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Rethinking Dissociative Living 5: A Proper Goodbye

Rethinking Dissociative Living 5: A Proper Goodbye

When my brother was little, he went to school one day, climbed on top of his desk, and screamed. He didn’t say anything. He just screamed. Nobody asked him why. When he ran away from home a few years later, the pastor of our church came over, witnessed my father’s performance as a remorseful parent, and didn’t concern himself with what exactly my father had to feel so regretful about. When I was six, my mother took me to a doctor – one of my father’s colleagues – who asked her what had happened to make me bleed. I don’t remember what she told him. All I know is that it wasn’t the truth. She didn’t know the truth. Only I and my father did. And no one asked me. Of course, by then I already had dissociative identity disorder (DID). Who knows what I would’ve said if they’d asked.

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Rethinking Dissociative Living 2: Child Abuse

Rethinking Dissociative Living 2: Child Abuse

I developed dissociative identity disorder in much the same way that many people do. I grew up with an abusive father and a loving, but oblivious, mother who inadvertently taught me how to pretend that what was happening to me wasn’t happening at all. I was an imaginative child and dissociation came easy to me. Telling the truth about what was going on in my home, however, has never been easy. So, when I told you not to go around saying that child abuse causes dissociative identity disorder, I didn’t do it because I wasn’t abused; I did it because I was.

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Rethinking Dissociative Living 1: Crazy

Rethinking Dissociative Living 1: Crazy

These days, when I think about Dissociative Living, I think of it as a series of letters from me to you – “you” being anyone who lives with Dissociative Identity Disorder (or DDNOS, but I lump you guys under the DID umbrella for efficiency’s sake). It feels personal to me, like an intimate – though public — correspondence. These letters I’ve written are about a thing we have in common, a serious thing, oftentimes a painful thing. I feel uneasy about some of those letters. I feel uneasy because I know just how vulnerable and suggestible a person can be when they’re struggling with something serious and painful. These days, when I think about Dissociative Living, I think that some of my letters may have hurt you. To begin with, there’s that last letter: the one about how I’m crazy.

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Goodbye Chronic Stress, Hello Dissociative Living

Goodbye Chronic Stress, Hello Dissociative Living

When I published my last post almost a year ago, I was sure that it marked the end of Dissociative Living. I wasn’t happy about that. I was frustrated and angry with myself for what I saw as an inability to manage stress effectively. And I was sad that I had to give up writing about Dissociative Identity Disorder because of that inability. Since that post last September, I’ve learned some things, including: 1) there is a profound difference, practically speaking, between stress and chronic stress, and 2) you cannot manage chronic stress – you either survive it, or you escape it.

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Letting Go of Dissociative Living

Letting Go of Dissociative Living

I’m weary. I’ve been living on the wrong side of my stress threshold for a while now. Part of the problem is that my stress threshold is maddeningly low. But part of the problem is that major things keep happening in my personal life lately; things that create enormous stress even for the most mentally healthy among us. As a result, my Dissociative Identity Disorder symptoms have amplified steadily over the last eighteen months. In the words of my fellow blogger Natasha Tracy, “When life gets nasty disease gets nasty too.” She’s right, of course. But I kept thinking, ‘hey, life is really turbulent sometimes and you just have to rise to the occasion.’ I failed to recognize, though, that doing so usually involves letting go of other, less urgent occasions.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder Makes Hard Times Harder

Dissociative Identity Disorder Makes Hard Times Harder

The past few months of my life have brought with them the suicide of a family member, the substance abuse problems and sudden onset mental illness of another, some unexpected financial difficulties, and not nearly enough time and space for me to cope with it all effectively. I’ve taken the put-your-head-down-and-keep-moving approach in part because I know I’ll leave other people in the lurch if I stop to recuperate. When a tornado hits is not the time to announce that gosh, you’d love to help out but you really need some Me Time. Instead, I’ve relied on my long-held belief that Dissociative Identity Disorder is both a blessing and a curse when life gets messy. But I’ve changed my mind. All DID does is make nasty situations nastier.

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A Year of Dissociative Living

A Year of Dissociative Living

I’ve just realized that a year has passed since I began writing Dissociative Living here at HealthyPlace. This is a pretty significant achievement for me. And that’s partly because I’m just plain proud of the content I’ve written. But this blog’s anniversary is also the anniversary of my coming out publicly as someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder. By choosing to write Dissociative Living I also chose to stop writing anonymously and from that point on, attach my real name and real picture to my thoughts and perspectives on DID. It was a pivotal decision and one that, had I asked, most people would have advised against. One year, three weeks, eighty-two posts, and a thousand comments later, I don’t regret it even a little bit.

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A Note from the Bottom of the Cliff

A Note from the Bottom of the Cliff

Remember when I said I didn’t know what to do about mental health warning signs when they flare up? The past two weeks of my life painfully demonstrate the consequences of that ignorance, along with some of the ruder realities of life with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I knew my mental health was deteriorating. I was talking about it, writing about it, and actively looking for solutions. I saw the edge of the cliff and did everything I could not to fall. But fall I did.

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My Mental Health Warning Signs: 5 Common Red Flags

My Mental Health Warning Signs: 5 Common Red Flags

If you have Dissociative Identity Disorder, recognizing when you’re on a downward spiral may be incredibly difficult. Dissociation separates us from our thoughts, feelings, and experiences and makes maintaining awareness of our very realities a monumental challenge. My hope is that by taking stock of my mental health warning signs, I can increase my chances of noticing the next decline in functioning at its inception, rather than coming out of a dissociative fog six months in and wondering what happened to my life.

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My Mental Health Is More Important Than My Pride

My Mental Health Is More Important Than My Pride

For some time now, my mental health has been declining. My partner admitted to me last night that if it were still possible to commit loved ones she would have had me hospitalized months ago. And though I didn’t realize she was quite that concerned about my mental condition, she’s been telling me that I’m not well for a while now. I’ve been unwilling to hear it, insulted by what I believed was a lack of faith in me and thoroughly annoyed at her refusal to recognize how brilliant and capable I truly am. Oh denial, my old friend, you’ve made me a fool once again. Sadly, I doubt it will be the last time. Because I still haven’t learned to take mental health warning signs as seriously as I take my pride.

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