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).

Hearing Voices: From The Inside Out

This is a lovely 14 minute clip of Eleanor Longden describing her journey from a perceived madness to recovery. Besides any doubts we may have of her diagnosis of schizophrenia, her process of recovery sounds very much like recovery from DID. Take care, take faith, and take hope.

Moving Past Sexual Abuse Group Starting Soon

Raeburn House, Auckland, New Zealand, is running another Moving Past Sexual Abuse group. In the past the group was organised as a support group in which participants would be surrounded by survivors who understood their experiences and sharing one’s stories and supporting each other was the strongest emphasis.

This new Moving Past Sexual Abuse group is about discovering ways of how to leave the abuse and the legacies of the abuse behind oneself. Rather than concentrating on what happened in the past the emphasis is on having a life worth living NOW, today, and the days to come.

You will be shown how it is possible to regain control and reconnect with joy, wisdom, and peace of mind. You will find that the capacity to live in wellness has always been dormant within you waiting for you to connect with it. The Moving Past Abuse group is geared to help you realise that potential!

You can expect that we will address how to deal with anger, difficult emotions, social connections, relationships with self and others, depression, perceptions, thought, and in general how not to be ruled by the past.

Here are the starting dates and details:

When: Mondays, 8 weeks, Starts 30 July
Time:·7:00pm – 9:00pm
Total Cost: $80
Facilitator: Gudrun Frerichs
Venue: Raeburn House, 138 Shakespeare Road, Milford

For more information contact Raeburn House, phone: (09) 441 8989 or emaillearning@raeburnhouse.org.nz.

Find more interesting groups run by Raeburn House by going to their website.

New: Moving Past Sexual Abuse Seminar

Raeburn House is running again a sexual abuse survivor group. In previous years the survivor groups were ongoing support groups that accommodated survivors to attend for several terms. They were designed following the three stages of Judith Herman’s model described in Trauma and Recovery (1992). Since then our understanding of recovery has evolved and the new group will take place with an emphasis on learning rather than sharing one’s experiences.

We will explore the three principles that are behind our psychological experience so that people can overcome the debilitating symptoms often found in the aftermath of sexual abuse. That involves gaining an understanding of how our feelings are created, how to deal with low moods, how to discern between low quality of thinking and high quality of thinking, and how to cope/deal with distressing feelings.

When: Wednesdays, 8 weeks, Starts 2 May 2012
Time:·12:30pm – 2:30pm
Total Cost: $60
Facilitator: Gudrun Frerichs
Venue: Raeburn House, 138 Shakespeare Road, Milford

To enrol contact Raeburn House directly on (09) 441 8989 or email learning@raeburnhouse.org.nz.

So Simple – So Powerful

I have lately written a number of posts that reflected my understanding of the 3 Principles. I posted the trailer here for those who might be interested in getting an idea what this is all about. My understanding is still at a beginner’s level – yet as it deepens more and more, things make sense to me now that have been puzzling me as long as I can remember. For example:

How come I can look at clients and see the beautiful, good, and caring persons while they can see only ugliness, broken-ness, and fault when they look in the mirror?

We are both looking at the same person. The only difference is how we both think about him or her.

How come recovery leaps ahead when people realise abuse wasn’t their fault, that they are OK, that they are capable etc.?

The difference is the shift in thinking. Letting go of the habitual thinking from (early) childhood and looking with love and compassion at oneself through uncontaminated spectacles enables the shift.

I could come up with many more examples. What stays with me this morning as I am writing this is the importance of looking at oneself (and I mean all parts of oneself) with deep love and compassion, knowing that at any point in time people do the best they can with the resources they have and under the circumstances they are under. Knowing that deep inside every person is a part that is whole, resilient, and unbreakable. You may call is soul, or spirit, or something else altogether – it is there and it is magnificent!

Right or Wrong?

My post about ‘Discounting the Past’ has generated  comments that got me thinking about the nature of human existence.  Let’s start with the biological fact that none of us is capable of experiencing a reality ‘out there’ that is shaped and made meaning of independently from what is already ‘in here’. “In Here” meaning our mental filters that consist of personal history, beliefs, values, gender, education, energy, and many more in addition to mental processes of deletion, distortion, and generalisation which our brain does automatically.

This means what’s real to me will be different to what’s real to you because you have different ‘stuff’ in your head. Hence the notion of different realities people operate from!

That means whatever we observe in the world around us can never be separated from the person that does the observing. There is no such thing as objectivity. Taking the example of doing research: the simple process of researching is already changing the subject that is investigated. Foucault did a great experiment that highlighted how people change their behaviours when they know they are observed. There is no such thing as objective research because choice of subjects, research design, way of questioning, way of interpreting the data etc. will already influence the outcome. That’s why there is no such thing as ‘research has proven’ because for every finding made there will be an equal amount of research that proves the opposite.

Does that mean that PTSD research is wrong? It may be, it may be not. It’s like the Dodo verdict from Alice in Wonderland: Everybody wins, everybody deserves a price! It all depends on where you stand. There is no right or wrong. Who am I to say that my reality is better or ‘righter’ than yours? I am simply sharing my truth – at this moment in time. The reader does not have to agree with me. If my posts have stirred up things, that’s good, I suppose. It gives people the opportunity to reflect on what this ‘being stirred up’ is all about.

Thinking about recovery from childhood sexual abuse within the framework of the 3 Principles of Mind, Thought, and Consciousness, whereby the focus is on the innate, unbreakable health present in each person that can be accessed once we become conscious of our negative thinking about ourselves and our lives and let go of that mode of thinking, makes a lot of common sense to me. It holds a lot of hope and the promise of regaining control of one’s life. Please, don’t take these 4 lines as a ‘treatment approach’, rather look at what my words are pointing at.

