This cool, cloudy autumn morning my dragon boat team went out for a paddle. It was a good paddle and great practice. Now that racing season is over, we spend much of our winter paddles doing endurance paddles and tweaking our paddling stroke and timing. When I get on the boat, as soon as we push away from the dock. my troubles and issues seem to disappear and for an hour I am in another place, a place where my soul gets fed and my spirit sours.
In fact, the team was the very first group that I told I had Dissociative Identity Disorder.(D.I.D.)
I was diagnosed with D.I.D. in April of 2003. The following year I had been invited to join the team after taking some lessons. I thought long and hard about telling the team about my condition. I had told a few of my close friends, but this team was not in my circle of close friends, I didn't really know them and was concerned about how they would react to me telling them. The diagnoses and dragon boating was still new to me. In the end I decided to tell them because I loved paddling so much I did not want to do anything to hinder being part of the team, and this is why.
I have a problem with remembering things. I'm not talking about the normal things like people forgetting where they put their car keys or forgetting something at the store or everyday stuff like that. My memory is servery impaired because of my switching.When this happens there is very little if any linear memory- meaning that I did not have the ability to make a connection from one memory to another, in a line from one event to another- I could not remember what I did through the day and did not have the ability to recall what I had been doing. I could be having a conversation with you one day and then the next day not only forget about the conversation, but not remember who you were or that we even met.
I didn't want anyone on the team to think that I was talking to them one day then the next day not talk to them and have them think I was snubbing them or being a snob. I then debated on whether I would tell them in person or by e-mail. I decide to send it as a group e-mail because I did not want people to feel uncomfortable when I told them. I could just see us standing on the dock and the mixed reactions that were possible. I did not want anyone to feel uncomfortable. Also , it was going to be stressful for me, and when I get stressed I tend to switch..Besides,at this point I was much better at writing about the condition this talking about it.I also wrote that they should feel free to ask me any questions and I would answer them the best I could.
So, I bit the bullet, did up the e-mail and sent it off to the team. Once I did that I anxiously awaited their reaction.I could not have been more surprised.
What I received was compassion, understanding and overwhelming support. That was seven years ago. They have been with me through this journey of mine. They have seen me at my best and at my worst. During the worst, they have visited me while I was hospitalized and never judged me. Its like I have inherited this wonderful boat of big sisters and they circled around me and held me with their loving thoughts. This is something I could never have imagined, and you sure don't read about this in any text books!
These women were the first group I told about my condition, and with
their acceptance they helped break the old beliefs that the world was
not a safe place.My dragon boat team consists of a very diverse group of women with many life experiences. This group has touched my heart many times and I have grown because of them. I am honored and can only hope that I have somehow reciprocated.
Until next time
cheers and be well