Feelings Rise

Emotional overload. My feelings rise up so quickly and leave me cornered. I strike out in anger, my favorite defense. I don’t know why these people love me, but I wonder if my emotional disconnection has affected them. I try to be happy and kind, but my nature is angry and suspicious.

All my life I have been waiting to be understood. I want to say and do the things I want, but the reality is that as soon as I do, I encounter resistance from others. When I am well, things move along nicely and everyone is content. When I am struggling, they vacillate between concern and anger.

I am so angry inside. I feel like all of the people that were supposed to guide and support me to adulthood failed to do anything but the basics. I was fed and clothed, but emotionally starved. I grew up nervous and suspicious but I did my best to hide it under an amiable, people-pleasing exterior. Now that I am not interested in saying what others want to hear, I realize I am going to start finding the conflict I have always avoided.

My heart feels heavy and alone. I am loved by my husband more than I deserve to be loved. He puts up with my shit and supports anything I decide to undertake. He accepts people unconditionally, and is the most genuine person I have ever known. He has changed my life for the better in too many ways to count. He accepts me, but he doesn’t understand me. When I begin an emotional freefall, all he can do is love me until it passes. I truly wonder how long another person will put up with emotional instability. I know he loves me, but someday, I am afraid this will be too tiring for him to continue.

I live in some kind of emotional freezer. I fight to keep everything neutral, but the wrong look, tone or words send me instantly into a raging animal. I feel cornered and trapped and all I want to do is explode and hurt the person in front of me the way I am hurting.

I see my children triumph and I cry tears of relief, pride and joy. Then the feelings turn, and I am them, alone on an island of isolation in my own childhood, wishing I had a parent like me who enriched my strengths, and helped improve my weaknesses. The tears are selfish then, for a middle aged woman who never stopped being a child waiting to be loved and accepted.

I ache to be understood. When I was in grade 10 or 11, I read a Steven King novella, “The Body”. There was a passage that made my heart skip a beat.

The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”

Some part of my teenage self started when I read this passage. I read it over and over, and highlighted it. Something about it felt so authentic to me.

This is who I am. This is my fear. I am afraid I will never find those friends who think like I do, and dream like I do. I want to be understood so badly. I’ve been to therapists and psychiatrists, friends and acquaintances, teachers and mentors; I’m still waiting to find my people. I’m afraid it’s been too long, and their beautiful, brave hearts have grown old, waiting to be recognized.

My PTSD: Emotional Epilepsy?

What if there were a type of seizure activity that affected emotions.  And those types of people were having a kind of seizure that is brought on by extremes in emotional sensitivity, as well as physical sensitivity to the energy of the environment.
If you were in a situation where extreme emotion arose, you might find that your physiological response to the stimulus so greatly aggravated your emotional responses to the stimulus that it caused you to experience a dissociative break in consciousness, which would be your body’s way of dealing with a highly unpleasant situation that you didn’t need to remember.
Physical states of ecstasy release a great deal of physical energy from the body.  Perhaps these emotional seizures do the same on an emotional level, when the physical level is not able to be expressed.
This is my experience of my PTSD flashbacks.  They descend like an emotional shitstorm, blurring physical sensation, memory and intense fear.  They have presented in different ways, sometimes when I am triggered emotionally (usually unknowingly) and sometimes when I am physically active.  I feel like each time there is a release of some previously stored emotional and/or physical content.  Sometimes there are smells (like ammonia, dirt, rotting things), often there is intense fear, usually there is a parallel physical response like a wildly beating heart, sweating, pounding in my head.
There are no visual or auditory components, except occasional thoughts arriving which I cannot corroborate from my own memory.  They are frightening and interesting, and as my inner observer (The Scientist) notes the physical and mental symptoms of the FB, other parts of me are experiencing the FB on a visceral, emotional and psychological level.

