Frozen

2013-12-26 16.16.27For about a week over the 2013 Christmas holidays in Ontario, the area was frozen in a thick layer of ice.  It arrived before Christmas, and lasted until after boxing day.  Everywhere I looked there was ice, snow and beautiful colour.  I was completely mesmerized by the frozen landscape.

Around the same time, I had taken my kids to see the Disney movie “Frozen”, and felt a strong affinity to the sad princess who was in a self-imposed exile by the fear of her own different-ness.

The parallels between my environment, and the one in the movie were not lost on me.  I was in the middle of discovering that my own mind was frozen in time, and unwilling or unable to hold the chill necessary to keep things from melting.   My memories were becoming unblocked, and my drab, barely-remembered past became filled with shadowy concerns.   The holes in my memories started to seem sinister.   In fact, I had a hard time remembering anything that hadn’t been told to me.  Most of my memories were second-hand, and although I hadn’t ever thought about it, it seemed very curious all of a sudden.

For the first time in my life, I was trying to recall my past, and I was coming up with nothing but a very sickening feeling in my stomach.  I couldn’t believe I had never thought about it before.  I didn’t know what was happening to me.  I felt completely untethered to reality.

Then I did what I always did.  I pushed the bad feelings away, and didn’t think about it.

One night after Christmas, I was laying in bed and I heard what sounded like a rushing river.  In the morning when I awoke, all of the ice was gone.

The ice surrounding my memories would begin to melt next.

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Coming Out as a Collection of Parts

Telling people you are being treated for DID is not something I have really brought myself to do just yet.  It is a hard topic to introduce.  People have shown me their extreme fear and reluctance to be around me as I have struggled in the past year.  I have spent a great deal of time alone.

The most recent version of me was completely unaware that I had any mental illness at all.  It kept me busy and distracted all of the time.  I relate to this song:

 

Not the part about throwing up in the bathtub, or picking up daddies in the playground.  The part about keeping yourself distracted all the time so you never notice how alone you are.

“You’re gone and I gotta stay
High all the time
To keep you off my mind
High all the time
To keep you off my mind
Spend my days locked in a haze
Trying to forget you babe
I fall back down
Gotta stay high all my life
To forget I’m missing you”

‘High’ is a metaphor for any activity, drink, drug or person that kept me distracted and unaware.  I was keeping myself entertained every second of my day.  Before one thing was over, I would be thinking about the next thing I was going to do.  I didn’t live in the moment.  I wasn’t committed to the future.  I had erased the past.  My life was in complete chaos.  My home was like a bomb shelter.  Disorganization was my preferred coping strategy, although as a strategy, it only succeeded in reminding me what a fuck-up I was, and how I was never going to get it together.

I didn’t know what I was missing.  I was a shell of a person.  When I looked in the mirror (which I mostly avoided), I was looking at the reflection of my body, but couldn’t find me in the image.  I am not sure why these thoughts never seemed odd to me.  I suppose no one was talking about how much they identified with the person they were.  I identified with my thoughts, and with my experiences.  I had strong opinions and felt deep pain, so I assumed I was just like everyone else.

I was unaware of the extent of my incredible disconnect to my physical, emotional and spiritual world.  After my mental health started slipping last December (with the onset of emotional PTSD flashbacks), my extreme disconnect kept me from losing my mind with fear.  Occasionally there would be a few days, or a week where I seemed to be losing my ability to remain unafraid.  There were times of such extreme worry and fear that I had to separate from the thoughts just to remain grounded.  One of my most upsetting flashbacks caused me to mildly lose my grip on reality.  I have never felt such fury.  I felt like the terminator as I strode furiously towards the man who was the object of my anger.  His crime was apathy.  That was a real eye opener.

After many of these flashbacks, it became clear that my body was creating an opportunity to release stress from within my body, and find a way to introduce emotions that I had never had the freedom to express.   In many ways, finding my inner FURY was incredible.  It was freeing and exhilarating, as well as terrifying.   Keeping friendships during this period in my life was a great challenge.  People stayed clear of me as I imploded, which only infuriated me more.  I was angry at myself for surrounding myself with people who were unable to handle the reality of what was going on.  This might sound like I am blaming the people around me, but in reality, I had surrounded myself with people who were not equipped to handle the gravity of my issues.

It is easy to be unaware of your highly fragmented identity when the relationships in your life are mostly superficial.   In these situations, everyone is disconnected and exchanging what seems to be meaningful information, but what is truly filler in the sandwich of life.   These people are wonderful people, but they weren’t wonderful for me.  Introducing mental illness into a party crowd is a definite killjoy.  🙂

Without these relationships, I wouldn’t have seen the emptiness that I had come to accept as true connection to others in my world.  I had been trying to create important, meaningful relationships with people who did not want to have them with me.

