Welcome to my first blog post, this will be a more detailed insight into who I am and the disorders I have which I briefly explained on the 'About' page. Before we start, it's important to know that every mental health condition and disorder is different. Although there are a lot of common difficulties that come with each, we as individuals face a unique battle so its vital not to compare yourself to others. We are all on our own journey, at different stages and for different lengths of time, stay focused on your own fight.
When it comes to my own mental health, I'm quite a complex and unique case. I have Dissociate Identity Disorder (DID), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Paranoid Schizophrenia. As is common with these conditions I also suffer from Depression and Anxiety, although these are controlled quite well by lifestyle choices. They're also massively out staged by the three, very serious, disorders I have. With DID and BPD these disorders are usually a result of childhood trauma or abuse. This was certainly the case with me. Growing up with an abusive, violent and alcoholic father. Schizophrenia is a little different, although it can be result of your environment and previous trauma, it can also be a result of genetics. So it's not always possible to know the reason a patient is diagnosed with it.
I got diagnosed with these conditions around two years ago, each diagnosis was within a very short period of the next. That's not to say it was rushed, for from it in fact. I've been under Psychiatric care from the age of 15. Years of studying and evaluation took place by numerous Psychiatrists before I finally got my official diagnosis. What did I do when I found out? I went on a huge downward spiral which resulted in me being sectioned. And they were certainly not prepared for a BPD, DID, Paranoid Schizophrenic on the ward.
It isn't easy, I'd be lying if I said that living with these disorders is easy. It's fucking hell on earth most days. But with most things, over time, you adapt. I can handle mild Schizophrenic episodes a lot easier now than I could years ago. At times I can recognise if I'm going to have one, it doesn't stop it, but you can prepare for it. By that I mean hide sharp objects and mentally prepare for the shit storm that you're about to go through. Remind yourself that the voices in your head aren't real, and the hallucinations can't hurt you. Sometimes that mental preparation makes no difference, you can be fully aware that it isn't real but it doesn't make it any less frightening. The main effect Schizophrenia has on the brain is that you can't tell the difference between what's real and what's not. Not knowing the difference between the dream world and the real world, for me, is probably the hardest of all. My dreams are so realistic that it's impossible for me to tell them apart from reality. Similarities in the way the world works and is perceived. Details such as the way fabrics feel, the smell of perfume, the way the floorboards creak as you walk on them. They are identical in my dreams as they are in reality, so how am I meant to know the difference? This is made worse of course by voices, voices in your head telling you the world you're in isn't real, it's just a dream. Further adding to the confusion. You soon find yourself in despair, you can't ask somebody if you're awake, because they could simply be lying. You become paranoid of your surroundings and the people in it.
You might be thinking, surely when you wake up from a dream or a nightmare, you know you're awake? Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. It's common for me to have dreams within dreams (like the film Inception). I wake up from one dream thinking I'm awake only to find out in a few minutes when I wake up again that it was in fact a dream within a dream. But I'm awake now, right? There's no way of knowing, this can lead to a Psychotic episode which unfortunately leads to being sectioned. This was the case for me.
BPD and DID are both personality disorders. Borderline Personality Disorder, also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder is a serious disorder which effects many aspects of your life. The most prominent being the regulation of your emotions, quickly switching emotions in a short period of time, as well as not being able to regulate them yourself. BPD patients do something called 'Splitting' which is seeing something in black and white terms. This could be in relation to a situation they are facing or a person in their life. There is no grey area or room for reasoning, they just have tunnel vision. For example; good or bad, yes or no, life or death. There's no in between. People with BPD can also be extremely impulsive, making decisions with little or no thought about the consequences and can also struggle with substance abuse. This is very much the case for me. I've used alcohol and drugs to get by, as well as cutting myself with blades. All of these were coping mechanisms to deal with the violent, unstable environment I was in as well as a way to deal with the memories of previous traumatic experiences, constantly playing over and over in my head, like a film. When I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, I was of course in denial but I was also quite curious about it. I had never heard of it, I actually thought the Psychiatrists meant I was on the borderline of having a personality disorder.
After it had been explained to me and I understood what it meant and the reasons I had it, I was taken back by what the Psychiatrist said to me.
"Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious personality disorder and in my opinion, the worst of all the personality disorders there are. BPD, simply put, is just torture;"
He's right. It is.
