My Coronavirus Pandemic DID Check-In

Living through the Coronavirus pandemic with Dissociative Identity Disorder makes for some interesting times.

I find my life is probably really disorienting under this sheltering-in-place set up. In some ways, it is perfect for the way I live. I now have an excuse to stay home everyday and no one thinks anything of it. The one huge difference is I am locked in with my spouse and two children every-single-day.

My days go by quickly and are very much a blur. My memory troubles me a great deal as it is very noticeable to me that I am losing time and not remembering much. I have internal conversations on the daily as to whether I am developing dementia or it is just the DID.

If I lived alone in this stay-at-home life, I think I would accomplish a lot, but I imagine it would really suck. My days go by quickly because I am actually having to run a household for my family. So, in some ways, I am doing more. I am cooking, ordering the groceries, running the family budget, helping both my kids with their own therapies and school work, doing some laundry, helping my kids with their medical issues and more.

I have moments where I forget about the DID and think about getting back to work soon. God knows our family needs the money. Then I catch myself throughout my days not being able to remember even the most basic things.

Truthfully, I think I could probably get away with working with the serious memory lapses I deal with. Most people are too distracted or self-involved to even notice —thank god. It creates incredible anxiety within myself, though. Always fearing I am going to be found out by those who think I am a competent adult.

Though in some ways this damn Coronavirus has made my life easier, I worry that it will continue on and my life will be one endless blur until the end. Maybe it would be anyway if life was normal, and maybe the normal life distraction just doesn’t allow me to realize how messed up it all is.

I’ll be honest, I am not one of the writers amongst us. I am pretty sure I am not saying much here. However, I do know other parts of me have lots of good stuff to say. I don’t really know why they aren’t writing anymore. Maybe this trying to be normal for the kids all day is just wearing us down or it keeps us from getting vulnerable.

My outside kids have not much to do but to notice when I am being different. God knows I don’t want to screw them up any more than they are, so I am really trying my best to be in parent mode, which doesn’t allow for much vulnerability.

My parts are being amazing with trying our best to hold it together so we can parent the kids and take care of life in a pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, we have had a few moments, but not nearly as bad as I would have thought.

In some ways I realize my childhood of nonstop trauma made me built for living through this awful pandemic. It gives me the excuse I need to stay I fight or flight, to be planning for our safety, and to stay safely in our home.

I wasn’t doing therapy for a while (can’t remember how long—weeks or months), and my therapist contacted me in a moment of weakness. I talk to her on the phone once a week most weeks, though I do try to cancel when I can to save money. Therapy over the phone, or even scarier over the video, doesn’t work for me like in-person therapy does. It doesn’t feel anything like regular therapy to me, so I feel guilty spending the family money on something that is more liken to a check-in or chat.

I know I have had a few seriously destabilizing moments that I needed my therapist, but I now can’t even remember what they were all about. I do know I have had some suicidal moments, but honestly, not as bad as before all this happened. I think it is because I know my family needs me to get them through this.

I am getting kind of tired of being the together one to lead us through these unchartered times. I dunno, maybe it is better this way to force me to do something productive.

I hope we will start writing again as I think we have some useful things to share.

Until next time, friends.

Missing my life

I have been away a lot lately. It’s been a combination of extreme stress going on in my life and losing time.

I find that I am losing time and not realizing it, which makes me sad.

Facebook is a big revealer of lost time. I look back at memories from past years to see sweet pictures of my kids, but lately noticing all sorts of writings that I have done over the years and have zero remembrance of and no idea what I am even talking about. It is not that I sound incoherent. I just have no understanding or even a remote memory to what I might be talking about.

Somehow I have been living in this cloud that has kept this losing time from me. I have been diagnosed a long time, and I like to think I have a good bit of co-consciousness, so normally I can figure out enough to understand what the heck I was talking about.

I know my system was designed to keep this stuff from me, but I also thought I was further along than I apparently am.

Yesterday, I got on my daughter’s phone to deal with some boys who had sent some inappropriate texts. It took me about 6 hours to realize it wasn’t me who did that talking to those boys and threatened to call the police on them.

I wonder how many times I do this subtle switching in a day. How much am I forgetting?

