Help From Afar or She’s Done This Before
When this current “episode” began, (based upon my journal and this blog, I’m able to determine that this happened around the first of the year) I tried desperately to think of some way to help my husband better understand what was happening, so that he wouldn’t be so worried about me and whether I was having a “breakdown”. I could only think of one person on the planet who might be able to help in this situation, and that person happened to be my ex-boyfriend, who had once lived with me for a year, and who was studying psychology at that time and was good at recognizing symptoms. I’m still very good friends with him, and I respect him tremendously, but I was scared to death to talk to him about these matters because he and I had not discussed my mental health in years, except for the occasional joke about me being “crazy”.
(I have to have a sense of humor about my mental health, or else I’d go nuts…or something like that) After we broke up (8 years ago), we never talked about the “weird things K does” again. I can’t remember whether I acted in this manner when I was with him, and I can’t even say with certainty that “this” has ever happened to me at all. (STOP IT! That’s called DENIAL!) I’m not sure how I mustered up the courage to do it, but after a tremendous amount of contemplation, I sent him a text and asked him if he could contact my husband regarding my “switching”. [Psychiatrists refer to the phase of transition between alters as the “switch” ] It seemed to take forever for him to respond, and at first he wasn’t sure what was happening; he soon figured it out when I started referring to myself in third person. He realized he was talking to (an alter) and I breathed a sigh of relief that he knew what was happening. He took some time to compose an email which he then sent to my husband. I thought perhaps this email can help me remember these events, as well as give some insight into what happens when someone switches. It is dated January 9, 2012. Here are the highlights of the email:
Ahh. I heard you’re going through your first “switch” with K_____. Grats! Your marriage is now more of a Menage’ a Trois! But I’ve been there and lived to tell the tale. Here’s what I think from my experiences.
It’s not as bad as it seems, but emotionally and mentally trying, and a bit confusing. Hers is one related to a Dissociative Disorder… Her “switching” into a depersonalized K____ is like a computer being run in safe mode: you can’t really fuck up a computer in safe mode as easily as you can in regular mode. It’s a protective thing that she does to insulate herself from trauma by distancing herself from “K_____” and seeing herself in the 3rd Person.
Think of it this way: It’s like watching a movie of your life and saying “Man, I’d hate to be that guy” when, in fact, you are that guy. It removes you from the immediate path of harms way with things like arguments, panic attacks and anxiety, uncomfortable social situations, and facts of life that she would rather postpone dealing with until her brain doesn’t feel so threatened.
…Switched K_____ is more distant than normal K_____. Her manic episodes before a depressive spell were pretty easy to see, because she would have more outward gestures like laughter, talking and telling jokes, moving around a lot (like almost dance-like movements), and overacted hand gestures clued me in a lot. This is not like mania, but she can depersonalize herself while having a manic episode, which is confusing as hell to say the least. She’ll feel like she’s dreaming or “not quite here.”
There are many kinds of disorders- long story short, they exist to buffer the person that has them from the direct repercussions of high stress.
He then inserted some links to the Mayo Clinic. How cool is that? He not only recalled his own experiences with us, but he also gave additional info to my husband. In the end my husband got some relief, some peace of mind, when he read the email, and I was reassured that I do, indeed, have friends who care about me.