DID: When Everything is a Trigger

My Mother wasn’t allowed to have a mental illness.

As an infant I was left at the mercy of a woman whose family
knew she was beating me.

The crime of moral exclusion is essentially a crime by consensus.

The perps hide behind the sanitized language of noble sounding
absurdities.

“They are food insecure.”

“We are protecting their rights.”

American Voters say they don’t believe in a country that let’s children starve
but they keep voting for perps who are fine with it.

“All life is sacred” until you say ain’t don’t work for me.

Bette Davis judging you meme
‘Judging you’ found on GIPHY

If the life of a high school student ain’t as sacred as the life of a fetus then
no life is sacred and what you really want is control.

Pro-life gives all kids an equal chance to grow up to be their best.

Marching children into lives of pain and ignorance is child abuse.

For all the joy I’ve had, I’m sorry I was born.

This is no bid for sympathy.

This is no statement of intent.

This is the sadness of a man whose had a profound confrontation with evil.

People who sacrifice children to ideology are evil.

I will never understand how my Mother’s family decided to let to suffer.

I was an infant.

Why was the ‘shame’ of my Mother’s mental illness worse than the murder
of my future?

How I do I forgive this?

In a sense, turning my blog into an account of my life as a person with DID carries the same risk as confessional poetry.

One’s life is open to inspection, misinterpretation, censorship and the out right demand by some people to shut-up.

I often wonder if the people who admire the poetry of Sylvia Plath feel her rage and psychic pain:

from “Daddy”

 

“In the German tongue, in the Polish town   

Scraped flat by the roller

Of wars, wars, wars.

But the name of the town is common.

My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.   

So I never could tell where you   

Put your foot, your root,

I never could talk to you.

The tongue stuck in my jaw.
It stuck in a barb wire snare.   

Ich, ich, ich, ich,

I could hardly speak.

I thought every German was you.   

And the language obscene
An engine, an engine

Chuffing me off like a Jew.

A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.   

I began to talk like a Jew.

I think I may well be a Jew.
The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna   

Are not very pure or true.

With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck   

And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack

I may be a bit of a Jew.
I have always been scared of you,

With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.   

And your neat mustache

And your Aryan eye, bright blue.

Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——
Not God but a swastika

So black no sky could squeak through.   

Every woman adores a Fascist,   

The boot in the face, the brute   

Brute heart of a brute like you.
You stand at the blackboard, daddy,   

In the picture I have of you,

A cleft in your chin instead of your foot   

But no less a devil for that, no not   

Any less the black man who
Bit my pretty red heart in two.

I was ten when they buried you.   

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

I thought even the bones would do.

 

Excerpt from Daddy, by Sylvia Plath

A Head Full of Ovens
                                     A Head Full of Ovens

I saw a guy on Valencia Street last Friday.

He wore a filthy hospital gown; he had a couple of nametags
on each wrist.

I know he was medically cleared for discharge because patients don’t
leave locked psych units without a nurse to open the door.

They just don’t.

A trained physician sent a gravely disabled man to fend for himself on the streets of the Mission.

Just Released -Two-

I am sick with a past I can’t remember in a present as abusive as the past.

Photograph of graffiti left by homeless people who sleep on Clation Alley in San Francisco
The thoughts of the homeless men and women who sleep on Clarion Alley in San Francisco

My brain is a raging debate:

“That can’t be real.”

“You’re dirty”.

“It didn’t happen.”

I get confused.

The Blind Owl-

from the Blind Owl

All of life is made up of stories and tales.

I must press the cluster of grapes and pour its essence, spoon by spoon, down the dry throat of this old shadow. Because at this moment all my restless thoughts belong to here and now, it is difficult to know where to begin. My thoughts do not recognize any hour, minute or history.

For me, something that happened yesterday might be more ancient, or less effectual, than an event that took place a thousand years ago.

