Well, I did it! I googled “wordpress experts near me” and send a weird rambling message to some guy name Jonah. I’m pretty sure my words were weird and painted me as a weird old woman who doesn’t have any idea what she’s doing out here on the Internet writing down all of her TMI bullshit about being crazy and shit. Which is good if that’s what I accomplished because I always strive to be as authentic as possible these days and that was some straight up reality that I laid out for Mr Jonah. I’m pretty sure I said at least one cuss word but I softened it by being momentarily British (“shite” really is a lovely upperclass way to say “shit,” don’t you think?) and, even as I sit here and type this to you, I’m starting to ask myself “wtf did I say?” but that’s the joy of webforms…I spill my thoughts into a message and I don’t dare try to edit what I’ve written because I never have a window that allows me to do any kind of good text review and editing and then I click “submit” without reading back through anything and spend the next few hours trying to convince myself that I did the right thing and that it’s okay to put my crazy into a random message to a stranger since I’m already out here putting all my crazy into blog posts that no one reads anyway and once I realize I can’t easily convince myself that it really is okay that I sent Mr. Jonah a slice of my crazy pie I start a new letter to you where I can write in run-on sentences and talk about it like I’m really okay with it all.
I call this my “magic.” It only works for me and I’m the only one who thinks it works but that is the joy in becoming old enough to be eccentric and crazy enough to not be able to hide it anymore. Oh, my friend! The freedom in being almost dead is almost unbearable at times.
Well let’s see, what else is new? I think I told you this the last time we chatted, but just in case you are wondering where I am these days now that I’ve left the beach behind, I wanted to update you and let you know I’m still in the mountains; Boulder Colorado, to be specific. My sister and her wife asked me to come out and house sit and cat sit for them while they vacationed in Hawaii for a couple of weeks and I am doing my damndest to not leave until I absolutely have to. So they’ve been back for a bit and I’m sure they’d like to relax alone in their house but instead I still have my shoes in three different inappropriate locations throughout their house, I’m wearing my sister’s brand new “Aloha Heals Everything” hoodie and, as they both attempt to work from home on their first day back from an extended vacation, I’ve interrupted them each multiple times. Actually…”multiple” probably isn’t a good descriptor for the type of distraction and nuisance I’m sure I’ve been today. Just sitting here typing and trying to recall the things I’ve done today that were probably annoying, the list is, well…it would be embarrassing if I had the ability to be embarrassed at the moment. lol. I have been trying not to identify the “me” of we that I am at this given moment, Cindan is not at the wheel! I say this because (1) Cindan hates run-on sentences and dangling modifiers and (2) on at least one occasion today, I have interrupted my sister’s work by busting out into spontaneous dance because the song I was hearing on my earphones this song was just too good to sit still and while I was dancing I was thinking about how I want to by a light whip so I can do a sexy nun dance at the next rave like this sexy betch. Yep…I don’t want to say for sure, but I am pretty sure Nasty Marie is in da house! (Woof! Woof! Howl!!) Don’t laugh at my ridiculousness and spoil my illusion…because I’m fabulous in my head right now.
Thinking about my past experiences in this mood, I find myself thinking about Dr. Mary. Have I mentioned her to you before? She is this phenomenal psychologist who was my first serious mental health partner. I found her through my insurance company in 2008 after I had gained a bunch of weight and decided to draw on my most accentuated self to pass a battery of tests so I could prove I was ADHD and get some speed and lose weight. I look back now and I laugh because I really thought I was pulling something on her by selecting her name from a list of providers specializing in ADHD and visiting her office with my best game plan in play. I did end up scoring my legal speed (although I didn’t lose weight by taking them and instead just ended up faking the severity of my symptoms until I was eventually at the highest possible dose and was chewing on my lips like a meth addict and finally had this huge complete mental breakdown because I had found a completely psycho psychiatrist with a generous prescription pad and an obvious lack of fucks to give as she prescribed high does of anti-depressants, Valium and Xanax to go along with my maximum speed and upped my doses or added new meds at my request without ever questioning my need for them). While all of this pharmaceutical madness was playing out, Dr. Mary continued to by my talk therapist as the only requirement of my “Candy Man” psychiatrist. Eventually, when my mind and life exploded after I was t-boned in a high speed intersection and received my lovely undiagnosed traumatic brain injury, I ended up being unable to even dress myself half the time and all the fun meds went away and antipsychotics, mandatory blood tests and weekly therapy sessions became a requirement for me to have the privilege of losing my career and 75% of my monthly income in order to become one of the millions of people in the US drawing a SSI payment every month while I searched for my ability to “fake it” and get back in the game. For the record, I’m still searching. And in my search, I have found Jan after dropping Dr. Mary when she dared, after 9 years of therapy, to tell me I had multiple personalities. “Like fucking Sybil?!?” I said to her when she dared to share this theory with me following the collection of diagnoses, in addition to ADHD, she had already given me along the path of trying to figure out why I was so crazy; including PTSD bipolar disorder, borderline personality, generalized anxiety with episodic psychosis, agoraphobia and a whole bunch of other lovely DSM terms that all described