Friday, April 23, 2010

Doing the least I could do and succeeding

I have never been active in public concerns, groups, churches, or charities. My life energy has been directed to family, friends, work and trying to take care of myself. Some where in the past I developed a simple creed to "do no harm". The idea developed if I was not going to dedicate my life to good works, the least I could do was no harm.

Since last March I have been on a personal journey of good mental and physical health. I have lost 89 pounds, decreased my list of diseases and medications increased my stamina and focus. I worked on understanding myself, what makes me tick and what ticks me off. Therapy has helped me release demons and freed me to try new endeavours. I have stepped outside my comfort zone raising modest funds for 2 charities. I volunteered to research and write a memorial for a women who impressed me with her selfless dedication to making this world a better place while living a life well lived.

I also decided to write this blog. My intention was threefold, first and foremost to relate observations and reactions caught in the middle of Dissociative Identity Disorder and Alzheimer's Disease. Second, I thought our story might help others. Some one might identify and realize they were not alone. Someone else might obtain a clearer understanding of two difficult illnesses. The third reason was to self heal, to release into the vast blogging universe my thoughts, feelings and realities. I came to realize a cathartic moment, hitting post seemed to dissolve and carry away pressure.

I first broached the idea of blogging with C, Suzie's therapist. She was initially supportive and gave me encouragement. Suzie and I discussed the idea for several weeks. Initially, she choose not to read the blog. This was to be my outlet and she did not feel compelled to read about the life she was living. Curiosity kills the cat and slowly things started to unravel. Suzie was drawn to the blog, like a moth to a flame, the more she read, the more she burned. Parts related feeling exposed. I agreed to get approval before I told their story. What I did not understand was even though I got permission from one Part the memory belonged to all. Suzie started to feel I was only interested in her story. I was no longer a safe port in her storm.

My last posting related Parts increased activity. This was a direct result of my blogging. One Part posted and initiated communication with a reader. Suzie worried the Part was tactless and apologized on line. Suzie Q related a memory and with permission I published. Later I learned this was a new memory Suzie had not revealed. Memory work has a critical path, revelation, denial and acceptance. I got in the middle.

Life is out of control, Suzie needs to feel safe. She needs me to change my focus away from her and to tell my story rather than hers. She asked I never relate a memory that has not been revealed and lastly that I allow her to read before I post. Her reasoning and requests are valid and yet I hesitate. Suddenly, she drops a devastating bomb, some parts have lost their trust in me. Plus, a large part of her recent therapy has dealt with the trauma I am creating.

What have I done? How did this go so wrong? When I become part of the problem and no longer part of the solution, I am doing harm. I have to reevaluate, for now I have to stop.

Monday, April 19, 2010

DID: That Suzie Q

Last night as Suzie was making dinner I looked up and she had her arms wide like an airplane soaring around the kitchen. Catching her attention, I said Hi Suzie Q! I got a big smile and wave from a 5 year old. I asked if she was flying and got a yes, how did you know? Suddenly the oven timer rang she waved and was gone. Q is not allowed to use the oven.

Later in the evening Q popped out again, her mood started light talking about C the therapist's birthday and then sending me an email. Suddenly we were talking about a memory of visiting a counselor in first grade. She asked her teacher if she could talk to Klapp. She said he liked to do a trick with his hands, taking off his thumbs. Teacher arranged the meeting and Q tried to tell him what was going on at home. Back home she got in trouble with the mother. Klapp had called reporting nothing wrong and Q did not need to talk to him again. Miss Q went on to rant about stupid men and why did they not listen? I tried to reassure her C and I are here to help, I tried to get her to smile. We talked about my writing about her experience and she supports me letting people know how hard it is for Littles to protect themselves. Q went on to tell me she heard the older girls talking about troubles with boys and men. She concluded she did not want to grow up to marry a Prince anymore.

