Tag Archives: Therapy

Session Tonight


I wish I could say that we were able to talk about the transference and our journey since the triggers in group over a month ago tonight. Truth is, once we got there we found it difficult to remember to breathe and were spaced a lot. It wasn’t a triggered out spacing out but just not able to ground and focus. Parts occasionally wanted to talk and did, but other parts who wanted to talk were too scared to. We feel awkward around the T that we have transference with………….  😦    We did miss the group members very much, though.

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Frankie & Alice: NEW movie on DID!!


Hey, have you heard? Halle Berry stars as a woman who has DID in the 70’s (so I imagine it was called MPD or something else back then). It is based on a true story of a woman’s life. The woman is still alive today and living a functional life with her alters, has a family, and is a teacher. We think it will be really good! Currently it is showing in theaters in LA and New York, but will be out everywhere else in February 2011!! We can’t wait! Finally a movie where the DID person isn’t a murderer or something terrible, huh?

Letter to the Group T


In preparation for the Group therapy session on Tuesday, we are writing one of those letters that you don’t actually send to the therapist that we have transference with. We may share parts of the letter with her in the group session. It just depends on how brave we are feeling….

Dear C,

While working on the whole bed/table trigger in therapy, we have come to realize how incredibly triggered we were on many levels. Initially, it was the bed/table trigger and how it triggered the memory of a traumatic event that I still have yet to get a grasp on. Then, it became so much more. When we arrived that second session with the table up, a flood of feelings came up for us. It was initially just you and us and the bed/table. I think this was the beginning of our struggle with transference. You asked if you could “introduce” me to the table and your good work that you do with it. You emphasized how the table was being used for only good and positive things. I understand logically why you did that. You wanted to try to help me separate the bad memory with the current reality of what is. If this had been a memory that I have already processed in therapy, then that might have helped. As it was, I was trapped in the trigger of the memory that was currently mostly feelings of fear. I began floating from the moment I stepped into the room and realized that we were alone in the room with you (who we began to see as our Aunt L) and the bed/table. You asked us to come closer to the bed/table and we did, though most of us had scrambled deep inside so as to not feel the awful fear that comes when near the trigger. We began to transfer the Aunt onto you and saw it as the Aunt asking us to come closer to the bed/table. We became compliant and nodded when you asked us something because we just wanted to get through it. Next, you asked us where we would like to sit. The way the room was set up, the only choices we had were to sit where we would see the table throughout the group session or sit right next to the table facing away. We could not bear either, so we sat at the side and could not look that direction the whole session. Then, you asked if it was okay to sit next to us. It was a good question to ask someone who is struggling, but we were not in the place to say no. We were stuck in the memory and in being compliant as we had to be with the perps so we said “yes”. I was angry with myselves after this because I felt we were too weak to say “no”. However, we were able to say no when the other T asked if we would be okay with you touching us in reassurance. This was a huge accomplishment for us considering everything we were going through internally. I seem to recall a little one coming out briefly and I remember hearing her sob. It was very real, too real, and we pushed her inside due to not feeling safe.

We were confused as to why you would leave it up after learning what a terrible trigger it was for us. We felt unworthy of anyone caring about what we are struggling with. We noticed that the candles that had been lit the week before were not out as they had bothered some group members.  Candles do not bother us as we love them, however we understood completely why you would not bring them out due to how it affected the other group members. Yet…..the thing that was even more than just a little bothersome and upsetting to us was left up. This made a big impact on us as it sent the message that we were not as important or worthy as the other group members are.

The other T talked to us on the phone that week and told us of a couple of options that you guys had come up with to manage this situation. The first idea was that when we arrived at Group, the members and therapists would help in disassembling the bed/table at the start of session. I could join if I felt okay to or if not it was okay. This would only make it much worse for me, adding to the initial trigger and transference, feelings of causing problems in the group. You see, we don’t want to be the center of attention and we definitely don’t want to be a bother to others. We feel that this would be taking time away from the other group members who also pay to be there. We also worry that there will be resentment among other group members. This group is for all of us and to have the other members all do something specifically for us would send us plunging into despair for fear of burdening others.  It was totally not going to be okay with us. The other Group T said that was not your goal and that you both had hoped that this would send us the message that you all care about us. I told her that we wouldn’t receive the message that way at all. We don’t want to take more than others take from group. Even when our T talked to us about the possibility of sharing this letter with you during group, we were uncomfortable as we didn’t want to take away from the other group members’ time. K reminded me that the group was also for me and that my sharing with you about the transference stuff could be helpful for other members to witness.

