Coping with DID: “I love All of You”

Dissociative identity disorder is a childhood onset, complex-post traumatic disorder in which the child is unable to consolidate a unified sense of self. Detachment from emotional and physical pain during repeated traumatic events results in alterations in the way the brain encodes memory.  This leads to fragmentation and gaps in memory. Exposure to repeated abuse in early childhood results in the creation of discrete behavioral states that can persist over later development, and evolve into the alternate identities of dissociative identity disorder. The Mayo Clinic

This morning as my partner left for his weekly visit to his ailing Mother he said, “I love all of you.”

I sat as wave after wave of love, pain, gratitude and fear passed over me, then I said, “We love you to.”

I am not an easy man to live with.

One must be willing to live with constant self-examination and bluntly stated opinions.

This September marks the beginning of my eighth year of psychotherapy.

Eight years later, I am someone new. I accept the DID, I accept the violence
that caused it and I accept that I was gifted with a mind that went to  extraordinary lengths to keep itself alive.

I am proof of the existence of the human mind and the will to survive and thrive.

A 2011 Graffiti Mural in San Francisco's Clarion Alley
Fighting Shadows

To ‘Seal Over’

At the long-term psychiatric hospital where I worked in the early 1970’s, we
used the term ‘sealed over’ to describe a patient who is skilled at hiding
his illness.

Most of us must learn to ‘seal over’ everyday distress and anxiety as a
skill of daily living.

Healthy people don’t often consider the energy and skill it takes to interact
socially and succeed in our careers.

An illness that impairs social skill is crippling.

We don’t think about what it means to lose our health and ability to work
until we must think about it.

Blackberry Photograph of a mannequin in a shop Window in San Francisco
Xanax

What is Healthy?

I define ‘healthy’ as striving to become an informed citizen, having a balanced sense of humility, respect for the rights of others, a sense of compassion, and respect for life; which means the born, the fundamental right of all children to food, shelter, education, safe cities and schools.

I define healthy as doing my best to pull my weight; which means using my skills to dispel the lies that make it hard for people with DID to get the right treatment.

2011 Blackberry Photograph of Mannequins in a shopwindow in San Francisco
Cruising

Mental Illness is Not an Act.

There are thousands of easier ways to get attention: one can write a good novel, produce a brilliant portfolio of art, write moving poetry, become a skilled surgeon, strive for excellence at any job that affirms your humanity.

If I’m trying to get your attention by destroying my life in public it means I’m sick.

A man who has to shoot schoolchildren to slake his rage is sick.

The question is not why people have mental illnesses, the question is why Americans collectively refuse to recognize mental illness as a set of real and
serious illnesses?

I cannot ‘think’ my way through DID or Bi-Polar illness.

Mental Illness is not a choice and the ‘well’ make it easy for the ‘sick’ to choose isolation.

Getting well in a sick world

I had the worst possible parents in the worst possible neighborhood in one of the most institutionally abusive and violently racist cities of the United States in the 1960’s, and yet I entered adulthood with a fundamental sense of right and wrong, and a fundamental understanding of our political system.

I was broken in a dozen different ways but I knew it was wrong to lie.

I knew it was wrong to hurt people.

I knew it was wrong to abuse the weak and innocent.

In that, I am healthier than 39% of the American people.

2011 Blackerry shot of a graffiti mural in San Francisco's Mission District
Campos

What does it mean to be well with DID.

Being well with DID means that I’m still in pain, raw and uncertain. I’m still anxious and often panic-stricken. But it also means I’m alive as I am supposed to be and better at managing symptoms. It means always searching for new skills and better ways to be healthy.

It means asking the unwanted questions.

Rob Goldstein 2018

 

June is Jumping with Books

Get caught reading at Teagan’s Books.

Teagan's Books

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Lulu on Atonement books Rob Goldstein’s Lulu dances on my Atonement books

Teagan:  Lulu! What the Sam Hill are you doing here?  I’m trying to work on Atonement in Bloom.  You are not part of the “Atonement-verse.” 

Lulu:  I figured you could use my help.  I mean, Lilith is the cat’s pajamas, but she’s snoozing.  You were supposed to finish that novel before spring ended.  I hate to break it to you, Sheba, but you’re about out of time.

Teagan:  Ha-ha… the cat is the cat’s pajamas.  If you don’t skedaddle back to Valentino’s train right now, I’ll sing Don’t Bring Lulu.  I know how you hate that.  How am I supposed to do anything else when you keep doing the Lindy Hop into my head?  Now scoot!

I’ve seen so many great books making their debuts already this month!  Silly me (after all this…

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Featured Blogger: D. Wallace Peach

I was too busy this month to schedule a Featured Blogger for June 2018, so I am re-publishing one of my favorite featured bloggers from 2016.

Portrait of D. Wallace Peach
Portrait of Author D. Wallace Peach

My Featured blogger for October is author D. Wallace Peach from Myths of the Mirror.

Before we begin, thank you for accepting my invitation.

Thanks so much for inviting me, Robert. I’m honored to be chatting on your blog.

Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from and how that affects your point of view?