the “this and that” accurately but summarily failed to explain the “why” of me. The day she told me I was DID was the last time I saw her. I look back now and I don’t really remember for sure when this was and how it all came about but I do distinctly remember her packaging the news with her conclusion that I should not be allowed to babysit my future grandchildren without supervision of some kind. I see the logic in this now but at the time, it felt as if she had been possessed by the ghost of my recently departed mom and was telling me that I was a bad person who didn’t deserve to be a mother. And that cut so deeply into my fears and insecurities about being bad at my core that I walked out of her office that day and never returned; even putting my disability in jeopardy was not a good enough reason to ever see her again. When I first started seeing Jan (after another series of very unfortunate decisions I made for myself without having my weekly visits with Dr. Mary for over a year), I immediately made it clear to her that I would not tolerate being told I had multiple personalities, that my previous mental health pro had obviously become insane herself and that I was there to see her in order for her to find another, more acceptable, diagnosis that would explain why I had once again started acting out in ways that made me hate myself and consider taking myself out of this world. She bought my bullshit story and assured me that I needn’t be concerned about a DID diagnosis because “that is for people who find new purchases they didn’t remember buying or lose days at a time when they have no memory of what has happened or what they’ve done during that time.” When she said this, it was like our second or third session and it was a true “moment” in my life when I realized the awful truth…Dr. Mary may have been right! Sure enough, about 6 months after I started seeing Jan, she handed me one of those fill in the bubble paper tests “never, sometimes, often, most of the time, all of the time” for diagnosing DID; explaining to me that she could tell I was really still upset about having been given that diagnosis in the past and suggesting that taking the test may help me put my fears at ease so I could move past my anger at Dr. Mary for applying it to me. I sat on her couch with a clipboard and those dozen or so pages of statements that described me perfectly with each answer (honest answer, that is) being “most of the time” or “all of the time.” And as I sat there filling all of those right-sided bubbles on the test answers, I dawned on me that the only way I was going to get out of the madness was to accept it. And just when the voices in my head started telling me to lie and mark the wrong answers so that my crazy wouldn’t show and to “be good,” I realized the voices in my head belonged to my dead mother. And at the time it was terrifying but I’m so glad I decided to defy that voice; answering every question honestly…including the one that said “I hear voices in my head that tell me to do things I don’t want to do.” And damn, Amy….that was the day “I” become “We” and life has never been the same.
Many times, rather than regurgitating my disgust with Dr Mary for her “false” DID diagnosis, I commented to Jan that I felt guilty and wanted to write her a letter apologizing and letting her know she was right…that I am DID and I shouldn’t be left alone with children until I stop ‘losing” time. I was becoming excruciatingly aware of just how nucking futs I was and just how true it was that I had no idea what I was capable of doing and that, in all honesty, the fact I had been able to raise my own children to adulthood without screwing up in huge ways was a miracle and I had a long way to go before I wasn’t a risk to myself and those around me who were dependent on me. Finally Jan called me on my lamenting and suggested that I needed to actually write that letter and settle that score within myself. And for quite a while, I wrote my letter to Dr. Mary in my head but was quite unable to find words that conveyed my truth and my gratitude that didn’t make me feel like a drama queen. Because the things I wanted to say her were the kind of things you read in a book or a work of dramatic fiction…not the kind of things I wanted write to a doctor who was no longer my doctor. Finally, once cold night that I was in Florida, one of the we’s in me wrote the letter, put it in an envelope and walked it out to the public mailbox drop and deposited it before I could change my mind. But unlike my webform submission to Mr. Jonah earlier today, I did something I have never done before and I typed a copy of my handwritten letter so that I could remember what I had said. And a couple of weeks later, I was mortified to read my own words and felt as if I had made an ass out of myself by being way too dramatic and exaggerating…and a couple of weeks later, I read them again and found them perfect. That pattern repeated itself many times and I found myself really torn up about that letter until one day I read it to one of my dearest girlfriends and longtime confidante and realized, in reading it out loud and drowning out the other voices in my head, it was a damn good letter. I think it’s time to share that those very vulnerable thoughts again and I hope you’ll honor me by continuing through this already tedious letter by reading just a little more, as I’m planning to include those words I wrote to Dr. Mary at the end of this letter. It’s time to stop wondering if the words are true and let myself believe the truths of the others within me as my own. Because We are me. Ant that’s the secret to finding my way out to the other side of this madness.
Okay…I am going to do this before I start proofreading and editing and then end up throwing this letter away. Thanks again for everything. I know I have said it before but your kindness in agreeing to be my letter reader has helped me clean up so much of the darkness stored within me. I am beyond grateful.
Until next time,
Dear Dr. Mary:
I’ve had the note “Write to Dr. Mary on my to-do list for quite a while now. Up until just this moment, I haven’t even attempted to start but this morning feels like the right time; though well past time as well.
