Are You a Multiple or Just Confused?

Having lived the last 66 years with multiple personality disorder gives me a unique perspective on life. There is no such thing as a normal day when you have this disorder. My brain will think of things to do and say much faster than I can do them. I do better if I plan ahead for the next day. Of course just because I plan my day, doesn’t mean I’ll actually do all the things I’ve planned.

There is also the other extreme – doing three or four things at once. I’ll start one project, see another that I can do quickly and begin that, and then before I’ve finished either of those, start a third and fourth. This is definitely “crazy” behavior. If I had Bi-Polar Disorder, it would be a short manic period. The problem is, if I don’t quit and start cleaning up, it becomes very obvious that I’ve “gone over the edge.”

Having a conversation is also challenging, because while I am talking or while the other person is talking, one of my personalities will think of something else and miss the point. If I don’t monitor myself diligently, I’ll blank out and miss what the other person is saying, or I’ll change the subject without blinking an eye. I feel like my head is a gum ball machine. I can put my quarter in, but I’m never sure what’s going to come out.

Have you had problems with confusion? Do you ever feel like you’re on a mental “wild goose chase?”

All of these problems have their root in confusion. Here is what Mr. Webster has to say about “confuse.”

  1. archaic: to bring to ruin
  2. to make embarrassed: ABASH. This word originally meant to shame
  3. to disturb in mind or purpose: THROW OFF (“Interrogators who do their best to frighten and bewilder him,” Aldous Huxley)
  4. to make indistinct: BLUR (stop confusing the issue)
  5. to mix indiscriminately: JUMBLE
  6. to fail to differentiate from an often similar or related other ( ~ money with comfort).

I think all of us have experienced confusion, and hopefully this definition is helpful in understanding how to deal with it. Do you have problems with confusion? Do you have a special way of dealing with it?

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A Taxing Interview

Last week I gathered our tax records and drove to see my accountant, Wade. Wade and I have been friends for years and we always catch up during tax season. I sat down in his office, which is nicely outfitted in arts and crafts movement furniture. I placed my records neatly on the customer side of Wade’s desk, and waited.

“How are you doing Nancy?” he asked as he came in briskly and took his place on the other side of the desk. We exchanged pleasantries and then he slid the records over towards him and began checking them out. He likes to make sure he understands what’s what.

“Is there anything new I should know about?” he asked.

“Yes, I’m deducting business expenses for my writing. I’m writing a book.”

“All right,” he said as he began reading the list of expenses I had made. “What’s the name of your book?” People always want to know the name of the book I’m writing. Sometimes I’m almost too shy to tell them, but since I’ve known Wade for so long and he has never transgressed on our friendship I told him.

“It’s called Multiple: Surviving Child Abuse, a Journey through Insanity.” I know this title is mind boggleing, so I waited to see his reaction. He stopped trying to read the report and was thinking. I could almost see the wheels turning in Wade’s head and I thought he was probably wondering what to say, so I continued.

“I have Multiple Personality Disorder. I was sexually abused as a child and I have more than thirteen personalities!” For some reason this always takes people by surprise. After a very long pause, a pregnant pause, Wade looked up from the paper.

“You’re not a serial killer are you?” A simple question, but why do people assume that if you have multiple personalities one of them is a serial killer?  Fortunately, Wade smiled as soon as he said it and we both laughed.

“No, none of my personalities are killers.” With this pertinent information in hand, Wade stopped perusing the tax records and began questioning me at length about my illness and my book. We spent ten or fifteen minutes talking about being a multiple and writing a book.

My point in telling you all this is, that the public really needs educated about Dissociative Identity Disorder, aka Multiple Personality Disorder. That is the reason I wrote my memoir. I want people to know about what happened to me and how I discovered my “alters,” so that possibly another child might be saved from the same fate.

I want people to find out how crazy I was for the first fifty years of my life, although I was never a serial killer, and how shocking it was to discover my other personalities, which I found when I was in a mental hospital. I also want people to know that there is help out there and that “mental cases” can live fairly normal lives if treated. I’d like to get the word out there so that other people with multiple personalities can get help.

