PTSD and DID
Without PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), there is no DID (dissociative identity disorder). Current theory posits that very severe childhood trauma over a long period of time, in some cases, results in DID.
For decades I sensed that I was living with sets of mutually exclusive systems of values. But no friend or therapist ever explored this notion with me, and my sense of this contradiction was too distant to rise to the surface of my cognition in any way I could deal with, save as painful internal impulses I dealt with as: sleepless nights, frantically energetic days, or burst of creativeness (expressed in writing poems, founding musical groups, pursuing diplomas, or changing locations, careers, and lives).
After my ‘conductive hearing loss’ around 1993 or 1994 and a first rehab, I began to focus on trauma as source of my persistent psychic problems. It wasn’t until my second rehab, in 2003-04, that the extent of the traumata was plotted (i.e., no new events surfaced in my memory; the memories remained constant) and I began to realize and accept the extent of their effect on my life.
I thought I had it wrapped. But with the diagnosis of DID in 2008, my psychic landscape was again thrown into extreme flux, with another period of plotting personalities, causation, effects, and with the concomitant suffering.
As far as I am aware, the final phase of DID is the ‘integration’ of the diverse personalities. Since having lost my therapist in 2012, it has been difficult to navigate this passage alone.
One constant trait of what I’ll call my ‘character’ (in order to distinguish it from my ‘personalities’, which are changeable) seems to be a love of logical consequences. Another seems to be working to find them. Something in me wakes me up at night (has done so for as long as I can remember), prods me with the illogic of my own actions, and demands a ‘straightening out’.
This, to a large extent, is the goal of my latest ‘life’ as writer, as chronicler, as ‘logic finder’ of Juni Shimata’s actions.
DID, as far as I understand the theory, occurs spontaneously to help a child bear repeated traumatic pain that would otherwise be unbearable. I see that in my case, while some pain was physical, most was mental, in particular, being forced from childhood onward to exhibit different sets of behavior that were, on a logical level, mutually exclusive. It seems I was expected to endure different forms of abuse in different circles, but forbidden to speak about them to anyone. And this dissonance makes itself felt – unbidden and autonomous – in interruptive, nocturnal bouts of ‘awareness’ and futile cognition. Midnight bullfights with logic as the bull, in which I, the torero, end up tossed around and gored by the bull.
When I first began writing down the traumata as my doctors requested, in my third rehab 2008-09, I could only do so at night. I felt that the things I was expressing were so terrible, they could only exist in the darkness of night. They would put the light of day to shame. Getting up at 2 a.m. and writing for several hours, then going back to sleep until 9 or 10 is a very disruptive life pattern. Bit by bit, my current pattern of getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. emerged. This allows me two or three hours of dealing with night topics, allows me to see my husband off to work, and lets me then attend the morning sport courses I need to keep my back pain at bay.
But the contradictions remain. And even today at this late stage, at age 61, I am still left mouth-agape when I sense the opposites in my behavior, which I am striving so hard to ‘integrate’. The contradictions sap my energy. They lead to paralysis. I can neither decide nor act. How, then?
The walls of my apartment (and my cellar) are lined with bookshelves. Along side some 4000 books (not to mention LPs, cassettes, CDs, and DVDs) there are masses of ring binders and boxes. Evidence of previous lives. Of particular interest, I feel, are results of original research (articles, papers), premières of works I conducted, diaries, and my writing. These, I would like to save for posterity.
But how to save them? According to what system of categorization? Where?
Probably no one’s life flows without contradiction into one system. Perhaps that is why confession exists in the Catholic Church or lengthy mediation in Buddhism. But neither gets me out of my quandary.
It all refuses to fit into a coherent system.
Words are our attempt to distill experiences, or knowledge gleaned from experience, into specifically defined sounds that we transmit from generation to generation. Words' meanings change with time.
Diagnoses are words.
Freud's words transmitted to later generations knowledge gleaned from his experience – until they stopped making sense. Then, his words were reframed and his thoughts posthumously redefined.
So may it be with the problematic diagnosis "dissociative identity disorder". This diagnostic term is an attempt to transmit what some persons have experienced or, through collective experience, what has been agreed upon as a definition. No. The diagnostic term seems to represent an observation of what some persons have experienced. Because the dissociated – the split up – personality cannot perceive its own splitness. Thus, it could never come up with such a notion. The 'dissociated' person did not give herself the label 'dissociated'.
There is considerable distance between the afflicted and the 'name-giver-to-the-afflicted', a distance that allows plenty of room for interpretation. And misinterpretation.
I did not give myself this label. Over a period of months or even years, my therapist came to the conclusion that the label fit my suffering. She explained it to me. I read about it. I was shocked.
I tried to find the journals I had been keeping for 45 years. It was a difficult task. I had strewn them among my possessions. I might even say, I had hidden them from myself. Even now, I am not sure I have found them all.
I began to regard their calligraphy. And observed that different styles of handwriting were present. But these styles did not evolve in chonological order. Examples of different handwritings were present from the beginning. Might that be an indication that different parts of me had systematically utilized different handwritings through decades?
Sometimes the handwriting changed as I wrote. The transition is visible. Some entries simply begin abruptly in a handwriting different that the previous entry. I tried to see if I could characterize the handwritings according to the moods they corresponded with. I could. I gave some names to the mood-persons.
In the ensuing months, I tried to become aware of behavior in my past that might correspond to the various handwritings. In my fiction writing, I began to shape characters for the mood-persons. I made my own definitions. Hell, I’m 61, and I’m the only one being me. Don’t I have the right to?
I don’t know if I have a "dissociative identity disorder". My therapist writes it on her diagnoses. Another doctor tells me, "I won't writing that diagnosis into your record. You never know..." What am I to think?
I think there are many disparate aspects of my past and present that make logical sense, if one adopts the DID diagnosis. But I have no proof. DID. The attempt to distill experiences, or knowledge gleaned from my experience, into specifically defined sounds and letters that I can transmit to you. You decide.