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Archive for the ‘Losing Time’ Category

DID: Think I Lost Time Again

The night that I recovered the first part of my most recently recovered traumatic memory, I got very little sleep. I tossed and turned for hours. The night I recovered the second part, I took Xanax to knock myself out by 10:00 p.m., and I was awake at 3:00 a.m. with such a bad headache that I couldn’t go back to sleep.

The evening after night #2, my husband asked why I was yelling at our son in the middle of the night. I told my husband that I hadn’t been. A friend had called in distress at my son’s bedtime, and my son had asked to watch a football game past his bedtime in return for going to bed without any trouble at a particular time. I agreed so I could focus on my friend, and my son had kept his word. There had been no drama at all between my son and me that night – none.

My son overheard the question and said, “Yeah, you woke me up, too. You were yelling really loudly. I thought you were mad at Dad.” Both told me that they were asleep and were awakened by me yelling very loudly.

Here’s the freakiest part – there is no way they could have heard me yelling from my room. Even if I had been screaming at the very top of my lungs in my bed, neither of them would have heard me, certainly not enough to awaken them from sleep in the middle of the night, especially since all of us sleep with our doors closed, and I also have a white noise machine going in my room, which drowns out sound.

The upstairs of our house is laid out in a U shape. My bedroom (I have my own bedroom) is at 2:00, and my son’s bedroom is at 4:00. Closets separate the two, so I cannot hear any noise from him unless I hear thumping when he throws something against the wall. He is a loud child, and I cannot hear him call for me through the walls.

My husband’s room is at 10:00, and we have the master bath separating us that goes over the stairs. Also, our headboards are both adjacent to the outside wall on opposite ends.

For me to have yelled loudly enough to wake the house, I had to get out of my bed, stand in the hallway of the U, and do my yelling there. (1) What was I yelling? (Neither of them knew. Each thought I was yelling at the other and went back to sleep without inquiring.) (2) At whom was I yelling? (I assume my abusers.) (3) What else did I do/where did I go other than the hallway to yell?

It’s not like I haven’t lost time before, but I thought that ended after integrating my host personality into my core. That, more than anything else, has driven home what serious healing work I am doing right now. I have had a constant headache for days. Yeah, I’m a little freaked out right now.

*** Edited to add: After I wrote this, my son told me he went into my room to check on me, and I was yelling in my sleep. So, this might have been a nightmare rather than losing time.***

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled DID: Is “Losing Time” a “Bad” Thing?, a reader posted the following comment:

Faith said: “Whether your host personality is “out” or not, you are always going to behave consistently with who you are.”

I must respectfully disagree with this statement. Here’s why . . . About ten years ago, back when I was just beginning to have flashbacks and slowly figuring out that I had DID, I made the startling discovery that I was dating five separate men at the same time. Four of them were online, and the fifth lived in my hometown. Of the four that were online, I later learned that I’d participated in cybersex with three of them.

I was horrified. The whole situation goes against the essence of my being; it crosses everything that I believe in, morally, ethically, and spiritually. It couldn’t be farther from who I am.

Each man was being dated by a different alter, but while I remained blissfully ignorant, they were aware of each other’s actions. They knew that I would find such behavior unacceptable and insulting to my beliefs, and they chose to indulge in it anyway. I am still ashamed of what they did and have found it hard to forgive them, but I am working on it.

Forgive me for disagreeing with you, Faith, but this is what happened to me. ~ Midge

I have included this long quote in its entirety because of its importance in following along in my response.

It is important to distinguish between what is consistent with “you” versus your host personality. For most people with DID, the host personality is an “innocent” alter part that has been shielded from all (or most) of the abuse. The whole point of having a host personality is to protect the child and enable the child to interact with the world as if she truly was that innocent (and often naïve) child.

You are not your host personality. Your host personality is just one tiny part of who you are, and your host personality is likely to take issue with lots of behaviors by alter parts, such expressing anger, sexuality, etc. … anything that is inconsistent with the morals and values of the host personality. Just because an alter’s behavior is inconsistent with what the host personality might do does not make that behavior inconsistent with what you might do.

Stay with me here…

I had a self-destructive alter part that had a strong need to slash my wrists and “watch the lifeblood flow out of me” when triggered. Committing suicide in this fashion goes completely against the grain of any part of me. Nevertheless, my cult abusers manipulated this part of myself to believe that self-destruction in this manner was the only way to save my little sister (who would be killed if I ever remembered or told about the ritual abuse), and sacrificing myself to save her is completely consistent with who I am. So, at a surface level, it might appear that this alter part taking over and trying to slash my wrists with a knife would be inconsistent with who I am, but the motivation behind why I would do this is completely consistent. If I believed that I could spare my sister’s life (or my son’s life) by killing myself, I absolutely would do it.

Let’s circle back to Midge’s alter parts. The fact that each alter part dated a different man makes me suspect that different needs were being met by each man. Midge’s host personality’s objection does not seem to be toward dating at all but in the fact that five different men were dated at the same time. Keep in mind that these are five separate parts whose needs were not being met, and these five separate parts were only dating one man each. Dating one man who meets your needs does not sound like it goes against your character, which makes each part consistent with who you are.

