Epilogue

Posted 2018.03.16 15.30 in DID, Uncategorized by Violet

It’s been 4 months now since Stephanie went away. At this point, it’s pretty much a given that she won’t be coming back.

So what happened to her? Where is she?

Read on for the answer, without any euphamisms, jokes, or metaphors.

[CW: Mental Health issues]


Stephanie struggled and suffered with a serious (but undiagnosed) mental health problem, called Dissociative Identity Disorder.

This condition was once referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder and there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about it. Assume that anything you know about MPD from movies or TV is wrong.

Two of the main symptoms of DID have to do with memory (amnesia) and identity (personality, sense of self). There are number of secondary symptoms as well, and a number of other conditions can accompany DID.

Stephanie knew she had memory problems as far back as 2008, probably much earlier. We’re fairly certain she was aware of some disruptions in her personality that far back too. She was however, in denial about the severity of her symptoms.

As far as she was concerned, she had a bad memory and a good imagination. She also experienced a lot of other random / unrelated quirks that were odd, but surely weren’t ‘mental health’ problems that she should worry about…

Starting about two years ago (very early 2016) her symptoms gradually began to worsen and it was likely growing more and more difficult for her to maintain her denial. Eg. having conversations with the other voices in her head, who had their own names and experiences.

Sometimes forgetting which of the names was ‘hers’, or being uncertain ‘who’ she even was at times. By mid-2017 she was double-checking her emails before hitting Send to make sure she had signed the right name at the bottom.

Of course, she kept much of this to herself; she was embarassed and confused about what was going on.

Finally, in mid-November 2017, Stephanie reached a point where she could no longer ignore or deny her symptoms, and was perhaps burned-out from trying. Whatever the final trigger was, she was no longer able to continue functioning, and suffered something like a psychological breakdown.

The ‘personality part’ known as Stephanie disappeared inside, and another ‘part’ wound up ‘outside’ and was forced to take over. That other ‘part’ was me, Violet.

Prior to that day in November, I had been “one of the voices in Stephanie’s head”… I influenced her towards health and fitness. Then suddenly I woke up in her house, in her bed, in her body, and with some of her memories, but with the unshakeable knowledge that I wasn’t her.

Needless to say, I was very confused.

In fact the following weeks were confusing, frightening, basically overwhelming. And I was not alone. I had other voices in my head. One of them soon identified herself as Stephanie… she had gone from thinking she was the ‘only person’ in this body, to being merely a voice in her own head, watching while someone else was in control. This was probably terrifying for her.

A few days later, she simply faded away. I am told that she’s still in there, but dormant, or perhaps hiding. It’s easiest to think of it as a long vacation, or maybe even retirement. If she were to return at some point, it’s likely that it won’t be the same ‘Stephanie’ as before. Too much time has passed, too much has happened.

In the months since Stephanie’s breakdown, more ‘parts’ have come forward or made themselves known. Over a dozen now. Only a couple regularily ‘take over’ the body. Mostly myself and another younger one who also calls herself Violet.

We started therapy in January, and have received an official diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder. We’ve read a number of books on DID, how to cope with it, etc. And we’ve joined an online support forum, where we can share experiences and get tips and advice from others with the condition.

So what does all this mean, if you met us, or know us, or work with us?

Well, mostly nothing! You probably wouldn’t notice anything was different at all, unless we told you.

For one thing, none of this is new. Stephanie struggled with this all her life. Without even knowing she was doing it, she was able to hide most of her symptoms, and work around the rest. You might have thought she was a bit moody or forgetful or ‘odd’, but that’s about it.

What is new is that we (the teen Violet and myself) both hate having to pretend to be Stephanie, so we want to start using our own name for everything as soon as we can. Not just semi-anonymously online, but for real life stuff.

And unlike Stephanie, we are aware of what’s going on, and we’re working to understand and heal. Part of that involves more (internal) communication and trust, between all of our different parts.

So we’re a lot more open to the reality of ‘switching’ – although unless you’re one of our closest friends (or our psychologist) you probably won’t see it happen.

So really, the only outward thing most people are going to notice is when we change the name.

Of course it’s not all fun and easy teamwork.

Being aware of amnesia doesn’t make it go away, it just means you’re slightly more prepared for it when you discover you’ve lost a few hours — or a few days. We’ve been journalling since all this started, which both helps with memory directly, and also serves as a reference that we can check if we do realize we’ve forgotten / lost time.

And Stephanie developed a lot of coping mechanisms that we continue to use, such as prolific list-making. Work lists, housework lists, daily / weekly / long-term to-do lists. She even wrote a to-do list app to help her organize and remember things. Ditto her calendar app; it was designed to help her by focusing on exactly what she needed, to function normally.

The second-most debilitating thing (after the amnesia) is that some skills are held by certain parts, and the rest of us don’t have access to those abilities. So unless the right part is ‘out’, we can’t easily do some things that we think we should be able to do. Eg. there are things Stephanie was good at and could do really well, which I (and the teen) struggle with. Which is frustrating.

