her to stay, and agreed to all her conditions, and she wouldn’t allow it. She told me I needed to listen to my protectors. She gave us three referrals and that was it. Only one of the referrals agreed to see me when I got back into to town, but after she spoke with this previous therapist, she literally backed out of agreeing to see me.

I must have interviewed 20 therapists who said they treated DID. At least half were nut jobs, and the other half were either not good fits or nice people who were extremely inexperienced.

I received in the mail a certified letter from the therapist containing all the SuperBills from the year before that I had requested the year before, and the 3 useless referrals. In other words, she was trying to cover her ass.

I called her and wrote her and begged her to either talk to me or help me find a therapist. She never talked to me again. She left me for dead, which is actually meant to be literal. She is no different than my biological mom.

In my entire life, I never begged someone to act like a human being and just help me by doing something as simple as calling me so I could understand what happened.

That was 17 months ago. And even though I did find a good therapist, and realized my relationship with the first was extremely bad for me for various reasons (primarily because we were triggering each other nonstop, though she would never admit that), I haven’t been able to leave my bed other than to go to an appointment for 17 months now, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. I have also developed several health problems over this 17 months.

Today, we do see her across a parking lot from time to time. Depending on the day, sometimes I think of running her down, other days I realize she is just another imperfect human being and care nothing about her. My little ones inside still want her to be their mother, even though we try to explain why she wouldn’t be a good mother for us.

Some days we still cry over the loss of her, and more often, for what she did to us. In the end, we didn’t mean anything to her, and she didn’t care if we lived or died as long as she was clear of any potential law suits. She truly had become my mother in many ways, but when you are mental health provider you have all the power to ruin someone by simply saying they are borderline and extremely difficult. Doesn’t matter if that has any basis in reality. It enables her to protect her do-gooder image, no matter if it destroys me.

I don’t know when, if ever, we will be functional enough to get out of bed and live our lives again.

We know we shouldn’t let this severely less than perfect person wreck our lives, but we truly feel ruined and have no insight on how to move out of this condition. It is so hard to forgive someone who betrays your trust on this level, and then makes it your fault. Narcissism.

I am all for therapists taking care of themselves, and if she needed out, she needed to get out. But, this should have been balanced with my welfare, my chance at survival, and maybe an explanation for what was happening. I am actually a fairly reasonable and forgiving person to those who know me. I don’t know that I will ever forgive her, not that she cares.

So, this has left me bedridden and missing out on my life. I am sad about this tonight, but I haven’t been able to figure out what to do to make it any better. I guess my horrible luck in life continues on.

There are days when I want to kill her, but those are rare and I choose to think of killing myself instead. Either way, without a doubt, she has killed an important part of me already with no remorse. Yet, another very difficult fact to accept into my life.

It is scary to think sometimes the helpers are sicker than the patients. Ah, but to admit so would be bad for the profession, so no one will be admitting that here. The helper is always right, no matter how much baggage she secretly carries.

Please pray that one day I will find my way out of what has become a very imperfect life for me. I deeply appreciate the stranger therapists, who were in the business for the right reason, and tried their best to help me because they cared about human life.

Exit

Serial killers aren’t born that way, they experience a lifetime of shit that turns them into those people. Yet, most of society blames them and believes they should be extinguished from the planet.

Everyone experiences their own lifetime of stuff that turns them into who they are. There is no questioning our experiences shape who we become.

This makes us different from one another. The woman who was abused as a child may find that if she found out her husband had been abusing her little girl, she might want him dead, and may indeed chop him up into pieces and put him in her basement freezer. Or maybe her experiences didn’t turn her so dark, so she just throws him out and calls the police. 

The point is, we all become a product of our environment, and some of our DNA. I lean more toward the environment as the greater influencer.

So, if you are subjected to horrific abuse and mind control, should you really stay on this planet as this potentially dangerous person you became?

If you did it once or twice or more as a child,  who is to say you won’t do it as an adult? No one, if they are truly honest. Of course,  we all know we don’t operate on honesty as a society. 

The ones we pay to say the nice things to us, the therapists, they are full of shit. If they continue to say nice things, we keep paying them. It’s a living.

We are who we are, and some of us would be doing the world a favor by exiting.

Being Bad

Today I went to see a guest therapist as my therapist is recovering from surgery. I trust the guest therapist–a combination of my instinct and the fact that she works a lot in the church. I can tell by her actions and words she is a good person. Not perfect, but one I can trust. It is ironic that her interwoven religious work with her therapist background makes me trust her when I have so little experience on trusting church or religious people. My history should tell me to fear them, but I trust my instinct more. Hopefully it won’t backfire on me.

I was nervous and confused about why I decided to go there. Maybe because we had unfinished business, or maybe I thought I could trust her to give me some support and insight on some issues floating around in my head. Either way, I am glad I went as she was very nice even though I was so scattered.

