Over the past 17 years off and on my psychiatrist used a number of tools that helped me learn about the healing process from Dissociative Identity Disorder. In writing my memoir and in preparing for a training with clinicians I was pulling out the top 5 tools I found most helpful.
The first was his use of hypnosis as a way to help me distance from the memories so that I would not dissociate during my recounting of what happened. He did this when he saw the unfocused stare in my eyes and the flat tone in my retelling. It helped me to learn what dissociation felt like and to stop and focus when I felt that way.
Second, he built trust with me. When he said I could call during off hours. He meant it. I called and paged him many times over the years and he always called back, often within the hour.
Third, he used the book “There is a Nightmare in my Closet” to help me see the process of opening the doors within the rooms I created to let the ‘nightmare’ out. This is a children’s book and all parts learned about the process. If you do this work I urge you to use this as a visual aid to help people like me who have DID understand the process. How this book helped me is currently in Chapter Eight of my memoir.
Fourth, he used “A Wizard of Earthsea” to illustrate what I needed to do. I write about how this had a pivotal affect on my healing in what is now Chapter Nine in the draft of my memoir. This book is about a young wizard that unleashes a dark shadow in the world. One that he cannot run away from. Ultimately the Wizard has to deal with the dark shadowy figure. When he finally finds it he sees it is the dark side of himself. He reaches out to shake its hand and he has accepted the darkness of his life and of who he is. When I read that I realized I had to accept that I was sexually abused, prostituted and raped by my family. That was very hard. Then I understood and learned to accept that my DID helped me survive my childhood and helped me function well in society.
Fifth, pacing. My psychiatrist and I struggled over the pace of my work with him. Early on our slogan was slow is good. However, the parts inside weren’t very patient and at one point I was flooded by parts and the memories, pain and emotions they held. At that point we picked up the pace and I had 90 minute sessions everyday, Monday through Friday. This was in response to my pleading that I wanted to be hospitalized. I just wanted to go to sleep and not deal with all this. He offered that we try this schedule for six months and if I still felt that way he would consider hospitalizing me. The six months of working with him allowed me to keep working, stay in my home and in contact with my friends. I had support at work and at home and he wanted me to keep that. It worked. I write about this too in Chapter 10.
I’m still working with the editors on my memoir. Its scheduled to be released in November 2011.
I hope this is helpful.
The Sum of My Parts Now Available
This memoir follows Olga as she splits herself into “parts” and develops dissociative identity disorder with the abuse, and then struggles to merge these parts and overcome the disorder in adulthood.
A Survivor’s Story Now Available
Olga’s critically acclaimed first-hand account of the impact of violence in her life is available in both English and Spanish.