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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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.

Raising the Bar

*Trigger Warning*

*Trigger Warning*

I had a dream on Wednesday night with both Zooey and the new therapist in it:

I went to this random house for session as usual. The therapist didn’t have an office, but was seeing clients out in the living room. I thought that was very strange, but I rolled with it. At some point I got up to use the restroom and I ran into Zooey. She apparently had an office in the same building. She invited me to come to her office so we could talk and I agreed.

I can’t remember much of what she said, but I know the basic gist of it was a pseudo-apology. She didn’t explicitly say she was sorry, but she talked about the situation being “less than ideal” and alluded to the possibility that she handled it poorly.

Then she opened up the option for me to start seeing her again. I told her that I didn’t think I could do that. She said I didn’t have to make a decision on the spot – I could think about it. I felt very overwhelmed and confused, but I stumbled away from her repeating the phrase, “I just can’t…”

I relayed this dream to the therapist in session this morning. She felt that perhaps the interaction with Zooey was indicative of the sort of “auto-termination” process I’ve been doing alone since she never offered me much of a chance to do that with her. I agreed. I think my rage and frustation is shifting into sadness and a deep sense of loss. And this dream tells me that I’m getting closer to acceptance, which might actually be what’s triggering the sadness and loss – that sense of finality that tends to accompany acceptance.

The therapist also reflected that perhaps the permeability of her “office space” (being in the open living room) was symbolic of the space we’ve created in therapy, which allows me to continue to explore my feelings and to grieve Zooey while simultaneously building a new therapeutic alliance. I hadn’t considered that, but she makes a good point. She really has given me a solid, safe space to anchor myself in while exploring lots of different fears and worries, especially as they relate to what happened with Zooey.

Then I pivoted the conversation to therapy in general. I mentioned that as I’ve traveled this long journey in and out of treatment, I’ve gradually raised the bar with each new clinician. I quickly alluded to a psychiatrist that I gave oral sex to. She paused for a moment and just said, “What?” I replied, “Oh, I haven’t told you that story yet?” to which she shook her head no. I asked her if I could tell her what happened and she said of course.

After I told the story she said, “This is not even remotely enough to capture the magnitude of this, but that is horribly disappointing.”

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Talking About The Food Thing

I wrote about roughly half of the session from Tuesday. The other half was spent talking about River and the unfortunately deteriorating situation with food. I’d alluded to there being some sort of disordered eating, but I haven’t been entirely upfront with her about how serious it is.

To be honest, it’s hard for me to even tell how serious it is.

I don’t feel hunger. At least not in the way I used to. I can’t feel the sensation of hunger or feel those “pangs” you get when you’re ravenous. I also don’t crave anything anymore. I have almost no physical connection to feeling hungry.

What I can feel, however, is the consequences of not properly fueling this body. I feel tired. Very tired. It’s hard for me to make the walk for my commute to school every morning. During yoga on Monday evening, I nearly passed out each time I had to switch to a standing pose.

I mentioned some of this to the therapist. I also mentioned that Wife has shared that she is getting increasingly worried about how little we eat. The therapist then asked me if I was worried.

“Of course I am. But Wife promised me she wouldn’t let me starve to death.”

“Has that been a concern in the past?”

“Eh, sorta. I mean, we had an eating disorder in junior high school. I don’t know much about it, but I know we were sent home from summer camp because the nurse was concerned about our health and part of why we were originally hospitalized was for eating disorder treatment…”

She just sort of looked at me for a moment. Then she said, “Do you think that River’s re-emerged restricting behavior is related to Zooey?”

“It started before that. But … yes.”

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Ripples

Yesterday’s session was kind of weird. I wanted to reschedule Friday sessions for reasons I’ll describe in a bit. I’ve had to change sessions before and each time, it somehow managed to be super awkward and trigger some sort of therapeutic impasse. Despite how much effort I put into not being weird yesterday, I somehow managed to do just that. Yet again.

The reason I wanted to reschedule is because our laboratory supervisor was not impressed when I strolled in 90 minutes late for open lab last Friday. I’ve already mentioned this on here before: it’s supposed to be voluntary extra time to practice lab skills, but for some reason, the lab guy takes it incredibly personal if you don’t spend all 7.5 hours there every single Friday.

When I walked in late last week, he said, “Busy morning, Andi?” I replied, “No. I have an appointment every Friday morning, as I’ve mentioned before.” Which clearly did not appease him and instead prompted him to go on a rant about “priorities” and “time management”, embarrassing me in front of the entire class. No bueno.

