Although our hospital admission in June was planned, we went in without much of a plan of what to work on. We’d been gradually slipping towards all out crisis for months, but still didn’t really know what was wrong. I’d been ignoring everyone inside, and knew I was struggling, but didn’t know why.
Over three weeks we did a lot of work. The most important thing I did was to start listening to everyone inside again. As much as there was a sense of safety in ignoring everyone when I ran into health issues, it’s not something that’s ever helpful for us longterm. Once I started listening, and we had communication going again we were able to start working on some of the bigger things.
I overcame my absolute terror of specific trigger words. I was filled with anxiety at just the thought of these words. Saying them wasn’t something I’d planned on doing, and absolutely did not want to do. I don’t think what the words are is overly important, and I won’t write them for fear of triggering others. What’s important is power those words had. They connected me to the reality of my past by describing specific things I’d experienced. I think trigger words will be a whole other post. I will say it wasn’t pleasant, but I did overcome the power they held.
I found a way to switch more easily, and on cue. That’s not something we’ve ever been able to do. When I was present our psychiatrist was able to ‘talk through’ me to another part inside. I’d allow my eyes slide out of focus and try to relax. I’d then mentally step back from my body and – switch! Done! Whoever our psychiatrist had been trying to talk to would be ‘out’. At the end of the session I’d be able to come back by mentally stepping back into my body.
With an ability to switch more easily some of us were finally able to talk about traumatic memories. Most of us have written about trauma memories in our journal, but never had the opportunity to talk about it. I’ve usually found writing to be more comfortable, and feel somewhat safer as well. Some parts, particularly younger ones, have a need to actually talk about what they experienced so allowing them that has relieved a lot of stress, tension, and conflict inside.
What made all of that work possible was the supportive environment. My psychiatrist is an absolute pro with DID and trauma. The routine of the ward provided structure and a sense of predictability, and with that, safety. The nursing staff were caring, compassionate, and understanding.
On one of our more difficult evenings our nurse went all the way outside, picked a sweet smelling Gardenia, and brought it back to us. And that is what I’ll leave you with until next time.