The Benefits of Neurofeedback for the Traumatized Brain

Neurofeedback

Let me begin by saying I am a huge believer in the amazing benefits of neurofeedback for everyone. In fact, if you were around me daily, you would probably hear me griping about why neurofeedback is not done in every doctor and therapist office in the country, and the madness of insurance companies not wanting to pay for this very effective tool for so many ailments.

I was first introduced to neurofeedback this past Summer when I had gone to an “integrative” treatment center for trauma. As someone who was becoming more and more frustrated by the short-comings of talk-therapy alone, I was looking for something that would address the entire mind-body-spirit of my being.

I have experienced severe childhood abuse, which resulted in a lifetime of wrestling with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, and Anxiety.

Many of us would like to believe that once we escaped the childhood abuse, we are free to live a happy life. What most people don’t speak about is the lifelong affects severe childhood abuse has on a person’s brain and physical health, which contributes to the lifetime of struggling with various forms of mental illness as a result.

I have been in treatment for my severe trauma on-and-off for 28 years. I think during that period most people in the field of treating trauma would agree with me that they haven’t always known what they are doing with treating trauma.

Today, so much more research has been done to show more effective ways of treating trauma. For instance, EMDR has solid research behind it as a very effective tool to help many trauma survivors process their trauma faster, which means many people are not stuck with the aftereffects of trauma for their entire life. This is huge, but not always told or offered to trauma survivors. Though, to be fair, trauma survivors are more likely to stumble across EMDR than they are neurofeedback.

If you read a lot about trauma, or are in the field, you should be aware of the cutting-edge trauma experts like Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine, Dan Siegel, Pat Ogden, and Stephen Porges. There are a lot of other so-called experts out there, but most of them are what I would term “old school,” as they have not embraced the significant importance of addressing the mind-body-spirit when attempting to help people with trauma. They are sticking mainly to talk-therapy only as an approach, and this is a horrible disservice to those who have been traumatized.

I live on the East Coast, and found myself not making any progress with the swamp of trauma symptoms I was stuck in while I was doing extensive talk therapy only. I decided after doing a lot of research to head to California to get help with my trauma symptoms that were so severe I wasn’t able to function in my life. I was desperate as I had been in bed for 17 months, and generally not participating in my life,

After arriving in California, I quickly had an entirely new vocabulary for trauma treatments, and I was open to just about everything. I am tempted to go into all the different therapies here, but I want to stay focused on the neurofeedback. Neurofeedback therapy for trauma survivors was a given for every therapist and good trauma treatment center I looked at on the West Coast.

Ideally, when you begin neurofeedback, you want to get a QEEG or “brain map,” which is a snapshot of your brain and how it functions over a fairly short period of time (for me, it was 40 minutes under different scenarios). This brain map is so valuable because it can be compared to what a normal functioning brain looks like, and it can also be used to show that during the brain mapping period, your brain might look similar to someone who has anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, pain, depression, etc.

In my case, my brain map looked worse than even I expected, so it was a little overwhelming to sit with the results. I had done a brain map of my son who has some attention and sensory issues, so I had an idea what it was supposed to look like.  In layman’s terms. my brain showed a shit-storm of color in areas that should have shown up white, and my brain waves were extremely erratic and all over the place outside the normal range. For someone with complex-PTSD, this validates the daily symptoms we experience.

I learned a very important word called neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize and heal itself by forming new neural pathways. This concept is so, so important to think about when looking at healing trauma.

Once my rational brain came back online, I knew I could repair much, if not all, of what was wrong with my brain through neurofeedback.

Through only 15 sessions of neurofeedback, I came out of it with some extremely important results as a trauma survivor. I don’t know how else to put it, but my mind was stronger. I was no longer depressed. I had less anxiety and an easier time going to sleep. Most importantly to my overall healing from trauma, the 15 sessions put me in a place where I could regulate my emotions better, which means I could tolerate talking about the most difficult parts of my trauma, which is something I was not able to do prior to the neurofeedback.

