Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Expressive Arts Carnival #3

Time is so screwy for us right now. Like I'm sure weeks have passed and I'm late paying all the bills, but then thankfully it turns out it's only been days. Or alternatively, that I was certain it had been only a couple of days since I said I'd get back to a client and then I discover I said that over a month ago. Yikes.

So it was a relief when I suddenly remembered that we wanted to participate in this month's Expressive Arts Carnival hosted at Mind Parts, and after checking the blog, discovered that I hadn't missed the deadline after all.

The assignment was: "On a white or black background, choose two (and only two) colors and make a painting (digital or analog) that represents where you have been mentally for the past week or so."

Here is our submission:

Notes on this image: there's been more focus lately on the system working as a united whole, even if we never fully integrate. We are our own light, a ball of light, though we have raw wounds, angry red welts of pain and memory. The beliefs we still struggle with, beliefs about our self-worth and the world around us, are a prison. Still, we continue to heal, to let our light shine through.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Distraction Day

So anxious and depressed today. A lot of commotion inside. Everything from "How could he?!" to "I have so much work to do!" The best we could do was distract ourselves, and reading seems to be the only way to do that. Even watching TV or a movie doesn't work anymore. Too easily distracted away from the distraction.

It's true, there is a lot of work to do, but there's a lot of work to do every day. We run a one-woman shop and have a lot of different jobs to do in this business. Having constant work is a good thing. Someday we might even make a living from it. But today was a read-a-book-in-bed day. Tomorrow, we have a work meeting and have to be competent. I hope!

We've done this depression/anxiety thing before, dealing with new memories or new-to-us alters. Everything is unsettled and emotions are just beneath the surface. Today this sort of conversation was taking place:

It's all in the past. It's done. Over. No one is hurting us now. Just get over it.

I'm trying but I can't help how I feel.

Do something physical. Can we at least get up and get dressed? Make lunch? I'm hungry.

If I push through this, I will pay for it later. God, it hurts. Why does it have to hurt? Why can't I just hate them?

Nononononononononoooo... Don't think don't think don't feel... he's coming back he always comes back I can never get away he'll find me and then she'll blame me and it will be all my fault it's always my fault...

I'm going to check email again. Oh no, what if someone's mad at me? What if I'm still screwing up? I can't check email now. Where's my book?

I have a lot of work to do. I'm not getting anything done! What if this goes on forever? I'm going to go broke because I can't work and then that will be all my fault.

We should end it now. If we're not here anymore, no one can hurt us. No one can be mad at us. No one will even remember us. It's safe that way.

No! That would be worse. Then people really would be angry with us. Think of the kids. We have to be here for them!

Have to focus. Have to breathe. This will pass. Where's my book?

A new part comes foward

I had the strangest dissociative experience last week. I was sitting and talking with my IRL friend J when I suddenly felt like I'd just opened my eyes, even though they were already open. Or like I had a second set of eyes and those had just opened. And then for about five seconds, I had absolutely no clue who this other woman (my friend J) was.

Didn't recognize her. Didn't know anything about her. Nothing. Total stranger. It took just those few seconds for this other part to determine she was safe and then {}poof{} she was gone.

I don't know her name, but she's shared a few things with us since then:
  • she was "out" when we were in Girl Scout Brownies
  • she was out in a ballet class we were in circa early elementary school
  • she remembers an experience going to Dad's workplace after hours (more shortly)
  • she is hyper-sensitive about "down there"
  • she believes everyone wants to look at a girl "down there"
She first came forward with memories about arguing with Mom about wearing the Brownie Scout uniform, which was a very short dress. She didn't want to wear it, or wanted to wear pants under it. But apparently that was against Girl Scout regulations at the time and Mom wouldn't let her. At every Brownie Scouts meeting, her focus was completely on how to keep anyone from looking between her legs.

Just recently, she shared parts of a memory that finally makes sense of a trigger we've never understood before. She remembers going with Dad to his workplace after hours one night. It was a secure facility, requiring a numerical key lock to get in the front door after hours, then signing in with a guard just inside the entrance, showing the company ID badge, signing a log... the whole bit.

Dad told Mom he'd forgotten something at work and it couldn't wait. He offered to take me, saying he'd show me where he worked, and maybe even get me a hot chocolate from the vending machine in the cafeteria (my absolute favorite part when we watched Fourth of July fireworks on the facility's campus each year). After signing in, there's a blur, then lying down on something (couch? table?) and seeing exposed ductwork in the ceiling. Maybe ceiling panels from a drop ceiling that had been removed? Maybe a ceiling that was never finished? At any rate, the ductwork was then associated with terror.

