Job search, earrings, book

I pretty much blew a phone interview today. I’d forgotten how hard it is for me to look for contracts, and how hard I take everything, and how depression just nips at my heels the whole time. So much of this is about sounding confident. And I must take a medication in order for my voice not to shake. Once I get a confident groove going, they’re much more likely to want me. This time I took half a pill – for the next, I must take a whole one.

Oh the pain of having no work. I’d forgotten how painful this particular hell is. All my worst fears about myself come tumbling out. Can I even work with my psych problems? What do I have to offer anyway? All my jobs seem to end in disaster….

All of these fears have a smidgeon of truth, but none is anything like the whole truth about me. So there. My current dismal tail end of a contract is not a confidence booster. I’m being almost entirely ignored. Except, the boss is now making a point of including me in some chit chat, the few times we do see each other. It kind of underlines how he was excluding me previously. At least I know it’s not all in my head. But who cares. He is in his own drama, as I am in mine.
Then I spent money on some earrings I don’t actually like. I can only exchange in that store. I feel so ridiculous, spending money on junk jewellery, when I am about to have no income.

Though overall, I think the extra money I’ve spent on clothes for summer is worth it. I feel better walking around in decent clothes. People treat me better. It seems to be important to me, which is news to me. I think when I was young, I was so neglected in terms of having clothes so I could fit in, that now I need to be aware of that wound, and try and do better. I’ll never be a clothes horse – appearance isn’t my forte. But to have newish clothes that are in style, at least from the last few years, and tops that aren’t pilling or baggy – it makes me happy. I want to do the same for winter clothes in the fall.

I’ve just read a memoir by a man with DID – First Person Plural, My Life as a Multiple, by Cameron West. I was fascinated, and read the whole thing on my Kindle in two days. We have some similarities, but a lot of differences also. A huge difference is that West established a loving marriage with a child, and his family played a huge supportive role in his healing. Whereas I launched into a very painful, abusive relationship, where I couldn’t start healing until I got out from under it. I am so envious of the former experience.

Another difference – he seemed to have very few problems until first his physical health gave out, and then when he recovered, alters made an appearance, once he got to therapy. For me, I’ve struggled all my life with depression and anxiety. He had a successful career and good enough relationship skills to find a loving partner. I’ve had problems all my damn life. For this author, his problems seemed completely locked away until they did emerge with a vengeance at forty.

Another difference – how West related to his therapists. He does not describe much relationship with the therapists at all. For me, a lot depends on my connection to Ron, and a lot of healing happens because of that relationship. For the West, therapy is the place where alters come out and he learns about them, and remembers things. The therapist is there, but as long as they are smart, he doesn’t seem concerned about trust or his feelings towards them. Interesting. I wonder if he just left that out, or if he genuinely experienced therapy in that somewhat impersonal way.

I also do not have DID, but more of a sub-variant of it. So his switches are more extreme than mine are. However, he switches under stress, like I do. And he experiences the stress of trying to keep all parts buttoned down in order to function as a main adult part. That is extremely fatiguing. And pressure starts building up. That is so true for me and is one of my chief struggles. The fatigue I feel after a day’s work, even a calm day, is unbelievable.

One of West’s chief struggles in the book is acceptance of the DID diagnosis. This I can totally relate to. I don’t know what it is about dissociation, but it seems all who have it wish passionately that they didn’t. We consider if we’re making it up, if the doctor got it wrong, that since we haven’t switched in the last few hours, we must not have parts. I see this across the blogosphere also, and it seems particular to the dissociative disorders. I do not see this same level of struggle with acceptance for instance with bipolar, or anxiety, or depression, or even that odd diagnosis borderline. There seems to be something inherent in DID and variants that suffers cannot accept without a huge struggle. Maybe because it seems so unlikely – different ‘people’ in one body?

I would have liked more about how he eventually healed from the worst of DID – the book finishes just as he finally accepts he has it. There is a bit – he makes space for his alters every day, he tries for inward communication, his wife spends time with the alters as well as with him. I guess that is quite a lot.

I’d say overall there is little on how DID affected his personality, his functioning in the outside world. Is he paranoid, does he have trouble with trust, does he have anger issues, does he feel cut off from life? We don’t really find out – the focus remains on the alters, his memories, and the whole process of discovering the DID. Which is still very interesting. I just feel a lot was left out, because we are more than our symptoms. I feel for me, my whole relationship to other people and to the world has been profoundly affected by the way my mind split at an early age, and I don’t get that sense from this book about West.

Overall though, I was completely fascinated. The writing is workmanlike, direct and interesting. I’d recommend it.

  1. When I wrote my book, I left out a lot. A book big enough to fit my experience, couldn’t be lifted. I didn’t know about my other parts until my 40’s. My kids caught on but didn’t know what it was that made mom different from time to time. I read several books about other people with DID and each story is a little different. I am cheering you on for interviews for a new contract. Ruth

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, writers do need to be selective, so it’s hard to why some things were included and others left out. I didn’t know about my parts until my late forties also. Just I had other issues, such as depression/anxiety, which West either didn’t have or didn’t discuss. I think I might read all of the DID memoirs – there seem to be about ten of them out there. Thanks for cheering me on. 🙂

  2. Gel said:

    Have you ever considered writing your story?
    You are an excellent writer.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for the compliment Gel. Who knows, maybe there is a book inside here somewhere.

  3. I think a core part of DID is denial. We have parts because of what we have needed to deny. So then faced with the stress of a diagnosis, we deal with that in the same way we have dealt with other stresses.

    • Ellen said:

      That makes sense. I was wondering if it’s because dissociated trauma caused the parts, and we don’t want to accept that the trauma happened, so we question the existence of parts. Thanks Ashana

      • Yes, I think that’s true too. If the trauma was so bad it made you split into parts, then you have to accept how very bad it was if you acknowledge the parts are there. It’s like playing, “Let’s pretend” got us through the worst parts of life, so later we keep on playing “Let’s pretend.” “Let’s pretend” I am not terrified. “Let’s pretend” I am not in anguish. “Let’s pretend” I am not in parts. I find myself doing it again and again, despite what I know and despite my desire to live more honestly and to be more honest with myself. I keep playing “Let’s pretend” this is going to be easy.

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