The inability to tolerate difficult or overwhelming emotions is probably the single biggest reason why trauma survivors stay stuck in talk therapy and don’t make the progress they need to move on with their lives. Yet, my experience in the old-school trauma circles that dominate the trauma industry is that there is almost no mention or even knowledge about the benefits of neurofeedback for trauma survivors.

If I look today at all the mainstream trauma treatment centers in the U.S., there is no place that is currently utilizing neurofeedback despite the extensive research that supports its usage. The only places that seem to offer it are the places where your insurance will not pay, and you are expected to pay out-of-pocket $40-50k per month for treatment. That’s the only way to get intensive cutting age trauma treatment at this moment.

The good news is that you can find neurofeedback offered on its own in some outpatient settings. I live in a major city, and there are probably about 14 options listed on a Google search for people to pursue neurofeedback. Typically, if you have severe trauma, you can expect to do 30-40 sessions for the neurofeedback to stick for the rest of your life.

When I returned to my home city on the East Coast, I found an excellent neurofeedback provider, and I am really looking forward to updating you on the continued results I experience to lessen my symptoms and to help my brain function the way it is intended.

neurofeedback_1

My hope is that you take away from this that neurofeedback works for many, many problems people struggle with. Besides the symptoms of trauma, it has been shown to help people with ADHD, Autism, Insomnia, headaches, Anxiety, Depression, and overall improved brain performance, which is why you will hear of Olympic athletes who use neurofeedback to enhance their performance.

Neurofeedback is not new and whacky, There is lots of science to support it. Don’t expect your doctor or therapist to recommend it, because that is not likely to happen. But, if you are feeling stuck or want to get better quicker, it is a no-brainer to take advantage of neurofeedback to help heal your brain.

And if you think your brain is just fine as a trauma survivor, let me mention when I took the brain QEEG, I was feeling relaxed and nothing was bothering me too much. But, what showed up on the QEEG was a huge amount of anxiety that I am so used to experiencing everyday that it did not seem like a big deal and was unnoticed by me. This unnoticed anxiety I am used to living with has already caused me some serious health consequences.

musclebrain

The bottom line, if you have the means to do so, look into neurofeedback and give it a try. It is easy to do, and the results can be life-changing. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit from a stronger functioning brain, even if you think you have no issues. If you have a severe trauma background, do it. It will save you years of talk therapy time and money, and will give you a better quality of life.

 

 

My Brain After Trauma

Gehirn - Schwingungen 3

Some days, I like to forget about my horrific abuse history and think I am just another ordinary person trying to get by in this world. After all, I can get distracted by the things in life the same way my presumably ordinary neighbors can.

I appreciate the moments when nobody knows my big secret about having Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and that people think I am just another neurotic person, similar to themselves. I am a master at hiding my symptoms.

Then there are the moments when the truth slaps me in the face so hard I can barely stand up again.

This week I met with a doctor to go over my results of some cognitive testing and my QEEG, or brain map. I am very interested in alternative or nontraditional therapies in treating my DID, so I am working with a new “Brain Doctor,” in addition to my traditional talk therapy.

I have always known I am sometimes cognitively impaired, and certainly sometimes operating from a “trauma brain.”

Though I had neurofeedback this past Summer for about 15 sessions, the providers I used never shared what was going on with my brain—they shared positive statements about the neurofeedback results they were seeing. Never the baseline.

In my discussion this past week with the new doctor, it was explained as sensitively as it could be, that I am extremely cognitively impaired and my brain waves look like a badass, not good, electrical storm.

I was told calmly and slowly they have seen worse, but it is pretty bad. The doctor is a genuinely good person and an optimist, and believes she can help repair much of my brain problems, even as severe as they are.

Because I had my son go through this process for a different reason, I knew what the brain pictures were supposed to look like. You want the brain to appear white on the paper.

