Tag Archives: trauma

Re: dissociation

You know how sometimes the universe just smacks you upside the head when it really wants to drive something home? Well, that’s been happening a lot these last few days.

I spent a fair amount of time yesterday and the day before going back over old posts. I do that sometimes simply because I can’t remember much from day to day. Everything is compartmentalized between emotional states…

Anyway, in my fb feed today, there were several posts about trauma and dissociation. The latest one I read was a fairly in-depth article on DID, OSDD, and dissociation. It covers symptoms and diagnostic criteria, as well as links to assessment tools (though none are meant to diagnose alone, but rather in conjunction with assessments by a trained professional).

Anyway, I know I have an OSDD diagnosis. I remember that even when I’m not directly confronted by it. The part I seem to forget is that there has been conversation around changing that to DID… so imagine my reaction when reading the article and finding I petty much fit the diagnosis to a T… I was taken aback by it for a while, then I started to vaguely remember conversations with Dr C about me being on the DID end of the spectrum.

As the realization hit (apparently “again”), I started to panic a little. I decided to try the self assessments they mentioned. Yup. Wouldn’t you know, they peg me as correlating highly with others having a DID diagnosis. Great. So now I’m remembering a bit more about my conversations around it all with Dr C. I want to say I remember at least 4 different times when I was shocked by her mention of it, and then settling on calling it something more benign, like “severe dissociation” or “fractured ego states”…

It frustrates me that I seem to forget these conversations so completely until something pointing to it shoves itself into my awareness… how many more times will I “forget” about our conversations around the intensity of my dissociation? I guess I’m improving on it though, as it seems to take less time to “remember” we’ve talked about it before. The first two times or so, I didn’t realize it till she asked later if I remembered having that conversation before. At least now I don’t need her prompting before the memory sparks.

Anyway… I’m not really sure where I was going with this other than to link the page on DID.

Maybe I’ll post screenshots of my results from the 2 questionnaires. (and maybe next time I’m faced with this info, I’ll remember that I’ve heard it before)

Advertisements

ramblings about interim therapists and trauma work and body stuff

I’ve been seeing another therapist in Dr C’s practice while she’s been away. It’s been weird, but helpful in maintaining balance, especially with all this physical stuff going on. I didn’t really talk to her about much outside of “safe” things (things going on in the moment, dealing with the physical stuff that doesn’t have a medical explanation yet (or ever?), surface stuff). There were times I wanted to cover other stuff that wove its way into the session, but I couldn’t open my mouth. It felt like my lips were glued together, and even if I did manage to open them, all that would come out were sobs and screams…

That’s not a new phenomenon for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever managed to open my mouth and tried to speak at a time like that. It taps into something I still don’t have an understanding of, and it never feels safe or comfortable enough to just let that part of me do whatever it needs to do for release… maybe I can bring it up with Dr C once she’s back again next week. I wish I could remember what it was that triggered that feeling.

I know before walking into the building, I had wanted to address the body memories that always get triggered (or more intense) when I get my period. We had kinda started taking about bodies, and how comfortable I was in mine (or not comfortable). We had talked a bit about liking or hating any particular part of my body. I said there wasn’t any part I liked. I should have said, there wasn’t any part I liked anymore because at one point, I had liked my eyes and my hands… but both have failed me since. My eyes either hide too much or tell too much; and my hands don’t create to my standards anymore (stupid trembling and fatigue). So no, right now there’s no part of me I like.

