Two Weeks 

Next month my therapist is taking a two week vacation. She’s never taken more than one week, especially in August. December is trickier depending on when the holidays fall, but her summer break has always been just one week. 

This sucks and clearly the younger parts have some feelings about this:


*sigh*

Epiphany

As I mentioned on Saturday, I told my therapist about the whole MRI ordeal.

That incident actually happened on Tuesday, but I didn’t have session until Thursday afternoon. I spent most of that time stumbling through each hour, just holding onto all of that crap until I could unload it in session. I literally kept repeating to myself, “Just get to Thursday. Just get to Thursday…”

We spent a good portion of session talking about her comment from Monday’s session. Then I put my head down and quietly said, “So I got that MRI on Tuesday.”

“Oh? How did it go?”

I immediately started to tear up as I told her how horrible it was. Then I walked her through the whole thing in as much detail as I could remember at the time. She was equally horrified and seemed completely repulsed by the lack of sensitivity from the hospital staff. She also asked me a lot of questions about my injury and my thoughts on why they needed to do the scans a specific way, etc.

Then she asked me how I got through the entire 70 minutes. I told her that I did some serious mental gymnastics: I explained the meditative breathing and the clicks-as-words thing and then I outlined how I started creating stories about people who’d been there before me.

When I finished giving her a character outline of the “Sassy Black Woman”, she laughed (which was appropriate because I was being animated and funny) and said, “You could have used a little of that Sassy Black Woman during that process, huh?”

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Noise

Today I had session for one hour, but it somehow turned into a two hour session plus a follow up check-in by phone once I got home. Ugh. I hate it when things get activated and shit starts to go downhill. It’s (apparently) inevitable, especially this time of year. Last year during the Summer short session, I missed class because I spent an evening/morning at the local psychiatric emergency room. A month(ish) later, I landed myself there again for three very horrible days. This seems to be a strange annual pattern.

Well, not annual. The last time we went inpatient (prior to last year) was during the Summer of 2009. But still – it seems as though lots of things get stirred up as the weather gets warmer. I’m 99% sure it’s associated with earlier Summer breaks from school (those 3 months you get off from June-September or so). My guess is that it was never very pleasant for us to find ourselves home all day every day with a house full of crazy.

Regardless, things are rapidly getting worse in the Head Space. I don’t have a strong enough sense of what is going on to actually do anything about it, but the incessant NOISE is enough to drive anyone insane.

The major problem is that I am supposed to be the host – the “leader’ – of this pack, yet I can’t get enough quiet to actually DO anything. It’s getting harder and harder to concentrate or even carry on simple conversations. The thought insertions (sometimes called “made thoughts”) are awful. I often just get random images or memories that I would really rather not know about right now ever. Or I get berating, belittling, insults, or outright yelling.

It sucks. Hardcore. I have so much more compassion for Julia since this is what she’s gone through on almost a daily basis for decades. I know Anna, Lucy, and River get it, too. No wonder Julia resorts to self-harm and suicidal gestures or River starves herself. I honestly can’t say I blame either of them. I could jump off the roof right now myself.*

The therapist wasn’t able to get too much done with us today, even in 120 minutes. Although she did a lot of sitting with very tough emotions and that’s impressive itself. I applaud her for not losing her shit. Even when I started to panic that she was going to get frustrated and abandon us, she stayed super calm and reassured me that 1. she’s okay, and 2. she’s not leaving because she wants to be there.**

When she called later this evening, she suggested I try writing down everything that’s happening in my head space. So if Parts are yelling out stuff or sending images or whatever – I should jot it down. That won’t solve everything, but it might allow me to create some sort of boundary around the internal activity, which may help contain it for a while.

I seriously hope so because it’s Midterm week and I don’t have time for this shit.

*But I won’t.
**For now, at least.

Beyond Being Stuck

I’ve been reflecting more on yesterday’s post. Some of you asked if I was truly feeling “stuck” or perhaps something else? I think you’re onto something there. It feels like being stuck, but I’m not sure that’s the most accurate way to describe what’s happening.

Which is a couple of things, really.

First of all, as someone pointed out – this may very well be a test that the System is using to gauge the true reliability and trustworthiness of this therapist. I would defnitely agree with that. They have many reasons to do so. I certainly don’t blame them, but it tends to cause a lot of interference in session when I am trying to speak as Andi and receive all this frantic input from Others, causing me to question virtually everything I say. I don’t know how long this “testing period” will last for. And I sincerely hope this is a test the therapist can actually pass. Somtimes we set up tests because we know people will fail them. It’s a way to prevent them from getting closer to us without actually having to talk about it or work through it. We just get to throw up our hands and say, “See! You couldn’t do this after all!”

I don’t want to do that again.

