Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Associating with Dissociation

We started this entry in a couple of different ways, but in the end we almost wore out the backspace key.

Starting blog entries, like with any writing, is the hardest part.

The topic today is sort of disorganized. Hopefully at some point it will be cohesive, we started writing it last week in a coffee shop and it was originally in two documents...so we have to sew it together somehow.

Our day-to-day life isn’t packed with feelings of massive regret, guilt, sorrow, sadness or fixation on the amount of terrible, unfortunate, and/or negative things that have happened throughout our entire life…even things over the last year we find some of us working to dissociate with. Some of us would state matter-of-fact that DID/MPD is a walk in the park, at least by the comparisons of some other disorder(s), but then one of us will pipe up and say..."Don't you remember how I was feeling over a year ago. Don't you remember the confusion...The Other Girl...anything?!"...and then we remember...but we don't associate ourselves with it. This happens because not all of us want to associate with it, we don't feel like we want it to be a part of us. While others do, and were there, and felt those months of agony. It's like taking a piece of a crap pie and dividing unequally it among friends, for lack of a better analogy.

Dissociation is a coping mechanism, as we’ve written before. It’s a strategy of survival by the brain that develops in the early years of infant and childhood development, much like the coping mechanism of alcohol and drugs by people whose brains have not learned how to cope. (that is only one of our opinions, we're sure not a popular one...)

People with DID/MPD, people who dissociate, aren’t crazy, we’re not crazy anyway. Okay, some of us might appear a little wacky, but we’re each just like anybody else, and each of us have strange behavior, that to the outside world looks "off" simply because it appears inconsistent with our other behavior.

It’s the misconception about people with the “disorder”; while they may occasionally appear “eccentric”, “strange” or “odd”, as a whole they do not appear unstable, particularity once they come to terms with what they have been dealing with, and grow to understand and accept it. They are not prone to being overly emotional, or overly dramatic. They aren’t sedated on tons of meds, (unless they have some very severe symptoms, which generally mean they need to be institutionalized) – they walk among you, in positions of management, and supervisions. They are successful and can support themselves.

Dissociation, through multiple personality structures, is a result of abuse, many times repeated and varied in type, and is a coping mechanism of the brain and body, in order for the core (the personality who is born into the body) to overcome depression, difficulties, feelings of worthlessness, sometimes guilt (which is a common feeling among abused individuals) and all the other things that people who come from a history of abuse feel. Dissociation can help keep the core from hurting themselves, causing injury, preventing suicide. While people who experience dissociation may attempt suicide at some point, mostly due to disorganized thought and the feeling that they are hearing voices, and are therefore "crazy", suicide attempts are not generally repeated. Not all people who experience abuse disassociate, it’s more common for those who experience abuse before the ages where the development of self begin. Development of self begins from birth and peaks at age twelve(1) and how people develop from there is moulded by experiences. It’s part of developmental psychology that is a vast topic and beyond our writing and research capability today.

Bottom line, our opinion, based on scientific study, is that DID.MPD is survival tactic the brain forms during the ages of primarily development in an otherwise mentally detrimental situation (as a form of childhood Post Traumatic Stress [PST]), it is not a naturally occurring phenomenon of the brain according to any studies of psychology or psychiatry; while there is scientific data that demonstrates the existence of psychophysiological(2) "symptoms", in addition to data collected from neuroimaging studies(3), that provide a solid case in trauma based instances/expression.

Wow. Ick. That was a seriously techie and grown up paragraph.

Living many lives in one is not an easy condition to try to manage your whole life, imagine a room of friends, all differ, vying for use of a single body for their own purposed; which is why as the core gets older the more they struggle with it, the appearance of normality and consistency falls aside. While it’s initial purpose is survival, it’s not logical to think that living as many holds no challenges, like having many roommates that are friends; and anyone who has done that knows the difficulties that can arise in those situations, sometimes resulting in the lose of friendship. If you have multiple people in your head, many talking at once, there is no way you are dealing with that without occasional struggle. Like standing in a room of several people all talking at once and trying to focus on only one, it can be maddening.

