Thursday, April 29, 2010

When the effort is worth it...

I've known since high school that I wanted to be a counselor - before I ever had a day of therapy on my own, before I ever had any diagnoses, before any hospitalizations, etc. I somehow (umm... the somehow is probably God and being DID) managed to keep all of my crap together during semesters and use holidays for hospitalizations long enough to obtain a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in Counseling. Once I actually did finish school, sh*t pretty much hit the fan. Best I can tell my system was tired of keeping everything together and appearing normal and was exhausted from all of the unhealthy coping skills we were engaging in.

On more than one hospital stay I was told I would never be able to be a counselor. It would be better for me to give up that ideal and focus on something I might enjoy that was within my realms of capability. So, for 4 years, I worked a job doing research at a university. It wasn't a bad job, but it wasn't glamorous or exciting. It was a no-brainer and allowed me to spend a lot of time on therapy and doing the work I needed to get things more on track. Plus, being a large corporation, I was able to get away with 2 hospitalizations while employed without the fear of being fired thanks to FMLA. Throughout this time I never gave up on my hope/dream of one day being a counselor.

Last Spring I decided I felt ready. I started applying and interviewing for counseling jobs. No full-time jobs panned out, but I got into a local university to get my Ed.S. degree in School Counseling and I was granted a graduate assistant (GA) position in the Student Counseling department. Since I already had a Master's in Counseling they gladly set me up in an office and started assigning me a caseload. Talk about jumping in head first!

It was a bit nerve wracking at first and I was very unsure of myself. However, other than issues with a co-worker that I had in Fall semester, this has been one of the best jobs of my life! I love coming to work and meeting with my clients! Tomorrow is the last day of my GA. I would continue to keep working but my contract won't let me. Since tomorrow is my last day, I'm terminating with clients and hooking them up with other counselors in our department.

I got a letter from one of my clients today b/c she said she was afraid if she tried to speak the words she would cry too hard and not get through it. She asked me to wait and read it after she left. I did. Her words touched me so deeply. Not only because we've faced some tough struggles together in her life over the past 9 months but also because her letter told me that I CAN be a counselor and a half decent one at that. It may be childish but I feel like calling up those people who told me a couldn't and sticking out my tongue and saying "na na na na! Could so do it!" Silly I know, but I'd still like to do it.

My client's letter is below. Obviously names are removed for confidentiality reasons. I don't know why I feel so strongly I want to share this letter with those of you who read this. Maybe it's just to toot my own horn. I'd like to think it goes deeper than that. I'd like to think it's another example of someone who's struggled for so long but is continuing to fight b/c someone helped her feel less alone on her journey.

Dear Bravehearts,

Well, it seems like this year has just completely flown by. Things have gotten pretty shitty for me at certain times and at other times they were great. I am so thankful that I had you to help me through my roller coaster. I have learned a lot from meeting with you for counseling, most importantly I learned that there are people in the world who make me feel less alone on this tiring journey that I have been on.
One thing I have always looked forward to was coming to our appointments. It was like a water break during a marathon.
I'm sure you remember how I felt when I first started seeing you. I have convinced myself that if I did not succeed in school then I was done - no more trying. Well, I have most certainly failed (academically - I guess), yet here I am, putting one foot in front of the other. I want you to know that you have helped me find the steam to keep walking. Thank you for that help.
I am very sad that I will not be able to come sit in your office every Wednesday at 1:00pm, but I do feel somewhat hopeful that I can find something to do that will make me feel proud and less empty.
You have a gift in what you do and I'm sure whatever way you choose to use it will make a difference to many more people, not just me.
Thanks so much for your help and much needed support. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!


Wow! A letter like that makes all of our difficult sessions and extra sessions worth it. No doubt in my mind that this is what God has called me to do, and I love doing it. Enough said.


So apparently I'm having issues right now related to my blog or my computer. I am unsure. A friend informed me that she can see the post I wrote around the Monday timeframe on my blog, yet I am logged in on a different computer than my home one and am still unable to see it. I don't know what the deal is.

So if all of you out there can see that post I thought went missing, then I guess you can just ignore my ramblings from last night and today. At least this means I'm not losing my mind. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Post?

I could have sworn I posted an entry on Monday but now I don't see it. Surely, I didn't imagine the whole post. I even talked about the post in therapy today. Where did it go? There seems to be no record of it.