I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of color on every one of my brain images.

I thought I was really calm during the actual test being done, but the results make it look like I am an anxious wreck. I guess my body has simply become used to the free-flowing anxiety from my PTSD, and I only recognize it when it is over the top.

I showed my brain in my best state. Can you imagine if I showed it when I am doing really poorly?

PTSDbrain

Two years ago, I was working in a highly demanding job in which I was quite successful and made a lot of money. Today, I am not working at all.

The one sentence from the doctor that stood out to me was when she gently said “I can see why you are not working, your executive functioning is extremely low.”

A dagger in my heart.

The scribble scrabble brain waves on the page were not something I can deny. I don’t need to be a doctor to know it isn’t normal looking at all.

The mental anguish I feel on a regular basis has just been verified as totally real, and it is as bad as it feels. It is not hidden or made up. Through this QEEG, I let people see the mess of a brain I have. Lots of internal conflict about doing so.

“You’re such an idiot, why did you let people see what it looks like inside.”

My trauma has without a doubt destroyed the way my brain is supposed to function. Maybe I shouldn’t say destroy because my favorite word is all the buzz these days—“neuroplasticity” (when the brain can heal itself), there is hope through neurofeedback and other brain therapies to repair much of the damage.

I always thought I wanted to see what my “DID brain” looked like. At this point, I am feeling it was a mistake, but hopefully some day I will change my mind about it.

It is an overwhelming picture of myself. And, I actually feel shame about my brain. That’s a new one.

This morning I was looking at a job announcement that came to my email, and what followed were the voices in my brain telling me I can’t possibly work given the extremely low level of executive functioning I am at (confirmed by these test results). Sigh.

I always knew the abusers from my past ruined my brain, but I secretly didn’t want it to be true. Parts of me appear to be so severely abused. I didn’t want to believe they could be as badly abused as they felt and claimed. I realize now how much I was clinging to the hope that not all of my story was true.

It is hard to hide from the serious consequences of the severe abuse I endured throughout my life. It is sad when the ability to deny the consequences is gone.

 

Your Pity Doesn’t Help

I like to write about my Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) to educate people about the disorder, and because I selfishly hope it is somehow therapeutic for me to open up about the secret life I have lived my entire life. And I will forever be an advocate for those in need of help.

At times, in order for people to understand the origins of my DID, I have written about the horrific abuse I experienced in my childhood. It is unimaginable to most people, and frankly, sometimes overwhelming to them.

A common response I will get from people who have read about my history is pity. They feel so sorry for me, which is a hard pill for me to swallow. I don’t feel sorry for me. I feel angry and hurt and lost and sad.

I guess if I was still a child that pity might have meant something to me. Maybe.

I am a survivor now. I am way past needing anyone to feel sorry for me. Nothing can change my past. It is done.

As I sit here writing this I realize this kind of sounds rude, and I really don’t mean to. It’s just hard for me to hear someone have pity for me. It doesn’t help me.

I am fortunate to have survived a childhood that many children wouldn’t have. My DID allowed me to survive as a child. Now, as an adult, my DID threatens my survival from time-to-time, and definitely makes my life more difficult to say the least.

Still, I don’t want your pity.

I want your understanding of DID. I want you to be outraged how people with DID are treated in the world and by the mental health system. I want you to be aware of the severity of child abuse going on in this world, and likely even in your own neighborhood. I want you to save a child you suspect may be getting abused. And I want you to contribute to making the world a better place by helping people with DID get the resources they need to heal, or at least live.

I am fortunate to have many blessings in my life in spite of the DID. I have an amazing spouse and am blessed with two gorgeous children. I have had times when I have had really successful careers, and have felt good about the work I have contributed to this planet to make it better for others. I have a nice home, health insurance, cute dogs, and I live in a nice neighborhood with many loving people in my life.