She also asked if there was any part I really hated. Of course there are parts I hate more than others, but there wasn’t enough time in the hour to tell her about it and still come out of the session balanced enough to go on with my day… I’m not totally sure I even want to write about it now, though there would be less explanation involved here than with her… I hate my pelvic area, and my stomach, and the insides of my legs. It’s where I feel the most uncomfortable memories, and what triggers the easiest. It’s the fastest way to send me to space…

A had asked if I’d ever done any body work (on paper) with Dr C. I told her I hadn’t, because even though Dr C had offered it, I panicked at the thought of tracing my body. A clarified that she meant doing it smaller scale. No, we never did do that… I’m not sure why the subject changed with A in that session. I think I started panicking and backpedaling into my head, because at some point, she asked how present I was & busted out a ball as a means of grounding (side note: it worked too! Who knew playing catch could actually bring me back? Normally, I can still do that stuff while dissociated. This time, the act of catching and tossing was balancing. Maybe it was the inconsistent way she did it? She would pause, look at the ball, change the speed of her toss… whatever it was, it worked).

Anyway… yeah. There were so many times I could have said more to her, but I didn’t want to get into it knowing that the hour would end too son, and I’d be left dealing with whatever came up for the rest of the week. At least with Dr C, I can reach out during the week if I need to. A did say to call if I needed anything, but I wouldn’t bother her. It takes me a long time to trust that it’s really ok to bug someone outside of the time they are getting paid to interact with me. Even with Dr C, I still hesitate much of the time, and I’ve worked with her on and off for almost 10 years now…

Oh, I remembered what I was originally going to say about the body drawing; it’s another thing where I feel frozen for fear of what I might do or say. There’s still that urge to destroy my body, even if it’s just a drawing. I still want to take a knife and stab the drawing on the parts I hate the most… or, since I no longer carry a knife with me, stab it with the pencil… that would probably freak her out, so… maybe some day I can mention that to Dr C, and we could find a way for me to be ok doing it in some form. The kid really wants to talk about it still. He has no words, just screams and sobs and anger… or silence. He’s usually just silent because the other stuff is not acceptable…

I really wish Dr C was back now. I wish this could be addressed while it’s still here & “relevant.” It’ll be gone again by next week. This is when that concept of easily accessible, more intensive treatment would be helpful; when stuff comes up and would benefit from being addressed in the moment, so it would be nice to be able to walk back into the room and get to work… let’s tackle this shit coz it’s here. Gimme that little body drawing, tack it to a tree, and let me stab the shit out of it. Let me rip it up and scream and cry and cover it in red paint so it bleeds like my body would if I did that to myself. Let me burn the page so it all goes up in smoke. He needs the release. I need the release…

Let me rip the legs off a toy, and bash it and destroy it… but then I’d need to apologize, because the toy did nothing, it’s just a receptacle for the anger. So let me run out into the woods and scream until my voice is hoarse, and my legs are so tired they want to fall off, and my breath burns in my chest (maybe my lungs would actually burn up. That would be an interesting medical & scientific impossibility)…

Sometimes the anger and the hurt is too much. Sometimes I want to disappear to a safe place where I can do something about it without weird looks and panic over my safety, because ultimately, I’ll be safe, this just all needs a release…

Why aren’t there trauma treatment centers in the middle of the woods, with animals and drop-in massage and art and yoga and holistic therapy like they have for substance abuse? And why is nothing local? Why is the only treatment center even remotely like that all the way across the country, and religious?! I want something with no BS about higher powers or gods or spiritual anything. Why does that not exist?! And why aren’t there more art or play therapists around? The kids want time too, but everything’s in an adult world, so they use translators instead…


nightmares

Haven’t woken that terrified from a nightmare in a long time… the current president started a nuclear war, and bombs were going off on the horizon. Everyone I was close to was out and about at the time. There was nowhere to go to be safe, and the other people in the room just watched out the window at all the mushroom clouds…

I can usually wake up and ground myself, but the fear from this one isn’t leaving as easily (doesn’t help that whatever this ailment is effects my heart rate. It shoots up with the slightest effort, and stays there for the next few hours)… also doesn’t help that current leadership is stupid enough to do something like that… 😟😭

It’s weird; the nightmares of the past that should truly terrify me simply make me numb, but ones like t-rex from Jurassic Park finding me no matter where I hide, and this morning’s nightmare… I can’t shake them after I wake up. There’s something to be said for dissociation and numbing. It certainly makes life emotionally easier to float through.


working helped

I was still struggling with dissociation and being stuck in my head most of Wednesday. Nothing i was trying helped to bring me out of it.