Am I losing my mind or having computer issues? My e-mail got hacked Tuesday night. I use a different account for this blog, but maybe it messed up my computer a bit too?

Too late to figure it out tonight, but very confusing.

Oh well. Bed calls. Hopefully I'll have a more thoughtful entry tomorrow. :)

Friday, April 23, 2010

the DES

So, I don't know how many of you out there have heard of or taken the DES (Dissociative Experiences Scale). I've taken it several times in my life. I took it again this past week as a follow-up and final part of a research study I've been participating in over the past 2 years. I found the results rather interesting and they also got me thinking. I think the DES is a valid instrument, but I'm currently wondering why it matters so much to so many professionals and why it is used a tool to determine one's ability to treat a potential client?

So, yeah, I was diagnosed DID about 10 years ago. I know I am DID. I know I dissociate. I also know I've made tons of progress and am actually functioning in this world rather fantastically (most of the time). I do not feel my dissociation keeps me from doing anything a "normal" person would do. I work; I'm finishing up my 2nd graduate degree; I'm getting married in 37 days, so I'm doing everything that entails; I have healthy relationships; I enjoy a lot about life these days. I really couldn't ask for things to be much better. Sure some rough stuff still comes up in therapy and I am not totally free from my past. I am still triggered from time to time and am continually still learning to trust myself, my emotions, and others.

What was surprising to me is that according to the way I scored on the DES, I should still be a wreck. According to that thing I am still crazy dissociative and looking at the results you wouldn't think I'd be able to function at all. On the other hand, I think some of the items on the DES are items that people without dissociative disorders experience. My mom can so get lost in a book and forget the world around her exists. She can be driving and end up where she wants to be but have no idea how she got there. My dad can compartmentalize anything. They don't have traumatic histories. They're about as normal as I'd say anyone ever gets. I wonder if I gave them the DES if they would score towards the end of having a disorder or not? Probably not, but I can guarantee you it would show they have some strong dissociative tendenices.

This makes me wonder if most everyone on this planet does? And if so, then how can the DES be used as an effective tool to determine whether someone is treatable or not?

Let me back up, I think the DES is a great tool to determine at what level and to what extent someone dissociates. I just don't think it should be used as diagnostically as a lot of people/clinicians use it.

You may disagree with me. This is just my two cents based on recent experiences. I will admit if I ever have a client who shows dissociative symptoms, I will probably give them the DES, but only as a means to help me figure out how best to help them in treatment - NEVER as a diagnostic tool.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Growing Pains

For those of you walking the same journey of healing from childhood sexual abuse and have a diagnosis of DID like me have probably experienced some growing pains associated with healing. Sometimes it's in the form of things seeming to get worse before they get better. Sometimes it's finally making it through one set of issues only to run into another. For me, it seems the next set of issues were always there, they were just not as pressing or they were difficult to see because of my current issues. Lately, most of my growing pains have revolved around learning what 'normal every day life' is like. It's thrilling to be in a place where "normal" problems are what I deal with on a lot of days, but I've also realized I don't know how to deal with everyday life stuff and have had to learn just like I had to learn grounding and containment and all of the things to help me cope with PTSD and DID.

In the last few months I've faced a new set of growing pains. They aren't actually my growing pains, but I am direcctly affected by them. They are the growing pains of friends and family who are being forced to grow because I have grown. They are having to grow and recognize me as the person I am now. While so many have wanted me to be in a more stable place, it seems now that I am in one, it is difficult for them to recognize, honor, and respect this. In all of the places I saw challenges, I never expected to see them in helping people close to be to allow me to be the me I am now.

I do understand with some people in my life I am having to regain trust and prove that I can make smart decisions for myself b/c for a long time I was not making safe decisions if left to my own devices because I was in so much pain and wanted nothing more than for everything to end. Those poeple had to make sure I stayed safe and did not make a decision I would regret or could be fatal or final.

I must I must admit that I was surprised by several people who seem to be having issues letting me grow and heal who are in my life and who knew of my struggles but did not daily walk through them with me. There have been moments in the last couple of weeks when I wish I could call everyone together for a meeting and bring therapist and have a huge group therapy session to get everyone up to date, out of the past, and on the same page with me. LOL! I can only imagine how crazy that would be.

I am realizing what really matters most is that fiance and I are on the same page (the page we both feel God wants us on) and that therapist and I believe we are helping him understand my current issues and struggles and how he can be helpful. While it would be nice if everyone else was on board too, it doesn't really matter.

