It’s been a reoccurring theme for me so let me talk about my Dissociative Disorder. Might as well since it’s been ticked up more than a notch since the riots (“Baltimore Uprising”? Yeaaaaah, way to Whitewash and disrespectfully glorify what is going on, you can nearly hear Muse “Victorious” playing in the background. I guess White saviorists got tired of Ferguson and want to live out their Rage Against the Machine dreams here. In my city. Where they are not welcomed. At all. They’re riots, stop trying to romanticize the problem you helped make) because, as I have said several times in the recent past, I’m originally from the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. So, like the vast majority of the people from Sandtown (and Baltimore), I have C-PTSD, which means “Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. The basic difference between PTSD and C-PTSD can be best put this way: If a soldier has PTSD, the kids and people living in the invaded country has C-PTSD. The soldier eventually gets shipped back home but the kids and people left behind have to stay in the rocket-pocked area because it’s home.
Same thing for kids in the inner city, it’s a place where you can easily get PTSD/C-PTSD because of the environment alone, not even including the institutionalized barriers that keeps the people there (and not getting help). Add that and the situation turns from being like crabs in a bucket to trying not to get sucked back into a malevolent vortex. It’s nearly impossible to say someone could come from such an area and still wind up neurotypical or sane. I certainly didn’t and many don’t. And we didn’t even add the usual day-to-day circumstances of just being an individual, which can compound the ever present stresses that no one – except for the people actually from the areas – want to talk about.
My PTSD came from a lot of different things I grew up with, from really crappy people to really crappy systems and circumstances as well as people and circumstances that were very well meaning but did more harm than anything. Then you had folks and circumstances that you seriously couldn’t tell which type they were: one second they’re helping you, next, they basically made you mastermind your own demise without knowing.
Now, from that PTSD basically came a garden plot for other issues such as OCD (not fun and riddled with tv-made myths), trichotillomania (that showed up first when I was around 10), and the most destructive one, Dissociative disorder, where I’m officially considered DD-NOS.
Because I’m lazy and saw a really good picture explanation from a tumblr titled “Trauma and Dissociation”, here’s the basic overview of what I am talking about and how the Dissociative spectrum works:
If anyone is going “Wow, this sounds totally crazy. Like, psychokiller crazy,” yeaaaaah, you try dealing with really violent and unstable environments for a vast majority of your life and let’s see how you turn out. Most people get scared of Baltimore because they saw The Wire or read The Corner (which is the source material for the HBO show and was also a HBO special itself), and they’re just reading about it or watching a cable drama, not actually living there so it should be no surprise I or anyone else could wind up with such a severe disorder. Also, not everyone is an amoral, violent nutjob out to murder any and every one…that’s moreso White guys from the middle class on up. Kids in the hood at least have valid reasons for being angry, but with less high-numbered mass killing sprees. My disorder can easily turn quite vicious when triggered (hence why I tell people to not trigger me) because it turns out bottling emotions like anger and frustration and more anger in the name of social upward mobility is unhealthy – eventually it tries to becomes another person.
Also, if you learned most of your psych knowledge from tv or movies, this means you have very little knowledge on disorders in all. Going off of that one (inaccurate) episode of Empire won’t teach you anything about mental illness, just that people who have it are somehow scary and should be both actively and passively shunned, preferably into silence and out of sight. Random youtube vids and vines would show that mental illness should be made fun of for kicks and giggles because picking on mentally fractured people is funny, kind of like cracking on a dying cancer patient. Media does not try to depict mental illness in its honesty. Instead it is used to be a short cut to making a tv show or movie look more “riveting” or like there is supposed to be a stunning plot present because the show creators were lazy and good writers are expensive. There is the Korean drama “Kill Me, Heal Me” which was based around the main character having Dissociative Identity Disorder (a bit different from Dissociative Disorder, I’ll touch on that in a minute) but still, the show didn’t showcase the illness correctly, it basically tried to hit on as many mental illness tropes as it could. I watch the show with my friend, who lives in Korea, and from everything I saw, it was pretty decent tv (from a K-drama perspective) but no way would a Korean resident feel empowered to say, “Maybe I should get help” or “hey, mentally ill people aren’t wacked out freaks but actual human beings inflicted with a condition because of their experiences.” Newp. Not at all. I still suggest the K-Drama “It’s Ok, That’s Love” however because, even though it is framed around schizophrenia, they did an amazing job depicting Tourette’s and schizophrenia in very humanizing ways, which is necessary. Especially since most media doesn’t do that. Or if they do, the casting looks like it was done by a Klansman.
