Category: Mental Health/Mental Illness


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Before I start with this post, there’s gonna be a teeny-weeny change here! Black Witch will be using Venmo for instead of Ko-Fi, now. For a few weeks, I have began posts with “Support Black Witch with Digital Coffee” as a way for readers to donate via Ko-Fi but it’s getting switched to Venmo. This will be it’s own post but for now, let’s continue with below.

Alters
This is a trailer for a short film about having Dissociative Identity Disorder. Constant readers will know that I talk about DID pretty extensively, especially if there is any good media about it. While this is simply a trailer, the video looks great, just like the website.

Does not center Whiteness
Just about every storied retelling of DID I have come across has a White person at the center. Sybil: White. Split: White. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde: White. United States of Tara: White. Even when I look at documentaries about DID, they feature White people, always. Besides K-Dramas Heal Me/Kill Me and Hyde Jekyll, Me, everything stays very blanche neige. Even only super recently did I find a Black youtuber who talked about having DID, axolotls-in-a-trenchcoat.

In Alters, the lead is not White, but Latina. The alters don’t appear White. This is really great because not every person with DID is a White person. For example: I’m not White and I have DID. Severe and extensive long-term childhood trauma happens to way more than just to White people. Way, way more.

Well Researched/Well Done
The trailer doesn’t appear that they will rely on DID tropes but be more honest in its retelling. Basically, the creators did their homework, it seems. Usually, stories about DID sound very absurd and always forget that every person with DID all started out the same: with extensive childhood trauma. It appears the lead will be moreso humanized than anything – a person with DID who is simply just trying to get through life just like everyone else.

The website even has a fact sheet about DID. Also the writer for the script has DID herself so it really showed for great accuracy from a primary person’s perspective.

Why this trailer appears promising
Reminds me of another, creatively accurate telling of DID, short film called “Inside”, which I have also featured here. DID is not a hard disorder to display if you have enough actors on one hand (and a smart researcher in the other). Those with DID constantly say that their alters (short for “alternate identities” – not to be confused with “alter ego”, which is generally used by entertainers, not those with DID) are like separate people, complete with their own ideas, looks, thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes. While this short film plays on the mental asylum trope (dark and spooky), the depiction of what it is like to have DID is pretty dead-on.

I really look forward to seeing the full film, which also will be featured here.

Abdullah X
To say that this is a constantly changing world is putting it lightly. In America, there are constant mass shootings, a numbnut in the White House (that’s working on getting himself impeached because a) he’s a numbnut and b) don’t take help from Russia to become an American president, we’ve got a long history together and it isn’t a fun one, so much going on. And super hard to keep the faith. Or at least keep the faith from getting twisted. America has a very, very long history in both Christian extremism (Timothy McVeigh, Ku Klux Klan) and the more displayed in media, Islamic extremism (Daesh/ISIS).

Religion extremism happens from a bevy of reasons – xenophobia, nationalism – but it basically is a power grab thinly veiled as “God told me to do this”. In pretty much every case of religious extremism, it’s usually a group of guys – or one guy – who thinks God wants them to murder everyone but deep down, that’s more of a phony front than anything. The Klan believes the bible doesn’t want Black people to exist (really, they just want to murder Black folks wantonly because they’re incurable terrorists fueled by racism). Daesh/ISIS wants the West to back off and spread Islam everywhere (really, they just want to do a power grab in an unstable political environment because they’ve murdered other Muslims by the payload, too). Sticking with both Christianity and Islam, there is nothing in either of these religious texts that say “murder everyone who disagrees with you”. Tons of stuff about accepting others, especially those who help others like doctors and teachers, but nothing about mass murder being a great PR move.

Zeroing in on young Muslims trying to navigate the world around them, it can be very tough. Everyone thinks you’re a terrorist. You start to become paranoid that FBI will eventually wiretap or even swarm your mosque. All this negative exposure, it leaves open the chance to be radicalized because fear makes people act in very surprising ways. This is literally how street gangs work and recruit: join us and get protection from them – or, better yet, make them pay.

This is bad news bears for so many reasons but Abdullah X breaks down radicalization for young Muslims and even tries to prevent it.

The video is really well animated and greatly done. I like how he takes the subject, it is definitely directed for young Muslim viewers. He doesn’t make his points boring, he gets to the point and is engaging. The videos serve as very good counterweight against radicalization. There also is a comic that you can download in the Apple store.

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All the questions for Ask Black Witch for September were all crappy so free space! And it’s a couple weeks late, boo. I will spend this time to talk about stuff I’ve been doing, up to Oct 1.

I was in a podcast recently, Feminist Killjoys, PhD. I talked about Paganism, mental health and more!

Update on my cat feeder project: Still working on the code so it won’t rapid-slap my cat and then go full on rebellion. The tech stuff is mainly done, I just have to code and then assemble the whole thing. The goal: Feed my cat a cup of food once a day…and my cat doesn’t destroy the machine. And the machine doesn’t rapid-slap me or my cat. This machine isn’t evil, just very rebellious. It wants to live with vigor. I need it to tone down the vigor.

For Oct 20-22, there will be the Dawtas of the Moon convention, in its second year. It’s hosted in Baltimore and I will be teaching a Cartomancy Workshop, teaching the ins and outs of cartomancy, playing card divination. Get your tickets!

This is going to be about suicide because I feel like talking about it and both the Black and Pagan community suck at discussing it. Simple as that.

Firstly, I’m not going to suggest National Suicide Prevention Hotline because they absolutely suck. I think I have called it only twice in my life and both times were pretty useless. The most recent time, a counselor started to be slightly combative saying “Oh, you can’t disturb the peace in myself. I am at peace with myself.” That’s nice, you’re a happy camper no matter who calls. If only I cared, the person who is not at a whole lot of peace with themselves. Unfortunately, Google and Facebook plasters them everywhere if you have “suicide” in your search term. (Unless you search for specific methods and avoid the word “suicide”, then you don’t see it at all). Thus I want to get this declaration out of the way. National Suicide Prevention Hotline does nothing to help those actually suffering from suicide. If anything, it’s just a fairly fleshed out dummy number for people who have never experienced suicidal ideation, feelings or attempts to rattle off to feel better about themselves. It’s also usually coupled with a “If you don’t want to talk to them, you can always talk to me” (which is usually a load of bs by itself, unfortunately).

Before we go further, also want to get out of the way the fact pro-suicide sites exist.

About pro-suicide sites: I’m not going to link them because while pro-suicide sites don’t bother me and, in my opinion, are better at being frank about suicide than anti-suicide sites (so frank that they have convinced people away from killing themselves), they are pro-suicide. They refer to folks who are anti-suicide as “happy shinies” (because they’re delusional in their thinking that “everything will be okie dokie if you just smile, do yoga and be happy!”) and I certainly can’t disagree with that because, hey, most people are scared of knowing someone who is suicidal so they think a pointless pep talk can make someone put the razor down. However, I am not going to just link to them because this is gonna be “do as I say, not as I do” moment. I dislike these moments and try to keep them as rare as possible but it’s happening today.

Alright then, moving along.

There’s no one reason why people attempt to kill themselves or successfully accomplish it. There’s heartbreak, bullying, general depression, financial strain, social isolation or combination. It’s really unfortunate but happens all the time. And some problems can simply not be fixed, no matter how empty or rehearsed the pep talk to a suicidal person gets.

Everyone has heard “try to pull through, it’ll get better” but that’s intensely hollow because it doesn’t provide even the slightest glimmer of a solution right now. The future looks far away and full of hurting so what’s the point of dragging yourself through all that…especially when there’s the chance that this feeling may be around for months or even years? And may never go away? Most people don’t know what to say to someone in emotional pain or crisis so they go for surface things like, “be happy” or “go pray” because getting into the murkier waters can be scary and are very, very not easy to fix at all. Someone wanting to kill themselves because they feel like an incessant failure is not going to magically perk up because you reminded them that a god existed. Actually, while we’re on the point of religion…

Never bring up religion to a suicidal person. If the suicidal person is very stressed and convinced of their method, they’re very much in a headspace where religion can’t reach them. No idea of an eye in the sky or an invisible friend is going to turn them around at that instance. You may hear the common, snarky rebuttal to “Oh, go talk to god”, which is: “I’ll be able to talk to god in person soon, if you’ll just go away.” In all the times that I’ve talked to someone who was genuinely depressed and considering suicide, I never would bring up religion, even if we were in the same religion. It’s because I know how it feels and if anything, it could stoke some latent anger (“If god/the gods is/are so all knowing, why do I have to go through what I’m going through? Why are they putting me through this? I’m not perfect but I try to be a good person”). That anger is not what the person in need needs. They’re just going to feel more abandoned and it’ll just plummet themselves down further. That and what if the thing weighing on them is a bad break up or, worse, money issues such as an eviction notice with only 5 days to remedy? Reference to religion just starts to sound deflecting from going at the real problem, as if the person talking to the troubled person reaaaaaally don’t want to acknowledge that some problems in the world are incredibly complex and need practical, real world solutions.

Actually, let’s talk about that for a bit: people who mean well but sincerely do not want anything to do with the existence of suicide, suicidal people and suicidal thought. Best explained in this article from Care For Your Mind and this article from Red Eye, even though people may spread numbers and links to suicide awareness hotlines (usually National Suicide, which, again, I would like to remind is not that good), it’s a very hollow act that serves the person spreading the link more than the person who should see it. A one sided feel-good act. If anything, this is a pretty detaching act to do, especially if the person feels alone or isolated. Because instead of the friend actually talking to the suicidal person about what is troubling them, all the suicidal person gets is a cold “here, call this number, I can’t be bothered with your issues” message. Even if the friend is just passing the number along because they honestly don’t know what to say but, truly, they know more of what to say than a random, poorly trained and burnt out volunteer on the phone. For starters, the friend actually knows the suicidal person, and therefore can pull from a bigger bank of information, which means better questions, avoiding emotional landmines, and getting trust and cooperation. A random from the Suicide Hotline can’t do that. What the friend could say would have more gravity to the suicidal person than a random person who may or may not really care. Basically, if you’re the type to say “talk to me if you’re suicidal”, back it up with some actual talk. No, it won’t be easy, glamorous or lovely. Hey, you may even have to spend the night with the person to make sure they won’t kill themselves. But it’s better than a cold shoulder after originally offering comfort and help.

