Update: Chaos, Upheaval and Change

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Happy 2017 Everyone!  I feel like I am still purging 2016. I hate that I haven’t blogged in so long; but, my life has been in a constant state of chaos.  If you read my last update, then you know last year was a rough one for me.  After my meltdown, I regrouped and started prepping for winter by going back on my antidepressant (Wellbutrin) and increasing my Vitamin D. I always get depressed in the winter, so I figured preparing better might help. The holidays were around the corner which has its own stress; but, somehow wipes away when family gathers and laughter and love fill my heart.

I had a few good months after my last update; but, then December hit me hard. My daughter was sinking into a depression. I believe part of it was because she was feeling anxiety and pressure becoming an adult. She turns 18 in June. She dropped out of her DBT group, and then her dance program. She loves dance, so this was a big red flag. We started talking about residential treatment; but, here in NH there isn’t much available, especially if you don’t have money. She decided to try medication. The psychiatrist put her on Seroquel. She hadn’t slept in weeks, and the first night on the medication she slept like a baby, and it warmed my heart. She also started seeing her counselor twice a week instead of once. Things felt better for a second. Then she started talking to and meeting up with a couple of older men she met on the internet. Talk about a mother’s nightmare. I absolutely insisted on meeting the first guy who was 22years old. I had them meet in the mall figuring it is a public place, got his full name, address and telephone number. The second guy she snuck out to meet.

I woke up in the middle of the night to a person laying on my floor with their arm outreached for what I figured out later was my purse. They had a black hat on and a flannel. I reached down and touched their head, and questioned, Serenity? I thought it was my daughter and she couldn’t sleep again, and came in to  curl up as she has so many times before. The second I touched their head, they took off swiftly, ran down the stairs and out my back door which was left open a crack. Not fully awake, I quickly assumed it was Serenity and she was sleepwalking on her Seroquel. I searched the neighborhood, calling her name. After about 15min of trying to find her, I knocked on my sisters door and she and her son came over my apartment as I called 911. Shortly the police were over taking her description. I said she was wearing a black hat; but, then I saw on our stand the only black hat either of us own, and her flannel was hanging in the hallway. Now, I was confused and unsure what she was wearing. The officer took my info and went searching with flashlights through the neighborhood. To no avail, they had to call in a dog to search. I gave the officer her pillow case to have the dog sniff out. Again, no Serenity. The fire department came and used thermal imaging to try to find her. No success. They finally concluded that she must have took off and they left. I remembered her saying she met a 25yr old online, and now I was terrified what may become of her. About 5am, Serenity came through the back door. By this time, I had picked up my other sister too. As hard as it was adjusting to both my sisters moving close to me, I sure was happy to have their support.

“Serenity!” I screamed and threw my arms around her. Where were you? Why were you in my room at 1am, on my floor? She admitted she had snuck out to meet this guy; but, she swore it wasn’t her on my floor, and that she had left around midnight. It dawned on me that there was an intruder in my room and was reaching for my purse. I called the police to report she was home. The officer came over and gave her a gentle lecture about the fact that nothing good can come out of a 25yr old man meeting a 17yr old girl in the middle of the night. He went on to tell her that I swore by her and believed she was sleepwalking, and that they used about $5000. worth of resources trying to find her. Serenity at this point was crying. She gave us the guys name, and my sisters and I went on the internet to search for him. He had a lot of dark stuff on his Facebook page. I was extremely concerned. I wondered if somehow the intruder in my room was connected to him. Regardless, I told Serenity that it IS connected; because of she left the back door open. I could’ve been robbed, raped or killed. I grounded her and we had an appointment the next day with the psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist wanted to increase her Seroquel. He explained that the medication isn’t at a high enough dose to help with her mood disorder. At this point I am a mess, and she is out of control. I know medication isn’t going to solve this. We saw her counselor right after the psychiatrist. She told us about an intensive outpatient program for teens. Great. Serenity and I were arguing and when we got home she ran up the stairs, smashed her full length mirror, grabbed a shard and cut her arm all up. I hear her screaming mama, and I see the blood, the mirror, I fall to my knees, and call 911….again.

At the hospital, Serenity is as sweet as pie. I am angry inside and not falling for it. I can’t believe this is where we are at. She hadn’t been this bad since 12-13yrs old, when she had to be hospitalized 5 times for self harming and suicidal thoughts. The good thing was she was ok. I was hoping she would get admitted somewhere so they could help her stop this path of self destruction; but, Serenity knew what to say to keep herself out of the hospital, and we agreed on trying the outpatient program that her counselor had mentioned.

At this point I am feeling distant, angry and hopeless. We are normally very close; but, I couldn’t even talk to her. On Christmas morning, she breaks down because I had been so closed off from her. I hold her while she cries, and outpours her emotions. I cry with her. Then we agree that we will try this outpatient program, and that we will get through this. First, we are going to have a great Christmas. After we have our Christmas morning we are all heading to my brothers and our family will be together.

