This guest post comes courtesy of friend and regular contributor to Surviving My Past, Erin Fado. You can check out more of Erin’s work both here and on her own blog, You Will Bear Witness. Thank you again Erin for your continued vulnerability during your healing journey, and allowing us to support and encourage you as you work through your past.
Please be kind to yourself friends, as you read about Erin’s thoughts and experiences below…
I have spent the last three weeks at St John of God Burwood in Sydney following three months of extreme self-harm and suicidality due to my alters being very active due to my need to punish myself for what happened to me when I was a child. My Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and Complex PTSD was out of control and my previous psychiatrist was at a loss with DID. She did not know how to handle the alters and her response to self-harm was just to up the medication. No solution. The situation was getting very, very serious.
My psychotherapist luckily had just joined a new peer group where there were two men a psychiatrist and a psychologist who specialised in DID and were based at St John’s Clinic. She referred me to the psychiatrist who agreed to take me on as patient and immediately admitted me.
The alters went nuts. They were so angry. They came out at the first encounter with him and told him how much they hated him, the clinic, etc etc. They were angry that Erin was in a safe place. Boy, what a relief it was for me to be in a safe place and finally to have a psychiatrist who understood DID and could talk to the alters.
He is a very humourous man and always wears ties with owls on them. When I commented on that. He replied, “There’s no wiser animal”. He told me another day his favourite author was A.A. Milne and one of his favourite quotes was,“Owl,” said Rabbit shortly, “you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest–and when I say thinking I mean thinking–you and I must do it.” Says it all.
He immediately began by the alters them they didn’t have to go anywhere and that no one wanted to hurt them. They belonged to Erin. They were a part of her and could always remain a part of her. This calmed them down. He then set about working on convincing them to work on my behalf. To put all their energy into making me as strong as them so I didn’t feel guilty and ashamed any more.
This integration is the key to successful treatment of DID and Dissociation.
My Dissociation had become so severe that I was hiding blades, finding, cutting and not remembering doing any of it. My alters were not aware of each other and could not remember what each other was up to or saying. This is a very commond symptom of DID and is quite dangerous in patients who engage in self-harm for obvious reasons. I felt I had a lack of control over my behaviour. People with dissociative identity disorder may have a blurry sense of their own identity. For example, they may feel like they are more than one person, referring to themselves in “first person plural (we) or in the third person (he, she, they)”. I was frequently doing this which was very discombobulating for those around me. It became impossible to tell when I had switched to an alter or when I was 57 year old Erin of 2018.
It is going to be a slow, laborious road or painstaking work by the psychiatrist and my psychotherapist who uses EMDR to deal with shame and guilt I carry from my childhood abuse which in turn lead to the DID and CPTSD but at long last, I feel hopeful I am on the right road to recovery. EMDR is particularly good therapy for DID with an experienced practitioner.
Also while in the Clinic I attended twice daily groups of CBT which were excellently run. These have provided me with a tool bag of tricks to cope with everyday living skills. I have developed a lot of faulty thinking due to my PTSD and the techniques provided by CBT will of huge benefit in rectifying that negative thinking.
So it’s home I go hopefully to a new beginning.
-Matthew Pappas, CLC, CPNLP
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