It also does much better to help the suicidal person if they’re not called “selfish”. Actually, it’s usually others that drive people to that point, hardly narcissistic. Also, isn’t it even more selfish to want someone to live despite all their pain and suffering (that you’re not going through, especially not on their behalf). To just drag through what is senselessly hurting them and causing incredible pain because it might give you a sad. Oh, woe. Don’t just bother to help, just tell the person “Why don’t you think about me? Me and my feelings?” Look, once you pull yourself from the mirror, you should remember that there’s a person in need of help, not your selfish nonsense. Same with complaining, “Don’t take the coward’s way out.” Plenty people going through hardship killed themselves and they were pretty tough people, they just got tired of handling the weight of their issue by themselves. Anyone can carry a 3lb rock, but people eventually break if you saddle them with a 250lb boulder, regardless of their strength level. Even faster if you tell them, “It’s a three pound rock! Stop saying ‘it’s heavy!'”

For most people trying to kill themselves, just simply giving a sh*t is generally good enough. Most suicidal people think they’re a burden to others, that they’re not worth anyone’s time (part of why just haphazardly tossing a number to a suicide hotline that barely works can be a bad idea), that they’re a problem that needs to go away. They feel alone in their issues or like all they do is bother everyone, even when they try to do well and make all the right moves. Someone who actually knows them and actively tries to help them (not suggest religion, not suggest yoga, not suggest hobbies, actually sit on derriere and tries to help). It tends to do a lot more work than tossing a random phone number about.

However, some people who are suicidal are very invisible and isolated, they don’t have a network of people to talk to or even if they did, they feel that probably no one in that network would listen or even take their grave feelings seriously. Perhaps they’re getting tired of the “prayer” line. Maybe they’re part of a culture that internalizes prejudiced ideas about them and tries to pass it off as a positive. For example, if you’re Black and suicidal, you’re going to hear that Black folks are very strong and pretty much impervious to emotional pain…which stems from internalizing the centuries-old dehumanizing “animal/subhuman” stereotypes. That and you can go to church and pray away the pain and leave it all at the Cross. It all boils down to “Black people don’t commit suicide”. Which can be true, if you exclude Don Cornelius, Kayrn Washington, Lee Thompson Young, Phyllis Hyman, Jay Bowdy and countless, countless others. Actually, here’s a Think Progress article about the fact that suicide among Black youth is booming. Here’s another article from The Body is not an Apology. I guess Jesus and pretending nothing hurts aren’t really that effective. Feeling like it’s a must to suffer in silence or to just not even be noticed at all, it can be a terrible pressure that can lead to someone trying to kill themselves because no one who commits suicide really wants to die – they just really want to escape what’s hurting them and make things better somehow. For those who really just want to talk to someone that is actually going to chat with them and not judge them, there is the Crisis Text Line. It isn’t a physical person sitting there with you, but it is someone. It’s also free and quick to use. (It’s also faaaaaar better than National Suicide).

Now, some find comfort in their suicidal ideation, that they have a “way out” if everything really goes very south and with no avail. I think it’s a bit silly to think society can prevent suicide because the reasons of suicide is complex. If suicide were an easy subject, people wouldn’t wait for someone famous to kill themselves to talk about it for a few weeks before going back to ignoring its existence and shunning anyone who’s ever tried it. Some problems are simply too hard to fix or with very short time restrictions. Some people just have nagging thoughts that pester them that life isn’t worth living, regardless of achievements. It’s all very complex. Suicide is complex. And it’s never going away, but it can be alleviated in those who feel this way. But not always, which is just how life is.

This post is part of the Same Situations, Different Faces series. Normal posting resumes in April.

Alright, this is the last post of the Same Situations, Different Faces series. I thought of what would be a good or useful thing to talk about and it seems I’ve glossed over a topic that is pretty important: hospitalization. Your therapist can diagnose you with DID (or just being on the Dissociative spectrum (Dissociative Disorder, Dissocative Amnesia, Dissocative Identity Disorder, Dissociative Fugue)) but being at an actual trauma/dissocative disorders program is where you can really start to get properly diagnosed and treated with a specialized treatment plan. However, hospitals that are top in treating this are few. In the US, there is Sheppard Pratt’s Trauma Disorders program (Which is why it’s very weird Korean drama Heal Me, Kill Me very much did not mention it, but Hopkins instead, which is more for physical ailments.) If you want better than Sheppard Pratt, you’re going to have to go to the United Kingdom to the Clinc for Dissociative Studies. The US has good trauma disorders programs but dissociative spectrum disorders need a lot more attention than chucking pills at the problem. Medication is useful but treatment has to be therapy-heavy for these disorders, especially since there is no medication that can directly manage dissociative spectrum disorders, just the symptoms such as depression and anxiety. The UK tends to use therapy as the primary stop of mental care before going to meds, the US does the exact opposite.

Going to a hospital actually isn’t that scary. Some parts will definitely make you feel like you’ve very much have lost your mind – I think just the realization of being in an actual mental institution kinda does that all on its own – but really, most of your stay will be unbelieveably quiet and boring. It is nothing like Arkham Asylum, there are no strait jackets and most hospitals have phased out their padded rooms (there’s getting the spike and the safety burrito, now. I’ll cover those two later). Mental hospitals and psych wards (the psychological conditions ward of a regular hospital) tend to resemble incredibly quiet hospital waiting rooms with halls that are lined with doors to bedrooms. The windows are stronger than police riot shields and very soundproof, you can barely hear a thunderstorm.

Getting into a trauma program is pretty tough because of the history of sane people being sent to mental hospitals for terrible reasons with relative ease. You can’t pick up a phone, say “I’m like the dude from Split, please come get me,” and there you go. That would skip the mountains of paperwork that needs to be collected!

Before you go, it’s paperwork city. The first day is also paperwork city. In addition, you’re explained your rights, sort of tested to make sure you can understand that you have rights (or are simply cognizant that you’re in a hospital) and more paperwork. Depending on hospital or state, you will also be told the gun laws in your state…because awareness. Your vitals are taken (blood pressure, temperature, etc). If you don’t like needles, you are gonna hate having your blood taken. And the nursing staff will try to take it every day, which will make you think you’re surrounded by vampires. Oh, and the taking of your vitals daily, this is to ensure you’re actually taking your meds if you have any. You will also have to fill out a bunch of tests as well to see if you just have PTSD, if you’re on the dissociative spectrum or simply misdiagnosed. Here is a sample of what a Dissociative test looks like and no, you can not fake the answers to look less dissocative. I’ve tried. Besides, even if you successfully fooled the test, you’re under 24/7 observation. Someone will notice something.

Speaking of dealing with the staff during intake, your stuff is examined with more thoroughness than TSA. This is to make sure you’re not sneaking anything in that could be dangerous, counterproductive to treatment or harmful. If you bring body wash, it must be transparent, both gel and bottle. Otherwise, it’s getting seized because you can sneak stuff in it. If you have cleanser for your face, it’s getting seized because there is alcohol content in the ingredients. If you have a loofah, not a regular sponge, it will be taken because you can unravel it and attempt to hang yourself with it. Unfortunately, people have come up with some super creative ways to hurt themselves or try to kill themselves and that’s what implements changes in the rules. If you have wireless headphones, you can bring in music, as long as you have a super short cord (3″ or less) to charge them with, in view of staff. If your electrical devices can access internet and/or have a camera on them, it’s getting seized. This obviously means no cell phones. The reason is to protect everyone’s privacy. That and there’s a metric crap ton of triggering content on the internet…as well as distractions that could impede your focus on treatment, which is why you’re there. Should you bring books, they can not be of the horror or murder variety. If you bring comics, anything worse than Archie comics will most likely get taken. The nurses do look through the content to see what is in it, unless the title is a dead giveaway, like “Deadpool”. E-readers can not be brought in either unless they are the 1st gen “no access to internet whatsoever” kind. You will be living mainly as a Luddite, basically. A bored one at that. Your clothes will be checked and if there are any drawstrings, they’re gone. Shoelaces, gone. Heavy shoes or thick soled shoes (such as platforms), also gone. If you have any shirts or pants with religious, violent or disturbing art, it’s a no-go. For example, you can bring a Linkin Park shirt and, as long as the checking nurse doesn’t know LP’s songs that well (I love ’em but the song “Given Up” is distinctly about wanting to kill yourself) you can bring their albums but you can’t bring in P.O.D. anything because A) Religious iconography B) P.O.D. stands for “Payable on Death”, which is a banking term but the staff only cares about the “Death” part. I’m sure bringing any The Prodigy is fine (They are responsible for the title of this piece, after all. P.O.D. for the series’ name). Everything taken is securely bagged up and kept in Security until it’s time to leave for home. If you don’t have any sufficient clothes to wear, you’re given either hospital clothes (which is like a cross between paper and cloth) or “safety sweats”, which is just sweatpants and sweatshirt that have no drawstrings. And grippy socks that may or may not have do not have heels.

If you have natural hair, it would be best to get your hair into yarn twists or any other low/no maintenance hair styles if you have any forewarning because, frankly, nearly every black hair care product will not pass the list. Most of them aren’t clear liquids or in clear bottles. Hair picks are automatic no-go, even plastic ones. Satin bonnets and night caps are not likely either. You can probably talk your way into having a satin pillowcase but that probably will be it.

After getting through paperwork city, having your stuff checked and taking your test to see how dissocative you are, that’s when an individualized treatment plan is really hammered out. The meds, the group therapy sessions, triggers (potential and known), things like that. And this is where the boredom begins. The trauma disorder ward is immensely boring. Between groups, there are wide blankets of time where there is nothing to do. You can’t always have the tv in the general living area on, that’s strictly regulated. There are few board games and card games to pick because “safety is important”. If you can possibly choke on it, throw it or attempt to kill yourself with it, it can’t be in the ward. This means you’re stuck with puzzles and coloring books. Tons of them. If you want something of more intellectual stimulation, you’re going to be out of luck. There are books in the trauma disorders ward, but just like every psych ward, the books are completely snowstormed – White writers, White-led story and content. No diversity, nada. If you have a 1950’s housewife’s taste in books, you’ll be well suited. If you’re basically everyone else, you’ll be screwed. Few people donate books and games to mental hospitals so you get little selection. Perhaps you could bring a word search book or a crossword puzzle book. At least two of them.

When you’re in a trauma disorders program, it’s voluntary. That means you can go after a 72 hour hold. This is given that you’re not kicking up a major fuss or showing that you’re very, very unstable. (Sometimes, kicking up a major fuss can get you to go home faster but don’t count on it as the rule, just the exception). Two doctors have to sign your paperwork that says you’re mentally fit enough to leave and not have to be returned via police escort that very night, based on your past 72 hours. The only common exception is when your insurance finally craps out and you have to leave practically on that very day, regardless if you’re well or not. In voluntary, you can refuse meds you don’t want to take (given you’re relatively self-stabilized) and treatments you may not want (like electro-convulsive therapy). Basically, you’re fairly involved in your treatment experience. If you’re in a psych ward involuntarily, it means that you can’t refuse meds or treatments you don’t want to take and you’re more at the mercy of the psych staff. You stay as long as they think you need to stay and you hardly have a say. Basically, you don’t want involuntary because it is the “we’re bringing you in kicking and screaming”. It’s not common to be in the Trauma disorders program as an involuntary, however.

