Monthly Archives: December 2013

Three years.

So the results from the poll had a post on Dissociative identity disorder, addiction and coping mechanisms all tied with two votes each. I decided, since I completely forgot in October to write a little about the milestone I have reached! October 2013 was my three years clean from drugs! I can’t believe that it has been three years and two months now. Looking back over these years it’s truly hard to wrap my mind around everything I have been through and all I have learned. I have done more healing in these last three years (especially the last year and a half) than I have in my entire 26 years of life.

 

I’ve experienced, suffered through, and at times enjoyed so much through my 26 years that it’s really difficult for me to feel I’ve only been here 26 years. Sometimes when I’m tired and/or stressed my alters and I truly wonder if we have really been here much longer. It feels as if I have lived ten full lives already. It’s hard to explain, at least I think, but I’m sure a lot of you can relate.

 

I come from a family of drug addicts, alcoholics, wife-beaters, narcissists, child-abusers, and all sorts of weird dysfunctional stuff. I would say “awww dysfunction can’t be spelled without fun” but that is not the case with my biological family, nor has it ever. My blood family (the ones I have met) are mostly screwed up, sick individuals. I’m sorry if any of you ever track this blog down and read it…this is the truth and you no longer scare me enough to keep my mouth shut. If you have a problem with me opening my mouth to speak the truth, you should have thought about that before you beat, harassed, manipulated, isolated, abused, neglected and molested me. You know who you are. I’m not afraid of you. Anyway….

 

Sadly, addiction does run in the blood. I wish I could say this is some silly fantasy that us addicts make up to put the blame on something, but it is true. I did a little reading into the factors that play a role in a person having addiction problems (no matter what the addiction is to) and it’s a lot more complex than I used to believe. Yes genes play a role (but usually it is up to a combination of genes being passed down and a whole bunch more of science mojo that I don’t completely grasp just yet) but also obviously, how we were raised, what kinds of people were around us, all sorts of nature vs. nurture stuff plays a part. If you would like to read one of the websites I did it’s right here: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/genetics/  

 

I’ve never had my blood tested or DNA examined to see if I have all the genes necessary to make me more susceptible to addiction, but it’s pretty safe to say I do. Just off-hand I can think of ten-plus people in my biological family who suffer from an addiction to one or multiple substances and other things. One of my alters told me today that in high school we used to brag that we would never get involved in drugs and we would probably never drink because we knew the risks and we knew that addiction ran in the family. I realize now how deadly our stupid belief that we were untouchable was. When you start believing that you are above addiction and she will never get her seductive hands on you…you are a dead man.

 

At the end of high school I had already had my first drink…and second, and third, and fourth…It scared me that I didn’t seem to have the tolerance of a “beginner”. A few drinks didn’t seem to phase me the way it should have. But I was young, I was naive, I was being controlled by really sick people. I had no idea back then what I was getting myself into. After I was raped in the Marines my inner system that makes up my DID (Dissociative identity disorder) nearly completely de-railed. I couldn’t take what happened to the body and I withdrew into the deepest part of our system (which is what we call: The Abyss). I got all the way down there and found myself safe there. And so I stayed. I stayed and I stayed and I stayed until I realized that I couldn’t find my way back. I vaguely remember lying in the hospital bed in West Florida Hospital’s “The Pavillion” (their psychiatric unit) realizing that I couldn’t move my limbs, I could move my head. I could not even speak. It was because I could see, but I wasn’t in control. I was forced to remain down there for about a month and every now and then would get a quick glimpse of what the body had been up to. (which was mainly lying in the bed and getting lots and lots of pills).

 

Finally one day I met an internal protector alter named “The Warden”. Back then I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, so I was led to believe that this alter was simply a hallucination, but now I know who he really is. His job was and is to stay inside and keep the system from crashing again. He stays in the Abyss and the level directly above The Abyss to make sure that whoever is that deeply disturbed can receive help. This in turn keeps all of the alters from getting so far disconnected from reality that we were to do something horrible to ourselves. He came about to help us protect us from the inside. I love him for that 🙂 The Warden helped me find my way back up to the higher levels and take control of our body back.

