It’s often said here that one of the benefits of DID is that one has somewhere to hide; the rich internal world we have created has helped me conceal myself for some time. I popped out to blog about the new mental health strategy and then went back. I concealed myself in my own personal part of our internal world where I sat, resolutely alone and miserable. My thoughts were often circular; I would find myself stuck in a loop of grieving for everything that I had lost and all those things I once thought my future held that I no longer believe are there. There’s a tendency for others to “big me up”, to assure me that all those things are still there to remind me I haven’t lost any of my skills. I haven’t, it’s true but I am one part of [number I will never reveal] this isn’t just about me and my skills anymore.
I initially concealed myself and my misery as I couldn’t cope, I’m not a particularly emotional person, I’m not a psychopath just a bit buttoned-up, my buttons didn’t just pop open, they flew off. The more I learned about DID and our own system the worse I felt and as news reached me of recent developments I felt even worse. I didn’t feel worse as recent developments were a clear sign that my future was going to be nowhere near what I and others had imagined, I felt worse as everything I saw around me was about me.
Unlike many other adult parts of our system, I was that child and I remember being that child. I remember being on the pupil council in primary 6, I remember taking part in a mock election in primary 7- it was 1986 the kid who won had SNP connections and lots of stickers, me and my rational political insights didn’t stand a chance- even then the Scottish electorate confounded me. As I recall that child was hit by a car later that year and suffered a broken leg, I’m sure there’s a lesson there somewhere. I remember modern studies classes, I remember being “This house would rather be a teenager than a pensioner” in the Press and Journal schools debating competition (there’s a theme here in case you hadn’t noticed) and I remember sitting in a higher history exam in 1993 with absolutely no recollection or ever having studied history in my life. I failed that exam.
My skills have developed as I aged and I became adept at fighting for others, I embarked on righteous campaigns against whoever I had to in order to get the things people needed. These skills became invaluable when I launched the bloody, protracted battle against NHS Fife for the correct diagnosis care and treatment. I won that fight and I thought, until now that it was the most important fight of my life.
As my understanding of DID has grown and my knowledge of our system increased I faced the grim realisation that my skills were 37 years too late, there was no campaign I could embark upon now that would erase the trauma that got me, got us to where we are now. I concealed myself again.
As has been mentioned in previous posts due to recent events we suffered a complete communication breakdown. In the past I was able to do the necessary reorganising to re-establish communication and ensure smooth running but I couldn’t do it this time. Fortunately someone else could and they did. I was persuaded to come out of hiding and have an eyebrow wax, it was long overdue and the complaints about the eyebrow situation were coming in as thick and fast as the eyebrows themselves. I cried a lot that day- not least as I’d had my eyebrows ripped out and after such a long time it really hurt. I cried for myself and for the others who share my life/mind/body. I cried for that child, that child I was, that child we all were. I still can’t say the phrase the <?> therapist wants to hear “they are all parts of me” but I can say
They are all parts with me
Having all those parts with me has enabled me to make it this far, it’s nowhere compared to where I thought I’d be but I am still here. I am still here in spite of what must have been an exceptionally traumatic past, having parts, having DID has helped me. I’m not proud of having DID but I’m not ashamed and I am bloody proud to have survived my past.
I have been assured throughout our journey that one day I will be able to realise some of my ambitions, albeit in a slightly modified way. I took comfort from this and clung to it. I have also been told by the <?> therapist that many people with DID can have fulfilling lives in some of the top professions, I clung to this too. As such I questioned my openness about my mental health, I questioned the honesty on the blog- both from myself and others who share my life/mind/body. I am burdened by the knowledge that DID can be difficult to understand, weird even scary. Those with DID who are successful professionally are able to do so as they conceal their multiplicity, I make no judgements about this, each to their own. But I’ve been concealed and concealed myself for too long.
I have never allowed anything to beat me, I have never been shy in speaking-up and I have never not challenged injustice where I saw it. I am the product of what happened to me, my tireless fight to right wrongs is so obviously driven by a childhood where I felt unheard and unrepresented- I was a child, I was that child. I couldn’t help myself then but I can help myselves now, I’m not hiding any more. I can’t go back in time and stop what happened to me, to us and I can’t stop it happening to any other child other than our own and I can continue to tell my part of part of the story.
Some of you reading this have met me, some of you have sat in meetings chaired by me, some of you have worked with me, some of you have printed my press-releases. I’m no scarier now than I was then (and for the record I prefer the word ‘formidable’ to scary) I am still here but as I said I am just one of [number I will never reveal]. I’m not going anywhere, not least as I suspect parts like me are impossible to integrate (though there are a couple with whom I’d make a nice ‘blend’) but I also have no desire to dominate, we may all be parts of the same thing but we are all different and we all have something to offer. Some of you who knew me before have happily chatted here and on twitter to someone who isn’t me for some time. I’m glad some of you stuck around and I’m sorry that part you are more familiar with now is no longer able to communicate but I see she has trained you well. She also moderated blog comments well and as yet we’ve yet to find a replacement so please bear with us.
So after all that powerful ‘fighting talk’ some of you may be in doubt as to whether the artists formerly known as Zoë Smith were somehow no longer mental, let me tell you about the rest of Tuesday 11th September 2012.
Communication is really good, the system is running smoothly. Today brought the challenge of taking the 15 year-old to the orthodontist. This is a challenge for many reasons and there are a vast number of triggers involved. Among my many jobs I am “The only ANP who can take the children to the dentist” (I’m thinking of putting that on my CV), so I did. The visit to the orthodontist was uneventful, my biggest problem was keeping a straight face as I sat, apparently normal and another part expressed a desire to scrutinise the orthodontist, we switched seamlessly and switched back again- we were on fire. When we were finished another part popped into Asda for new school shirts for the 7 year-old (to replace the ones ‘lost’ after a visit to his father) and I drove home. The 15 year-old has a sinus infection and had to see the doctor, it’s someone else’s job to take the children to the doctor- again we switched seamlessly and all necessary information was transferred between parts.
It’s Tuesday, AKA “Tesco day” in this house, the doctors surgery is opposite the local branch of Morrisons so in my infinite wisdom I decided after the 15 year-olds appointment to do the shopping there instead of making the 20 mile round trip to Tesco.
It’s not my job to do grocery shopping, I haven’t been in a supermarket for months and I had forgotten the first rule of multiplicity-
We don’t do change*
*if you discount the obvious.
There followed a confusing, chaotic trip to Morrisons with completely uncontrolled switching, communication was reduced to random shouts of “Shit! That woman knows [redacted] from playgroup, don’t make eye-contact” and “why is that turkey round? Turkey’s aren’t cylindrical” and repeated cries of “THIS WOULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED IF WE’D GONE TO TESCO” The shopping trip is largely a blur for me, reduced to nothing more than 8 bags of shopping I’m too afraid to unpack as I don’t know what’s in them but I know enough to know that the contents will scream
I also know that someone else will have to go to Tesco tomorrow to get all the things that we didn’t get today. I’m glad we have a sense of humour.
So after a hiatus filled with misery I’m back- I never really went away. I haven’t lost any of my skills but my skills are needed now for our continued survival. With DID every minute of every day brings a new fight and each of them is important.