The sound of my compassionate letter
Today is a calm day at work, maybe simply because it’s Friday and people are getting ready for the weekend. Who wants to be serious then? I am using the time diligently (almost) and have for example taken some phone calls and been to 2 hours of supervision. I`ve had one patient, and have read a little bit, also. The chapter I`m reading right now is about giving yourself as much compassion as everyone else. This is maybe one of the most central themes in my work, and something especially hard for
traumatized people. They`re so used to focusing on others, because they had to, before. If mother was in a good mood, then maybe that day would be okay. Maybe it would even be possible to do something nice together.
Right now I feel the need for comfort, myself. It’s 5 month after my big love left me, and my heart is healing so slowly. If I try to contact him, just in case he has changed his mind, I never get anything else than more disappointment, and the knowledge that he`ll never ever be with me again, is just so hard to take in. When I hear songs reminding me of the situation, I have to turn it off, and I still haven`t seen one romantic movie after the break-up. I don`t even like to be around couples. I have no problem connecting with my patients and their pain from rejection. So now I want to try to give myself crutches, myself a chance to stand upright even when I feel nothing is right.
First of all, it’s not the first time I`ve lost somebody. Like I`ve already written in my narrative, I lost my very best friend and my first real love while still struggling to grow up. I spent years trying to come to terms with loosing my first love, and I even thought about us while I was in new relationships. If I read books about people finding each other again after a long time, I hoped that would happen to me. After some time I felt better again, and tried to move on.
I have to remind myself of the struggles I`ve had, and how I always tried to continue fighting even when I just wanted to lay down, letting nature take me back to the earth. I`ve been in the rain countless times, and I managed to crawl back into a dry house after a while. These last months have been so difficult, and I am really proud that I got through Christmas, New Year and Valentine in one piece. Valentine was even a good day, because I treated myself so nicely; Ate something good, did scrapbooking, put on music and was proud that I could enjoy myself so much. It’s the first time I spent any of those big occasions without a boyfriend, and I feel stronger. Instead of finding some random person to soothe me, I soothed myself, and I am proud of myself.
I still see his face when I close my eyes, but now I work towards mixing the good things with the bad. How I felt when he was never there, how it hurt when he thought I was demanding too much, the way he never asked about my day or how he was restless when he finally was at home. I was always trying to make him, and still he only told me I was reacting the wrong way. He told me I was overreacting when I tried to talk about how I felt, and that I made it more uncomfortable for him to be home. I did many things wrong, because I felt neglected, and that made me feel even worse and more unstable. I know I`m to blame for a lot of things, but I ALSO have to remember I always did my best.
Another thing I must remember is how hard I have worked to be a better person. I have reproached myself, cried my frustrated tears without anyone to dry them, and gone to sleep alone most nights. I`ve had a warm shower when I really need it, and been social and active. I`ve not missed one day at work, and always focus 100 % at my patients, and I have been completely honest with people around me on how I`m doing. I`ve also been honest with people who liked me more than what I could return, and felt I have been able to not let anything go too far. I`ve also had my share of rejections from some people I’ve met, who I could have liked a bit more, without feeling too bad about it. I`ve told myself I have to take the time I need, and given myself some invisible hugs when the world is grey around me. I must remember that I need this time to heal, and that I obviously deserve it. I shouldn`t feel bad for using several hours on nothing, like staying on the internet or watching some tv-show. I`m much harder on myself than with anyone else, and always keep these unreasonable standards on what I have to accomplish.
To elevate my mood and take care of my body I have started swimming and running 2-3 times a week. Even when on vacation or at home, I try to put some exercise into the program. Today I walked to work for the first time in a long time, and it felt great! I am eating healthy most of the time, but still eat dessert, chocholate or drink chai caramel when I want to. I have met people I and prioritized spending time with them. I also have to learn to not feel bad if I say no to something, because I MUST have time on my own. It`s essential that I can just be with the bad feelings, that I see I can bear it and even learn more about how to control them.
And what about who I am? I have sometimes done bad things, but that doesn`t mean that I AM bad. I have hurt people because that`s easier than being hurt myself, but it still doesn`t make me a person unworthy of love. I struggle, and instead of dragging myself down, by thinking I’m horrible, I have to see that I also do good things, every day.