The various groups are therapy groups to teach you and the other patients about your recently diagnosed (or confirmed) disorder, the meds you might be using and methods to help manage it such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Here is a game created by Nicky Case that shows an example about this particular method, titled “Neurotic Neurons“. If you’re not a fan of group therapy, you’re not going to enjoy this. They’re usually quiet, few people want to talk (understandably) and you will sometimes get the sense that the interns, doctors or nurses are taking stabs in the dark about some parts of the disorders. It’s not that they don’t know what they’re talking about but they do sometimes give you a “learned about swimming from reading aplenty but never been in a pool” feel. And by “sometimes”, it will be “almost regularly”. Bringing a journal is strongly suggested because in group, you’ll have activities to do.

Speaking of dealing with doctors and nurses who may not have first hand experience with dissocative spectrum disorders, you’re going to have to advocate for yourself or they will get something wrong. Mistakes happen and constantly. Misunderstandings are regular, especially if you are not with a lot of social privileges and the staff is not very diverse. Since I’m Pagan, I’ve had to explain a host of times that don’t have schizophrenic or psychosis disorders simply because I believe in occultism, magick and spirits. It’s part of my religion. I’ve had to do the same about being Black and creative as well. Chances are your program was subconsciously designed for middle class White people who are usually hailing from Christian-leaning backgrounds. For example, the ward will have a priest and maybe a rabbi but no imam.The less known or more stigmatized your religion is to the Western world, the more likely it will be read as a psychosis disorder by the average mental health professional handling your chart. Hooray.

Now, I previously said that mental institutions have done away with strait jackets and padded rooms for the most part. If anything, you have complete freedom to be visited, use the phone (they have one for open use during the ward when groups are not happening) and even get care packages. It’s not a prison, frankly. However, if you start acting out, such as pulling the fire alarm, acting over belligerently, cause harm to yourself or another person, there are repercussions. The nurses will try to talk you down as much as possible, offer you meds, etc. If you’re not calming down, the nurses will eventually call for security, which is “code green” (think “hulk”) – actually, there are several color codes – and things are going to be a lot more complicated. There will be several security guards and they will also try to talk you down. If you’re not cooperating still, more doctors will also be called because they have to administer what is kind of known as “the spike” as the security restrains you. “The spike” is usually three needles but you only feel the first one. This cocktail is to calm you down and make you super sleepy, thus easier to be placed in “solitary”. Solitary is either an empty room with a mattress and pillow or a bed with four point restraints (to restrain your wrists and ankles), depending on hospital. Most folks don’t remember being placed on the four point bed after getting the spike, they just wake up there and staring at a host of doctors, nurses and security crowded around their bed asking them if they’re going to be more cooperative. If you’re not incredibly aggressive enough to warrant the spike, there’s the safety burrito! The safety burrito is two thick blankets laid out for you to be placed upon and swaddled firmly into a burrito. You’re usually in either the Solitary room or in your room. It can be comforting or depressing, depending on how much you think about all the things you have accomplished in life and how now you’re holed up in a mental institution laying on the floor or on a bed wrapped up in heavy blankets like a infant. It’s definitely better than getting the spike buuuuut it’s not a million times better.

I mentioned that there are color codes these hospitals. The color codes are:

Code Green – Aggressive patient, need security
Code Green, All Male – Aggressive patient that is too violent for regular orderlies, need stronger people (yes, this is a pretty sexist name for a code that basically means “Please come if you’re really strong”)
Code Silver – Patient has a weapon (regardless of the weapon. The patient could be wielding blue, bamboo knitting needles, it’s still “code silver”)
Code Blue – Physcian needed, patient is going through severe physical ailment episode
Code Red – Fire

Now, hearing all this, again, I want to reiterate that mental hospitals are not like Arkham Asylum. It’s not very common for people to get to the point of getting the spike or get into a safety burrito. It definitely does happen, it certainly is not rare but it’s not a wild house where everything and anything happens. If it is like that, try to find the patient advocate and get out.

Lastly, being at a trauma ward will be expensive so if you weren’t a fan of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA, Obamacare) then, you will be when you find the bill for a three week stay is over $27,000. And the suggested stay time is six weeks. The ACA is how I actually have never seen the bill. Speaking of insurance, you should read the fine print of your insurance to see if it accepts milieu care/milieu therapy (basically, you’re housed in a supervised, dorm-like atmosphere) because that is what your experience will be. If you have medicare, it’s automatically covered. Otherwise, your healthcare provider will try to weasel out of paying that hefty bill or cut your stay really short. Or both. Because American healthcare.

In short, being hospitalized is definitely no vacation. It’s strictly for treatment and that’s what your experience will be geared towards. It isn’t a halloween terror ride, either. Trauma wards take great pains to make sure you don’t have additional trauma. It isn’t perfect but it’s certainly not 100% like the movies. It’s much more boring.

This finishes the Same Situtation, Different Faces series. This last piece was surprisingly tough to write and make sense of so if there is any need of clarification or just plain questions, please feel free to say something.

This post is written by The Aether System as part of the Same Situation, Different Faces series. Normal Black Witch posting resumes in April.

Although having Dissociative Identity Disorder is not nearly as scary as the media and recent movies make it look, it is still a very difficult disorder to live with. Facing troubles with a cynical view can make things much harder on yourself, so having a way to laugh despite the troubles you face can make a huge difference. Therefore, starting a meme page for those who have D.I.D., or want to learn about it seemed like it would be helpful to the mental health community. “DID I meme that?” is on most forms of social media, so it is accessible to almost everyone.

Ever since the movie Split came out, the amount of people interested in D.I.D. has spiked considerably. However, this can actually be a good thing, since it provides more opportunities to educate the public on what this disorder is and is not. This is another situation where the memes come in handy. Rather than seeing a bunch of people with mirrored selfies and fun filters in the tags associated with D.I.D. and Split, it seemed better for the viewers to see accurate, yet comedic representations of this disorder, created by people who actually have it . Not everyone as the time and willpower to read an article, but almost everyone has the time to scroll through a few memes.

Words can only go so far when it comes to describing feelings and experiences, so sometimes a picture is a more effective description than words. Pictures can also be easier for people to process, rather than paragraphs, particularly to those who have difficulty when it comes to reading.

A lot of the terms included in these memes use the vocabulary of the D.I.D. community, such as “Littles” (young alters), “Protectors” (alters whose job it is to protect the host), and much more. The creators of these memes use this vocabulary so the memes feel more genuine and personalized to the audience they are aimed towards. Another part of the meme creation process is deciding what captions to use. When it comes to D.I.D., it can be difficult to know what type of alters will be viewing the memes at any given time. That is why we aim to keep the language closer towards PG-13, in case there are any younger ones browsing the memes.

Although “DID I meme that?” is only a couple of months old, it has received a lot of response on many social media platforms, particularly Tumblr and Facebook. There have been questions of what living with this disorder is like, suggestions for memes, and many other people with D.I.D. who share the memes while tagging them as “relatable”. It can be very hard to find relatable mental health memes, particularly when it comes to the more rare disorders, so finding a page full of memes from real people with these disorders can be very refreshing. One of the comments received on the Instagram page expressed surprise when the user found out that the page was run by someone who actually had D.I.D., and they were glad to finally find memes that really expressed the experience of D.I.D. with accuracy.

This post was written by guest writer, Cypress, for the month long series about Dissociative Identity Disorder called “Same Situation, Different Faces”. Normal Black Witch posting resumes in April.

Contrary to what games like hide and seek show, hiding is not fun.

We really hate it. We wish things didn’t have to be this way, but it’s basically impossible. We have DID, but coming out has never gone well, and we’re still a minor, so then the parents would be notified again, and that would not be good. We planned to never tell them again after things went badly several years ago.

Our days are still fairly normal, though we’re multiple. We wake up and get ready for school. We try not to get too off task in class. We keep to ourselves during lunch. We do our schoolwork and chat a bit with our friends and acquaintances.

School itself and the subjects in it are fairly easy for us. We struggle with workload sometimes cPTSD (Complex-PTSD)1 symptoms, system drama, and bad thoughts aren’t conductive to school, but overall we get good grades. School isn’t the problem. It’s how people interact with us.

The most awkward part of our day has to be interacting with any other person in any way. The way we look at things and think about ourselves is different from the way people who aren’t multiple (singletons/singlets2) think about themselves. Which means there are certain things we can’t bring up or mention.

For starters: we can’t introduce ourselves as ourselves. We can’t say “Hey, the name’s Cypress, we’re a DID system and there’s 30 of us. We have a few child alters, teens, and adults, but Storm hosts the most. He’s our protector but he’s nice unless you mess with xem. We like Steven Universe and writing. What’s your name?”

We can’t bring up certain problems we have, especially with system or inner world3 troubles: “Dear gosh, Ann’s being a total butt to us. We had a bad weekend and Lilac had a panic attack. Hopefully your weekend went better than ours.”

To singletons, we might as well not exist, because we can’t come out to anyone. It’s hard having people mess up with our group—really moreso Storm’s— pronouns4, but it’s somehow a whole different ballgame when all the people you interact with and see every day don’t know you exist as multiple. We never get acknowledged as individuals and we hate the erasure.

We often get lost in the facade we put on. We tend to get very dissociated and in those moments, some days we look in the mirror, or think about ourselves, and all we can think about is this facade we put on of mimicking the old host5, which never stops and is very draining to us.

After school is difficult. Being with the parents is really frustrating and we have to self monitor our own internet activity a lot so we don’t get caught. It’s almost happened several times in the past. We have a bad memory (mostly about bad things, but also about mundane things), so keeping up with even good things or schoolwork is a struggle.

Our dysphoria is difficult. We look in the mirror and almost all of us look drastically different from the body. It’s odd looking in the mirror and seeing the body. It’s a struggle to disconnect that from your sense of self so you don’t get lost and see the body as yourself, which is just a vessel that contains us, a set of people.

Denial is a roller coaster too. We can get into a rut of thinking “we’re not real, no one thinks we’re real, we should make ourselves (mentally) go away” and be stuck in it until the feeling fades. At times we feel bad or like a freak and we can’t shake it off.

