My therapist is retiring

My therapist is retiring

My therapist is retiring next year. I’ve worked with her for nearly five years and I’m not ready to finish therapy yet, so this is a difficult issue for me. Having spoken to PODS, I’ve realised that many other people face the same or similar situations, so I thought I’d write about how it’s impacting me and how I’m dealing with it. But I have DID, so I have a variety of responses…

Living in a Glass Bubble

Living in a Glass Bubble

I was abused by my dad, and also my grandad. And in many ways, I want to just leave it there and not say any more, because every time I say it a huge cloud of fear comes up and a voice screams in my ear that none of it really happened. It’s like, for a moment, my...

Managing Medical Procedures

Managing Medical Procedures

It might have been ‘just a routine blood test’ but that didn’t stop me passing out. Again. From a teenager through into adulthood, even the word ‘medical’ could render me light-headed. I couldn’t bear the sight of blood, I couldn’t even hear descriptions of blood;...

Divorcing old habits

Divorcing old habits

What do you do when the worst thing you think could happen to you does happen? Do you fall back into old habits, ways of coping that you’ve worked so hard to reform? Or do you work the problem? … In this searingly honest and vulnerable piece, Carolyn Spring talks about how she coped with a double loss of attachment figures and how what she had feared the most actually became a springboard towards new growth.

Can we heal?

Can we heal?

‘Can we heal?’ she asked, quivering with the significance of what she was saying, as if her very life depended on it. ‘Can we really heal?’I could well understood the agony in her eyes. I lived for many years overwhelmed by trauma, the symptoms of unhealed suffering. And if recovery is impossible, then why are we even trying?

Recovery is my best revenge

Recovery is my best revenge

Is recovery possible? That’s the question that everyone is asking, even when they’re not asking it. After a breakdown, perhaps after years in the mental health system, do we have to simply accept that we’re broken and that we’ll always be broken, or is it possible to live a life where we’re back in control again, where we’re living as we want to live, where life has purpose and meaning?

It’s a pain: the physical impact of trauma

It’s a pain: the physical impact of trauma

Physical symptoms are a big part of life for me with DID. Yes, I have ‘multiple personalities’, the “two or more distinct identities that recurrently take control of the body” and I’m not for one moment denying the significance of that or the impact it has on my day-to-day life. But I would say that physical symptoms such as chronic, unexplained pain, headaches and nausea have been and still remain far more distressing and life-impacting for me than the presence of parts.

Powerlessness

Powerlessness

Powerlessness is such a core experience for victims of abuse that often we don’t even notice that it’s there. It is played out in the way that we interact with people and the world – it’s the shadow cast by the sun, rather than the sunlight itself.

Me and My Boundaries – A Therapist’s Tale

Me and My Boundaries – A Therapist’s Tale

The issue of boundaries had always been a non-issue for me: I saw my clients for 50 minutes; there was no contact between sessions (no need for contact between sessions, surely?); it was a purely professional relationship. No dramas, no big deal. And then I started work with my first really traumatised client, and everything was called into question

What can I do if I can’t get therapy?

What can I do if I can’t get therapy?

… it has really struck me how many people with a history of complex and severe trauma cannot get any help whatsoever via the NHS. Many are passed from pillar to post, either being told that they do not meet the criteria to receive services (they are not quite suicidal/traumatised/distressed/non-functioning enough) or that they exceed the criteria (they are too complex/suicidal/traumatised). This leaves people feeling understandably ashamed, powerless and frustrated…

Making the most of therapy

Making the most of therapy

We often see therapy – treatment for trauma – as the holy grail, and put an extraordinary amount of effort into obtaining it. But do we make the most of it when we get it? Carolyn Spring shares her thoughts about how to maximise this rare and valuable resource.

The Beginning of Understanding: Part 2

The Beginning of Understanding: Part 2

The beginning of understanding was really just that—a beginning. Little did I know how much I had to learn and how much I really didn’t know. When my peer supervisor mentioned to me this strange word ‘dissociation’, it was an entirely new concept to me. Now I wonder how that can be.

My experience of phase three work

My experience of phase three work

I used to struggle to understand what phase III could possibly be about, because my life was so consumed with just surviving, and then so consumed with working through traumatic material to neutralise it, that I imagined that therapy would always be like that, and that once it was no longer happening, there would be no more need for therapy.

The Trauma Traffic Light

The Trauma Traffic Light

The ‘trauma traffic light’ represents three physiological states that the body can shift gear between, depending on levels of threat or security in the world: the green zone, the amber zone or the red zone. Carolyn Spring explains this concept she developed based on Stephen Porges’ polyvagal therory.

Boundaries

Boundaries

‘Dissociative parts of the personality’ grabbed the headlines, but my inability to set boundaries was the silent assassin destroying me from the inside… I said yes to everyone else, and no to myself. Other people mattered; I did not. And so, breakdown.

What can I do if I can’t get therapy?

What can I do if I can’t get therapy?