It can be the small things like holding the door when I see someone coming towards me, and bigger things, like saying to my supervisor today that it`s not okay that my patient is treated bad by her mother. It can be to give my brother a hug and a heartfelt compliment, and it can be to validate someone else`s pain. I think about the environment, and don`t use my money on fancy and expensive stuff. I want to be real, and am proud that I actually can show that it`s okay to do mistakes. We all do, and we will probably do them again. Most of us don`t have energy or time enough to really work on our issues, and there are so many expectations the whole time, that we just have to fail once in a while. I can be creative, get new ideas from diverse bits of information and try to keep updated on what`s going on in the world. I also try to be open to meet new people, and to let the unknown rest where it should be: In the future that no one can see.
Taking all this together, I`ve done a considerable amount of work, and that shows my strength. It shows that I can Survive and thrive, and when I get through this I will surely grasp the opportunities that I deserve. I will take my time, mull it over, and really feel if its right or not, when I go into a new relationship, and I will be honest anout my past and what I hope for. I want to give myself this letter, because I have felt a unhappy the last days, and I need to remind myself that what I`m trying to do is hard work. I am allowed to hope that things will turn around again. I can choose which path I choose, and no one can stop me.
Enjoy your time while waiting for the last scraps of sorrow to fade away, because there is no reason not to.
I want to ask everyone who’s reading this: How would your letter be? What is good about you? Do you give yourself enough comfort? Could you give even more? What would be really great for you, and why do you deserve it in the first place? If you don’t feel like writing a whole letter, is it possible to think about those questions? It`s far too common to forget oneself in a hectic life.
Hugs to myself and to all my readers
Since I took the dissociation course with Nijenhuis the last year, one message has been firmly learnt. “NEVER think that you know or understand more than the person in front of you”. Trauma-patients are especially vulnerable when it comes to suggestions, and often try to please others by becoming who you want them to be. For this reason, I had to look at myself in the mirror again and again, while remembering that I can`t see or understand what`s behind it more than anyone else. By letting go of my need to understand, to interpret, I`ve understood more (or so I think). By accepting what is, I`ve seen my clients reality more clearly, but I have to keep cleaning the cool surface of the mirror when necessary. What scares me, though, is how easily everyone forgets to do just this. We can walk in dirt until it drowns us, until it pokes us in the face. When the dirt has infected everything, we finally start to clean up. Almost like using a dirty rag to clean up the mess. I´ve heard stories of abuse and neglect, of babies with their diapers so full of shit, that it falls to their knees. That is horrible enough, but I wonder: Is it not worse that grown-ups never change their diapers? Shouldn`t they have learnt that? What kept them from noticing how bad it got?
Our society has a both good and bad sides. The world will probably never reach a perfect balance, but we must still strive for it. How can we heal and preserve? For many therapists, diagnosis helps to find a direction for the right treatment and possibilities. I won`t rant against the system of classification for too long, but I just want to make one point: Who likes to be put in a box? Who likes to be told who they are, from people they barely know? Who likes to get their lives transferred to a DMS-IV classification that lead to life-altering consequences, with the justification of “this is how we do it” attached to it?
I sure don`t. What about you?
It’s so good to finally want to write again. Sometimes the thirst is there, at other times Its not. I like writing when it’s dark and silent, Since my thoughts can roam without distractions. I especially love writing when I have a lot of thoughts buzzing around, as it helps me to organize the jumble of nerve connections. It aligns the mess in more manageable units, so I can go to bed with a calmer mind. Christmas and other holidays have a tendency to trigger thoughts. It’s all the impressions that need to be processed and integrated in my mind. It can be small things, like the gifts I got and how that made me feel, or more essential questions, like my future or how the past has effected me. Instead of turning in my bed, I choose to turn it all around in my head. I let the thoughts free through letters and mix it all together, making a new map of the world. Life is essential about this; Understanding the world and giving it meaning. Without meaning we feel empty and lost. We need to find meaning in both good and bad experiences. If we don’t we feel depressed or anxious. We feel like something’s missing. It doesn’t matter who you are and which circumstances surrounds you. No matter how you have suffered, you can still find happiness if you manage to find the meaning in the meaningless.
