Archive for January, 2010

Worn Out

Sorry, everyone. I was hoping that I was up to blogging regularly again, but my life feels like it is spinning so out of control right now that I cannot catch my breath. As I have shared before, I have a difficult time separating out my child’s experiences from my own inner child. Despite my many efforts to help my child be successful in school, his latest report card shows no improvement and even some lost ground. I have been working my @$$ off doing homework with him, finding him a tutor and then taking him there, advocating for all sorts of accommodations for him at school, etc. I might as well have done nothing for the results that I am seeing. I don’t know what else to do.

I am in the process of screening a private school that is expensive but is specially designed for children with my son’s particular issues (ADHD with learning disabilities). Meanwhile, hub (who is allergic to spending money) is looking to point the blame at me – that I am not strict enough, etc. When a child has a learning disability, you can bribe or beat him, and neither will make a difference because they simply do not learn like other children do.

Several other less important things have blown up this week, too, and I just want to crawl under a rock and avoid it all. I am so worn out. I am canceling things right and left because I just need some time to catch my breath. Now my kid is having diarrhea, and his best friend just got over a stomach virus, so I don’t know if I have that ahead of me as well.

Please hang in there. I will blog as I can. Right now, I just want to lock myself in a room and cry for a year.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Can’t Seem to Catch a Break

My son’s asthma has flared up again. Today was supposed to be a “catch up” day, and I am instead spending it on taking care of him, driving him into school late, and then running around getting paperwork together for the newest doctor that he saw yesterday for the first time (for his attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD). Couple this with my new keyboard dying (thank goodness I saved the old one as a backup!). I am beginning to conclude that my to-do list will never be completed, and I guess the chips are just going to have to fall where they may. I am only one person, and I have entirely too much on me. I am about ready to quit everything in my life, live in my room, eat bonbons, and forget the rest of the world.

Believe it or not, I am doing okay despite all of the outside stressors. It is incredibly frustrating to recognize that never in my life will I ever get a break or catch up. So, I popped a couple of Xanax and plan to take a leisurely lunch before trying to knock out one or two things before my kid gets home from school. I don’t know what else to do. I cannot run perpetually at maximum capacity, so I guess a whole lot of @#$% that has been dumped on my to-do plate just won’t be getting done. C’est la vie.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Hi, everyone! I am back from Disney World and ready to start blogging again. :0)

The Disney trip was exactly what I needed. Starting with the fender bender in October, my life has been one fast roller coaster (mostly down) of a cancer scare, seeing my mother/abuser again, issues with my special needs kid in school, and my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) causing insomnia throughout much of this period. I feel like I have been trapped on a hamster wheel. I kept trying to work harder, smarter, faster, etc., but my to-do list just kept growing. My body finally gave out, and I was very sick for a week. Then, I spent a frenzied week trying to play catch up from being sick as well as get things done before going out of town for a week.

When I got to Disney, I decided to set all of the drama of my life aside and just “be.” I did a pretty good job (for me, anyone). I feel like I finally hopped off the hamster wheel for a few days. Then, when I returned to the huge piles of @#$% that I need to do for my job, my home (pay bills, etc.), my professional blog, my personal blog, my kid’s special needs, and volunteer commitments (kid’s school, PTA, and church), I spend the morning in tears. I don’t want to climb back onto that hamster wheel. I am tired of working, working, working all of the time and the pile of stuff that I need to do never getting any smaller. So, I am climbing off the hamster wheel.

I am going to have to make some big decisions about what I am going to cut out of my life, and I am going to use that free time to do the self-nurturing things I used to do, such as yoga, meditation, walking my dogs, and simply “being.” For the past several months, I have not had one minute to sit and “be.” I have worn myself out doing and doing and doing. It stops now.