It was the start of a fall that took months to complete.  When it as over, I was mostly alone, and happy with the step back I had taken in my life. As I quieted every aspect of my life, deleted my social media accounts, and stopped reaching out every time I felt afraid, life began to make much more sense.    I clawed back as much of myself as I could.  I retreated from the many places I had extended myself, and found peace and clarity that had been eluding me when I was in the middle of my own chaotic life.

 

 

 

 

Mental Illness Epidemic

Mental illness seems to serve the purpose of connecting the gaps between perceived and actual reality.   The smaller the gap, the less problematic this system is.  When there are huge discrepancies between what we want our lives to be, and what they really are, there are a myriad of mental defenses available for our brain to put into place.  Even as the walls are built, it is always with the understanding that they can be removed in the future when the self is more secure, and ready to accept the difference between reality and perception.

OUR CULTURE ENCOURAGES US TO IGNORE THE REALITY.  We cannot keep living in such a disconnect.  Physically, emotionally and environmentally, we are headed for disaster if there is no intervention.

Our higher selves are moving us towards all things that will remind us of our ‘home’.  I refer to a frequency in life where our needs are met, we are happy and secure, and moving towards reaching the goals we have set for ourselves.

If we stay close to our ‘path’, life begins to get easier and easier.  Following our path means taking good care of ourself, listening to our body, and overriding the ego-demands of our mind when they are not in alignment with our true needs.  This is the path to mental wellness.

If we continue to ignore the redirection from our higher self (in the form of thoughts, feelings and opportunities), we will find less and less clarity, and less fulfillment.  We may begin to experience a loss in physical well-being as a reflection of our degrading mental health.  Eventually, the evidence of cognitive dissonance will force the body and mind to get on the same page in some way or another.

I anticipate an epidemic of mental illness, increased stress and continuing pressure on people who have lost their center, and let their ego call all the shots.  Ego without temperance is trouble.

Ego is like the bully who has been hiding his own secret fear and shame.  It works hard to kick up lots of problems in other areas, to distract from the mess in its own back yard.  It focuses on short term rewards, avoiding pain, and prefers to ignore discrepancies in fact.  (This is very much like every DID alter that is created, btw)

There is going to be some very bad mental illness on the loose in the future.  We have an epidemic of untreated mental dis-ease and a culture that rewards passive absorption of mental candy and glittering distractions.

One only has to traverse the mental health system as a patient briefly, to see how terrifying this possibility is.  Forget Ebola.  Mental illness will bring this world to its knees if we don’t start taking care of our minds.  The people assigned to care for this population are burnt out, overworked, underfunded and feeling desperately hopeless.  They are barely making a dent in the problem.

I had my head in the sand about how the medical community and the pubic react to mental illness.  My initiation into the club was terrifying and shocking.  People I knew virtually ignored me, or treated me with distaste.   Nearly everyone ignored the implosion that was taking place in plain sight.  No one wondered why I was making images like these:

Collage

I found out that you can cry in front of the whole world, and they will ignore it completely.  I learned that you can get a whole bunch of other people to cry in front of the world, and they will ignore that too.

I knew I wasn’t crazy, but there sure as hell was SOMETHING very wrong, and no one wanted to talk about it.

It was a terrifying time for me.  Nervous Breakdown vs Spiritual Emergency.  I believe the outcome is directly reflected by the description of the problem.  If you believe you are sick and getting sicker, you will be terrified.  If you believe that you are having an evolution of soul, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  What we know about mental illness, and how we treat it is going in the wrong direction.  We need to give people hope and strategies for wellness.

Check out this post from The Mind Unleashed:

What A Shaman Sees in a Mental Hospital

It’s classic NLP.  You see what you want to see.  Our world needs to see people worth supporting, instead of giving up hope on a population that includes the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Michelangelo, Newton and Beethoven.

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.

 

Everyone’s Waiting

“I know all the lines to say
The part I’m expected to play
But in the reflection I am worlds away

As I put my costume on
Eyelashes one by one
Been doing this so long I can tie the knot
Behind my back

And everyone’s waiting
But it’s getting harder to hear what my heart is saying
‘Cause everyone’s waiting”

Multiplemeheader

This song made me bawl. It was my consistent, gut-level reaction to this song that aroused my curiosity about what was happening to me.  I wanted to see who was reacting to this song.
When I saw the images I was amazed and confused.  I saw such pain and sadness in my face, and I had no idea what I was reacting to.   This was a strong wake-up call to action for my disconnected self.
I had no idea what it was this part of me was hiding.  In hindsight, DID was a much less frightening option that all of the possibilities that CrazyTrain and Adorable Psycho came up with.

