Speaking about mental health can be a struggle for anyone. Speaking out about the stigma surrounding your own personal mental health struggles is especially difficult, so bear with us. Mental Health awareness is a big part of our lives this year and we hope, for many years to come.
We never want anyone to feel the way I did. Lost, Alone, Completely insane and so on… Blacking out and having no recollection of how you arrived at your current location can be mind boggling and terrifying. In many cases I became used to these happenings my entire life. It is something we want to help others with; I personally, never want someone to believe, after hours of logical internal debate, that suicide is one of or their only option. It is not. There is help available, but you need to find it. Thanks to the perseverance of one of my parts, we did eventually get the help we need and are in therapy still working toward finding my “normal.”
We always come back to this quote, “Normal is Illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” It’s one of those things that have stuck with us since early childhood. Basically, find what your own personal normal is. Normal is different for every individual. I still struggle with this from time to time but one of my parts is always there to bring me back to this phrase and focus on it. A spider will build a grand beautiful web, mesmerizing even. She uses this to captivate her victims despite their struggling, she devours them. This is her normal. The fly, well the fly journeys through a very short life seeking food and reproduction; some live their full day while others find themselves trapped within a web. Both are normal, but vastly different lives.
That was a great piece of our struggle. Finding good help, what that looked like for us because every person is an individual with specific needs, so finding what worked was a time consuming and at times, damaging journey, but well worth it. Due to the DID (dissociative Identity Disorder) I had help on this challenging adventure, though, at the time I was unaware of it. Now many things make far more sense to me and those in my life who know extent of my mental health struggles. Each of them has said, “Wow. So many things make more sense now.” No kidding. I thought the same thing when I first learned of the diagnosis. Some people need extra help on this journey and that is perfectly fine. We want to be there to help.
Over the years my parts have helped many individuals on their journey to ‘normalcy.’ It’s something they could do and so they did. Now I am on that same path and if you find yourself in need of assistance don’t hesitate to reach out. We are really pushing through the muck to create change and have found many amazing individuals on a similar path to my own. This is profoundly encouraging.
We want change and safety for all those struggling in the way we had for many years. The stigmas need to be resolved and disbanded; regardless of what the individuals ‘normal’ may be. Help needs to be an obtainable and tangible thing not just a distant hope and plausibility. You are not alone there are many of us working towards these changes. Together our voices are many and growing stronger and louder by the day.
I want to leave you with this moment in my memory:
A moment after dissociation…
Wow my head is killing me. Taking in my surroundings I can see I’m sitting on a dingy mattress in the corner of a small grime ridden apartment. On the floor next to the bed is a glass of water and bottle of Tylenol. My head is pounding a horrendous repetitive beat rattling my shaken nerves…As I began to stumble around this unknown apartment I came across a stack of mail. In a lovely script it read, “Return to sender, Dear.” The rest of the mail was addressed to me! I was in an apartment that I had no knowledge of renting and no memory of ever even being in…
I share this piece of that particular moment of my life before I was aware of my DID because I know, like me, there are many who live these terrifying moments. My hope is you stumble upon this post and realize you are absolutely not alone, you are not completely insane and while you may feel lost you can, hopefully, find solace in the fact that there can be help and healing living with Dissociation, DID and all the comorbidities that can accompany this mental illness. You and your parts can heal and grow and live together.
For me (and my parts) our normal right now is reaching out to those who were once like me. We are working on speaking to the source of some of our problems with finding the help we needed. We had the opportunity to give a candid talk (together) to a group of psychology students. We find if they can see it and see what it is and not only the wild extremes that are often depicted but the reality and subtleties, at times, it can help others. Despite how uncomfortable that very first talk was it went surprisingly well and we will be doing it again this winter. Something we are looking forward to. When the opportunity presents itself we write guest spots for various blogs and are open about some of our struggles on Twitter. We want those living the life I once had to know they are not alone and you are not crazy. Far from it. So find what your normal is and what you want it to be.
Erika is a freelance photographer from Chicago, IL. She has worked as an entertainment & nightlife writer, as well as a model. Her & her husband now live in Indiana with their ferrets. They are very passionate about animal rescue & rehabilitation. She lives with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) PTSD, Depression & Anxiety. Some of her parts struggle with their own individual mental health problems; an ED & OCD to name two. It took many years but she found her voice and now is actively speaking out against the stigma surrounding mental illness and the lack of assistance for those struggling to reach out. In addition, she also lives with some limiting physical health conditions which unfortunately have made working impossible. For now, she is focused on her writing, speaking engagements, painting and her small family.
You can follow Erika on Twitter.