Alright, I said that Dissociative Disorder is different from Dissociative Identity disorder, let’s touch on that. They’re both part of the same disorder but the different points on the same spectrum. The Dissociative spectrum, basically. It starts out at Dissociative but in the middle of the spectrum is Dissociative Identity Disorder (old name is Multiple Personality Disorder) and the end of the spectrum, a very rare formation of the illness, is Dissociative Fugue, where you basically forget who you are and build a brand new life, personality and identity. The basic part of Dissociative is that it’s not Dissociative if there’s no amnesia. All Dissociative is, in all forms, is the mind trying to disconnect from the realities of the trauma(s) taking place and thus puts the memories somewhere else, which causes the amnesia and gaps in the memory beyond reasonable stretches. This isn’t forgetting where you put your keys but forgetting whole chunks of your life. Dissociative Identity is where the mind is still trying to shelter itself but still forced to engage with the situation and/or environment, it creates a new person to deal with it. So now that person has one set of memories and personality traits (someone with DID can have many personalities, someone with DID-NOS can have many different personas (non-fully formed personalities, more like masks), we’re just going with one here) and the other personality has a different set and sometimes personalities don’t know about each other. Dissociative Fugue is basically the mind going “I’m just going to restart fresh” and do exactly that. The person will have no memory of the life they previously lived, they’ll possibly have a different name, they may even relocate to a different state or country, have a different personality, everything. Also, because DID is so “popular” in the public consciousness, many people will assume that DID is the end all and be all of the whole spectrum instead of simply being a notch, not the measure, of a bigger spectrum. So if someone says they have Dissociative, don’t call it DID. It’s like calling clinical depression “manic depression” simply because they share a word.
If this all seems really confusing, think of the mind like a desktop computer. On a normal computer, there’s only one account because it belongs to one person. But in the case of Dissociative, memory files, including vital ones, tend to get moved to distant and rarely used folders without the user knowing. And the user may never know what is missing until they need to pull up one of those files but keep getting 404 Errors and “File Not Found”. For Dissociative Identity Disorder, imagine the computer now having various user accounts. Now the computer will look different, have a different layout, so on and so forth based on user but it is still the same computer. Each user has fairly immediate access to their files and their files only and won’t see the files from other users, as if the computer is just for them. Now, it’s not that those files on the other accounts disappeared, they’re still there, but you have to dig deeper into the system tree to find them. Everyone still pulls their information from the same hard drive, it’s just all compartmentalized for personalized use. Sometimes different users know about each other, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes files cross, sometimes they don’t. For Dissociative Fugue, it’s like the computer going through a reformat, a hard restart, without knowing unless someone uses a data retrieving program on the harddrive to see what was originally on it before it got cleared.
Here is a video also about someone talking about Dissociative (actually, Disssociative Amnesia, to be exact), notice how the woman affected in the video responds to a memory about a traumatic incident in her life.
This is basically what happens to me. Memories locked away by Disassociation are usually not recalled, that’s the amnesia part at work. With therapy, the elderly woman could rediscover her memories but it’s not going to be easy because they were buried away for a reason. If it was DID, she would have another personality that would be able to remember the incident perfectly. Notice that she does not. It’s just plain Dissociative disorder, the bottom part of the spectrum.
Now I’m considered DD-NOS, as you read above in the picture, this means that I’m considered “Not Otherwise Specified”. It basically boils down to “I’m between place points on the spectrum.” I do more than simply forget/block out bad memories, I nearly become someone different while really disassociating so I’m not merely tagged “Dissociative”. The persona is not a full-fledged personality, complete with practically an identity of its own, so I’m not considered DID. I’m too close to the “DID” label for my comfort but I’m still not DID. Instead I’m just a potentially prime candidate to go DID if my disorder is consistently disturbed and I’m still in a volatile environment. This is why I stress to people that I don’t like being triggered, that I usually go out my way to reduce chances of triggers, go to a therapist, etc etc.
A mini, crappily made guide to best illustrate what I’m saying:
Since there are folks who are probably going, “Then this means that we don’t have to listen to you because since you’re mental, thus a terrible source of information about Paganism and metaphysics.” Nah, wrong. I learned metaphysics despite having PTSD and all the disorders that it basically brewed. I’m still sensible enough to explain and understand complex philosophical theories. It’s not like my PTSD rendered me unable to read and think. When not triggered, I’m pretty regular. As I explained in a past piece “My Peanut Allergy”, my disorders don’t start raising havoc if nothing pokes at them. However, I’ve been hyper-focusing on my disorders so I can get better faster instead of just saying, “‘Eh, I’ll worry about it later” since I’ve basically been saying that for nearly 10 years. Procrastinating on your health for a decade is never a good idea, let’s be frank. It just gets in the way of everything else and gets worse, not better. Not being fully invested in metaphysics, energy manipulation and psionics does suck but I gotta focus on getting better, which is remarkably difficult since the United States is still crappy when it comes to healthcare and affordability of said healthcare. Last I checked, America came 34th in Healthcare but no.1 in how expensive it is. And that’s with the major focus being on physical healthcare. Mental healthcare is worse, that’s certain.