I wish you all a merry Christmas. Maybe my readers also find wisdom in silent nights where thoughts can roam without interruptions?
DID (dissociative identity disorder) is a condition in which a single person displays multiple distinct personalities known as alters, each with its own type of behavior. When another personality takes over, it is said that some describe it as “being a passenger in their body rather than the drive. One Norwegian blogger described by using the computer as a metaphore: “Its like the screen is off, and the machine still on. When the screen goes on, there will be no memory of what the machine has been doing, it`s often totally blank”.
It has been a lot of controversy related to this diagnosis.
I will present three famous people who got the diagnosis of DID.
Herschel Walker was one of the most powerful running backs in college and NFL history. Because of his combination of strength and speed he’s one of the greatest in the game. The 1982 Heisman trophy winner spent 15 years in professional football. But the side you may not know, is shortly after he retired, he was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder or D.I.D.
“Herschel grew up in a Christian family. He was one of seven children. Unlike his siblings, it was hard for him to fit in at school. “I didn’t love myself. I didn’t love who I was,” Herschel said, “having a stuttering problem, kids picking on the way you spoke, picking on your weight.”Herschel’s struggles continued up until the seventh grade. He realized that if things were going to change they needed to start with him.
“You create your Incredible Hulk inside you. In the sense that you create somebody that’s going to take control, somebody that’s never going to give up,” Herschel said.
Herschel read out loud to himself everyday until his speech got better. He made a daily workout routine in junior high school, which normally included 1500 push ups and 2500 sit-ups! Before long his strength surpassed everyone he knew and things changed. Herschel decided to play football and run track. Now instead of being the underdog, he was an athletic superstar.
His habit of pushing himself also paid off in the classroom and he graduated valedictorian of his class! With a full football scholarship, he attended the University of Georgia, where in just three years he won the Heisman trophy. He had a lot of sucess in the following years. After retiring in 1997, he began to notice disturbing changes in his behavior.
“When you start wearing a hat – that you wear this red hat for football, you wear the white hat for home, you wear the blue hat for work. But all of a sudden when you leave home, you put on the red hat; you put it on at home. The hat’s all screwed up. So now, that aggressive nature that you had in football is now at home because you put on the wrong hat,” he explained.
Herschel lost his ability to distinguish his role in football from his role at home and his wife became the target of his anger.
“I was out of the game. I had been out of the game for about four years and I developed this anger problem. And not that I developed it; it just manifested itself a little more severe. It totally destroyed my relationship with Cindy. I put a gun to her head, things that she said I was doing; she knew that wasn’t me,” Herschel said.
Though he didn’t pull the trigger, his wife Cindy left him, and a broken Herschel sought psychiatric help, as well as help from his pastor Tony Evans; and his healing process began.
For him religion was salvation, and he now lives a good life.
Adam Fredric Duritz (born August 1, 1964) is an American musician, songwriter, record producer, and film producer. He is best known for his role as frontman and vocalist for the rock band Counting Crows, in which he is a founding member and principal composer of their catalogue .
Duritz’s lyrics have been described as “morose” and “tortured” and as “wordy introspection” and his vocals “expressive.” He also suffers from depersonalization disorder, which he describes as “a dissociative disorder, which makes the world seem like it’s not real,” which contributes to the length of time between albums and the inspiration for many of his lyrics
He really had an eye-opener after a period where everything went wrong. First his grandmother died, and then his partner ended the relationship. He hadn`t been there for anyone, was always on a gig instead of being with his familiy when he should. When someone said that he was turning into a jerk, he realized this couldn`t continue.
This was not depression. This was not workaholism. I have a fairly severe mental illness that makes it hard to do my job–in fact, makes me totally ill suited for my job. I have a form of dissociative disorder that makes the world seem like it’s not real, as if things aren’t taking place. It’s hard to explain, but you feel untethered.
And because nothing seems real, it’s hard to connect with the world or the people in it because they’re not there. You’re not there. That’s why I rarely saw my family back then: It’s hard to care when everything feels as if it’s taking place in your imagination. And if you’re distant with people, especially women you’re romantically involved with, they eventually leave.