There are some fun moments as well, though. We joke around with each other sometimes and laugh about funny things some alter did or said. Storm jokes about how he can’t make dark jokes without someone possibly getting worried. We say maybe people will get worried if they see us talking to ourselves (a common way we communicate, since we are co-conscious all the time), and we look at memes online about dissociative disorders.

Sometimes, I wish we wouldn’t have DID, even though there are pros and cons as with anything. I don’t know what we’d do without us, but often knowing we have DID is agonizing enough. But this disorder is literally us. We don’t wish to integrate in the future, as we know it can be undone with stress. Maybe we should go to therapy, but we may not be able to for a few years, and we don’t wish to deal with unaccepting therapists. We have our good days and our bad. So we take things in stride, and we deal with it. We will still have to hide for a long time, so we might as well get used to it.

1) Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD/cPTSD) – Amplified version of PTSD for those who are still engaged in the traumatic environs that caused the disorder. Return

2) Singlet/Singleton – A person who does not have Dissociative Identity Disorder, they are a single person. Multiple – Person who has DID, because they consist of multiple people in a single body. Also the reason why those with DID instinctively refer to themselves in first person singular (“we”, “us”), especially in private life. Return

3) System/Innerspace – a group of individuals in a DID person is called a “system”. The “innerspace” is the mental thought-space/head-space created for open communications between alternate personalities (“alters”) inside the body. Alternatively, the “outerspace” is the world outside the physical body. Return

4)Different alters can have different genders from the host (original person), or no gender at all. Return

5) Different alters can be different genders, body types, etc – this can cause body dysphoria Return

Every year, I do a month long feature on any subject that I like. Any random subject. Last year, I couldn’t do it but now I can this year. Huzzah. It’s to break the monotony that can be discussing Pagan topics end over end and because I have a variety of subjects I like to talk about.

This year, I want to talk about a disorder I have touched on a little bit in the past: Dissociative Identity Disorder. What prompts this is the response I’ve seen in regards to the movie Split. Yes, it’s not a blockbuster (which is a good thing) but it still created a lot of chatter and jokes and, of course, plenty of misconceptions that are remarkably harmful, as usual.

Let’s talk about Multplicity (having DID) and the media.

I’m going to compare two recent films about DID that have appeared in media in recent years. Obviously and unfortunately, this includes Split (I viewed on backwater sites because lolz, I’m not fencing a dime to that movie, even for critical deconstructive reasons). The other movie, actually based on a real person and had actual research done, is Frankie and Alice, which stars Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry.

posters

The reason these two films exist, one fictional and the other reality-based, is because there’s misconceptions of DID aplenty. And with most media being negative, non-factual demonstrations of the disorder, there is plenty to parse through. That and hopefully a regular person reading can understand the problematic nature of Split in its demonizing of the disorder. Both films are not documentaries about Dissociative Identity Disorder but one actually researches the disorder and the other pretty much goes the lazy route.

I’m certain some folks are going to mention “’Split’ was based in the ‘Unbreakable’ world. It isn’t a thing about DID at all.” That would be nice if everyone was a hardcore M. Night Shyamalan fan…buuuuuut in the real world, that’s not what happened. The media campaign was strictly based on establishing that the main character, Kevin, had 24 different personalities, was a vicious person and needed to be stopped at all costs because of those different personalities. No reference to Unbreakable, no “this is not DID”, none of that. It’s the same as saying “Birth of a Nation/The Clansman is not about the negativity of Black people, the town is fictional and it’s just romanticist thinking of the South.” That fictional movie still got real Black people lynched in droves. It’s interesting what movies, even deeply fictional ones, can inspire people to do. Almost like movies can be influential and even accidental teaching tools, especially if the viewer is not an expert already in the subject. Even Sybil gets referenced many times in mainstream culture as short hand for “crazy and frightening”.

On the website Trauma and Dissociation, there is a criteria that the movies are compared to. In this same article, there is a section titled “Common Mistakes in Portraying Dissociative Identity Disorder”. I expect Split to cover every bit in this section.

To keep things orderly, we’ll do things bit by bit, category by category, of where Frankie and Alice got everything right and Split got everything wrong.

Let’s start with the Synopsis of both movies:, as described by IMDB:

Frankie & Alice: A drama centered on a go-go dancer with multiple personality disorder who struggles to remain her true self and begins working with a psychotherapist to uncover the mystery of the inner ghosts that haunt her.

This was pretty accurate. It wasn’t trying to scare the viewer, the synopsis is a pretty safe description of the movie without giving away important details. It uses the old name of DID and call the alters “inner ghosts” (I practice Paganism and metaphysics and even I think that is way off the mark). For the most part, it’s pretty accurate.

Split: Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, they must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

This sounds to me: “Man, I hope no police officers watch this movie, they would think that people with DID are instinctively nefarious.” Like that one officer that literally thought the same about me and proceeded to threaten to send me to prison via fabricated evidence because he simply wanted to impress others, not get to the bottom of a case. And got in trouble with Internal Affairs over that. (Note to law enforcement: fictional movies are not training videos. Maybe you should watch Selma or something else that is fact based. Seriously.)

This description pretty much connects the concept of DID making people commit atrocities because …somehow that’s just what the disorder makes people do. This is utter bullsh*t, obviously. It’s meant to spook and frighten the viewer. I have DID and I don’t go around trying to kidnap a gaggle of Beckies.. Sure, I get fairly annoyed when they hijack and co-opt Inauguration Day protest marches but I’m not going to do any work to kidnap them.

Signs of Alters/Acknowledging Alters

A person with DID has difficulties with memories due to amnesias. Things aren’t where they were last seen, new items are gained with no recollection of buying them, differences of writing or talking habits, etc.

Frankie and Alice: Frankie says that she feels like she is watching herself from a distance (a sign of dissociation). When confronted about her rent check bouncing, she glances through her checkbook afterwards and discovers a big purchase she doesn’t remember making, a dress bought by one of her other alters, Alice. Despite having clear signs of DID, Frankie herself does not believe the diagnosis when she was hospitalized, which is common for those with DID to do due to the social stigma related to the disorder.

Split: There is honestly no realistic interaction between Kevin’s alters. No complaining of loss of time, it seems almost everyone is on the same page, nearly no dissociative states. As if he and every alter he has is evil and they all work together to connive and deceive so they can better harm others (ie, the gaggle of Beckies he acquired). While it is true that people with DID usually have to be told about the things they said or did, it’s not usually to such the extreme extent of a person outside the DID system to tell an alter all the conversations they overheard two other alters say in conversation. There is still some inner communication.

Memory gaps

People with DID have substantial issues with memories due to dissociative amnesia: a condition in dissociative disorders where the affected does not remember important details or events due to dissociating from the experience. This is not normal forgetting, such as misplacing your keys or trying to remember an account’s password. Amnesiac forgetting includes forgetting big events such as weddings, people you have worked with or been around for a long period of time.

Frankie and Alice: There are several times reflected during the movie where Frankie had no idea of her own actions, such as taking her mother’s necklace and going to a ritzy hotel for a wedding she had no idea she crashed.

Split: There appears to be no real memory gaps. While there are displays of dissociative amnesia (the alters don’t always know what the others are doing), it is inconsistent and plays out as more of a movie mechanic, only showing up to move the plot along. It seems the film creators did some cursory research in DID on Wikipedia, clapped their hands in determination and said, “We’re ready to make a movie!”

Experience/Remembrance of Trauma

DID is a trauma disorder, just like PTSD. You can’t get DID unless you experience extreme, continual trauma and no emotional support in the extreme early years (by age 6). Usually through experiencing war-like conditions (that’s my situation), severe abuse, neglect, child sexual abuse, things like that. The disassociative identities are moreso defense mechanisms to defend the affected and survive trauma as the mind literally splits itself up to protect itself. It’s why those with DID can not remember vast parts of their lives and have various identities.

Frankie and Alice: Frankie remembers different things than her alter Alice. However, when under therapy and with the therapist’s guided questions to a child alter, Genius, more of Frankie’s life experiences come to light. Without therapy, Frankie would have not remembered whole life events because her DID locks select memories and pains away.

Split: There is no obvious experience of trauma. When people have DID, the alters that come from it are usually centered around the trauma that borne it. For example, if a person was severely abused through religion, their alters would have a religion focus. If the person was severely abused or experienced war-like conditions, the alters would have a defensive, war-like focus. Kevin’s alters are all over the place.

Abuse is referred to in passing. Not as a substantial way to understand how DID works or affects people, but just to create a threadbare backstory for Kevin, who is supposed to be the antagonist in this story. Casey, the main girl Kevin kidnaps is, gets even more of a sympathetic backstory than Kevin does. This is so the viewer will sympathize with Casey more than they will with Kevin.

There are many ways the two movies are radically different, despite having the same subject matter. Frankie and Alice did not try to frighten the view about the existence of DID. The disorder was seen as a subject that could be understood by the viewer not as something monstrous but as something a person goes through when severely impacted by trauma. Did it make DID look like a pleasant, easy-to-live with disorder? Not at all. But it doesn’t depict a person with DID as a monster. Split does.

DID in Split is used as a fear mechanic. Its unpredictability, its “mystery”, everything to make Kevin’s alters appear frightening. There’s little understanding towards him, just terror. He’s just a psycho out to eat ;young girls and kill people. This is such a wild distortion of how the disorder makes people function. Every part of the movie plays this up extensively.

Unfortunately, there is a wide variety of movies that use the “DID = Scary” mechanic. And games. And stories. On website Trauma and Dissociation, I mentioned that there’s are common mistakes that Split gets wrong. I’m not going to go down the whole list but a few select ones, including a couple I’m sure the film makers thought they had correct.

Randomly violent alters that seem to have no purpose for the person are often portrayed in fictional accounts. They aren’t acting to defend or protect the person with Dissociative Identity Disorder, they are one-dimensional and can’t reasoned with

This is alllllllllllllllllllllllllll of Split. There is literally no reason whatsoever why the Beast exist, why the other alters, Patricia or Dennis were just going along with making room for Beast and giving him “impure” (I can unpack this at a later date, holy crap, the misogyny) girls to eat. This does not protect Kevin at all. This isn’t even inter-system squabbling. This is just alters being total lemmings for other alters, which doesn’t make much sense.

Beast can’t be reasoned with, he just shows up and becomes a monster. The child Hedwig seems pretty calm and chill about everything, children alters that are aware of more dangerous alters are usually, well, like kids who are around dangerous adults. They don’t happily go along with things, they’re usually confused and scared, just like any child would.