Perhaps the reason for the appearance of all these reminiscences is the fact that all my relations with the world of the living are now severed, past, future, hour, day, month, and year all have become the same. These stages make sense to the ordinary people, to the rabble—yes, that is the exact word I was looking for

—rabble with two b’s. These stages apply to the rabble because, like the seasons of the year, their lives have recognized divisions and limits and because they live in the temperate zone of life.

My life, on the other hand, my entire life, has had one season and one state. Even though a constant flame burns in the center of my body and, like a candle, melts me away, my life is in a cold zone, in eternal darkness.

The Blind Owl
Sadegh Hedayat

 A Cry Of Despair

I try to apply the corrective lens of reason to everything I think and feel.

Is something or someone good or bad?

How do I know?

What is DID?

It is relentless fear and confusion.

It is a longing for respite.

It is a cry of despair in a world that normalizes abuse.

 

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2017-2018
Revised 10/07/2018

 

Save

Podcast: Rob Goldstein on BeyondYourPast.com

I’m honored to be a guest speaker on BeyondYourPast.com.

The Beyond Your Past Podcast is hosted by Certified Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, and Mental Health Advocate, Matthew Pappas. He is also the founder of SurvivingMyPast.net, a blog in support of all who have survived the Trauma of Abuse.

Matthew Pappas writes: ‘My guest on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast is Photographer, Digital Artist, Blogger, and Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist, Rob Goldstein. He is also a former guest blogger on Surviving My Past, where he shared some of his story in a post titled, “Life with DID: When Everything is a Trigger“. That post has been incredibly helpful and validating for so many who live with dissociative identity disorder, or those who have a loved one who lives with DID.

In the Podcast Rob Goldstein shares more of the story of how things finally started to make sense when he began receiving the help he needed.”

A digital sketch of a male profile in green and black
Self Portrait in Green

Podcast – Ep. 84 – Rob Goldstein, No longer sick with DID, I am well with DID.

 

(c) Rob Goldstein 2018

Coping with DID: A Real Victory

Knowing and Not Knowing

The German philosopher Hegel defined dialectic as the process of thought by which apparent contradictions (which he termed thesis and antithesis) are
part of a higher truth.

I use fact and my intellect to compensate for the dialectic of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

This body is not female.

This body is not sixteen.

Sara and Bobby are defense mechanisms activated by things that happened when we had the brain of a toddler.

The higher truth: they are part of the same mind.

I know these facts even as my mind suspends disbelief and enters VR to ‘become’ a teenage boy who just wants to play on his Sim-board.

A digital photograph made in virtual reality of a young male avatar flying a simboard
Bobby Flying his sim-board in 2013

“The goal of treatment for DID is integrated functioning, with eventual merger or fusion of the alternate personalities or at least a maximal level of cooperative and integrated functioning. Effective therapy focuses on the alternate personality system as a whole rather than on specific alternate personalities. The therapist must emphasize the adaptive role and validity of all personalities and encourage the patient to find adaptive ways to accommodate the wishes and needs of all personalities…”

The Rational Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder

In 2012 my self-system dismantled my internal world and reconstructed it in virtual reality.

The adult ‘me’ disintegrated’ as my alternates discovered  ‘embodiment’ in virtual reality.

When I was diagnosed in 2012 I believed my alternates were separate people.

One of my alternates had a virtual engagement to a virtual woman to get virtually married.

He opened a virtual business and lost real money.

My alternates were not collaborating or sharing memories.

…Some alternate identities may insist that they do not inhabit the same body or that suicide or self-injury would have no effect on them; they may even think they can kill off the “others.” This is an extreme form of dissociative denial, sometimes called delusional separateness.

It may take many sessions to erode this delusion of separateness, because this belief may hold back painful, powerful cognitions, affects, conflicts, and memory material.

from Guidelines for Treating Dissociative Identity Disorder in Adults, Third Revision

I was an extreme case

Mateo thought he could be ‘himself’ full time in VR.

Mateo was willing to destroy us.

