Tuesday, July 24, 2007

OK I'm Out of the Closet with Multiple Personality Disorder Thing, Now What?

I'm not going to go into the details of my therapy here. Some day I hope to write a book about it. I even have my outline done and the first chapter completed. All I need is an editor so I'm not going to publish my here. But I am going to write about my therapy in general terms and it's affects on me. Also, I'm going to write about what I'm like as a person with multiple personality disorder.

Thanks to The Three Faces of Eve and Sybil
many people think they have an idea of what it's like to be a multiple. But experts now believe both of those cases are extremes in the continuum that is multiple personality disorder and that there may be as many ways to manifest multiple personality disorder as there are individuals with it.

All I can tell you for sure is what I know about me AND the multiples I have met along my journey (and I have met a few). The most important thing about it for me is that I have never felt like I have an "illness." I have never felt that being a multiple makes me damaged in anyway. To me it's always been the reason that I am alive today. It's been a tool. A tool that still serves me well.

Now that doesn't mean that I use my MPD to take shortcuts through life or not to be responsible for my behavior. I learned in my initial therapy for sexual abuse about letting go of the old birth family rules. The Serenity Prayer and the Twelve Steps of any twelve step program have been great tools that "we" have been able to incorporate into all aspects of our lives.

Victim behavior was the standard in my birth family. I had no idea how trapped it made me. Shedding those values was so freeing there are not even words to express. Being able to identify and share what I wanted and needed instead of depending on someone to figure it out has been liberating not to mention all of the energy that old behavior swallowed up in such a non productive way.

Also, just for the record, I do not lose time or have a life full of the chaos that comes from not knowing what one's alter personalities are up to. Actually, most of my adult life was not like that at all. I have always been a high functioning individual. Even during the therapy to address the reasons that I became a multiple, I was always aware of what was happening to me. Much of my memory loss was from the age of 7 and before. There were a few isolated incidents as a young adult.

I was relieved when I was finally diagnosed as a multiple. It was just one more piece to the puzzle about who I was and why I was. Some multiples think it means that they're crazy. To me, I finally knew for sure that I was not crazy. I was not some mistake by mother nature that should never have been born. It meant there were valid reasons for me being like I was.

Now, I have to admit there have been some embarrassing moments because I have multiple personality disorder. To this day I'm not all that comfortable with the fact that after particullarly trying therapy sessions Dave would take the "injured' child shopping to Toys R Us and buy them a toy, usually a doll.

I remember clearly sitting on the floor in the Cabbage Patch Dolls' aisle with an assortment of dolls spread out on the floor around me as the child picked out the one she wanted. I also remember sometimes other children emerged and got to pick one for themselves as well. All the while, shoppers would pass by and look down the ailse strangely at that woman in her late 30s sitting on the floor playing with the dolls. I don't even want to guess at what they thought.

Every child that told his or her story got their chance to pick their own toy. Most of the selections were dolls, some boy dolls as well as girl dolls, but there were horses and cars, coloring books and bubble soap. There's quite a list and actually, all those toys still take up most of my bedroom even today.

Sometimes I think I'd like to have a 'normal' bedroom like a normal adult but to put away those toys would be to deny a part of myself and I won't do that. As a multiple who has chosen not to integrate because we are all tired of the pain, we chose to live in harmony. There wouldn't be much harmony if I denied those many wounded children who are part of me so the toys and the clutter that goes with them stays.

The reason I see Multiple Personalities as a tool is because they saved me when nothing else could. When life was so complicated and dangerous that remembering what happened to me could get me killed, I didn't remember because someone else did. When life warranted I know what happened, there was someone to do that. When life wanted me to know but wouldn't allow me to be judgemental (have an opinion or emotions about what happened) there was someone to do that. My psyche created whatever it needed to keep me safe in whatever situation that might present itself.

And when it was time to do therapy, my psyche created a personailty whose job it was to mediate the therapy. I had my very own built in therapist who controlled when memories surfaced, who spoke to and was respected by all of the inner children and who knew when memories surfaced who was responsible for what, when, where and why and explainedd that to the children. That personality kept the system in balance so the depravity being dealt with didn't swallow us up or set off the self-destruct personality that had been implanted so many years ago.

Pretty neat if you think about it the only problem was it was dependant on the discovery process going as planned. Just like most of life, you can't always control the things you want to.

Unfortunately my therapy was no exception.At one point things didn't go as planned, an event triggered by no other than my therapist set the whole system off balance and my safety became at grave risk. Even then, my therapy personality was able to figure out what I needed to ensure my safety and a catastrophic event was avoided. Like I said, it works for me.

