Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Good Daughter

Since she's been mentioned in the blog before (I think the last post?)...This will be a blog post about one of the K's, someone we've seen/been everyday for the past 4 years or so. She believes herself to be the most important K. The jury is still out on that. Although we must admit, she's the most important one right now, this month.  She's caring for our mother, whom she loves very much, and who is suffering from shingles at the moment.  She tells us that the pain is worse than that of childbirth.  It was this K who made all the phone calls to all the doctors and drugstores and relatives until she procured some pain medication for her mother, who refuses to let us take her to the hospital. (She really needs a shot of morphine or something). The doctor we took her to last week refuses to refill her Lortab prescription. The Good Daughter doesn't trust doctors, in fact if she were capable of hate, it would be directed at doctors, because they let her daddy suffer for so many years. The Good Daughter was always Daddy's little girl.

The Good Daughter has been with us for as long as we can remember, and she is the K that most (not all) of our family members know.  From a very early age, she's been responsible for making important decisions (in the nature of what's right and wrong), for being sociable to strangers, for making our family proud, and for maintaining our image as a "good girl".  She comes out whenever we run into friends of our parents or people from church, or anyone who should believe us to be a moral, respectable, responsible young lady.  She usually shared co-consciousness with the smart K until we got to high school, then The Good Daughter went into hiding for several years, not returning until we were in college. Anyway, the rest of the K's appreciate what The Good Daughter does-we couldn't get by without her-but they think she's too much of a wuss. TGD doesn't drink or smoke or do drugs of any kind.  She's very sweet, and respectful, and affectionate.  She always says "Yes, Ma'am" and "No, Sir" and she doesn't curse.  She's the K who usually meets parental figures (of our friends) for us, and they always seem to love her. It's interesting to note that The Good Daughter has a very Southern (USA) accent whenever she's with our mother. The rest of us hate that. I mean we really hate it; we think it makes us sound less intelligent. Thankfully, not all of the K's have this accent.

The Good Daughter is young, but has aged over the years. I'm not sure exactly how old she is, but I'd guess she's in her early 30's.  She dresses modestly, meaning she doesn't let any of K's tattoos show and she doesn't like anything tight or low-cut.  She is one of the few K's who likes to dress in colors. (Most of us wear black)  She can be casual or professional, depending upon what the situation calls for.  She's very practical, helpful, and dependable.  She's quite a penny-pincher with money and likes to clip coupons and shop at thrift stores.  She is not materialistic, but she does appreciate nice things.  She mails cards on special occasions and reminds us to stay in touch with our friends via texts, emails, and phone calls.  Ironically, she does NOT hang out with our friends.

UPDATE: The Good Daughter took our mother to the Emergency Room, where she was given a shot of  Dilaudid for her excruciating pain.  We have been to the ER twice now.  Our mom is still very sick and in a lot of pain, but she's found a new doctor whom we hope will help manage her pain.  Apparently this Shingles thing that Mom has can last for months.  We really don't want our mother to suffer that long, but we are powerless to stop it.  All we can do is keep giving her medications, pain pills, and ice packs.  TGD is doing all she can to make our mother as comfortable as possible.

Today she went to the library and checked out a book about Shingles, in the hopes that her mom can read it and gain some insight into her affliction. Perhaps get a few tips on how to deal with the pain.  The Good Daughter comes and goes, but always comes out whenever we're alone with our mother. Also when relatives show up, or repairmen or anyone who needs to speak with the "lady of the house".  TGD is getting tired, as she's been tending to Mom for several years now, but that is her job.  The purpose of The Good Daughter is to take care of our parents (she was the caregiver for our father for 2 years before he died) and make our family proud.  She often does the grocery shopping and pays the bills.  She answers the phone and makes appointments for dentists and whatnot.  She's the responsible one, and K couldn't survive without her.  The other K's are very irresponsible, except for the smart one.

I don't know what else to say about The Good Daughter.  She's got the most important job out of all the K's.  She is the most reliable, but even she can't be on time for an appointment. We are always late due to our warped sense of time. TGD tries to keep up with time and takes a lot of notes about what needs doing when.  Sometimes we find notes left for us by TGD, telling us our errands for the day.  She's a list-maker. None of the K's can function without a list, instructing them what to do. We find lists everywhere, lists of all sorts of things.  What to do, who to call, where to go, what to buy, when to take meds, even when and what to eat. In fact, she's telling me right now that it's time to make tomorrow's list of things which need to be done.  I guess we better listen to her, as she's the one with all the common sense.

Friday, March 16, 2012


We've been struggling.  We feel terribly guilty, but we can't remember what it is we did wrong.  I can't figure out who I'm supposed to be today.  The Good Daughter is taking care of Mom but it's not real.  I'm not in control of that "me", she just comes out and takes charge of things around the house.  I'm glad she's able to do those things, such as give our mother her medications and put ice packs on her back and bring her food and water.  Mom is very sick right now and is in a lot of pain.  She needs us.

Husband needed K this morning, but she just couldn't pull it together. Tried to fake it for his sake. We're all over the place, feel disconnected from everything. We went into some kind of trance state, or maybe we were just dissociating, but Husband says I was staring into space and unresponsive for a few minutes.  We were at a shopping mall, and then Husband left us alone for just a few minutes, and I had a freakout.  There was just too much for me to deal with-too many people, too many voices, too many colors-I was overstimulated. Just too much noise. Too much movement. Everything was just too much. Had to get out of there.

