I began having horrible nightmares and flashbacks of images of abuse and molestation that I'd already known about to some degree, but now was seeing in detail. I had frequent anxiety attacks and had migraines everyday - all day for weeks on end. My concentration and memory decreased significantly. Yes, sometimes I spaced out, showed little or showed no emotion, had bouts of insomnia - but who doesn't, right? I often found myself in places and didn't remember how I'd gotten there, and I began to lose time...sometimes only a few minutes, sometimes whole days at a time. I mentioned several times to my husband that I suspected I had Alzheimer's, and I even mentioned it to my family doctor, who ruled it out because of my age.
In the past, I'd already been diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (c-PTSD) and had undergone behavioral and drug therapy for it. THIS was something all together different. One voice that I heard internally pretty often I'd nicknamed 'Chatterbox' because of her incessant talking had suddenly become several voices, some male - some female - some childlike. At first, I thought that it was all just my subconscious, especially one female voice that constantly berated me; but I noticed that these voices spoke even when I wasn't intentionally trying to get them to do so. I had my own thoughts, and apparently they had theirs.
In the midst of all this internal chaos, my marriage was falling apart. How could I explain to my husband what I was hearing, seeing in flashback, and remembering? What would he think of me and my family if he were told. I didn't want him to look at me with disdain. I was ashamed...scared and ashamed. I asked him for time for me to sort through all this new chaos, these new and horrible thoughts, the voices. I needed time. In the end, I waited too long. He moved out and although we tried to work things out - it just wasn't possible.
Things were progressing and severely impacting my employment. I suffered from migraines so severe, they were giving me small seizures. When I'd turn my lights off in my office, my superiors were told I presented an image of being unavailable. All I was trying to do was remain at work. I was eventually prescribed a medication that served the dual purpose of helping minimize the occurrence of migraines and stopping seizures. Fun stuff boys and girls!
Months had gone past, there I was trying to hold down a top management position while not remembering what I'd said or committed to the day before or finding myself in a meeting without a clue as to what the meeting was about. I'd find stick-it notes on my computer screen with a name of a colleague or superior, and a time and sometimes the date. So, I had to gleam from this half-written note what I was suppose to do 'with', 'for', - whatever this person. Ultimately, I'd either completely miss the missing (in cases where the stick-it stopped sticking and fell under my desk) or I'd show up completely unprepared. My job performance plummeted. I lost the minute respect I'd earned from my peers, superiors, and staff. Hell, if they had bothered to point and laugh, I don't think I would have remembered why they were doing it. I was eventually asked to resign from my position still without knowing what was truly going on with me.
The voices were non-stop now since I was no longer employed and they had plenty to say. I was blamed for allowing the molestation occur. I was shamed for knowing that at times - what was being done to me my body responded to positively. I'd never been so suicidal in all my life. But god help me - I didn't want to seek professional counseling because I just knew - knew the person would want to put me away in a 'nut house', so I endured...day after day, week after week - panic attacks, heart palpitations, nightmares, daymares, and internal criticism the likes of which I had never experienced before. I hit rock bottom one evening when I picked up a razor blade and starting cutting. Each cut felt like a small scream - a shout to god, a plea for relief and I cried and cried deeply - finally for myself, my kids, my husband, my childhood.
The next day, I was able to get in to see a clinical psychologist who specialized in trauma. I played games with her, but can't tell you why. I'd arrive late to every session, sometimes as much as 20 minutes late. After a few sessions though she diagnosed me with severe depression, depersonalization disorder, c-PTSD, and Dissociative Disorder, not otherwised specified (DDNOS). After a series of particularly bad sessions where we'd started talking about my mother, I flipped out on her and she refused to continue our therapy sessions. I never did tell her about the voices.
It was more than 4 months later when I finally tried to reach out again. I found a therapist who specialized in dissociative disorders and trauma. She was very cool in her manner, not falling for my 'usual' bag of tricks. I told her of a particularly horrible memory, that with past therapists - would have their mouths gapping open. Not this gal. She called me a survivor and asked me how she could be of service to me. I started answering her question and the next thing I know, she was handing me tissue and directing me to try to re-ground myself in the present. She gave me some exercises that I still use today to help with re-focusing my consciousness, quieting the voices. In her diagnoses, she agreed with the previous therapist on everything except one - she diagnosed me with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
So that's my story in a nutshell. Currently, I know of at least 10 others all living inside us. We've survived because we had each other. Now we have to Live.
Check in with me daily - I'll be posting some useful tips that I learned from my therapist, as well as other helpful websites and information specific to dissociative disorders.
Together - we can LIVE.