I’m going to try again

I’ve not posted on here with any consistency. Unfortunately, that has been by design. I suspect that someone in my life is regularly reading this blog, and knows it belongs to me.

However, this past weekend I attended a conference for others with DID, and I made the most amazing connections with others who also have DID. I feel less alone after this amazing experience. There were many people there unafraid to be who they are, regardless of their DID. Though, I hate to admit, typing these few sentences is difficult. It’s taken me 45 minutes just to get this far in creation of this post. But, I’m going to keep trying because I can see that my fear and hiding are not serving me.

It’s the most hopeful I’ve felt in a long time. I can feel the ever present darkness get a lift with a crack of light shining in my black cloudy fog of I don’t matter in this world. That is my default thought, that I don’t matter. But I met people who do matter, and they are not held back by their DID. I got to know lovely, loving people who like me back and want to be my friend. What a small beautiful miracle …

I’m going to try to bottle up that courage  and confidence I saw this weekend, and apply it to this blog.

just hold on

You’ve come to realize the depths of your self-loathing today. You subscribe to “dissociative identity disorder” google news alerts, and today you received such an alert. The news alert featured a story with a video of someone describing their experience with DID, and in the video the person briefly spoke using the voices of all of their alters. You find yourself wincing as you watch this, and you ask yourself Why? Why would I wince at this? You wince because you see how it looks to others. There’s no question it looks strange. You look strange enough in life (with your thick glasses and nondescript face, for starters), and to have another piece of strangeness (DID) juxtaposed upon your original strangeness sometimes feels like a strangle hold, an infinite prison of madness and weirdness.

As much as you have grown to love Letty, your younger alter, you hate having DID. You wish you could somehow give it back, return it, exchange it, anything but have it. But, that is not how this works. It’s not how it works with any mental illness. It’s here, ensconced in your being, and you have to learn how to cope with whatever ails you.

DID is the great division between you and the rest of the world. It’s the big secret that you have to constantly weigh when and if to disclose it to people. You know, you’ve heard it all …

“DID is what saved you, kept you from going insane, made it possible to survive your childhood.”

Lately, you truly wonder what the worth was in being saved. Saved to function in some half-assed way with the DID albatross? Yes, because that’s a full life, getting all triggery, and freaky from time to time with PTSD, DID or a lovely hybrid of both. And, you argue that DID helped you go insane. It most certainly did not protect you from mental illness.

If only DID was like a rock you could throw back into the ocean. Alas, no. DID is something you have to work around, like a part of the road that tends to flood. You either avoid that road when it rains, or you do the hard work to fix it.

DID is full body robbery. It robs your mind, your body and your voice, all at the same time. The professionals call it protection. Let’s dispense with the euphemisms. It’s robbery. You see people with similar talents to you, and you are keenly aware that they are going to surpass you. You are further aware that they are going to surpass you because they are not held back by mental illness. You can plot all your career setbacks, and they are all attributed to your DID or PTSD. Either you let promotions pass you by because you know you should minimize your stress, or you’ve had situations with people because you are so sensitive. It’s been abundantly clear to you that the best loves and friends you’ve lost can be connected back to these two issues. You despise that you are this way. You desperately want to NOT be DID, but you might as well throw a penny into a wishing well because that’s how likely your desire to NOT be DID will come true.

You find yourself again thinking of the news article that brought a spotlight to your self-loathing, and you realize your own hypocrisy in that you want people to accept you, DID and all, but you wince at the mere sight of someone telling their DID story on the news. Ok, so you’re a hypocrite, but now what? What is one to do with this information?

Right now, in this moment, all you can do is tell yourself that in another time, and another place, heck, maybe tomorrow, you will feel differently about yourself. You’ll be kinder and nicer, and you’ll be glad you’re here. Until then, all you can do is hold on, and try not freak any more people out along the way.

Sunday

I’m at the CVS pharmacy where I’ve just placed my prescription refill order. While I wait I start browsing the magazines in the news stand. I lightly touch the magazines with the grand food recipes that are beyond my capability at this point: simple spring salads, easter ham, easy spring slow cooker suppers. Yes, these are easy recipes, recipes for the masses. All I can do is look at them longingly and dream of a day when I will be able to do something simple like throw a few ingredients into a slow cooker for dinner. Before you even get to the point of putting ingredients into a slow cooker you have to have the wherewithal to plan for that, make a list, get yourself to a grocery store, shop, and then come home and put all of those ingredients away.