The statistics are rather revealing. Safe Horizon.org published a statistic on their website stating that there are 3.6 million reports of child abuse in the United States every year and that six million children are involved. Please be vigilant and call the Child Abuse Hotline if you think a child is being abused. The number is 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

Did You Celebrate Multiple Personality Day?

I am so embarrassed. I missed Multiple Personality Day, which was March 5th. I hope I have not lost any readers because of my memory lapse!

Did you celebrate? Are you a multiple or a single-minded individual? I’m sure many of you had great celebrations with cakes, gifts, and balloons, but what about those who are not multiples? We could call them indivisibles, with liberty and justice for all. I think that’s what we should call them.

My guess is that most multiples had no idea it was Multiple Personality Day. Most of us try so hard to appear normal that we forget everything else.

Some parts of me realized this special day was during March, but my overall presiding personality, Control, wanted confirmation in black and white. Unfortunately I was not able to find the information I wanted on the internet, but I did find a great video on multiple personality, which I presented in my last post.

Since I have mentioned Control, I will describe him/her/it. Control was created in the eighties, when I became a married middle-class woman living in a small university town. My third husband kept coaching me on how to raise my two daughters from previous marriages. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to do it right.

“You have to be consistent,” he said. Well, if there’s anything a multiple can’t do, it’s be consistent. An untreated  multiple has little chance of being consistent. Some of us can’t remember what we did yesterday, much less what significant lesson we were trying to teach our children.

So I created Control, who has no feelings, no gender and no past. This personality was the perfect entity to run a complex household. He/she kept track of holidays (unlike Nancy), car pool schedules, grocery lists, Doctor’s appointments, church responsibilities, cleaning schedules, laundry and meal planning and execution. (I don’t actually execute my meals, I do cook them!)

Control handled all of the above without getting upset. Most of my other personalities can’t do that, because they get upset if there are too many details. They get overloaded and then, wham, they change into someone else!

So that is my excuse for forgetting Multiple Personality Day. I hope you were able to have a nice celebration anyway! Did anyone do anything special?

Dr. Colin Ross explains Multiple Personality Disorder

Procrastination is my mind bandage

The most obvious symptom of being a multiple may be lack of action. When you have several people inside you and they all want to do something different, if they don’t agree on what to do, you have a conundrum. This leads to all sorts of confusion and disagreement on the inside. Sometimes I just sit around doing nothing because “we” can’t decide what to do.

After my last blog I learned a few things from Madelyn Griffith-Haynie who has a post on procrastination and task anxiety. Her blog is called “ADD and so much more”, and it’s on wordpress.  She explains that we are most likely to procrastinate on a task that has many steps. For example, I don’t mind going out to the mailbox, which is by the road, on spring, summer and fall days, because it’s just one task. However, in the winter I hate to go get the mail because its takes five tasks.

  1. Change my shoes to boots.
  2. Put on my coat, gloves and hat.
  3. Walk to the mailbox, get the mail, and walk back to the house.
  4. Take off my coat, gloves and hat.
  5. Take off my boots and put on my shoes.

For that reason I put off getting the mail, and I owe thanks to Madelyn for her wisdom on the subject.

I have found something to do while I’m procrastinating and trying to get my personalities to agree on what we are going to do. It is my mind bandage. It is freecell, the solitaire game of all games. I can play it without thinking too hard, so my numb mind can be deciding what to do at the same time.

I found a website to help me through my dilemma. It is called Freecell.net and there I can play competitively. The site has twelve kinds of freecell to choose from and playing against other people and having a little competition enhances the idea that you’re really doing something. The site even has a special screen for people who are playing while they are at work. It looks like a screen from excel. The people who host freecell.net are geniuses.

Oh, Oh, I’m starting to feel kind of weird. I must be facing a big decision, because I need my mind bandage. I think I’d better get over to freecell.net right away, so I can relax and calm down!