 

After many stays at the Pavillion and at Baptist hospitals’ psychiatric units I was medically retired from the USMC and sent back to Michigan. This is when my addiction truly began. I found that several of my psych meds made me feel very good. I firmly believe that these drugs are needed for a lot of people who suffer from PTSD and C-PTSD (as I do) however, I wish it had been explained to me that I needed to only take them when my coping mechanisms had all fallen through and a panic attack was inevitable. I also should have been educated on the high possibility that if I didn’t use them as a last resort, I ran a good risk of becoming addicted. Long story short, I became hopelessly addicted fast. I took them every day, I took them more than three times a day, I took way more than I was supposed to at a time. I took them via oral route and via routes I should not have. Did I realize at the time I was addicted and that what I was doing was horribly destructive? Hell no. I could barely tell you my fucking name back then. I was so jacked up.

 

The addiction to the anxiety pills spread to other perscription meds, then to cocaine. Did you see what I just wrote? I went from perscription pills to freaking cocaine! Addiction is a seductive, murderous bitch. She doesn’t give a flying you-know-what when it comes to “oh, I have a family” or, “I have a great career”. She DOES-NOT-CARE. She will rope you in and kill you. Oh, but before she kills you…she will make sure that you hurt as many of your loved ones as she can. She will make you lie, cheat and steal. She will turn you into this monster that no one wants to be around. I know…because the monster still lives within my body. I just have the tools and the knowledge I need to keep the monster restrained and locked down deep deep deep inside me. The monster is guarded daily and every time it tries to escape we fight it. We fight it with meetings, with reading literature, with journalling and with talking with loved ones who know what it is like to suffer with addiction.

 

This fight to not let addiction rule your life is one of the hardest things I can think of for a human being to go up against. But it is possible! And better yet, it is possible to get clean and sober and stay that way, all while living a very full and happy life. I have a long way to go on my journey out of the abyss and through recovery. But I have learned to love it and my life only gets better every day I chose to pick up my sword and shield instead of lay down and give up.

 

One thing I did before I learned how to love myself was hold onto thoughts of Alice Cooper. Go ahead…laugh. Then….go educate yourself on him. Alice suffered from a deep addiction for several years, he even spent time in psychiatric units. Alice knew my pain. He got himself clean and sober and lives an amazing life now. He is a great man, and I figured. If Alice can do it, I can do it…and I really admire him. I imagined myself getting through the crap and getting to him on the other side of active addiction. I held onto things and people that made me happy. Once I got there I learned how to start loving me. Now that I have started loving myself, it feels good to live for me. It’s not selfish. It’s the right thing to do.

 

You can do this! Whether it’s you or a loved one, please know you are NOT alone. There are millions of others out there who can relate and will not allow you to go through this process alone. You are strong and you are worthy. Don’t listen to the monster, all it wants is for you to die. I love you, keep fighting!

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The holidays

Hello everyone! I know! I know! I have been slacking again…It’s the holidays and like most people, things have been pretty emotional and busy for me. If you’re anything like me you probably feel ambivalent towards the holidays. You want to feel happy and excited, you think about the yummy food and the gifts you have bought for certain people…but then you think about the people you will be spending the holidays with, or the people you wish you could spend the holidays with. Then you start to feel very alone, depressed, anxious and downright pissed off. 

I have a very very small handful of blood relatives that I can say I care about and enjoy being around them. This is the number one reason why the holidays are normally very difficult to fully enjoy. Because of falling outs, attitudes and grudges most of my family does not want to be around one another at any point in time. I often spend holidays with my kids, my mom and step dad and sometimes a few others. (Most of these people I do not feel comfortable around and have to constantly tell myself it will be okay as long as I stay grounded). “Just get through it, just get through it”. It’s just…freaking annoying. I can’t stand being around negative people and people who judge others. BAM, that is most of the people in my family. Downright no-fun to be around. 

There are people I love dearly and consider my true family in every way imaginable. Most of these people live in other states, others live nearby but have their own little families to spend the holidays with. This also makes the holidays feel a little blue. Despite these two huge hurdles I face every holiday (especially Christmas/Yule/Hanukkah/all other holidays in December) I always find a way to enjoy it even if it’s just a little bit. 