Took an Alprazalam and tried to drive home, but it was hard. Couldn't concentrate. Can't focus. Had to keep repeating out loud to myself where it was that I was going, or else I'd have forgotten. So we're driving down the road saying, "We're going home. We're going home. Just go home." but man it was hard today.  Sometimes we can't drive.  Too much to look at.  Distractions everywhere. And I forget what I'm doing, I forget that I'm driving.  It's amazing I've not wrecked and died.

We haven't Tweeted in what seems like a long time, but I don't really know how long it's been-could be days, could be months.  For some reason I'm afraid to get on Twitter now.  We miss several of the Tweeps but feel too ashamed to come out of hiding.  I guess that's what we're doing now, hiding.  Not unusual for the K's.  But I miss Twitter. It was an outlet for my madness. Why did I stop? Why can't I go back?  I just can't remember. I can't remember how to get back to being "here". We are lost. Lost inside our head apparently. Who the hell am I now? Need to take meds and just go to bed.  Maybe when we wake up, we'll be someone everybody likes.  I hope so.  It's so important that people like us. Don't know why, it just is.

I caught myself smoking a cigarette this morning. I don't smoke anymore.  Thought that was odd. Blog post from last night (? I think) is embarrassing and I'm ashamed of us.  I'd delete it but this blog is my record of my illness and symptoms and I guess it's important to keep it since it was written by that angry K.  I hate when she comes out.  She draws negative attention to us. And she hurts people. I seem to recall that she screamed at Husband sometime....not sure when, but I remember the look in his eyes and it was very sad. We feel terrible about that. He doesn't understand our sudden outbursts of anger. I think he's worried about us...

Damn.  I want to blog but can't concentrate. Can't figure out what to write about. Need to empty my head, which is overflowing with information and thoughts of all kinds, but can't seem to do that today.  Hmm.  Pills I took are kicking in and I'm getting sleepy.  Yay;! Naptime at last!  Hope this works, and brings "me" back.

I'm so very sorry if I've said or done something bad or hurtful or inconsiderate. I don't want to be like that. But I realize that some of the K's are less congenial.  Shit.  We're just going to go to bed for a while..,

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Criminal Returns

I'm back but can't stay long.  I'm here because K got so mad she disappeared. I can come at anytime, anyplace. It happens without any warning signs whatsoever.  Anger boils over and erupts like a volcano, spewing hot, molten hatred onto everything around us.  Things get thrown, things get broken. Sometimes things even get burned. I love the smell of something burning.  There is yelling, from more than one person...Lots of yelling, in fact, as some try to shut me up and others try to win this internal battle, which becomes an external battle if anyone else happens to stumble into my personal space. I will scream at them just because.  K is afraid of this part, this unsolicited and inappropriate anger.  She disappears and won't come out again until the drama has died down.  I'm the angry one, the one who is so filled with resentment and bitterness.  I used to be around a lot when K was a teenager, and she got locked in a hospital because of me. And jail too. Yeah, I've been arrested, so fucking what?! We get K in trouble. We love trouble. I am mean, a bitch, or so "they" say, but I say I'm just brutally honest and speak my mind. And I use colorful language. FUCK YOU!!! See? I can curse like a sailor. I frighten small children, and I get a kick out of it whenever it happens too.  I've made men cry. HA. I'm strong and outspoken and fight for what we believe in, but K doesn't always agree with what I believe in. Like the crime, the shoplifting. The vandalism. Hell, K doesn't even like to litter, for fuck's sake. What the fuck ever. I like to cut loose and be impulsive and throw caution to the wind. I like to have fun, it doesn't matter if that fun is legal or not.  The K's want me to write this blog post because I've been out for a little while (long enough to do the forbidden-smoke in the house! HA!) but I have to disappear before tonight. K has obligations tonight which require self-control and good manners and shit like that. Possibly even talking to other people.  But I don't know how to express myself without yelling and cussing and throwing things. I have tantrums like the little girl who lives in our head, but mine are much more frightening.  Is that the right word? Hell if I know. Fuck this shit. K is making friends online, but I can make them disappear if I want to. I can scare them off for good.  I've done it before, I can do it again. We don't need any fucking friends. They don't understand us and they want us to be someone else usually. Fuck everything in fact. What's the fucking point of any of this shit?! Wasted years of therapy, all the motherfucking pills, this "support" bullshit, this fucking blog. What the fuck good does any of that shit do? K is fucked in the head-always has been, and always will be.