The second idea was much more doable and one that we were going to suggest ourselves as we did not want to be any more of a burden than necessary. The second idea was to set up a screen so that we would not have to see the bed/table. We feel now that we are not worthy of you taking down the bed/table for whatever reason and that is okay with us as it is not anything we would have expected normally. We only said something because it was a therapy setting and we felt more comfortable asking for something there than we would anywhere else. I imagine it is too much trouble for you to take it down only to have to set it up again for the next day’s clients. My usual response to this situation would be to “grin and bear it” because I do not want to cause anyone trouble and I definitely do not feel okay asking someone to do anything for me. I realize as I write this that it may sound manipulative, but that is not my intent. My intent is to be as honest as possible about the thoughts and feelings that go on inside regarding this situation. We are okay with the screen idea as it is a great compromise on the subject. Still, I felt like I should mention the reactions I was feeling from insiders regarding feeling unworthy, etc.

Sincerely,

Cetcetera

As we wrote this last part, I was reminded of how we went our whole life without telling anyone about the abuse until I was in my 20’s and went to therapy. I remembered that one of my main reasons for not telling any family was because I didn’t feel like my father could handle the news that I was abused by the uncle. I preferred to “grin and bear it” and endure it alone than my father be hurt by the knowledge of what I went through. This is how much we don’t like to burden others.

We do appreciate any feedback on our letter. As we wrote it, I definitely did not feel okay with sharing it with this T as I am worried it might sound bad/negative. She is a good lady and therapist and we don’t want to make her feel defensive or hurt…..also don’t want to sound petty or anything…..






Layers of Memories


New information is still surfacing since the big trigger a few weeks ago.  In therapy last Tuesday, we talked about our apprehension about the next Group session and being in the same room with one of the group therapists (that we have transference issues with). We told our T that we are unable to stand being in the same room with the aunt that this therapist is reminding us of. T asked us how it made us feel being in the same room with the aunt…. I thought about it…imagined being in the same room with that woman. Jagged vibrations, uncomfortable shaking just beneath the skin…..the feeling that you get when you hear fingernails scraping down a chalkboard. That feeling. Then, as we explored it a little more, an image came to mind of a girl in our system that I didn’t know was there, but then again I did know she was there.

Memories are weird like that for those of us with DID. It can be quite inconvenient at times. It’s not just if an amnesiac alter is out that I don’t remember something. I could have a memory one minute of something I experienced and then someone inside snatches it away from me if the need arises.  I recognized that I had this particular insider many years ago when I was looking at photos from my childhood (potentially a horrifically triggering experience – I lost 4+ hours looking at those photos. I “came-to” and found the photos spread all around me on the living room floor with no memory of the hours prior or actually looking at most of them). Anyway, I saw a photo of “me” and there was something about the picture that frightened me. I didn’t fully know what it was as it was mostly a feeling with no specifics attached. However, there was this look in the girl’s eyes. The look is difficult to describe….not exactly “haunted”, but you could tell by the look in her eyes that she has been through something horrific. This is the girl that we realized in our last therapy session is actually a part of our system. So, I kind of knew it way back when, but it didn’t sink in as I’m sure I was not ready to deal with that information.

So, now I know that this girl is connected to that aunt (and probably uncle) and also is connected to the bed/table memory. Information about the past coming to us in layers. It is fascinating how DID and recovery works. So, this next week and a half, we are focusing on having internal dialogue to try to learn whatever we can about this girl….whatever the system feels I am ready for, that is. Going to just listen and notice as our therapist often encourages us to do.






My DID Recovery Puzzle


TRIGGER WARNING: hard talk of triggers and recovery – be safe, my friends.

I am starting to see my recovery in a whole new light. Things are making more sense now. For so many years I was so frustrated and upset that therapy was taking so very long. I just wanted my insiders to tell me what they knew so I could deal with it and move on. I figured they would share whatever memories were necessary to share one at a time or something. It is not the way this has worked. I have often heard the analogy of peeling an onion when talking about therapy for someone with DID, yet I didn’t fully realize what it meant. I mean, I saw the analogy as referring to the parts of my DID system and how uncovering and meeting new parts/alters is like peeling the layers of an onion. What I didn’t see was how the memories also will come in layers.