I tried to stay on one topic, but the voices in my head tried to distract me whenever she said something that could be meaningful to my system. For me, when I am trying to talk with someone on the outside and start hearing voices in my head at the same time,  it is very hard to follow what either of them are saying. I just try to get the jist of what each is saying. Today was especially frustrating because both the voice outside and the voices inside were unlocking a year long mystery problem and I couldn’t catch it all in my brain.

My mystery problem for the past year plus is that I can’t get out of bed to do anything except go to appointments, and only then can do it if the day isn’t too overwhelming.

I went from being totally normal looking—social and very successful at work and other areas of my life, to not wanting to leave my bed. It is not that I sleep all the time, I just have a feeling of safety when I am here. I really can’t explain it, and I call it a mystery because I have been desperately trying to solve and correct this problem for over a year now. I haven’t had much luck. Mostly theories, with no real solutions.

Today, the guest therapist asked me some questions about it and approached the subject just slightly differently than others in the past had, and low and behold I heard new voices talking about “the why” inside my head.

From what I could take and didn’t lose in trying to follow two conversations at once is that the parts inside said I did not deserve to be successful and working, and that I was “bad.”

I am very familiar with the I am bad belief. When you go through what I have been through, there is just no other logical explanation other than I must be so bad that I deserved all of it to happen to me. Especially if you believe in God, how else do you rationalize it. What kind of God would allow this to happen to a child?

I know some good adult explanations on why this happened that are probably the truth, but the way my mind works is that I share it with other parts who are literally stuck in time, so their minds may work like 4 or 5 or 8 year olds in trying to understand life.

In my recovery process, I have what I call other parts bleeding into my space and thinking. On this issue, this happens, so even know I accept and understand as an adult the truth of my life, my younger parts influence my thinking and I walk away with the conclusion and feeling that I am bad, and always will be know matter how hard I try to be good.

So, to relate it back to today, my core belief is that I am bad. A little over a year ago something really bad (at least in my world) happened to me that was earth shattering and heart breaking to me. The only explanation is that this happened because I am bad.

I don’t want to keep getting hurt, so I have learned that if I stay home in bed, it is less likely that will happen. Because remember, no matter how hard I try to be good, I always end up getting hurt, which means I am being bad again.

I think I am a good person, but the universe or God or whatever keeps sending me a different message. Yet, I keep trying to be good enough to not get hurt….

Just a Normal Childhood

IMG_2974

To be honest, as I sit here thinking about my childhood, I can’t think of a single happy moment that didn’t also involve some kind of abuse or neglect. However, had you asked me about my childhood when I was growing up, I would have said it was a fairly normal childhood.

I think the attachment issues I have kept me from connecting to other kids enough to realize what went on in our family and community circle was not normal. I didn’t connect the dots.

To be fair, there are some photographs that I don’t remember that make it look like a few happy moments, but unfortunately those memories are not stored in my memory bank, and I am guessing someone else inside my mind holds those memories, if they were indeed happy or normal. For me, they are just snapshot memories with no stories to go with them.

When I think back on my childhood like this, I think it is impossible I do not have better memories. If my life was truly so trauma filled, how or why did I survive?

The “trauma experts” will tell you that I used this ingenious way to survive by creating alternate personalities/identities to handle trauma and other parts of my life, which resulted in me developing Dissociative Identity Disorder.

However, since there was no textbook, no discussion with anyone about what this looks like, and no promise that my life would be better off by surviving, I question whether it was ingenious or even good. Please note that this is only my opinion. The majority of the world disagrees with me, and hopefully they are right.

Being a child developing DID to deal with horrific abuse in your life seems like a good thing to do. I believe most humans are have programmed in our DNA to survive, so this is my only explanation for why it happened to me. And I say “happened to me” because I did not plan or intend for it myself. I am just one of the “lucky” ones who survived.

Here’s the thing the cheerleaders (the ones who think it is ingenious) of DID tend to leave out: if you have a moderate to severe case of DID (it is on a spectrum), your adult life can be a living hell that you may or may not get some level of recovery from.

In 2017, we have “DID experts” who will say you can be completely cured (meaning your personalities integrated into one), and others who will work with their clients to improve their quality of life as the goal, and don’t believe integration is possible. I don’t know who is right or wrong in this opinion, but I do also know there are so many factors that play into how an adult who gets adequate treatment fares in their adult life that no one can say for certain what the outcome will be. And adequate treatment is extremely hard to come by.

I call this blog “Mistaken Survival” because my life as an adult with what some would call a “complicated” or “severe case” of DID has been it’s own version of hell. Had I known this would be my life, I am not sure I would have picked survival at this cost if I was given the choice. Of course, no one asked me to begin with, so I suppose it is a moot point. And, I do try to keep in mind my life is not over with yet, so to be like a human, I do try to hold onto some hope.