Conversations Inside My Head

we are overreacting. no, we are right. we are being melodramatic. no, just sensible. we need some space and peace and quiet. no more twitter. that's just fucking stupid it's our connection to the outside world. you talk to more people online than you do in real life. well that's just fucking sad man. How pitiful.  No wonder our husband is upset with us. we spend all damn day and night on the laptop, blogging or writing or researching or tweeting or some fucking thing god only knows what.  first you get obsessed with facebook. now it's twitter.  what the hell? just admit that you have a problem. FUCK YOU I don't have a problem. This is my fucking life and i'll live it how I want. If I want to pout, I'm going to pout. And you can't stop me! i'm not giving it up completely, just temporarily. Just til things blow over. I think that's already happened, you're just stretching out the drama.  you fucking baby. stop behaving like this.  stop it NOW. you're overly-sensitive and too easily upset, no we're just moody.  well this is one hell of a moodswing. complete mental shutdown and social withdrawal because of the actions of one Tweep, and the inactions of another Tweep. Grow Up K!  Fuck! You're making yourself look like a damn fool, a wimp, a cry baby. People aren't gonna want to be your friend anymore cause you're too damn sensitive.  Get the fuck over it, damn!  One of the two people you're upset about has already sent you an apology.  So what the fuck is the problem? what about the other person? She doesn't like us. So what if some bitch doesn't like us? what the fuck do we care?you better be careful what you say-you never know who may be reading. oh hello paranoia, nice of you to join us, just chill the fuck out, all of you!!!you guys are really embarrassing me. people are looking at us. everybody's staring. put your sunglasses on. no, it's nighttime. fuck. well, who's going to see you anyway? just drop it, can we please?? it's no big deal. one of them was in a bad state of mind and probably wouldn't normally be like that. the other girl we don't even know and she might get hundreds of emails that all say the same thing. so i'm just a nobody. she'd never talk to me anyway. Stop it K! Go smoke a bowl or take a pill or something.  Damn! get a fucking grip. you're way over the top. reel it in K. No danger here. relax. they're not out to get you. just relax...there is no plot against you. no one cares about you that much you speck of dust! you're nothing. no one. at least, no one important. Stop it! We're a good person! K is really sweet and kind and FUCK YOU she's a pushover I will NOT let you talk about us like that. We are doing quite well, thank you very much! Rant much? yes, yes we do. sorry. who are you apologizing to?! Be an adult. have a backbone. and SMILE for fuck's sake. the world is not ending.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bad Twitter Vibes

We're struggling today.  Something happened yesterday or last night (we think) or at the very least it was quite recently, and it's upset us and we are unable to move on past this incident.  I don't know how to get over it without discussing it with my psychiatrist, but I don't see her until next week, and I can't wait that long for someone to console us.  So I'm going to tell the tale here, at the risk of embarrassing one or all of us K's on Twitter. That's where all this started. Twitter.

I began using Twitter sometime in December of 2011, from what I can tell, although we had the account for much longer; I created my blog close to New Year's Eve. I used the account before December to occasionally tweet to my husband, and to myself.  That's right, I tweet to K.  It helps us remember things, people, places, events.  So I think I tweeted to myself for about 2 years before I ever followed or was followed by anyone.  I was completely anonymous on Twitter.  I told no one that we had an account or a blog. NONE of my real-life friends know I have a blog or Twitter account. I used the blog to empty my mind of all the crap that was pounding in my head at most every moment of every day. I wrote in our blog as a way to release my confusion, frustration, and tension. I could say how I felt, and no one would ever know or judge me.  But I was severely depressed in December, and someone in our head got the idea that perhaps we could find some type of support group online using Twitter.  Or at least, find another person, anyone, who understood what it is we go through everyday.  What I'm talking about is our dissociation.  Hallucinations, voices, lost time, severe memory loss.  All of these things together make my everyday life quite a challenge on many days.  We have good days and bad days.  Sometimes we forget we're ill.  Other days we are so ill that we cannot function at all.

So anyway, I began to search Twitter for someone "like me".  I don't even know now how I found anyone at all....I can't remember.  But somehow we found some people who were at least similar to us, for example a woman with OCD, and we began to follow them, and this led to people following me, and so on and so forth.  Now I can't recall exactly when this happened, but at some point I came across a person on Twitter who had a blog and who wrote about the same kinds of experiences that I have.  This person described symptoms just like mine, and I was thrilled to know that I'm not the only one.  I began to read her blog from the very beginning; it took me weeks, even months, to read all her posts from the beginning of her blog.  But I got to this one part in her blog where she talked about finding someone online who was "just like her".

I was elated-this woman had gone through a situation exactly like my current one.  She had found someone who seemed would understand her and her illness.  Of course I'm not giving any names, but this woman contacted the other woman she'd found, and apparently they ended up becoming friends.  Now let me say this first and foremost-I was NEVER expecting to be friends with the woman with the blog.  I was just hoping she might answer a few questions, or give me some advice about how to handle my symptoms or at least what to say to my shrink.  I was first diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder way back in 2004, but shortly after that I had to move and so I lost both my psychiatrist and my psychologist, who was helping me explore my diagnosis and treatment options.  When I moved, I forgot. That's right, I forgot my diagnosis. I guess it was just too much for us to handle and so we pushed it out of our mind.  I forgot about the therapy sessions in which I'd "switched" and I forgot about all the different "me"s who had shown up for therapy.

What was left in my memory was my prior diagnosis, which was Schizophrenia.  I'd been diagnosed with that around 1998, and that was the label I wore for all these years.  I saw different doctors, but they always assumed that my diagnosis was correct, simply because I heard voices in my head.  I know now that this is not indicative of being Schizophrenic, it's just a classic symptom.  So basically, what happened was I'd been going through my day-to-day life thinking I was Schizophrenic.  I certainly had some of the same symptoms-hallucinations, delusions, loss of train of thought, social withdrawal, and paranoia, in addition to the voices which I heard in my head.  So this diagnosis seemed to fit, and it was assumed by each doctor that I saw that this was the proper diagnosis.  No one had ever explored other options, except for that one psychologist who'd finally identified the real problem but whose diagnosis I had forgotten.

I'm telling you all this so that you understand how it is that I believed myself to be Schizophrenic when in fact I wasn't.  I wore the label for years, as scared as I was of it.  I told only a couple of people whom I trusted, including my sister.  Fast forward a few years, and K began dating a man who was in college, studying psychology.  It was he who first declared my misdiagnosis.  He said he simply did not believe I was schizophrenic, but rather that I had some sort of dissociative disorder (Apparently I had "switched" in front of him before).  I knew nothing of such disorders, but it was only a few months later when my psychologist threw out the term Dissociative Identity Disorder.  I really don't remember too much from that period in my life. It feels like a hundred years ago. But I've lost my place in this story and to be honest we don't even remember what it was that we were writing about.  I hate when that happens, and it happens frequently.  Oh yes, now I remember.