Kevin is the “host” of the system, the original person. The system generally revolves around the host, regardless if it is negative or positive. Beast doesn’t really care. Patricia doesn’t really care. Dennis doesn’t really care. Hedwig is fairly unaffected. The Beast is supposed to be so the world can be more accepting of the fact Kevin is a Multiple (a person with DID) buuuuuut DID is about hiding itself, not showing itself to the world. It’s literally a disorder of secrecy. Alters don’t go wild and try to make a grand show, even alters that believe themselves to be actors or performers. They try to blend. The disorder, if I wanted to compare to a living thing, is like being a chameleon or an octopus. You blend into the surrounding to make the abuse and trauma less severe. If you don’t blend, you don’t live.

octo-camo

In Frankie and Alice, the alters that mainly front (gain control of the body) are a Southern belle and the main host. They exist because of clearly established trauma and to navigate the world and go fairly undetected. To blend.

Alter personalities are created for a specific purpose, for example self-defense or trauma memories, or work, if the one in the plot has no clear essential purpose re-write the plot

There’s supposed to be 23 alters buuuuuuuut this movie explicitly showed only …four at best? Either the budget was crappy (possibly), the writers sucked (very likely), no one knew anything about DID but hackneyed ideas (extremely likely) or all of the above (most definitely). Where are the other 20 alters? No one is talking? No one cares? Everyone can’t possibly be on board, that’s simply not how DID works. Alters are like separate, different people. If you think it’s easy to get 24 different individuals to agree on something, try ordering a single pizza. This is really lazy writing on the creators of Split.

In Frankie and Alice, there was no promise of a bunch of alters during the promotion of the film but as the movie progresses, the viewer learns along with Frankie that there are more alters than she originally thought, all because of the traumas she endured throughout her life. Granted, the story doesn’t go into why Genius, the child alter, exists but it does a far stretch better than Split. Then again, Halle Berry did sincere study into her character: she talked with the person the character was based off of, Francine Murdoch. James McAvoy couldn’t find a single person with DID that wanted to sit with him. I guess the idea of being demonized on the big screen wasn’t a very savory pull.

A person talks about having lots of “blackouts” but shows none – has no memory loss or forgetfulness in the movie, they never forget who anyone is, where they live or anything important

There was that one rushed scene at the end of the movie where the audience meets, Kevin, who still thinks that it’s September 2014 and he last remembered being on a bus. There are DID systems where the “host” disappears into the system, they do not front or have any control in the body buuuuuut the therapist would try strongly to contact the host, through the alters. The therapist in this movie simply did not care. There are no real “blackouts” or severe memory lapses (every alter shown in the movie seemed pretty much on the same page of why the girls were there, no one was baffled or bothered that three random girls were now locked away in their home). Besides the rush job at the end of the movie to show rapid switching, everyone is pretty lucid and together. Very little amnesia, which is odd. Until the end of the movie, which is sucky.

In Frankie and Alice, all throughout the film, Frankie has constant memory problems. She had no idea why she was at a ritzy hotel. She had no idea what her other alters wanted or did. Her own memories were a mystery. This is more accurate of DID.

If you have seen Split, I would strongly recommend watching Frankie and Alice. If there are any questions, put them in the comments. Also, be sure to watch this amazing short film that truly shows what it is like inside the mind of a person with DID, “Inside”, directed by Trevor Sands. I really like the dead-on accuracy of having various types of alters (there’s about 30 types) in this short film.

Where I found this really cool short film is from this informal talk on Dissociative Identity Disorder by vlogger Jessica, who runs vlog Multiplicity and Me below:

Next week, there will be guest writer, Cypress, who will write about her personal experiences with living with DID. Given the subject of this topic, please feel free to use the comment section because this can be one very confusing disorder.

Trigger Analysis

It’s seems that the term “trigger” is more and more in the public lexicon. Moreso as a joke (Ex: *sees something remotely disagreeable*, “Oh, I’ve been triggered!”. Ex2: “Trigger warning: happy people”) and collective irritation. Back in 2015, the Atlantic had an article called “How Trigger Warnings are Hurting Mental Health on Campus” and that set off a spark that basically let people show their best ableism.

For those that care not to read or are already familiar with the concept of “butthurt babyboomers*“, it basically is a writer whinging about how having trigger warnings, such as “Ahead: Rape, Violence” in classes makes young, millennial college students emotionally feeble and ill-equipped to handle the real world…despite the fact anyone could argue that anyone who needs a “rape” trigger warning before being old enough to go to college already got a crash course in how the real world is cold and evil. It probably would have been a better article if it were about the fact that there’s a lot of really bad things in society that traumatizes people at an early age and how it can cause a ripple effect in their life, like rape. I guess the writers would have thought “Ehhhh, let Ta-Nehisi Cotes handle it, he always writes about dumb and weepy sh*t.”

I’m not going to break down the article because that’s not prompted this column. It’s the fact that a lot of people still seem to not get that mental health is pretty important…unless a mass shooting happens, then everyone wants to talk about how they want to keep crazy people away from teh gunz. This is inaccurate because the average mass shooter is White, male, 15-28, Christian or culturally Christian-leaning, dealing with humiliation/anger (not mental illness) and very, very lucid about the world and themselves – basically, not crazy, just very hateful and inspired to be violent.

I’ve written a number of columns/posts here about mental illness, triggers and stuff like that. Probably to the point that folks are wondering “Does she even talk spells and magick anymore? It’s all about being Black and mentally ill.” A) Now you know why this blog is from a Black Pagan Perspective. B) Of course I do! It’s just dealing with systemic ills can really take a lot of my time C) I’m not Silver Ravenwolf, geez.

Triggers, as they’re commonly known, are not for all disorders. Some disorders do not need triggers to go into action, like depression and schizophrenia. Rather, it’s anxiety disorders (Ex: OCD) and trauma disorders (Ex: PTSD) that tend to get use out of trigger warnings because they tell people “Eh, you probably don’t wanna see this if you’re not interested in having an impromptu episode” and the person affected can move on about their day. Technically, society already has a lot of trigger warnings: Video games have ratings, movies have ratings (remember how not-smart parents took their kids to see Deadpool, and discovered within the first half hour how it earned the R-rating?), even television shows have ratings – I remember when those weren’t a thing until the 90s because parents started complaining – everything has ratings that serve as warnings of “if this bothers you or your kids, don’t watch”. Music has “Explicit” warnings on them. Even news programs and documentaries have “May contain graphic/disturbing images, viewer discretion is advised” before they start with the disturbing stuff.

Funny those didn’t prompt articles from The Atlantic about how we live in a bubble-wrap society.

Let’s be quick about this, how about we take a proverbial person who is likely traumatized and benefits from trigger warnings everyone else thinks they need to stop being a pansy about: A US soldier that got back from two tours in the sandbox, now gets tetchy when someone plays Call of Duty or Modern Warfare because, unlike the gamer ragging about triggers, they actually served a call of duty in modern warfare. Twice.

Nah, too easy. And it’s September!

Our proverbial person will be a 9/11 survivor. For the lolz, everyone, because this is just an example. (If you lived through 9/11 as a NYC’er, get an ice cream and speed scroll until the text color changes back to normal. Or click here to the rest of the column. I’m not interested in triggering people to explain to the stupid why their “triggered” jokes suck.)

Our person, “Suv” is their name, is a regular person, a joe-on-the-go type that enjoys Broadways and boxing matches on tv. A regular American, works a job, goes home, eats and goes to sleep. Suv is just a regular New Yorker living in the boroughs. Working as a package carrier, he tries to stay afloat as he nearly gets mowed down by at least five taxis a day trying to race a package from one end of Manhattan to another. It’s a crap job but it is what it is, puts food on the table and keeps the roommate from planning his death for insurance money when the rent is due.

Everyday basically is the same but instead this time is different. Late to work, stuck in traffic on his beat-up Cannondale, already can hear the sussing he’s going to get from his manager. Casually looking up, he sees the NYC skyline is always what it is – with exception to now the North Tower of the twin towers now has a plane parked firmly in it from a booming second ago. Suv thinks it’s a mistake and gets to the sidewalk to avoid drivers now confused and panicked. The twin towers aren’t far, basically a few blocks up and near the deli joint he likes to pit stop at for free snacks from the owner, an old high school buddy.

Keeping watch of the skyline as time passes, there’s chatter abound from the radios and screens around. Frankly, while there are stories getting tossed about here and there, no one really knows what is going on. But by a little after 9 AM, it was pretty certain the “it was an accident” theory was not it: second tower was hit and Suv totally saw it. Looked like a B-rated movie, the wall buckling like phony cardboard when the plane hit it. Couldn’t be fake but Suv couldn’t help feeling it was. Officers were already trying to corral the crowd, saying help is on the way, firefighters have already been called, gawking isn’t solving anything, so on and so forth.

Now, the day was pretty chaotic, Suv got scared, didn’t know what to do but go forward because all he figured was he needed to get some place safe and his buddy was up the way a little. Nobody really stopped him pedaling towards the towers until a cop nearly ripped him off his bike, barking at him to go turn back and go home. Not really sure what to do because the streets were glutted with onlookers, cars and commotion, he just stayed and watched. The officer that was fussing at him was more busy fussing at others and listening to his radio transmitter so Suv didn’t have to worry.

After watching people jumping, towers burning and more noises up and down the street in an absolute daze, eventually he saw the South Tower fall. Feeling like it was just a bad disaster movie, Suv kept watching until a random tourist yanked the back of his shirt and told him to start moving, “Drop your bike and run.” Suv glanced at his bike and thought that the person was crazy because bikes are faster than people and this splotchy blue Cannondale may be part rust bucket but it’s his bread and butter. Instead, he tries to bike away but wobbles as he couldn’t get in a stride among the panicked crowd rushing into him and past him. There were shoes and briefcases on the ground, he eventually had to get off and run aside his bike. Everything was loud but the growing thunder was louder and looking over his shoulder as he hurried along, he saw why.

Never was Suv in a dust storm before, he didn’t know they were so fast. They always looked so slow and far away on tv. While he thought he was making some headway escaping the growing plume behind him, another enveloped from the side in a rush of grey. Quickly pulling up his collar to hide his nose and seeing nothing while feeling everything, Suv felt for a wall, any wall with a corner. Finding one, he sat behind the corner with his eyes closed and half his face tucked well under his shirt. He tightly crouched against the wall behind his bike, covered face tucked into his legs, dust getting everywhere.

Eventually dust subsides, Suv is found by a gray-covered officer who saw him huddled behind a newspaper stand and wondered if he was one of the dead. Trying to regain sight, Suv makes his way back home.