So therapy for me at the point it was discovered I was a person with multiple personality disorder entailed a couple of individual therapy sessions a week, a group therapy session with the sexual abuse group and by then an intimacy group therapy session for Adult Children of Alchoholics. Both groups were 3 hours long and the therapy sessions were an hour each.

At one point in my therapy I did as many as 17 hours a week of therapy. A few of those hours were at self help meetings. But since I needed to be in a safe place with supportive people, the experts involved all felt those were therapy hours as well. All I know is they kept me sane and in control of my deprogramming.

There's lots of talk about how long a person with multiple personality disorder must stay in therapy once they are diagnosed. But I guess I'm the exception to that rule. I took the information I learned before I was diagnosed and used it through my therapist personality to my advantage. From the time I was diagnosed to when I stopped therapy was maybe 3 or 4 years. I'm not exactly sure but I do know by the time I was 40 I was done.

I haven't been back since. I have all of the tools I need to live a happy productive life and I'm no longer plagued by the deep depression that I carried around most of my life. The deep dark hole that was trying to swallow me up and suck the life right out of me is none existant. A bad day doesn't throw me into a dark depression. Running into a member or memory from my birth family doesn't set me on my ear.

I have my days when I have to remind myself to quit looking so far down the road that I'm overwhelming myself. There are the days I have to pick myself up by the boot straps and make myself do something that someone inside is afraid to do. Maybe there are a half dozen like minded things I have to remind myself to work through. But from what I can tell, that doesn't make me any different than anyone else out there who is trying to live their life.

And that's an important point! I AM living my life. I am no longer just going through the motions trying to get through from day to day or trying to live up to someone else's expectations. I am chasing my dreams with a vengenace, even though sometimes it gets pretty scary (and my mother-in law totally disapproves, not to mention what my birth family would have thought!) I am no longer the programmed robot that lived every day trying to keep within the guidelines of the sick family structure I was born into.


QQ said...

Wow. Your strength and courage are awesome.

By the way, have you read Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls by Matt Ruff? It's a novel about a character with MPD. I'd be curious to hear your opinion of it.

arthist99 said...

It is amazing what the human brain is capable of. I knew you were tough, but I didn't know how tough until now.

Rising Rainbow said...

OO, I have never hear of this book but I will look into it this winter.

I have lots of opinions about multiples, what they are really like, and whether they are responsible for their behavior or not, so I'm sure I'll have an opinion. BTW. I do believe a multiple should be held accountable for their behavior no matter which alter committed a crime. That's a post I need to do some day.

Arthist99, I have to laugh at that. Yes, I guess I am a tough old bird! lol I refuse to let like stop me that's for sure!

Both of you, I really appreciate your support. There is so much stigma with mental illness and MPD is considered to be an illness even if it's working well. People like you will help change the minds of the general public who are still afraid of people like me.

Kahless said...

I have not read this post before. I know as a result of reading yours and JIPs post I am aware of DID/MPD and I wouldnt think bad of any adult on the floor in ToysRUs.

Q: how many alters do you have and whilst they co-exist, I'm guessing, are several more at the front than others?

Rising Rainbow said...

kahless, well, maybe you wouldn't have thought bad of me sitting on the floor figuring out which dolls to buy but a number of people's eyes about bugged right out of their heads. It's a wonder someone didn't get whiplash from the double takes. lol

I have over 400 personalities. To be perfectly honest, we quit counting. We had no need to know exactly how many. It was more important to get to the bottom of what controlled us so that we could begin living our own life instead of being a victim.

There are other earlier posts that tell more about my system and how it works. Many of the things that happened to me were so horrific it took a group of alters to deal with just one memory.

Today, I think I'm probably co-conscious with all or at least most of them. However, while the thoughts and current experiences might be shared, the feelings involved can be experienced separately.

Beautifuldreamer said...

I just read this entry for the Blog Carnival, and wanted to thank you for entering it.

What an intelligent, honest take on DID! I applaud your hard work on your own behalf as well as your decision to not integrate, to "do" DID your own way.

Angel said...

Thanks to the blog carnival I have now read this post and am amazed at the well-adjustedness you have managed to achieve. You're right, the popular media does not advertise that aspect of MPD. Thank you for sharing your experience so that we can learn more about it.

Marj aka Thriver said...

I wondered if you were going to write a book. I'm so glad you are going to--it will be great, I'm sure. Keep us posted on it, will you? Thanks for sharing this wonderful post for THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this with the world.
Have you found an editor?