Like we said, imagine a roommate situation where it's sometimes hard to get the person to leave (because by God nobody loves anybody enough to never want to be apart from them). Nobody gets along with everyone all of the time, even if the everyone is part of you, it's just not logical. For exmaple, one of our personalities (Brooke) isn't the nicest, to us, and there were several times in the Spring of 2011 (as well as times in our life) where she’d try get us to hurt ourselves, to try talk us into stepping in front of buses, putting our hand in a deep fryer…she still does it, but it scares us a lot less now than before, now that we understand. She used to tell us to throw our cell phone over the bridge we crossed daily to go to work. She’s not nice. She hates our boyfriend. He knows it. He loves her anyway. She is part of us.

We often think about the structure of DID/MPD, because the options once you become aware what is “wrong” are pretty cut and dry; either you do nothing and let the personalities run wild, which is doing nothing and is a cop-out as far as we see it, because often a person can deny responsibility for the personalities and it can lead to an excuse for bad behaviour and acting out, in addition to massive confusion; living cooperatively, which is what we do, and is a demonstration of working together as a team, working toward communication and understanding and compromise; or finally merging, which is what some people do when it’s extremely hard to cope, or there are personalities within them that they find unpleasant to deal with. (more on our entry about Treating and Healing Dissociative Identity Disorder)

We’ve weighed the options, we are too responsible (though to many people it would appear the opposite), to let us all run wild, we can recall how that worked before. The cooperative is working well for us, but it’s a lot of work, and some days it’s taxing.

In the past merging has been the most viable means of healing for people who experience DID/MPD (or whatever fancy title the person who lives with it likes to place on it), the onset happens primarily in young childhood, at the time of initial abuse (whether it be physical, mental, emotional or sexual). Increasingly it is becoming less popular with those experiencing it, particularly for those capable of handling themselves as a unit.

When we think about merging, becoming one…what that might be like we reflect on society and people who are medications because for one reason or another their experiencing something, or have experienced something, so terrible that they need to be on medication, to be sedated. We feel like our body, our brain, this “disorder”, is our natural defence against the alternative. Sedation, medication, and the same amount of unhappiness that people in the "singular world" deal with as a result of life experiences makes merging look unappealing. Why work to destroy our bodies natural defence system.

So, when we discuss the option of merging with ourselves, which has happened a few times recently…we only see potentially increased unhappiness, all of our issues compiled into one, and a life of medication.

For us, learning about our disorder was a great help. While we had struggled on and off throughout our life, we knew something was strange about us…until we met Marissa (@IAmTheCrew) in Spring of 2011. Prior to that our core spent many months floating about, confused and scared,, thinking she had been past “the voices” as many of us became stronger and formed a mutiny against her, and then started learning about what our "symptoms" meant.

Part of the many reasons we write this blog, and share our experiences, as we've stated many times, is to help people learn it's not as strange as it sounds. Whether from the personal/multiple standpoint of someone trying to learn in order to come to some harmony; as someone who knows a person, or has a family member, with DID/MPD who wants to be more understanding and accepting; or as a person in the public who wants to learn and discover in order to be less judge mental and fearful.

The only way to gain acceptance and dissolve stigma of mental illness is to show people that those who deal what is perceived as a mental health issue, or may appear different, are just like the rest of society, but perhaps work a little harder to appear "normal", even if it doesn't always work.

Hopefully by the end of this entry there was some cohesion. It's one of the first times we've revisited texts that one of our others had started, often times we don't bother because what one writes, the rest are unable to finish, or understand the main points of.

(1) Developmental Psychology Childhood & Adolescence Fourth Edition, David R. Shaffer & Katherine Kipp, WADSWORTH, 2002, 2007, pg 4

(2) Psychological Aspects of Multiple Personality Disorder, Dissociation 1:1, Philip M Coons, MD, MARCH 1988,  Pg 47-51 https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/1330/Diss_1_1_5_OCR_rev.pdf?sequence=5
(3) Psychobiological Characteristics of Dissociative Identity Disorder; Reinders, Nijenhuis, Quak, Haaksma, Paans, Willemsen, Boer, Biological Psychiatry; Elservier, 1 October 2006

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