Suzie's Parts have been coming and going fast and furious with little notice or warning. One night while watching a mystery movie Libbie presented asking me if I liked seeing women get hurt? I tried to defend my love of mystery novels and movies, saying they were just stories. She said the ideas came from somewhere. I realized I did not have a leg to stand on! How could I watch a movie with assaults to women and decry violence? I am now looking closer at deeds and words.

Liza drove me home Thursday night. I did not even see the transition. She was upset with a comment I made to Suzie about "a half a$$job". Liza was justifiably pissed with me, but it is hard to have a personal argument with an angry stranger. We arrived home and she left the truck running telling me to get out, she was going for a drive. It was difficult, but I managed to get Suzie back and diffuse the situation. I had to repeatedly call her full name, asking to speak with her and Suzie finally came back to me. This is scary, I don't like confrontation and certainly try to avoid it with Suzie's Parts. Sometimes I am tempted to mask or hide my feelings and concerns. I probably need to edit what I say, but it would be wrong to hide my feelings. Parts need to know I am here to stay and sometimes things are not fine.

Parts have been reading my blog. Liza responded to a comment left by a reader. She asked the disarming and honest question of how a woman can live with a hurter? I do not have an answer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dissociative Identity Disorder Never Sleeps

Suzie has 20 or more Parts, we think and hope the majority have been transitioned into the Dome, a safe place of light. There are several known Parts outside the Dome, in the dark. Parts interact in groups or alone. Some help others with projects and daily care. Recently Suzie has experienced a great deal of stress and conflict. Parts have been moving back and forth between the Dome and darkness. There has been memory work and conflict resolution with C the therapist.

In addition, I have had conversations with several Parts who are upset with my writing. They feel exposed and compromised. In the past a well meaning professional reported the father's rape to the police. This was done after assuring Suzie he could be trusted with the truth, after all it couldn't be that bad could it? After learning it could be that bad, he did what was required by law. The exposure and resulting "he said" vs "she said" with the all male police was very traumatic to the System. The mother would not corroborate the abuse and the case was dropped for lack of evidence. As a result, "telling the truth" has been greatly feared and avoided at any cost. I was not aware of the full story and have promised to discuss my work with any Part I name in the future.

This week I was awakened by different Parts having difficulties. All of the Parts have been in the dome and alone. They wake me softly crying my name. One was separated and lost from the group, one had fallen in a hole, and one was stranded alone during a storm. In each case I ask the Part to identify herself and tell me her age. This allows me to know if we have a history. If I know the Part it is easier to help right away. I calm her, try to determine the problem and suggest a solution. If I do not know them, I need to establish rapport and trust, then use the same method to solve the problem. The Dome, like the human mind is capable of all things. One of it's amazing features is the Rope. The Rope can hold, protect and guide a Part. It also appears on demand. I reminded each Part this week about the Rope, I told them to sing out "Rope" and it appeared and then I urged the Part to tell the Rope what was needed, to guide them to the safe house, to pull them out of the hole or to take them to Grandma. As they were moving away, I reminded them I am here to help, to never be afraid to ask me for anything and that I love them. This kind of help and support is initially foreign to the Parts and they are often skeptical and afraid. I think the System has been so severely hurt and abused it is afraid to trust and afraid what is given may soon be withdrawn and replaced with abuse.

Imagine the effort it takes Suzie to live not only her life on the surface, but also the 20 or more lives inside. Each life is a separate entity unto itself, with different thoughts, experiences, and identity. They never sleep, they are only more or less active. They all may be talking and thinking at the same time, all expressing some thought, opinion or concern, all different. Imagine trying to make sense of the cacophony of sound and activity. Imagine trying to think something on your own, to move against the stream of consciousness. It overwhelms me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Alzheimer's:"They" and "Them" Paranoia

Mom told me she found the new painted cups she thought had been stolen. She found them on a shelf in the bathroom. Earlier in the week she was convinced "they" had come in and stolen them from her kitchen counter.