—–

Throughout the years, Suv basically lives a normal life. 9/11 was a bad day but it didn’t happen to just him, he figured. If anything, besides a national memory, he thinks it doesn’t affect him much. He doesn’t really dwell on the day much and still lives the average NYC life of trying to deliver packages around the city. Granted, as he tells it, planes and tall buildings make him a bit “weird” – but it’s nothing serious. He’s not like those people who survived the Titanic and became spooked by seeing ice in their drinks. He just don’t like hearing or seeing planes and he’s always had a fear of heights, it’s just a tad worse now. Blue skies make him a bit antsy, always glancing at them but no one’s ever really picked up on that.

When he went to see his sister in Oklahoma City, he took a train, thinking it would be nice to trip through America even though it took hours longer than a plane, which is what his sister suggested. Besides, Suv never took a train before, so what if his sister didn’t like waiting a bit longer? It’s his money and a new experience. 

Oklahoma City was a fun experience. He laughed, he hanged with his sister, made fun of her boyfriend’s Midwest accent at every opportunity, ate food, bought an “I’m OK” shirt and went home.

During the train ride, some teenager beside him was asleep with his iPod going and the earbuds were awful. They might as well be re-classed as “muffled speakers” because Suv could hear everything. Including the new B.O.B. song, “Airplanes”. That didn’t sit too well with Suv. In a flash, he started to feel panicked and worried. He couldn’t really get much of a grip on himself but the song kept bringing him back to nine years ago, where he stood on the sidewalk and faced the dust, the jumpers and the tragedy. He simply couldn’t breathe. Hearing the lyric of “if airplanes were shooting stars” simply got to him and he was curling up, waiting for the dust to come.

Nobody really paid attention to him except for an attendant, wondering why a passenger was having a panic attack. Figuring that perhaps he’s just not good with trains and hoping that’s all he was, the attendant came over with a bottle of water and reaches over the sleeping teen to get Suv’s attention. She did, but his petrified look made her jump a little. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost, can I offer a water? Do you need to go to the restroom? It’s in the next car.”

Suv thought it was the officer that tapped his shoulder but instead it was an attendant, which made him feel embarrassed. He probably looked so wild a second ago. Trying to figure out his breathing pattern, he takes the water and tries to make light conversation to beat back the awkwardness as there was a different song playing now, “Is there an air marshal on board?”

This confuses the train attendant. She corrects, “This is a train, that’s for airplanes. However, you’re safe on a train, nothing ever happens here. If you need to go to the restroom, it’s in the next car.” Suv is a bit embarrassed but somewhat relieved.

Despite this one moment, Suv thought he was mostly unaffected by 9/11. If anything, he just chalked up what happened on the train as a “weird” moment and tried to focus on getting back home. Thing is, Suv has these “moments” pretty frequently, according to his roommate.

The roomie always played the buffer by noting when Suv was getting into his “weird” state and just would whisper to people, “He was at the Twin Towers.” People would be more accommodating without Suv knowing why and all was hunky dory. When Suv would come home and complain about people being douches because he didn’t like delivering to airports or tall buildings, the roomie knew it was because he wasn’t around to brief anyone. He was okay with doing it but, just like one kid pointed out to the roomie as Suv was pacing a Duane Reade once: “9/11 was nearly a decade ago, why isn’t he over it?” The roomie wasn’t interested in playing The Therapist forever, just like the last roommate didn’t. Nor the one Suv originally came home to, coughing and choking from the debris. Suv’s a cool dude but he lives in NYC, planes and skyscrapers are pretty much New York City. As time goes on, less and less people are getting accommodating about Suv’s “weirdness”, especially younger people, even in New York. Seems like everyone is moving on but Suv.

Eventually, Suv moves to Chicago. NYC is getting pricy and Chicago seems like a slower city, his roomie mentioned and he agreed. It annoys the roomie that Suv has to go by train or bus or driving but no planes. At all. The roomie even suggests that he takes a plane and Suv gets there however he wants to but Suv wasn’t hearing any of it. Every time the roomie asked, “What are you afraid of? Nobody’s gonna hijack the plane!”, that pretty much derailed every conversation into a big argument that then derailed into the roomie dealing with Suv’s freakout sessions. Once, Suv even had a meltdown about the fact they were living on the seventh floor in the middle of an argument. A week or two of conversation and arguments, it was agreed they would drive to Chicago, all their stuff in tow.   

Chicago was nice. Cold but nice. The new place was a second floor apartment. Both roomie and Suv could land jobs so no one had to survive on peanut butter cookies like they did for the first two weeks after all the gas money, on top of rest of their moving expenses, drained their pockets. Suv was adjusting way better, he wasn’t checking the sky as much, there weren’t as many planes and not so much skyscrapers.

Once it wasn’t so cold, Suv and roomie walked around Chicago and headed to the downtown area. Suv was feeling a bit alert because of the masses of people milling about him as his roomie walked aside him, attempting to throw bits of hot dog buns at the pigeons, but for the most part, Suv was fine. He always felt a bit alert when outside and not on his bike so this was his normal. They walked past the building originally named the Sears Tower and saw a tour ad stating “Visit the Observation Deck of the Willis Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world at 108 stories! Come inside for details!” Suv went into full blown panic, even the roomie was surprised. All Suv could feel was terror and he couldn’t breathe again.      

It wasn’t smart and Suv knew it but he looked up. And in his head, he just saw a plane plow into the building. The roomie, knowing the drill, tried to tell the security guard by the door, “He saw 9/11 up close and personal, he ain’t gonna hurt anybody, just freaking out. Can we go inside?” This made Suv respond worse because there was no way he was going into a building that’s going to eventually collapse and kill everybody. “We have to get NYPD,” is all Suv said, attracting a crowd and their camera phones. The roomie, not at all an extrovert, was about to have a meltdown himself from all the attention. Suv spotted a hot dog cart, expecting the impending dust cloud, and hides behind it, covering his nose. He wasn’t in Chicago, it was New York City again.


Alright – that was longer than even I anticipated and I’m the writer. I tried to make it as brief as possible so I could make my point.

So, Suv here, has a trauma disorder, he has PTSD. His triggers, if you couldn’t tell, were airplanes and tall buildings. They were beyond phobias like Suv was playing them up to be. Here’s what makes what he has PTSD:

He dissociated: His brain dissociated from the tragedy that was around him and made him think he was watching (not “in”, “watching“) a bad disaster movie. Meaning, his brain pretty much attempted to block out the fright of the situation and make it seem unreal. Technically, this is a derealization episode Suv had. Despite that, it’s like his brain plays the bad movie over and over again years later and, this time, he’s part of it.

He’s hyper-vigilant: Watches the skies a lot, especially if they’re blue skies (because the sky was practically crystal clear on 9/11). He may not know it but this is pretty much a “trauma-time” because he’s actually looking for planes, fearful of seeing another attack, despite the fact that it’s been years. Says he has a phobia of heights, thus why planes and skyscrapers bother him but frankly, it’s because he had seen a plane plow into a tower with his own eyes. Twice. He also saw people jump to their death from the towers.

He’s anxious: Sees a plane or skyscraper? Reminded of planes and skyscrapers? He doesn’t handle it well. It makes him “anxious”, as he likes to call it. His roommate would describe it better as “terrified”. So would the onlookers in Chicago seeing his breakdown by the Sears Towers, if not “tetchy”.

Has flashbacks: Gets triggered, he’ll think it’s 9/11 all over again. (This is why it’s important to be mindful of triggers) He doesn’t have to see a plane plow into a building, his brain will play it out for him instead, which is hyper-realization as his mind superimposes the attacks on tall buildings. Basically, he’s reliving the event. Why, he even started to relive the event from a song that had nothing to do with terrorism, 9/11 or anything, it was a reference to planes as a simile.

Became event-evasive: Suv had a sudden preference for ground transportation (cars, buses, trains) instead of air flight, even if flying was the easier/cheaper option.

When faced with his triggers (planes, tall buildings), Suv couldn’t separate modern day from 9/11, even a decade later. Granted, I could have gone deeper and brought up terrible sleeping troubles, being hyper-associated with the number 9/11 to the point Suv wouldn’t want to call 911 for help or things like that but all those experiences are from trauma. Just like any person with trauma, it’s difficult to manage with triggers, even worse when you don’t really know what’s going on because you didn’t know it was PTSD.

Granted, here comes the question: “What? Are we supposed to magically know that this guy is a 9/11 Survivor and never talk about planes or buildings ever? Wouldn’t it be easier for this dude to move to some meadow and deal with it that way?”

No. It would be up to Suv on whether or not he should disclose that he saw 9/11 and that those are his triggers. However, it would be easier if people didn’t openly and continually discount the simple fact that folks have them. (Remember, he didn’t want to see himself as just like those who survived the Titanic and couldn’t have ice cubes in their drinks as a result because it reminded them of the iceberg). In a way, he was trying to tell people he had triggers but didn’t call them that, he just said planes and tall buildings made him a bit “weird” because he didn’t want to come off as hyper-sensitive or crazy. If anything, he was downplaying his reaction, which is what people with trauma tend to do because of the stigma.

It’s not easy to tell who has what trauma. Suv could even mistakenly set off another survivor with a loud ringtone if that other survivor had a trigger about sirens and loud noises. People with trauma don’t like to wear what their buttons are on their sleeve.

Also, running away isn’t always an option for the traumatized. And sometimes the traumatized don’t want to run away because it’s almost like saying “I’m affected”, which people don’t like to think of themselves after a trauma.

If anything, it’s pretty obvious that Suv is going to have to get help for his trauma because it does indeed affect him a lot but it’s not uncommon for people to go years without getting help. Sometimes, intense reactions are delayed, it can take years for something to blip up as intensely like what Suv experienced on the train, several years later after the attacks. Either way, it’s better to be mindful and not be a terrible person about the fact that someone has triggers.

Out of all this, note that the roomie does not have a trauma. Yes, he was eventually distressed from the crowd gathering due to Suv’s episode but “being the center of attention” is not a trigger or trauma. It’s normal to be anxious when the center of attention, especially if you’re not accustomed to it. Suv had a trigger to his traumatic episodes, something that reminded him of his traumatic experience. That’s why they’re called “triggers”. Just like how peanuts can trigger an allergic episode, certain things can trigger a trauma episode. However, no one jokes about the fact that people can be allergic to things like shellfish or wheat, nor do people joke about how epipens are very expensive and how they’re so unnecessary because it’s just getting in the way of evolution sorting itself out. Or if someone does joke about that, they’re seen as a terrible person because folks can’t help the fact they have allergies others should be mindful about.