Great question as I do think our roots inform who we are. I come from a family that spent its free time in the forest. My parents used to drop my younger brothers and me off at a trailhead in the Green Mountains and pick us up 4 days later, 25 miles down the road. Sort of “Hansel and Gretel” except we carried maps. The first time we hiked without adults, I was about 11 years old and my youngest brother would have been 7. We were fearless and adventurous kids. Sometimes the raccoons got into our food or we got stuck in a snowstorm, but we survived. Those are some of the best memories of my life, and they had nothing to do with “things.”

I was also raised by left-wing liberals, and though I labored in business for 18 years, I hated the focus on money. After 9/11, I started working as a volunteer with grieving children, quit my job, and returned to school for a counseling degree, which I loved. Today, as an author, my fantasy books reflect an appreciation for a simple life, nature, and the human pathos that arises from choices: fear, greed, power, compassion, sacrifice, and love.

You mention that your profile that as a child you preferred television to reading until you read the Hobbit by Tolkien. What was it about the Hobbit changed your life?

Reading was b..o..r..i..n..g until I turned 13 and opened The Hobbit. I plowed through it and the LoTR series in about 2 weeks. I was entranced by the characters and the epic story. When the book ended, I had a serious book hangover and cried myself to the library. I’m certain I would never have considered writing if I hadn’t cracked that magical book. Books can change lives.

September 11 was another life-changing event and as a result, you returned to school. What was that like for you?

I wasn’t in New York, and I can’t claim any heroics or personal sacrifice. I still choke up thinking about that day: the fear, the lives lost, the families forever changed, the first responders and hundreds of souls who toiled tirelessly in the rubble, risking their own health. I was working in business and suddenly couldn’t deal with the sales and profits and money-is-king mentality. None of it mattered. What mattered were human beings, love, bravery, compassion, kindness. I quit my executive job and went back to school so I could be poor and happy doing something of value.


You graduated with a Master’s degree in counseling. What kind of counseling did you do?

I became a pastoral counselor – basically mental health with a spiritual (not religious) foundation. I wanted to work with people who were dying and grieving, and an openness to all variations in spiritual faith seemed important. I ended up doing most of my grief work as a volunteer and got a job counseling little kids (0-5) and their families. It was all transformative heart-based growth – especially for me.

What draws you to fantasy?

Oh. I’m a believer in magic – basically that the world is far more complex and interconnected than my pea-brain can possibly imagine. Just because we can’t prove something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Just because we can’t see or measure something doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I know a teeny-weeny tiny fraction of all there is to know, which to me, means anything is possible. I like asking what-if questions about the nature of reality and ushering them down the path of my imagination to see where they go.

What do you find easiest about writing?

I find all of it rewarding but none of it particularly easy. The first draft is the most challenging for me. The story is outlined but unformed, and the characters can’t help but share their opinions about who they are and where they want to go. We’re in a constant state of negotiation and I’m often backtracking. Sometimes the words pour out and sometimes I have to wrench them out with plyers.

 

The cover of the fantasy novel, The Melding of Aeris by D. Wallace Peach
The Melding of Aeris

 

What writers give you inspiration?

I love character-driven stories and beautifully crafted words. I read a lot of fantasy, and like both stand-alone books and big, fat series. My favorite fantasy authors are Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson, and Joe Abercrombie to name a few.

I read with a highlighter and mark up my books when I find something wonderful.

When did you start blogging?

I started in 2013, but I was completely clueless for the first 2 years. I didn’t know that social media was supposed to be social (duh) and had 7 likes my first whole year. I was so bad. I started watching what the successful bloggers did, the ones I enjoyed following, and finally the light-bulb flicked on. Now I have lively interactions with a large community on a daily basis. Much, much better.

  1. What advice do you have for writers who want to use their blogs to market their books?

I’m no expert, Robert, but here are my two cents: Go ahead and market, but remember that the most important part of blogging is building relationships – interact and reciprocate. Be yourself, of course, but remember that your blog is also your professional platform; you are sharing yourself as a person and author as well as posting content that represents the quality of your work. Pay it forward by doing for the community what you would like the community to do for you. And most of all, enjoy yourself.

Some Word Press bloggers think of Word Press as a community. Do you think of it as a
community?

Absolutely. I love that aspect of blogging. I love the way the world shrinks, the rich feelings shared by wonderful people all over the globe, the empathy and support of strangers who become good friends. There’s talent and kindness, beauty and compassion everywhere. It gives me hope and makes me smile.

How do you define success?

In all parts of my life: Happiness.

We only get this one life, Robert; there are no second chances, no do-overs. We are each miracles, here through the perfect alignment of billions of years of evolution, choices, and chance. It’s not a gift to be wasted. Happiness means different things to different people, but for me it’s choosing an attitude of kindness, care, and compassion and acting on that choice. Writing is something that brings me joy, no strings attached.

The Cover of fantasy novel, Myths of the Mirror by D. Wallace Peach
Myths of the Mirror

 

Thank you for an enlightening interview.  It was a pleasure.

And thank you for asking! I didn’t talk much about my books (for once, Lol). If anyone is interested, my Amazon author’s page line up (9 books) is here: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8, and my blog is Myths of the Mirror: http://mythsofthemirror.com. Visitors are always welcome!

