Before I offer my pearls of wisdom, I feel it is necessary to qualify who I am, that I understand the trials and pain that is associated with living with such a life altering disorder as dissociative identity disorder.
An Introduction to Who I Am
As many of you who read this blog know, my name is Shirley, I am 57 years old. I was diagnosed with DID in 1990, and have worked very hard for almost three decades to learn how to live with my condition, and to overcome the symptoms that have plagued me all my life.
I had some strange things happen down through my first twenty-nine years of life that I couldn’t explain. People would say I said or did things that I just didn’t remember. I can remember sitting as an eight-old girl, looking out my bedroom window and trying to comprehend one of these episodes. I finally decided I must have a bad memory, yes that explained it.
I Didn’t Know, How Could I?
I didn’t understand that other people didn’t experience blackouts, lose time, or hear voices until I was in therapy for at least three months. That was my normal. How could I know differently?
I entered my first therapist’s office in February 1990. I had been experiencing flashbacks to episodes of abuse that I couldn’t reconcile, and had decided I must be losing my mind. Paula watched and spoke with me for almost three months before she announced that she believed it was safe to say I lived with dissociative identity disorder.
I didn’t know what that meant, and after she explained it to me I was shocked. I asked her how she came to that decision, and she told me how she had noticed that I often mentally left her office, leaving my body either blank or with another part of myself in control. I knew that I had a great deal of difficulty remembering what had transpired in our discussions, in fact, I didn’t remember them at all most of the time. Yet, this diagnosis devastated me.
The Damages Done to Me Are Extensive
Finding peace while living with DID isn’t easy, nor is it something that will happen overnight. The damage done to my body, brain and mind was extensive.
My body is a wreck. I learned after beginning therapy, that I could not become pregnant due to damage done to my cervix and ovaries. I also have a horrendous neck injury which has left me with severe arthritis there. There are also several other physical problems that are believed to be linked to trauma, such as breast cancer and stroke, which I have so far survived.
My brain is also damaged. I have a smaller hippocampus and amygdala than I should due to the constant flooding of my brain with hormones that readied me for the human fight, flight or freeze response. This affects my emotional regulation, and much more.
My mind was severely affected, in that I live not only with over 72 other alter ego states, but also with severe recurrent depression, and an anxiety disorder.
I Have Decided to Thrive Anyway
The long-term effects of trauma are enormous. However, I am determined to not only overcome as many of them as I can, but to thrive. It is the only revenge I can gain that makes me a better person.
My Pearls of Wisdom
Now for the words of wisdom I have to offer to anyone else who is living with dissociative identity disorder.
Walk bravely down the path you have been given. The road less taken is hard and long, but the rewards are enormous. I am proof of this. I now live a life of self-awareness and self-acceptance that many people cannot even fathom, and I love me. How many people do you know who can say that?
It Takes Many Years
Finding inner peace and a sense of balance when you live with DID takes many tears, it costs many tears, and sometimes it seems out of reach.
The best way to approach striving for healthy living is to relax and give yourself permission to mess up. We are humans, and humans make mistakes. Take your mistakes not as failures, but rather as pregnant ground to learn from.
Allow Yourself to Be Human
Allow yourself to enjoy life, and don’t dwell on what you should have been given in your childhood. Concentrate instead, on the abundance you have in the here and now.
Inner peace and a sense of control mean different things to different people. Don’t try to make yourself fit into someone else’s concept of what those two terms mean. Find your own path, and discover who you are and wish to be.
You are Uniquely Wonderful
You are the only you on this planet, indeed in the entire universe. That makes you unique and valuable. Perhaps you don’t believe or understand this concept today, but allow it to stew in the back of your mind.
Because it is true.
“The real enemies of our lives are the ‘oughts’ and ‘ifs’, they pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now.” Henri Nouwen