Alzheimer's seems to warp and distort personality characteristics. Mom has a life long battle with loosing stuff. As a child, I remember her tearing the house apart to find a lost billfold or piece of jewelry. She would get frustrated and determined to search until the item was found at the same time berating herself. Alzheimer's has added a faulty memory, more frenzy and paranoia.

Mom has two other complicating ingrained life habits, she hates clutter and is a constant organizer. If she sees something out of place she will put it anywhere out of site, thinking she will remember. That is how the cups ended up in the bathroom, her billfold in the dresser drawer, and her meds in the wrong cabinet.

Mom loved a clean organized home, it made her feel good and gave her a sense of accomplishment. Today, she is constantly reorganizing and compulsively putting things out of site and always looking for things she has misplaced, convinced "they" have stolen it. What once was a source of comfort and pride is now a constant frustrating humiliating battle.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Suzie's Abuse:Father, Mother and Predators

A child abused over an extended period of time experiences disassociation as an automatic response to new abuse or triggers. This allows the child to survive the abuse and also to function under "normal" everyday circumstances. As abuse continues the child constantly shifts between alters and her host personality. Clap on. Clap off.

Susie's abuse was initiated by John and compounded by a complacent mother. Suzie's mother ignored unusually severe diaper rashes, and cries when Suzie was held by the father. This mother told me Suzie cried a lot as an infant and never wanted to be held by, or go anywhere with John. This astounding statement from the woman who finally divorced John when confronted with overwhelming evidence of abuse! Suzie was even hospitalized as a young child for a severe urinary infection. Sadly, doctor awareness of abuse was not as prevalent in the 70's and a case of bubble bath allergy was diagnosed.

EVERYTIME there was a thunder/lightening storm John would take Suzie into the bedroom or basement alone to sooth her fears, fears generated by him. He put her to bed, which was part of the abuse routine. Through Libby, a Part, I learned this memory: "One of the littles told me, Suzie was about 2 or 3 and was naked on the couch after her bath. She was touching herself. Both the parents are in the living room looking at her telling her to stop. She has her legs apart and just started looking down there like there was something wrong. Then she was laughing and John was getting mad. Donna kept saying why is she doing that? John said just ignore her, she is not doing anything. Then John put her to bed."

Suzie did everything she could to stay away from her father to avoid the abuse. All the while the mother looks the other way. A recent memory revealed Suzie was bathed by the mother who stated over and over "you are a dirty girl" and vigorously washing her vagina. Mother purchased a baby doll nightie and although Suzie fought, begged and pleaded, mother made her put it on and parade down to the basement to show Daddy. Daddy liked it.

As I am working on this blog Suzie disassociates and Libby presents herself. She announces, I am Libby and I want them (the readers) to know we don't wear costumes. Those Hollywood types don't know, we don't change our clothes all the time. I asked if she ever has Suzie wear her favorites and admitted there are jeans with holes she likes. Libby had seen the United States of Tara and wanted to let it be known Parts don't always change clothes.

Suzie's therapist recently mentioned the unfortunate ability of the predator to recognize DID victims. The predators presence literally pushes the victim into a disassociate state. So, I asked Libby to explain.

Libby is age 13 and a bit angry. She recently came to the dome, she is in a dim, warm and quiet place away from everyone. She explains the predator phenomena: "The predator gives me a "creepy" feeling in the pit of my stomach, a feeling like you have been there before. You can't move, he sees a glaze or a mask on me. Then you just follow and things just happen. Because you know what is going to happen next. It is the same crap that has always happened. So you just follow. It is the same thing of taking your clothes off and spreading your legs and letting him take over you. You wait for the junk to be done. You wait for him to go away. You can't fight it, the dark is too strong and the voice is too strong. The voice tells you to take it so you take it. Like you just lie down in submission because you deserve it, so you do.

Me: why do you deserve it?

Libby: you just do.

Me: I don't understand that Libby, can you help me?