Fragments of Me

NOT A COMPLETE LIST, AND IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER…

 

Shower Girl arrived early in the new year, and stayed on and off, for about 10 days, in collaboration with Anima.  She is my fearfully religious fragment.  She spent most of her time on the shower floor, praying for sanity.  She felt imagery related to Joan of Arc, Mary (mother of JC), and the prostitute in the bible.  She scared the shit out of me.  My husband and my therapist were also concerned about her, but I didn’t tell anyone until months later.  I would have been committed if anyone was with me when she appeared.   She was completely out of control and unable to care for herself.  Totally afraid and agitated.  I believe she made a brief appearance over the Easter long weekend.  She used her influence to get religious again, which is probably why she didn’t last long.  She had me believing I was pregnant, and it was likely her who was devastated (twice) when it turned out to be perimenopause, and not pregnancy that had delayed my periods.  I’m fairly certain she thought she was Mary, and that the baby was going to be the next Jesus.  I am not consciously sure of that, but I suspect it.

Fancy is selfish and sometimes mean.  She is judgmental, short-tempered and irritable. She is also fun and flashy.  She’s entertaining and gregarious.  She wouldn’t think twice to ditch plans if she got a better offer. She ignores my needs and desires and serves her own agenda.  She is responsible for a lot of self-sabotage, and bad choices in my life.  She has stars in her eyes, and only wants to see things her way.  She is an attention whore.  She like jewelry and fashion, but she rarely gets to wear what she buys.  She has a penchant for very high, unpractical heels, lingerie and jewelry.  I have many earring/necklace sets that she buys, and I can never wear because they are ridiculous.  I would estimate that she has purchased 10 pairs of heels that we are never going to be able to wear.  She is probably who filled my closet with colourful, semi-stylish clothing.  She takes over when I am anxious in social situations.

The Mother is a recent addition to the crew.  She has been dormant or inactive until recently.  I believe she is an alter I created in the past 3 years to model the good mothering behavior I saw from a friend.  I always admired this friend, and I am proud that Mother has embraced the role so naturally. Her emergence has created a seamless front in my alter structure.  There is someone in place for every part of my life. Her influence became very dominant when I started taking Biphentin.   Within 1 month of starting the med, I had cleaned/organized/purged my entire home, all 3 levels.  Tackling the basement was the most unbelievable job I did.  I had a friend instigate the job, and I heartily agreed to tackle it with her.  Within 6 hours, the basement (my personal horror) was clean and organized.  There is a good chance the medication unearthed some OCD in me, as I have never in my life been tidy, or organized.  Now the OCD is my bff, and I love having a clean, orderly home.

AdorablePsycho is the alter that actively tries to fuck with me.  If there is a mental loophole, AP will find it and exploit it.  No topic is off limits.  He loves to make me afraid of losing my husband and kids.  There is no shortage of ways in which AP tosses out mental bombs. AP also enjoys suggesting that I am under the control of aliens, and that every time my ass hurts, I am having an anal probe. (UGH, I know RIGHT?) When I have a PTSD flashback, AP is right there to start wondering if this is a medical emergency that will cause me to die.  All day long, every day, these malignant thoughts arrive and are pushed away by The Gatekeeper.  I often don’t hear the thoughts anymore, or they don’t register in my awareness.  AP has greatest access to me when I am vulnerable.  Tired, under the influence, worried…these are his favorite states of being.  I understand that he lives to fuck with my head, and this is the only alter I would like to remove permanently.  I do not want this fragment in my integration process.  I am still unsure if this is even possible.

CrazyTrain is the alter that entertains any idea that crosses my head.  When AP and CT get together, it’s a hot mess.  Crazy train isn’t actively fucking with me as much as she is excitable, wide-eyed, and curious.  She thinks without limits, and as great as that can be, it goes rogue at times as well.   CrazyTrain usually starts the train on a halfway reasonable track, and then rides it right out to lala land.  Sometimes CrazyTrain and Adorable Psycho work together.  AP is psychotic.  He takes the ideas and twists them into physically painful thoughts, while CT is mostly just an asshole.