What makes my case even worse is that every night I go out on stage and have this incredible emotional connection between me, the band, and the audience. Then, just like that, it’s over. I go backstage, back to the bus, back to my hotel room, and sit there all by myself. That deep connection is yanked away in an instant. It’s like breaking up with your girlfriend over and over again, every night.
“The thing for me was to make a real mark in life–to matter, to be here, to exist–and dissociation makes you feel like you don’t exist. How do you make your mark if you’re not even there? If you’re invisible?” http://mirrorgirlblog.com/2013/05/03/the-sound-of-neglect/
Saturday nights and Sunday Mornings is the double album that came out of my battle with dissociative disorder. Everything I went through is in there. The first part, Saturday Nights, is vicious and loud. Sunday Mornings is quieter–the day after.
That said, I am nervous about the future. I’ve never been this healthy before. Now I can have all the things I want. Though I’m not seeing anyone yet, I know I can stay with a woman now. I could see that person every day and be emotionally engaged. I could have kids (who would hopefully not be like me) and be there as they grow up. I have all these possibilities in front of me that were never there before. All of which is a pretty good reason to quit the band–and I’ve thought about it. I feel like a whole person. I’m no longer just the songs, which is how I felt for a long time. But we have this amazing music to play, and I want it out there so it’s not misunderstood.
On the slides presented at the end, Nina Simone is mentioned as a person with DID. I cannot find direct references that validates this, but there were signs that might be interpreted like symptoms usual for dissociation. While she lived, it was not a common diagnosis.
Nina Simone had a reputation in the music industry for being volatile and sometimes difficult to deal with, a characterization with which she strenuously took issue. In 1995, she shot and wounded her neighbor’s son with a pneumatic pistol after his laughter disturbed her concentration. She also fired a gun at a record company executive whom she accused of stealing royalties. It is now recognized that this “difficulty” was the result of bipolar disorder. Simone reluctantly took medication for her condition from the mid-1960s on. All this was only known to a small group of intimates, and kept out of public view for many years.”
Borderline personality disorder didn’t really “exist” in the medical sense in the 1960s, so getting diagnosed was nearly impossible. “Now we have names for that shit,” said playwright Sam Shepard to Believer Magazine in 2010. “Back then nobody had names for it, nobody was categorizing it. It was part and parcel of what it meant to be an artist.”
One excerpt from Simone’s diary described a time during a depressive state she was experiencing:
“Must take sleeping pills to sleep + yellow pills to go onstage,” she wrote in July 1964, referring to Valium. “Terribly tired and realize no one can help me—I am utterly miserable, completely, miserably, frighteningly alone.”
A informative slide about dissociation:
Tiredness tickles me, but I stare bravely at my new mac-screen, with my legs crossed and a cup of warm, green tea at my side. I am in a mood to reflect about my day, before it flutters away like most days do. Small pieces of it assemble in my mind and hurry down to the knots, reminding me of getting up from a warm bed with my new love still in it, then going to work after 5 blissful days off, and all the little things that a day consists of. This evening I have used my big shot machine, to roll well-used templates through the pressure created by two plates upon each other, which resulted in many pretty figures that eventually will decorate purple and blue cards. I have treated myself nicely today, since I sometimes have felt rather clumsy and hopeless. It can be small things; Like making coffee, trying to balance it while walking, and then realizing that the content is reduced and the floor spotted with brownish dots. It can be two girls talking about skiing and their kids, while I know I can`t relate, since I`m in a different word than theirs. It can be clients feeling lonely, not picking up the phone, and with thousand worries lining their words. To smooth their worried brows I have thought about calm, rocking movements.
To comfort my own small bruises I have put my feet in scolding water, letting it soak me while scrubbing off yesterday`s news. I pull blankets around me, thereby keeping tiredness warm. I even sat in the sun for a while, closing my eyes and thinking about nothing while feeling fairly calm. I`ve also used my rocking ring, letting it swirl around me like a pretty dress, round and round in swift movements.
I love the rhythm of it, the safeness in it`s continuity. It`s the feeling of a rocking boat, a rocking horse, or sitting in a rocking chair with someone dear. When the ring touches my stomach, I block out other thoughts since I crave sensations. If thoughts or anxiety try to knock on my door, I just let them follow the movement of the ring so they don`t have time to bother me.
