Posts Tagged 'PTSD'

Hell & Anger

We did this clip over a year ago, but heard the song on the radio earlier and it reminded us about this clip.  Just trying to keep occupied…

Note: It contains images which are only suitable for adults and might trigger.

Photos and coping

It’s been a rough week.  There’s so much happening at work that it’s just chaos.  Work is usually our anchor – it forces us to get out of the house and interact with people.  But there have been so many changes that the anchor sort of got cut free for a few days.  We walked out on a meeting on Thursday – something we’ve NEVER done before (no matter how much we’ve wanted to).  Part of the changes, are a renovation to the office space, which will mean the area being reduced by 30m sq.  The flow on effect is that three people in our office are having to be relocated elsewhere in the organisation and another three people are going to have to be shifted from where they currently sit.  Ordinarily, we would have jumped at the chance to go to another office area, but the new office space is open plan with no walls behind the work station.  We HAVE to have our back to a wall, doesn’t matter where we are, we just do.  But everyone else in the office is suggesting that we move.  Our team leader and the manager know that we have to have a wall behind us, but the manager made a point out of talking about us during the meeting and using us as an example as to why some people can’t work in every office space.  That was the last straw, we had to get up and leave.  She’s a really nice person, but she’s not a good manager.

As a further blow, our cynical friend is one of the people moving out of the office.  She needs to do this in order to stay calm while her husband deteriorates from the cancer.  So the only person we talk to and laugh with is leaving the office.

All of this lead up to a fairly intense bout of suicidal intent.  We contacted (via email) the woman’s programme we go to and Liz detailing what was happening.  The interaction with Liz was interesting, it got to the point where we knew that if we didn’t head her off, we’d be sent up the the hospital for a risk assessment…

To Liz:
… shouldn’t have contacted you or anyone, it’s just attention seeking.  It will be fine, at work now and then go home and forget everything for awhile.

Liz’s response:
I have found that talking about things, hard stuff, etc does help.  If it had not done so, I don’t know where I would be today.

Are you attention seeking?  Doesn’t sound like attention seeking from where I sit.  Although saying it is, will be another way that you avoid talking / dealing with it, aye?  Of course talking about hard stuff can seem to make things worse. Do they get worse before they get better?  Sometimes it works that way.  Sometimes there can be immediate clarity and balance.  I would like you to know that I am available to talk about this situation when you are ready to.
Regards
Liz

She saw through our rubbish, avoidance etc.  Will be an interesting session tomorrow…

As for our photos… we’ve realised by taking photos that our focus of the world is very narrow.  We’re not comfortable with the expanse of a landscape and the idea of taking photos of people is absolutely terrifying.  We tried taking photos of the mother while she was here, but immediately dissociated.  Yesterday we went for a walk and tried to take some photos of the surrounding landscape (managed a couple – try 1 & try 2), but we much prefer the narrow focus (e.g. dew drop).  I wonder if this is about our style of photography, or being caught up in PTSD and dissociative issues?

Why you shouldn’t read newspapers

Today has been one of those last straw days.  It started out fairly normally, the traffic on the way to work was light because the university students are in the middle of exams.  Our cynical friend at work was in a good mood and it was all looking positive.  Then…

Blow 1:  Our cynical friend didn’t come out to morning tea with us all – which is unusual.  When we were walking back to our desk we saw the graphic surgical procedure pictures she was looking at.  They had found a cyst which they are going to operate on.  As if she hasn’t got enough on her plate.

Blow 2:  We’ve been nominated as the union representative for the workplace.  Considering how we don’t like arguments or confrontation, I’ve no idea why they elected us – especially as we refused to volunteer.

Blow 3:  Each website we visited today that had an Ad banner, was advertising the “Death Quiz”.  It invited you to fill in the quiz to find out when you would die.  Considering how suicidal we are at the moment, those subtle messages are not helpful.

Blow 4:  One of the most vivid abuse memories we have is an event that occurred on the grounds of the local kindergarten.  Today in the newspaper feeds, a headline jumped out – that kindergarten had been set on fire.  It started on the couch they kept on the porch.  How the kindergarten is used on the weekend at night as a gathering place for teens was mentioned.  SO and W are triggered so badly.  We were already unsteady, but this has pushed us over.

Blow 5:  We were 3 minutes late for our desk shift because we got caught up in a conversation about a major system upgrade that is happening next week.  Another team leader came up and yelled at us for being late in front of other team members.

It’s now 1am and we’re terrified of trying to sleep.  We know the nightmares will be there.  It’s just one bad day right?  We can do this……….

—————-
Now playing: Christina Aguilera – The Voice
via FoxyTunes

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Caught between the old and the new…

So many aspects of our life right now are caught between old and new patterns, things, behaviours etc.  A therapist would probably describe it as a turning point, in that we can now see how damaging the past has been, but not yet healed enough to be able to fully challenge those old of ways of thinking and behaving.

Sometimes we can see glimpses of a healthy reaction to a situation.  Sometimes we’re flipped back into the old patterns and coping mechanisms.  Our reaction to Kriss is probably the most obvious example of this.  If he is not having a good day or is tired, we can sometimes see that it’s something that he has to manage – with our help if needed.  Unfortunately, most of the time we look for what we have done wrong, for him to be playing games with us or to be getting sick of having to deal with us.

The intellectual response is to realise that this is our PTSD and domestic violence patterns kicking in.  Problem is that we still can’t change our behaviour and reactions even though we know the reasons why.  The mixed messages from within make it impossible to decipher the true reason for him not having a good day.  The young parts fall into the only pattern of behaviour they know – “it’s our fault”; the angry ones consider him to “be a typical man that we need to get rid of”; the intellectuals argue about whether he is a good man, or we’re hoping he’s a good man but he’s actually just like the others and we’re fooling ourselves.  It’s exhausting to have this constantly going on.

