Dissociative Identity Disorder: Learning to Trust

The patients’ job in intensive psychotherapy is to ask why.

Why do I seek out women who are devoid of the capacity for love?

Why do I veer from an extreme identification with the middle class to an extreme identification with the poor?

Why do I force myself to fail economically just as I get closest to winning?

Why do I sometimes behave as if I hate myself?

I first grappled with the problem of internalized stigma during the early days of the AIDS epidemic when I wondered if the AIDS was God’s judgment.

None of the intellectual and political constructions that served me as gay activist in the 1970’s could defeat the internalized homophobia unleashed by AIDS.

I watched men die from grief, self-hatred, and fear and I was nearly one of them.

This was when I realized the true function of any ‘ism’ is to convince the target to self-destruct.

This was why any novel written about gays before Stonewall usually ended with suicide or the impoverished death of the gay character.

AIDS was the greatest tragic ending, infused with the dissonant myth of a loving, yet vengeful God.


Internalized homophobia was the least of my problems.

AIDS was trauma on trauma.

I didn’t know I had a dissociative disorder.

I was living in the worst possible place at the worst possible time
for someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Any spot on my arm sent me into panic, so much, so I became a frequent
flyer at the local crisis clinics.

The shrinks eventually gave me a prescription for Xanax.

Xanax
                                 Xanax

The only thing I knew about Xanax was it made the fear go away.

The pharmaceutical industry reported Xanax had an anti-depressant effect.

By 1986 I was on a prescribed dose of eight milligrams a day.

A seizure when I decided to stop the drug was how I learned  Xanax is addictive.

2011 photograph of a mannequin in a shop window on Mission Street taken in 2011 with a Blackberry
Xanax

My DID allows parts of me to form attachments while protecting the parts that are fragile and afraid.

One goal of my treatment is for me to learn to trust a woman.

This process of building trust with a woman who wants what’s best for me and who acts in my interests is a path to becoming whole.

John C. Calhoun Homes
A digitally altered snapshot of one of my childhood homes.

As I enter my 8th year of intensive psychotherapy, the questions I must
ask are less confounding.

When I entered treatment in October of 2011, I felt like a helpless child.

It is now October 2018.

I feel more whole.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2018
The Photo of Xanax found on Google Images

First posted November 1, 2015-updated November 8, 2017 – Rewritten and Updated October 21, 2018

 

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Thank You, Treatment Team

FIGHT STIGMA – THERE IS HOPE

Kitt O'Malley

Photos of my treatment team: Alex Michelson, MD; Brynne Lum, LMFT; My Family (son and husband)

Assuming that my therapist, Brynne Lum, LMFT, was not available (she’s very popular), I called my psychiatrist to see if he was available. He was! Yay!

Alex Michelson, MD saw me, listened to me, and reassured me that it sounds like I’m exhausted, which is understandable considering all that I’ve done in the last year and a half.

Brynne happened to be there when I visited, and I learned that she had a cancellation next week. Double yay! Now I don’t have to wait until the end of the month to see her.

Dr. Michelson reminded me that group therapy was always available for me to rejoin.

Anyway, before I got through to my team, I decided to take a couple of days off. Not exactly on a nature retreat. Just staying in a local hotel overlooking our local toll road (which is LOUD). Not as nice as I…

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EMDR Session 3: Closing the door

I’m now in EMDR treatment. This is how it feels.

blackspotsite

Monday means EMDR. It’s become a regular fixture of dread in my schedule. Although my therapy sessions with J are often tough, I rarely hate the idea of going there. But EMDR is different. It is gruelling and painful. There’s not much room for humour or to share the lighter moments in life.

Today Dr H and I were continuing to work on the intrusive image we focused on last week. I felt like I made some progress in the last session, managing to get my distress level associated with the image down to about a 3/10. This morning, Dr H asked me to go back to it and imagine being there again and we did more of the same. Repeated sets of eye movements, working through whatever feelings came up.

Last week there was a huge amount of fear connected with the memory. I kept crying because…

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There are no pills for this.

False Memories

Science has a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which neurotransmitters communicate.
Psychotropic medications that work very well for certain kinds of  biochemical processes that affect the brain.
The illnesses that respond best to medications are affective disorders and Schizophrenia.
The most exceptional cases are people who return to normal functioning.
Normal functioning is not the same as mental wellness.
Mental wellness is the ability to balance the needs of the
self with the rights of others.
A mentally well person knows his strengths and weaknesses and knows who he is in relation to other people.

Mental illness is not a constant and neither is mental wellness.

Psychotropic medications do not heal; they treat.

The healing power of psychotherapy is the power of a relationship in which one sees a reflection of the damaged self as worthy.
Medication can’t do this.
The therapeutic relationship is one that frees the mind to process memories that feel so shameful they are replaced by the “right” memories:
A loving Mother.
A strong Father.
A supportive Sister.
My false memories are the ones that
seem normal.
The stories and poems and that I post to this blog take place in a dream.
Some of these things happened but most of them only happened in my head.
Five years into therapy, I understand that the worst damage was the damage that arrested my emotional development.
I’ve never felt truly adult.
This blog represents a milestone in my therapy and in my emotional growth.
To stand up and claim my life with all of its fragmented pain is a step toward a more unified sense of who I am as a whole person.
There are no pills for this.
There never will be.
The stories on my blog are dedicated to Flora Colao, who is teaching us how to be whole.
“…We need to play so that we can rediscover the magic all around us.”
Flora Colao

Please note: Never stop taking your medications without consulting your doctor.

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