I found the woman with the blog who had the same symptoms that I had.  I thought, after reading her blog, that I had finally found the answer to all my questions about what was wrong with me.  I've been called "mentally ill" since I was first hospitalized at the age of 16, and I've been diagnosed with a dozen or more different disorders, but I've never had a doctor give me a satisfactory explanation as to why or how.  This woman's blog opened my eyes to this new term, which was somehow strangely familiar to me.  Dissociative Identity Disorder.  It seemed to ring a bell somewhere deep inside of us but I just couldn't put my finger on it.  But what I did was this: I began reading everything I could find on DID. Every book at the library was checked out and read.  I Googled and Wikipedia'd and read any information I could locate on this disorder.

Around this time, I found an old diary which talked about my diagnosis of DID, and it was a tremendous help; I took it to my psychiatrist.  But what was most informative to me was this other woman's blog.  She described my experiences perfectly, although of course we lived very different lives.  I decided that I absolutely had to contact this woman, just as she'd done when she'd found someone else "like her".  I figured if she could do it, if she could find a similar soul and communicate with them, then so could I.  Again, I never expected to become good friends with this woman, I just wanted some advice from someone who suffered from DID.  I got her email address off her blog and I guess it took me days to get the courage to write the email, I can't remember.  I just remember that when I sent the email, I was excited.  I was excited by the thought of her emailing me back and telling me she understood.  That she'd been there, that she'd gone through the same things.  When she didn't respond to my email, I realized that I'd told her about the blog but forgotten to give her the address, so I sent another email, this time with all my contact information as well as my blog URL.  I thought maybe she would read my blog and agree that I was DID and that perhaps she could help me figure out what to say to my newest psychiatrist, who had not yet fully diagnosed me but who was in the process of doing so.

Well, I waited for what seemed an eternity, and I never heard from the woman.  She never responded to my emails.  I thought I must've come across as some psycho stalker or something; I couldn't remember what the emails had said.  I was discouraged but determined to make contact with her, for she was the single person I'd come across in my entire life who seemed to understand the symptoms we have.  Months had passed since we sent the email, or at least I think so.  One of the K's is very bold and wanted to send her a Direct Message on Twitter.  Well, that's how we found out we'd been UNfollowed.  Now we know for a fact that she had followed us at one time, for we never delete our messages and so we still had the email from Twitter, telling us she'd begun to follow us.  That could, in fact, be how we found her in the first place; I just don't know (damn this memory loss!).  But I tried to send a DM and that's how I found out she was no longer following us. So without thinking about it much, I sent a Tweet, saying she'd begun following me in January and I wanted to DM her but she must've unfollowed me because I couldn't do that and she responded, very coldly I thought, "I never followed you back. You have our email."  So my feelings were hurt.  I admit it, I'm overly sensitive. But for her to assume that I'd followed her first really pissed me off.  SHE followed ME first, and I had an email to prove it.  Anyways, I took this straight to heart and got my feelings hurt and I never did send her another email.

However, I continued to read her blog.and learned how she'd been able to better understand her illness through her writing. So I wrote. A lot.  I blogged, I had a diary on my laptop, I had a hardbound journal, I had a sketch diary.  I wrote and wrote, and indeed began to learn things about myself and my symptoms.  The first time I read a blog post that had been written by one of the other K's, it really freaked me out.  I mean, there was now solid evidence that I was going through something major.  Still, I didn't mention it to my psychiatrist. I just continued to research, to read, to learn.

I don't know how I had the courage to do it, but I actually went so far as to contact the other woman with DID, the one that had advised my blog writer when she'd written her an email.  I was scared to death that she was going to be mean to me, like I felt the first woman had been.  But she wrote me back and was very nice.  She told me a few things about dissociative disorders and said while she didn't have time to be a great source of support (she's very busy), she'd do her best to answer the occasional email or Tweet.  I have since made contact with her a handful of times (we think) and she's always been very nice. However, I found out, upon reading her blog, that she considers herself to be cured.  She no longer suffers from DID-she'd gone through something called integration, in which all of the personalities merge.  So I was back at square one. The one person I'd communicated with was no longer suffering from the illness I was trying so hard to understand.  So I continued my search. I was successful in finding a woman who has a dissociative problem, but after I emailed her I found out that she does not have DID.  Still, she became, and remains, a tremendous source of support for me, and I owe her so much for all the advice she's given me since I first contacted her.  She's the person who told me how to create a blog actually.  Her blog is brilliant, and I'd post a link but again, don't want to embarrass anyone.

It was a gradual process, but I began to find others like me, other people who heard voices and lost time, and I even found a few with DID. Now it's extraordinarily difficult for me to talk to strangers, as I suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder, and I fear most people.  So just sending an email to someone I don't know is very difficult for me.  Which is one reason I'm proud of us-we actually reached out to some people on Twitter and met some folks with similar disorders and symptoms and we attempted to be social and supportive in the hopes that what goes around would come back around.  And it did for the most part.  I met some wonderful people, who didn't think less of me because of my mental illness, who didn't judge me, who understood moodiness and depression.  Still, it bothered me that the DID woman with the blog never wrote me back.