I strongly suggest telling each part that you are sorry for not meeting their needs and for being so angry with them for trying to find ways to meet those needs. I would also invite them to share their needs with you so you can help them meet those needs yourself rather than having to go outside to other men to do so.

I will address the cybersex issue tomorrow because this blog entry has gotten way too long.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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My blog entries last week on losing time generated a lot of discussion, so I thought I would revisit the topic from another angle. You can read last week’s blog entries here and here.

In the comments, we talked a little bit about whether losing time was a “bad” thing, and I would like to elaborate further here. From the perspective of the host personality (the part that most people with dissociative identity disorder–DID view as “me”), losing time is terrifying. You have memory holes that feel like you “blacked out,” and you have absolutely no idea what your body was doing while you were “out.”

I experienced this terror myself when I viewed myself from the perspective of the host personality. I was terrified that I could be harming my then-three-year-old child while I lost time and would have no idea that I was doing it. I told my therapist that if I recovered any memories of harming my child, I would commit suicide immediately to protect him from me. My therapist assured me that I would never do this to my child, even when I lost time, because to do so would run contrary to who I am. He helped me to see that I would be behave consistently with who I am because, regardless of which part is “out,” I am always “me.”

The way to push past the terror is to recognize that all of your parts are you. Whether your host personality is “out” or not, you are always going to behave consistently with who you are. That is not to say that you won’t do anything that might upset the host personality because each alter part is experiencing one view of yourself in a “pure” version – pure anger, pure terror, etc. Each of these parts needs healing, and in order for healing to happen, they need to come out. The sooner you embrace each part as “you,” the sooner you can stop losing time and keep your host personality present when these other parts come out. Once you no longer have a need for the host personality, the part will integrate back into your core, you will stop losing time, and you will technically stop having a diagnosis of DID since you no longer meet that criterion in the diagnosis.

I have heard people lament losing time during therapy sessions, and I always tell them that they got their money’s worth out of the session whether they remember it or not. By enabling another part to come out, that part of yourself is receiving the therapy it needs. Those parts are typically much more wounded than the host personality is, so you can experience immense healing even after “losing” an entire therapy session from the perspective of the host.

My therapist’s advice was to stop fighting these others parts of myself. Instead, invite them out and start a “dialogue” with them. The more communication you have going among your parts, the closer you are to ceasing losing time forever!

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Yesterday, I blogged about whether people with dissociative identity disorder (DID) are always aware that they lose time. My own experience was that I had no awareness of losing time. My multiple system was excellent and hiding those “lost moments,” and I only became aware of “lost time” through healing from the underlying trauma. Today, I am going to share some examples of ways that I experienced losing time without knowing that I did.

I would sometimes have people interact with me in a way that made no sense. For example, my memory of my freshman year of college was that a woman on my hall decided to hate me for no apparent reason. She was quite vocal about detesting me, but I had no idea why she did. I later recovered the memory of why, which I wrote about here. Obviously, I “lost time” by “erasing” that entire incident from my conscious memory, but I was unaware that this data was gone.

The same thing happened my junior year of college. My ex-boyfriend spread rumors that I was pregnant with his baby but trying to pawn his baby off on my new boyfriend. I just thought he was being an @$$hole because I knew that we had never had sex. I later recovered the memory of him raping me. I also always remembered having a mini-period (bleeding) halfway through my cycle and being baffled by it. That was really the physical evidence of the rape that I hid from myself (from the host personality).

Another example I experienced was my husband having a different memory of a situation than I did. For example, my husband claimed that no matter how quietly he entered the bedroom to go to bed, I would wake up. I had no memory of this even though, according to him, it happened every single night. My recollection was that I would close my eyes to go to sleep and would not open them again until the next morning. However, my husband would tell me that we had even had conversations when he awakened me, and I had no memory of this. I chalked it up to talking in my sleep, but I was really losing time every single night.

While there are certainly some people with DID who do experience things like “coming to” in another city, running into strangers who appear to know them, finding clothing in their closet that they don’t remember buying, etc., this is not a requirement to have DID. It is all a matter of how your own multiple system works and how effective it is at hiding the truth from your host personality (the part you view as “me”).

It is quite possible to lose time, even on a regular basis, without having an awareness of losing time. That was my reality for almost four decades, and I definitely had DID.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I am writing this blog entry from the air on an airplane with no Wi-fi (Alas!), so I am going by memory about the questions I have received recently concerning dissociative identity disorder (DID). I know that I have received a few recently. If this blog entry does not address your question directly, don’t despair … I will get to all of the questions after I return home from my long weekend in Texas.

I believe I have received a few questions about losing time and DID. I have had readers posting about being aware of having different alter parts but who do not believe that they ever lose time. Their question is about whether they can have DID without losing time.