My clock is ticking. I have some wonderful people who are trying to help me. I want so badly for a better life, mainly because I have children I would like to see grow up into healthy adults. I am also curious to know what it is like to be happy. I have never known happiness the way most people do. That would be cool.

I also don’t want to leave this world worse off for people with DID who get treated so poorly. Education, resources, and compassion are just a few of the needs not currently available to those with DID. We are the secret mental illness, and the reasons for that secrecy are wide and will be discussed in other blog posts. But, those of us with DID are the victims of horrific abuse. Stop treating us like monsters or circus acts, or portraying us as the villains in movies.

I may not be able to save myself with my ticking clock, but I do hope to help others who come behind me. I hope I can convince you to join the ride.

Attachment issues, oh how I hate you

I am blown away that I am just now learning what a huge affect attachment problems have on my everyday adult life. I had no idea what played out for me as a child is totally being re-enacted by me as an adult in many of my relationships.

Fortunately, by some miracle, I don’t think my attachment problems play out too negatively with my children, which begs the question of how I learned how to be a good parent when I had no experience or role models for it? Kind of a mystery for me.

Anyway, I hate my attachment problems. It turns me into a 2 or 3 year old, which is not so cool, and people, even the most well-intentioned therapists, don’t get how difficult this problem is for me.

It is such a primal wound for me, it is probably the leading cause of my suicidal or self-harming thoughts.

Despite the horrific child abuse I experienced, I grew up unloved and uncared for. The message was loud and clear: I did not matter in this world.

Even though I was clearly unkempt, emaciated from lack of food, and often wandering  around a beach town on my own at a very young age, no one intervened to even ask me if I was ok or considered whether such a small child should be wandering around alone in a town full of transient people from many bad walks of life.

I do enough reading to know this is not an uncommon phenomenon. People know someone is being abused or have strong suspicions, but decide to stay out of it for their own reasons. Maybe because we don’t scream from the rooftops that if you see a child you think is being abused or needs help, you need to do something. At least make a phone call to DFACS. We all need to do better.

But too many of us have been treated like we don’t matter. No one helped us. No one picked up the phone or asked the questions. That is such a horrible message to have branded on to your brain. It is not a message I have been able to get rid of. I will always put myself second and take the bullet for someone else, even if that someone is a stranger. I guess I am like that because no one did it for me. On some days that makes me the good guy. Other days it leaves me broken, hurting, and almost dead.

When I was a child, I can’t ever think of a time when someone told me they loved me. I don’t remember any affection. I was treated less-than my two older siblings. I hardly received any attention unless it was the wrong kind of attention. I had no one.

When I was about 4 or 5, I begged for months for a stuffed animal. That is all I asked for. I didn’t need or want for anything else. Every day, nothing. I was so alone.

Finally, after someone in my life used me for sexual purposes, that person threw a used cheap carnival stuffed dog at me. That was one of the happiest days of my childhood. I finally had someone to hold, someone to talk to, someone who belonged to me. That grungy stuffed dog probably saved my life. I had it all the way through High School. I didn’t think much about its meaning as I got older, but I knew to hang onto it.

Interestingly, at this point in my life, my younger parts have a stuffed dog that we bought off Amazon. At the time, I didn’t see the connection. I just knew they knew with certainty that is what they wanted. Now it makes sense to me.

Today, I am a grown woman who owns a stuffed animal that resides in bed with me and my spouse. Not exactly what my spouse signed up for 20 years ago, but it is what it is at this point. Because of the way my attachment problems manifested for me, it is easier for me to say love me or leave me, I don’t really care. But, not all parts of me agree with that attitude, which is something I try to keep in mind.

In my therapy today, we talked a lot about attachment issues because my therapist is leaving us next week for surgery. It is something that gives me an instant panic attack when I think about it. Most of the parts in me who hold painful emotions are devastated by this event. I don’t expect others to understand, but it is like I am going to die without her for the week, and god forbid, what if she dies from the surgery.

I am absolutely clear this is not a normal response to what is happening, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you this is our emotional truth and predicament. It is as if the mom is leaving us in the crib with nothing to eat and may or may not come back if we were to survive that excruciatingly painful week.

You see, in therapy world, there is this belief that if you create an attachment bond with your therapist, you can have a corrective emotional experience and heal the attachment wound that doesn’t feel the least bit fixable. But yet I am willing to try because I still hold out hope.

I know for those of you who may have had secure attachments with your parents or some other caregiver, you can’t possibly conceive an adult having these feelings. Feeling like a baby or small child. But for those who have any of the dysfunctional attachment scenarios, I can imagine you know a little of what I speak.

Yet, another unacceptable feeling that we cannot express in the real world, so once again alone, or at least with each other through this blog.

K