Then one day, she wrote a blog post, and I gained some insight into her feelings.  She blogged about how much she appreciated her readers, and that she was so happy to be able to help others struggling with similar disorders.  She wrote that she loved getting emails from people who'd been helped through her blog.  So I decided to once more send her an email-I thought since she said she appreciated the positive response from her readers, well I thought she'd like to hear how much she'd helped me.  But before I could find the courage to send such an email (I mean, this would've been the third email sent to her, and that was like stalker material), she wrote another blog post.  This one stated that she didn't read the blogs of other mental patients, because she found them to be triggering. Well, that certainly made sense to me, as I am often triggered by things I see or read.  So I never sent the email to thank her for her help, the help she doesn't even know she's given me.  I'm afraid of her now.  I really am.  She hurt my feelings twice, and I can't risk getting hurt a third time.  I began to focus more on the people I'd met on Twitter, and on my own blog.

I was starting to communicate with a number of Tweeps and actually, for perhaps the first time in my life, I felt accepted in spite of my psychiatric condition. I gained confidence and started initiating conversations with people on Twitter.  This is unbelievable to me as I write these words-I have NEVER been able to approach a stranger and start a conversation.  So I seemed to be making progress, getting better.  Plus, I was sometimes offering my support and experience to help others on Twitter, sometimes a young girl who was cutting, sometimes a man with an anxiety problem.  I felt like I was doing something that made a difference.  I felt like I was helping as well as being helped, and this made me happy.

At last I had the courage to bring up the subject of dissociation with my doctor, and was happy when she agreed with me, that yes, I had a dissociative disorder.  She didn't say I had DID-it will take a long time for her to positively identify my disorder-but she told me I was on the right path.  So I continued my reading and researching, and talking to people with DID.  They all seem to think that DID fits me like a glove, and I have come to believe that too, but I won't know for sure until my doctor has treated us for a long time, probably years.  I am impatient but understand her point.  She wants to get to the heart of our illness and see what's really going on in my head.  My biggest fear at this point is that we'll have to relive the childhood trauma which she believes is the cause of this illness.  Otherwise, I'm feeling more positive and confident and social. I even got an invitation to join a DID support group, which I did. The people there seem incredibly supportive and understanding. Hopefully I'll be courageous enough to participate in the group.

But now here's where the bad part comes in again.  One night, maybe last night, I'm just not sure, I was on Twitter, just lurking really, not talking to anyone, just reading the timeline, and I noticed a person with whom I'd communicated several times was on there and seemed to be having a very difficult time.  So I thought I'd reach out and let her know that she wasn't alone.  Well, I'm not sure how it happened, but she misunderstood me and got all upset and accused me of yelling at her.  I was shocked. I'd never had a disagreement with anyone on Twitter.  And, as is my nature, I took it personally.  It completely smashed my self-esteem and I was crushed at how mean she'd been to me when I'd only been trying to help.  I guess I'm not very good at offering help or advice.  And so I've come to a decision.  I've decided that I won't be using Twitter as I had been doing up to this point.  I'm not going to try and help people, for it only sets me up for rejection and ridicule and failure and pain.  I'm going to take some time off from Twitter; my husband says I'm obsessed and spend far too much time online anyways.

So I will continue to blog, as it is something that I do for myself, not for anyone else. The blog is my outlet for my madness.  I'm always surprised if someone reads it, and delightfully stunned if I get a comment.  But it seems to help me better understand the different K's, we communicate with each other through the blog you see. So that's pretty much all I wanted to say.  That I was blogging and using Twitter to help myself get better and find support, but that I'd been hurt and felt like I failed. And so I'm not going to do the Twitter thing for awhile.  At least, I'm going to try and stay away from it.  I DO have an obsessive personality, so it will be nearly impossible for me to give up my current obsession cold turkey.  But it must be done.  My feelings are hurt and my confidence is blown.  I'm scared to use Twitter right now.  I shall miss my new Tweeps, and I'll definitely miss the support I received from the other mentals out there.  But this is how I feel right now.  I'm hurt. It's going to take me some time to get over it.  I take everything so personally, it's a character flaw I have no control over.  So there you have it.  That's why I won't be on Twitter for awhile.  It's also why I don't trust anyone on Twitter anymore.  Too much negativity.  Too many bad vibes. Too much disappointment.

NOTE: Not all of the K's necessarily feel this way.  Some of us may continue Tweeting. And we'll definitely continue blogging,as it seems to make us feel more "sane". Hopefully, I'll see you Tweeps again soon. I just have to be sad for awhile, and we need to be alone to sufficiently sulk. That's all I need right now-just a private pity party for the girl who made a fool out of herself, not once, but three times.  I wonder if I'll ever have the courage to speak again to someone in need.  I wonder if I'll ever be able to comfort someone, cheer someone up, make someone smile.  I have my doubts. It seems everything I do now is wrong.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Evolution of My Self-Mutilation, Part II

(This is going to be a very difficult post to write; I've never confessed these things to anyone. I'm completely humiliated and ashamed and embarrassed to death to admit these things out loud, but I feel it's important to speak out. Perhaps I can help someone else.)

In the first half of this post (The Evolution of My Self-Mutilation: Part I), I described how I began cutting at the age of 13.  I was always very careful with my routine, never daring to nick an artery or something that could cause a trip to the hospital, as that would reveal my secret.  I was a cutter throughout my teens and into my 20's, but then I took a break for several years and didn't cut. I turned to tattoos and body piercings as a substitute.  I told myself I was better, that I'd outgrown such behavior. That was a lie. I started cutting again on my 30th birthday.  But this post isn't about cutting, it's about self-injury, which comes in many forms.  I didn't need a razor blade to harm myself.  In fact, the self-injury actually began many years before I picked up a knife and made my first cuts.  This post is about my main form of self-mutilation.