That same morning I woke up with a splitting headache, and the floaty feeling that glues me to my bed. I roll out to go to the bathroom, and nearly trip over my own legs because I am so wobbly from the floatiness. I tell myself, “It’s Sunday. Don’t lose the day. Get dressed now. Go to the diner. Now. Do it now.” But no, the floatiness takes over, the world fades out, and I fall back into bed again. Somehow I find my phone on the nightstand with one hand by just feeling around for it. I call Doc, get his voicemail and leave a message. After some period of time I can’t quantify, I go in the closet to get some clothes. I find some clothes, and then fall into bed again from the exhaustion and floatiness. I now have clothes. I just have to get out of my pajamas and put them on. The phone rings. It’s Doc. We do the Emotional Freedom Technique together on the phone. I tap the appropriate points on my head, face, hands, and torso while I repeat after him, “Even though, even though I am scared and I don’t know why, I deeply, and completely love and accept myself.” We go through this again and again and again. Finally, I am able to stand without feeling wobbly. I am able to get out of my pajamas, put my clothes on, and gather my things to go to the diner for breakfast. I woke up at 9:05 a.m. It is now 11:15 a.m.

I head to the Okayish, Yet Preferred Diner. There was another diner I used to patronize on Sunday, the High Quality, Yet Gruff Diner. At High Quality they do things like make a Spinach Chicken Kabob Salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, blue cheese, grape tomatoes, and homemade greek dressing. Then there’s the crazily awesome homemade macaroni and cheese where they make their own superb cheese sauce, and it shows. However, at High Quality they do not treat you well if you are a solo diner. Even with empty booths in the diner they will insist you eat at the counter. But at the counter, people line up to pay their bill or pick up their takeout. Inevitably, I have people leaning over me as they wait for their takeout orders. I start to feel floaty when this happens. Having people in my personal space makes me shaky.

At Okayish you have to know what NOT to order. Here’s an easy rule. Never order soup there. I think they come prefab from some company. I once ordered Manhattan Clam Chowder that just seemed off. I ate so little of it they took it off my bill. One other time I thought I would try soup again, and I ordered Matzo Ball Soup. It was a vessel of liquid salt with a tint of yellow and a mediocre Matzo ball in the middle. So, yes, no soup. While we are on the Never Evers, never order any pastries here. I think they keep them in the pastry case to the point that they may be ready for shellacking for permanent keep. And don’t dream of the Buffalo Chicken sandwich. It’s just two frozen chicken fingers fried with some buffalo sauce inside a hamburger bun with a sprinkle of blue cheese. They do better with things they actually cook and prepare themselves, such as omelets, pancakes or waffles. They even know how to make excellent home fries, potatoes perfectly cooked, nicely seasoned with salt and pepper and crispiness here and there throughout.

But, the people who work at Okayish are some of the nicest around. Every time I eat someplace with better food I miss these guys. Just a few weeks ago, I was reading McCarthy’s Bar: A Journey of Discovery in Ireland while dining at Okayish when I started laughing right out loud as I was reading the book. The waitstaff wanted to know what I was reading. One waitress said to me, “I want to laugh too! What book is that?” On a recent Sunday the only available table was a small table wedged between two large tables. It was not an ideal place to be seated. The owner said, “I’m sorry, honey. It’s all I have.” I said that I was just glad to be seated. Then a booth cleared up after I placed my order, and they immediately moved me into the booth. I didn’t even ask to be moved. My favorite waiter, Chris, will tease me if I miss a Sunday, and he’ll say, “Cheating on us with another diner, are you?” One of these days I might be bold enough to say, “I got crazy and actually wanted some great diner food, but I always miss you guys.”

But, that was the morning. The diner outing is past, and now I loiter in the pharmacy wanting a reason to stay longer. I wander the aisles, but I have no need for anything else no matter how hard I look. I’ve already opened every greeting card that plays sound just to have something to do, and for the faint chance that Hoops & Yoyo would cheer me up. There is no need for anything else in this store. The prescription is ready. It’s time to go home.