Luckily, I had work that afternoon.

I pleaded with the universe to make it an easy, but distracting shift. She came through for me.

I ended up training a new hire, so I had to constantly think of what I was doing, why, and explain it to her. The dogs were also relatively mellow (though the look on the girl’s face when I mentioned that it was an easier day makes me wonder if I’m not just habituating to a higher level of chaos).

In the end, spending time with the dogs, and having to interact with another human for the whole shift helped ground me for the evening.

I did wake up to some intrusive, uncomfortable thoughts, but overall, today has been much more “present” (Though let me not jinx that at 9am)…

I had some bloodwork to get done this morning, and I was supposed to get a CT scan done at 8, but I messed up the directions, so it’s been pushed to 1pm. I could have gone through with the 8am thing, but it wouldn’t have given the greatest results. I’m having ongoing gi issues, so I want to make the scan worth the effort. I already feel like most of this stuff is “in my head” since previous testing hasn’t shown anything… but then again, my aunt had gi issues for over a decade before the testing finally showed the real problem. I don’t want things to get that advanced in my case…

I hate having to balance worrying that I’m just experiencing psychosomatic stuff with legit medical issues. Dr C says it’s all valid, and even if it does stem from past trauma, there’s still likely a physical reason as well, it’ll just take more time to figure it out…


Sorry I haven’t been around much lately. Losing Chow has been difficult to adjust to. I’ve been withdrawing into myself, yet, paradoxically, throwing myself into things outside the home. It sounds contradictory, I know. 

I’ve been burying the emotional part of me behind a bombardment of stimuli and activities. There’s rarely a moment when I’m not desperately distracting myself.  I’ve not been doing much by way of art or writing though. It’s been mostly “mindless” stuff, like going to dinner with friends (and avoiding anything other than surface conversation), taking the dogs to the park, that kind of stuff. 

I’ve even avoided taking much in therapy. At least, I have up to now. Today’s session might be different. I’ve started attending a group Dr C put together for adult survivors of [mumble, mumble, mumble]… I still cringe and have a small freak-out moment when I hear the title… we’ve met twice so far. The first one was mostly intros and basic group guidelines. The second one was a bit more topic-oriented around explaining PTSD, the symptoms, and how early abuse plays into it. I was ok for the psychoeducational piece of the group, but struggled to stay present when it turned more into talking about the effects on a personal level. 

I think part of my problem with that comes from the walls I’ve put up around the abuse “memories”. I know I was totally convinced at one point that what I was feeling and experiencing were true, but I’ve detached from that the last several weeks. This last group started stirring things below the surface but they still remain below the surface. 

I dunno. On the one hand, it’s a huge relief to have people that seem to struggle with similar symptoms and experiences. On the other hand, I feel like an interloper. They all seem to know what happened to them, and to connect with it. I’m here still trying to remember what the hell it was that came at me in those flashbacks. I know I struggled a lot with them, but they feel foreign to me at this time. It’s like I watched a movie a long time ago, and can kinda remember the plot, but have no idea of the details. And i’m certainly not connecting to it emotionally…


Musings on emotions

It feels like this huge, crushing weight (grief does).

It seems like I’m feeling it too intensely sometimes… 

For some reason, it struck me today that some people have “sensory processing disorders” around emotions rather than sights, sounds, or textures… 

The same way loud noises  (or lots of sources of noise) can be overwhelming to someone on the autism spectrum, “loud” emotions can be overwhelming to some people… 

What if that emotional overwhelm they try to always pigeonhole as “borderline” is really just an autistic glitch around emotions as opposed to one of the other senses? 