I've suffered in silence since the age of 9 from a disorder whose name I never knew until two months ago.  This particular disorder is actually visible to others, in a tangible, physical way, or at least its symptoms are; it's much harder to hide than say Bipolar Disorder.  It's something I've misunderstood and been ashamed of and hidden from family and friends, and my doctors as well, all these years, for almost my entire life. Dermatillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by the repeated urge to pick at one's own skin, often ending in bloody wounds and causing tissue damage severe enough to leave scars.  The urge to pick-or scratch, bite, tweeze, or squeeze- is similar to an obsessive compulsive disorder, but for some people the condition is more akin to substance abuse; I haven't yet figured out which one of those two groups I am in.  The activity causes great anticipation in me before I engage in the behavior (as with substance abuse), and while I'm doing it I feel a tremendous sense of anxiety relief (as with OCD).  Plus, 79% of patients, including myself,  report feeling a pleasurable sensation while picking.

My first memories of picking at my skin were in 4th grade, and it was on my face of all places.  There was no way to hide it. I can remember staring into the mirror and seeing all these flaws on my face, all sorts of imperfections.  Well, we, the K's, cannot tolerate imperfections, especially when we can alter the appearance of the flaw and hopefully remove it altogether. (This thinking stems from my Body Dysmorphic Disorder) So I began to squeeze any little bump I thought I saw on my face.  Then I mashed some pores on my nose that seemed dirty.  This led to my scratching at a mole on the side of my cheek. And so on and so forth...worse and worse every day. One day I was feeling sick at school and the teacher sent me to the nurse, and she looked at my face and decided I had chicken pox and so I got to go home that day.  I was too embarrassed to tell her that I'd created those angry red spots myself.  To this day,I find the subject completely humiliating and I hesitate to write about these things here, but when I started this blog, I said I was going to be honest, and so here we go.

How did my parents not notice?  Well, they did notice, but I pretended that it was just acne.  Puberty came early for me and so it wasn't hard for them to believe the lie.  As the years went on, I honed my skills and began using implements, not just my fingernails, to pick.  Tweezers were, and still are, my "weapon of choice", but at different times I have used scissors, nail files, needles, safety pins, and nail clippers, plus weird little things here and there, such as a paper clip or a thumb tack.  Anything I can use to remove the perceived imperfection, which apparently only I could see.  That's the thing which kills me, the fact that no one else can see all those blackheads on my face, or all those pimples, enlarged pores, scars, or ingrown hairs.  That was what I saw when I looked in the mirror.  I saw something flawed, something ugly.  I started wearing my hair in my face, but then in junior high I discovered that I could have just as much fun-yes, FUN-picking at the skin on my arms as I could my face, and no one would be able to see it.  That was a real turning point for me, when I moved from my face down to my body.  It was easy to wear long-sleeves and keep my skin covered, and since I quit picking at my face, my skin cleared up and I actually had a very nice complexion.  It's ironic, that everybody in 4th grade thought I had acne and teased me, but once I was in high school and everybody else had acne, I had smooth skin. (We never teased anyone with acne-one of the K's wants me to tell you that.) I'm not sure if my skin-picking was a precursor for my cutting. I just know that my cutting and my skin-picking coincided beginning in 7th grade and lasting until I was in my 20's.  I'd cut and cut, then take great pleasure in picking at the scabs from the cutting. I loved seeing how many times I could make the same wound bleed.  We'd go through phases of terrible picking, and then we'd stop for awhile, and let our skin heal.  Often we'd just move to a different part of our body to pick while the first area healed; the cutting was random and could occur anywhere on us. Try to imagine how horrible this looked-my body covered in rows of razor blade cuts on my thighs and upper arms, and then surrounding the cuts were open wounds, all shapes and sizes, all over my body from the chest down.  The only part of my body that didn't get cut or picked at was my hands, but even they were subject to abuse-I bit my fingernails down to the quick, I tore at my cuticles, and I chewed the skin all around my nails, resulting in horribly ugly hands which I mostly kept in my pockets.  It wasn't until my mid-20's that I was able to control chewing on my hands, and my nails finally grew out and I kept them manicured and no one would ever guess that I'd been a nail-biter for so long.  That was the same time I gave up my cutting and skin-picking for several years, and I actually had nice skin with no bloody wounds or scabs. I was modeling then, so it was important to keep my compulsions in check, but God it was hard to do.  I was only able to maintain this smooth, clear skin for those few years in my mid-20's; I was cutting and picking again by the time I turned 30.  And this time, I had a new favorite area to pick at-my lips.  Yes, I'd bite and tug at and peel the skin from my lips until they were raw and bloody. To this day, I cannot keep my fingers away from my bottom lip. It's a compulsion which my husband tries to help me control; if he sees me chewing on my lips he'll tell me to stop.  He also polices me when I shave my legs or pluck my eyebrows, as he knows how these activities can easily trigger me and lead to my either cutting or picking.

I have these episodes in which I lose time and stop thinking about anything other than the imperfections on my skin.  I can go into the bathroom, and won't emerge for hours, literally.  Some days, I have shorter picking sessions scattered throughout the day and night, but a lot of times I go into my bathroom, lock the door, and get lost in the mirror.  I have lost entire days like this (when I lived alone of course) and I always feel the same way when it's over=baffled.  I usually don't remember what I was doing, and I can't believe I was in the bathroom for such a long period of time.  I will look down at my body and be shocked to find bleeding, open wounds scattered all over my arms, shoulders, legs, chest, and sometimes even my breasts.  God this is embarrassing.  But I want you to understand that this compulsion is something that certain people deal with. This is a real disorder.