I also need food on my plate, and therefore chose to enter a local store so that I could pile up healthy groceries. When I came in, I was welcomed by a massive rearranging project. Food had sheltered itself inside boxes, laughing at the confusion created. Macaronis got to get acquainted with chips and vinegar, and sugar fell in love with tomato-sauce. New friendships and connection made inside these boxes, while the customers felt nothing but irritation at the disarray.
Sometimes life is like this, unorganized, and thrown into boxes lacking name-tags. Sometimes the shelves are empty, with just one hermetic box forgotten in the chaos. I wish it was possible to rearrange your life this way,sometimes. Woudn`t it be nice to mix it up a little, add salt when something`s too sweet, and a hint of pepper for more a wild touch?
The world is turning around, events mixing into each other and affecting people like ripples in a pond. Today I read that North Korea is still threatening the planet we share, while some people try to heal it. Two examples are signing a weapon treaty born for peace, and the other is Obama`s decision to fund brain-research. With knowledge growing around us, the organizing of lives will be easier, there will be less mixing with wrong ingredients, and several smart combinations that enrich our lives. The boxes will be filled by colorful balloons, bursting with energy and the rocking ring will turn itself smoothy, catching hope and tossing it back to more people, people with brain damage, sickness and psychological problems can catch it with their open hands.
This knowledge will hopefully turn into hard crystals of unbreakable facts, so that a strong core is created. This core can be used to block cannons and to plant seeds growing into flowers of strength, and hopefully the rocking ring will spread it with steady movements.
The rocking ring turns around my stomach, catching something and bringing it back to me. I put it in my pocket, and give small pieces of it everywhere I go. I hope you got it, too.
But this time, I land softly into the arms of consciousness and find immense relief in realisation; it’s one of those dreams again. It’s the one you awake to with your ribs rising and falling, taking in deep nervous breaths which gradually fade to reveal a morning replete with silence. You’re only certain you’ve roused when the colour of the walls are familiar, the ceiling is in place, and when the gentle coziness of your bed and blanket hugs you and reminds you of home.
There’s probably a soft rumbling from a car engine moving by in the distance that your ears pick up, but it’s not enough to get you out of bed. All of a sudden you’re exhausted, your legs heavy; It’s as though you’ve been running the miles your mind had flung itself in the depths of the night. It is as if I’ve been running and galloping in search of someone.
And in fact, I have.
This person’s difficult to find; he knows no fear, hardly a reflection of myself. Just yesterday I suffered the wrath of my most formidable enemy. You may shrug it off as mere flight turbulence, but ‘the fall’ or ’the drop’ is a fear unlike any other. I had seen it coming. From the comfort of the soft cushioned seat in which I reclined, I could pick up the muted patter of pelting raindrops starting to raise into a violent drumming on the airplane. There was a short sharp tremor which vibrated through the small oval windows as the plane began to shiver in the blistering cold. The stewardesses vanished from the isles with deft footsteps. Little choppy waves rose and fell in the glass of water in front of me, which sat in a holster attached to the back of a seat where a child began to cry. I closed my eyes, picturing everyone aboard the plane, doing their own thing.
But like a thief in the night, it came without warning, hauling my heart down towards my stomach and sending it into a pounding frenzy against my chest. My vision takes a step off a ledge and enters a brief but startling plunge. It is like the moment a loose picture frame slips and slides down a wall; everything moves, and for just a split second there comes a thought that the momentary descent would never end.
Thank goodness and bless the pilots.
Somewhere encapsulated in that drop, however, someone hides. There is a boy in the moment that doesn’t fear it. He is silent, brave, but overwhelmed by the older boy’s ironic phobia. It hadn’t been in him.
There was a boy who was once young and free, and loved adventure whenever it came. Adventure camp had high ropes, and the high ropes he would conquer. When it was close to the end he knew he was going to make it. The breeze wasn’t going to push him off his feet. His hands held firm as the next rope was in sight. But as his foot left one plank to the next, the other slipped and off the course he went, downwards through the air, falling, holding on to life by a mere safety harness which he didn’t seem to bother about. The boy looked up fearlessly at the glistening sun, half eclipsed by the swaying plank he had lost his footing on, and beamed.
Maybe I’ll find him one day.