Ok so it happened again some time last night or early this morning. I suddenly realized I was outside in my garden in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm wearing just my Pj’s and soaking wet.
I have no idea how long I had been out there or how long the storm had been going on for, but I do know TJ my dog was very unsettled.
Recently I have found that I am ‘zoning out again’ and in more ways than one.
One way in which I zone out is by losing whole chunks of time. I have written about this before and in fact even wrote a poem about it. You can read it or even listen to it if you have a mind to. It can be found either on this blog: ‘The Time Thief‘ or, if you prefer, on my poetry blog: ‘The Time Thief‘.
(I apologize for the sound quality but I had a cold at the time I recorded it and the same recording is on both sites. Hm, I really must re-record that!)
The other way in which I am zoning out is by what we call triggering it seems. “Triggering” is a term applied to many things and indeed several things within the Mental Health field.
“What ‘triggered’ your last episode?”, “Do you know what triggered this anxiety attack?” and “Do you know what triggers your depression?” are all common questions. And of course sometimes the answer to the question is ‘no’.
The same is true when you have DID (or MPD as it is also known) and whilst those of us who have DID may well know some of the things which do trigger us – for me it is often: unexpected abuse scenes in films, NSPCC or Child cruelty related adverts, the sound of a leather belt being cracked against itself, or the combined smell of Old Spice and sweat, to name but a few – we don’t always know (after having been triggered) what it was that triggered us on that particular occasion.
All we do know (very often that is) is that we have triggered and indeed there are tell tale signs which we have learned to look for or be aware of…
A knife being left out with peanut butter on it, a cartoon based DVD left in the DVD player, crayons and toys (which I keep specifically for my littles) being left out, going to the bathroom and realizing you are wearing briefs or Y fronts even though when you got dressed that morning you put on your customary boxer shorts.
All of these are (for me personally) indicators of my having triggered at some point and that a little came out to play. There are often less obvious signs when my older ones come out but certain books being moved, or left lying around, pictures having been drawn in certain styles or with certain subject matters, websites and music or quiz sites being present in my browser history number among them.
And then of course there are the more serious and concerning indicators. The results of having self-harmed and indeed how it has been done can be one of them. And is always very disturbing when you ‘become yourself again’ and see it or (if it happened during the night) wake up to find it.
Or those disconcerting times when a house guest or one of your kids tells you that they heard you moving around in the night and when they went to investigate and check you were alright you were walking around stark naked or dressed only in briefs and carrying a teddy bear.
Yes these times can be most disconcerting and I am sure are equally as upsetting for the person finding a grown man who is built like an outhouse walking around in a state of undress and carrying a small teddy bear in the middle of the night!
Thankfully I live alone and so those particular occurences are few and far between and additionally what house guests I do very occasionally have are usually either family or made fully aware of my DID and the relative risks involved.
For those of you who are not familiar with DID or MPD I have written about it before – one such post is ‘When The Golden Thread Snapped – A Personal Look at Dissociative Identity Disorder‘ and you can read a little about it there or there are plenty of other excellent blogs and sites about it on the web. But trust me it can be a very scary and difficult thing to live with.
I guess the most simplistic way of explaining it is to think of one of those old weather vane boxes/houses. You have probably seen the type I mean. You have a little house with two doorways. Inside one doorway there is a little man usually with raincoat and umbrella and inside the other doorway is a little woman in a dress.
They are on a spindle and depending on the weather the little man comes out to the front indicating rain or the little woman comes out to the front indicating sunshine. On neutral days they both stay in of course.
When I was but a boy my older sister brought one home from a school holiday to Switzerland. I mention them because they are, in my opinion, an excellent (albeit very simplistic) way of visually describing DID/MPD. Only one of them came come forward and be out at a time and that person being forward and out means the other has to be in. So it is with DID/MPD.
Of course with DID/MPD whilst one person, (the core, central or host – depending on your terminology and personally I hate the term ‘host’) remains constant the other person can be any one of a number of persons depending on the DID/MPD and are of varying ages.
In terms of awareness the way it works for me is also very similar to the spindle effect of that little weather house.
When I – the core me – am out I tend for the most part (unless I totally zone out altogether as described above and in the Time Thief poem) to be aware of what is going on. But when I trigger my others (or alters – again depending on your prefered terminology) have the awareness and I have none.
There are of course times or a point where (just like in our little weather house) both I the core person and the alter are interchanging and side by side and I often do have some memories of these times depending on how gradually this happens each time. As I mentioned before it can be very sudden or seemingly even happen in my sleep.
And last night (or early this morning whichever it actually was) was one of those times when it either happened suddenly or when I was asleep as I have absolutely no recollection of how I got to be outside in a thunder and lightning storm 😦
Thankfully, apart from being tired and having the inevitable headache that often follows such episodes I am fine and no damage or self-harm was done. The absence of any teddy bear or soft toy, plus the presence of pj’s indicates to me it was probably one of my older littles but I can’t be sure. Although their having of put on some shoes might have been a good idea DUH!
Of course these things bring embarrassment and frustration – although thankfully I think it happened too early for my neighbours to have seen me – and the tendency to get cross with your alters and want to punish them in some way.
But I think it is important to remember that they haven’t had the benefit of growing and learning and understanding and have probably had their fill of being misunderstood and unjustly punished. And after all there is a million miles between loving discipline and unjust punishment isn’t there?
So it is at times like these when I have to just be thankful that it wasn’t far worse and to hope that somehow they can learn and grow and that together we can heal.