I love snow…I live in Michigan. I can’t remember a Christmas where I didn’t have snow. So…that’s a plus! I have two children who I love more than anything. I get to spend most holidays with both of them (sometimes my son is with his daddy). That is a huge plus. It’s cold therefore I’m not nearly naked and still soaked in sweat and the humidity makes me feel like I’m drowning. Yay! Another plus! Doing nice things for complete strangers. Yet again another plus. Just a week ago I paid for the person behind me at Taco Bell. I didn’t know this person, I wasn’t even sure I should be spending the extra money. But I was sure about raising another person up, helping them to feel good. You never know who that person is…maybe that day they were contemplating suicide. Maybe that day they lost their job or their spouse. Maybe that one nice thing some stranger did for them made them decide it was worth it to keep fighting. I am ALL about giving people hope. A quote I remember seeing in high school that really hit home back then: “never deprive someone of hope; It may be all they have”. This is something we should all realize is very true and try to implement the meaning every day. 

I hold onto all of these positives and several others that I find. When you search out the positive and clutch it close to your heart it becomes hard to feel sad and down. It really does, I promise you. There really is a silver lining to every cloud, no matter how dark and ominous. Please know that you are not alone! Even if you don’t have friends or family around you right now, you are not alone. I’m fighting with you and there are millions more out there.

Happy holidays, merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Yule, and all the other seasons greetings!!! You’ve got this. I love you!

 

 

Poll: what would you like me to write about?

Hi everyone! I figured I would try something new! I have made up a poll to see what topics would be most beneficial for my readers to read about. I put in a few answers, but if I set it up right (fingers crossed) you should be able to add your own answer. I look forward to hearing back from you! Thank you everyone!

Stigmata

Just recently I was very lucky and got the chance to blog for Time to Change to help break down the problem of mental health disorder stigma. This is there website if you’d like to learn more about them, they’re wonderful! http://www.time-to-change.org.uk You can also find them on Twitter at: @timetochange and Facebook at: facebook.com/timetochange. Today’s blog post is the longer version of what will be published on Time to Change’s website.

There are thousands of diseases known to man both physical and mental. People around the globe are faced with diabetes, cardiac problems, degenerative joint issues and mental illness. Each one brings with it symptoms that cause pain and suffering, many include a higher risk of death. Normally when someone is faced with an illness or disease others are quick to feel empathy for them, do what they can do help…but with mental illness it’s a whole different ball game. For many people with mental illness it is a daily fear a loved one will turn their back, a boss will terminate employment, even that a therapist will someday “have enough”. The daily stigma of mental illness is a very difficult burden to bare.

There have been many times I have been terrified to tell someone of my post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative identity disorder. There have also been many times a person’s attitude towards me has changed the moment I divulged my mental illness to them. It is a very sad truth…but it is truth. This really makes me wonder if people even understand the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the complex and deep suffering that comes along with mental illness. We are humans with dreams, passions and feelings too…we are humans who against our will fight a daily war. A war where we can’t afford to drop our guard even for a day, if we do we could lose everything. Yeah, sure, I’ve met a few individuals who had a psychiatric illness that made me uncomfortable or swayed me to avoid them, but I’ve also met many people with no known mental condition who were very unpleasant to be around. Just because someone has been labeled with depression, anxiety or something of that nature does not mean they are dangerous or less than human.

I would like to focus on two particular instances that I consider most profound in my dealings with stigma surround my mental illness. The first was when I decided to tell another student at my college that I had feelings for him. I didn’t tell him right away that I have PTSD and DID. I didn’t because I was terrified he wouldn’t even consider getting to know the surface of who I was. This had happened many times before, and I had such strong feelings for this man that at the time I felt it was better to wait. I prayed that if he got to know me at least for a few weeks before I told him he would realize my mental illness wasn’t what defined me and he’d stay. About a week into the relationship I told him after he had seen a diagram on my wall of my alters (other personalities). Immediately I sensed his discomfort and I asked him how he felt about it. He expressed to me he was a bit uneasy with it and that he didn’t understand. I remember smiling and telling him, just keep an open mind and ask questions. You have nothing to fear and I’m an open book.