Is processing trauma for years better or worse than ‘leaving it alone’? Who’s to know. The proof really is in the pudding, as they say. If it works for the individual to go deeply into revisiting the past, if it makes life easier, if it makes people’s life more joyful, then there is your answer. If life remains difficult with numerous hospital admissions, suicidal thoughts, low self-worth, frequent anxiety attacks, long depressive episodes, isolation, and little joy it might be worthwhile to try on the ‘leaving it alone’ approach. See what happens when you take a holiday from your problems! The good news is that every survivor can find out for him or herself. There are several links in the sidebar of my website of sites that offer resources about the application of the 3 Principle understanding. Have a look around! If you like what you see and would like to explore this concept for your recovery, you can also contact me. 

How To Understand PTSD

Judith Sedgeman and Dr. Bill Pettit talk about PTSD. This is an amazing 36 minute interview in which Dr. Pettit sheds a totally new light on PTSD and the recovery from trauma. I am very interested in hearing what people think about it. It would be great to have a discussion about it!

PTSD Viewed Through the Lens of 3 Principles

Those who have followed this blog are aware how intensive I have covered the issue of overcoming the legacies of abuse and neglect. The simple reason is because dealing with flashbacks, memories, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and a toxic self perception seems to be the tragic struggle most survivors have in common. Not only that, it’s also a struggle that seems to take many many years to overcome for a large number of survivors.

But what if it doesn’t have to take forever and forever to deal with the aftermath? I don’t know any survivor who wouldn’t want to shorten the time until s/he is OK again, having a peace of mind, being in touch with a natural sense of well-being, balanced life, and overall contentment and happiness.

I have found this blog post that offers a challenge to those approaches to therapy with traumatised people who focus on re-visiting the traumatic moment, catharting feelings and emotions, and re-interpreting past experiences. Instead, principle based psychology is resting on the notion that every human being has an innate sense of health that we can access through our thoughts. It is important to understand the connection between thoughts and feelings. If our thoughts are negative and/or painful (for example: “I am such a cot-case”) we will feel depressed or sad or anxious. Thus the quality of our thinking determines the quality of our feelings.

Sydney Banks, who first conceived the Three Principles said “The most important thing to remember is it’s not what you think – it’s the fact that you think. Thought holds the secret to all our happiness, all our sadness. Once you realize the power of thought, I guarantee your life will never be the same again. If you have a positive thought and you put life into it…positivity happens
and you start to live in a positive life”.

Hop over the blog and read the challenging article. I would be interested to hear what your opinion is! Read this fascinating article here!

Survivor Support Groups Term II/2011

The new dates for the Sexual Abuse Survivor Support Groups at Raeburn House are finalised. There are still a few spaces left for both groups. It is advisable that participants are in some form of counselling so that any critical issues that might be triggered by group conversations can be worked through appropriately. People should discuss with their counsellor their wish to attend our support groups.

Moving Past Sexual Abuse
This group looks at the long term effects of abuse and explores how to move past them. Besides attending to difficulties participants encounter in the present, we will spend time each session exploring: disclosure, safety, self-awareness, coping strategies, boundaries, stress, and trust.

Thursdays, 10 weeks, starts 5 May 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Facilitator: Dr. Gudrun Frerichs
Total Cost: $60
Surviving Sexual Abuse
This group aims to aid recovery and strength for women in a safe environment. Besides attending to difficulties participants encounter in the present, we will spend time each session exploring: group members’ relationship styles, family dynamics, understanding and embracing sexuality, feelings, shame, assertiveness, support systems, and self-esteem.

Wednesdays, 10 weeks, starts 11 May 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Facilitator: Dr. Gudrun Frerichs
Total Cost: $60

Course bookings and payments can now be made online
at www.raeburnhouse.org.nz

138 Shakespeare Road
Milford, North Shore 0622
PO Box 36 336
Northcote, North Shore 0748
Raeburn House
Phone: (09) 441 8989
Facsimile: (09) 441 8988
Email: info@raeburnhouse.org.nz

Fear not Fear

Fear in all it’s many guises is probably the biggest obstacle survivors of abuse are confronted with. Even though fear is vitally important in warning people of impending danger, most survivors will experience fear, anxiety, panic, or even terror in a very crippling way. Rather than being a warning sign, fear is over-generalized and becomes psychologically unhealthy.

Rather than assessing the situation that causes feelings of fear and looking for solutions, people focus on the fear itself trying their hardest not to feel the feeling with a general stance of avoiding. Avoiding places, avoiding people, avoiding thinking about their inner life, and avoiding challenging irrational beliefs. A lot of recovery time is spent avoiding those things and situations that trigger feelings of discomfort, fear, and doubt.

If you feel fear it’s no use to ignore it, avoid it, or push it away. Don’t hold your breath in the hope it will disappear. All you do is creating a power struggle between the part of you that feels fear and the part that doesn’t want to feel it. Fear turns into panic and ultimately you end up becoming fearful of the fear, feeling betrayed by your own body.

If you want to help yourself you need to find a way to access your adult rational thinking capacity and assess the situation you are fearful about. Is this about HERE AND NOW or is it about THERE AND THEN? Is your fear realistic, are you in some form of danger? If not, embrace your fear, welcome it, befriend it. Don’t ask it to go away, thank it for letting you know that there is something – probably in your past –  you need to deal with.

It helps to regularly ‘stretch’ by putting yourself in situations that, although safe, create feelings of discomfort or fear for you. Make the fear your friend and you will see, over time you will lose your phobic avoidance reaction (that cause fear to increase). Try it out! You have nothing to lose but the stronghold fear has on you.