First, I would get a feeling, something would trigger me and I wouldn’t know why. This goes on for quite some time, maybe even years, then the next clue which was maybe a dream near the triggering event would happen. The dream could have symbolism in it – in my case recently, snakes – add to that the knowledge of the recent trigger as well as noticing  specific insiders and their reactions gives me more information. Add to it, the more severe dissociation I have felt from my body within the last week since the trigger is more validation that something is coming to the surface. Today in therapy, I barely felt the couch underneath me. I told my T that it kind of felt like I was just floating above the couch. It was bazaar.

I should give a little update to what has recently happened so folks know where we are. I had a dream years ago that has always stayed with me. I won’t write of the details here because I don’t want to trigger and also because I don’t think I would be able to write that stuff without breaking down. There was a bed/table with a black cover over it in a room – like a bedroom size room. Needless to say, very bad things happened there. Well, when I went to my group therapy meeting one week ago, one of the therapists had left her energy work table up. It looked just like the bed/table in my dream except thankfully the blanket was blue or purple – not black. I was stunned when I saw it. Many of our system stepped back in shock.

Finally a little one, age six years old, steps out in front and points towards the bed/table and says, “What is that?”.

“What?” replied one of the T’s.

“THAT!” the little girl asked again pointing at it.

She said, “I’m sorry but you’ll have to be more specific.”

The little girl could not bring herself to actually say the word bed or table or anything like that so she said, “That thing with the blanket on it.”

The T responded saying that it was her table for doing energy work with clients and she has an early appointment the next day so she left it up for Group.

I felt some other parts come forward when she said that who then noticed the crystals. These parts are very much into things mystical and were immediately drawn. I was frightened as were many of our insiders and so we shoved internally as hard as we could – pushing them deep inside away from the bed/table and crystals. We could not bear it if they were to go over closer to it to look at the crystals.

I went through the Group session with all parts who were triggered safe inside. I’m not sure if they were still frightened, but I have a feeling that they were. I just had to push them deep down for survival’s sake. I could not freak out over a trigger in Group because, well, what would the other group members think of us? “Besides,” another part says to me, “triggers are everywhere and we deal with them all the time. So this one is in Group, same thing, we deal.” But, it’s not just any trigger. It is something that looked exactly like something in my dream years ago where terrible things happened to us. It would almost be the equivalent of seeing one of my perpetrators again.

We made it home and went on with our week dissociated from the trigger, though it eventually did resurface as the image of it came and stayed in the back of my mind. A few nights later, the dreams started coming.

First night, I was on a large bus with a lot of people on it. We were driving through a war zone. There were bombs going off, machine guns being fired, terrible things happening outside that bus. I just sat there watching, sometimes crying so hard but silent so that no one would hear. Sometimes I sat in the floor so I could be alone. I believe this was me catching a glimpse of what it was like growing up in a DID system. Often the bus analogy is used to describe a person’s system who has DID, everyone rides the bus and take turns in the driver’s seat. I had another dream that same night about a boy who had been a victim of war and was found naked with his privates cut or torn off. I saw him and was horrified and had to turn away. I wonder if he is someone in my system as this is how I have met insiders before. In the dream, I think he was dead.

The next night, I dreamed about snakes – so many snakes everywhere that I went. In the past, I have dreamed that there were snakes on the ground and I would fight them or try to get away from them. I was always standing when I encountered the snakes. This time, not only was I standing when I encountered the snakes, there were times when I was lying down. Once a snake crawled over my body and I screamed internally and stayed as frozen as possible for fear that it might bite. Another part of the dream, I went to sleep on the ground and woke up with snakes underneath my body, I could feel them squirming underneath my back. I connected this part of the dream to a feeling that my body has had for years in the mid-back area – a squirming and feeling like something was coming upon me from behind. It is always accompanied with great terror. A connection between a body memory we’ve had for years but never even fully realized it was a body memory and this new snake dream. A new layer is being peeled back. If you have been in therapy for sexual abuse survival, then I imagine you know what a snake can symbolize in dreams. I have always thought that was what it represented in my dreams.