I am going to address this question from the perspective of someone who is healing from DID rather than as a mental health professional would address it. A mental health professional would point you to the symptoms required in the most recent version of the DSM and say that DID does not fit if you do not lose time. I actually take issue with this because losing time and having an awareness of losing time are two different things.

I first became aware of having an alter part in 2003. The angry alter part came out when triggered, and I stayed co-present. It felt like “I” was “shoved aside” as this alter part “stepped into my face.” I did not lose time, but I was definitely not the one driving my thoughts, words, or actions. It was a bizarre experience.

I had no question that I had an alter part, but I had no awareness of losing time. I did not find shoes in my closet that I did not remember buying. I did not look at my watch and find that six hours had passed in what seemed like an instant. I did not have strange people walking up to me who knew me but who I did not recognize. Nevertheless, I did have DID.

The thing you need to realize is that DID is intended to be seamless. The alter parts take over and protect the host personality (the part you view as “me” that is “out” most of the time) when triggered. For this to work in a way that will avoid detection by the abusers, the host personality must stay unaware of what is happening. So, you can become a master at hiding the “lost time” from yourself.

This blog entry is getting too long, so tomorrow I will share some examples of indicators that I lost time even though I had no awareness of ever losing time when it happened.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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*******trigger warning – sexual abuse*******

I had a couple of traumatizing incidents in college that I have since recovered through flashbacks. I suspect there is another one from high school because I am aware of the lost time, but I guess I am not ready to deal with that one yet. A girl from high school feels very bonded to me (even up to the last high school reunion), and I have no memory of her.

The first story involved a party. I have always remembered that I was going to go on a double-date to a party and then to a picnic. I was friends with one of the guys (S). He was going with a woman (B) on my hall in the dorm, and I was going with one of his acquaintances. We decided go to a party together as a foursome and then to a big picnic the following week.

Here is what I have always remembered – We went to the party. I had no memory of the party. We returned. I said, “I guess I will see you at the picnic” to S, and B was giving me a dirty look. My date was not there. S said, “I don’t think that would be a good idea.” I didn’t know what he meant, but I agreed. S stopped dating B after that. B hated me after that night and even got the entire hall to pick sides – her or me. B would leave mean messages on my door. I even tried asking her what I had done to offend her, and she said I knew d@$# well what I had done. I was completely baffled.

Through a flashback, I filled in the blanks. Short version – someone at the party either knew me or knew how to trigger me. I switched and was the compliant victim again. He took me to a back room, and I performed oral sex on almost every guy at that party. S found out what was going on, told all the guys that they were @$$holes, and removed me from the party immediately. He was always very nice to me up until I transferred to another school after my freshman year.

Story #2 happened at a different school. I have always remembered that my boyfriend R dumped me for refusing to have sex with him. (I, as Faye, believed I was a virgin.) He wanted to get back together, but I didn’t. I remember going to his dorm room to talk, leaving and feeling pain, and being surprised that my period was early. However, the blood went away after one day and then my period came two weeks later. I was confused, and I was fearful of being alone with R after that.

I started dating someone else I wasn’t into (a pattern) as protection from R. R spread rumors that I was pregnant with his baby but trying to pass it off as my new boyfriend’s baby. I was baffled because we had never slept together. Through a flashback, I have recovered the memory of R raping me in his dorm room that day.

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Photo credit: Hekatekris

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On my blog entry entitled Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID): Losing Time vs. “Normal” Memory, a reader posted the following comment:

Today I was at a meeting and I “woke up” in the middle of some kind of discourse fully unaware of what I was saying. I tried to catch up with myself but felt like the people with me were confused. Now I know it, recognize it when it happens. Usually I am co-present, but lately that is not the case an indication for me that I’m getting ready to remember something pivotal…Now, at this stage, I wonder about explaining to the confused what is happening. My gut tells me no. But I do wonder. ~ Esther

I would recommend against “going public” with your diagnosis. To the extent that most people have heard of DID, their impressions have been shaped by movies like Sybil and more recently the The United States of Tara. I would not want people to assume that I am going to do some of the “freaky” stuff that was portrayed in the movie. (I have not seen “Tara” because I don’t have Showtime, so I cannot speak to that show.)

Depending upon your age, you can always blame it on “the memory being the first to go.” I am forty, and my peer group is constantly losing the train of thought mid-sentence, even without DID. You can always blame it on that. You can even make a joke like, “There’s that early onset Alzheimer’s rearing its ugly head again.”

Now, if you have a couple of close friends in your life who you think can handle hearing about your diagnosis, I would start there. I do have a handful of friends who know about my history (including the DID), and they are very supportive. I start by making sure they can handle hearing about the abuse first. If they can’t handle hearing about the abuse, then they definitely cannot handle hearing about the DID.

Even though I am very vocal about DID on my blog, I write under a pen name. I have only shared my blog with a handful of off-line friends because, even this far along in healing, I am not ready for everyone in my life to know this about me. However, I am very open about having been abused as a child. That is much easier for me to talk about publicly than the DID stuff.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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