If you read any of my other writings you will also know my life is not a bed of roses. But, I am making it through life anyway, and I am hell-bent on healing despite the odds and the naysayers.

For me, what matters most is the people behind me who aren’t as fortunate to have the resources and support I have. They are living in a daily hell, and they need all of our support, advocacy and love.

No one needs pity. When has pity ever helped anyone?

People who have been so severely traumatized as children their minds split apart so they could survive need so much more from you than pity.

Start with trying to understand, and follow with compassion. And hopefully the rest of my wish list for you will follow.

Understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder

I have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which most people don’t seem to understand and are terrified of it. I guess I understand the not understanding part, as it is often hard for those of us who have it to understand ourselves sometimes.

I want to tell you about my experience to see if I can help bring any clarity to the understanding and fear of this disorder.

I grew up in an alcoholic and extremely abusive home. Sexual abuse, violence, religious abuse, and neglect were part of my everyday childhood. I am not going into detail here about the child abuse I endured because that is a whole other very big topic. I just need you to accept I endured a horrific childhood that wouldn’t be imaginable to most people, so I can stay focused on trying to explain the DID.

Growing up, I didn’t have a manual to read to tell me how to deal with the amount of trauma I experienced, but I was lucky enough to have a resilient brain to help me survive it.

As a child, I was often in overwhelming abusive situations that my brain just couldn’t process at that developmental point in my life. So, my brain ended up splitting off into what I call different “parts” or personalities to handle all the trauma and other things in life that I was expected to handle.

For instance, I had parts that would handle being sexually abused through the night, and other parts whose job it was to go to school the next day and pretend like everything was normal. I have parts that hold specific traumatic memories, and other parts who hold the feelings that go with those memories. I have parts who function just fine in the world, but will tell you they can do so because they did not experience the trauma themselves. For them, it is like it did not happen to them.

I have parts who have their own friends, and socialize very differently. The outside world that might notice this chock it up to mood swings, which I find very funny.

My parts are evolved enough to know they all share the same body, but my parts also each see themselves as a separate person living in this body. Most of them see themselves as much younger than the biological age of the body, which often creates a lot of confusion for all of us as the body is aging.

My parts are very different, some even have different names, ages, genders, sexual orientations, religions, vegetarians, meat eaters, happy, depressed, cognitively impaired, brilliant, social, agoraphobic, and on and on.

Most people don’t know how to look at me and understand that depending on which part is out, the essence of who I am shifts to that different person.

One moment I can be experiencing the world through the lens of a successful and bright 40 year old woman, and something may trigger me to shift to an 8 year old boy who is afraid of everything and has trouble navigating the world and trusting anyone.

A lot of people don’t believe it is possible for someone to truly be this way, but the truth is the brain is an amazing thing, and there are thousands and thousands of us on Facebook alone who all seem to have a similar way of living in the world like this as adults, yet we have never met each other in person to come up with some collaborative scheme to fake this for reasons that would only benefit those accused of child abuse.

My life is very challenging on a daily basis. Amnesia and psychiatric symptoms like anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm, and PTSD are my biggest struggles. These symptoms are fairly common for those of us navigating DID.

I have had this diagnosis for 28 years and it has been confirmed by multiple experts (this fact seems to be important to people, so I put it in). In the 28 years of knowing about this diagnosis of DID, I have worked really hard to have some semblance of a life and to get better.

I have given up on getting better at times, and have just tried to learn how to navigate my life without letting others find out I have DID. This is definitely a disorder of secrecy, as my experience has shown that when people find out you have it, they immediately pivot away from you as if you suddenly became dangerous and scary, no matter how long you have known them and in all sorts of capacities.

Hollywood has not helped with people thinking this is a scary, dangerous disorder because it has really only made movies about DID (formerly MPD) that portray killers and other dramatically scary people.

The truth is that:

1. People with DID are typically some of the kindest people you will meet. They are kind because they have been hurt so much that they would never want to hurt anyone. They are often overly sensitive to not wanting to hurt people in any capacity.