Things seemed okay for a while. He’d ask a question here and a question there, but didn’t seem to be invested in getting to know who I really was or about my illnesses. I ignored these red flags and clung to a relationship I thought was real. He kept me holding on with hugs and kisses and compliments. He kept me holding on with time spent together and intimate embraces. Soon we discovered I was pregnant. Immediately he pushed me away, he told me he didn’t love me, didn’t want the baby I carried in my womb and that he didn’t think a relationship with “someone like me” could ever work. It was on that day that I discovered how he really felt about me and about my battle with mental illness. I was beyond devastated and rocked to my core with a deadly fear of abandonment. But guess what? I survived. I also learned.

The next instance I would like to talk about occurred within an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Virginia. This happened in 2009 when I was still married to my now ex-husband. I had just gone back to him after his family and friends threatened me, telling me if I didn’t go back to him (being pregnant with his child) that they would pursue taking the baby from me after it was born. I couldn’t take his abuse and I admitted myself to Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center. During my visit I began to have severe pain in my belly, my lower back, between my legs and my nausea became so severe that I vomited frequently. One morning I discovered that I had begun to bleed very heavily. I notified the nurse at the nursing station, told her how horrible the pain was and was met with laziness. She finally took me to my room and made me show her how bad I was bleeding. She gave me a pad and told me I’d be okay, it was normal. It was my first pregnancy, I felt something was wrong, but this nurse was telling me my baby was okay so I listened to her. An hour later my pain was comparable to kidney stone pains, which I am very familiar with and I was now completely soaking pads with bright red blood. I begged the nurse to call my doctor, to take me to the emergency room. She ignored me. She told me I was over-reacting. She told me that my doctor would be in later in the day and I could discuss with him going to the medical part of the hospital. Finally several hours later after I began screaming and writhing in pain on the floor she called my doctor and I was taken to the emergency room.

When I arrived I couldn’t stop vomiting, I was dizzy from blood loss and dehydration and after an exam I was told I was having a “threatened miscarriage” and needed to rest. I was discharged to go home and several days later after being pushed into a wall by my (at the time) husband, I miscarried my baby Willow. Looking back, I wish I knew that in the hospital you can contact a patient advocate if you feel you are being mistreated. Looking back, I wish I had sued the hospital for negligence. Looking back, I should have stood up for myself and all psych patients around the world. That specific nurse, and several I have encountered before and after that stay in the hospital have treated me and other patients as if we don’t deserve to be treated the same way people without mental illness do. We were ignored, laughed at, put into the quiet room for very long periods of time, not taken seriously and because of it our suffering became deeper. This not only saddens me, but it angers me. This is a very serious problem that needs to be addressed and stopped.

If you are facing stigma because you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, please, stand up for yourself. I know it can be scary, it can be hard, but you deserve it and it will help us all to end this terrible problem. You are not alone in this fight!

The victim-blaming pandemic.

The victim-blaming pandemic.

“She must like the abuse”

“She was asking for it dressed like that”

“Why didn’t you just leave?”

“Why didn’t you fight back?”

“Maybe if you hadn’t drank so much, he wouldn’t have raped you.”

 

REALLY? I mean…really people? These are just a few of common victim-blaming statements I have either heard personally or seen online, on people’s Facebook accounts, etc. This behavior is insane! It has come to my full attention that victim-blaming is not just a social media or occasional problem. This is a deadly pandemic.