Honestly, I don’t need the lab time (as is pretty obvious from my academic performance), but I also definitely don’t need public humiliation on a weekly basis. There are only four open labs left in the semester, so I decided I’d rather just reschedule therapy than potentially go to battle with this dude every time I’m “late”.

I told the therapist this story as a preface to requesting that we change our Friday sessions. She started to look at her calendar for other possible session times when I added in that if we couldn’t reschedule, perhaps we could just “let it go for now.”

She stopped mid-movement and asked, “Well what do you want to do?” 

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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.

Traumatized or Psychotic?

This morning’s session also went pretty well. Since it had been a mere 14 hours since I last saw the therapist, I opened with the obligatory “this is awkward” ice-breaker by saying, “Hmm, seems like I was just here!” which, predictably, made her laugh.

I told her that I’ve been feeling very torn between either leaning into therapy or forgoing the process altogether. I explained that for about five years (from 2009-2014) I was neither seeing a therapist nor taking any prescription medications. She followed that up by asking if that was a stable time in my life.

Tricky question. Yes, it was….sorta.

There were no major crises happening (i.e. no cutting, drug use, eating disorders, or suicide attempts), but I literally never left my apartment. My wife was my primary form of human interaction. I had no job, no friends, no hobbies. I was terrified to do simple tasks like grocery shopping, getting a haircut, or talking to people in general.

It was mostly a time of transition. I had just pushed through some major therapeutic work and ended the two+ decades of abuse I’d endured from my parents. I was initially focusing on just surviving each day. Then, gradually, I started to make changes to my lifestyle. I became a much healthier person in virtually every way.

I eventually started to branch out and do some volunteer work. Then I felt brave enough to apply for work again. I worked for a brief period of time, but that job was ridiculous and awful, so I resigned and found myself at a stand-still. That’s when I decided to go back to school and change careers. That’s also around the time that I started to recommit to the relationships in my life and begin building new ones.

Which, ultimately, is what led me to seek out therapy again in the first place. And from there, I made the journey through treatment with Zooey that landed me in this woman’s office four months ago.

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Last Night

Last night turned out okay. That was last night, right? Seems so long ago…

Anyway. The therapist called me again around 9pm just to check in, which I thought was really wonderful of her to do. She’d said I could call her back after we spoke at 6:30, but I didn’t. So…it was cool that she took the initiative to call me again anyway.

We talked for about 20 minutes. I don’t remember much, but I know that at one point I told her I felt a very strong pull to just back out of this whole idea of therapy altogether. I said I was pondering the benefit of cutting my losses and just trying this alone again since I don’t seem to be responding very well to treatment anyway.

She acknowledged that it must be so difficult to forge ahead when it feels like everything is just getting gradually worse, but she sincerely believes that it’s the kind of “getting worse” that happens when things have the potential to eventually get better.

She admitted that she might not get this right. She might fail. She might end up being incompetent or negligent. She might end up abandoning me in some capacity. As much as that is terrifying to hear, I really appreciate that she at least knows and acknowledges that these are all real possibilities and very real fears of mine. She also said that she knows she cannot see the future. She doesn’t know what will happen anymore than I do, but she doesn’t think it’s time to throw in the towel just yet.

She didn’t outright ask me to trust her, but I sensed that was her underlying message.

Although I have absolutely no reason to trust her, the fact that she leaned into a crisis instead of pulling away from it makes me curious, if nothing else. She also seemed oddly comfortable with a situation in which she had no solid solution. I think I felt a lot of frustration and helplessness, but when I really think about the conversation, I don’t think she ever felt either of those things.

And she asks really great questions. We were able to piece together some important information about the system right now that I think will help her help us a little more.

Then, to my astonishment, she offered me an extra session tomorrow evening. She told me to think about it before I made a decision, so I did. I called her back today and I took the appointment.

I hope I can find a way to push through all of this fear and anxiety because it would be really lovely to walk out of that session feeling like I connected with her again. I’m so tired of feeling defensive and combative and…terrified. It sucks. I hate this chaos. I hate the noise and the darkness. I hate how utterly exhausted I always feel because we’re switching all the time and everyone’s fighting everyone, which takes so much damn energy.

I don’t need a miracle. But I do need…something. I need to believe she can do this, even if only for right now. Because this is awful and I don’t want to do it anymore.

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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