2. I realize people do not want to believe DID exists because then they would have to believe that horrendous abuse is happening to children all over the globe. Because NO ONE gets DID unless they have experienced horrendous trauma as a child, usually before age 8. And the truth is, this is happening way more than anyone wants to fathom.

The biggest truth that people should understand is that we are already living among you as your neighbors, school teachers, therapists, police officers, friends, and so on, and you have no idea we are here because our experience is that we must keep this particular victim status a secret to protect ourselves from further abuse as adults.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean when I refer to further abuse as an adult. The very system in place to supposedly help those of us suffering from mental illness typically refuses to help those of us with DID, and oftentimes doesn’t believe us.

The mental health system is sorely lacking in people who are qualified to help someone who has DID, and both therapists and treatment centers typically won’t work with us because of their own lack of education and fear of DID.

Therapists and treatment centers like Sierra Tucson and The Meadows that specialize is treating “trauma survivors” won’t treat trauma survivors who have DID (they both refused to treat me based on my DID diagnosis).

In my opinion, you have NO RIGHT to call yourself a trauma specialist if you decide the most traumatized amongst us don’t deserve your treatment because you are afraid of your liability, or some other equally ridiculous fear. We are people who deserve help, and it is the responsibility of the helpers to get the education they need to help ALL traumatized people, not just the ones who fit neatly on their trauma spectrum.

When we feel suicidal or in need of emergency help, we can’t just go to any hospital, because most of them refuse to acknowledge or treat those of us with this disorder. Instead they stick a variety of other diagnoses on us and medicate us into wellness (there is no medication for DID), so most of us with DID try very hard not to use the mental health system unless it is one of the rare people or places that understands and treats DID.

The most depressing fact is that DID is actually a serious mental health problem that can be “cured” if the person with DID wants that, and has access to appropriate resources, which they almost never do.

This makes me sad, and I hope it does you, too. Everyday when I am not focused on my own recovery, I think about how I can change a system to get people who have been so severely abused in this world the help they deserve.

No one deserves what happened to them to get DID. As fellow humans, we should all be trying to figure out ways to help our brothers and sisters who were served these horrific starts to their lives. I hope you agree.

An Extraordinarily Brutal Life

I am just an ordinary person who has led an extraordinarily brutal life. My life between 0-11 was the most horrific of all, spending almost everyday being sexually, physically, and emotionally abused and neglected. It didn’t stop at 11, but that was the worst of it.

I have had the cruelest mind tricks played on me, which in some ways were worse than the overt acts of abuse I experienced.

My mother used to think it was funny to take me 10-15 miles from home in a beach town and leave me at some random place when I was 5 years old. I had no ability to do anything in that situation. I usually waited until nightfall when my father would find me and bring me home. So yeah, I have good reasons to feel an intense fear of abandonment.

My father never spoke of this abuse he knew my mother perpetrated on me, because at the end of the day, he loved her and wanted to be with her more than he cared for me.

So-called dignified people in my community had sex with me whenever they wanted, and my mother was so narcissistic and sadistic she helped facilitate this abuse, and I am sure got something out of it for herself.

I’ve been locked in rooms with our local State Farm agent and his children screaming at me that I must accept Jesus Christ into my heart if I wanted everlasting salvation. No matter how many times I tried to say what they wanted, it was never “right” because they were relentless in their brainwashing that I was, and always would be a sinner, doomed for hell. They always ended this special kind of torture by sexually abusing me.

My mom used me as a surrogate spouse when my daddy disappeared on a drinking binge for days or weeks at a time. What seemed like a special relationship with her always turned to a disgusting, sexual experience with her drunken passed out body on top of me.

When she wasn’t sexually abusing me, she spent her time hitting me for no reason, or telling me how much she hated me and how ugly I was. She was quite strikingly beautiful herself, so she often criticized me regarding just about everything that existed within me.

