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Posts Tagged ‘challenges after integration’

I have shared that I now have a prescription for Xanax to help me with my anxiety. I try not to take it more than once a day, and I sometimes can go the whole day without it. I have noticed that I am experiencing much more anxiety than I ever appreciated now that I have been trying not to lean on my eating disorder of binge and compulsive overeating.

I have been trying to pay attention to the times that I feel the need to medicate myself with the Xanax. This frequently happens in the evenings or at night when my son (who has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD) is running around like a loud, crazed Energizer bunny. However, I have begun noticing my anxiety level rising at other times, too.

Hub and I went to dinner at a local pizza parlor. The place was crowded with a large group seated right next to us. A customer was seated at the end of a group of tables pushed together, which put him in the aisle. People were coming and going around him. Waitresses were bustling around the tables. Children were making noise. I felt overloaded by all of the stimuli and just wanted to crawl under a rock to get away from it all.

It was then that it hit me – I don’t know how to process all of this stimulation! I have lived most of my life with dissociative identity disorder (DID), so I had a way of escaping overstimulation. Whenever things got too “crazy,” I would simply dissociate. However, as I am becoming more whole and have now stopped using food to help me stay dissociated, I am living more in my body. I am staying present, and I don’t quite know how to handle overstimulation because I never had to deal with it before!
This is quite an epiphany for me, and I am relieved to understand this about myself. My sister has been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, but I never had any trouble being in a crowd or surrounded by chaos. I now recognize that this is because I was “checking out” in my own head. Now that I have chosen to give that up, I am finding myself reacting in a very similar manner as my sister when confronted with chaos and crowds.

Now that I know this about myself, I will start taking steps to deal with it. Half the battle for me is always identifying the issue. Now that I recognize that this is a problem, I can take steps to deal with it (including taking a Xanax, if needed).

I am encouraged because this is another sign that I really am integrating. I really am becoming more whole. In some ways, I am giving up a “super power” by letting go of dissociating, but I am giving myself the gift of presence.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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A reader asked me to talk about the challenges after integration from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). As she pointed out in her email, many people who are healing from DID see integration as the end goal, but really integration is only the beginning. Interacting with the world as an integrated person is very different from interacting with the world from the perspective of a “multiple.”

I was in the same place as this reader a couple of years ago. I went looking for resources for people who had successfully integrated from DID, and I could not find many on the market. I think I found three books in all, and I bought two of them. I started reading the one that sounded like the best resource, and it only wound up depressing me. While the woman who wrote the book had succeeded in integrating from DID, she had many limitations on her life. I did not want any limitations. So, I chose to stop reading that book, and I never picked up the other one.

Healing from DID is not the same thing as healing from child abuse, although there is definitely quite a bit of overlap. Healing from child abuse is healing from the underlying trauma: it is turning your emotional wounds into scars. Healing from DID is about changing your internal reaction to the trauma: it involves changing the way you interact with the world.

The woman in the book I read continued to have flashbacks after integration, so it sounds like she healed from the DID faster than the underlying trauma. My experience was different: I dealt with very few flashbacks after integration from DID. I really believe that they are two different processes that are being healed at the same time through self-love.

As for specific challenges – Every single relationship in my life changed after I integrated from DID. I had to learn how to manage frustrating situations instead of just dissociating – that is still a challenge for me. I had to learn to feel pain in the moment instead of just encapsulating the pain and tossing it aside.

Interacting with the world as a “singleton” instead of a “multiple” is very different, and I am still learning how to do it. It comes second nature to me to split off an alter part, but I can also bring that part right back in again when I want to.

This article from the Sidran Institute is the best resource I have found regarding challenges you face after you integrate from DID. I am still in the process of learning to give up dissociation as a coping tool. Even though I am not fragmenting into alter parts, I do continue to dissociate on occasion, which is true of many child abuse survivors, even those without a history of DID.

Dissociation runs on a continuum, so I do not have the expectation of going from polyfragmented DID to completely “normal” overnight. Any progress toward staying whole and present is a step in the right direction.

The reader also asked me to address issues with sex. I will get into that in my next blog entry.

Related Topic:

How to Stay Integrated After Healing Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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