As I sit at work, in tears, I’ve decided I’d like to try to explain something to you. I fear doing so because of the stigma associated with it, but I feel the need to be brave – if nothing else I could do with some support, love, and indeed prayers.
Anyone who has followed my journey for a while will already know that I have a diagnosis of (Complex) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C – PTSD) and Trait Specific Personality Disorder (TSPD), among other things. Symptoms of both of these disorders include ‘dissociation’. Click here for a medical definition of (some of!) the different forms of dissociation: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders/#.XQoCVBZKiUk
However, I’d rather give you an inkling of what it’s like for me when I experience dissociation.
Take just now as an example: I was sat typing up some copy that my boss had given me to put in the brochure. I had my left hand on the keyboard – typing. My right hand was following each word as I typed. My ‘mind’ was in a completely different place and it was like ‘part of me’ had wondered of into a scary place. When part of me wonders off I have very little control on it – if any. It’s like having another person attached to me, an impostor if you like.
The last time I dissociated I sent a nasty text and nasty emails to some friends and my husband. One friend accepted me, so did my husband (probably because they know some of what it’s like to be me and my background). But, I lost the friendship of two people that week. (Yes, dissociation can last a long time!) I’m scared of that happening again – mainly because one of the traits of my personality disorder is an intense fear of rejection and abandonment, but also because I don’t want to hurt people.
I take full responsibility of what ‘I’ do when in dissociation, because it’s from within me. I always feel guilty and ashamed of myself and wish with every cell that I wasn’t like this – or that I didn’t suffer from dissociation; or any other disorders for that matter.
My mum used to call it my Jekyll and Hyde, and the poem by HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, ‘There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very good indeed, but when she was bad she was horrid.‘ That poem is very much like me and yes I do have a curl there – annoyingly!
The good thing about knowing what is going on with me, is that it’s the first step to change and recovery. Also, I’m getting quicker at recognising when I’m in dissociation and grounding myself. However the stigma is such that there is a danger that being open about such things will ruin my future employment and relational (and church!) prospects. I long for inclusion, particularly in the church, not only for myself but for all others too.
Being brave, honest, and authentic, is how change happens. I’m trying to model that. I think it’s what my purpose is – to be real and to let people accompany on the journey of life. I also think that it’s my purpose to encourage others to be more accepting and inclusive in their own communities. I can’t change the world, but I can change myself. And, that’s what I intend to do – with God’s help.