My mom used to make me go to our town’s most reputable pediatric dentist after school so he could sexually abuse me and torture me with dental devices. He used to drill me teeth for the fun of it, and I had no knowledge of what Novocain was until I was a teenager.

My grandmother used to give me to a cult called “The Way” when they came to town. I was driven with other children I did not know out into a dark wooded area where these cult members, mostly in their 20s, would drug us, teach us that we were supposed to cut our wrists and let all our blood out to sacrifice ourselves for Jesus, and then they would sexually abuse us around a big bon fire. Needless to say, I have some very confusing ideas about religion.

My older brothers were what people might have called “troubled” if they were using nice words. Since they were older than me, I really don’t know what they were exposed to to make them so out of their minds. Sadly, they were drug addicts and drug dealers at an unusually young age. This brought me lots of unwanted sexual abuse, torture, and violence.

My oldest brother was like my mom, sadistic and sociopathic. He would go out of his way to torture me with pleasure. He would rape me regularly, sell me to his friends for sex, and often try to see how close he could come to killing me without actually killing me.

My middle brother sexually abused me to around age 7 or 8, but one day he was the first to tell me that you are not supposed to have sex with family members. He never personally had sex with me again, and would try to protect me from my oldest brother when he was around. Still, he could not even put a dent in the madness and abuse that came my way from all sorts of places. Though he is probably the most troubled in our family now, I imagine that is because he had a conscience and suffers from extreme guilt and sorrow over what happened in our family.

The strange thing about our middle class family is that all the kids in our “community” had sex with each other from a very young age. This was an all the time thing, and sanctioned by our parents. This was our normal, and usually involved group sex, but not always.

I’ll never forget spending the night at one of the boy’s houses when I was about 7, and he was having sex with me in his bedroom, and his mother came in and put the laundry away while it was going on. It was as if nothing was wrong, and nothing needed to be said about it.

I would venture to say that by the time I was 6, I had more sex with people than most people do their entire lives.

Why I chose to survive this life I was living is often a mystery to me. A life where no matter how “good” I tried to be, I was repeatedly abused, neglected, tortured, and exposed to mind control and religious craziness.

I didn’t survive because I was so strong and could see me making a better life for myself one day. I survived because my mind split off over and over to deal with my reality. I didn’t intentionally do it. It is supposed to be some lucky source of creativity and intelligence in my brain that allowed me to do so (which I don’t fully agree with).

The splitting of my brain has left me as an adult with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly called Multiple Personally Disorder. It is not fun or interesting to have DID. Maybe it is fascinating to those who don’t have it. My life is an absolute cluster f*ck on most days.

As someone with DID, I have more parts of myself than I can count. I am so screwed up that half the time I don’t even know myself that I am not the personality that is “out front” talking to someone. My brain is seriously impaired memory wise. It is like having dementia since I was 21.

I can’t remember huge and significant parts of my childhood, and even positive memories of my adulthood. It is all a mystery that I continue to strive to figure out and fix.

Honestly, I don’t really know if there is a “fix” but since I have kids and won’t kill myself because of this, it leaves me with little else to do but to try to fix myself, and help others who have suffered similar plights.

In psychiatric, psychology, and other mental health schools, they teach that this is a rare condition, and spend virtually no time teaching people how to recognize and treat it. It is by no means rare.

So many children are abused at this level to create this disorder. I know people don’t want to imagine abuse on this level, but it is true. People just don’t end up with this disorder without suffering extreme abuse or trauma at a very early age.

For the fun of it, you can visit the endless pages of survivors who have DID on Facebook. You will see this is not isolated to a few of us, or isolated to any one country.

DID is real and awful to live with, and those of you who care should be doing more to help the most wounded of us.

Do you realize if we go to an emergency room and tell the people we have DID, we will likely be completely discredited as crazy and possibly put in the psych ward even though we are coming in for a medical issue?

