Abused again: Trying not to give up on myself

I woke today with a busy schedule ahead of me. I have been dealing with a lot lately, particularly a very chronically sick child. It was also the day I was going to slip in taking care of myself by getting an x-ray of my hip that I injured 2 months ago and have been dealing with chronic pain ever since.

I wasn’t seeing my normal orthopedic doctor because I needed to get in quickly as I don’t have many self care openings in my schedule these days. In retrospect, I should have caught the red flag of this particular doctor having multiple openings for a next day appointment at one of the top orthopedic practices in town.

Nope. I jumped out of bed to get to the appointment early in the hopes they would take me early so I wouldn’t miss my therapy appointment afterward.

Of course, I sat in the waiting room past my appointment time before the front desk even called me up to fill out additional paperwork. So much for arriving 20 minutes early.

You know those doctors always have more important schedules than the people, so let’s make sure that is reinforced.

As I am finally walking back to meet the doctor, who incidentally wasn’t seeing any patients but me, I noticed in the paperwork they handed me to give the doctor that it has all the prescriptions listed that I have filled at my local drug store. On it, a long list of many types of psychiatric medications.

Great. I am going to get labeled a psych patient and treated poorly, as I have been through that scenario more than a few times.

The doctor pops in and spends 95% of the appointment time talking about himself, his health, the death of his brother, his age, how he doesn’t suntan anymore, what he watched on tv last night, his experience with his last colonoscopy, the cost of medications he takes, and how he treats his his rosacea.

I am feeling really grounded, but taken aback by this strange doctor showing no interest in me, and the clock ticking in my head for my next appointment.

I do my best several times to bring up the pain I am feeling on my side.

Finally, the doctor comes toward me to examine me. He starts touching me and says over and over as he moves his hands around my body “does this hurt?” When he found where it hurt he pushed in really hard and I almost jumped off the table. He says he knew that was where the pain was coming from. It was high up on my left side.

I continue to feel grounded but focused on trying to accurately answer this man’s questions about my pain as he touches me. I am so focused on trying to accurately answer him I don’t realize he is now touching me in my vaginal area and talking about bones in the pelvic area—that have nothing to do with why I am there.

I hear a couple of voices in my head calling me stupid because I don’t realize this man is touching my vaginal area for no reason and talking about how my pelvis bones touch each other.

In a slowed reaction, I realize the voices are right and this man is touching me inappropriately. And I do nothing about it.

I freeze.

I don’t stop him or tell him to stop.

It’s as if it is not happening to me, but I can hear this man’s words and feel his touch that it is happening.

Fortunately, the man seemed spooked for some reason and jumped up to go get an anatomical dummy to show me the bones in the pelvic area, which again had nothing to do with why I was there.

I couldn’t hear him so well any more as my internal world was starting to come undone.

I knew I had to get to my car before I acknowledged to myself what had just happened, so as soon as he asked me if I had any other issues I wanted to discuss, I said “nope” and raced out of there.

I tried my best to drive to my therapist’s office without coming completely undone. I made it there and then felt dead.

I let it happen again. My therapist probably doesn’t even believe me. How can these things keep happening to me?

I lost hours of time in my therapist’s parking lot as I switched between parts trying to process what had happened. I fought tooth and nail to not let other parts cut open my throat. The rage inside me is at its worst when this idea is present.

I am extremely angry at myself this happened to me today as I was just speaking about how this happened to me with another doctor some years ago, and I thought I had grown so it wouldn’t happen again.

My therapist asked me if I wanted to file a complaint. I didn’t. I know full well that my list of psych meds alone discredits anything I might have to say happened to me, which is probably why he targeted me to begin with.

I told 3 people today this happened to me. That is progress, but still I am awash in confusion how I keep letting this happen to me. Where are those strong parts of me when this happens?

Will it ever stop?

Pounding my PTSD head

Agonizing torture. This is what I experienced today in the name of medical care.

I had a special MRI today, one that would show more advanced pictures of my spine.

I have had MRIs before, and the closed ones are always difficult for me to make it all the way through. But, I manage, somehow.

Today’s MRI was different. They asked me if I had medication before I entered the room, in which I responded “no” because nobody had mentioned it to me.

I approached the room and for some reason it was set up in a hard-core scientific way that made it so no one could mistakenly enter. There were lights all around the door frame, and it was sealed in a let’s keep the zombies out kind of way.

My anxiety level went up.

I entered the room and took one look at the MRI machine and my anxiety went up more seeing it was a closed MRI that was actually closed longer that the last one I had been in with a struggle.

I could feel myself starting to come unglued inside, but fighting with myself that I needed to get this done.

I started dissociating, and laid down on the table, placing my neck in the head device. I was starting to feel a panic attack coming on, which is not something I typically experience.

The true horror of the situation came into being after I resolved to myself that I must do it and can do it. That’s when the technicians places a mask-head cage device over my head so I couldn’t move my head if I wanted to.

I could feel myself crying and panicking all in one. I am thinking to myself this is the worst thing that has happened to me since my horrific childhood abuse. I am thinking I should tell them I have PTSD.