The True Meaning of Procrastinate

For definitions I always turn to my favorite linguist, Daniel Webster’s wife, Merriam. Here’s the way she defines the word in question: pro– forward + crastinus of tomorrow: to put off intentionally and habitually something that should be done.

My own multi-linguist definition begins with the “pro” at the beginning of the word. “Pro” implies that the person professing to procrastinate is a professional (say that three times fast). In other words, it takes a professional to be very good at putting things off. Amateurs need to “work” on their procrastinating skills, thus eliminating themselves from the group.

Procrastinators start early and stay up late. To truly become an expert one must do it all day. This involves sacrifice. You can’t go out, you shouldn’t get dressed or bathe. Brushing your teeth is optional. Lastly, ordering Chinese is the mark of a true professional.

By definition procrastinators can’t have a goal, but if they did, it would be to forget everything they have to do so they can relax and take time off.  And remember the procrastinators slogan: Procrastinate spelled backwards spells etanitsarcorp, which sounds like “ain’t it a sack of crap.”

The Multipologist

During my first ½ year of blogging about multiple personality I have made up several words that need attention from Webster’s wife Merriam and his daughter, Kory.

Multiple – a person who has more than one personality. The aforementioned person may or may not know about it. The psychiatric community diagnoses these unfortunates as having Dissociative Identity Disorder. They may consider themselves insane, crazy, deranged, a kook, or a nut case. In my case, I knew I was crazy from the age of four, but doctors of psychology didn’t find my “alters” until I was fifty. In other words, it is very hard to diagnose a multiple.

Deranged – A crazy person with no ability to think clearly. Blogger.

Derangement – Rearranging the furniture until one feels deranged and/or nauseated.

Multipology – The study of patients with multiple personality. One could possibly receive a degree in multipology, i.e. a BS in multipology (not a Bachelor of Science degree.)

Multipologist – One who feels apologetic about studying multiples, or is an expert in the field of multipology.

Multipoligamist – One who is married to a multiple or several multiples.

Weirdom – A state of being weird and unable to do anything but type.  May closely follow an episode of derangement. Seek professional help.

Lastly but not leastly, here is the dictionary definition: Multiple personality n (1901) an hysterical neurosis in which the personality becomes dissociated into two or more distinct but complex and socially and behaviorally integrated  parts each of which becomes dominant and controls behavior from time to time to the exclusion of the others.

I recently came across a blog I love. It is called Harmless Drudgery, and the writer, Kory Stamper, claims that she is seeing life from inside the dictionary, mainly because she works at Merriam-Webster. I can’t imagine a better job than being around words all day, except that, since we think in words, it might become difficult to think clearly after lunch. Perhaps Kory receives visitors on the job, and I could bring her my list of words.

The conversation could go something like this:

“Hi Kory, I’m Nancy and I made up some words for the dictionary.”

“I’m sorry, Nancy, but we can’t put words into the dictionary until they are commonly used.”

“They are commonly used. I use them all the time.”

“By commonly used, I mean a lot of people must use them in common conversation.”

“Maybe they do use them!”

“Maybe they don’t.”

“Well, I do, and I want them in the dictionary.”

“Too bad, until they come across my desk as being in common usage, Merriam-Webster doesn’t put them in the dictionary.”

“Well, humph! Do you happen to have the address for Funk and Wagnalls?” (I leave the office feeling somewhat deranged).

My Personalities Switched Again

Have you ever gone to the doctor for a physical condition that seemed serious to you, and when you got home, you can’t remember what the doctor said about it? That happens to me quite often, and last week I figured out why.

My husband Bob took me to the dermatologist last week because I had a suspicious spot on my arm that looked like it could be cancerous. The doctor was a young man, probably still in his twenties and he is the younger brother of my previous dermatologist, so I trusted him.