Do you realize the majority of mental health treatment facilities refuse to treat those of us with DID? Heck, the majority of therapists in all countries don’t want to treat DID, and thus refuse to.

People like to think of us as dangerous and scary, but in reality, people with DID are often the kindest people you will meet. But, we can’t change the Hollywood version of DID that is probably the only knowledge most people have about DID.

In a world where there is so much injustice, I guess I can’t expect you to care about this abuse of DID people as adults. But if you do care, I hope you will help me make the world a better place for those who are most wounded amongst us.

Stand up for what is right. Stand up for the most wounded.

Understanding My Identity


I have been diagnosed and aware of my Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) for 28 years now. That is the majority of my adult life. As a child, I knew things were off here and there, but didn’t quite understand what it was.

I was thinking today what is it like for me to have DID today, and my mind stays relatively quiet as I am working extra hard to hold things together during a stressful time.

My mind is often not quiet. I often hear someone or someones commenting on things going on in my life. I hear criticism or a mean remark coming from in my head as if it is my invisible friend talking to me.

I am well-trained to know that no one else can hear the talk in my head, so I do my best to hide it. It is something I learned to do as a child. At that time, I thought everyone experienced an inner dialogue from different voices. In the 1980s, I wrote it off as my inner children voices since that was all the rage back then.

When I was around 10, I got invited to a birthday party of a friend to see the new Star Wars movie (you know, the original one as it was released in the theaters). It was a big deal for all of us as kids didn’t regularly get to go to the movies back then, and this Star Wars movie was the first of its kind back then. To this day, I can remember playing in front of the theater, giddy with excitement to see this amazing movie. The next thing I remember was being outside the movie playing with the other kids as we re-enacted scenes from the movie. Except I had no memory of seeing the movie, but the message I knew in my head was to not tell anyone and pretend as if I did.

I wondered about Star Wars from time-to-time, but I never understood what happened to me that day. I was used to weird days, so I knew it was part of that weirdness that I didn’t understand, but knew to keep to myself.

I can remember one day I was hanging out in my parents’ bathroom when I was 11. I was having a conversation with other people in my head about whether other outside people could hear other people in their heads. I knew the answer was no, but decided to believe they could.

Fast forward to high school, when I experienced dramatically different interests and identities. I knew it was strange that I had such varied interest, social groups, and behaviors. I was all over the place with no consistent identity. Again, I knew something was wrong with the way my mind was working, but I needed to not think about that to survive, so I pushed that thinking away every time it came up in my mind. Occasionally, I would try to rationalize it as normal behavior, but I looked around at the other kids and learned rather quickly they didn’t have these different identities.

In college, the first time away from my biological family, I excelled at school, extracurricular activities, friendships, and even fell in love. Life was nearly perfect, yet I managed to have my first Major Depressive episode with suicidal ideation, and landed in a private psychiatric hospital for 6 months.

Super confusing to both my treatment providers and me, my successful outside identities crumbled into nothiness and could not function or get better. Every time things seemed to be getting better, I would suddenly get intensely suicidal and my providers would scratch their heads trying to understand what was happening with me.

They could not figure it out, but one day sitting quietly in a chair when things had gotten better for me again, I heard the voices in my head talking about killing themselves because our therapist was out of town.

I tried to talk with my doctor and therapist about these voices, but they dismissed it. But from that point on I started realizing more and more that I was not the only one occupying my body. I didn’t have a name for it yet, but I knew there was something going on with me that was my truth, but my mental health providers could not or would not accept.

When I was 22, I was working at a psychiatric hospital and I learned the name for what ailed me—it was called Multiple Personality Disorder (which is now called Dissociative Identity Disorder). I went to a psychologist who specialized in it to confirm my suspicions. She confirmed it, and life became very unruly as DID can be for some people, especially at the beginning of their diagnosis.