Last night, I had nightmares again. The only thing I can remember is waking up after seeing an extremely scary face in my dream. The face looked crazy in the eyes and had big teeth. It was right up in my face. I woke with a start and was terrified. I got up to go to the restroom. Now, I have many triggers when it comes to the restroom, one being that I cannot go in the dark and I definitely cannot stand at the sink with the mirror there and wash my hands in the dark. It always gives me the terrorized feeling in my back. Last night, I had the light on, but the sensation and fear were so close. This is all somehow connected. Years ago, I recalled in therapy tonight, I also saw scary faces in my sleep. It was when I was in 3rd grade (around) and had gone to church camp with a friend, it was night-time and I woke crying because I kept seeing the crazy, scary faces and they were laughing at me. The camp counselor talked and prayed with me and I slept with my Bible under my pillow to try to help with the nightmares. Interesting about that camp, I actually remember being very dissociated at the time not knowing the people who I shared the dorm with yet seeming to know them at the same time, getting confused and getting people mixed up, etc. This is one of the few memories I actually have of my childhood. Still, it’s more pieces of the puzzle.

In therapy tonight, I was asked if I got an idea of the age range of who was frightened by the bed/table. I got the idea that it was some older kids and that the little girl was the only one brave enough to come out and ask. Still, she was upset and scared, too. The little girl who asked about the bed/table was six years old, but I also got an internal image tonight of one of my four-year-old little girls. I think she is connected to all this somehow. I am beginning to think that this bed/table dream may have been more than just a dream……

DID recovery is like putting together a puzzle without having the picture to go by. Each piece means something even if I have no idea at the time. It’s so complex and therapy is hard work and exhausting. Still, I am happy to have made the realization that we are making progress in that our memory work comes in layers – one piece, one feeling, one trigger at a time. I guess my system knows it is the only way I can manage the information – in tiny pieces – and that’s okay with me.






DID & Shift into Winter Crew


Hi,

Feels like we haven’t written in forever. We have several things going on lately that we want to write about, but for now we are just getting back into the swing of things…..

If you’ve read Summertime Progress in Life & Therapy, then you are familiar with the fact that we have two separate crews in our system, one that is out primarily in the summertime and another that is out in the late fall/winter time. Well, technically there is a third much smaller group that is out year round. Anyway, we are now fully into the winter crew. Mary is back, thankfully, and so housework and organization is getting back on track as is the yummy homemade foods that she makes. Cassondra is also back. She keeps track of finances and does things that need to be handled in an adult and/or professional manner. They work very well together as a team cuz their jobs are both kind of similar in terms of organizing things and helping the system stay calm.

I did some noticing this year. I noticed that the first week of November is when the ears started messing up again. We have been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease which is basically a fluid imbalance in the ears that causes some extreme dizziness at times.

The second week in November is when I started feeling the pain in some of my joints again…especially the right elbow which we suspect is due to a body memory because most often times when it presents itself there is a specific inside little girl around.

The third week in November, we noticed Mary was back full on. She was cleaning and organizing and got more done in a few days than we got done all summer! She also cooked a huge meal for Thanksgiving even though it’s just us and our husband, but then we love her homemade pies, cheesy homemade mashed potatoes, homemade rolls….well you get the picture. So anyway, needless to say that we LOVE the leftovers  🙂

Another thing we are noticing as the late fall/winter time and crew comes around is that we are more withdrawn. We are not as around online as we had been all summer. We still know of our friends online but seems there is so much going on internally this time of year that we find it quite difficult to socialize online. We still keep those options open on Facebook and Twitter cuz sometimes we are able to reach out either to ask for help or to help someone else. It is a lifeline that we cherish very much. It’s just tough this time of year.

I talked with our T last Sunday (yep, had a session on a Sunday. Cool, huh?) about how now that everyone is back around for this time of year, there is so much pressure from everyone to get time out to do what they want to do. I have felt like I’m in the middle of a whirlwind spinning back and forth as the next person switches out. Makes the term “roladexing” all the more real as I feel like I have been spinning like I’m in one. Our homework this week is to have a system meeting and try to figure out some way to manage our time more efficiently so that each group that has something they are wanting to do has a promised time to do it. That way it won’t be as chaotic. We have been successful with this before, though it has been many years now. The “scheduling”, as with most things for a multiple, has to be flexible as we are not always sure what will be going on from day to day.

We have had so much going on that every time I have tried to write/journal, I get pushed aside and someone else comes out to do something they want to do. So, I am guessing just having what little internal dialogue about it that we have has been helping some since I am able to write this today. When we were in therapy last Sunday, the internal pressure from so many having so many things they want to say was so strong that at one point we had to get a pen and someones were writing as we were listening and talking with T about another topic. Talk about multitasking!