Blaming victims instead of their abusers does a significant amount of harm in many ways. In my personal experience, after hearing “why didn’t you just leave” and “why didn’t you fight back” I withdrew into myself, became more depressed than I already was, blamed myself further and eventually attempted suicide. I attempted to take my own life…that is how much power their words held. (And I am not alone, millions of people go through this every day). The victim-blaming that was put on me also caused me to not pursue justice against the men who did unspeakable things to me against my will. Obviously, years later, I have found the strength to change my mind, but the sad truth is waiting even a few weeks after destroys evidence and chances of conviction. Sometimes it’s not possible to prosecute your attacker, please know I am not getting down on anyone who hasn’t, but if at all possible, please try. At least try. I wish that I had of immediately. Placing the blame on the victims also empowers all perpetrators to continue hurting others, but also to further “justify” their actions. People who rape, beat and abuse others tend to have severe mental health issues such as narcissistic personality disorder (just to name one). Although I am not a psychiatrist, I have experienced people like this throughout my life. These people truly believe they can do no wrong. It is so dangerous for victim-blaming behavior to strengthen their belief that what they did is not wrong.

 

Here is a link to several public service announcements that were eventually discontinued due to their victim-blaming nature. Several of them implied that women wouldn’t be raped if they would just drink sensibly.

http://www.businessinsider.com/anti-rape-psas-that-blame-the-victim-2013-3#

 

Good sources for more on why victim-blaming is a pandemic that needs to be stopped NOW:

http://www.decision-making-confidence.com/victim-blaming.html

http://www.care2.com/causes/5-instances-of-victim-blaming-that-will-make-you-want-to-scream.html

 

                I absolutely recommend that everyone read this brave woman’s story. I stumbled upon her story here: http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/02/im-a-victim-blamer-but-only-when-the-victim-was-me/

Please know that it can be triggering, but her story (like many others) helps me to not feel alone, and to be reminded again that nothing that happened to me was my fault and I have every right to have justice and closure and to move the hell on with my life. Her story also brings up another great point that I didn’t even touch upon. Gender does not matter here and neither does sexual orientation. Perpetrators come in all genders, sexual orientations, colors, sizes, occupations, religions, everything. I don’t give a shit if you are white, black, Asian, southern Baptist, catholic, atheist, male, female, straight, pansexual or whatever…you have no right to touch me, make lewd comments to me, kiss me, or anything else without my consent. Your religion or lack thereof does not justify your actions. Nothing does. It is wrong, PERIOD.

 

There is a large portion of the world’s population (America is no exception) that need to realize how poisonous, hateful and ignorant their views on victims are. Victims of violence no matter if it’s sexual, verbal, psychological or physical do not volunteer or deserve their abuse. Victims of violence also do not deserve to be blamed by the public and made out to be sluts. Comments like “why didn’t you just leave?”, “why didn’t you fight back?” and my personal favorite: “your outfit invited it” are pure asinine and hateful. No one can truly understand why someone didn’t “just leave” or “fight back” until they are placed in a situation people like I have survived. One very common reason people like me didn’t “just leave” or “fight back” was straight up fear. Until you know what it is like to be threatened with death, torture or the death of loved ones if you leave or fight back…you have no opinion. I like many others was a victim NOT A VOLUNTEER of severe, brutal, cold-blooded torture and abuse that damaged me in ways that will never be reversible. Yes, I was a victim. My past is NOT my fault, nor will it ever be. But the beauty is…my present and my future are mine and I will not let anyone take it from me. Now that I am on my journey of healing I have taken responsibility of my future and it will be a great one. Please, I urge everyone reading this to take inventory of themselves especially if you have ever found yourself blaming the victim and not the perpetrator…please see how cruel, hurtful and wrong these views are…and most importantly, see that these beliefs (especially when made public) allow the abuse, assault and violence to not only continue…but to thrive.

 

You will not steal my future and a special shout out to victim-blamers

**Before I write this post I just want to remind all of my readers that the content can be highly triggering, especially if you’ve been a victim of SA in the past, please be sure you are grounded before you read. I don’t want anything written to hurt, only to heal**

As survivors of trauma and multiple trauma we often live in fear, even when we do everything we can to break free of it. For the most part, I don’t live in fear anymore, however, that doesn’t mean that I am no longer hyper vigilant, stressed out, anxious and still very often brought to my knees by a panic attack. Yes I have been making great strides, but even yesterday I had a full blown panic attack in a Meijer supermarket and had to rush home. I still make sure that I have something in hand while in parking lots or walking up to my door in case someone were to attack me. I still suffer from vivid and horrific nightmares that have me drenched in sweat when I wake. I still have days where it is very difficult to shake the fear that it’s not over. Despite all of that, I am happy, I am hopeful and I am now pursuing justice.