Dad met at least two other men there that night. She heard them talking and laughing. And the talking and the laughing and the ductwork and the lying down and the ductwork and the paralyzing fear and the sicksicksick feeling and the fear...

I never understood before now why seeing ductwork was so triggering. I still don't know what happened. It seems to involve a lot more fear and sense of "wrongness" than it does pain. Or physical pain, anyway. My suspicion is that photographs were taken. Maybe more, but at least that much.

After all this time, after years of therapy, I had no idea that there were still unshared memories. Dad's been dead now for six years; Mom passed away a little over a year ago. Maybe that finally makes it safe.

Safe, maybe, but it makes me sick.


Thursday, July 29, 2010


When I set out last night to write on the blog, I never intended to write about my mystery spirit visitor. I'd planned to write a post about how the messages I heard repeatedly as a child formed my self-worth (or lack thereof). That I was far from special. I was Not Good Enough (no matter what).

Imagine my surprise when a completely different post came about. But one of the rules we (as a DID system) decided on was that this blog was for expression and working through things, and as such, we would not delete posts written by others in the system. If someone else inside wanted to write a rebuttal, or explain another perspective, that was fine. But no destroying anything that another created.

But that didn't stop the internal backlash as a result of last night's post. It went something like this:
Such pretty words, saying anyone can benefit from the resources of the universe. But that's not true, is it? Because if everyone had conversations with spirit guides or angels or whatever they are, you wouldn't be worried about people thinking you're insane. No, you didn't reassure anyone with that post---you just set out to describe how you're oh so special and not everyone has these experiences. In fact, you'll make anyone who reads that post feel worse, not better. No one's going to want to be friends with you. No one's even going to want to like you. Congratulations.
I was really starting to question whether I should leave the post up or not. Except taking it down was against the rules. I didn't want anyone to feel worse, or to think that post was self-important. Because that's so not what I was trying to do. I really wanted to offer hope. I really believe that there are vast resources for anyone who wants them, whether it comes in the form of mysterious visitations or dreams or messages from the ancestors or unexplained knowing or visions or inspiration.

A long heartfelt talk with my IRL friend J helped a lot. She reminded me that the purpose of this blog isn't necessarily to educate or inspire (though it'd be great if it did), but to share experiences, which is exactly what I did. She also pointed out that everyone has different strengths. Some people have perfect pitch, can play piano effortlessly, or run a four-minute mile, or fly an airplane, or develop iPhone apps, or do chemistry or calculus. I can't do any of those. I just have mystical experiences.

So I won't break the rules and take it down. And I will keep reminding myself of what my counselor keeps telling us: "Your experience is your experience and it doesn't need to be anything more." And I will keep sharing, despite the critical voice(s) in my head.

And maybe my next post will be the one I started to write last night.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Special? Or human?

There's a very interesting discussion going on at sharing our spaces about finding balance between the very human need to feel special and concerns about self-absorption. This is something I've struggled with for decades. Literally.

When I was four, I stuck a metal fork in an ungrounded electrical outlet. Sparks flew, I was thrown back a foot (or so it seemed), and a two-foot space around the outlet was scorched. In the immediate aftermath, before it occurred to me to be scared, I saw a man standing between me and the outlet. He didn't say anything; he just smiled reassuringly. Then he disappeared and I saw the black wall and little burn marks on the carpet and then I screamed and my parents came running.

The man came back a few more times before I was ten. On one of those occasions, my mom was mad at me for something.  I don’t remember what.  I had run to my room and closed the door, but I heard her screaming in the kitchen. Then I heard her get into the closet, and a bunch of noise, like stuff falling over. All of a sudden, the man was there. He had very kind gray eyes. He told me not to be afraid, that he was there to help me.  Then he pointed to my bed and said ‘Quickly, under there.’ My mom came into my room only moments after I got under the bed, and knocked everything off my shelves, smashed some of my toys, threw everything out of my closet and onto the floor. At one point, she dropped a wooden handle, like a broom handle with no broom on the end.  I couldn’t see the man, from under the bed, but I sensed he was still there. She destroyed my room, but she never touched the bed. Some time after she left, he said it was okay to come out. But by the time I got out from under the bed, he was gone.

It never occurred to me to feel afraid of this man. In fact, despite the sheer terror I felt in the situations before each time he showed up, his presence always made me feel protected. It made me feel loved. It made me feel... a little special.