The Zealot has a great number of religious topics it likes to explore.  It wants me to spend time thinking about angels and demons, God and the devil.  It has made me move closer to, and then further away from religion.  I don’t know if I believe in God, which causes some anxiety.  On some level I have bought into the idea that you have to accept Jesus/God to be saved.  On another level, I feel like a good ‘father’ would encourage mw to explore my beliefs and live my own truth, rather than having beliefs forcefully rammed into my consciousness.  I feel this alter has given me more reason to distrust and move away from the concept of God/the devil.  I often think that we all have a devil, or a judas, inside of us.  I just know mine a bit more intimately than most do.

The Professor/The Scientist is one of my favorite alters.  I liken this alter to the feeling of Albert Einstein, or Nikolas Tesla in my head.  It is the energy of a creative-thinker, and a very curious mind.  The ideas I have when this alter is present are often clearly not my own, and I need to pay attention, as I lose the thoughts easily.  It introduces ideas I have never thought about.  It examines things in a logical and analytical way.  It attempts to put appropriate patterns together.  It is most interested in hacking the brain, and reverse-engineering my habits and behaviors.  It has allowed me to see that few of the things I was taught about life are real, and that things are much more interesting than I could ever have imagined.  The Professor often works with The Artist to collaborate on archetypal ideas in photography.  Although the professor doesn’t usually do the shooting (but has before), he really enjoys the editing and digital creation.  The Professor is the driving force behind my writing.  It has always shown me that if I write things down in any altered state, the rest of me can read about what is happening.  When I want to remember something, the professor sets alarms, writes notes, sets reminders.  The professor loves the mother, and is relieved at the changes in our environment since she arrived.  I can shift fairly easily into this alter, but it is very ‘dry’ and mathematical most of the time, so it’s not as much fun as when it gets creative.

My Scared Child shakes.  When she is inside my body, the vibrations are intense.  I can shiver incessantly (although not necessarily cold) and my body shakes and vibrates.  It is physically uncomfortable, but I sense that when she is present, she is releasing old tension.  She is young, and doesn’t speak.  I recently felt her inside of me as I was have a PTSD episode.  I felt like somewhere in time, my Scared Child was experiencing the actual trauma, while I held her in my space and calmed her through it.  I felt like i was creating a space for her to go while her body absorbed some trauma.  She and I sat together in this space until her body stopped shaking, and the episode ended.   I don’t see much of her, but I try to hold space for her whenever she is around.  She really needs the help, so when she surfaces, we turn all attention toward her needs.

Anima feels like the consciousness of my body, my ‘animal’.  We only became reacquainted this year, after I woke up ‘newborn’ on January 1, 2014.  For 2 weeks, she and I coexisted, only meeting her basic needs.  She likes natural fabrics, raw food, no hair/makeup.  I wear cotton or wool when she is present.  She likes to feel ‘contained’ in my clothes, and loves snug clothes that make her feel secure.  She doesn’t like things to be tight, or restrictive. She is the part of me that wants to return to pioneer life.  She was instrumental in the decision to cut my hair, and once I did that, she and I felt bonded.  For the first time since i was about 14, I look in the mirror and think it is ‘me’. She and I have been at odds because of my self-destructive behavior most of my life.  She is angry about a few of the choices I have made.   I believe we are working well together towards complete integration.

The Artist was born a long time ago, but infrequently surfaced until this year. There is an obsessive drive to explore creative expression.  The Artist doesn’t care about eating, or drinking or going to the bathroom.  He/she is often the part of me that shoots, but once I am done, he/she quickly leaves.  He/she doesn’t care for ‘regular life’, and is only interested in the extremes in life.   I was manic a great deal of the time The Artist was with me from February-May.  It kept me busy following the rules of the art project I was working on.  It was The Artist that instigated the Crying Ladies, although it was originally a different concept. The Artist was furious that no one could see the importance of crying in art, and now I roll my eyes at that thought.  However, it was extremely real at the time, and I needed that outrage and fury as I imploded in front of my colleagues and community.  The Artist incubates the ideas it hears, and then sees what scraps can be created from it.  I remember how excited he/she was when I shot the first PTSD flashback.  I understood what it felt like to be Matisse, Picasso, Michelangelo.  It doesn’t matter if your work resonates with anyone else, when it resonates with you, you are THE ARTIST.  I strongly identified with Marina Abramovich and her ‘The Artist is Present’ piece for the MOMA.  I understood that she was doing what I was doing, but in a different way.  When my Artist is present, I feel alive and completely absorbed.  I would get very little done if The Artist spent a great deal of time at the wheel.