As always, I explain to people the best way to deal with the fact that some people have triggers is to think of it like allergies. You can’t look at someone and say, “Yep, I know they’re definitely allergic to cotton. Totes.” Or feed someone fish and automatically know that their throat is about to close up in a few minutes. Or that they have asthma. Or anything, really. It’s why people, including myself, wear medical bracelets. It’s why people check the labels at the back of products. Folks who are impacted with their issues try to sort out their lives to make it easier on themselves (note Suv had rather take ground transportation and avoid tall buildings instead of simply just not leaving his home). That’s people taking care of themselves and their disabilities, not wallowing about totally helpless.

However, imagine folks did make fun of having food allergies and trolled about over the epipen. That means there wouldn’t be really any open discussion about the jack-up in price, how people can have cheaper alternatives, so on and so forth. No one is really shamed for talking about Claritin because they have seasonal allergies. No one mimics people having hives or sneezing attacks because it’s funny. If anything, it would be seen as odd, like the person simply didn’t understand the human experience or concept of allergies. Granted people do try to offer snake oil methods for allergies but for the most part, no one would tell people, “don’t take your Benadryl, that’s what’s making you sick” or “you need to grow up and overcome your allergy. I had the same allergy as a kid and now I don’t!” and those who do sound downright mental or overwhelmingly stupid. Just apply that to triggers.

If someone has a trigger, don’t shun them or make fun of the fact that people have triggers. It makes people talk less about their traumas, and even incredibly less in how to handle them. Imagine people never getting help for their allergies because someone thought the fact they had any was idiotic. That would be a lot of miserable and/or dead people. Instead of trying to have a sonic ear for those who have traumatic experiences, try not to rag on the fact that there are people who do actually have them. Yeah, anyone can make fun of Suv for the fact that planes and skyscrapers bother him because it seems so ridiculous on its face. Or the fact that a simple pop song can send him into a tizzy. However, it’s not so funny how he got his trauma yet the same person who would probably make fun of Suv would possibly be reading this post right now and say “OMGZ, Black Witch is sooooooo disrespectful to people who went thru 9/11! Never forget!”

To sum it up, triggers are not light, non-happy reactions that only weak people have because they’re weak. They’re a psychological response and earmark to a greater trauma previously experienced. It’s best to treat them as such.

*If babyboomer and butthurt about this phrase, take a bit of your own medicine: stop being sensitive. And croak already.

Recently, I was shown an advertisement for a new movie due to come out in 2017 called “Split”. Directed my M. Night Shyamalan, it’s about a man with 23 personalities/identities who captures three teenage girls. Because…he’s supposedly balls-to-the-wall mental due to having D.I.D.

Watch the trailer below:

I am pretty sure that a good chunk of people are going “Hey, this movie looks interesting and not half bad. What’s the problem?” so, luckily (unluckily?) I can break it down for you because I have D.I.D: Dissociative Identity Disorder. Let’s start with the basics so you know what I’m talking about and then about the trailer so you can see what I’m talking about.

What is D.I.D?

Most people don’t know what D.I.D is. Here’s the thing: you’ve actually heard of D.I.D, a lot. It’s usually called by it’s old name “Multiple Personalities Disorder”. Here’s another thing: you mainly learned through media so you also most likely know very, very little about what D.I.D actually is.

D.I.D spelled out is “Dissociative Identity Disorder”, that is the new name of “Multiple Personality Disorder”. The name change happened around the mid-1990s and became part of a spectrum which, if leveled, would look like this:

Level 1: Dissociative Disorder (D.D.)

Level 2: Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D)

Level 3: Dissociative Fugue (D.F.)

If you’re between the “levels”, you’re considered [Disorder]-NOS (Example: DD-NOS). “NOS” means “Not Otherwise Specified”. Basically, the doctor thinks you’re somewhere on the spectrum, but not sure where. I was originally pegged as DD-NOS and then it got bumped up to D.I.D, which made me a very not-happy camper. Actually, I eventually was in tears about it. Not in “I finally know what I have so now my life can begin” tears, I was in “Oh sh*t, my credibility is going to be so dogged because everyone thinks people with D.I.D are absolute psychos. It’s almost as bad as being coined ‘schizophrenic'” tears. It’s not a fun disorder to have and neurotypical folks make sure it’s the worst experience ever. 

The first case of D.I.D, according to the Wikipedia page of Dissociative Identity Disorder (it’s one of the few sites that I could find that didn’t have overly dense jargon), was apparently in 1646 by Paracelus but the first profound case was Louis Vivet, who was hospitalized in 1885 due to developing a psychosomatic paralysis at the age of 17 after a viper wrapped around his hand when he was working on a farm. Once he regained his ability to walk, didn’t recognize anyone in the hospital and accused them of imprisoning him. Also, it turns out, he was the influencing story of Robert Louis Stevenson Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde. The key word is “influencing” not “direct story”.

Still, the psych community argues whether dissociative disorders, particularly DID, exists or not. Also, water is wet and the Pope is Catholic, ugh.

What makes D.I.D. the disorder that it is (and often stigmatized) is that there is what is known as various “alters”, also called “personalities” and “identity states”. The job of these alters is to pretty much deal with trauma however way they do. Some internalize it. Some believe that it didn’t happen. Some just go well off the wall to deal with the fact trauma happened. Either way, the group of alters (and host/original personality) is called a system. No two people with D.I.D systems are the same but there are striking familiar trends that are the hallmarks of D.I.D., such as dissociative amnesia, starkly different personalities types (one alter can be boisterous, regular visioned and careless, another can be near-sighted, shallow and pedantic) that make them seem like different people, all in one body. A person with D.I.D can feel like their head is going blank and fuzzy and dissociated from their environment or even themselves (which is also called “derealization” and “depersonalization”). There’s a wonderful Tumblr that artistically express what it feels like to have a dissociative disorder called Dissociart.

While we’re on the subject of art and dissociation, please don’t confuse an artistic alter ego (such as Nicki Minaj’s Roman, Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce, etc etc) with D.I.D because one is crafted carefully for artistic reasons, the other is borne from trauma. I have explained about it in the past here. Also, the insanity=creativity idea is a creativity myth. Being creative and having a disorder are not related: you can have a disorder and not be artistically talented and you can be artistically talented without a disorder.

Another way I’ve described D.I.D to others is that it’s like your mind is a very, very small apartment and there are several roommates there. And just like roommates in real life, some get along, some don’t like each other, some rather not be bothered, some act like the whole apartment is theirs and no one else’s. I occasionally joke, “It’s like a Dormtainment skit, sometimes.” Or like having several people in one car for a very lengthy road trip.

What is D.I.D Not?

Schizophrenia. That’s an entirely different disorder. Nor is it Borderline Personality Disorder. That is also entirely a different disorder. Those with BPD have mimicked the “showy” parts of D.I.D (such as pretending to have alters and acting out as such) but usually do not display the internal effects of D.I.D, such as the amnesic confusion or expression of internal chatter between alters. Not to mention, if tested, D.I.D is incredibly hard to fake. Even I fudged my answers a bit when I was tested to downplay my symptoms and experiences and still came out pegged as D.I.D. And I’m pretty well-studied on the subject.

It’s also not a fun, creative experience where you get to “try out” being different people. Haaaaaaaaa, no. It’s confusing, disorienting and you get really good at “I have literally no clue what is going on but I’m just gonna do what everyone else is doing until I figure it out.” If anything, it’s like playing those escape-the-room games on Newgrounds where you have no idea where you are and have to figure out how to get out before something bad happens. And there’s next to no directions.

How Does Someone Get D.I.D.?

It’s all about the trauma. One saying about D.I.D is “Not everyone with PTSD has D.I.D but everyone with D.I.D has PTSD”. This means that dissociative disorders (lowercased in reference to the spectrum, not just the actual disorder itself) stem from trauma. It’s honestly no different than if someone were affected by physical trauma (such as being hit by a car) and now have a physical abnormality (now the affected is in a wheelchair). The hyper-simplified basics is “a person experienced an ongoing series of trauma, developed mental defense mechanisms to help deal with the trauma (they dissociate themselves (believe “this is not happening to me”) from the experience). Now the defense mechanisms are maladaptive.” PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and C-PTSD (Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can be a garden bed of disorders, such as disorders on the dissociative spectrum. There’s plenty that can be said here but we’re just focusing on the dissociative spectrum as the scope.

It appears the most common trauma stem is abuse, usually child sexual abuse and, for a time in the 1990s (I have no idea why), claims of Satanic ritual abuse. I don’t have either of those. My trauma basically stems from living in one of the worst neighborhoods Baltimore City had to offer. And how not much as been done, given how that very same neighborhood blew up into riots that took over the city just about a year ago. Of course, other things layer on top of that (Not everyone in Sandtown or Baltimore has D.I.D but 80% does have PTSD. I’ll abstain from my usual snark here) but that’s the groundwork.

In case anyone is concerned, the D.I.D and the fact that I’m Pagan are two separate things because I’m a person. I didn’t become Pagan because I have a mental illness (that’s kinda dumb) and my mental illness does not fuel my beliefs in metaphysics and psionics…because that’s not how D.I.D works. If that were the case, anyone who believes in a deity or higher power would be consider insane, regardless if they’re Christian, Pagan or Buddhist. That and folks who believe D.I.D is the real motivator behind being Pagan: you’re thinking of Schizophrenia, another disorder that’s wildly misunderstood…and is not the underlying basis of why someone has spiritual and/or religious beliefs, either. Oh noes, I’m a complex human being. The horror.

D.I.D starts rooting itself at around 6 to 9 years old but may not really start showing up until around pre-teens or a little later. It isn’t a sign of an over-active imagination of a child, it’s considered a mental defense mechanism on overload when someone is too young to fully understand what’s going on but have to deal with it anyways with very, very little resources and emotional/psychological support.

I could go on forever about what D.I.D is, isn’t, how does someone get it and so on and so forth but I have a trailer to deconstruct so here are the basics: D.I.D is a trauma disorder part of the dissociative spectrum that sets in at around early childhood (but doesn’t show until around pre/teen age), usually caused by on-going trauma, which can be anything, from abuse to long term systemic/institutional neglect/harm. The trauma disorder is a mental defense mechanism that is overloaded due to lack of emotional/psychological support during childhood.

