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Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Haunted Self- Dissociated Selves?

“How didst thou make division of Thyself?”—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
 I have over 11 years been given a whole slew of constantly changing diagnosises by several mental health proffessionals, that always fell short of any one full diagnostic criteria.

In 2001, I sought out help for depression and anxiety. The therapist thought I had borderline due to the fact I was engaging in self harm. Later she changed this due to the fact I had had some long stable relationships and no history of intense, dramatic, love/hate attachments. I was prescribed anti-depressants
Then by my reveling of hearing loud thoughts in my head that I didnt feel belonged to me, it was then thought I had a psychotic depression. Indeed, I was depressed that made me feel numb inside and outwardly like, my face was made of concrete. That probably lead my therapist to tell me I she thought I was schiziod, due to flat affect???. Schizoid people are socially reclusive and avoid all human relationships and sex! I mean, what? Wrong!that's not me at all. I very much enjoyed sex, I wanted to connect with people but it was difficult for me. I was training as a masseuse at the time and loved the physical sensation of giving and getting massages. I reported sudden, extreme changes in identity and mood  throughout the day, plus loud thoughts, this caused me great anxiety, however I managed to work and appear normal on the outside.
When my vivid and artistc imaginative paintings were shown to my therapist the diagnosis moved more over to Schizotypal. This almost fitted because of my high creativity, rich fantasy life, social seclusion and social anxiety, flat affect. However I had no odd appearance, no odd speech, I am not eccentric, nor do I have cult-like beliefs. I was given anti-psychotics. What did I feel about these diagnosis's?, I was happy to be whatever my therapist  wanted me to be, I desperately needed the emotional support. I was like, ok, I will be that if you want, just help me and fix me . But all time, I really thought the real problem lay in my history of abuse from early childhood into my early adulthood, but the therapist was not interested in delving into that and thought it better to just manage the present. Not surprisingly, I did not get any better and I also began to feel very resentful to my therapist, hate her even. I was totally unable to express it to her or even feel it when in session but only began to feel intense anger 3-4 hours after getting home from the session. It was a distressed spaced out rage that was always accompanied by a horrible 3-5 day migraine. When I met her again , all emotional memory of it would be gone, for the duration of the session. I realised therapy was making me feel worse not better. The way my therapist steered aside my attempts to discuss material from my past felt too much like my step-mother hiding the bloody noses from my fathers beating and saying, 'you're not to discuss it with anyone' making me clean-up before I went to school. I tried to talk about my dreams (nightmares) or content of my artwork without success. I once mentioned the possiblity of PTSD but was told no. I grew coldly rageful and desperately depressed. I received cognitive behavioral therapy. it seemed just like a band aid and many of its tenets seemed to me just like the same abusive brain-washing I grew up with. I didn't want to learn to plaster on a new happy face, EFT or learn 'tapping for happiness', "Fuck!" I wanted the truth!, even if it came with pain. I left therapy for about a year.

My next therapist listened to my past history and immediatly diagnosed complex PTSD but unfortunatly he left the island shortly afterward. I struggled another year before finding a new therapist at a health clinic who felt my problem was an Anxiety disorder, yet again they left the area within a few months also. Their replacement came and diagnosed one schizophenic symtom, (hearing internal dialogue) plus a mood disorder but they also left within two months. At this time there were no mental health proffessionals at all where I lived. I began to feel a growing desperation with getting a correct diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.  I made a strong effort to become self educated as none of these former proffessionals had ever encouraged patient education with the diagnosises they dished out. I did not know excactly what I had but I was quite certain about what I did not have. I felt certain my main problems were related to past trauma.






Group sketch by Stephanie Tihanyi
(copyright held by artist)
It was about 2009 I chanced across some online writings by a group of Dutch trauma specialists who had written a book called - The Haunted Self, Structual Dissociation by Onno van der Hart , Ellert Nijenhuis and Kathy Steele and I ordered it online. This book had a profound impact on me. In a  straight thinking style it described clearly, many of my own experiences and the many ways I experienced life and my self. It was an eye opener and a relief that somewhere some one knew and understood what I experienced and they had laid it out and described it in plain logical detail. It also bought me a profound sadness because I wanted to be treated for this condition but realised that where I lived, there was no one who understood or even recognised this condition, let alone could treat it. I tried going back to my original therapist and told her about my findings but she showed very little interest. Rather than fighting the issue I abandoned all therapy. My estimation of therapy and therapists was pretty low then and I regard most of them as clueless, stupid and rigid   Later in 2010 I started to see a new therapist, who is helping  me with depression, emotional deregulation and communication problems. This new therapist believes I have unresolved trauma issues, (at last, someone who is going to listen). The therapy is psychodynamic.