Finally, Dissociative Identity Disorder. Let me be honest, it's the most fucked up personality disorder there is, but also the most useful and the coolest! Just like BPD, DID is a result of severe childhood trauma. This is the only cause of DID, this is because for DID to form it needs a childs imagination. Children have incredible imaginations, they're not limited in thinking like adults are, their thoughts have no bounds, reality doesn't stop their mind wandering how ever far it wishes. Let me explain how DID works as I tell you a little of my story about my upbringing.
I grew up in a very unstable environment; with an abusive, violent, alcoholic father. I had two older brothers who lived in the same house but had very different upbringings to mine. My father hated me, I don't use the term lightly, he really did. He expressed this not just in his words but his actions. All my life he would say "I hate you, I wish you were never born. We would all be better off if you were dead." and I know you'll be thinking 'Well surely he didn't mean it, he was just drunk'. Oh he meant it, he really did. This man made me contemplate suicide as a child. What the fuck?! A child shouldn't know what suicide is, let alone be contemplating it. My first childhood memory is of my father throwing a mug at my mums face, hearing her scream as she covers her injury with her hands, running upstairs. I quickly stumbled after her, I was only a toddler. Hearing her screaming at my father to get away from her as I'm climbing the stairs to check she is okay. My oldest brother scooped me up and put me in my room. "Stay here, okay." I remember lying to him, "But, I need to get a glass of milk , I'm thirsty." All I wanted was to make sure my mum was okay. She didn't tuck me into bed that night.
Growing up, this was normalised. Years of being in this environment as a child conditioned you to think it was perfectly normal, that it was acceptable. Sober or drunk, it didn't matter, he'd shout at her, destroy the house, raise a hand to her. And to me, only me. Not my brothers. Imagine being pinned against the wall by your throat as a child, seeing your fathers eyes and knowing for the first time what true evil really is. Your mother watching on, as there was nothing she could do. Never being good enough, no matter what you did. A father who idolised violence and drugs. Taught you what he had learned so you could be just like him. That's exactly what he did. He moulded me to be just like him. I won't get into my adult life in this blog but he is the core reason why I am what I am.
As a child, to get away from the turmoil that unfolded in my daily life. I used my imagination to escape. 'Imagine if I was super strong, and brave, and I was really fast too. Imagine if I was older, an adult and had cool hair and clothes. I could do whatever I wanted. I wouldn't be afraid of anyone.' That thought turned into a comfort, this person in your head who you imagine is there to keep you safe. There isn't just one person, you've created a whole family. They're not real obviously, they're just imaginary.
Until one day, you're in your room, still in the unstable environment when you hear a voice in your head, "Hello." What the fuck was that? "My name is Loki." Again, what the fuck is going on? Looking around thinking there's someone in my room. Am I going crazy? I feel different, I feel like there's someone living inside me, like a whole fucking person. I can hear someone talking to me, a stranger. I've never heard this voice before, what the fuck?!
This was the first time I met one of my personalities. DID is a defence mechanism of your brain. Very simply explained, when you're facing trauma, the mind creates people (personalities) to take over in these traumatic events so the host (me) doesn't have to witness or experience any more damage. You can switch between personalities as you wish, although if in a stressful or dangerous situation, your brain will do it automatically. These aren't just imaginary, they're real. I have no control over them, they do as they wish, They have their own names, personality traits, voices. It's like taking five people off the street and cramming them into one. We have different allergies, some are stronger then others, some are smarter than others. Different IQ's, hobbies and interests.
Your brain will switch to another personality if it is deemed necessary. To deal with whatever situation you're in. When it's safe, you'll switch back. When this happens the host (me) has no memory of what happened. The last thing you remember is just before you switched personalities, the next thing you're back. Not in the place you were seemingly seconds ago. The dread then hits. What the fuck have I done? DID is an extreme form of dissociation, to the point where it creates whole personalities which you can switch between. All to protect the host.
I will go into full detail of Dissociative Identity Disorder in a future post. As well as Borderline Personality Disorder and Paranoid Schizophrenia.
The aim of this post, which I hope I've achieved, is to give insight into who I am and what disorders I have. A basic understanding of what they are and how they work. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding the topics I just covered.