What if introducing trauma/abuse/neglect into the mix early-on intensifies the inability of a person to deal with this emotional sensory processing disorder? 

We’ve all heard the theories that borderline is better explained by c-ptsd (which I totally agree with). What if we took it one step further and explored the possibility that “borderline”was actually in part an autism-like disorder? 

If you consider that one “symptom” of borderline is “feeling too intensley”, and you understand that even trained clinicians minimize the difficulty of dealing with extremely intense emotions (as they’ve been trained to do; “know that emotions come & go, like waves”), it’s easy to see the disconnect in effective strategies for clients. It’s something along the lines of comparing a stubbed toe to a shattered foot. Sure, you can probably take over-the-counter Tylenol for the stubbed toe & it will likely help, but doing the same for the shattered foot probably won’t make a noticeable impact. For such an intense injury, you need prescription-strength stuff. We should have something more than “Tylenol” to offer people. 

What if we understand that pushing someone to sit with intense pain (physical or emotional)  will likely lead to various ways of procuring relief… so you take a kid who can’t handle loud noises, and you tell them they need to sit through a rock concert. You’re going to get a tantrum and various, inventive ways to deal with the pain from the noise (think stereotypical autistic behaviors like flapping, screaming, hitting self, or attacking others). Now take a kid who feels emotions incredibly intensely, and ask them to tolerate those emotions. You pretty much get the same acting out in search of relief: self injury, tantrums, physical and verbal outbursts…

I’m a huge proponent for dropping the borderline diagnosis from the dsm. It’s an antiquated and “cop-out” diagnosis with way too much stigma attached. While there’s a push to remove the stigma, it’s still very much taught to young clinicians. Professors and supervisors alike instill fear and disgust around the diagnosis. Myths are perpetuated. Doctors do the same. It’s quick to be diagnosed (often inaccurately), and it’s near impossible to step away from even if it’s found to be inaccurate. It follows you and colors every other interaction with every other professional that sees the dreaded diagnosis anywhere in the file…

What if, instead of just working to destigmatize the diagnosis, we came up with more accurate understandings, and got rid of it completely. It was, after all, just a catch-all category for people who didn’t quite fit any of the other categories… 

What are your thoughts on this? Does it kinda make sense? Am I way out in left field? 


Brain fog 

My head is in a complete fog, and I have no energy. I think it’s because my body is fighting off some ailment. L had a wicked stomach bug this weekend, and others I know have had the flu or respiratory things… I’m just hoping I make it through without succumbing to anything…

Last session, we were taking about the extent of my dissociation (when it happens), and ways to try to pool the knowledge from the various emotional states. Dr C suggested trying to “bring all the emotional states together, like at a conference table”… I had trouble wrapping my head around that concept, but I think it was mostly being uncomfortable with the conference table idea. The more I sat with the concept this weekend, the more I was able to ease into the idea. Though I switched the thought of a board room to the concept of a living room, it’s kinda sounding more possible. I’m not sure if I can make it happen, but I was able to doodle out what the different emotions look like, and to write out what I think of when I think of them… they kinda have personal appearances, though they are not actually totally seperate entities… I understand then as all just different emotional states, and can notice when I “slip into” the different mind sets, well, for most of them. There’s two that feel like completely seperate characters. While I’m consciously aware of feeling different in the others, and can access what it feels like to be, say, the brooding teenager, there are two kids whose heads I can’t get into. Those I walled-off more efficiently than the others…

I’ve always felt like my head was set up kinda like a house, with doors that closed to each room. When I was in one room, I was totally in that room. I had knowledge of the existence of the other rooms, but I couldn’t tell what was going on there, nor did I have efficient working memory of what may have happened when I wasn’t in a particular room… More recently (like the past decade or so), it’s been closer to different characters in each room; like an actor slipping into different roles in different sets. The two “kids” are different actors though…

I dunno where I was going with that. Brain fog offs moving back in…