Approximately 2% of the population has this disorder.  It's considered a similar condition to and is often comorbid with Trichotillomania, where persons pull out their hair, and is as difficult to treat. Thank God I don't pull out my hair.  Treatment for Dermatillomania include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and prescriptions for SSRI's.  I do take medication which helps me, but I've never sought therapy for my disorder because I'm just too ashamed and embarrassed to admit to my psych doctor that I have this problem.  She knows I self-harm, she just doesn't know to what extent.  Dermatillomania causes intense feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment, and this increases the likelihood of self-injury. Suicide attempts occur in approximately 12% of patients with this condition.

 And I have to interject this now--The Kellie is really very angry that we are divulging this information to anyone, let alone The Public. The Kellie has a diva's reputation to uphold.  The Kellie is NOT a compulsive picker.  She has soft, smooth porcelain skin which she works hard to maintain.  She can't look at us when we're covered in sores and scabs; she is disgusted by us.  I'm fairly certain that anyone would find us disgusting.  I mean, this is a really gross habit.  No, not habit, compulsion.  I am powerless to stop this behavior.  In fact, I usually don't even realize I'm doing the picking.  I lose time, a lot of it, and I become absorbed in the activity, and it's as though someone else is driving the car, so to speak, and I don't have true awareness of this...not really.  I see the aftermath.  I see the bleeding, gaping holes in my flesh, the peeling skin, the nasty scabs, and of course the scars.

Recently, as in two weeks ago, I had to go see a medical doctor because the self-harm had gotten so out of hand that my wounded legs would NOT heal, and I feared I was getting infected.  I was totally humiliated to show him the dozen or so large (3 inch x 2 inch) sores on my calves.  They were all bloody and scabby and it was obvious I'd been picking at them as early as that very morning.  He was very understanding and did not embarrass me.  He gave me a steroid cream and said it should clear up my skin in 3 weeks.  So far, I've got the same large wounds, only now they're all dry and cracked and peeling.  It is my belief that the scars from these particular self-inflicted wounds will be the worst ones I've ever acquired, and will probably result in me never again being able to wear shorts or dresses. Sigh. (Last Summer I wore short dresses and told everyone the sores on my legs were just mosquito bites, but that excuse won't cut it this year)

I don't want to make myself ugly, really I don't.  But this is my fate.  I've gotten much better about the cutting, and only do it in times of extreme stress, but the picking is harder to control. I can stick my hand in my sleeve and pick at my arm right in front of someone and they'd never know. And I do.  Thankfully it's Winter now, so it doesn't seem odd that I'm all covered up.  But I worry about Spring and Summer...I have a whole new group of friends now that I've gotten married, and I do NOT want any of them to find out about this.  My big fear is being invited to a pool party. I can stop picking long enough to heal for special events (I wore a sleeveless wedding dress) but I can't stop altogether and it's impossible to predict when some skin might be visible.  I worry constantly about my secret being exposed.  Sometimes, I'm still asked to model, and whether or not I take the job has to do with which areas of my body will be seen.  I had to turn down 2 jobs in the past few months because my arms were too scabby.  I don't know if this condition will ever be under control. I fear that I'll have to deal with this for the rest of my life.  Man, that's a hell of a lot of scars.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Another Day, Another Dilemma

Lost.  A whole day and night, for the most part, just gone.  I feel like I've been manic and have just crashed.  I also feel like I've been doing a hell of a lot of talking and socializing but I can't remember with whom.  Pretty sure we made some new online if only we could remember their names.  That's so annoying-to know that I made conversation with someone and we got along well but then after it's over I can't remember who they were or what we talked about.  Makes friendships difficult online.  In real life, I can at least recognize a person's face (well, sometimes) but even then I still have trouble remembering conversations, or even names. I've been trying so hard to develop a support system for us on Twitter, and I think we've done a pretty good job, only when I really need to talk to someone about something important, I can't remember just who it is that I'm close to. *sigh*  Truthfully speaking, I don't know if I'm actually close to anyone, either online or in real life.  And it's far too embarrassing to tweet everybody, asking if we're friends or not.  Plus, the paranoia is stifling me.  I'm paranoid I might've been the mean K at some point, and perhaps said something horrible to another Tweep and maybe I've angered someone or worse, hurt someone's feelings.  I worry so much about what other people think about us; that's the number one reason we keep our illness a secret from the outside world.  My closest friends don't know about my mental illness.  A lot of people know I take anti-depressants and so they assume I'm just chronically depressed or maybe bipolar or something they're familiar with.  I would never dare tell anyone about my dissociative disorder.  That's just TOO weird.  People can't wrap their brains around it. I don't want people to look at me differently, or treat me differently, or talk about me behind my back.  So I hide my symptoms.  From everyone.  Most of the people I hang out with in real life have been with different K's at different times but never even knew.  Because I keep quiet.  I'm shy, and I"m scared of revealing my terrible secret.  This disorder I have is the stuff of Hollywood movies, the type of mental illness that's always portrayed in a negative light, as though we are dangerous or deceptive. I don't think I'm either of those things, although I am aware that one of the K's has tendencies to do things which we find questionable or even wrong.  But that's not all of me.