It wasn't until I was a teenager that I started thinking maybe these visits were a little odd. I was well-used to talking to people no one else could see, but this one was different. He showed up seemingly on his own agenda; I couldn't call him. And I was acutely aware that every time he showed up, I was spared from something even nastier than what I'd already endured.

When I was 16, I'd decided there was no way out, no way to escape the horrors at home and still live. I'd decided that my parents must be right about me, that I was no good---would never be good enough---and I ought to end it all. I had a plan. I started saying goodbye to my friends at school.

The day I'd decided to do it, I was walking to my locker from lunch and saw the same man leaning against a tree, waiting for me. "We need to talk," he said. I argued with him, out of desperation or frustration or something. I didn't realize other students saw me arguing with a tree. A school administrator took me to the office. My mom was called. My best friend meanwhile had reported her concerns that I was suicidal. Child Protective Services got involved. Through it all, the man stayed with me, talking to me.

Among the things he said to me (taken from a journal I kept back then): "There is something important you must do in this lifetime. Every human being on the earth has something important to do. Events are set in motion, certain people must be brought together, every person’s actions affect everyone around them, and any number of things could throw the whole direction off balance."

It made me feel...well...a little special.

And if he was right, everyone had something to contribute. Everyone was special, for reasons as unique as they were. But more importantly, to my mind at the time, I mattered. If not to my parents, I mattered to... what? Or maybe I should ask, Whom?

I have my suspicions about the man, about who or what he is. He's shown up a handful of times in my adult life, and it's sometimes been pretty intense. About twenty years ago (!) when he showed up, I asked for proof, for some sign that he was more than a figment of my imagination. His response convinced me in no uncertain terms. It strengthened my belief, perhaps even a kind of knowing, in whatever you want to call it: God, Spirit, the Source, an Intelligence in the universe.

Talk about humbling. And yet, a little special, too.

Only a very few people who know me IRL know about this visitor. Even my counselor doesn't know. It was never something I wanted to talk about. It was very personal. And I didn't want anyone to think I was either 1) insane, or 2) feeling superior because of these visits. Only because this blog is anonymous can I share it here.

I'm convinced it's completely human to want to feel special, to feel loved. We need to matter, and as children we need first to matter to our parents. It's from them that we learn whether to love ourselves conditionally or unconditionally. It's from family that we first develop our sense of self-worth.

But from time to time, maybe the Universe can step in and help us out a bit, too. Because we're special? No. Because we're human.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What's up doc? Bad meds, it is.

Friday, before my lunch interview (which went swimmingly!), I saw my med doc. She's not exactly a doc. I need to explain.

God, so much information. How much should I share? How do I summarize?

Three years ago,

No. Okay, so seven years ago, I saw a psychiatrist at the same clinic where I see my counselor (we don't use the word th*r*p*st---that's another story). She didn't like the meds I was taking (prescribed by my medical doc) for depression. She wanted me on an antipsychotic (been there, done that). We'd just had a baby, were still nursing, said no. She flagged our file as a "troublemaker" and we couldn't get in to see another psych doc for four years.

So, three years ago, we get a referral from our counselor to see a med doc. She's fantastic. We really like her. No bedside manner 'tall, but we can intellectualize until the cows come home with her. Then, she leaves the clinic. Now we're rerouted onto a new med doc, but not a real doc, a psychiatric assistant or somesuch and she can write prescriptions. This PA is not as great, but okay. She leaves after 6 months. Another PA. This one we really, really like. She's the first one to say, you've been treated medically for 20+ years for depression with a side of anxiety. How about we try treating anxiety with a side of depression?

What the hell, hey? So she switched up our meds a bit, and it was awesome. It actually kept the PTSD symptoms at bay. Course it did nothing about the DID, but that's okay. We're not looking to off each other, y'know? ;-)

But then she leaves the clinic. Now we have a new PA. This one specializes in PTSD and is the first PA to have a hint about the DID, but I don't think she really knows. And I get the distinct feeling she's on meds too. Sometimes you just know these things. But she's got this agenda about using atypical antipsychotics to treat PTSD. Yeah, there's studies that show it helps some people. We tried one last summer, with disastrous results. We have a long, strong family history of diabetes, and the atypical antipsychotics are notorious for messing with blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and appetite. A goodly number of people gain weight. There's one thing we don't need.

Anyway. So we see this PTSD-specializing, antipsychotic-supporting PA on Friday, before the interview. And TA comes out and tells her that we're still having trouble sleeping, that the meds we're currently taking for sleep (Ambien, Valerian Root, Melatonin) aren't working as well as they had for the past year or so and it's taking 3-4 hours to get to sleep. If we sleep at all.

