On December 5, 2008 my life changed.
My entire life was erased and I “woke up” in a strange place, surrounded by strange people and I had no idea what to do. In just a few short hours, I went from a middle class mom to a patient on the psych ward of a hospital and scared, literally, out of my mind.
Over the next 5 days, I “left and came back” to my mind/body repeatedly. Each time I had no recollection of leaving or returning. After finally being released from the hospital, I left with my husband, a man I didn’t know, still not knowing who I was, where I was, or where we were going.
Several months later, I met the counselor who introduced me to my system. My journey with D.I.D. began. Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) saved me from an abusive childhood but its reoccurrence would reek havoc in my adult life. I continued working at my job and raising 2 children, while attending therapy 2-3 days a week for sometimes 5 hour sessions to deal with a system that was in crisis. I had daily cPTSD triggers, flashbacks and body memories. As I was working through the horrible memories, bruises would appear, affected parts of my body would suddenly quit functioning and I was switching sometimes every minute with the people (alters) in my system.
I had HUGE holes in my memory while I was trying to learn new technologies that didn’t exist before I “left.”
For 18 months I struggled to regain my life. I discovered that I had been “gone” for 27 years. I left at the age of 12 and returned when I was 39. Nothing I remembered was the same. For example, I knew what a microwave was but had no memory of actually using one. I had to “catch up and relearn” a lot of things most people my age take for granted and I could tell no one. I couldn’t let it be known that I was struggling at work or I would lose my job. I couldn’t let my children’s therapist or teachers in on what was happening for fear my children would be taken away. My therapist couldn’t even write down the diagnosis for fear that it would adversely affect me for the rest of my life.
I had no one to talk to that would understand. I believed that I was alone with D.I.D. until I was given a copy of a homemade magazine produced by Lynn Wasnak, called Many Voices. This small 16 page black and white magazine published every other month was my only link to people like me. Only 4 people knew my secret (my therapist, husband, mother-in-law and my best friend) and they were struggling in their own way to cope with the unbelievable changes in me. They did the best they knew how to do.
My system and I chose to become fluidly whole (integrated). It was the right decision for us. They chose to leave some of the memories with me and now I experience them differently. Some call it a blending, others refer to it as becoming whole again. I always saw them as angels. Not everyone with D.I.D. chooses integration. I can see why. There are benefits and drawbacks to both sides. I am now more of a system of one because I no longer lose time but I still consider myself to have healed WITH D.I.D.. What is known as a disorder to many, gave me order and saved my sanity, it didn’t cause me to lose it.
After therapy was finished in 2011, I was left with a whole life ahead of me and no direction. I had no idea what I wanted to do, be or become. I was left with more questions than answers. “What now?” became the question that filled my days. After several years of working on myself as a single being with no people (alters), I knew I needed to share my experience in a big way. My marriage and friendships did not survive my healing process. One of my children chose to live with me, the other lives with their father.
In 2012, I became fast friends with Cindy, who worked as a freelance computer programmer. By November of that year, she had convinced me that she could teach me to build websites for a living and I could quit the “J-O-B.” I began an internship that helped me become a web developer. Our friendship grew into a relationship and we married in 2015.
In between building websites for clients, I was still asking myself how I could help others like me who don’t know where to go, what to do or even how to start. Then an idea formed in my mind. What would have made my journey with D.I.D. easier? I wish I would have had access to information about mental illness even before I began therapy. I wanted to know where to find support groups, friends, publications and videos about D.I.D. …someplace where I could have pointed my husband to the answers he was seeking when I couldn’t define D.I.D. for myself. A place where I could find help and be of help to someone else. A place where I could begin to answer the question, “What now?” A Life After Trauma was the answer.
A Life After Trauma is the work I was meant to come back to do. If you are dealing with the affects of trauma too, this is a place to find help, discover hope and move forward. A Life After Trauma isn’t the end of our story but a new beginning. I had an abusive childhood that lead me to one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized “disorders” of our century, Dissociative Identity Disorder and complex PTSD. I am building a life after my trauma and my aim, my goal, my purpose, is to show you that you can too. No matter what your past has thrown at you, you too can create A Life After Trauma.
Keep going…because your good awaits you!