Of course, I cannot drop everything at once, so I am in the process of prioritizing what needs to go, what needs to scale down, and what I want to continue. I definitely want to continue this blog because it is meaningful to you as well as to me. A friend told me that dropping the letters PTA from your life really clears up a lot of time, and that is one area that definitely needs to scale down or stop. I love my job and don’t plan to give that up. I need to figure out how much time I have to devote to different activities, allot my time, and then cut away the fat. It is a painful process that I have done before, but it was such a relief after I did it. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Hi, everyone.

Sorry to disappear like that. My son and I are leaving for Disney tomorrow for a week. I had to play catch up from being sick as well as work ahead for being gone for a week, so I have not had a spare moment all week even to post a message. I will start blogging again after we get home.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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My cold simply refuses to go away. It has moved to my voice box, and now I have lost my voice … again. I first came down with laryngitis as soon as I started having flashbacks. My therapist said that it was a metaphor for my childhood – that I had “lost my voice” as a child.

This morning, my eight-year-old son jumped out at me and scared me. I tried to scream, but nothing came out. This triggered me, and I started crying. There is nothing worse than putting all you have into a scream but having no sound come out. Again, it is such a fitting metaphor for my childhood.

I used to have silent scream nightmares a lot before entering into therapy. People would be chasing me or hurting me in one manner or another. I would scream with all of my might, but nothing would come out. I eventually developed lucid dreaming and learned that, if I would keep screaming and screaming in my dream, even though it was silent, would eventually make a noise that would wake me up. I have had so many dreams where I just kept screaming that silent scream until I awakened in a cold sweat in my bed.

Do any of you have silent scream dreams? I would guess that they are probably pretty common among child abuse survivors because a “silent scream” is such a fitting metaphor for an abused child.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled How Many Actresses have DID?, a reader posted the following comment:

There are many singers that I wonder if they are multiple from the words to their songs. ~ Diamond

That got me thinking … What songs really resonate with you due to lyrics that relate to dissociative identity disorder (DID), child abuse, etc.?

Again, as I stated in my other post, this is all speculation. None of us knows these singers or songwriters, so we have no way of knowing another person’s diagnosis. That being said, I think it is interesting to explore what songs have helped you to feel less alone as you heal from DID, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other diagnoses after child abuse.

For me, Evanescence’s Fallen CD really resonates deeply – just about every song on the CD. Going Under explains how I feel when I get sucked into that dismal darkness of depression. Bring Me to Life was the first song that drew me in with these lyrics:

How can you see into my eyes like open doors?
Leading you down into my core where I’ve become so numb ~ Evanescence

I lived most of my life feeling numb, and I have always been drawn to songs that talk about the eyes being the window to the soul. I so desperately wanted someone to “see” me.

Tourniquet captures my feelings toward suicide. Hello sounds like an alter part singing:

Playground school bell rings again
Rain clouds come to play again
Has no one told you she’s not breathing?
Hello I’m your mind giving you someone to talk to

If I smile and don’t believe
Soon I know I’ll wake from this dream
Don’t try to fix me, I’m not broken
Hello I am the lie living for you so you can hide
Don’t cry

Suddenly I know I’m not sleeping
Hello I’m still here
All that’s left of yesterday ~ Evanescence

The song Whisper gives me chills and sounds like something written by a ritual abuse survivor:

catch me as i fall
say you’re here and it’s all over now
speaking to the atmosphere
no one’s here and i fall into myself
this truth drives me into madness
i know i can stop the pain if i will it all away

don’t turn away
don’t give in to the pain
don’t try to hide
though they’re screaming your name
don’t close your eyes
God knows what lies behind them
don’t turn out the light
never sleep never die

i’m frightened by what i see
but somehow i know that there’s much more to come
immobilized by my fear
and soon to be blinded by tears
i can stop the pain if i will it all away ~ Evanescence

Of course, I bring my own personal experiences into my interpretation of these songs. Do you see the same things that I do? What songs resonate with you?

