Im Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of

Im Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Piece By Piece

Last Sunday was a beautiful morning with lots of sun and brilliant clear blue skies. The air was so crisp it made my nostrils tingle as I walked outside and there was fresh snow on the nearby mountains, and a wind chill. So my dragon boat team did not go paddling.

 Instead, I got out some material I had left over from quilt making and started to cut them into 6 inch squares to make another quilt. I don’t make anything fancy; I cut out six inch squares then sew them together to make a rag quilt. 

The rotary cutter I use started to get dull so I got out my sewing box and changed the blade. Now that in itself is no big deal. What is the big deal is the fact that I remembered I had spare blades in my sewing box. 

This time last year I had gone and bought new blades, twice, because I needed new blades and I forgot I had just bought some two days before.

So there is progress and I felt pretty good for remembering I had them, and where I could find them. I continued to cut out some squares and sort them.

I then went to the box where I store my material to get some material I knew I had there, and low and behold there was material I had totally forgotten about. Now this is not stuff that has been sitting there for ten years. Its stuff I bought six months ago.

So as you can see my memory is not fully intact. Will it ever be? I doubt it. But I have learned not to beat myself up for it, - (for the most part) - and savour the moments I do remember and have some linear memory.

My quilting material comes from many sources. Some I buy new, some I get at thrift stores as material or articles of clothing I cut up and use and sometimes   friends have given me some.  Most of the material I was cutting up I have used in other quilts and these are the remnants, left overs.

 As I was cutting these up I was thinking, in my own unique way, that these left overs are much like me. I have many “remnants” of life that make up who I am, everyone does. The only difference with me is that mine are not all sewn together or connected.

Some of the material is from old used clothing; it has been around for a long time and is broken in, faded and soft. Others are brand new, somewhat rigid and have brilliant and bright colours. Some pieces are smooth cottons, some fluffy fleece and some warm comfortable flannel.  Some colours and patterns work together, some don’t. And like my quilt making, I am putting myself together piece by piece.( I was going to write that I am putting myself back together piece by piece, but I don’t think I was ever wholly together, or if I was it was not for very long.) Some fit nicely; others need more work and encouragement.

And as in quilt making, each time I put a piece together, it stays and is support for the next piece. Soon I have strips of six inch squares, then rows, then I sew the rows together and soon I have a lovely multi coloured, multi tactile quilt. I am then able to lay the quilt out and see it as a whole. 

As I put the pieces of me together I can start to see the whole. I no longer need to wait for the “writer” to come out before I write. I no longer need to wait for the “reader” to come out before I can read etc. For the most part I am now able to pull on these wonderful resources I have and use them when needed, no longer needing to dissociate to be able to do these tasks.

I am becoming more whole as a person and able to bend with the challenges of life, instead of being a stiff card that gets pulled out of the filing system only after I dissociate.

Like the quilt, I will get worn down in places and need some repairs over time. That’s ok; I have supports in place that can help me during those times. Like the six inch squares of material, by themselves they are not much, but put them together and they are a wonderful functional object.

  How does the saying go, “The whole is better than the sum of the parts”

That goes for my quilts and myself!

Until next time, 

Happy sewing..

Cheers and be well


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Time Travelling...

As I sit here this quiet evening I am catching  up on paperwork that I have not been able to do in the last couple of weeks. It has been a busy couple of weeks for me, both physically and mentally.

As I have put in my past posts, this is a time of progress and growth. There have been many times I have told my friends that often during this process “I wonder if this is what it feels like to time travel?”
It is during these times that I may look at my fingers and they will look like big fat sausages, or they will appear to be small and belong to a child. I know this i s not what they really look like, but this is how I am seeing them. It is during these times I will have ringing in my ears, I will becoming light headed and get vertigo. For me, this is a sure sign I am starting to dissociate.

There have been many times happened suddenly and I have no idea where I am, how I go there or how long I have been there. Sometimes I will be having a conversation with someone only to “time travel” and have no idea what we were talking about, or worse yet who the hell it is that I am talking to. Its like I have been pulled out of some parallel universe and dumped here in the present one. It feels like some sort of cosmic joke to me. Then there are times I am walking down the street, or be in a coffee shop and people will come up start talking to me, and they obviously know who I am, but I have NO idea who they are. I am not talking about forgetting someone’s name, or not being able to place where I know them from. I’m talking about NOT knowing them at all, but some part of me must know them because they obviously know who I am. This can be very confusing and very embarrassing. I must say, because this has been happening my whole life I am very good at covering up the fact that I don’t know who they are.

Another example is the time I was at a cast party. A friend and I had co-produced a play with a local community group. When the play was over there was a party for the cast and crew. It was at one of the actors houses. I go there and all is well. We walk down the stairs and there is a small group singing and playing guitars. I notice there is a drum set there. I walk over and sit down and start playing the drums. I played years ago. I start playing and the next thing I know we are finishing up and I thinking “ but we just started playing”. The truth is we were playing for three hours and I had no memory of it. I remember sitting down and starting to play, and I remember finishing up the last song, but I had and still have no memory of what happened in between. Later I reconnect with the friend I came with. She tells me, as others do, she did not know I played the drums. I explained I had played them years ago in a band, I do not tell her I “lost” three hours.  It was not until a few years later, after I was diagnosed that I mention to my friend I lost time that night.

This has happened to me since that time, but now I know what it is and that I am not crazy. I now understand why I have huge gaps of memory during my childhood and adult years. It is during times of stress, threats or what I perceive to be a threat that a different persona or emotional state comes out
- ( or forward)-and deals with the situation. When the situation is over the “real me” comes back, with no memory of what happened. Just like when I played the drums that night. Those watching me play the drums would not have noticed any difference in me. This “switching” as it is called, is nothing like you see on TV or in the movies.
Since being diagnoses and with successful therapy I am now able to notice sooner when I am dissociating. This allows me to ground myself, do the self-care that I need to stay in the present.