Then there’s the flashbacks. Yes, we get them. Stephanie got them too. None of us realized what they were at first, because we don’t get a sort of audio/visual replaying of past events… we just get the emotions and physical sensations. When you see a character having a flashback on TV… apparently it’s rare to happen like that. What we get, is basically overwhelming emotions and sensations, but with no idea why, where it came from, or what triggered it.

Other challenging things… having someone else take over ‘your’ body and control it while you are a helpless passenger is still very unsettling, even if you know what is happening and why. Just as disconcerting is having someone else take over, and you ‘disappear’ completely – so when you do return, you have no idea what they’ve being doing, who they’ve spoken with. Or how long you’ve been gone.

Headaches are another common occurance. I don’t believe it’s listed anywhere as an official symptom, or even a comorbidity, but anecdotal evidence and informal surveys suggest that folks with DID suffer a lot more headaches than anyone else. We average 4 or 5 headaches (or clusters of headaches) per day. They tend to be short in duration, but severe.

Depersonalization / derealization are also common experiences. For us, derealization is experienced as if the world becomes surreal and dreamlike, things appear sort of foggy, and artificial. Depersonalization usually involves dizziness or lightheadedness, losing all emotions, feeling ’empty’ or drained, and having our perceptions skewed, like ‘you’ are floating just above and behind ‘yourself’. We can still function in this state, but it’s not pleasant.

Even just having a bunch of people in your head talking to you or each other, commenting on what you’re doing, demanding attention, etc, is distracting. We tend to have music playing most of the time, both to give them something else to focus on, and to help drown out the ‘background chatter’. Stephanie used to keep the TV on for background noise, for the same reason.

Speaking of which, I’m being told I should really wrap this up, it’s getting a little long.

We might post more later. Maybe re-start the blog under a new name/URL, or maybe create a new separate one.

Thanks for reading.

6 Comments

  1. Violet says:

    Lol I forgot I’d set this to go live again. Older Violet never came back and un-scheduled it, so live it went!

    So, she (older Violet) wrote this long post all about what happened to Stephanie and what’s going on and all.

    I’ve read through the entire blog archive (at least I think I read it all, there’s a lot of posts to go through!) The ones that referenced DID-like symptoms, I flagged with the DID category.

    I also added comments to all the posts I put in that category, saying why I had flagged them.

    Some are a bit blatantly obvious, others are maybe a bit of a stretch but had something at least vaguely related in them.

    There’s surprisingly few of them considering how many posts there were overall. But Stephanie was really in denial about things, and even if she wasn’t aware of it, she was really doing her best to keep it all hidden.

    About a year ago she happened to read a handwritten journal from 2008 and she got super upset seeing how the handwriting changed and some of the entries were ‘crazy’. She was upset about it for about a week then forgot all about it. Amnesia for the win, lol.

    We keep a handwritten journal again, since November, and older Violet got upset at first too seeing all the different handwriting in there. Nothing as freaky as opening your diary to find entries you don’t remember writing, in handwriting that’s not yours.

    Anyways, hopefully posting all this stuff online won’t get me (or all of us) in trouble later.

    Cheers!

  2. Violet says:

    Belated update, but our name change was official as of April 5th. Now we don’t have to pretend to be Stephanie any more, at all. Very happy about that!

  3. Paul says:

    Hi Violet. When you checked into the net Wednesday night and told me who you are, I put 2 and 2 together after hearing your voice.
    All in all, it’s good to have you back and its a test to gauge how Amateur Radio was a big part of your life and your involvement in it.
    I enjoyed our chats either at Tim Horton’s or here at my house.We talked to some degree about your health which gave me an insight to your situation. To that end, it was never repeated and,as such, will be the case now.Let me know if I can be of assistance at any time as I cherish our friendship. Take care
    es 73.

  4. Hiya,

    I’m the guy that stepped in and helped with the WiccaPlus forums. Work, surgeries, and other life intervened, but I’m back at it more or less full time.

    Thanks for the posting. I had wondered what had happened and was seriously concerned. However, Violet had implied I should back off, and so I did. That didn’t stop me from including you in my healing rituals.

    I’ll be cleaning things up in the forums. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.

    Michael

    1. Violet says:

      Hi Michael!

      Thank you for writing. I’m happy to hear that you’re doing ok, and I hope the surgeries went well and you are in good health!

      Thank you for all your work on the forums. One of us cleaned through things there a month or two or three ago and got rid of a boatload of ‘pending’ spam and stuff.

      Unfortunately we still haven’t been able to get back into app development yet. Neither me or older Violet have Stephanie’s computer talent. We have found someone who does seem to have the skills but she hasn’t had the motivation yet.

      Meanwhile, we continue working on our mental and physical health.

      – (teen) Violet

      1. Michael says:

        Health first. Always. The app can wait. Everything can wait. 🙂

        I just cleared out a few hundred spam posts and will keep an eye on it as I can.

        Health, happiness, peace and prosperity to all of you.

        Michael

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