I have many abusers and for a long time this made me very ashamed. It also made me feel that there was something terribly wrong with me and that I must have deserved each and every trauma. This is wrong. It is never the victim’s fault that they were hurt. I don’t care what anyone says, it doesn’t matter what the person was wearing, what time it was, where they were…none of that matters. Someone decided to do something horrible, to take something from me that they had no business taking. Just because a bakery puts their pastries and cakes in the window of their shop doesn’t mean someone has a right to smash in the window and take what they see. It may sound like a stupid analogy, but there are many people around the world who believe if a woman or man dresses provocatively they deserve to be sexually assaulted. Maybe this simple analogy will get to their simple minds. The victim did not ask to be hurt, the perpetrator is the one at fault and should be harshly punished.

I was first sexually assaulted at four years old. My childhood was ripped from me before I even had a chance to have one. Many years and details of my past are gone because they were traumatic and another one of my personalities took the abuse for me so that we, as a whole, could survive. My past was Hell and was robbed from me. I want to take a moment to again, point out to the victim-blamers out there that victims did not volunteer for their abuse, they did not ask for it, they did not invite it. In no way did the four year old little girl I was ask or deserve the horrific things that happened to me. As a young adult, the many times I was touched, kissed, groped, raped, sodomized and beaten in no way did I volunteer or ask for it. I am so angry, no, rageful when I hear people say that a victim asked for it because of what they were wearing or where they were or the infamous “why didn’t you just leave”? You cannot understand until you have been there.

My present is very complicated. Monetarily I struggle, I struggle with my appeal to the Veterans Administration for an increase in the disability for PTSD. I am anxious every day, some days I cope with it using meditation, playing with my children, deep breathing, writing and art. Other days it is impossible for me to find relief without medication. I am currently pursuing justice pertaining to four of my abusers. This has been a giant trigger and it has been responsible for my sudden increase in fear of leaving the house. In the past few years I have made great progress in getting myself out of the house, but currently I am usually choosing to stay indoors where I feel safe. I will get back to where I was, but for now I need to be gentle and patient with myself. This is a very difficult and scary time, but it is not the end. My present is also exciting. Despite the anxiety and stress of money, job, school stuff, I have two wonderful children I love more than anything and I get the privilege of taking care of them, loving them and watching them grow. I also know that with hard work I will be successful with my art.

My future…all I can say is, it is mine. No one else’s. I have lived in the dark, in the deepest pits of Hell one could experience due to fear. It is time that I get out and live a fear-free, healthy, happy life. I think it’s about damn time my abusers are the ones who have to live in fear. I will no longer stay quiet. I am taking responsibility of my present and future.

Whatever horrible things happened to you in your past, they were not your fault and they are not your fault now. You are not responsible for your past, the people who harmed you and failed to protect you…that is on them. You were a victim. But now in your present, looking forward to your future…please know that those are your responsibility. This is the key to making the transformation from victim to survivor. Take control of your life now, heal, stand up for yourself and refuse to let anyone else run your life any longer. Have an addiction due to the horrors of your past? Tell addiction to go fuck itself and allow yourself treatment (I apologize to anyone offended by my foul language at times, sometimes I feel strong language has its place). I have a particularly strong loathing for addiction. Please love and respect yourself enough to take your life back and live it! I promise you…life as a survivor is MUCH better than life as a victim.

Just as a reminder, RAINN is an amazing organization who is there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You can reach them at: http://www.rainn.org/ or call them at: 1-800-656-4673. Everything is confidential.

Please seriously consider prosecuting your abusers. I know this is a tall order I am asking of you…I know it’s terrifying. I am in it actively right this very moment as I type these words. But please know that it will set you free, and it will ensure those sick people will never harm you or another person ever again. You are not alone in this fight! Even if you don’t have family or friends to support you, please know that I care and I will support you.

As always, I am proud of you, I congratulate you on another day, and I love you. Every day we are one step closer to where we want to be. Let’s do this together.

Your battle-buddy, Dandi.Image