… it has really struck me how many people with a history of complex and severe trauma cannot get any help whatsoever via the NHS. Many are passed from pillar to post, either being told that they do not meet the criteria to receive services (they are not quite suicidal/traumatised/distressed/non-functioning enough) or that they exceed the criteria (they are too complex/suicidal/traumatised). This leaves people feeling understandably ashamed, powerless and frustrated…

What causes dissociative identity disorder?

What causes dissociative identity disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder does not happen in a vacuum: it does not result from a chemical imbalance in the brain, and is not caused by faulty genes. There may be biological, social and environmental factors which increase people’s vulnerability to developing a dissociative disorder. But more than anything, DID develops as a result of trauma and disorganised attachment.

What is dissociation?

What is dissociation?

Dissociation is a very common experience and can range from the normal to the pathological. Chronic, problematic, ‘pathological’ dissociation develops when there is repeated threat or trauma, especially when it starts at a young age, and when there is inadequate support or soothing from an attachment figure.

What can I do if I can’t get therapy?

What can I do if I can’t get therapy?

… it has really struck me how many people with a history of complex and severe trauma cannot get any help whatsoever via the NHS. Many are passed from pillar to post, either being told that they do not meet the criteria to receive services (they are not quite suicidal/traumatised/distressed/non-functioning enough) or that they exceed the criteria (they are too complex/suicidal/traumatised). This leaves people feeling understandably ashamed, powerless and frustrated…

Caring for yourself: aspects to consider from the mental health act and mental capacity act

Caring for yourself: aspects to consider from the mental health act and mental capacity act

Rather than engaging with mental health services because we trust that they will be helpful, many of us—rightly or wrongly—fear any involvement with them partly because we fear losing further control by being ‘sectioned’. We fear losing our liberty, losing the right to make decisions about our life, and losing the right to choose the kind of treatment we receive.

Lasting Power of Attorney

Lasting Power of Attorney

If you don’t have an LPA, many decisions will be taken on your behalf either by medical professionals or your next of kin or relatives.  In situations where you have a domestically violent partner or spouse, or abusive parents, this could put you in a very worrying situation.

Managing flashbacks

Managing flashbacks

Coming to terms with flashbacks—understanding what they are, learning how to manage them, and eventually figuring out how to reduce them—is a cornerstone of recovery. Carolyn Spring explains what goes in the brain during a flashback and how to learn to manage them.

Coping with crisis

Coping with crisis

Crisis makes sense. The adrenaline of it can become addictive, or be all we’ve known. Life doesn’t feel right if things aren’t frantic, if relationships aren’t disastrous. Crisis can be an attachment cry. Crisis is the language of emotions that we don’t know how to regulate.

What causes dissociative identity disorder?

What causes dissociative identity disorder?

Dissociative identity disorder does not happen in a vacuum: it does not result from a chemical imbalance in the brain, and is not caused by faulty genes. There may be biological, social and environmental factors which increase people’s vulnerability to developing a dissociative disorder. But more than anything, DID develops as a result of trauma and disorganised attachment.

What is dissociation?

What is dissociation?

Dissociation is a very common experience and can range from the normal to the pathological. Chronic, problematic, ‘pathological’ dissociation develops when there is repeated threat or trauma, especially when it starts at a young age, and when there is inadequate support or soothing from an attachment figure.

An introduction to grooming

An introduction to grooming

‘Child grooming’ refers to a series of actions deliberately undertaken in order to develop an emotional bond with a child in order to sexually abuse them. Grooming increases the availability of the victim for abuse whilst decreasing the likelihood of detection for the abuser.

My recovery from child sexual abuse

My recovery from child sexual abuse

It feels a long time ago now, the time when my abuse sat silent within me. It’s been over ten years. Back then, I didn’t understand any of the dynamics of abuse. The things that had happened, the things that had been done to me, the things I had been made to do—they sat silently within me as heavy weights on my soul, fetid non-reminders of my badness, this toxic mush that I thought was me.

What is child sexual abuse?

What is child sexual abuse?

It’s not a definition or some bullet-points on a page, a menu of things that were done or could have been done, or might yet be done. It’s something to do with me as a person, the me that I’m so scared to show you, that I’m so scared to be, because of what happened …

The Trauma Traffic Light

The Trauma Traffic Light

The ‘trauma traffic light’ represents three physiological states that the body can shift gear between, depending on levels of threat or security in the world: the green zone, the amber zone or the red zone. Carolyn Spring explains this concept she developed based on Stephen Porges’ polyvagal therory.

It’s a pain: the physical impact of trauma

It’s a pain: the physical impact of trauma

Physical symptoms are a big part of life for me with DID. Yes, I have ‘multiple personalities’, the “two or more distinct identities that recurrently take control of the body” and I’m not for one moment denying the significance of that or the impact it has on my day-to-day life. But I would say that physical symptoms such as chronic, unexplained pain, headaches and nausea have been and still remain far more distressing and life-impacting for me than the presence of parts.