Also, because there is so much conflicting emotion around the very idea of being in therapy, I think that is where a lot of my frustration comes from. I am not always the strongest Part when in that office. Or, I am, but I’m up against more than one Insider – which puts the odds against me. It’s so hard to push through all of that noise and chaos to even figure out what I’m feeling or thinking on my own. I think that’s where a lot of my confusion and helplessness comes from. And I also believe that my intense fear and need to defend myself comes from the Parts whose job it is to protect the System. They are ensuring I don’t get hurt (even if that ends up leaving me feeling utterly abandoned and alone). Or, the increased activity of introjects – who are working overtime to protect the secrets (and our abusers) – may be creating an additional strain on the conversations.

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Problem Solving

I have been completely lost inside a hormonal fog of meh this past week. I had a total rage fit a few evenings ago. I don’t even know what was wrong. I just felt like I was going to burst wide open and explode everywhere.

Wife was planning to order in some food, but that felt too overwhelming. Then the idea of deciding what to cook felt too overwhelming. I considered just sitting down in the middle of the floor and sobbing, but I threw on some workout clothes and went to the gym instead.

I’m not proud of the person I was before I got off the treadmill.

One of the strange things about DID is that you don’t always switch completely. Actually, I don’t think that’s strange at all. I think that might be a more common experience of dissociation and DID than the textbook DSM definition which (in my opinion, which I will clarify is what every word of this blog is, lest I be accused of trying to speak for every single person with DID again) totally over-values the whole “switching with amnesia” bit. It’s a far more complex and nuanced experience than that.

Anyway. The point is – this rage fit was definitely a combo deal. I could feel parts of Parts slamming into each other, trying to make decisions and assert themselves or just find a way to fucking cope. It doesn’t generally go very well under these conditions. We don’t agree. Everyone has different ideas of what should happen. It’s a mess.

But one thing I knew for sure was that if I couldn’t find a way to discharge some of that anger, it would end badly. Probably in some form of self-harm. I also know that Julia loves to workout and that doing so helps dial down her rage a few notches. Furthermore, if I could post-pone dinner by an hour or so, I knew it would give River a chance to pull it together and make a decision about what to eat. If those two were calmer, I figured the younger parts would start to calm down as well.

I wasn’t entirely sure my plan would work, but it did. It took a good 30 minutes of cardio to bring things down to a reasonable level. And once settled, we agreed on a homemade protein shake for dinner to follow-up the workout.

I was very impressed with the way I handled that. Mostly because I didn’t use dissociation to cope but stayed present with all those shitty emotions and sensations and used my super smart brain to actually problem solve. And it all worked out fine.

Huh. Imagine that.

I Don’t Want To Do This

Everything is so weird and just wrong right now. I can’t quite figure out what it is. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s just mental illness doing its thing. Maybe it’s the System falling into a new form of chaos. Maybe it’s exhaustion.

Either way, it feels awful.

My first two final practical exams are done. The first was rough overall, but my execution of skills was flawless. The clinical decision making part, however, was a little trickier. The second was easy and I totally nailed it. The third is on Monday and the one I’m most worried about.

I also had session on Monday afternoon and it was just shit. I had a hard time settling in because my brain has been so occupied with school lately that it can be difficult to transition to therapy. I mentioned this and I slowly talked my way through the chopped up thoughts I did have about how things have been going in sessions. I’d actually come to (what felt like) an important realization about the process. I shared that, but the therapist didn’t seem to connect with what I was saying, which was disappointing. And to make it worse, I felt like she challenged what I said and I ended up feeling pretty crappy about the whole thing.

She was asking about the System and that was a mess. It’s hard for me to even talk about because it is incredibly activating. We have survived this long because we have always presented as one single integrated person. Even when one Part does something that the Others don’t necessarily agree with, there’s no finger-pointing. So Rachel would never say that Julia cut herself. And Julia would never blame River for not eating. No names. No blaming. No System.

This, to my understanding, is the basic essential rule of survival. I don’t know who set it, but I know everyone follows it. Parts didn’t even start using their names on the outside until I realized there were parts. For three decades, whoever was fronting just went by Andi.

And now I’m disrupting that by sharing things. Sharing names. Talking about Parts and their complex inner world.

I shouldn’t be doing this. Who is it benefitting?

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Update

I have finally received all three grades from my midterm practicals: 95, 97, 98. Very exciting stuff. I think I might have actually done the best overall in my cohort, which is awesome. I feel both tremendous relief and increased stress. Why? Because although I now have more wiggle room to mess up and still pass the classes, I really want to maintain my 4.0. This obviously puts me closer to keeping it, but it feels almost more precarious to be hanging in a place so close to the edge, knowing I could fall off at any moment. I suppose it’s the idea of having further to fall? Something like that.

This past weekend was a blur. So much social interaction. I try not to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but let’s be serious – I am just not cut out for group events. I went to see the new Avengers movie and have dinner with friends on Saturday. It was fine, but I only remember about half of the entire afternoon/evening. I know at least five of us were switching in and out like a revolving door. There were just too many things creating stimulation and triggering parts (in both positive and negative ways). It was so exhausting. And embarrassing.