Bobby responded by staging an execution of Mateo in a series of images called The Performance Review:

Digital photograph made in VR of a murdered avatar
Bobby executes Mateo in a panel from a series of photos called The Performance Review.

“The goal of treatment for DID is integrated functioning, with eventual merger or fusion of the alternate personalities or at least a maximal level of cooperative and integrated functioning. Effective therapy focuses on the alternate personality system as a whole rather than on specific alternate personalities. The therapist must emphasize the adaptive role and validity of all personalities and encourage the patient to find adaptive ways to accommodate the wishes and needs of all personalities…”

The Rational Treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder

Hullaba Lulu

I usually avoid collaborations with other bloggers because I can’t guarantee all of me will agree.

Making the illustrations for Teagan Geneviene’s Hullaba Lulu was Sara’s idea.

Sara wanted a fresh reason to play dress up.

Sara gave Bobby the role of Valentino.

Valentino, Lulu and Tom Driberg

She gave Mateo the role of Tom Driberg.

Matthew became Gramps and Tesla

A portrait of an avatar named Gramps
Gramps

 

VR image of an avatar to represent Tesla
Tesla

Peter, a child alternate played a bot.

VR image of an avatar as a child talking to a skeleton
Peter: A Skeleton in the Attic

It was Peter’s idea to use the Metropolis costumes for the bots.


As each alternate got more involved, they gave their ideas to each other
and to Teagan and lent their different skills to staging the shoots.

This is the first time my primary alternates have shared their memories with
each other and with me.

Dissociative Identity Disorder distorts the experience of experiencing

I can’t directly experience staging a shoot in virtual reality but the
fact that I can watch it happen and remember it as something ‘I’ did is
a sign of progress; a real victory.

I asked Teagan for permission to write about our collaboration; she wrote
this for me to include my post:

“Rob, this project — your brilliant images and my storytelling — I’ve always said that it nurtured both of us. That was heartfelt. Working with you helped me through an ongoing extremely difficult time. While I can’t ignore that my life has been full of challenges and failures, this Hullaba Lulu and the way we’ve worked together has been a delightful, uplifting success in so many ways. When I look at the images, it’s as though the avatars cheer me on, to keep me writing the story. I wouldn’t trade you (any of you) for anything. You are an inspiring light. Shine on, my friend.”

Lulu

Thank you, Teagan.

Thank you, WordPress.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2018

Coping with DID: The Struggle for Unity

If you live long enough you will discover that you are the person you are looking for.

When my adult alternates used Virtual Reality as a social network the other members called them ‘The Family’.

Of course, they did this even as they discussed my DID behind my back as a
fake; albeit a convincing fake.

a photograph staged in virtual relity of a battered little boy sitting alone with phantom alternates in the back ground
Coping with DID – Making the Family

Making The Family

According to the theory of the Trauma-Related Structural Dissociation of the Personality, a child with DID does not develop an integrated sense of self, thus when children with Dissociative Identity Disorder become adults, they are a fragmented ‘self-state’ of traumatized ‘emotional selves’.

The ‘Self-State’ creates an ‘Apparently Normal Self‘ to interact with other
people.

The ‘apparently normal self’, or ‘host’ alternate may have no clear memory of childhood, the trauma, or the family of birth.  The ‘host’ compensates for the system’s deficits and attempts to complete the process of integration, but the ‘self state’ has no clear sense of time or reality:

Photograph staged in Virtual Reality of an avatar wearing a blind fold
The ‘apparently normal self’, or ‘host’ alternate may have no clear memory of childhood, the trauma, or the family of birth.