The Gatekeeper was the first alter I put into place on purpose.  Before I knew this was DID, I knew there was ideas in my head that weren’t right.  The Gatekeeper was a mental version of my husband, who was kind and fair in his thinking.  The Gatekeeper was the protector and the hero.  No thoughts were allowed to get through my sober mind without the Gatekeeper running them through the filter.  One of the first filters I used was in response to my brother, who used to like making me upset.  I would say: “If this was said to you by anyone other than your brother, would it make you upset?”.  It was this very powerful mental filtering that saved my sanity when things got very hairy in my head.  When you start to challenge alters, they rear up bigger and louder to try to scare you off.   I owe my sanity to My Gatekeeper.

Notes From Me ~ Emerging Alters

Sometime around April/May, I was beginning to be aware that there were distinct and different parts of myself that were in conflict with each other.  Each ‘part’ seemed to have specific jobs, and took care of specific situations.

I began making a list of the differences, assigning the name that felt appropriate to each fragment.  I was finally due for an intake appointment at the therapist assigned by OHIP, at the local community mental health office, operating as a satellite office of the hospital.   I felt it would help the intake therapist assign me to the right person.

This was the first time I put it all down on paper.  I read it a few times, and then promptly shut out the idea.  I didn’t entertain the thought again for many months.    It didn’t come up in therapy again until the I saw the psychiatrist in August.  He made a referral for a DID specialist.  I saw him two more times before anyone followed up on the referral.  At my urging, my therapist and I reviewed his recommendations in early December, months after the original referral was made.  My therapist was happy to get the referral process started.  She was cheesed that the psychiatrist had written in his notes that he didn’t know if I was seeing a therapist, but if not, I should be.  She had several exchanges with him via email, so he certainly should have realized there was a therapist on the case.

Psychiatry seems to be a prescription-management system.  It’s ironic that the very people who know about serious mental health issues are so busy pushing pills that they have no time to do actual psychiatric therapy with clients.  I was wildly uninformed about the relationship one has with her psychiatrist.  For me, it’s a fight to get the time to get strategies for help.  I feel like I am a psychiatry student, advocating for my own mental health care.

This system is completely fucked.

Alters1

Alters 6

Alters 4

Alters 3

Alters 2

Alters 5

EPSON MFP image

 

 

 

Seeing Multiple

When my crisis began, it started with PTSD flashbacks of an emotional nature. Unexpectedly, and with less than 30 minutes warning, a tsunami of fear and anxiety descended upon my body and remained active until the episode was finished.

My body appeared to be moving through an old experience with full technicolour emotions, and movement, but no audio or video track.  It was like being inside of an emotional blender of fear and pain.  I was blind, and deaf, but fully aware that some great assault was taking place.

My mind stepped aside and allowed the body to experience whatever was happening, uninterrupted.  My experience with meditation allowed me to let the feelings and movements control my body, while my mind quietly observed.  I controlled my breathing and my anxiety and let the flashback roll.

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From an artists perspective, it was fascinating.  I had no idea what my body was doing, or why.  I had no recall of anything this traumatic.  I was (perhaps morbidly) curious about what it looked like.  I photographed 3 of my ‘flashbacks’.  The first attempt was a complete failure.  None of the images were in focus, but for the first time I ‘saw’ the face of the girl who was experiencing these events.  She was young, and scared, and something terrible was happening to, or around her.  I made a committment to this part of myself to help her somehow.

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This process happened often enough that I sought medical help in February.  I was scared, and my nerves felt like live wires.   The result of seeing some of my hidden fragments caused me to go into a depressive tailspin.  The flashbacks remained unexplainable, and only further convinced me that I had been sitting on some old trauma that wasn’t going to sit still much longer.