This is a secret I keep from almost everyone  I have known for 28 years. It can be lonely sometimes, but my upbringing taught me to tough it out so I could survive.

Why do I keep it a secret? Two reasons: Hollywood has made a mess of teaching the general public it is a scary, dangerous disorder that should be feared (just ask my last church minister as she told my spouse to leave me and take the kids when my spouse shared the diagnosis with her). The other reason is because people don’t want to believe that horrific child abuse and neglect happens at such a severe level in this world to create the thousands and thousands of us who have this disorder.

There is no other way to get DID unless you have been exposed to unbearable trauma that was so severe that your mind splits off to try to help you survive. People aren’t just born with it. There is ALWAYS a horrific story that goes with why they have DID.

Those of us with DID are some of the most abused victims in our world. Yet, we are rejected by the majority of our world and even the mental health system that is supposed to help us. I am not scary, but people are still scared of this diagnosis.

In the major city I live in, there are no treatment facilities to help those with DID, and even though it is considered a psychiatric condition in the DSM V, many mental health providers choose to ignore it and pretend as if it doesn’t exist. Yet it is much more common than most people realize.

We were raised to hide this disorder, so we sometimes refer to it as a disorder of secrecy. I am your neighbor, your friend, your professional, and your go-to for advice, and you have no idea that I carry this secret struggle with me everyday.  You also have no idea that I fear each day of being “found out” by the wrong people, and then further rejected by a world that has been so cruel to me.

Yes, I live in a body that is shared with many different people or parts, and it is a struggle to live this way. But, I am not to be feared. My people are lovely and hurt and deserve to be treated better by this world.

The mistaken survival of the soul-less child

 

681b5a8aa699a740d4474eb363281471I have walked through my entire life a fraud. A nonexistent soul using the mortal body of no one. I am a fraud because from time-to-time, I would use this body to pretend as if I was a normal human being. Though, I always return to my place of nothingness. The place where those without souls return.

As a child I tried my best to be as invisible as possible. I tried being very still and quiet. I do not want to be noticed because I know I do not belong to this world. This world is confusing and cruel and scary. I don’t like it, so I am happy to not really belong to it. Yet, somehow, I got stuck with this mortal body that always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There is no making sense of the life this mortal body was given. The people who come in and out of it. The constant desire for it to die.

To be human is to claw your way through everything to survive. This soul-less being does not wish to survive this cruel human world.

This body does not know love, comfort, happiness, safety, or anything that would be good or pleasurable. This body knows darkness, sadness, hatred, pain, evil, death, anger, and a strong desire to turn out the lights on this mortal body.

Without hope, there is death.

This soul-less body was created from birth with lies, pain, shame, fear, and brutality. It was programed to be obedient, to never disobey, and to serve the greater human species to which it did not belong.

How can an entire species be so cruel, even to the soul-less body who was never one of them? But it is true, and that is the way it is.

A wrecked soul-less child body who mistakenly survived. It was never supposed to survive. There is not upside for this being. There is no better. No nothing. Especially a real life on the human planet.

It is so confusing to figure out what to do with this fraud of a soul-less body. Oh children, why did you survive? I suppose some instinct, or maybe they made you with their confusing lies. I don’t blame you. I promise I hold no anger toward you. You were only babies and toddlers and youngsters doing what you thought you were supposed to do.

Now we have this fraudulent body built through evil lies, and there is nothing for it to do but to lay in bed until it dies. Oh wise one, you are correct in that we could take it from this earth sooner by our own hands. But, they say it will ruin the human children in this new family.

I know we don’t belong. But there is a speck of dust, maybe love, in this soul-less body that makes me think how sad it would be for these human children to be ruined by our actions.

We may know we never belonged, and wouldn’t have ever wanted to belong to this world, but now we have somehow become connected to these two children who look to us to keep behaving in a fraudulent way because they need us to.

Why, with no soul inside, do we have to always be the good guys? Why?

Because that’s the way it is.