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Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

On my blog entry entitled Realizing that I Had DID, a reader posted the following comment:

I am curious… maybe at some point you could post about whether or not your sister also has DID, if that isn’t too personal or invasive to share. Also, how you and your sister came to talk about the abuse and when/ how that happened. My understanding is that many siblings are driven apart when the subject of abuse comes up or they tend to avoid it altogether. You and your sister have a unique bond in that you can and do share your experiences and feelings surrounding this.

I emailed my sister to make sure she was OK with me talking about her on the blog. I also gave her an overview of how I planned to represent her (based on things she has told me in the past) since I am talking about her experience and not mine. She is 100% supportive and might even write a guest blog at some point to share her point of view.

My sister has not been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID) and does not relate to DID. Her diagnoses are post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder. She and I endured most of the same abuses or similar variations of the same abuses.

Despite my sister not relating to DID, she does sometimes say things that, to me, sound in the ballpark of DID/being a multiple, such as asking me one day if I ever “feel short.” Yes, I do sometimes “feel short” when a young alter part comes outs. She does not relate to an alter part “coming out” but does experience “feeling short” or feeling as if she was physically different for no apparent reason.

My sister’s internal experience is quite fascinating. I haven’t heard another child abuse survivor describe it quite in this way. She says she can best describe her internal experience as a warehouse. All of the memories are stored in boxes so she doesn’t have to view any of them if she doesn’t want to. She might not know in the moment what is located in each box, but she knows the general organization of the warehouse and has the ability at will to open any box and view any memory – she simply chooses not to unless she feels a need to “go there.”

Unlike me, who truly had NO IDEA about the childhood abuse, my sister was always aware of being a child abuse victim. As a young child (around age six), she wanted to be a call girl when she grew up. Even as a little girl, she thought that she might as well profit from what was being done to her.

I’ll share about our relationship tomorrow.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Thatched RoofOn my blog entry entitled Aftereffects of Child Abuse Beyond PTSD but not DID, a reader posted the following comment:

I would not work with any professional whose view was so simplistic they did not understand that all classification systems have no value other than to appease insurance companies. ~ Michael

I am glad that Michael wrote this because it is an excellent springboard for the next topic I want to cover.

Labels such as dissociative identity disorder (DID), dissociative fugue, dissociative amnesia, and dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DD-NOS) come from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). I do understand that mental health professionals need a way to categorize what they are viewing from the outside. However, as I see DID from the inside rather than the outside, I personally see more similarities than differences in all of these disorders. I suspect that might be why some readers find my blog helpful even without a DID diagnosis.

A mental practitioner is going to go down the checklist when diagnosing a patient. Loses time? Check. Has more than one part inside? Check. I suspect that reactions to child abuse are more complex than can be quantified through a checklist.

Over at isurvive.org, a member once called DID a “create your own disorder” disorder. I, personally, think this is the most accurate description of the aftereffects of child abuse that go beyond post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I would apply this descriptor to all of these other ways of splitting that go beyond PTSD but don’t fit the label of DID. (Yes, I am aware that some readers disagree with having “chosen” the way in which they split.)

I use the term “healing from DID” to describe myself because that label no longer fits me under the DSM-IV-TR, yet I did once fit the label. My internal experience has not changed – what has changed is that I am continually in the process of healing, so I no longer exhibit the same symptoms that I once did.

I have always said that if a label is helpful to you, embrace it. Otherwise, don’t let a label limit or define you. My therapist felt it was important for me to recognize the label of PTSD as applied to me, and he was correct. However, he has never worried about a DID label for me. His focus was always on encouraging me to love and accept myself as well as talk about what happened until I no longer feel the need to talk about it any longer.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I am using yesterday’s blog entry to launch a new section of my blog. Up until this point, my blog has only included Aftereffects Categories for post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative identity disorder (DID) because I have personal experience with both of these labels. However, there are thousands of child abuse survivors who experienced trauma that went beyond PTSD but did not result in DID. Those child abuse survivors need resources, too.