Alright, let’s break down why this trailer foreshadows a crappy movie that is overly tropey. I’ll do time stamps so everyone can follow along my thoughts with the trailer above:

00:25 – These are very polite teens (and of course they’re girls because, hey, “Damsels in Distress” is still a thing). And it makes no sense to as why this random dude is trying to kidnap them. Or how he’s somehow not affected by the mace because that small little dust mask would not stop the effects of mace from getting to his lungs (and eyes! What about his eyes? They’re in a car!). I’ve worked in a weapon shop before, have friends in the police force, friends who have participated in a riot and have my own half-face respirator because I’ve worked with chemicals before. This little dust mask barely thwarts dust. Pepper spray will sail right past that and make all four people have a miserable time. While someone can argue “Some alters can’t feel pain”, pepper spray is designed so that even if you can’t feel pain for whatever reason, your body is still going to be affected.

00:33 – Seriously? An underground secret lair? Complete with beds and decor? There are prisons less decked out than this spot. Also, it’s pretty obvious that the person with the D.I.D is supposed to be the “monster” here. As if police need to watch this and feel validated in their current method of dealing with neurodivergent people of “just add bullets”.

00:45 – I take it the brunette one is supposed to be the “hero” or something? And the blonde one is second in command? And the racially ambiguous one is supposed to be the quiet token?

00:50 – Nice outfit and shoes. Lemme guess: the Beckies discover who they think is someone that can help but instead is another alter?

00:58 – Yeap. People do know that getting dressed takes time and most people with D.I.D don’t have a wardrobe at the ready for their each and every alter, right? Because that’s fact. While that is an amazing shirt and necklace, it’s not really true to how D.I.D people act.

01:04 – This is supposed to be the part where the audience reacts and goes “This dude is bug-f*ck crazy. Man, I’d hate to meet a guy like him. Those girls are in trouble.” This is also the part where I roll my eyes. It’s like the creators of this did a cursory glance over what people with D.I.D are like, watched, perhaps, half an episode of United States of Tara and went “ok, we’re ready.

01:17 – That was probably the only part of the trailer that I thought was well done in terms of acting. Just three seconds of footage. Also, it’s another “let’s scare the audience and make them think ‘this dude is bug-f*ck crazy, he’s a grown man who thinks he’s also a woman…and a child.’

01:25 – Ah, here’s the explanation, from a therapist. The “monster” is named Kevin and has 23 alternate personalities. This therapist must be talking to an investigator or something because wow, she’s free-wheeling this information. Even my therapist wouldn’t share that much info with anyone out of concern it would be used against me. Like, I think just the hospital I was at and my lawyer gets a direct stream of info. Everyone else has to sign a ream of papers, get asked a lot of questions, etc. Because D.I.D is heavily stigmatized, as well as mental illness as a whole.

01:28 – Ah, she is freewheeling to Kevin, her client. Maybe an alter is out and she’s telling the details?…in a really awkward way? And saying “Who are you?” Ugh, sounds like being back in therapy when I first got pegged as D.I.D. It double sucks when you like doing accents to past the time, like me. That’s not D.I.D, I just like amusing myself.

01:30 – The visual expression of, “Kevin is more than one person. And definitely more than you see.” I would have thought it looked so cool if I wouldn’t be so strongly reminded that people will think of this when I say “I have D.I.D”. Like, for real, people with D.I.D are not this creepy as a default. Most are pretty quiet, keep to themselves because they know something’s not right in their head and pretty much that. This movie makes it seem all people with D.I.D are out to get a bunch of teens for some super nefarious reason.

01:42 – The brunette Becky seems to attempt to be clever. And fails. Oh lolz. Isn’t she a bit manipulative? Also, depending on the D.I.D system, talking to one alter can sometimes be like talking to one roommate in a house with very thin walls, alters are not that stupid. And speaking of alters, how come there’s literally no alter going “Hey, whoa, hey, whoa…I have no idea what’s going on but this seems reaaaaally messed up. You three? Gotta go. I don’t know why you’re in here but this is not an AirBnb, go on and scat”? Or telling the other alters, “Alright, here’s a really strange idea: maybe, just maybe – hear me out, I might be going somewhere with this – that we just kidnapped a bunch of people and totally should let them go because this is pretty illegal and wrong. Wild thought, I know, but just tossing that one out there. Like, we’re gonna be on Court Tv and it won’t be fun.” It seems like all 23 personalities are on the same page…that’s really odd. If you don’t think so, gather up 23 random people in a room and attempt to simply order a single pizza in two minutes. The more folks/alters there are, the more complex things get, even for the simplest things.

01:43 – The body contorting? Really? Now you’re just painting those with D.I.D as super scary people that can’t control themselves who just wanna kill and torture. I know pleeeeeeeenty of people who are a lot more destructive and vicious and they’re very much sane and lucid and super not-crazy.

01:50 – “The Beast”? Oh, come on, Christian ideology? Are you serious? How laaaaaaaaazy. Why do mentally ill monsters always reference the Bible somehow? Like, holy crap, can anyone think of anything different? If I saw this in theatres, I would have walked out (if I hadn’t already) and just gone across the hall to see Black Panther (if it were out in 2017 and not 2018).
01:57 – Oh, brunette Becky has claws. She can hit a mentally ill person, how lovely. She can somehow make a White feminist’s heart swoon in how she’s saving herself and not letting a man save her. And somehow, this looks like a cross between a Silent Hill game and a regular horror movie

2:11 – “The world will understand now.” I strongly doubt that. Intensely. More like “vastly misunderstand now” since you made people with D.I.D look like automatic Bible-thumping psycho killers with potential mommy issues. Dude, please.

2:25 – That quip…is so plastic. Doesn’t sound like a nine year old. Also, very little research into D.I.D for this movie, indeed.

And that’s a wrap, folks! You can go see the movie if you want but, remember, this is a pretty awful depiction of D.I.D. It is not an inside look of how D.I.D works. It’s not how the average person with D.I.D acts. It’s pretty crap, all in all. I mean, even the Korean Drama Heal Me Kill Me did a better job and that was partially inaccurate as well.

In addition, it’s movies and shows like this that makes people have unnecessary knee-jerk reactions about those with mental illness and present the mentally ill as inherently dangerous when that’s not always the case. Not once throughout the trailer – and I definitely doubt it will be in the movie – that the “monster” is going to get anything to make the viewer sympathize with him. Most people with D.I.D don’t want to hurt anyone, they just want to be left alone. If someone with D.I.D did go to harm someone, it’s because they were set off, not because they’re inherently evil. And if the idea that a mentally ill person could potentially harm someone in that state because they’re set off, maybe you should vote and campaign for better mental health care in this country. That’s the only way to “thwart” potential acts of violence from a mentally ill person, by having a beneficial system there that can help them. And signing up for Mental Health First Aid.

Welp, in the recent string of “Police + Black people = ends poorly”, this time a therapist was shot. Not killed, thankfully, just shot. He was trying to calm an escaped adult with autism, who only had a toy truck. A neighbor confused a tonka truck for a gun (it’s amazing how being not White can magically turn even the most innocent of things into guns, like bright green soda bottles and toy trucks) and in came the cops to go after an autistic person because, y’know, police are very well trained for neurodivergent people, especially non-White ones.* The mental health worker, doing their job, was just trying to keep the 23-year-old safe and not dead as he’s dealing with the sensory overload of very dumb people with really powerful weapons acting immensely aggressive because…there’s not enough bad PR for police already? And he gets shot. On ground, hands out, responding carefully, still gets a spontaneous injection of lead vitamins.

Now, if that’s not baffling, the head of the police union has more to wow you with: they didn’t mean to shoot the therapist…they were aiming for the autistic person.

Oh, that’s fantastic to know. Just wonderful. No need for Mental Health First Aid classes when Smith & Wesson can already give you a crash course in how to deal with the mentally ill and disabled. No need for the Hellen Keller method of dealing with neurodivergents when there’s the George Zimmerman solution. I would bemoan how Florida is really turning out to be a crappy state buuuuuuuut the whole nation is getting sour.

This is very frustrating for a ream of reasons:

The person is autistic, not dangerous:
Ok, I understand there’s a bunch of stigma around having autism. Then you have folks like Autism Speaks** who make things worse. The interesting thing about the internet is that you can learn about autism (not that vaccines cause it because that’s been disproven over and over and over again). There’s even an episode of the children’s show Arthur about it:

There, now you know more about autism than a police officer. And if you’re a police officer, now you just got a little bit better at your job, you deserve a popsicle as you get ready to strut into work to impress your major and be one less person for Internal Affairs to worry about.

Apparently what caused the cop to get antsy is that the autistic person was not obeying orders to lay down on the ground. Because he’s autistic. Like the mental health worker was saying. And completely harmless. This is such bad training, oh my gods.

The cop being not White doesn’t make it better:
The cop that delivered the shot was a 30 year old Latin dude that was kind of new, only four years on the force. But still, he should have gotten much better training than breaking out the automatic rifle and taking three shots. I understand police feel under attack because they don’t tend to train their brethern well and that can attract controversy. However, I really doubt attempting to murder an autistic person is going to make anything better. Neither is trying to kill that person’s doctor. If there were beanbags pellets instead of bullets or, I don’t know, listening to the doctor, this could have probably not even have turned into a story. Just a case of a patient got out, doctor went to get them, police came, understood the situation and tried to help the doctor rally the person in. Hey, that even would have been an okay story, to show that not all police are pigs with bloodthirst. Instead, you just get a new story of why police get so much heat about how they handle things.

This is a wee bit personal:
Ah, for someone who isn’t very anti-police, these stories (and my own personal experience, such as a police raid) do not help me keep the faith much. I have written on here a number of times about how I have trauma disorders and I have a therapist as well. And I have to get treatment for my disability, that, if left untreated, can easily go ham. This really irks me that if I have a major episode, this is what I get to look forward to: some dunce person that can’t tell a tonka truck from a glock calling 911 and police just getting murder-y in response. My main therapist is White buuuuuut the mental health worker that helped defined my disorder back when I was hospitalized? Black. And given how this story unraveled, it doesn’t even matter what race my main therapist is, they’re just as much of a target simply because I’m in the vicinity.

I have friends in the force going up to Federal. I explain to them how my disorder works and they ask questions, because that’s the smart thing to do. However, they should already know how to deal with mentally ill and disabled people because they’re who gets called when someone is having an episode. This is not good. This is alarming. The answer to dealing with neurodivergent people is not “Just add bullets”.

The police, frankly, handled this poorly. This is getting beyond annoying, this is getting concerning. Police generally are trained with protocols of how to handle everything, from irate sports fans to riots. They need to really upgrade how they handle dealing with people in general, it seems. Especially the historically marginalized.

 

*They’re not. “Attempt to murder” is not a satisfactory method to deal with neurodivergent people. Ever.

** “Autism$peaks” because the money is all they’re after

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