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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In many ways, I am surprised that I survived the last two months. First I had the H1N1 virus, and that coincided with a temporary doubling of my workload at my part-time job. From that, I went into a period of insomnia as I prepared to see my mother/abuser for the first time in six years. I had the drama of returning home, with things going terribly with hub being incapable to taking good care of our son, who was having trouble with his asthma. The very next day, I got the call about a concern with my mammogram. The biopsy hurt and took me a while to heal from, and just as that wound was healing, I was slammed with yet another cold. Yes, that pretty much sums up the last two months of my life.

I hate, hate, hate getting sick because everything in my life seems to fall apart. I also lose the will to go on and keep fighting. I can handle the emotional or physical pain, but not both, and I always seem to get slammed with an illness on the heels of very deep emotional pain.

A friend pointed out that it is not surprising that I got sick again. After all, I had not slept worth a darn in months, and I had NO decompression time during this period. My child was home from school, and hub was around doing very little to help out with childcare. Other than when taking a shower, I had very few, if any, moments alone to process seeing my mother again. Quite frankly, I still have not done it unless you count bawling my eyes out in the shower because I simply cannot handle one more day of pain.

Fortunately, the cold seems to be lifting. I took an entire day off on Monday (the day that I am writing this). I took my son to school, sent hub off to work, and then did NOTHING for five hours. I watched a mini-series on TV and then took a long nap. I just took a few moments to pound this out before driving to pick up my son from school. I really needed this break. I decided to make it a “Be kind to Faith” day, and I only did what I wanted to do, which was mostly watch TV and sleep, all of which involved being safe in my room under the covers.

We all need days like this – when we push away everything else in our lives and take a few moments for ourselves. This is not a luxury – it is a necessity. If we don’t ever recharge our batteries, how can we expect to keep going?

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Dealing with Memories from Preverbal Abuse, a reader asked the following question:

i have been in therapy for one year now. I started having memories of being a baby, I still doubt that these things are real. I also have realized that I too have a baby alter. When the baby comes out, it happens really quick. I get confused as to why this comes out. How am I suppose to know if these memories are infact real and not just my mind making them up because I want answers? ~ Wendy

Dealing with preverbal memories is tough because babies do not have any sort of frame of reference for “holding” the memories. All they know is that they were traumatized without any sort of language or frame of reference to begin to understand the trauma. If you were traumatized before you could speak, recovering those preverbal memories can be scary and feel overwhelming.

My advice is to believe yourself. You are not trying to convince a judge or jury of anything. Nobody is on trial. What possible reason would you have to make this stuff up? People who did not experience preverbal trauma do not have baby alter parts and do not experience overwhelming body memories from the perspective of a baby like you do.

Rather that put a lot of energy into questioning yourself, start nurturing that wounded little baby inside of you. Provide yourself with all that you missed as a baby to the extent that you can. The number one need you had was safety, so do you all you can to help you feel safe. Rock on a rocking chair, or consider purchasing a hammock to rock you as you needed to be rocked as a child.

If you will stop putting energy into doubting yourself and, instead, use that energy to love yourself, what harm will come? If your efforts to love and nurture your wounded inner baby brings relief, that’s all that matters.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Let me begin with a disclaimer – this blog entry is just my own opinion based upon my own observations watching biographies about different actresses. I have no firsthand knowledge of any of their lives, nor am I aware of any of them being diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, let’s speculate. :0) I have often wondered how many successful actors and actresses (especially actresses) have DID and whether their disorder is actually partially responsible for their successes.

I first thought about this idea based upon my own brief experience with acting. When I was in ninth grade, I was a very shy and withdrawn student, so it was a shock all around when I landed a part in my school’s one-act play that was loosely based upon the movie, Arsenic and Old Lace. I played one of the sweet, but murderous, little old ladies. I was fumbling at rehearsals at first. Then, I showed up at rehearsal one day and was my character, down to the voice tone, accent, and inflection. The cast member who played the other little old lady was in awe and asked me how I did that. I realize in hindsight that I created an alter part to play that role. I had no idea how I did it at the time, but today I realized that I simply “switched.” It was a piece of cake.

