Mental Health: Friendship and Dissociative Identity Disorder

This was my post for mental health week.

I think I’m late.

Animated Gif

This post is directed to abuse survivors and their families, but don’t
let that stop you from reading it.

My therapist sent me a copy of 101+ Ways to See DID, by Kathy Brody, a specialist in treating Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Screenshot
101 Ways To See DID by Kathy Broady MSW

These are a few of the symptoms described by Kathy Brody that I experience:

feeling completely blank
the sensation of not having a body
a sense of seeing through the eyes of other people
an inability to recognize myself
confusion about age
and hyper-vigilance.

I have trouble

maintaining relationships
connecting to others
being touched
and physical intimacy

I have numerous perspectives and completely opposing interests.

For every yes, there is a no; for every trigger, a chorus of reactions.

A sense of being alien in a world that makes no sense is one of the most painful and pervasive of my symptoms.

Am Illustration

Life with DID is exhausting.

When I tell people I have DID, I expect them to believe it, but most people don’t, and some of my friendships fail because of it.

Kathy Brody describes recognizing or refusing relationships as one of the symptoms of DID.

People take the sudden loss of connection personally, and I understand why.

I do have close friends in real life, people I’ve known for most of my life, and I have a partner who loves and accepts me; I am blessed.

The worst thing a friend can do to someone with DID is act in ways that make the symptoms worse.

I have a relative who knows the history of my abuse and used that knowledge to trigger me, when I realized it was intentional I cut that
person out of my life.

My rule for family members is if you say you love me but act in ways that make the illness worse; you really don’t love me and need to get out of my life.

It was a struggle to gain the insight to set limits because I was raised to believe that I was responsible for all of the bad things that happened to my Mother.

I was not allowed an opinion or a mind of my own.

An MRI that shows the location of patient's alternate selves on her brain. The patient is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder
The MRI shows the location of the patient’s alternate selves on her brain.

DID is not invisible, not even online.

Bloggers can’t see my facial expressions and mannerisms, but my blog’s long time followers are familiar with my various writing styles and images.

My skills come and go, such as the ability to write or build computers or make images.

I have different vocabularies and reading interests, and some of me
doesn’t read at all.

The range and intensity of my emotional expression are more than most normal people can understand or tolerate; and I am frequently asked if I  know how old I am.

The answer is no, and why does it matter?

Art by Rob Goldstein

What DID is:

DID is a childhood-onset disorder that begins as a result of extreme
abuse.

DID is a symptom of a broader cluster of symptoms called Complex-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.

DID is a psychiatric disorder that only improves with psychoanalyses.

What DID is not:

DID is not multiple personality disorder.

DID is not a bid for attention.

DID is not something my therapist is imposing on me.

DID is not borderline personality disorder.

DID is not pathological narcissism.

DID is not hysteria, an excuse for bad behavior, or the result of negative thinking.

DID is not a choice.

DID is not ‘clinging to or refusing to let go’ of the past.

People and governments that sexually and emotionally abuse children are evil.

It is not the past I can’t release; it is the confrontation with evil.

Please vote wisely this year.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2020

I am not a doctor, my experience with DID may not be the same as yours. If you think you have Dissociative Identity Disorder please seek professional
help.


If you or someone you love is feeling suicidal please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Mental Health: Our Useless Rights

For this post’s purpose, I define a severe mental illness as a chronic medical condition that affects behavior, insight and judgment.

Picture it:

A filthy young man, confused and raging on Market Street, collapses at an intersection and rolls into traffic.

The police arrive.

An officer drags him to the curb and asks him if he has plans to hurt himself or anyone else. The young man shakes his head no.

The officer asks if he knows his way to the local soup kitchen and homeless shelter.

The young man shakes his head, yes.

Because he affirms that he is not an immediate danger to himself or others and claims he knows where to get food and shelter, the officers have no legal basis to mandate treatment.

The police drive off, and the young man rolls back into traffic.

The police cannot stop a sick and confused young man from obstructing traffic because it would violate his rights.

In 1963, President Kennedy signed the visionary Mental Health Centers Act, which authorized funding for a community-based care system in every state and county.

“I am proposing a new approach to mental illness and to mental retardation. This approach is designed,   in large measure, to use Federal resources to stimulate state, local, and private action. When carried out,  reliance on the cold mercy of custodial isolation will be supplanted by the open warmth of community concern and capability. Emphasis on prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation will be substituted for a desultory interest in confining patients in an institution to wither away.” President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

In 1965, Congress approved the Medicaid Act, which offered higher reimbursement rates for community-based care, later the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provided financial support for people with mental illness who were trying to live in the community.

Passed in 1967, the Lanterman Petris Short Act prohibits involuntary civil commitments for the mentally ill in California unless a person is an immediate danger to himself and others, or is gravely disabled, generally defined as unable to access or make use of food and shelter.

The Community Mental Health System was supposed to replace or serve as an adjunct to State Hospitals.

By 1967 most cities in the United States had an active community mental health system.

That changed in the 1980’s.

The Lanterman-Petris Short Act fails in seven of its nine intents.