My sister video calls me and says her son fell down the stairs and they’re going to the emergency room. All I can see is my little nephew with a neck brace on in the back of an ambulance. I honestly snapped inside and went on auto pilot. We got to the hospital and thankfully my nephew is okay. He got a staple in his head. My daughter and I are starving and went to the cafeteria. She looks at me and says she wants a turkey sandwich. We’ve both been vegetarians for almost 2years. Let’s do it I replied. Finally, we are all leaving the hospital and head to my brothers where we had an incredibly beautiful Christmas.

The day after Christmas, my other sister who wasn’t feeling well enough to make it to our brothers, says she is moving back to Pa. I was extremely concerned that she would move back and use drugs again. It was too much to handle and I told her to give me a day. The next day I managed to go say goodbye to her and hear her out. She explained that financially she could be making strides in Pa. and she had a safe, supportive environment to go to. She missed her kids. My daughter and I exchanged hugs and tears with her and she left.

The very next day pesticide control was coming to inspect my apartment and confirmed my fearful suspicion, bedbugs. We had less than a week to bag up every belonging, and were instructed to buy mattress covers, and get ready for treatment. I dug into my small savings to purchase the covers and then went into physical exhaustion bagging up and laundering our entire apartment.Not to mention I was already emotionally spent. My BFF/brother in law was now staying in the living room with us for a few days, because he was having trouble at home

The morning they came to treat, I was throwing up. I had to get my 3 cats into the car and stay out of the apartment for 6 hrs. I asked them if I should throw away my furniture, and she said she had no opinion and that they were going to treat it. On the third and what was supposed to be the last treatment, I am informed that both mattresses, and my living room chair and couch are infested, with adult, babies, and larvae, and that they had been feeding. Now, I had to throw away all my furniture. Plus, they said I had to relaunder everything, and my place was too cluttered. I had to move my things into a storage. I was exasperated. Why didn’t they tell me this before? How was I supposed to afford a storage? Even if I could afford a storage, I knew I had clutter that needed to be tossed. IMy sister made an appointment with the health inspector for me. I went in circles trying to get some answers. Basically, the landlord was doing minimal action in order to be legally compliant. In reality, they should be treating the whole building and preferably heat treatment. Regardless, it didn’t change the fact that I had 5 days to complete these instructions. I spent 4 days, from morning to night sorting, tossing, crying. They came to treat again last Monday.

Meanwhile, my daughter started the outpatient program. Because she refuses meds, the insurance won’t cover it, so we have to pay each day she goes. Last Friday, she called me from school with thoughts of self harm. I picked her up and she went to her program. A few hours later, I received a call that they feel she needs a crisis evaluation, she is having suicidal thoughts. We spent two nights in the ER and Sunday she was admitted to a treatment hospital in Vermont. I was hopeful that finally she would get therapy she needed; but, again because she refuses meds she is being discharged tomorrow.

This past Monday, pesticide control came to do an inspection and finally got the good word that they didn’t see any bedbugs. However, I am leery, and will be very careful unpacking our things. I am also wondering when I do get furniture again, will they resurface? Are they hiding in the walls waiting?

So, my friends, this is why I haven’t blogged in awhile, and these are just the highlights. Presently, I am sitting on my bean bag chair next to my air mattress with everything I own in clear plastic bags. I await a family meeting over the phone with my daughter, and the hospital staff. I am on my third cup of coffee, and feeling more tired than ever. Last year was hell, and this year feels the same thus far. Outside my personal life, it seems the country is feeling some radical chaos itself. President Trump and all the upheaval is felt by all of us.

I pray that soon the sun will shine on us again. That all this change will even out and life will be bearable. That the chaos and upheaval will pay off in a way that was never suspected. Here’s to 2017.

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Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

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After ten years of therapy, I was taken by surprise with a new diagnosis. I was expecting to begin my EMDR therapy for rape trauma; but instead my therapist diagnosed me with DID, formerly known as MPD, multiple personality disorder.

She explained that there are three phases of therapy; 1) Stabilization, 2) Dissociation and 3) Trauma. Reassuring me that I’ve done a wonderful job at stabilizing; Once stabilized, we then started to delve into trauma, using EMDR therapy. This is where the disassociation presented itself. First as a frightened child, then an angry teen, then later two different aged self beaters. One ten years old, the other in her twenties.

With my prior therapist, we had sessions embracing my inner child and my inner teen. Therefore, I thought the appearance of these other selves was the same kind of therapy; but, technically DID is the appearance of two or more personalities.

My first reaction to the diagnosis was relief. It made sense to me, and I was accustomed to working with different parts of myself and welcomed more of that thinking. Learning that there are parts of me stuck on some traumatic event and I needed to heal and integrate them into myself as a whole.

I spent the next few days in tears. It felt like parts of me were grieving and they were relieved to be acknowledged as they released the trapped sorrow.