Then on Sunday, Wife and I went to a friend’s baby shower. It was very crowded and loud and there was so much food/beverage around. Also, just…babies. I love them, especially my nieces and nephew, but the entire culture around planning for/gestating/birthing/raising babies is so…. it’s just too much. Wife and I were asked so many times, “When are you two having a baby?!” (as if our legitimacy as both women and married people doesn’t arrive until we reproduce?) I just can’t.

We also spent some time at Wife’s parents’ house (they live down the street from where the shower was held). We actually haven’t seen them since January, so it was nice to catch up, but again – more social interaction. More trying to hold it together and hoping beyond hope that nothing will trigger a switch.

Speaking of babies…and speaking of my nephew – my sister texted yesterday as Wife and I were on the train home to tell me she was at the hospital with nephew. They were admitting him. At that point, she had no idea what was wrong, but he was lethargic, refusing to eat, and running a fever. They ran blood tests, urine tests, did a spinal tap, ultrasounds, the whole works. Eventually (24 hours later) the cultures came back positive for a virus that he is due to be vaccinated for in two weeks. Figures. Poor babe is on IV fluids + antibiotics (in case there’s a bacterial infection that hasn’t shown up in a culture yet). His veins kept blowing out, so he has the IV in his little baby head. So sad. My sister was absolutely losing her mind. But at least now we know what it is (and that it’s treatable). The docs are saying he’ll be there for observation for about three days. Hoping it’s a swift and uneventful recovery for the lil dude.

Now I need to go study for the quiz and two exams I have in the upcoming week.

When Things Get Worse

*Trigger warning for mild talk of self-inury.

Today has been…interesting.

I had class this morning, where I found out I got a 97 on my Kinesiology practical (yay!). I also got another grade yesterday (95), so now I’m just waiting on the third. Hopefully I’ll get that grade tomorrow and hopefully it will be within the same ballpark as the others.

Class went well. Fun stuff to learn and practice. Then I had to tutor for an hour, so my friend came and hung out with me so we could study together for Thursday’s exam.

Then…therapy.

I don’t remember getting there. I don’t remember leaving. I do, however, remember “coming to” at what was clearly a distressing moment near the end of session. I can  recall about 3-4 minutes of time, but the rest is a blurry mess.

I didn’t get home from therapy until much later than I normally would and when I realized I was home (and in my body again), I also realized there were new cuts on my left thigh.

Fuck.

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I Will Keep Fighting

*Trigger warning for language*

I called the therapist on Friday night because it was utter chaos inside. Andi generally can’t seem to understand (or maybe she can’t tell) what is going on, but for those of us who mainly exist inside – it really sucks.

We have these “teams” that are split and we basically hate each other. I like to think I’m the leader of my team, which mainly consists of me, River, and some younger parts. Shadow-Man (SM) and Laura are sorta co-captains of the other team, which has some older, some younger parts. Rachel, who is team SM, is usually older than the body age. For some reason, she age slid back to 19 on Friday which really fucking pissed me off because I know she’s doing it to challenge me and I know SM is behind it. Rain, who is River’s twin, is “Switzerland”. She is always 100% neutral. She provides no more or less support to any particular part and sometimes that drives me fucking insane because I’m like, “Yo, help your sister!” Ugh. There are also parts that aren’t on teams, but only come out at certain times. Like 911. She only comes out when we’re in an emergency and need emergency help (hence her name).

Anyway. Whenever any of us on Team J (yes, I’m naming my team after myself) start to get closer to literally ANYONE, Team SM starts to go apeshit. Doesn’t matter if it’s a therapist, friend, coworker, classmate, random fucking stranger on the train, whatever… If SM senses that any of us might trust someone or “disclose” any secrets, the sirens start blaring and shit gets locked down.

It’s not pleasant. It’s torture. It’s hell. It’s war.

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Sunday

Today was a little better. Still foggy. The Others are very close to the surface lately. Perceived threats tend to do that. Still no cutting. Less suicidal thoughts.

Wife and I went to a birthday party today. It was for our friends’ daughter. It was in a nice little park. The weather was sorta weird. It was quite warm in the sun, but then it was cold and windy under clouds. After about two hours or so, I was at my max of social interaction so we headed back home. I actually really like this family, but overall we do better in smaller, more contained environments.

Back to class tomorrow. Pop quiz first thing in the morning. Then an exam on Thursday. Looking forward to getting my grades for last week’s practicals though.

I’m kinda nervous about session on Tuesday now. The therapist seemed to handle our mini-crisis fairly well. She calmed Julia down, which is impressive. But…I can’t shake the feeling that it’s all too much. Maybe she’s thinking about that now – about how perhaps this is all more than she imagined. Even though I explained what happened with Zooey, it’s still very different to experience it in real life. And it’s very different to be the therapist responsible for treating us.

*Sigh*

I guess we’ll see what she says on Tuesday.

I’m going to go watch “Game of Thrones” with the wife and (hopefully) get some sleep. The last several nights have been hard for sleeping. Lots of fears and anxieties pushing through. When my sleep goes, everything else tends to fall apart. I need tonight to be restful…