This sort of thinking can go into every part of our life.  We know that this is often the reason that we can’t sleep – the brain is going too fast for it’s own good.  But the brain is all we know, we have very little awareness of the body – it’s too unreliable…

In the “well fancy that” files, we got the report to ACC from Bob yesterday.  She did consider us to be DID, she mentioned talking to alters and our “fragile personality structure”.  I now think that she was quite worried about that fragility, so as a result tried to rush an integration in an attempt to stop further splits.  If only we’d all been able to talk about it, things might have gone differently with her.  We’ll see what happens when we have an appointment with Carol (new codename for previous therapist).

DID & Memory

Memory functionality in those with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is probably one of the most controversial part of the diagnosis.   According to the DSM-IV-TR, in order to meet the diagnostic criteria for DID, a person must experience:

Inability to recall important personal information that is too extensive to be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.

(American Psychological Association, 2000).

The wording for this criteria mean that it is up to the diagnosing professional what is to be considered “extensive”.

In our experience this has meant that a majority of our childhood cannot be remembered.  There are occasional snippets, but much of our childhood and teen years, up until the age of 16 are predominantly made up of family stories and certificates.  We get glimpses or snatches of our past, but much of it is a blur of pictures, smells or just is “lost”.  It’s a very odd feeling to have little knowledge of your own history.  What memories we do have of these years are lumped in the ages 7-9, this is not so much because these were the ages where we have clarity in our memory; but rather because the two alters who were most present in our younger years are this age.  Because they have little concept of time, everything happened to them and they are 7 and 8, so it must have happened to the body when it was 7 and 8.

This has confused many people assessing our mental health as we are able to mention lots of things that happened in those years.  What they often neglect to ask is about the school we were attending at the time, or whether we wore a school uniform to place the experience into a context.  So our 8 year old will say that “experience X” happened when we were 8.  But she also knows that we wore a school uniform at the time, meaning that it must have occurred after the body turned 13 as this was when we had to wear uniforms for school.

This concept raises the specter of False Memory Syndrome (FMS) and inaccuracies with recovered memories.  If we can’t remember most of our past, how can we be sure that any abuse we talk about happened?

In What is DID? I mentioned the opinion that DID is on the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) continuum.  Note that the major aspects of PTSD are re-experiencing the event and avoidance of the stimuli; with amnesia considered one possible way to avoid the stimuli.  According to Leskin, Kaloupek, and Keane (as cited in Gleaves & Williams, 2005), there is a struggle between re-experiencing and avoidance.  But it does show that it is possible to experience amnesia for traumatic events – for example in documented events such as the Holocaust (van der Hart & Brom, 1999).

An important distinction in this amnesia is that while the autobiographical memory might be affected by the trauma; the feelings, habits and sensory memories will remain (Gleaves & Williams, 2005).  Again, to bring this to our experience, one of our triggers is the smell of rubber.  We would avoid the smell of rubber without any realisation as to why.  We knew something bad had happened in a school playground, and it was only when more of the autobiographical memory was accessed that we realised that we linked the smell of the rubber to the tractor tyres that we were on.  So from this event our sensory memory remained intact, but the autobiographical memory was partially lost.

So if DID is further along the PTSD spectrum, surely this would mean that the memory issues surrounding events would be more advanced.  Whether this advancement would also impact on the sensory memory is not clear – again in our case, we have some sensory triggers which we cannot tie to any event.  So it would seem as if there are more gaps in autobiographical memories as the trauma covers more events over a long period of time.

So is this recovered memory accurate?  Studies cited in Gleaves & Williams (2005), state that the central themes of recovered memories are no more or less accurate than continuous memories of abuse.  In the instance that is described above, one of the perpetrators was jailed two years ago for historical sexual abuse to other girls – so women independent of us reported this man as being an child abuser while he was in his early to mid teens.  We could have all imagined it, but the chances of this same man being nominated as a random target by women with no contact with each other would be fairly long odds.

The other controversy associated with FMS is that DID is an iatrogenic occurance cause by over zealous therapists.  In some respects this controversy has had the benefit of causing a growing number of studies which look at the DID diagnosis from a variety of viewpoints.  Gleaves & Williams (2005), accept that poor therapy techniques can cause someone with DID to deteriorate, but this is not iatrogenesis.  It indicates that there needs to be training for the therapists in the areas of healing from trauma.

I’ll expand on some of these ideas later in another posting on DID and time loss and co-consciousness.

References

American Psychological Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-IV-TR (4th ed.). Washington: Author.

Gleaves, D., & Williams, T. (2005). Critical questions: Trauma, memory, and dissociation. Psychiatric Annals, 35(8), 648-654. Retrieved January 11, 2009, from Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition database.

van der Hart, O., & Brom, D. (1999). When the victim forgets: Trauma-induced amnesia and its assessment in Holocaust Survivors. In A. Shalev, R. Yehuda, & A. McFarlane (Eds.), International handbook of human response to trauma (pp. 233-248). New York: Plenum Press. Retrieved January 13, 2009 from http://www.onnovdhart.nl/articles/Whenthevictimforgets280405.pdf

Dissociative mind in crisis

We did this clip back in October to try and stay focused on a project.  It’s one way in which our switching and disorder occurs when we’re in crisis – like lots of little mind flicks.  This is what is happening again…

Warning – it will possibly trigger, the images are only suitable for adults and are rapidly flicked through.

If it fails to load try Dissociative mind in crisis


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