New Year Promises

“Hold my breath and I’ll count to ten
I’m the paper and you’re the pen
You fill me in and you are permanent
And you’ll leave me to dry
I’m the writer and she’s the muse
And the one that you always choose
She will falter and gift her blame
And it starts all over again
Again again again”

Music was my madness.  I cried and reacted to these songs, and I had no idea why.  They sometimes brought on flashbacks.  They usually brought tears.

I made myself a promise.  I would show up in life and try to find out what the fuck was happening to me.    A line in this song kept playing over and over in my head:

“I don’t care what I said before.  I don’t want any less anymore”

I.FELT.SO.MUCH.

As i was starting to become aware of my own cognitive dissonance, I started to look at my memories with a more critical eye.  I saw less and less of a family and more of a prison.  The thoughts and memories that were creeping in were not welcome at all.  They threatened to topple a well-constructed fantasy land of scant memories.

There were monsters lurking so very close.  Some of the greatest poison comes disguised as family.

Thank you, JT

If I had to identify one thing that started the ball rolling, it would be my unexpectedly emotional and physical reaction to this song.

When I heard it, some part of me reacted with great emotion.  It was like the higher part of myself was on the other side of the song, singing to me.  I cried with relief and happiness every one of the dozens of times I listened to it.  It became a target I used to direct my efforts of wellness, imagining I was not alone in the world with my fear.  I imagined the higher part of myself holding my hand from another place, and reminding me to keep fighting for life and freedom.

Music provided such an anchor for me all along, but it also provided a rich outlet for CrazyTrain to fuck with my head.  In every song I could hear a message, and in every message, there was an equally frightening message that I was being controlled by things that I was not aware of.   There were times when I was unable to listen to the same music that had comforted me, because I was scared of what ‘message’ I might hear next.

My anxiety skyrocketed.  As much as music was responsible for my art, and my experience of purpose during my decent into mental illness, it also represented the flip side of mind control.  It was a slippery slope, and many times I slid down, not knowing how far down I had gone.

“Mirrors”

Aren’t you somethin’ to admire?
‘Cause your shine is somethin’ like a mirror
And I can’t help but notice
You reflect in this heart of mine
If you ever feel alone and
The glare makes me hard to find
Just know that I’m always
Parallel on the other side’Cause with your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul
I can tell you there’s no place we couldn’t go
Just put your hand on the glass
I’ll be tryin’ to pull you through
You just gotta be strong

‘Cause I don’t wanna lose you now
I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
Show me how to fight for now
And I’ll tell you, baby, it was easy
Comin’ back here to you once I figured it out
You were right here all along

It’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me
I couldn’t get any bigger
With anyone else beside of me
And now it’s clear as this promise
That we’re making two reflections into one
‘Cause it’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me

Aren’t you somethin’, an original
‘Cause it doesn’t seem merely a sample
And I can’t help but stare, ’cause
I see truth somewhere in your eyes
I can’t ever change without you
You reflect me, I love that about you
And if I could, I would look at us all the time

‘Cause with your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul
I can tell you there’s no place we couldn’t go
Just put your hand on the glass
I’ll be tryin’ to pull you through
You just gotta be strong

‘Cause I don’t wanna lose you now
I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
Show me how to fight for now
And I’ll tell you, baby, it was easy
Comin’ back here to you once I figured it out
You were right here all along

It’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me
I couldn’t get any bigger
With anyone else beside of me
And now it’s clear as this promise
That we’re making two reflections into one
‘Cause it’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me

Yesterday is history
Tomorrow’s a mystery
I can see you lookin’ back at me
Keep your eyes on me
Baby, keep your eyes on me

‘Cause I don’t wanna lose you now
I’m lookin’ right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
Show me how to fight for now (please show me, baby)
I’ll tell you, baby, it was easy
Comin’ back here to you once I figured it out
You were right here all along

It’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me
I couldn’t get any bigger
With anyone else beside of me
And now it’s clear as this promise
That we’re making two reflections into one
‘Cause it’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me

You are, you are the love of my life

Now you’re the inspiration for this precious song
And I just wanna see your face light up since you put me on
So now I say goodbye to the old me, it’s already gone
And I can’t wait wait wait wait wait to get you home
Just to let you know, you are

You are, you are the love of my life

Girl you’re my reflection, all I see is you
My reflection, in everything I do
You’re my reflection and all I see is you
My reflection, in everything I do

You are, you are the love of my life