Then, several years ago, I saw the Marilyn Monroe biography starring a then-unknown actress named Poppy Montgomery. Admittedly, the movie always claimed to have taken some liberties with the portrayal of Marilyn Monroe, but I was struck by how she seemed to “switch” from one personality to another. I have seen interviews in which people claim that Marilyn Monroe was actually Norma Jean Baker’s most successful “role.” That got me speculating about whether Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe had DID.

I love to watch biographies and watched quite a few while most of my TV shows were on hiatus over the holidays. I watched a biography on Beyonce Knowles in which she shared that she “becomes Sasha” when she is on stage. Sasha is outgoing and daring while Beyonce is reserved to almost shyness when not on stage.

I then watched one on Mackenzie Phillips. Of course, her traumatizing childhood is well-known and, especially with her recent revelation of the incestuous relationship with her father that she shared in her book, High on Arrival, certainly fits the profile for a traumatizing childhood that could cause a child to develop DID. Many people in her life chose to be interviewed, included her second ex-husband/father of her child. In his interview, he shared a conversation with her that sounds right out of the book of Faith: He said that she said, “This is how I am feeling right now,” and she was bawling her eyes out. He walked toward her to comfort her because she looked so incredibly sad, but she looked up with a completely serene and bubbly face and said, “But this is how other people will see me.” Wow!

Another person from the set of One Day at a Time shared that, while the camera was not on Mackenzie, she would have a glazed over expression. However, when her camera came on, she was “on,” and you would have no idea that her expression had been blank just a moment before.

Is this DID? I don’t know, but I think it is interesting to speculate about.

Photo credit: Amazon.com

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Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s hoping that 2010 will be a kinder year. Last year was a very trying one for me.

On my blog entry entitled What is a Body Memory?, a reader posted the following comment:

I have had these ‘fits’ a few times where my body shakes, and it is hard to stop it. it always starts in my right leg, and then my right hand and moves to my body and then my head jerks a few times. I have been working with someone who believes they are body recalls of sexual abuse when I was younger. They only occur when I am talking about my dad. I have no specific memory of sexual abuse, but I know that I do not miss my dad from my life at all. (I haven’t seen him for 5 years). AFterwards I feel really out of my body and rather vulnerable in the world. Sometimes they happen at night. Once or twice it has happened to lesser degree when I have been sexually intimate with a man. And it also happened when I did rebirthing. It happened yesterday when I was in a counselling session with my mum. My mum was denying that dad could ever have done that and my body went into this state again. It really shocked them both. My speech dulls during and after the shaking, It is like I’ve had a stroke and it is really hard to talk properly. I speak really slowly. I want to know if anyone else experiences this?

I am not certain I was abused by my dad, but I am certain that my body is trying to tell me something, and I am certain that I don’t want to see my dad anymore.

I would like to hear of anyone who has experienced similar. I know I am not a nut job. In all other ways I am a relatively normal middle class girl. ~ Leaf

Considering that the body shakes happen in reaction to different triggers, they might very well be body memories. It is also possible that an alter part is being triggered and expressing itself. If so, this is likely the alter part who endured the worst of the trauma. Another possibility is that the body shaking has to do with releasing energy held by your body.

I used to struggle with body shakes, and this happened with regularity throughout my life from when I was in my teens until I was pretty far along in therapy. The body shaking is similar to what you describe. It starts in my thighs and then moves outward until my entire body is shaking. Sometimes my head will shake as well. I had to control my breathing to prevent myself from hyperventilating.

The difference is in the aftermath. For me, I felt really good after one of these episodes. It felt like my body had released a lot of pent-up anxiety. My muscles would relax, and I would actually sleep better afterward.

I posted about this on Isurvive, and one member had an interesting theory. She said that, after a rabbit escapes with its life, it will stop and shake. This is the rabbit’s way of releasing the adrenaline that flooded its body when it was in danger. The shaking is actually a way of bringing the rabbit’s body back into a healthy state again. I have chosen to view my episodes this way. As I said, since working through therapy, I rarely have these episodes any longer.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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