I belong to a secret FB group for survivors of DID and ritual abuse. I used to get support in that group, but I stopped because I realized I had all sorts of posts under my name that weren’t from me. They weren’t from child parts, but parts similar to me, but definitely different in some major ways. It became too overwhelming to see post after post that I didn’t recognize and didn’t have any sense of losing time.

I was thinking this morning that my biggest disabling part of DID is the memory loss, which is not news if you follow me. Yeah, I am suicidal and have attachment issues and CPTSD out the wazoo, but that is all manageable compared to the memory. Then I was thinking for me, do I really have a mental health problem as opposed to a neurological problem since my memory seems incapable of storing and being accessed correctly.

I know, it probably doesn’t matter to you what it is called or how it is classified.

It saddens me, though. To know I am living a life where I am missing so much of it. I guess it is a little like Alzheimer’s, but knowing you have Alzheimer’s which I think is more painful.

Now that I am getting older, people just attribute all the mental lapses as old age (though I am not that old). The neurologist who gave me an exam where I had to remember things was perplexed how severely I couldn’t remember the things she was testing me for, but in the end just attributed it to cognitive decline due to old age.

I was around my family over the holidays and I am hearing myself call my perpetrator brother my son’s name, and he call me his daughter’s name. We joke as if it is old age, but I know it is more likely that we are triggered and our parts are having trouble keeping things straight.

Anyway, why is Alzheimer’s a neurological condition and my similar memory impairment is a mental illness? Maybe someone can explain it to me.

Yeah, I am frustrated about my memory, but avoiding the tough conversation I need to have about something big I/we need to decide. Indecision is another curse for another day. If I remember.

When my Dissociation makes me feel lost

It has been a long time since I have written anything. I have been doing some better, but struggling more than ever with feeling lost.

There are moments when I forget about my Dissociative Disorder, and then I am talking to a good friend about his son and I can’t remember his son’s name.

These moments of amnesia make me afraid to pose as normal to the world. I have thought about trying to go back to work, then I feel this inner flooding of anxiety.

I ask inside to my other parts what we are so afraid of about going back to work. Apparently, they just don’t think we can do it.

It is possibly true. I know I may seem like I am ok sometimes, but then I look back on my day and realize I only accomplished 1-2 things. On an intense day, I might have struggled to get a 3rd thing done.

I am not sure why I can’t get more done in a day, except for this damn amnesia and feeling confused and lost so much.

I have been trying my best to be present for my children as they both have issues going on and need me. Some moments I am good about that, other days I feel inner parts distance themselves from the children and contemplate suicide.

The therapy is a struggle lately. My child parts are so hurt and don’t understand why we are seeing the T less often. Our insurance would rather pay for hospitalization than outpatient care. Brilliant business people.

The therapist wants us to trust her, but the younger parts feel like she doesn’t care about us. The T struggles with this because she says she doesn’t understand what she can do to show parts she cares about them.

Then, the parts reveal that because she is not abusing us, she doesn’t care about us.

She says she is never going to abuse us, so she is never going to care about us?

Then there are older parts who say we should just stop going to therapy. This doesn’t go far because the Little’s surface and put us in a Little hurt state of mind.

Anyway, like I said, I am feeling lost. Don’t know what to do about much. Contemplating giving up my career and going to work for a low paying job or no job at all. Can’t seem to make any decision about that or anything else.

Lost. That is me.

Hiding from my truth

I was getting too close to acknowledging the intense pain of my childhood abuse. It was coming for me. I got really scared.

As someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder, I managed to dissociate it from my awareness, and eventually switch to an Identity that doesn’t experience abuse and lives in the here and now.

My system is mad that this Identity went to therapy this week and basically “wasted” the session by talking about mostly nothing.

Our experience seems normal on the outside. We are taking care of the kids and participating in life to some degree.

Our memory is still severely impaired. My son asked me my neighbor’s name, who I know well, and I couldn’t remember it. So, so frustrating.

I don’t know how long we can hold out in this safer position. I feel sadness and suicide creeping around nearby tonight.

I read an article about Designer Kate Spade’s suicide at age 55, and found myself jealous. She left a note to her 13 year old daughter telling the daughter it wasn’t her fault. My children have always kept me from doing it.

I have a mostly good life, yet I selfishly want to end it. What is wrong with me besides the obvious?

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.