It does not end the inappropriate involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders because inadequately staffed for-profit prisons replaced the State Hospitals.

It does not provide prompt evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders because treatment resources are underfunded or don’t exist.

It does not guarantee or protect public safety.

It does not protect persons with mental health disorders from criminal acts because homelessness increases crime risk.

It does not provide services in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the needs of each person receiving services because there are no services.

In theory, people with mental illnesses have the ‘right’ to the services and supports we need to live like people without disabilities, but we can’t access services and supports that don’t exist.

For people with serious mental illnesses, the Lanterman Petris-Short Act is an excuse to deny treatment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act is a joke.

We don’t need access ramps; we need access.

Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease have a similar set of symptoms, but no one would say an Alzheimer’s patient has a human right to wander our cities in a daze.

No one would say an Alzheimer’s patient deserves to suffer.

Mental illness is not a civil rights issue.

Mental illness is not a moral failure.

Mental illness is not a result of toxic thinking.

Mental illness is not a choice.

© Rob Goldstein 2020

#WordlessWednesday: Soliloquy

I’m going to level up with my blogging buddies. First, thank you to the people who read Art by Rob Goldstein. You are my teachers and friends, and I am grateful to you.

I have lived alone and in quarantine for almost five months as our President weaponizes COVID19 and divides our nation. I’m stressed and afraid, and this feels like it is never going to end.

Our press and political leaders behave as if we are the powerless victims of a king over whom the law has no authority.

None of it makes sense. I don’t understand why we can’t arrest and remove a criminal president who threatens our nation and our lives.

It looks to me as if Trump and his Republicans are killing us on purpose. Am I right, or is this paranoia?

This confusion and anxiety are intolerable. I am continually dissociating and losing time.

For my health, I have to take another break.

I’m not fond of frequent breaks, but I can’t focus for more than a few minutes at a time.

I’ll be back shortly.

Comments on this post are disabled.

Rob Goldstein 2020

The Header photo is a from a series of Images from ‘Memories of Market Street.’

The Man Who Forgot He Doesn’t Exist

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a childhood-onset trauma symptom induced by an overwhelming confrontation with human evil before the brain can create a functional mind.

When my psychiatrist diagnosed DID in 2009, I was already too symptomatic to work. I had no interest in social media, but I compulsively staged virtual photoshoots in Second Life and posted those photos to my Flickr stream.

‘The Man Who Forgot He Doesn’t Exist‘ is an example of the images I staged and posted.

I still feel like a man who doesn’t exist.

With therapy, I  eventually understood that I used my avatars the way a child uses dolls when asked to describe an assault for which there are no words.

Most people are unable to comprehend a person whose different emotional states and memories emerge as separate people with different names, genders, and world views.

It’s easy to dismiss these confusing and unsettling expressions of the mind as attention-seeking irresponsibility.

This short film, ‘Inside,’ is a weirdly accurate illustration of how it feels to be an ‘us’– minus the atmospheric asylum.

A primary goal of psychotherapy is getting everyone ‘inside’ to agree.

I’m not there yet.

M. Scott Peck, the psychiatrist who authored ‘The Road Less Traveled,’ described evil as “militant ignorance.”

I wonder if militant denial is a form of evil.

In “People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, ” Peck describes narcissism as a type of evil.

I see no difference between the individual narcissist and the cultist tribal communities that plague American culture.

The most horrific aspect of child abuse is that it often takes place in an institution or a community that doesn’t care or doesn’t want to bother. Hence, the adults blame the child if he reveals the abuse or the abuse becomes too apparent to ignore.

The best recent example of institutional abuse is Donald Trump’s detention camps, where children are separated from their families and treated like criminals.

How does a four-year-old escape the horror of a world that feels like a death trap?

A person with DID was a child whose mind shattered under the stress of life in an all-pervasive culture of evil from which there was no escape.

Recovery from DID and C-PTSD involves a never-ending cycle of accepting the damage, managing the symptoms, and healing what I can.

For me, healing means bearing witness to the evil, naming it, and working for change.

I want us to unite to make our world safe for children.  I want us to protect them from evil.

Children do not choose to live in hunger and pain.

Art by Rob Goldstein

 

According to Peck, an evil person lies to himself to prop up an image of perfection.

They also;

  • Deceive others as a consequence of their lies
  • Project his or her evils and sins onto particular targets (scapegoats) while being reasonable with everyone else.
  • Commonly hates with the pretense of love
  • Abuses political and (emotional) power (“the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion”)
  • Maintains respectability based on lies.
  • Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
  • Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)
  • Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury
  • According to Peck, evil people realize the wickedness deep within themselves, but are unable to tolerate the pain of introspection, or admit to themselves that they are evil.

Evil thrives on denial.

 

I’m revising some of my posts from 2015.

‘The Man Who Forgot He Doesn’t Exist’ was first posted in 2015,

I’ve kept the theme but completely revised the post.

I don’t know if I should make a new post but it seems practical to
keep the original.

What are your thoughts?

(c)Rob Goldstein 2015-revised 2020

 

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