 

…The ability to differentiate fantasy from reality is critical in achieving the integrative mode of consciousness. “Trance-logic” (i.e., the tolerance and/or rationalization of logical inconsistency while in a hypnotic state) which is a core aspect of the cognition of DID patients (Loewenstein, 1993), allows the patient to adjust to “normal” daily life while maintaining beliefs which are not only inconsistent with external reality but may be contradictory among themselves…”

‘Dissociation allows the existence of several different (subjective) versions of reality within one person. Thus Kluft (1993) once called DID “multiple reality disorder” (and not multiple personality disorder) and referred to “alternating reality states.” Somewhat similarly, Chefetz (2004) refers to identity alteration in DID as “isolated subjectivities.” Paradoxically, distinct or “alter” personality states are not disintegrated structures only but they also represent a striving of re-establishment of the lost unity (Şar and Öztürk, 2005).

Frontiers in Psychology

 

The Cycle of Repetition

If the ‘host’ fails to integrate, the ‘self-system’ or ‘emotional personalities’
replace it with a new host.

An illustration staged in virtual reality of a battered little boy with two male adults moving to protect him
The new host must survive the social environment and compensate for the lost time and the ‘failure’ of the previous alternate

The new host must survive the social environment and compensate for
lost time and the ‘failure’ of the previous alternate.

This leads to overwork, perfectionism, exhaustion, hyperactivity and system collapse which results in a new alternate and a new a cycle of mal-adaptive behaviors and relationships and another failure to integrate.

When I was in my early 20’s I moved on impulse from New Haven to Honolulu.

I still don’t know why.

On day I woke up on a beach in Hawaii.

I looked for a psychiatrist and a job.

The shrink gave me a diagnosis of bi-polar illness, depression and
prescribed Elavil.

I found an excellent job with one of the local hospitals.

One day I woke up and discovered I left the job because I’d met
a hot sailor with whom I’d gone to live on the beach.

So, I was again on the beach without a clue.

The shrink changed the diagnosis to bi-polar illness, manic
episode and added Lithium to the Elavil.

I found another good job and a nice high-rise apartment with
a view of Diamond Head.

One day while swimming at the local beach, I heard a voice:

Voice: “I need to go to the hospital.”

Me: (frustrated) Why?

Voice: (pleading) I’m scared.

Me: (Angry) We’re doing great! What’s wrong with you?

Voice: (pleading) I’m scared.

Within a few weeks, I was out of work and in lock-down on
the local psych unit.

I told my shrink about my argument with the voice and he
added the anti-psychotic, Haldol to the Lithium and Elavil.

I decided not to tell him about the writing I’d found;

“I think I am murdered and feel ashamed.

I hide under my blankets and feel ashamed.

I reach for a faceless cock and feel ashamed.

I feel ashamed and I feel ashamed.”

1978

I didn’t know the voice belonged to a teenage alternate named Bobby and that ‘going to the hospital’ was how a young Bobby escaped his family.

I didn’t know that being in the hospital was the only time Bobby felt safe.

Protrait of an avatar used by my alternate bobby
I didn’t know the voice belonged to a teenage alternate named Bobby

The Self-State of “Emotional selves” hold the emotions, thoughts, fantasies, wishes, needs, and sensations the ‘host’ considers unbearable and unacceptable.

Dissociation & Complex Trauma

In 1985, ‘Bobby’ wrote about his first hospitalization .

Despite the hospital’s intention to use ‘Aversion Therapy’ to cure
Bobby of his ‘homosexuality, for Bobby it was the first he felt safe
to assert himself.

Bobby doesn’t write about that feeling of safety because he doesn’t
remember it.

Bobby and the Aversion Therapist

Art by Rob Goldstein
Bobby and the Inner Shrink

Studies of children with DID show that alternates in children are more
alike and have less amnesia barriers between them.

An illustration staged in Virtual Reality of a battered little boy surrounded by adult selves
The new host must survive the social

Alternate personalities strengthen and become more individual over the life cycle.

Severe trauma in adulthood worsens the prognosis for people with DID.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2018

Sources:

Living in a Cooperative Self System

Dissociation & Complex Trauma

Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD) and DDNOS

Disavowing and Re-Claiming the Self-Identity in the Aftermath of Trauma-Generated Dissociation