Lost and alone

I have been quiet lately, feeding off my mom’s voice in my head that if I don’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. So, I am breaking the rules.

Lost would probably best describe how I have felt most of the time lately. I can’t remember things, much more so than usual. My sense of “time” is completely off. Can’t tell you if it has been one week or 2 months since things have happened.

I am living day-by-day, not knowing if I will make it through the day.

I plan for my future and my demise all in the same hour.

I am suffering from wicked thoughts of suicide that are in my brain but don’t feel like my thoughts. It’s confusing.

I try not to act on any of the suicidal plans, yet at times I find myself getting up to go do whatever is my demise of the hour. Most times I catch myself when I am getting up and am able to stop myself. Sometimes I haven’t been completely lucky with that strategy.

Some days I feel morbidly depressed. I have resorted back to hiding in my bedroom as much as possible. I spend countless hours staring out the window, and suddenly I have an extreme depressive feeling, which follows with a graphic idea of killing myself.

I don’t know where these graphic suicidal ideas are coming from as I am much more practical than to think of these ways if I was suicidal.

I imagine there is extreme anger and pain behind the graphic ideas about my demise.

As I said, it gets so confusing. I think parts of me are “leaking” into me in a way that I cannot distinguish me from them. As such, their thoughts seem to make perfect sense to me.

Yes, I should stab myself with a butcher knife and lie down in my bed to bleed to death over night.

That is so not me, but yet it is me.

I would never do that to my children, but in my head it feels as though I will.

The world is so lonely for me right now. I am fortunate to have a spouse, therapist, and friend who know about some of this and are trying to get me help.

But, I worry no help exists.

In my life in the mental health system, there have been times when I know if I just went and worked on “x” I would stabilize or feel better. Honestly, I have no idea what x is for me this time.

Lost, pushing through each day hoping to gain some clarity the next day. It doesn’t come.

I am wasting my life, lost, never feeling grounded to this earth and my life.

The clock ticks, and ticks, and ticks. My dilemma stays the same. My fragility about my life continues.

I must have some hope hiding in me somewhere, but it is well hidden. The confusion in my mind keeps it from coming to surface. It is amazing to see the mind work so intensely against itself.

I plan for the future. I plan my demise. I don’t know how this will play out. I hope for the best, whatever that turns out to be.

DID is NOT a party

Lacking a consistent voice makes me confusing to those outside and inside of me.

At night, I often write things, whether a blog article, letter to someone, or a quick text. Sometimes I shop on Amazon while others are sleeping in my house. The difference for me is when I wake up in the morning it is a gradual unfolding of what I did the night before.

I see e-mails from Amazon alerting me to a purchase I don’t remember, and often don’t need.

I sometimes get an emergency call from my therapist before I have even awoken asking me if I am alright. That usually means some part of me has been texting or emailing her.

I almost never remember blog posts that have been written under our Mistaken Survival blog. I read them over and over, each time feeling like the first time I have read it, even though it was authored by this shared mind of mine.

I have learned to shrug and stay quiet in response to other people’s reactions to something I have done that wasn’t me. I kind of freeze because I know it was me, but it also wasn’t me. What’s the protocol for that scenario?

The mind is so adaptive. It is amazing I get through the days, but somehow I do.

It feels a lot like being lost, then found, then lost, then confused, then found, and on and on.

Unfortunately, this makes for a really spotty memory. And though I get by with the adaptive skills of my brain, it leaves me empty on the days I have the capacity to think about how little I remember about my life.

I read earlier today someone writing about how they don’t think of Dissociative Identity Disorder as a disorder at all. They see it more of a blessing and an alternative way of living.

Though I try my best to respect other’s differing opinions, it pisses me off to hear someone who has this disorder glorify it and act like it is a positive.

Here is the one true thing most people believe about DID (though not all parts inside of me agree with this opinion): if you have DID, it helped you survive as a young child when your life was so traumatic and overwhelming that your mind would not have survived otherwise.

If you truly have DID, it means there is major distress going on in your life. You can’t get the diagnosis if you are not impaired in some way.

Though I love all parts of me, even those I disagree with or can’t understand, there is nothing wonderful or great about the way we live.

I wouldn’t wish this chaos and confusion and missing life on my worst enemy. It sucks. It is not fun.

