Posts Tagged ‘switching’

Here’s a new one for you – Have any of you experienced a form of “switching” after healing from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)? I think that is what I have been doing, and it is really strange.

Let me explain what I mean. Read Nansie’s comment, which I quoted in this blog entry. Now, imagine that “carousel of emotions” taking place but from a “singleton” perspective. That is what has been going on with me, and it is bizarre.

When I was badly triggered as a multiple, different parts would come out and switch repeatedly as the multiple system tried to figure out how best to respond to the threat. I described one such scenario in this blog entry when I was in conflict over choosing to trust a friend. I was in such conflict that it felt like a carousel was spinning in my head as one part after another came out to try to restore order.

This is how I have been feeling since the recent incident that upset me. (Don’t worry about this lasting for a week and a half. I am writing ahead because I am going out town soon. I sure hope what I am writing about today will not still apply when this publishes!)

Over the course of several days, I have felt shock, anger, and sadness, decided to leave the relationship and decided to stay, decided to play mental games and decided to be indifferent, felt such deep despair that suicide seemed appealing, felt completely okay, felt like binge eating (after losing 14 lbs and being “on the wagon” for months), etc. It feels like I am constantly “switching,” but most of these emotions are no longer “parts.” I feel like there is a dial in my head that releases various emotions, and a toddler has gotten a hold of that dial. I makes me feel like I am losing my mind!

When I was a multiple, eventually one of these parts would drive my reaction. If it was the angry part, I might leave. If it was the sad part, I might sink into a depression but take no action. However, there is no one “part” to take over any longer. It is only me, a (mostly) singleton being hit by one powerful emotion after another, and I cannot seem to make a decision about which way to go because my emotions keep shifting in powerful ways.

Have any of you experienced this? Do you have any advice? If I am still feeling this way after my trip, I will make an appointment with my therapist.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Flowers (c) Lynda BernhardtI recently went on a weekend getaway with five friends from high school. The woman with whom I shared a hotel room (R) was my closest friend in high school. R has always been extremely perceptive. While I always liked her, I would sometimes gets nervous around her in high school because I feared that she would “see me,” and I could not risk “being seen.” However, I did not know why this frightened me so much because I was unaware of having Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

In my post Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and the Movies, I stated that I was only aware of one person ever “catching” me switch from one alter part to another. As it turns out, R saw it, too – she just did not know what it was.

According to R, I used to have a mannerism that she chalked up to being a personal quirk. I would bend my head down, swallow, and then look up. I have no recollection of doing this, and nobody has ever mentioned this mannerism to me before. I could rattle off a long list of quirks and mannerisms that I have, but this would not be one of them.

R also talked about different things that I did not remember but that she remembered very well. One was the time that she and I went shopping with a third friend. The friend was talking about how the secret to getting customer service to take you seriously was to “practice being a b@#$%.” According to R, I said, “R does not need to practice being a b@#$%.” However, when she mentioned this conversation to me a few years later, I did not remember it.

R brought this conversation up again, in conjunction with the discussion of my quirky mannerism, and I did remember that conversation this time (now that I have integrated). What I remember is that I was complimenting R’s ability to be forceful in appropriate situations and not let other people take advantage of her. However, that would not have been the perspective of the host personality, who thought that being called a b@#$% was the worst possible thing imaginable. So, I totally get why my saying that to R was very hurtful at the time.

Apparently, I switched during that conversation. It was probably Irate who made the comment. Irate (as the name implies) did not take any crap off anyone. I used to joke that I had the world’s longest fuse – that I would be a doormat most of the time but then, about once a year, I would snap and put people in their place. That was Irate coming out, only I did not recognize this about myself. All I knew is that, in certain circumstances, I suddenly had a backbone and did not fear confrontation.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Microscopic view (c) Lynda BernhardtIn my last couple of posts, I have been talking about my reaction to the remake of the movie Sybil, which aired on Saturday night on CBS. In this post, I am going to compare and contrast my integration experience with Sybil’s.

In the movie, Sybil’s healing really began when her various parts started talking about the abuse. Dr. Wilbur correctly recognized that Sybil’s awareness of the others’ existence was a huge step toward healing.

This was the case with me, too, although I did not need a third party to accomplish this. I had one part (“Irate”) who was badly triggered by an overnight stay at my mother’s house who stayed co-present for a while after that. She is the one who would “step into my face.” I could “feel” her presence and knew that her thoughts were “not mine.” This is what launched me on a quest to learn all I could about alter parts and understand what was going on with me.

In the movie, Dr. Wilbur hypnotized Sybil and then age-progressed all of the parts so that they would be one age. When Sybil came out of hypnosis, she remembered a lot more than she had (which, up until this point, had been nothing about the abuse). My experience was very different.

I never needed to use hypnosis, nor did I involve a third party in order to remember or integrate. I did all of these things alone in my bed at night. I did have a therapist for two plus years, but he served more of a “check-in” role, reassuring me that I was not “crazy” and helping direct me along the healing path. While I told him about the alter parts eventually, the focus of my therapy was on learning to love myself and talking about what happened, not on the specific parts.

I had no need to age progress any of my parts, although I have read that this is still part of the healing that many therapists recommend for people with DID. I needed to love each part and accept each part’s experiences, feelings, and emotions as “mine.” Then, they would integrate, regardless of the part’s age.