He came in with his nurse and questioned me for several minutes about the spot on my arm, diagnosing it as pernicious eczema. We were chatting pleasantly as he came around the exam table and picked up my other hand. He rubbed his thumb over the back of my hand, checking for possible skin cancers. I remember feeling his touch and thinking it was sexy. I think he felt it too, because he quickly withdrew his hand.

He asked me a few more questions and gave me two samples of a cream to use to fight the diseased spot on my arm. The nurse wrote down the instructions for me, so I wouldn’t forget them. The doctor talked to Bob a few minutes, answered some questions, and then we left.

Later, after Bob and I got home, we were talking about the doctor visit. I mentioned that I thought I might have a spot on my neck and that I wished I had asked the doctor about it.

“The doctor examined your neck,” Bob reminded me.

“No he didn’t,” I said, frowning.

“He walked all around you and lifted up your hair, and looked at your skin. Don’t you remember?”

“No!” I thought this was very strange. I didn’t remember the doctor checking over my left arm, my face or my neck.

“It just happened a few hours ago,” Bob said, looking at me strangely. “How could you forget?”

“I don’t know,” I answered, thinking back to my visit to the doctor. “I remember he checked my right hand, and then it was time to go.” Bob and I seemed to realize what happened at the same time. I had dissociated during the office visit. One of my other personalities had come in and taken my place, while the doctor had gone around me and checked for cancers. The excitement I felt when he touched my hand must have triggered fear and caused a personality switch.

I was really amazed as I stood talking to Bob. How could I switch so easily and not notice? I’ve been in therapy for years, and my personalities are still dissociating.

I’m hoping most of you do not have alternate personalities popping into your conscious mind without permission, but I wonder if some of you have forgotten what the doctor said during a visit. Is it because of my age or does it happen to young people occasionally?

Exposing “Sybil Exposed”

            Journalist Debbie Nathan’s book Sybil Exposed is Ms. Nathan’s effort to prove that Sybil, the best seller and TV movie from the 70’s, was not true.  Ms. Nathan discovered transcripts and plentiful records of Sybil’s therapy sessions collected by the author of Sybil, Flora Rheta Schreiber. These were found in 2008 at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Many older readers remember Sybil, the book and the movie, which recount the struggles of a young woman whose mind, divided by childhood sexual abuse, broke into seventeen personalities. We now know that Sybil’s real name was Shirley Mason and her parents were Mattie and Walter Mason, who lived in Dodge Center, Minnesota.

Ms. Nathan has certainly done mountains of research, which is to her credit. However, it seems to me that she begins with a bias against multiple personality disorder, which never really disappears from her writing.

The main premise of Debbie Nathan’s book is that Shirley’s psychiatrist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, forced Shirley to remember events that were not true. Ms. Nathan claims that because Dr. Wilbur used overdoses of drugs on Shirley, the girl came up with “false memories.” Ms. Nathan adds that many of Dr. Wilbur’s techniques were questionable, including a deep bonding and close friendship between the doctor and Shirley, which is forbidden by the oath taken to become a psychiatrist and broke the boundaries between patient and doctor.

Ms. Nathan claims that Shirley Mason made up her personalities and her abuse, which seems to be a very callous judgement about a woman who lived most of her life in psychiatric treatment. Since very few people even knew about multiple personality disorder, how could Shirley know how to pretend she had it? At one point in her therapy with Dr. Wilbur, Shirley wrote the doctor a letter saying she had made up all the personalities, so I can see how Ms. Nathan came to her conclusion. But why would Dr. Wilbur continue treatment with these personalities? Ms. Nathan claims it was for the fame and the money.

Ms. Nathan goes on to say that Shirley was diagnosed with pernicious anemia when she was about ten years old, and that the disease was probably the cause of Shirley’s craziness. Ms. Nathan writes,

“Soon Shirley would not know the difference between the bad feelings in her mind and the malfunctions in her body. All would combine, into a performance that eventually would become one of the most dramatic productions in world, with help from Dr. Cornelia Wilbur and her ‘pure science.’” Sybil Exposed, p.220.