Some people describe elaborate parts who have hobbies and like to play like children. Those parts for me are hurt and damaged, and they are not having fun. They are mostly terrified every minute of their experiences.

Carrying around trauma on a daily basis and trying to survive is not fun. My life is extremely difficult, and profoundly sad due to the lack of connection I feel to the world and those in it.

This is no party. For me, it is a serious ordeal of surviving a life of torment and confusion.

I’ll let you have your opinion, and do my best to be respectful, but I can’t make that promise on a bad day.

I am not who I think I am

Today, I began my day getting triggered by my 6 year old son. I keep getting startled by him while I am sleeping in the morning, which then causes me to release all my fight or flight hormones in my body, and then I feel stressed and crappy at the beginning of my day.

Fortunately, it only happens while I am sleeping.

After getting startled awake, I then went to my neurofeedback appointment, which is a good place to go when you are feeling that way because they can help me bring my body back down to calm.

After calming my body, I then did another neurofeedback protocol I have been working with the last few weeks called “deep states.” I like this deep states work because it feels like you are dreaming while you are awake, and it helps you get in touch with your unconscious mind.

It is not like I go and my mind just accesses all my unconscious memories, but it does help me get a smidge more each time I do it.

Today, I processed a lot of familiar memories while in this deep state, and then I started having new memories that were upsetting to say the least.

I want to not believe these new memories from today, but even after I left I had the weirdest experience of having more and more memories involving the same person. It is like my brain would not stop downloading information into my awareness until there was no more room and I was utterly exhausted.

For better or worse, I had therapy today after neurofeedback.

In therapy, I was overwhelmed and felt suicidal. I had this feeling of impending doom because with these new memories comes the idea that I am not who I think I am.

My therapist thinks it is nonsense (my summation of what she said) that I am not who I think I am, but I don’t agree.

My identity today is based on beliefs I have about my life. It turns out my beliefs are wrong.

I built the foundation of my identity on the belief that my father loved me. No one else in my family did, but I thought my father did. I was wrong.

I have gone from believing I came from a family where one person cared about me, to understanding that I really came from a family where I did not matter to anyone, and was only in this family for their sick needs.

It makes sense now. When my father was dying, and I was sitting there with him everyday, he looked at me with pity, not love. He told others he loved them, but not me.

My false picture and selective memory of my father helped me create who I am. Since that is now known to be false, I am nothing but the garbage they believed I was.

I know I can get through this and define myself, but at the moment it doesn’t seem possible. The building blocks that make up my life are not what I thought.

I know some people might think I am dense for not realizing my missing childhood memories are going to make me feel horrible. But, I already know of horrific things that have happened to me. My childhood is already unbelievably horrible.

How can it be worse? I guess I answered my own question.

Not able to name my perpetrators

I have been struggling a lot lately with the idea of naming my abusers, or even publicly claiming my abuse.

I realize I am still holding overwhelming shame and fear about the abuse I suffered. With every mention of child abuse on my Facebook page, I worry what my mother would do to me if she found out I was telling anyone. What would my oldest brother do to me who is a narcissistic, psychopath living a seemingly proper life?

I have more abusers than I could actually name if I wanted to. I did name one recently who was a very public figure, and now I am being asked to help others take him down in a very public way (he is actually dead, but still has prominence in the world). Not sure what I will do about this situation.

My abusers did a really good job in keeping me quiet. Even at my very adult age I still fear naming those I could name.

It is complicated for me. Every day it is a struggle to keep my fragile mind intact with regards to the severe trauma I endured during my childhood.

My brain was so fragile before age 11 that I truly cannot remember most of my childhood. I mostly remember snippets of abuse, but I can’t remember hardly any “normal” or good memories.

Most of my abuse happened before age 11, but still lots of abuse happened after age 11, too. Once you get branded with the invisible “V” on your forehead to let the predators out there know you are a victim, new predators can find you easily.

Because my child abuse was severe and happened when I was so young, my mind did not come together the way it should have through proper development. Instead, the trauma caused me to develop Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which can still wreak havoc on my life today.

My mind is a jumbled mess of brokenness.

My emotions, memories, capabilities, and needs are broken into separate parts of myself. Though I can appear very strong, there are many days when I am at my breaking point and no one outside of myself even knows it.