As with real travel, this is takes its toll and I get physically and emotionally tired. It’s too bad that with all the traveling I am doing, I don’t get air miles for it!
These are my thoughts for the day.
 Until next time, safe traveling.

Cheers and be well

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A Wonderful Paddle...And Memory

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

Paddles Up

cheers and be well


Friday, 4 November 2011

Moving Forward Often Rattles Ones Tree

For me, learning to move forward in life often means that I will be shaking up the beliefs that reside in my tree of life. 

My tree is a place where old beliefs, myths, patterns and cognitive errors live. This tree sprouted the day I was born and everything I have experienced throughout my life has attached itself to this tree.  My tree bears scares and wounds and has places where branches had to diverge and at times grow around obstacles.

Starting this blog has rattled my tree. Some of you may wonder and ask why.

Growing up I was repeatedly told that home is the safe place and “the world” is a very dangerous place and I could trust no one.  This was told to me over and over again to the point where I believed it. I now know that this is very false and almost always told to children that grow up in situations like mine. This way those who harm us have control and are protected as we, the children, are too terrified to go tell anyone or reach out for help.

So, as an adult I know this to be false, but somewhere inside me there  is a little concern that reaching out into the world will put me in danger. I have worked through this cognitive error  in the last couple of days and I am happy to say my tree has stopped shaking. 

I see this concern/belief as a leaf on my tree. I have many leafs on my tree, for it’s a very large and wondrous tree. And like a tree in real life, leaves help the tree to grow. 

Each of the persona's/emotional states that I created to keep me alive is the trees heartwood.  It has allowed me to bend to the wind and grow strong towards the light.  The cognitive errors and old beliefs are the leaves of this wonderful tree, they have nourished me the best they could and when no longer needed fall softly and silently to the ground, to decay and feed the tree once more. Some slowly fade and others go out in a blaze of colour
With the hard frost we had last night I noticed some trees have dropped their leaves all at once, others tenaciously hang on for dear life.

The next time you go for a walk or drive around, notice the trees around you. Notice how they differ and how they are the same. What stage are they at? Are they just beginning or have they been here for many life times? Do they grow straight, or bend and curve with the winds? 

What does your tree of life look like? I suggest you find out and honor it.

Until next time,
Happy discovering.

Cheers and be well


Im Back Into The Land Of The Living...

Well, after a few days of “brain clog” I am now coming out of the fog and back into the land of the living. As always, it’s great to be back. Each time this happens I am reminded of the things that make life good. Good cups of tea, walks with understanding friends and family, my cats, the ability to read and write again, having a conversation and a brain that once again is in working order.

One thing that my friends and family, and some professionals have learned over time is that when I am having a “brown out” I am not going back into a state of depression. I understand where they are coming from because to them it must look like that. I have less energy; have a hard time remembering to eat, am unable to read- ( I am a varioush reader)-pull away from my activities and going out and  socializing as much, am unable to concentrate and focus long enough to write etc. In general I am not the functioning me. To top it off I look tired, have circles under my eyes and am often pale. In general I look like crap, and I sure feel like it.  Those close to me can see - (sometimes even before I know) - when I am in this state or am about to go through one. This is not a state or period of depression; it is a state of progress and growth. It is during these times that I reprocess whatever issue it is that has come up. These are issues that as a child or teen I was unable to process because of the circumstances I was living in. Now that it is safe to do so I am now able to do this, and each and every time I go through one of these periods of growth I get a bit of myself back that has been wondering around lost for all these years.

My husband has learned that I need to go through these periods and that I will eventually come out the other end a happier, more confident and whole person. As much as it hurts him and others to see me like this, it is a much needed “work in progress” that needs to happen.  There are things that friends and family can do to support me while I go through this process. My husband makes sure I am eating, he makes  dinner and asks if I have had anything to eat during the day. Often during these times I will be so tired or focused on the process I will forget to eat. Friends will phone and touch base with me, knowing that I am not up for conversations but just tell me to hang in there and to let me know they are thinking of me.

One of the most important things that medical and mental health professionals can do is understand a few things.
  • Understand that this is a much needed process and that I am not being “lazy” or need to pull my socks up.
  • ·         That I am not doing this to “get attention”. This is not a fun place to be.
  • ·         Give me time to do what I need to do and don’t put any pressure on me to “hurry up and get back to my life.”
  • ·         That I am not “wallowing in self-pity”
  • ·         Revisiting and reprocessing the issues that come up is not harmful to me. In fact, pushing down these issues causes me much mental and physical harm.
I have been very fortunate over the years with knowledgeable and caring professionals who know what they are doing and have supported me. One of the most important things is that they have  been open minded to this condition and have included me in my recovery, allowed me to express what works best for me and worked with  me through this.
I have a wonderful circle of friends and family who accept me the way I am and for who I am. This has helped me more than I can express and more then they will ever know.
For those out there who read this, please send the link to this blog to anyone who may be interested. The more people that know of this blog, the more people will get a better understanding and the more educating I can do.
As always it is good to be back into the land of the living. It will take me a few days to get back up to speed and into my activities fully, but as always when I get through this process, life is great and I am glad to be back.
Look out world because here I come and there is no stopping me know!!!!!!!

Until next time
Cheers and be well

PS- In the future, I will post my Hospital Recovery Plan that I have written up and given to the  medical staff to better understand me when I have been admitted.