Finally discharged from the clinic after what seems like an indeterminately long four weeks !!!! It is so good to be home. My partner collected me and we had an appointment with the psychotherapist before driving straight home. She assessed my suicidality as still really high so we are still in the ‘red zone’ as she calls it and warned my husband not to let me out of his sight. Her assessment is right. I have so many plans. I find them comforting and the only way to cope with the flashbacks. It does not mean I will act on them but the ideation helps. Bizarre but true to be brutally honest. She is always able to get the truth out of me. That is the level of trust between us. Would not be an effective psychotherapeutic relationship otherwise without that measure of trust. So we are up for a ‘white knuckle ride’ again.
We did EMDR in the session and it was very effective in dealing with grief I am feeling for the babies who were taken away from me when I was 13, 14 and 16 and taken to the Mothers and Babies Home in Ireland. I never knew what happened to them. I grieve heavily for them and the guilt I feel in not stopping them being taken from me is enormous. I know the logic of the face that I was only a child myself being abused but I keep feeling I should have done something. I will never know if they were adopted out or ended up like the Tuam Babies or were just raised in the Irish Industrial School System. My mother just took them straight after birth and told me where they were going. It is like a slow form of torture that wrenches at my heart each and everyone and makes me feel unworthy of the four children I have now. If they only knew they have three other siblings what would they think of me. The guilt along with the burden of abuse becomes hard to bear sometimes and that’s when the flashbacks start and overwhelm me and dissociate me from the present family who love me so much and want me to stay in this world with them. Dissociation is a mental process where there is a lack of connection between memories, thoughts, feelings, actions or sense of identity. This disconnection is termed ‘splitting’ and exists at a sub-conscious level. The process of dissociation exists on a continuum. Mild dissociation experiences are common such as daydreaming or ‘highway hypnosis’, where a person drives from ‘A’ to ‘B’ but does not remember the details of the journey. This is how I am able to self harm so readily. I have been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) to complicate things as well as a result of the Complex PTSD.
DID is the severe and chronic experience at the opposite end of the dissociative spectrum. The dissociative process may lead to discrete states that can take on identities of their own. These states are called ‘alternate personalities’ or ‘alters’ and are internal members of the ‘system’. Changes between these personalities, or states of consciousness, are described as ‘switching’. In many cases, each ‘alter’ performs a particular role for the person, for example, one may emerge to deal with anger, another may emerge when the person feels afraid, etc.
This behaviour was an originally adaptive, healthy reaction to intolerable situations, often described as a creative survival technique. However, in adult life the pattern of defensive dissociative behaviours can be problematic, leading to serious problems in a persons’ daily life of work and social interactions. DID is closely related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with suggestion that 80-100% of people living with DID have a secondary diagnosis of PTSD. As well and good you might say but highly dangerous in someone with chronic suicidality.
At the moment I am just thrilled to be home, having unpacked, cleaned the kitchen, nestled the dog and chickens, fed the horses a carrot and had a homemade cappuccino. Got to enjoy life’s small pleasures. I cried for my babies this morning and now I am working really hard at enjoying being with my autistic 17 year old boy who is delighted to have me home. Leave me along flashbacks he needs me.