Her solution: try another pill. This time Seroquel XR, which she assures us, at the smallest dose works only as a sedative and not as an antipsychotic. TA believes her, says ok, and we take it Friday night.

Well, it did help us sleep. For about eighteen frickin' hours. It also caused the munchies, edema in the lower legs/feet, extreme dizziness, tongue numbness, muscles that wouldn't work correctly, and it totally fucked up emotions. Or did something. Crying at the drop of a hat for no known reason, a totally hopeless helpless certainty feeling.

This wasn't memories. This was bad meds. Trust me, I know what memories look and feel like and this ain't it. And if I'm right, which I know I am, all of these symptoms will be gone by the time the med is out of our physical system.

Truth is, I feel like I kinda fucked up, let the system down this time. Cos I shoulda known this would happen and fought TA and said NO FUCKING WAY are we EVER takin an antipsychotic med EVER again. I wanna march into the PA's office with the leftover meds and slam em down on her desk and say, enough! Man, I'd rather deal with the insomnia. But not everyone would.

Crystal thinks we can do a mind over matter thing, get better that way, and Jess says meditation helps even though I think it's a big waste of time, but maybe they're right. I dunno. We've had the insomnia since forever, since at least the body was four. I remember. Cos that's when D started helpin us get to sleep.

I ain't gonna get into a whole long thing in ths post, but D is somethin like a spirit guide. He ain't one of us, though he's talked to everyone inside at some point or another. His voice comes from outside, not like hearing others inside talk. And before anyone gets on my case about it, our counselor knows about him. She even took the whole matter to her supervisor's supervisor, some pastor or somethin, and they did this whole...shit, Chris help me out, what's it called... differential diagnosis...thanks..on it and he came to the conclusion that we ain't crazy, we're what he'd call a "mystic."

Yeah, Crystal totally dug that. Anyway, D used to do some sort of relaxation thing that helped us get to sleep. Worked until Caitlyn and Kari took over as hosts. Ha!

Not true. It worked for me as well, but Kari won't take help 'tall. Except perhaps from the Stoic, but they're soul-mates. Sorry I buggered in!

So we lost all of today but not cos of any time loss, just the meds, and Chris is all up in arms because we spent $40 on a copay for this "help" from the PA and another $40 on the prescription and it's all for nothing.

AND, I dunno if it makes any difference or not, but no one in the system is takin the Buspar and the Prozac that we wanted to keep cos it was workin. How do you say it's workin when you're not takin it? And hell if I'm gonna tell the PA about it. She can take her antipsychotics and shove em in her happy place.

If that aint enough there's no other PA to see in the clinic, so we gotta play nice. I gotta play nice. She's the one who prescribes the prozac and the buspar and the ambien. And I kinda got trust issues so findin another med doc ain't high on my list right now. Better the devil you know and all that...

God, how come we gotta play the PA in order to keep from gettin screwed? We're supposed to be able to tell her the truth and trust she'll try to help us. Yeah. Great fuckin help. Thanks. That helps us trust.

A'ight, me and Caitlyn are gonna go hang out inside. I'm just gettin madder and that ain't helpin the body get to sleep. Man, all we want is sleep. Restful sleep, y'know? Why is that too much to ask?

Tracy (and Caitlyn!)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fear of success

Years ago, we started our own business because we wanted to work, to be productive and creative, but we needed the flexibility to work around bouts of debilitating depression, anxiety, PTSD and of course dissociating. We worked part-time, taking time where we needed to. It was good, but not really a means of creating income.

In the past 18 months, everything has changed. Business has grown a mind-boggling 300%. I am planning work projects into 2013. My business is officially now known internationally. This is great. But it's also frightening. It means we have to work harder than ever before on balance, a topic we wrote about earlier.

Tomorrow I'm being interviewed. I fear coming across as a neophyte, a scatter-brained know-nothing, an incompetent fraud. Trying to find that capable, successful perspective inside is really, really hard. It's so easy to put myself down. After all, I learned from the best. (Note heavy sarcasm here.)

I can't work just whenever I want to, like I did even a year or two ago. I have to set, and keep, structured business house. I have to keep it together. We have to work together like we never have before. We have the opportunity to be successful beyond our wildest dreams (note that success does not necessarily mean "rich" except perhaps in experience and wisdom). And perhaps it is that opportunity that has us scared.

We also must remember that we are not alone. We have colleagues who are wonderfully supportive and happy to help others succeed. We have IRL friends. We have our husband and children, our faith community, and vast resources through the Internet.

And on a spiritual level, we have support as well. But that will have to wait for another post.