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About Crystalie Matulewicz, Author of ‘Dissociative Living’

About Crystalie Matulewicz, Author of ‘Dissociative Living’

Hello everyone. My name is Crystalie Matulewicz, and I’ve been chosen to be one of the writers for the Dissociative Living blog here at HealthyPlace.

I have recently earned my Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and will soon be pursuing my Masters in Mental Health Counseling. My two lifelong dreams have been to become a writer and to become a counselor, and now here I am getting so close to achieving both. My dissociative identity disorder diagnosis isn’t holding me back.

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About Sherry Polley, Author of “Dissociative Living”

About Sherry Polley, Author of “Dissociative Living”

Hello, my name is Sherry Polley. I am currently 31 and living in Indianapolis, Indiana. I will be blogging for the Dissociative Living blog. I was formally diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID) around 2008. I have since recovered from the disorder due to therapy and a miraculous medication. I had been living with the disorder for my entire life, and found it to be very confusing until I received and understood the diagnosis of DID. It wreaked havoc on my life and was very painful. I did a lot of unpleasant things when my alters would take over and my loved ones were very concerned about my behaviors. I am here to tell you that recovery is possible, from dissociative identity disorder as well as others. 

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Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: State-Dependent Memory

Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: State-Dependent Memory

Soon after I began researching anything and everything related to Dissociative Identity Disorder, I came across the idea of state-dependent learning. And though the concept – that things learned or experienced under certain conditions, internal and/or external, are easiest to recall under those same conditions – made sense to me, it didn’t make much of an impression. But recently I had a profound personal experience that illustrated clearly to me both the power of state-dependent learning and the revelation of state-dependent memory recall.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Worlds Colliding

Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Worlds Colliding

There’s a space of six weeks between my last two posts here at Dissociative Living. Some of that month and a half disappearance has to do with the fact that I’d been trying to do too much for the better part of a year and I reached a kind of critical mass that left me depleted and in desperate need of rest. And some of it has to do with the nature of Dissociative Identity Disorder itself. It’s natural, within the context of DID, to compartmentalize one’s life to such a degree that the various arenas in which we live – work, school, friends, etc. – are separate worlds altogether. And when one or more of those worlds collide, as they inevitably do from time to time, the resulting anxiety triggers a full retreat from one or all of the affected worlds. But I’ve discovered that there’s more to these disappearances than I believed.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: My Dissociative Memory

Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: My Dissociative Memory

When I was in college I confided in a friend about an incident at a party that left me feeling taken advantage of. Initially I was taken aback by her outrage on my behalf. A few days later, I was equally shocked by her hostility towards me. It took many years before I understood that Dissociative Identity Disorder played such a large role in the party incident that I came away with an impression of it that wasn’t accurate at all. By reporting it to my friend, I essentially told a lie, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Today her wildly varying reactions make sense to me because I have a much better understanding of the potential pitfalls of my dissociative memory.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Dissociative Memory

Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Dissociative Memory

We know Dissociative Identity Disorder is a trauma disorder. In the past, many clinicians approached treatment as if it were an archeological dig, excavating for traumatic, dissociated memory. I think most people agree at this point that that’s at best ineffective and at worst harmful. But the nature of dissociative memory is such that most people with DID have more questions about their histories than answers. And while I think those of us with Dissociative Identity Disorder do have to learn to tolerate some ambiguity, I also think we have more answers than we realize.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Diagnosis and Shame

Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Diagnosis and Shame

In my current series, Diary of a Newly Diagnosed Dissociative, I’ve been writing about what I’ve observed to be common emotional reactions to receiving a Dissociative Identity Disorder diagnosis. I say, “emotional reactions,” but I don’t know if that really does justice to the enormous impact a DID diagnosis can and often does have. When I say I was confused, I mean I was nearly incapacitated by confusion. When I say I was afraid and lonely, I mean I was almost paralyzed by fear and loneliness. It’s with that same respect for the degree of overwhelming emotion that I talk to you today about shame.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Hospitalization

Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Hospitalization

In an email conversation I had last week with someone who also has Dissociative Identity Disorder, the issue of hospitalization came up. I was impressed by this person’s pro-active perspective. He appeared to accept the fact that inpatient stays are sometimes a part of the recovery process. Historically, my attitude has been much different. But I’ve decided his forward-thinking approach is healthier.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: My Diagnosis

Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: My Diagnosis

Yesterday I talked about the Dissociative Identity Disorder diagnosis and the vital role clinicians play in making that diagnosis. One of the reasons it’s important to talk to a therapist if you think you may have DID is that dissociation by nature impedes awareness. Most people can’t see the spot between their shoulder blades without a mirror. Similarly, most severely dissociative people aren’t able to clearly recognize the symptoms of DID and the extent of their problem without the help of a skilled clinician. In fact, the diagnosis often comes as a shock. Today I’d like to share with you a typical diagnosis story – my own.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Negotiating with Alters

Dissociative Identity Disorder Video: Negotiating with Alters

Dissociative Identity Disorder can leave you feeling like much of your life is out of your hands, subject to the varying agendas of your alters. Last week, in the comments to my post Love and DID: Sometimes More is Less, reader Dana offered an insightful perspective on the potential payoffs of greater system awareness and communication:

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