Therapist feels we are on the right track (as do I) and fiancee really gets things. When it comes down to it, that's all I need to get married in 5 1/2 weeks. Everyone else is just going to have to find a way to trust me and leave their concerns at the church door.

Who knew your growth and progress would actually cause growing pains for others in your life as well?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Changes in perspective

I've been so busy with wedding stuff, wrapping up school and work stuff, some recent friend drama, that I feel I'm neglecting my inside world.

While my inside world is not so chaotic that I still lose time, switch uncontrollably, and lots of other symptoms I used to struggle with, there is still a very active world in my each. Each part with her own thoughts and feelings and running commentaries. While I continue to feel more and more connected to several of these parts, there are still a few 'outliers' that feel very foreign to me, and I sometimes forget that they are me, just as I am them.

One of these parts had a drastic change in her perspective in a therapy session a couple of weeks ago. I've wanted to blog about it and check in with her more often to see how she is doing, but before I even made it home from that therapy session where the break-thru happened, I had major drama with a bridesmaid that derailed several other parts internally and played on some of my deepest fears regarding my upcoming wedding. With all of that sorted out and back on track, I feel the need to return to this part and her changing perspective and the fall-out from that.

However, as I was telling therapist today, I can't seem to get into that space to reconnect with her. The day she shared in therapy, I felt horrible (switching headache, nausea from memories, overwhelming emotions of sadness, guilt, depression from her) but there was also a lot of clarity. Despite the awful feelings, I was looking forward to processing this experience and the progress she'd made b/c I knew it was important, and I also knew to her it didn't feel like progress, only more confusion. For whatever reason, I was not granted that opportunity.

Now, 2 weeks later, my mind knows I need to go back there and I am concerned for her, but at the same time I am feeling so drained from life in general. It's hard for me to go search her out and get back in that space with her. I know she needs me to. I think that will be the plan for therapy on Wednesday. However, if we don't get some internal work started before Wednesday, I'm not sure we'll get to her.

I'm beginning to feel the deadline of my upcoming wedding when it comes to therapy issues. My fiance is great! I couldn't ask for more. He is being so supportive. I am not worried about him pressuring me into anything I'm not ready for - even on our wedding night. I am very excited to be his wife! At the same time, there are areas that need to be addressed more in therapy and it's frustrating when life gets in the way and keeps me from being able to focus our sessions where I'd like. Lately it seems there's always some sort of mini-crisis that takes precedence in therapy.

I've been being made more and more aware of the spiritual warfare going on around me and I can't help but wonder if these are satan's distractions to keep me from goals and potential progress that will help me.... much like I find him doing when it comes to spending time with God or in the word... Distractions cause me to lose my focus and my goal more than anything else.

Okay so this has been a random blog about lots of things that aren't very coherent, but I'm still gonna post it b/c it's what's going through my head right now.

Water Works

I'm in the process of writing 3 different blog entries. They are not finished because the last of the ones I will probably post (of the ones I'm currently working on) happened yesterday and has been pretty consuming all of last night and today.

However, this one is short but still something I didn't want to get away from me. I realized during therapy yesterday how I am still amazed that I can walk into a therapy session feeling great with no agenda of things I felt "had" to be discussed and all therapist has to do is ask the right set of questions or ask to talk to a specific part and BAM: water works! and not just little tears.. crocodile tears and irregular breathing.

I find myself wondering. Where does all of this hide the rest of the week? I don't walk around always feeling like I need to cry. I don't find this upsetting or disconcerting..... just an interesting observation.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Still here

Hey everyone! I apologize for not posting anything in two weeks. I'm still here and kicking. There never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything I want to do and sadly blogging always seems to be at the bottom of my list of things that must get done.

Wrapping up school for the semester, passing off clients to other counselors because my GA position ends when school ends, getting ready for the wedding in 6 weeks and moving next weekend seems to leave little time for things I'd like to be taking time to do.

Forgive my if my posts continue to be sporadic until about mid-June. Everything should calm down then, and I'll be married - meaning I'm sure many parts will have lots to say regarding being married and s*x and all sorts of things that we haven't had to deal with before. Good times.

Anyways, just wanted to post to say that I'm hanging in there pretty well. I appreciate you all still stopping by and checking in.

Take care.