#1 Common DID Myth

Myth # 1: It’s easy to spot if someone has DID (Multiple Personalities)

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This (like this picture) is what you’d expect if you believe the depictions of DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), former MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) in movies or TV. They are weird looking, weird behaving, and easy to spot. And if you take the latest movies featuring a main character with DID (Glass, Split) you better be careful, because THEY are lethal on top of being weird.

I’ve just released the psychological thriller GIRL FROM THE TREE HOUSE about Elise, a woman with multiple personalities who’s fighting for her sanity and freedom as she is accused of murder. A friend of mine said the other day, “Watch out, soon you get a movie contract for the book.”

I had to disappoint her because, movies especially, sell bizarre, exaggerated, sensationalized portrayals with heaps of horror, blood, preferably good looking young girls stabbed to death…and perhaps even a landing of an alien spaceship thrown in. So I’m not staying awake waiting for Hollywood to knock at my door.

The reality of living with DID is much more mundane, much more subtle. Often friends, colleagues, or neighbors don’t have a clue. Even professional health providers don’t always notice. People with DID can spend years in the health system without being diagnosed. Co-morbidity is high among them. Topping the list are severe depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and substance abuse. If treatment focuses on the latter, the person with DID will not get much better.

My aim with my book is to debunk the myths about DID and show the heartwrenching and heartwarming struggle they call ‘life’ as well as show pathways of recovery…all wrapped into a thrilling plot. Sorry, no human monsters, no silence of the lambs. The ordinary, daily life delivers excitement enough.

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I think I achieve it, going by the reviews that are coming in, for example:

What an incredible story! Stepping into the world of a person with multiple personalities was fascinating. This psychological thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat. Beautifully written, hauntingly powerful, and a true testament to the power of the human spirit. Highly recommended. (Leeanna Morgan, USA Today bestselling author, BookBub)

Easily the best book I’ve read about DID (dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personality disorder) with clear insight into how, why and when the personalities surfaced and interacted with each other, and how it affected the life of a young girl in New Zealand.
This helped me understand much more about how the disorder can consume the mind and life of people and how their emotional well being is further constrained by society’s stigma and their own fear of being hospitalized.
Well written and engaging, I look forward to the next book in this new series.
Thank you to the publisher and author for sharing this e-book ARC for review. (Dorie, Goodreads)

What do you think? If you haven’t read it yet, get your copy and let me know if I achieved what I set out to do. I love hearing from you.

Is it like the United States of Tara?

GirlFromTheTreeHouseThis article was previously published in “The Voices in the Tree House Blog.” I put it here for two reasons. 1) I’m interested to hear what people thought about the TV series. There are so many conflicting opinions out there, including some very nasty stuff. I can only shake my head when I read some of the venomous comments.

2) I’d like to spread the word about the book I’ve written. It’s in the post-production phase they would call it in the movies. A few more weeks. I have worked with multiples–I still call it multiples… the term DID never DID jell with me. I guess I’m oldfashioned like that–for 25 years and am deeply saddened by the misconstructions and misunderstanding multiples have to deal with. Not much has improved since I started this blog 11 years ago. With my book Girl From The Tree House, I’m portraying the inner world of a multiple (written from the alters/parts point of view) and how they deal with some nasty stuff that equally nasty people throw at them.

This is what Elise, one of the characters of the book, had to say:…

“We’ve had a long discussion among us about who should write this post. Nobody wanted to step up. All these people speaking about us is not what we anticipated. Yes, we wanted to take part in portraying a more realistic life of a person who has multiple parts to their personality and is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder than what is often found in books or the movies. Honestly, I’d rather buckle down and move on to the next book. I’ve been told it takes getting this one finished first, and it takes some more polishing before it can be published. *rolling my eyes*

I, that is Elise, drew the short straw. We are often asked if the GIRL FROM THE TREE HOUSE is like the ‘United States of Tara’, you know, the TV series that ran from 2009-2011.

The short answer is, I don’t know. I never watched the series. I watched the trailers and several bits and pieces online recently. To some of what we saw we can relate. Although, most of it is like… whoa over the top. They called it a comedy-drama. I completely missed the comedy bit.

Either way, living with DID is not funny. It’s not a Peek-a-boo game we forgot to substitute with Cluedo or Chess as we got older. It’s pretty hard work to keep functioning as a team and making life work for us.

What surprised me was that parts behaved badly without consequences or regard for the system and others around them. If we would have done only s.o.m.e of what ‘T’ or ‘Buck’ (Tara’s parts) got up to, Sky would have stepped in and Ama would have given us a piece of her mind. (No, not the belt, we don’t do that nasty stuff.) Perhaps some people with DID might behave like that (or kill people like in the movie SPLIT) but they would be exceptions and not the norm.

Overall, from what I watched, I feel the series let people with multiple personalities down. I guess, showing ‘normal’ life wouldn’t be exciting enough for the makers of TV series. For us, though, our ‘normal’ has enough hair raising moments, especially when the people from our past show up.

What can I say? You’ve got to wait until the book comes out. It shouldn’t be too much longer.”

If you are curious about the book and its release date, subscribe to my newsletter here. I’m not sending them out very often (I rather keep writing on my next story).

From Research to Practice to Fiction

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Since the early Nineties, I’ve been passionate about the wonderful women and men I met in my private practice who went on the sometimes odious path of recovery from childhood abuse. I’m sure if people knew how many obstacles they have to climb and how many hoops they have to jump through, many would think recovery is not possible.

But it is!

I’ve seen it many, many times. Never have I seized to be amazed by the courage and determination I’ve seen in survivors. That determination and courage spoke of Life’s force to be whole and healthy.

It wasn’t an easy decision to take my shindle off my door and retire. But it was time for me. My body told me, enough is enough. Looking back over the last five years in retirement, I know never again to ignore the wisdom of my body.

