Im Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of

Im Going Outward Bound Once Again- Well, Sort of

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Work Through The Fear...

As you can see it has been more than a few months since my last post.  Life has been busy, and for the most part good, and I now have my web page up and running…and… less than three weeks I will be trekking 170 km, with 10 other folks, to help raise funds for Outward Bound Canada, charitable programs. I will be trekking the Tour Du Mont Blanc, and will be in France, Italy and Switzerland. I am still pinching myself, and this was in no way on my radar, and this opportunity came out of the blue. I have been writing a blog post about it, and the journey to prepare for it, and you can find it here.

The day before yesterday I finally got out in the garden and did some much needed weeding, pruning etc. I have been busy with training etc and it was somewhat neglected. Working in the garden allows me time to let my mind wander, and wander it did.

As I was pulling weeds I was thinking of my healing journey, to where I am now, and the times Outward Bound Canada has helped me in this journey. I thought about the times I was on course, was afraid but pushed through and discovered more about myself.  I thought about the times in therapy, and the beginning of my journey and how afraid I was.  

Some points in my journey, I came to a cross road, and it was usually at a very difficult point. Many of the times it was with regards to looking at my trauma, feeling what I should have back then- but didn’t because I dissociated, and the need to process. I remember how terrified I was. I was afraid of these emotions and the work it was going to take, but I knew my way of coping- dissociating etc, was no longer working. And, did I really want to live like that anymore?

The thing is, I knew how to live with dissociation and the not so health coping mechanisms. As they say “Better the devil you know” But could I live without dissociating, I had never done that before, and that unknown was terrifying.  I also knew that the only one who could do this work was me.

 Sure, I am forever grateful for the amazing help I had, but at some level, at a much younger emotional level, I wanted someone else to fix it, make it better for me. But I knew that I was the only one who could do that work. At some level this felt like a slap in the face, as I had already worked hard, and here I was being asked to do even more work.

When I came to those crossroads, I knew the only one who could make the decision was me, and I knew the only one who could do the work, again was me. This does not mean I wasn’t scared.

So with the guidance of my professionals, I started. I had made up a support plan to let friends and family know how they could best support me, and I slowly but surely started working my way through the sadness, anger, grief, despair, anxiety, betrayal, flashbacks etc. It was not an easy road, and it sure wasn’t linear. Many times it looked like I would make progress, then I would slip back down, then back up I climb, then back down again. Sometimes I needed hospitalizations. Slowly but surely things got better and better and better.  I still struggle at times, but now I see the struggle sooner, have better tools in my tool box to help me deal with this and pull in the supports when I need them.

And here I am, about to go on another amazing epic adventure.  

I was working away in the garden still, and it was time for a tea break. Then back to work and now I’m trimming the roses, cutting out brambles, pulling up the crabgrass etc…and as it always does, the garden surprised me with treasures that are somehow growing under all of this. And I thought to myself…”this is like my therapy, I was afraid and feeling the fear, and the other emotions, it seemed too big of a job. Just like these rose and bramble branches, but taking it slowly and bit by bit I was able to cut away at them, and look what I found. Under all of that was new life and light was now reaching that new life.”

I know that if I did not do the work, I would not be where I am. If I didn’t face the fear and work through it, I would not be getting on a plane in 16 days to fly to Geneva. - Never in a million years did I ever think I would write that line. –It was hard work, it was scary, but because I did, I have found many treasures within myself, and a new lease on life.

If you are about to embark on your work, and you are scared, maybe knowing that I understand, and have been there, and that you are not alone will help.

Those are my thoughts for today, may you find many beautiful treasures and shine light on who you truly are. Its hard work, but it is worth it. You are worth it.

Cheers and be well

Sunday, 7 April 2019

The Genius That Is Dissociation,,,,,,,

As you can see it has been a few months since I have written a blog. Life happens, gets busy, then my illness rises, then I get better, then life happens etc...repeat...

Then I think about writing then I get overwhelmed,then nothing happens. I imagine this sounds familiar to many of you out there.  Then I think about writing about dissociation, then I think,,where do I start....I ask myself "there is already so much out there, what can I add to it?"

So, in the wee hours of the night a thought came to me. Dissociative Identity Disorder is often seen as this rare, exotic,  bizarre, false illness. Let me assure you that it is none of these. There are tons of study's, actually many decades worth of studies, all over the world that explain, prove, discuss and prove the validity of this condition. I will attach a link below that you can look into if you want to find out more. Don't even get me going on what Wikipedia has on it- its so wrong....

Last week I was with a working group that I am on. Its for child and youth mental health and substance use, and how we can make improvements for our children and youth. In this working group was a doctor and I was explaining what D.I.D. was, and I said..."one to three percent of the general population has D.I.D." - she replied "one percent of the population is not rare or a small amount."  And thats very true, but this is one of the very many misconception of this condition.

What is also a misconception is that dissociation is a bad thing!

What I mean by this is that while, for me, dissociation was interfering with the quality of my life, creating chaos, affecting my relationships, my family and friends etc.  It's original purpose was to help me survive, and it did just that.

D.I.D.'s one and only purpose is to help a child - usually before the age of 7- to survive overwhelming circumstances. These are children that may experience abuse, disorganized attachment to their caregivers, children living in a civil war or refugee camp or children who have, at a very young age, undergone multiple medical procedures. We now realize that neglect is as harmful to a child as abuse is, and affects the brain and self worth of a child.

We also now know that through the study of the A.C.E's - The Adverse Childhood Experience scale- that trauma affects a person throughout their lifetime... it can affect their health and folks who have had trauma have a higher rate of heart disease, diabetic, high blood pressure, weight issues, drug and alcohol use etc.

And while we are starting to understand this, there is still the reluctance to address dissociation, and I think its because folks are confused and scared of what they don't know. Calling it by its old name " "multiply personality disorder' didn't help, and for some reason, some folks seem to want to keep using that term- which is one of my pet peeves.

So back to what can I say, that the studies have not said, or that folks have not studied etc. One advantage I do have, is living with this condition,

I have told many folks that when I was first diagnosed I thought "Thank Christ I'm not crazy." then I promptly thought " Wholly shit I must be crazy." because the only understanding or perception I had was what I had learned from the media and Hollywood.

What I didn't realize was that dissociation was a very creative tool that helped me survive. I also didn't realize, that physiologically I had absoloutley no control over this happening.  When the trauma happened this was a natural response, totally involuntary, I had absolutely no control over this. Learning that helped me in so many ways.

When one experiences abuse, one - well at least I did- I often felt shame because I  didn't stop it from happening, I didn't prevent it etc. I didn't stop it from happening to my siblings, or mom etc. I held a huge bag of shame for decades around this, then felt shame for dissociating- because it was interfering with my life, and there was something wrong with me- thats how I felt. Luckily my psychiatrist believed differently.

What I didn't know was that I could not stop dissociating as a child if I wanted to. It was a natural response to the trauma,  The brain, nervous systems,  chemicals etc had already made a deal this is what they would do if bad things were happening to me that were overloading me. If you think about it, this is the genius of dissociation.

Learning about D.I.D., or that you have D.I.D. can be overwhelming, scary, frightening etc. I hope this blog post helps you have a better understanding of the genius that is dissociation, that it is a natural response to overwhelming trauma and that it very likely saved your life.

Those are my thoughts for today, take good care of yourself, and give yourself lots of love and compassion , this can be a difficult journey. With hard work and the right supports, it can get so much better.

Be good to yourself, you deserve it
Cheers and be well