Libby: I deserve the pain and the suffering, because of the pain I caused.

Me: What pain did you cause baby?

Libby: It does not matter.

Me: What could a 13 year old girl do to deserve this kind of pain?

Libby: I am not good to my sisters and I do not take care of them very well. I hit my sister with paddles when she does not listen. Now she listens to me sometimes. I am just trying to keep her safe, no one understands that. If she gets in trouble she will not be safe. They all think I am a bitch anyway.

This is the first time I have had this type of conversation with a Part. Libby has related a memory from the littles as well as sharing personal information. The shared memories between Libby and the littles are a form of integration, which is a step towards a healthier life. Libby is in the dome, something new. Coming in to the dome from the dark puts Libby in a safe place away from further abuse.

Suzie Q's coping characteristic is the precocious 5 year old no one would want to abuse. Libby is the 13 year old angry bitch no one would want to abuse. Neither girl had a chance.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mom And Alzheimers

Dad passed away in 2000 and Mom's partner of 50 years was suddenly gone. She was amazing, taking over the decisions on the farm and household, asking questions, seeking advise to make informed choices. Slowly it became apparent there were difficulties in remembering small things, we blamed the stress and her sense of loss. Shoot, Mom always lost things, forgot peoples names or any other of a growing list of concerns. We denied the problem.

I would usually call Mom each day, often the phone would ring busy. After repeated attempts, I would drive out to the farm to check on her. She would always be OK, she just forgot to hang up the phone. She would berate herself, saying, "what is wrong with me?" Increasingly, she got angry and hit herself in the head with her fist. I would calm her down, often with humor and she would relax. Each episode took something from her spirit, a loss of confidence, it added fear and increased her level of stress. We still looked away.

A serious car accident made it apparent we needed to look at possible medical problems. Mom simply drove through an intersection, saying she did not remember anything. We saw a neurologist and Mom was diagnosed with moderate to advanced Alzheimer's disease. My sisters and I went into research mode, conferencing the Alzheimer's Association, asking the tough questions of doctors and professionals and then putting plans into effect to protect Mom from her environment and herself. Every visit, every appointment included Mom in the process. She did not always remember what we were doing, but we did not hide a conversation or decision.

Alzheimer is a cruel disease, there is no cure, and very little medical help to forestall the impending disaster. Alzheimer is a silent killer, slowly robbing the ability to think, and communicate. Every day with recognition and minimal confusion is a very good day indeed.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Suzie's Trauma

Dissociative Identity Disorder develops when trauma occurs and the Host is unable to comprehend and recover. In addition, there may not be a compassionate caregiver to help the Host recover and prevent additional abuse. In Suzie's case the trauma was significant and she had no one to go for help.

Imagine the DID mind, the Dark is where all the Parts are reliving the trauma while trying to protect the Host and also punish. In Suzie's case, the Parts vary in age from infant to late teens, they also vary in personality types, some are bullies and some are victims, just like life itself. They wander in the dark and form small cooperative groups. Once the therapist has diagnosed DID the work begins to communicate with the Parts. Once a level of trust is established the goal is to reveal the traumatic memory. At revelation, the Part is shocked, goes into denial and disbelief, finally acceptance and healing can begin. The Host experiences the same process.

Suzie Q was the first to present herself to the therapist, with compassion C was able to learn Q's memory. Later, I would learn from Suzie the double horror of her life. Suzie's trauma was repeated rape by her father. In addition, her mother was willing to ignore all the signs her baby daughter was being abused. Suzie had no way to learn this is not how parents love and take care of their children. Suzie thought this abuse was love. Father rape started as an infant until age 12.

To survive this horror and to help the Host survive, the brain capsulized the trauma. Each Part retained at least one memory and developed a method to try to repeal future abuse. Suzie Q's coping mechanism was to be a lovable precocious creative clown. Her logic was who could purposely hurt such a child? Well who the hell indeed?