 

Rob Goldstein 2016-2018

 

 

 

 

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Guest Blogger: Linda Bethea

My first guest blog was a 2015 post by Linda Bethea of Nutstrok.

Sally Cronin of Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life thought it
deserved a re-post, so here it is.

The original post begins below this drawing by Linda’s Mother, Kathleen Swain.

A hand colored drawing of a mother holding a little boy on her lap as he points to a bird in flight.
The Forever Mom by Kathleen Swain

My first test subject guest blogger is Linda Bethea from
Nutstok.

When I read her blog I feel like I’m visiting with a friend.

Linda’s style is graceful and she writes with empathy and love.

“Forever Mom” is a drawing by Linda’s Mother, Kathleen
Swain..

Linda wrote: I am so delighted my dear friend Robert Goldstein asked me to do a guest post for him. He was gracious enough to allow me to share a portion of Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression, my current work in progress.

Thanks so much Robert.


The Gentlest of Men

“Good to see you, Doc, but the baby didn’t wait for you. Lizzie was just cleaning up after breakfast when she told to send for you and Miz Smith. She barely had time to put a pot of beans on and shoo the kids out to work the tomatoes before Miz Smith made it here. I shore was proud to see Miz Smith by the time she got here.” Roscoe ushered him in to the front room where the only sign of a recent delivery was Lizzie nursing her newborn. Not wanting the doctor or the kids to find the place a mess, Mary Smith had hurriedly tidied up the mess from birthing and put it out to soak. Before heading back to her own family, she had bathed the baby, helped Lizzie into a clean gown and put the embroidered sheets back on the front room bed. Dr. Bohl knew those sheets were on display for his benefit and would be carefully folded away as soon as he left. The little girl howled at being examined, flushing and waving her fists, clearly preferring her mother to this indignity. Dr. Bohl allowed she’d be a fine baby, if she lived and did well. She had slipped up on them late in life, with Roscoe nearing fifty and Lizzie thirty-eight. Had anyone been dared ask the couple a year ago if they wanted another child, they’d have declared, “That’s the last thing we need in these hard times,” but she’d found a welcome home.

Roscoe called the kids in to the surprise of a new sister before making a pan of cornbread to go with Lizzie’s beans. Mystified that a headache could turn into a baby, Annie sliced fresh tomatoes and heated leftover stewed squash between peeks at the baby she’d been allowed the honor of naming, Kathleen Gordon Ree Holdaway. Kathleen, for a distant cousin the infant Kathleen wouldn’t meet for more than fifty years. Gordon was a traditional family name and Ree was for one of Roscoe’s domino playing buddies, a name Kathleen learned to heartily despise. Every time she looked at the man, she was disgusted Daddy had picked him to name her for. John set the table and brought in water and wood for the cook stove without being told. Roscoe took Lizzie a full plate and a mason jar of fresh milk before the rest of them got started. After their early supper, Roscoe and Dr. Bohl drank coffee in the front room and talked with Lizzie while the kids cleaned up and whispered in the kitchen. Doc’s cynical opinion altered when he found them both well-read, Lizzie having qualified as a teacher before her marriage. Roscoe kept him laughing with tales of his wild misdeeds as a young man. On a corner table, several books were stacked near the coal oil lamp, where a tattered copy of Robinson Crusoe lay bookmarked with a scrap of paper. Before they finished their coffee, the bawling of the hungry calf and cow’s lowing called Roscoe to evening chores.

Digging deep in his overalls pocket, Roscoe dug out a lone dollar he had managed to save since the disturbing day Lizzie had told him she’d need a doctor that spring. Dr. Bohl considered, needing cash as much as the next man, but in a rare moment of warmth, decided against taking it, knowing it was the only cash they had. “I missed most of the work. If it’s all the same to you, I’d sooner have my pay in garden stuff. I’d sure appreciate if you could throw in a ham.” Relieved, Roscoe filled a tow sack with potatoes, tomatoes, a smoked ham, two quarts of canned peaches, a couple of dozen eggs, and a pound of butter……..far more than a dollars’ worth. Miss Loney had been hounding him about his bill at the store.   Both men were pleased with their transaction and before Dr. Bohl left, they shared a nip from the bottle Roscoe kept tucked high on a kitchen shelf.

Hours later with the kids in bed and Lizzie at rest after her exhausting day, Roscoe smoked and read a western in the dim light of the coal oil lamp. Kathleen stirred and mewed quietly in her mother’s arms. Her gaunt father lifted her, and returned to his chair for a cuddle, “Well, Kitten. It’s just me and you. The rest of ‘em gave it up. You want to talk to your old daddy just a little. Well…..” The gentlest of men, Roscoe’s heart melted anew, for this unexpected child of his age. He loved his other children, but was never able to hide his special feelings for her. To him, she was never Kathleen. From that day on, it warmed her heart to hear him call her “Kitten,” signaling a fine mood. Kat was for ordinary days.

To see more of Linda’s fine work please visit Nutstrok

(c) Linda Bethea and Kathleen Swain all rights reserved.

First posted April 16, 2015

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