One other big difference is that Dr. Wilbur sought to integrate each part back into Sybil. Sybil was a host personality, not the original child. What I found was that I had to integrate my host (Faye) back into the original child, not back into the others. I also integrated the others back into the original child. Dr. Wilbur was correct that there were no “deaths.” All are still present inside of myself. I just experience them in a different way – parts of myself that are always “present” as a part of who I am.

One key part of healing that the movie did not get into (possibly because Dr. Wilbur was a pioneer and did not know this herself) was that I found the key to healing to be loving and accepting each part as “me.” I would reach out in love to each part, thanking each part for the role he or she played in keeping me safe and then inviting each part into the core so it could be “out” forever. When I integrated my host personality, I stopped being separate from the other parts and was forever always “out” after that – no more lost time.

I would not think that Sybil suddenly having access to a whole bunch of memories at one time would have been a good thing. The reason for splitting in the first place is to distance yourself from the event and accompanying emotions. Even today, as an integrated person who has dealt with the big picture view of each form of abuse, it is hard to look over my entire abuse history in one sitting. To do this at one time – to take in all of the horror in one view – without having healed each piece as you went along would be overwhelming. It might be that they did this in the movie to give you an idea of where the next several years of therapy were going. The caption at the end said that it took Sybil a long time to become whole.

Related Topics:

Integration posts

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Microscopic view (c) Lynda BernhardtIn my last post, I shared my reaction to the remake of the movie Sybil, which aired on Saturday night on CBS. In this post, I am going to compare and contrast my dissociative identity disorder (DID) experiences with Sybil’s.

Both Sybil and I were sexually abused by our mothers. With my mother, it was oral, but I have met many women online whose mothers also inserted objects and gave them enemas, just like with what happened to Sybil. I had other abusers who did the object insertion, which I won’t go into here. We both also had mothers with a very warped and sick view of God and religion. So, she and I had all of those things in common.

Both of us were raised by schizophrenic mothers, and both of us had fathers who allowed severely mentally ill women to raise us. I wanted to jump out of my seat cheering when Dr. Wilbur went off on Sybil’s father for allowing a schizophrenic to raise a child. I wish she could give my father the same tongue-lashing because he deserves it, too. Of course, his reaction probably would have been similar to Sybil’s father – defensiveness and denial.

While we both had numerous alter parts (she had 18; I had around a thousand, but most were fragments rather than personalities), our multiple systems were pretty different. Mine was seamless in switching while hers was jarring. (In fairness to the real Sybil, the director might have told the actress to be that obvious so the audience could follow along.)

Here is how seamless mine was: When I was in the process of integrating, I was typing a message on my favorite message board for abuse survivors about my plan for healing and how I was confident that this would work. When I proofread what I wrote (an occupational hazard for a professional writer), I found the words “me hope” sandwiched in between two sentences. I type 90 words per minute, and I have no memory of typing those words. However, they were there, which tells you how rapidly I had the ability to switch. Also, as I shared in this post, I am only aware of one person ever “catching me” switching.

Also, when I was co-present (when “I” – the host personality – was “out” along with another alter part), I had internal dialogue (would have “loud thoughts” that were not “mine”). I never had some freaky out loud conversation like what happened in the scene with Sybil kissing her boyfriend.

The point of being DID is to be seamless so nobody knows that you are protecting yourself. I find it hard to believe that Sybil would have been seamless in the way her character was portrayed in the movie.

Like Sybil, I had both male and female parts. I also had animal parts, which Sybil did not seem to have.

One more thing – I, and most people with DID that I have known, were born people-pleasers. That was not the impression that I got about Sybil. Sybil was very lonely for a friend. While I was lonely for somebody to “see me,” I did not have issues with making friends in adulthood, even with DID.

In my next post, I will contrast my healing method with the healing method used by Dr. Wilbur in the movie.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Microscopic view (c) Lynda BernhardtAs a person who has recovered from dissociative identity disorder (DID) (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), I was curious to watch the remake of the movie Sybil, which aired on Saturday night on CBS. I have always loved Jessica Lange (who played Dr. Wilbur) in pretty much anything. I did not know much about Tammy Blanchard (who played Sybil), but I am now a fan. She was amazing in the role.

Unfortunately, the movie began with a focus on Russian nesting dolls. I get why they did this (symbolic of many living within one), but it did not help my Russian nesting doll phobia one bit. I wish I had not watched the movie live because then I could have just fast-forwarded through that part. I used my coping tools and pushed through the beginning with a big headache.

I thought the movie did a good job of explaining the reason for alter parts. Also, I did not think that the movie exploited Sybil, making her look like some circus freak, which is the reaction I have had to some of the other portrayals of people with DID in the movies.

I liked that the movie solely focused on her therapy because that is the part I cared about the most.

Unfortunately, hub chose to be in the room the entire time that I watched the movie. Considering that I had even more parts than Sybil did and that I endured most of the same abuses (and more), I found it wildly amusing to hear some of hub’s comments throughout the movie. He even made a crack about why the boyfriend would be attracted to her with all of those parts. I had to bite my cheek to keep from laughing.

I also loved watching the pioneering of recognizing DID as a real disorder. Dr. Wilbur’s colleague kept pointing to the fact that DID was not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which was interesting because multiple personality was included in DSM-III and the new name of DID is included in the current edition of DSM-IV. There are now even entire practices that are devoted solely to DID, so it is amazing how far we have come.

I found many similarities between my experiences and Sybil’s but also many differences. I will cover both in my next two posts.

Related topics:

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and the Movies

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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