I’ve been drafting this in my mind for so long but I’ve never quite landed on anything that conveys to you the gratitude I feel for having found you when I did and for your kind and gentle counsel as I navigated a critical time in my life. I know that, without you, my long endured desire to end my life and to escape the pain and confusion would have been fulfilled. I, quite literally, owe you my life.
I must admit here, in full disclosure, that I left my last session with you very angry. I realize now that it was more fear than anger but at the time, your hypothesis that I suffered from dissociative identity disorder felt like a death sentence; yet another diagnosis that took me one step further from a peaceful future and a quiet mind. I was scared by what I had seen from a childhood memory of the movie “Sybil” and a more recent movie titled “Split.” Having already swallowed diagnoses such as “major depressive” and “psychotic features,” etc, the mention of DID felt line another nail in the coffin of mental illness – that it was unfair and completely off-target. That it was, despite your already having helped me so much, a sign that you only wanted to apply more “crazy labels” to me and take away my hope of helping to raise my future grandchildren in a way that redeemed all my mental illness had stolen from me as I raised my own two children.
I was very angry. And I was very wrong.
A little over a 2 year ago (I’m honestly not sure how long ago), having once again found myself drowning in despair and unable to “just make myself stop doing the things I don’t want to do,” I met with Jan Laws. Jan is a therapist in Lee’s Summit who is certified in EMDR; a treatment I thought would take away my demons and finally allow me to live a life without a fear of myself, my mind and a fear of what I might do without wanting or intending to do, I wanted to finally be in control of myself and with EMDR’s promise of addressing trauma, I thought it would clear all of the darkness in my mind and let me find peace.
For my first year (not sure how long) of my sessions with Jan, I repeated my pattern of confusing and contradictory behavior. Finally, a year ago this month, through a reconciliation born from sheer desperation, I allowed myself to consider your diagnosis of DID. And once I started letting myself hold my life experiences, thoughts and feelings up against what I was learning about dissociative states, I quickly began to recognize myself in the diagnosis. And the more I started to see myself within this new paradigm, the more my fear changed to hope. Because, finally, I felt understood by myself and could see logic in my chaos. And with that logic, I began to see and believe in the possibility a better future was possible through the integration of my selves into the person I am; the woman I’ve always wanted to be.
As you already know, the path to integration is a difficult one and can take a very long time. As of today, I have started, what I believe to be, a mostly complete inventory of the we’s in me. There are many, with the source “me” being a 5 year old named “Little One” who is very angry and scared, carries dirty secrets within her and is told on an almost daily basis to “act like a good girl,” with “good” clearly reinforced as something I am not but can only pretend to be.
I still have such a long way to go and I’m keeping my expectations in line with what I have learned about the statistics of DID patients making a fully integrated recovery, but I’m peaceful and I’m hopeful. This hope comes not only from the scientific community’s grasp on a reality I often have difficulty grasping myself, but it also comes from ^a new solid faith in God and a year of finally starting to feel like I’m in control of myself. I have remained completely and contentedly single and celibate. I can spend days upon end in my own company without feeling lost and lonely. I no longer am afraid of the rage inside of me, having finally realized it is a 5 year old’s rage and I have a strong mother-nurturer within me who is able to love and calm Little One in a way my own mother didn’t or couldn’t. My relationships with everyone in my life have become more authentic as I’m starting to find my own authenticity with which to participate in the relationships. I am starting to feel, and trust, my identity. And with an identity, I’m also starting to find a sense of self that doesn’t require validation from others and isn’t born a projection aimed to please or to try to be good, While I still have days and moments when I struggle, I have found a belief in a foundation that I am already good and no longer need to pretend that I am. I cry even as I wrote that last sentence because on a daily basis, I am in awe of how life feels from here and so grateful to feel it. Praise God!
One of the things I learned as I educated myself about DID is the sad statistic of how many patients commit suicide or become alcoholics and drug addicts. I fully understand why this is the case and I’m certain I would be one of those statistics had I not found you and if you had not so kindly treated me for a fee I could afford. Your kindness, generosity and your skills saved me from myself.
I’ve taken a “writing sabbatical” and I’m spending this winter in Miramar Beach, Florida; watching the sunsets, walking on the beach and allowing myself to be in quiet contemplation in a place where no one knows me. This has allowed me some much needed space to avoid circumstances where others project upon me and the temptation to project back to them. It’s giving me a chance to dig a little deeper and become acquainted with my parts the memories they carry and the trauma (or reason) they became a part of me. As I described it to my sister, it is the biggest intellectual undertaking I can remember having taken on; a huge logic puzzle with (sometimes shocking) emotional booby traps. For years I’ve mourned the loss of my career and the years spent in higher education to build that career. Now I can see those were not lost but are not my gift; as “systems integration” was my professional forte and that experience has been a great help as I’ve navigated this “logic puzzle” journey. In more ways that one, I am becoming the boss of me through acquisition of self-control and the application of my project management skills. The insight gives me 100% confidence that God always had a plan for me and has prepared me well to walk on the path he designed. What a wonderful thing to be confident about!
Thank you again for everything, I will always be grateful to you for keeping me alive so I could see this day. You are truly a blessing in my story.