I have launched a new Category called Aftereffects: Other, which is a working title until we can collectively come up with more descriptive name. (Any ideas welcome!) This will be a category for blog entries that include, but are not limited to, other types of child abuse aftereffects that go beyond PTSD but don’t fit under DID, such as…

  • Dissociative Amnesia
  • Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DD-NOS)
  • Dissociative Fugue
  • Multiples who are not DID (for example, there is no “host personality” who loses time)
  • Splitting into one adult alter part with a buried child part

A particularly interesting aftereffect that I have heard from two different people is splitting into colors. (Both were diagnosed with DD-NOS.) Instead of splitting in alter parts (people), they split into colors. As an example, for one of these people, Red held the anger, Blue held the sadness, and Brown held the memories that were too traumatizing to view. If this person looked into the brown, she would lose time. The other one also split into colors, but there were some variations. I think that each knowing about the other’s experience would be incredibly helpful.

I am sure there are other types of aftereffects that I am not familiar with, so please educate me! If you have reacted in a particular way, there is likely at least one other person on the planet you can relate to your particular aftereffect. I want this blog to provide hope and healing for them as well.

Here is where I need your help … I know that I don’t personally know enough about these different types of reactions to child abuse. I have read many stories and spoken with many child abuse survivors, but repeating what I have heard is not the same as having experienced it.

I have never done this before, but I would like to invite guest blogs to add material to this category. You may take credit for your blog entry under your reader name, choose a pen name, or request that I credit the writing to “Anonymous.” I will not divulge any identifying information, and I will only edit your submission for grammar and punctuation if needed for clarity. You are welcome to provide your own image (please let me know who to credit with the image – you must have permission for me to use the image if it is not your own.) Otherwise, I’ll choose an image for you. If you have questions about how this would work or would like to submit a guest blog, please email it to faith_amom@hotmail.com.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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StatueI have encountered a handful of child abuse survivors who split into an adult and a child alter part. They would not be classified as having dissociative identity disorder (DID) because there is no loss of time or an interchange of personalities. My guess is that they would receive a label of dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DD-NOS), but the label is irrelevant for the purpose of this blog entry. I want to provide a place where people who experienced this split have a place to be recognized.

The people I encountered in person, online, and through books who experienced the type of split I am talking about explain their experience along these lines … They might have experienced some level of abuse or trauma in their early years, but the trauma that caused the split seems to have happened in the age range of five to eight years old, with age six being the most common age for the split to have happened. Admittedly, I have only been able to observe the experiences of a small sample, so this is definitely not written in stone.

At the time of the split, the person “buries” the wounded child part and continues on with the part that grows into an adult. The person has two parts, but the child part does not come out, which is one reason this person would be unlikely to be diagnosed with DID.

Someone who split this way might remember some or all of the abuses experienced by the now-adult part. When some talk about the abuse, they might seem detached, such as explaining something horrific that they know happened to them without attaching emotion to this experience. Also, at least one person I know who split this way succeeded in dissociating away some particularly traumatizing abuse that happened after the split, storing the memories of these experience with the buried child.

As we have talked about many times on this blog, I don’t think this form of splitting or healing from this type of split is “easier” or “harder” than other reactions to abuse, just different. From what observed from one person who invited me into watching some of her healing process, “unburying” the wounded child seemed to be more daunting than what I experienced in integrating one of many alter parts because of the depth of the pain. Because my pain was fragmented into many different parts, I seemed better able to pace myself whereas the other person would feel as if she was drowning in the unmet needs of this one huge needy inner child.

I would encourage anyone who split this way to try different tools that have been useful to other child abuse survivors, such as reaching out to your buried child and inviting her out. Love her. Accept her. Heal her.

I would recommend doing this healing work alongside a qualified therapist with experience working with child abuse survivors who were severely traumatized. From what I have observed from the outside, dealing with the very deep pain of the wounded buried child can be overwhelming at times. A good professional therapist can help you along the process.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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