Last night was one of those nights’ from hell. One of those you would rather forget. I have Complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder. My mother Alter switched in the middle of the night and caused havoc again. She appears at two times. Either in my psychotherapists’ office during sessions or during the night. When she appears it is always to cause me upset and harm. Punishment she calls it. She is hell-bent on punishing me for the things I did as a child. These things ironically were organised by her. I was the victim of a paedophile ring run by my father and her. Now she says I have to pay for the actions I took then. I was aged four to eighteen when a victim of the ring.
When she comes out during sessions she throws things around the room and generally thrashes the therapist’s room. She abuses the therapist and refuses to engage in therapy calling Erin all sorts of names, admonishing her for all the things she did. No amount of cajoling on the part of the therapist placates her. My psychotherapist is working hard at trying to integrate my alters into a working system and my mother alter is making that work particularly difficult due to her recalcitrant, difficult nature and personality. As quickly as she switches into mother she switches back to Erin again leaving me completely exhausted. I never remember anything she says or does. All has to be explained to me.
During the night when she switches and comes out, she is far more dangerous as she is intent on self -harm or suicide. All my suicide attempts have taken place whilst in the mother Alter. Same with self-harm. She has hidden razor blades which I don’t know where they are and can only access them when in her Alter. Last night when I switched I cut my forearm very badly and then went back to sleep which is what I do when I cut and switch. I just simply fall back asleep when I switch back to Erin. I awoke about three hours later in a large pool of blood and clots. I got up and went to the bathroom which woke my husband. He turned on the light and was appalled at the scene before him. My hair and face were covered in blood and large clots were hanging from my arm. We had no way of knowing how badly I had cut. He panicked and rang 000 even though I pleaded with him not to wanting to clean up and see how bad it was first but the sight of it all had made me weak at the knees and I had slid to the bathroom floor which only exacerbated his concern. I was still bleeding and my nighttime medication was still making me very groggy which he was misunderstanding as weakness from blood loss.
My youngest son woke up and came into the bathroom, poor kid. I hate when he sees me like this. He was so concerned and then he became practical and turned on the lights for the ambulance. We live out in the country so wanted to make it easy for them to find us. He kindly got me a blanket as I was getting cold on the bathroom floor as I still could not get up. Shortly after the ambulance arrived and took over the scene assuring my husband when they had cleaned me up that I had not hit an artery just muscle and veins. He was very relieved. We could have driven ourselves to the hospital but they said not to worry about calling them. That was what they were there for and it was understandable as there was a lot of blood loss. They were so professional and kind. He was reassured thank goodness. I remember nothing of the cutting and the first thing I remember of it all is waking up and going to the bathroom remarkably. Extraordinary.
If I could try and explain what Dissociative DIsorder is like to be so destructive it’s like this:
We’re not all ax-murderers like you see on TV. We are overwhelmed by pain and suffering when we were children. It changed us and now our minds work differently than yours. But just like you, we want to have a good life.
We have different identities/alters inside one body. They are different ages, have different feelings, ideas, talents and agendas. We work very hard to maintain a functional system that gets us through the day.
Switching between identities/alters isn’t very dramatic. Most of the time the switches are internal, seamless and invisible. And, unless you’re our therapist or a really close friend, they’re none of your business. We’re handling things the best we can.
When we lose time, it’s really lost. We’re not faking. If anything, we’re pretending we know more about what happened than we really do.
If a teenaged identity/alter takes over, they’re not an adult pretending to be a teenager. They’re a real teenager. Demanding they think, act or decide like an adult isn’t going to work. Relate to them based on their age and unique personality.
The adult out front isn’t the real us. They are the identity/alter who’s best at getting along in the world. The real us is all of us together.
If you’re dealing with us in a crisis and kid identities/alters come out, don’t ignore them and try to force an adult identity/alter out instead. If we could get an adult out front to run things, we would. Help the kids feel safe and our system will stabilize.
When the system feels threatened, protector identities/alters can come out. They may be angry, cold or determined to escape. Please don’t take this personally — we’re just overwhelmed. The best way to help is to back off and let us get safe.
We already know DID is “controversial.” You don’t need to remind us some people think it doesn’t exist — which sounds a lot like we shouldn’t exist — which sounds a lot like what we heard from our abusers. Not good.
There’s nothing wrong with the way I am. We’re different in some ways and like you in lots of others. We share the same world and want the same good things you want. We’re not “crazy” or weird — just a little complicated.