I became a writer. Well, maybe I always was, writing stuff in here for the last 11 years. After a wee detour into writing romance novels–I never would have learned about writing without the amazing women in my Wellington romance writers group and the NZ romance writer’s conference–I’m now writing about Elise, a woman with multiple personalities, who fights for her sanity and freedom as she’s framed for murder.

It’s fiction… made up, but certainly partially based on my experiences over the many years in my private practice. I’ve seen the struggles, witnessed the inner fights. My aim is to write Elise’s story from a point of authenticity, that is rarely found in the writing, fiction or non-fiction, about MPD. Maybe that way I can contribute to change the strange picture that is still painted about people with multiple personalities.

The characters of the book started their own website a few days ago and told me I’m not allowed to interfere. I hope all goes well and cross my fingers! You can check it out here!

I’m interested in gathering a small group of people with intimate knowledge about the struggles and joys multiplicity brings to read through my chapters and tell me where I’m off track and, hopefully, where I’m spot-on. If that is you, please email me, using the contact form.

That’s me for now. It’s almost Christmas, and I wish you a safe, peaceful holiday. Take Care!

 

How Multiples Can Show Therapists How To Deal With Anger

Anger Not too long ago people involved in the business of therapy, counselling, self-growth, and change would universally claim that pent-up anger needs to be vented. Armed with sticks, bats, tennis-rackets, towels twisted to rock-hard batons, and telephone-directories clients were encouraged by their therapist to express their anger by bashing on chairs, tables, floors, or mattresses – with the occasional encouragement to “put some words” to it.

Although it might have been a great way of approaching anger issues in some cases, nowadays the agreed upon knowledge is that it only vents some energy but doesn’t deal with the underlying issue that caused the anger to be there in the first place.

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When Does Avoidance Become Self-Care?

Nobody wants to be avoidant. It’s not something that you list in
your CV as a remarkable quality or personality trait because it signals
that you are not dealing with the issues you should be dealing with.
You are not addressing the unpleasant or even painful aspects of your
life – and probably life in general!

However, avoidance is not something a bunch of avoidant people came
up with to legalise avoidance. It’s a human condition to assure
survival and the integrity of one’s body and mind.  That’s why we don’t
walk on hot coals every day – unless we want to demonstrate to our self
and others that we are capable of great courage and can overcome our
fears.

Continue reading

When Does Avoidance Become Self-Care?

Nobody wants to be avoidant. It’s not something that you list in
your CV as a remarkable quality or personality trait because it signals
that you are not dealing with the issues you should be dealing with.
You are not addressing the unpleasant or even painful aspects of your
life – and probably life in general!

However, avoidance is not something a bunch of avoidant people came
up with to legalise avoidance. It’s a human condition to assure
survival and the integrity of one’s body and mind.  That’s why we don’t
walk on hot coals every day – unless we want to demonstrate to our self
and others that we are capable of great courage and can overcome our
fears.

Continue reading

Finding a Safe Place

Treeoflife 130 When the woman turned around and started walking back to the house, Molly starred at her in disbelief. She wanted to call out to her ‘Don’t leave me here, please Mammy, take me with you’, but she couldn’t make a single sound. Caretaker had quickly put his hand over her mouth and hissed ‘Quiet. No sound.’ He knew the punishment would even be harsher if she protested. Although Molly was glad that she was not alone in the garden, she was unable to stop her little 3 year old body from shivering of fear and of cold. As she tried to put her arms around herself she noticed that she was tied to the tree. She looked around in panic to find her friends. ‘Where have they gone?’ Her eyes tried to penetrate the darkness in the hope to make out the familiar faces of the other Tree People. 

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The Leap Of Faith When Starting Therapy

Multiplepersonalities Trusty
knew better than to waste time when he traveled to the little seaside village
of Shelly Bay. His dark eyes concentrated on the narrow road winding down the
hill that enclosed with loving arms what was once a little settlement but had
become a township with many new houses, businesses, and shops. He didn’t notice
the little pearls of sweat running down his forehead or the breath-taking heat
in the car. He concentrated on the traffic because the worst thing that could
happen would be having an accident or being stopped by the police. The panic it
would cause the Tree People would be horrendous.  He was glad traffic has not been as busy as
it was in the city. He hates it when people compromise his safety by driving too
close or cutting in  in front of him. 

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The Ebb and Flow of Integration

Girl heart Anna has been in therapy with me for 3 years when she and I came
to understand that it would not be necessary to come weekly anymore. She had
been diagnosed with DID many years ago. Some of these years she’s been with
other therapists, some of them barely surviving (in) the public mental health
system. That has all changed now. Indeed she was doing brilliantly. ‘I would
never have thought that I could ever feel this good’ she shared with me with a
wide smile on her face. She was quite eager to prove to herself, her family, and
maybe to me that she could manage without our weekly sessions. And manage she
did. Long forgotten are the times of nightly support calls, emergency
admissions to the hospital, crisis team visits, or days in respite care. ‘It
feels unreal when I think about how that was’ Anna starts her session.

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Trust and be Trusted

Hands-onpsychopathy-2 As some of you may know, I am in the process of putting all my material about DID and recovery into a book form, so that ideas explored in this blog, from my practice, and from research (my own and others) can be integrated to form a functional whole. As I was working on that project over the weekend, I started thinking about trust and the meaning of trust for Multiples.

Stripped of all it’s bells and frills, trusting another person means that we believe they will act according to the positive expectation we have of him or her. To some degree, trust seems always to be linked to making a leap of faith. And if people have been hurt, when they feel their reasonable expectation of care, respect, support, or appreciation has not been met, trust becomes more shake. In most cases it’ll take some time and some doing for trust to be re-establish.

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