I intended to update this site every week. Truth be told I needed a break from this and from Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (ASCA) meetings. I journaled for myself during this absence but I simply couldn’t put myself ‘full-hog’ into self-improvement. Going too fast is destabilizing for those of us with deep early childhood trauma. I needed to step back for self-care. I needed to step back because I had been given another diagnosis: Other Specified Dissociative Disorder-1 (OSDD-1).
To say I had a hard time with this diagnosis is an understatement. I fought it. I disbelieved. I was convinced that I subconsciously made up my symptoms, or used improper language to describe them, and misled my therapist. I went into therapy each week with a new theory about how I had an atypical (often non-existent) variant of any other disorder that meant I merely looked like I had fragments. I spent hours online hoping to find information that would somehow ‘disprove’ I had OSDD-1. But nothing stuck, and I knew Complex PTSD alone did not describe all the dissociative symptoms I experienced- symptoms which came and went. This inconsistency is not uncommon but it made wrapping my mind around everything much harder! I drew elaborate diagrams to somehow help me understand why I sometimes have symptoms and sometimes don’t. In the end I am starting to come around. The shoe fits and occasional symptom-flare ups remind me that this is real.
In many ways I have already been writing about complex PTSD as if it were OSDD-1. The idea of somehow being less integrated made sense to me even as I fought and denied it. This description is technically accurate for PTSD and OSDD-1: many people in fact would classify OSDD-1 as a type of PTSD. The difference between complex PTSD and OSDD-1 is that dissociated parts in OSDD-1 are more developed than they are in complex PTSD. OSDD-1 is considered to be like Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) except that the full DID criteria is not met (for more information please see my links page). For example, parts might not be as distinguishable as they are in DID, and/or there may not be amnesia between parts.
I lack amnesia between parts and do not have parts that are as distinguishable as they are in DID. Unless I say what is truly on my mind, no one would notice anything different about me between parts. Until now I didn’t even notice a difference. I just thought everyone experienced the world as I did (arguing with myself, knowing I should do something and wanting to do it but not being able to, memories sometimes being clear and other times being hazy, feeling stuck…), or that I was experiencing ADHD symptoms (impulsiveness, hyper-focus, lack of focus/motivation…). My therapist weathered my denial by having me chart my dissociative symptoms. I tried ‘moving forward’ as one but it didn’t work: I need help to be able to do that. We’re supposed to start a new technique of noticing how my body feels, what behavior I want to do, what emotions I have, and what I think (in that order). It’s supposed to ground me in my body and help me address my ‘phobia of inner experience’. I am terrified. I want to run away and hide.
Which brings me to my current predicament: I have datasets and papers to work on, stuff that I should have finished a long time ago; I have emails to send, little things to do for others, an article to review, presentations and a poster to make. My laundry and cleaning situation is beyond a crisis, and I have personal email and chores I’ve neglected. Yet I cannot focus on any of it. I want to focus on it; I just feel so overwhelmed with all of it and with my inner experience that I just want to run away and hide. I think I should put concrete asks out to others to help me complete things (sometimes just having company helps me get things done) and decide to do so, but then I don’t. I don’t want to burden others with asks, say I should be self-reliant, fear I won’t get what I need if I ask for it, and don’t want to put too much on others by letting them know the depths of this disorder.
But I have energy and intent to work, to move forward, to not be stagnant, to live. I feel frustrated, not defeated. I have finally accepted the ‘big scary’ and will start addressing it directly in therapy. I am stuck but am bursting at my seems to move forward. Maybe now I can finally write again, and maybe now it’s what I need.