But, I close my eyes and tell them to go ahead. All the while knowing how emotionally damaging this is to me.

The loud noises are crushing my mind and spirit until I am the living dead in this machine/torture chamber. I am so dissociated I can no longer move, think, talk, or do anything for myself. Severe collapse resulting from severe retraumatization.

My living dead status enabled me to make it to the end. I could not move at first as I wasn’t self aware enough to know what was happening. I couldn’t talk to the technicians afterward. They didn’t seem too concerned about my changed mental status.

I finally made it back to my car. Totally wrecked by the experience. Split into many pieces at once. Some believe they drilled into our head during the procedure. Fragmented all over the place.

New trauma. I let it happen for what I thought was the greater good. I think I should have stopped it when I saw that head cage.

My spirit can’t take this type of experience. But what was I to do?

9 hours later and my body and brain are still shaking and crying.

And this is modern medicine.

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!

My health, brain, and dissociative disorder 


I have always been a clumsy person, someone who bumps into things and doesn’t really pay any attention to it because I am so used to it. I end up with bruises or scrapes on me and have no idea where they came from, but have a always assumed I just bumped or scraped something and didn’t really pay attention.

A common occurrence for a lot of people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is that we often experience many serious health symptoms, with typically no explanation from the doctor other than the common shrug of the shoulders or scratching of the head. Sadly, I never know whether I am about to drop dead, or if it just more of the mystery health that goes with my DID body.

This is not something that can simply be written off by neuroses as many would like to quickly put it in that bucket.

I remember in my 20s, I had routine blood work done that came back abnormal enough that I was sent to a Hematologist “blood” doctor. I had to go there for months as they monkeyed with my blood and did test after test because they just couldn’t figure out why my blood work was coming back abnormal (I think some kind of leukemia was on the list). I’ll be honest, I was too screwed up dissociatively to worry too much about it. And then one day, it just disappeared and my blood work has been normal ever since (a lot of years have gone by).

Another time I had extreme chest pain, and they could see the pain on their fancy machines, but they couldn’t figure out why it was happening. I listened patiently to all the doctor’s theories, and then gave up. I went back a few more times when I had serious episodes, and they could see it again on the machines, but never came to a conclusion. About a year later, the symptoms just disappeared.

I am fairly sure I have had one surgery that I didn’t actually need. A laparoscopy for endometriosis. 

I tell you this because it leaves me in a place of never knowing when to take something serious, or when it is just the DID somehow playing tricks on my body.

This past year, I started having falls. Falls where I actually injured myself. The first two were down my hardwood stairs when I was wearing socks and not holding on, so I thought it was reasonable that I had those falls. Then I went on vacation the next week and fell twice at the resort. My first fall I was just walking toward my family and there was a wet spot mixed with a little beach sand, which resulted in a broken arm the first day of the vacation. By day 5, I thought I was ready enough to leave my room in my arm sling and take my 5 year old son to experience a petting of the icky sea animals. Afterward, I mistakenly said let’s look to see what is in this cave (it looked really cool), which resulted in me falling in the cave again on a water/sand combo, and unable to walk or get up with only my 5 year old there as there were no other people around. Eventually, back to the hospital we went.

When I arrived back in the states, I went to my regular orthopedic because I was fairly sure they didn’t diagnose the broken arm correctly back at the island. From then, I started seeing her regularly for new falls.

Again, I felt like all the falls were justified, but the doctors said statistically impossible!

I realized at the dog park what was happening. A dog ran behind me and lightly brushed the back of my legs. I then fell frontwards down a very uncomfortable hill. I realized then that I was not re-balancing myself when something threw me a little off balance.

The doctors were busy ruling out MS, brain tumor, and Parkinson’s. I was a little worried about the MS as I had everything on the internet lists, but once that one was ruled out, I wasn’t so worried about the rest.

The cardiologist has his theory that it was cardiac. The two different neurologists I saw both ruled out their guesses and then gave me the shoulder shrugs and said to come back in 3 months. They both agreed there was definitely something wrong.

Fortunately, my chiropractor told me about this special physical therapist in town who did Balance and Dizziness problems. This PT has given me more information that has made sense than any of the doctors.

I bring this all up because today I felt sad and angry after seeing her. She doesn’t know about my childhood trauma or DID. She was telling me her hypothesis of what she thought was going on to cause what I had correctly figured out.

The PT said she didn’t understand why, but for some reason in early childhood my brain did not integrate all the things it is supposed to do in order for it to work properly. Like, my brain doesn’t communicate to my feet and other body parts to compensate when I am off balance, so I fall.

She shook her head, and said “I just can’t understand why this has happened to you.” Then she went on to tell me she sees this in her 4-5 year old patients. And then I knew, it is because of the extreme abuse I endured. I wanted to tell her, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to casually mention it, and then also to say “by the way, I also have a dissociative disorder.”

I have lots of every day scars from my childhood, but today just finished my week with yet another shitty surprise about my childhood abuse and what it has done to me.

Though the PT is optimistic she can help me, I worry that her prognosis could change if she knew the truth….