I know I must stay functioning and strong for my children. They need me and are more important to me than anything else in this world.

Sadly, I don’t even feel a need for justice toward my perpetrators by naming them.

I barely survived my childhood, and still struggle to survive in my adult self.

Just about every kind of abuse has been done to me, including mind control. And I am weak because of this.

So, forgive me if I am not in a place to name my perpetrators. I believe I would do it if I knew of someone in imminent harm by one of these people.

One day I will be stronger, but that day is not today.

The Debilitating Amnesia that goes with my Dissociative Identity Disorder

Confusion

I live with debilitating amnesia every day. I can’t remember what I did hours ago, and definitely lose my place in time, like not knowing what day (or year) it is, and whether I did something yesterday or it was really 3 days prior. It is a maddening aspect of my Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) that I try to compensate for so I can function in the world and people won’t suggest I get locked away.

Since I have DID, most people believe that one with DID can’t remember because they have switched into another part and “lost time” as we like to call it in the DID world. This is not true for me. I have loads and loads of trouble remembering things that happen when I know I was present for them (not switched into another part).

Some people have theories about how my DID influences my amnesia, but at the end of the day they are just theories, and I have no idea whether they are true or not. I have had DID therapists suggest at times I have “cognitive problems” because they couldn’t make out why I have this severe amnesia and still seem to be present. The way I experience amnesia is definitely not the way it is written about in text books about DID.

Some times I feel completely lost in the world because my amnesia is so bad. It does fluctuate on how severe it is. Sometimes I can’t even remember the names of people I have known for years on one day, and then the next I have no trouble remembering names. I use Google all the time to give me clues to things I need to remember. I am betting Google didn’t realize this use of its product.

I don’t believe it is a cognitive problem because there are days when my entire brain is sharp as a tack and I can remember everything. This confuses the therapists even more.

My best friend with DID shares a similar plight. Sometimes it is funny to watch her experience the same struggle with her memory, but other times it is scary to realize how much we have to hide and develop strategies to “pass” in this world as functioning. Sometimes we both just laugh and laugh because neither of us can remember what we talked about yesterday that was so important to the both of us.

I have learned that these missing current day memories are in my brain, I just need  prompts for me to be able to retrieve them. Often times if someone starts giving me some clues, I can piece it together and voila, I can actually pull out the complete memory. If I don’t have clues, I might never be able to access it, or even know what I am looking for.

In some ways, people would consider me high functioning DID at this moment because the cracks in my mind are mostly hidden. People think I am doing ok because I am getting out bed, making all my appointments, not feeling depressed or overwhelmingly anxious, taking care of my kids, and in general, participating in life.

What lies beneath that high functioning is a stressed out system trying to maintain that appearance and not get “caught” by someone for how little I can remember. With the amnesia comes simple things like remembering to eat or go to the bathroom. The messages that should come from my body to my brain somehow get hijacked, which is why I often only end up eating one time a day.

I think because I struggle so much with my memory, I have been a strong advocate beginning this year to healing the mind/body/spirit as an overall approach to DID healing. I simply don’t believe talk therapy is enough for all the faulty wiring going on in my brain, and this is not talking bad about talk therapy or myself, but more of the truth of all the baggage that goes along with exposure to severe trauma as a child.

I did about 15 sessions of neurofeedback recently, and I believe this has helped my brain function better considerably. I am less anxious, less depressed, and feel mentally sharper. But still, I struggle with my memory every day to varying degrees.

I will continue doing therapies that are designed to help my “trauma brain,” so that I can function better. Even though this will not be the cure to my DID, it definitely makes it easier for me to function from day-to-day, and thus makes the recovery work for my DID more stable.

For some reason people don’t talk enough about the amnesia that goes along with DID. For me and many others, it is really one of the most disabling aspects of having DID. It would make for a boring Hollywood movie, I suppose. But outside of Hollywood, we should raise awareness about this crippling amnesia so that we can get clinicians and researchers working on getting a better understanding of it, and hopefully with that understanding, more therapies to address the problem.

My amnesia is one of the reasons I would like to integrate my parts. I feel like if all the parts of me were together as one, this missing or lost information wouldn’t happen. It’s just my theory, and why I am working so hard to heal my parts.