Ms. Nathan also includes several pictures of Shirley and notes she wrote calling her mother “good mother, bad mother,” because Mattie was kind to daughter on some occasions and tortured  her on others (Mattie Mason was once diagnosed as a schizophrenic). One picture shows Shirley as a young girl. She is grossly underweight, her right eye looks black and blue and her smile looks like it’s pasted on. In a picture drawn by Shirley, she writes that her mother thought she was “too fat,” and she wasn’t permitted to have lunch. Isn’t that evidence that Mattie was overtly cruel to her daughter?

Since I have Multiple Personality Disorder myself, of course I don’t agree with Debbie Nathan. I felt hurt by this book, which seems to claim that all multiples are just imagining their abuse, that it never happened and that they are making up their alternate personalities. Unfortunately there is no one to ask about the truthfulness of either Sybil or Sybil Exposed. All three women are now dead.

For those who really want to know the truth about Sybil. Dr. Patrick Suraci interviewed Shirley Mason before she died and wrote a book entitled Sybil in her own words: The Untold Story of Shirley Mason, Her Multiple Personalities and Paintings, Nov. 2011. I am planning to read that book soon and I will report on it.

I wonder if Debbie Nathan set out to prove that Sybil was normal, but proved instead that her psychiatrist was crazy. Claiming that multiple personality is a hoax takes away some hope for the children who are being sexually abused now. Are they just imagining it? Are they play-acting to get attention? Are they just making it up to vent their hatred for their parents? Or, are they simply victims of pernicious anemia?

Here’s another link about Multiple Personality

 

http://www.humanillnesses.com/original/Men-Os/Multiple-Personality-Disorder-Dissociative-Identity-Disorder.html

An Open Letter to Mom

Dear Mom, It’s been so long since I’ve seen you and I miss you terribly. I miss the way we used to walk in the woods and pick violets. I miss the old washtub you let me play in and my Annie Oakley gun set and the way you used to hold me by the window so I could watch the snow. There’s so much that I want to tell you.

When I was fifty years old I discovered that I have multiple personality disorder. I know if you were here and could talk to the psychologists and psychiatrists you would understand me better. I acted crazy when I was growing up and you had no idea what to do with me. Thank goodness, now I understand it. I had several personalities doing things that were not socially acceptable and acting out against you and Father. Please forgive me.

I had a problem with rage, as I’m sure you remember. The rage was not against you, it was against the babysitter that abused me when I was four years old. Mom, she held a butcher knife over me and threatened to kill me if I told you or Father. If you think back to the summer of 1946, you’ll remember that I started acting strange. You kept asking me what was wrong, but I couldn’t tell you. I was hoping you’d figure it out, but you didn’t.  So I know you formed a great dislike for me because I failed in every way to be the daughter you wanted. Again, please forgive me. I know it may be a few more years before I see you again, and that day is in the Lord’s timing. Just know that I love you dearly and I’ll see you when I get to heaven. Love, Nancy

A Childish Alter in Monterey

The Lighter Side of Being a Multiple

It’s Monday and that means getting serious about my work. I am presently writing a memoir about the discovery of my other personalities. It’s called “Multiple: A Journey through Insanity.” It’s the story of my sexual abuse as a child and how it injured my mind. The book is very serious and it gets me down when I spend all my time writing about my abuse and it’s consequences.

That’s why I’m writing this blog – for comic relief. It helps to laugh at myself and my circumstances, especially ones that I can not or don’t want to change.

I’m writing about the lighter side of being a multiple. Actually in my case there would be more than thirteen sides: the dark side, the lighter side, the serious side, the brighter side, the comic side, the icky side, the romantic side, the sexy side, the gross side, the pretty side, the ugly side, the up side, the down side, and last but not least, the calm side. Just kidding. There is no calm side!

Do you have some of these sides to your personality?

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Other Multiples

If you know someone with multiple personalities, please tell them about my blog. I would like to connect with them