Then I had a denial and disbelief phase.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it. How could that be? How could I have different personalities? I binge watched United States of Tara on Netflix to try to pick up clues. It’s a show about a mother with DID, and her alters/personalities, vary from Alice a perfect domestic housewife from the 50’s, to Buck a foul mouthed, gun shooting male. Her alters dressed up differently and went out and got into all sorts of trouble. I am not like that, I thought to myself. Shoot, my personalities don’t get to dress up and do what they want!  I  remembered my therapist telling me she dislikes having to use the diagnosis because of the way Hollywood portrays it. I stepped back from the theatrics of the show and did some self analyzing.

I looked back on my life and observed how many times I easily shifted gears from one personality to another and how I have chunks of time I don’t remember, or how I’d be doing one thing and an hour later be doing something else and not remembering how I got there. I thought it was ADD, but could it be, it was DID?

I googled and found that DID is a disorder characterized by identity fragmentation rather than a proliferation of separate personalities. My therapist explained it this way too. That there doesn’t have to be full blown personalities, some are just fragments.

At first, I was frightened that I’d be taken over by someone; but, it has actually been entertaining and useful to let parts of myself come forth and express the individual emotions and thoughts of that self.

The diagnosis threw me for a loop; but, in reality, it feels like progress, and I don’t think it will be too long before I can integrate all my parts.

I plan to deal with this information the same way I’ve dealt with learning about depression and all the other diagnoses since my breakdown, and that is to learn as much as possible, be non-judgemental of myself, and continue my healing journey.

 

Darkness in the Labyrinth of My Mind…

            In the labyrinth of my mind
                                                          I’m running down a blackened hall                        
                                  Searching                              
                                             fearful of what I may find.                                                                     
                                                                            I see a little girl                                                         
                                                            rocking in the corner                           
                                                                                           trying to calm her world.       
She’s bruised and beaten,                               
                            yet she smiles.               
                                                      “The hitting only lasts a little while”           
                                                                                        she whispers,                         
                                                                                                                   and retreats into a  closet.                 
             Darkness envelops her.                            
                                                                             Demons stir.                                               
                                                                                    Suddenly, I hear laughter echo,        
                                                                                             I turn to go                                          
                                                               A teenage girl                                   
                                                                               is fighting for survival.
                                                      It’s a bloody battle.                
                                                                       She screams, then laughs again                     
                                                                despite her pain                           
                                                                                 and drinks and drugs it all away.
    Monsters hover over her,                       
                                    smelling and probing her.          
                     Their insatiable appetite
rapes her.                                                                 

                                 Her innocence feeds them,
                                     and they suck her dry.        
                                                  She looks to me and smiles,  
                                                                   “It only hurts for a little while.”
                       There’s a candle lit            
                                     far down the hall.            
                    I investigate.    
                              There sits a young woman,                                                                            
                                                                                             up straight and tall 
         consumed by pain and hate.                      
                                                    Her light is a tiny spark of a dying flame.             
                           She performs her duties 
      and sheds her soul.              
                                            Her heart feels empty and cold.
                                                                    She downs a handful of pills               
                                                              chased with vodka,                                         
                                                                                  and mournfully wails,
         “Please, make it all go away                
                    just for a little while.”                   
                                               I’m running to find another passageway.                            
                                                            An exit out of here                              This is too sad and dark.                                              
                                     I can’t stay.                 
                           I hear screaming and crying                          
                             from afar away
                                         No one is there.          
              I fall to my knees.    
                                              I cry
                 and pray,
            for the light to set me free,
                                           heal these wounds of mine! 
                          I open my eyes and find          
 I have awoken   
                        from and to                          
                                                  the darkness                                 
                                                                 in the labyrinth of my mind.              
                                        
Pictures found on Deviantart and Google Images, Click pic for link

EMDR: My next step in therapy

This week in therapy, I will begin EMDR  (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). I was supposed to begin it in the beginning of this month; but, I postponed because I wanted to enjoy the very last bit of summer without being overcome by painful memories.

Regardless, just the thought of EMDR approaching had forced those same memories to surface anyway. As a result, my physical health is suffering and depression looms over me. After discussing with my therapist, we decided to begin as soon as possible.

EMDR therapy is used to treat PTSD but it has also been known to treat other mental illnesses and addiction. I will have to relive past traumas and while I do, my therapist will instruct me on particular eye movements. There is also a machine involved that I saw in her office; but, I am not sure how it works. I only know that it’s time to finally release this pain and hopefully retrain my brain.

It’s been explained to me, that our body processes traumas and keeps those memories. When something traumatic happens, our brain takes a photo or a still frame of the smells, surroundings and environment. This flash memory later becomes what we learn are our triggers.  EMDR will retrain my brain, so that when I have these memories my body won’t suffer as much. For example, I will be able to visit my home town without severe anxiety and fear.

I started learning about how our body has it’s own memories of traumas shortly after my surgery. Listening to my body hasn’t been easy. There are many wounds that are crying to be healed.

Presently, my anxiety is at a high level with EMDR approaching; but, the truth is that I am living in pain with my past on my shoulders. I am afraid to formally visit these memories; but, optimistic that I can heal, my mind, body and soul.