 I have different me's, different parts of me which have different functions and different personalities and I can't always be sure that everyone is doing what they're supposed to be doing.  After all, I don't have access to my entire mind, just to parts of it now and then.  I know about several of the K's, but I don't know how many of us there are, nor do I know which ones come out most frequently or which ones have the most friends or anything like that.  I wonder if we'd have any friends at all if we were to expose ourselves and admit to everyone we have an illness.  I don't think they'd be able to handle it.  I think everything would change and I'd never be looked at the same way again.  So I've turned my search for friends online, where people can't stare at me or pass judgements based upon how I look or dress or behave in public.  Online, I am honest about who and what I am.  Everyone I've met on Twitter knows I'm mental, and they accept it.  Most everyone I talk to on Twitter is mental as well, and that's the way I prefer it.  I can't relate to "normal" people, because I'm not normal.  I would much rather converse with someone who understands what it's like to be afraid of people or to hear voices in their head.  I need empathy, and that's something that my real life, "sane" friends simply cannot give me.  They will never understand.  No one can, unless they've experienced it themselves.  I had a counselor once who'd attempted suicide at one point in her life.  I trusted her because she'd been where I was.  She "got it".  That's what I need.  People who get it.  And I seem to be finding these people-everyday I get up and find evidence of my having chatted or DM'd or emailed or texted people and it seems to me that we've had a conversation or an exchange of some kind that has had a positive impact on my state of mind.  I know I'm finding support, I have physical evidence in the form of notes or a journal or texts on my phone.  So I'm accomplishing my mission, which has been, since I joined Twitter in December, to find others like me.  I just have to sortof start all over every morning, figuring out who I talked with and what we talked about.  This is impossible of course.  So if you are reading this and you are one of the several people with whom I've conversed recently, then by all means say hello!  Please don't take it personally that I can't remember our conversation or personal info about you. Hell, I'm doing good if I can recognize a person's name as that of someone I know.  A lot of times I'll see people in my timeline who I just know I've talked with before, but I'm too afraid to interact with them because it's just too embarrassing to admit that I have forgotten everything I knew about them.  Now, after a certain period of time, these things get better.  If I talk to you everyday, of course I'm going to remember you better than if I only talk to you once a week.  Now I must tell you, some of the K's are very social and love to talk, but others are quite shy and try to avoid contact with others.

 There's no way of knowing which K is tweeting at any particular time (except the mean one is easily recognizable, and probably the little girl too, though she's never used Twitter before as far as I know) so if you send me a Tweet and don't hear back from me, I'm sorry.  It usually means I just can't remember how I know you.  Some of you I've grown quite fond of, but I have trouble separating in my mind the ones I know well and the ones I don't know very well.  I see the names in the timeline everyday, so they are familiar to me and this confuses me further.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, I feel like I've had a very productive week, in that I made new friends and had really nice conversations and made connections with people, I'm just having trouble now remembering who those people were.  If we have interacted before, then by all means you should feel confident in speaking to me.  If I don't remember you at all, I'll be honest and tell you, but please don't take this to mean that I don't like you or that our conversation wasn't meaningful to me.  I just have a shit memory, and with the lost time and blackouts, it's a miracle somedays that I can remember my own name.  To sum up, thank you to everyone who has made an effort to be my friend.  We really do appreciate it.  It means a lot to us.  But if you want to talk to me, it might not be a bad idea to say something like "Hi, we spoke Thursday about the new Tim Burton movie" or just give me some kind of clue as to your identity.  If I interact with you more frequently, I'll learn your name and personal info quicker.  I just need that chance.  If I've introduced myself to someone and then never spoke to you again, it's because I've no memory of us meeting.  I always have to be reminded of everything. And I do mean everything.  To prove my point-it's 6:00 p.m. now and I find that I've forgotten to get dressed today.  I'm still in my pajamas and I don't think I remembered to eat today either.  This is my normal.  It's a guessing game really.  Just be patient with me-I'm a really good friend to have, if you can just stick around long enough to get to that point. I'm not going to lie, it's hard to be my friend. Not just because of the memory loss, but because I'm moody and just plain weird.  Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that I don't trust people. Not ever. This makes it very difficult to get close to me.  But I long to be close to people, or at least just a couple of people, just so I don't feel so alone in this journey of life. I need friends. Everyone does.  It's usually pretty easy for me to make friends, but hard for me to keep them, because I literally forget them when they're not around.  I guess all of this sounds ridiculous, and I suppose it is, but this is my reality.  I have to be reminded who my friends are.  I don't know what I'd do without Husband with me, telling me who people are when we are out in public. He reminds me of how I know them, when we've hung out, what we've done together.  If I didn't have his support and assistance, I'd never be able to go out. (which I don't do all that often anyway)  To put it simply, please be patient with me and try to understand that I can like you and be your friend, even if I don't always remember you or our previous conversation.  I know it's frustrating, but believe me it's a lot worse for me than for you.  I may ask you the same questions over and over again, but that doesn't mean I'm not listening.  I just have a hard time retaining information.  Stick around and I'll eventually get to know you.  It just takes me a long time.  You know what? I've totally forgotten what this blog post is about.  I have no idea what I've been talking about, or whether this post even has a point.  So now I must read it over again, probably for the twentieth time... God I'm exhausted.  I wonder if I remembered to sleep last night?  To all those Tweeps out there who spoke to me in the past 2 days or 2 months, thank you. Thank you for talking to me, thank you for noticing me, thank you for giving me a chance.  Now let's do it again.