Back in the Saddle? We think not.
November 14, 2016
“Somehow the disorder hooks into all kinds of fears and insecurities in many clinicians. The flamboyance of the multiple, her intelligence and ability to conceptualize the disorder, coupled with suicidal impulses of various orders of seriousness, all seem to mask for many therapists the underlying pain, dependency, and need that are very much part of the process. In many ways, a professional dealing with a multiple in crisis is in the same position as a parent dealing with a two-year-old or with an adolescent’s acting-out behavior. (236)”
― Lynn I. Wilson, The Flock: The Autobiography of a Multiple Personality
Since my last blog, life has hit both me and my family like a tsunami. Attempting to live with Dissociate Identity Disorder has become a bigger challenge than either my wife or myself could’ve ever imagined. The agony of trying to find a therapist in the state of New Mexico who specializes in this disorder has been nothing less than impossible. The lack of knowledge on this disorder by therapists that we have dealt with has left my wife and I in tears and shaking our heads. We have decided that New Mexico has given us the best it has to offer….our boys. As far as competent mental health services, it like the rest of the country it leaves a lot to be desired.
I like many other clients resort to staying away from the therapy field, for the most part, because of the additional damage that has been done. There just aren’t enough therapists who are competent enough treating severe trauma related disorders. Let me lay it out….so, when an individual goes to a community mental health therapist they are usually being seen for depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, phobias, etc. Where all of these are often seen in trauma related disorders the thing that sets this apart from DID is the fact that there’s often one issue that becomes problematic. In DID, there are often numerous issues that on a 1-10 scale are all busting out at a 15 at any given time. Additionally, my psyche has compartmentalized memories of the traumas which has created alters all with their own personal needs, fears and individual diagnoses. There are times throughout the days and weeks where I have absolutely no memory of anything. I or shall I say some part of me could’ve been having a conversation and interacting with you as though I was completely coherent. Trust me…being told I’ve done things leaves me just as stunned as telling someone that I have no idea what had transpired during my encounter with them. As frustrating as I’ve seen therapists get while attempting to blindly treat this disorder, what has been the most damaging are uncontrolled egos. Where there might be a lack of knowledge of specific trauma related issues, whatever happened to genuine compassion instead of therapeutic arrogance? Luckily, there has been only a one, thus far, that hasn’t jumped out of the pot just because the water got hot. Personally that has done more for peace of mind than any therapeutic relationship in the past.
Slowly, I hope to fill in some time gaps from the last 1-2 years. Our boys are what seems to propel this family into continuing the often heart breaking and gut wrenching symptoms and effects that this disorder is taking on both me, Mel and our kids. They keep days when smiling isn’t possible at least somewhat tolerable. The purity of love between a child and a parent is one that’s individual and impenetrable.
I won’t lie and pretend that everything is Ok because it’s not. Bad experiences therapeutically has left me incredibly rigid from the sting of unethical behaviors. Physically I stay sick every single day in some way. But truthfully, fear keeps me paralyzed. I have in many ways become a prisoner to my house. Driving has become too dangerous because of uncontrolled dissociation and switching. My eyesight changes as alters change making being able to see while driving anything but safe. Getting lost while driving and not knowing where I’m located and, at times, not knowing the city or state where I’m located presents its own unique hurdles. Sometimes daily migraines up to 17 hours before any relief is achieved. And, well, after the previous 3 year battle to prove my innocence in a DUI case because of a dissociative episode while driving has left me quite shaky when it comes to driving by myself.
Going into public now requires that I be heavily medicated to keep the pure terror and panic attacks to a somewhat manageable level and keep anything unpleasant from happening like vomiting; or a terrified and paranoid alter from appearing; or not being able to complete a sentence because too many are trying to talk and I sound like I’m stuttering. I also seem, at times, to not be able to count money or to be able to answer routine questions asked by anyone at a business without little beads of perspiration on my brow because I can’t comprehend what they’re asking or what the conversation consists of. With Mel by my side the help is there but the embarrassment is often times unavoidable. When I’m by myself , I’m socially a wreck. I make it out the house and into my vehicle only to turn around within a couple of miles because the anxiety gets intolerable. I then retreat to my life behind the walls of our house wondering if and when this nightmare will ever end.
With so many stigmas surrounding the disorder and myths about how it should present itself, it’s no wonder so many professionals haven’t the slightest idea what small glimpse of a world they might see before them. Strictly based on the ideas that Hollywood portrays is another reason so many have the opinions that to have DID you must resemble Sybil Dorsett in the movie Sybil. When, in fact, switching can be very subtle and unnoticeable. There is also the ongoing debate about whether or not Dissociative Identity Disorder is an actual disorder. This disorder has been in the manual since the DSM-III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd edition, 1980) when it first called this disorder Hysterical Neurosis, Dissociative Type. Since then, the sometimes strange and hurtful behaviors and complications of this disorder have been studied. The knowledge and reasons for the disorder forming are of a much higher prevalence than once thought. But an even higher prevalence of misdiagnosis sometimes for many years due to the lack of education about how to diagnose properly. This disorder is very complex, perplexing, frustrating and at times damaging both physically and emotionally to the patient and the families. Very simply stated….. Dissociative Identity Disorder is very much a reality for our family.