I do know my winter crew much better than my summer crew so it is like getting my good friends back. I have missed them and there is quite a bit of comfort in the familiarity of loved ones. I am one that is around all year. I still experience memory loss as the shifts happen from crew to crew. Like now, I remember bits and pieces from the Summer crew’s time here, but not big chunks of it. I think I remember more this year than previous years because of all the blogging our summer parts did and I’m able to read those as well as the fact that since being with our new therapist, I have been making more of an effort to notice stuff.

Time to sign off for today. We plan on doing some more writing this weekend. Here’s hoping we can schedule it out! Hope everyone has been having a terrific week!

Questions for a Potential Therapist


Having moved a few times along our journey to recovery, we have needed to interview and find a new T. We typically request a list of T’s in our area who are members of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation. Although, believe it or not, we found that some of the therapists on the list we received did not even know what Dissociative Identity Disorder was. Yeah, we were shocked, too. Another good idea is how we found our current T. We just so happened to be in a trauma unit in a hospital specializing in DID and they gave us a referral to her. I’m not suggesting you go inpatient, but rather call the nearest hospital that specializes in DID because they are likely to have a list of T’s in your area. We lived 2 1/2 hours away from the hospital we went to and they had a great one for us!

We typically start by calling different therapists and ask them a key question: Do you have any experience in working with Dissociative Identity Disorder? I always say DID rather than MPD because while lots of people know what MPD is, we’ve found that if a T says, “What??” then they don’t know enough about DID to work with us and we say, “Thank you.” and hang up!

We prefer someone who has previously treated DID, though it is not an absolute requirement. I mean, everyone has to start somewhere, but the sad reality of it is there are too many therapists out there that have no clue or worse they believe it doesn’t exist. Period. Those kinds of therapists, I simply don’t have the patience or the time for.

After we weed out the list of T’s with phone calls, we usually ask the ones who know about DID and maybe have even treated it if we can meet them for 15 minutes or so in their office to ask them a few questions (interview). This also gives everyone in my system time to check out the office space and the person (do they have any super triggering features that we can’t deal with?) and see if we are a good fit. Below are a list of questions we like to ask. Some of them we found online and some we added.

Here are some sample questions we usually ask:

  • Are they a member is the International Society for the Study of Dissociation?
  • Are they  supervised? If so, by who?
  • What is their fee and how long are sessions? Do they have extended sessions ever for DID clients?
  • What types of insurance do they accept? Do they file for you or would you need to file? (this isn’t always a bad thing. We are extremely happy with our current T even though we have to file claims ourselves.)
  • How many MPD/DID clients have they treated?
    • Total?
    • To Cooperation?
    • To Integration?
  • Do they believe that Integration is the only true way to be totally healed? Or do they believe that integration is an inside families/system’s choice and will they support you whether you decide to integrate or live in cooperation?
  • How many years of experience have they had?
  • How many years experience have they had treating DID clients?
  • How do they work with child alters? (talk, play therapy, etc.)
  • Do they have toys, etc. for child alters?
  • Do they believe writing and drawing helpful?
  • How would they feel about you participating in a survivors’ group?
  • Could you schedule extra sessions or call them in time of crisis? Also, do they email?
  • How would they handle it if you came to them and said there was a “problem” in therapy? (we added this question because we had a T that was quite defensive when I brought up issues with how she handled something in session)

After your meeting with the potential therapist, it is helpful to have a system meeting and find out how your system felt about it.  Here are some questions you can ask yourselves:

  • Did I feel respected and listened to?
  • Why or why not?
  • What did I like about the session?
  • What didn’t I like?
  • How did I feel during and after the session (disappointed, hopeful, excited, scared)?
  • Why?
  • Could I imagine ever trusting this person?
  • Why or why not?
  • What, if anything, do I still need to find out?
  • Do I want to see this counselor again?

We made Microsoft Word documents with the above questions on them and enough space to make notes when we went for our introductory session/meeting. Also, the post-meeting questions, we put on a separate paper along with the therapist’s name, phone number, fee per session, and insurance they accept. This helped us to be organized in the process of finding a new therapist. It is stressful enough trying to find a new T, this just makes it a bit easier to make sure you can find the right one for you!