Category: Mental Health/Mental Illness


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

One of the hardest times to be clairvoyant* is when you’re going through stress. The bigger the stress (lost job, hostile work environment, disruptions at home or in family), the more it dulls the psionic senses. It can even feel like you’re losing your touch, readings are off or simply there’s nothing blipping up at all. You may usually read for yourself but you’re not interested in what the cards or tea leaves have to say anymore out of fear of getting more “Bad news coming” results because you simply are well past your eyebrows in problems and don’t want to know if more is boppling down the pipe. You feel stuck and out of sorts if not out of control.

There’s no point to say “Stress impacts the mind” because there’s countless documents backing that up, as well as lived experiences. Good stress, bad stress, too much of it and you’re ready to pull your hair out. Besides giving you a millimeter fuse of a temper and a more vulnerable immune system, being part of psionics or simply energy manipulation means signs of stress will show up there as well. Despite what branch you practice, it shows up roughly the same way: Way off predictions, no signal at all, even headaches or a cloudy-minded feeling during even small attempts. Being psionic is a mental workout so it should come at no surprise that when under stress, that workout gets more dogged and wearing.

When going through mass amounts of stress, try not to worry about not being as good at divination or prediction as usual because that can create a negative feedback loop that will just add to the stress, not alleviate it. It’s just dulled right now because your brain is more fixated on the current problem at hand, even when you think it is situated in the back of your mind. Instead, just try to alleviate the stress the best you can by making effective changes towards diet and lifestyle. Granted, it is not that easy because stress from towering bills and a shrinking paycheck will not magically go away completely because you decided to drink more water instead of coffee but it will help your brain process information better and not feel so wound up and fretful. That’s a step in the right direction, at the very least. Try to be more firm with boundaries, even if you’re not the type to say “No” because with boundaries, you can better dictate your load, especially if something bigger comes along unexpectedly. Even if they’re little things, they can still help towards and ultimate goal of successfully managing the stress in a healthy way to get back to normal.

It’s ok, even if you’re a diviner, to not be interested in readings or forecasts because you’re worried of what the future is going to hold. Also, it’s ok to not want to listen to yourself because you can’t tell the real future from what you’re worried (or hoping) is going to happen. Fear can cloud anything and easily look like reality. When stressed, it’s not hard at all to be stress about how things are this month, how it will bleed over to next month, and next month … and the month after that…and the month after that, until you’re stressed about things in December and it isn’t even halfway through July. Stress can trigger the brain into fight or flight or freeze mode, it’s not going to function like usual when all the red alerts are going off inside your head. It truly is ok to not want to predict the future because the present already looks unpredictable enough.

That, and you might not believe what is actually about to happen. If you’re so deeply convinced that things won’t get better but you suddenly get a reading or a psychic ping of some good news, you’re likely to go “Naaaaah. Can’t be real. That’s what I would like to happen but I know it’s not gonna. Just no way, because [insert reasons here]”. All the same if you get some bad news, you may go, “That can’t be. I did everything I was supposed to. Maybe I’m just dwelling on my current state right now because [insert reasons here].” When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to see any clarity. Or to simply understand it.

As you deal with stress, the best way to handle it is to be as proactive as possible. It’s not easy to manage stress, it takes more than just doing pilates and having green smoothies. It takes a full effort to find where the stress is coming from and trying to alleviate it, even if it means making hard changes. But while being stressed, it’s okay if you can’t tell what’s going to happen next, just try to work on what is happening now and eventually, you’ll find out.

Next week is The Arts!, here’s what’s getting featured:

  • Kitty Underground Railroad
  • Helping Homeless Felines

*Clairsentient, clairaudient, there’s different types

It’s been a reoccurring theme for me so let me talk about my Dissociative Disorder. Might as well since it’s been ticked up more than a notch since the riots (“Baltimore Uprising”? Yeaaaaah, way to Whitewash and disrespectfully glorify what is going on, you can nearly hear Muse “Victorious” playing in the background. I guess White saviorists got tired of Ferguson and want to live out their Rage Against the Machine dreams here. In my city. Where they are not welcomed. At all. They’re riots, stop trying to romanticize the problem you helped make) because, as I have said several times in the recent past, I’m originally from the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. So, like the vast majority of the people from Sandtown (and Baltimore), I have C-PTSD, which means “Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. The basic difference between PTSD and C-PTSD can be best put this way: If a soldier has PTSD, the kids and people living in the invaded country has C-PTSD. The soldier eventually gets shipped back home but the kids and people left behind have to stay in the rocket-pocked area because it’s home.

Same thing for kids in the inner city, it’s a place where you can easily get PTSD/C-PTSD because of the environment alone, not even including the institutionalized barriers that keeps the people there (and not getting help). Add that and the situation turns from being like crabs in a bucket to trying not to get sucked back into a malevolent vortex. It’s nearly impossible to say someone could come from such an area and still wind up neurotypical or sane. I certainly didn’t and many don’t. And we didn’t even add the usual day-to-day circumstances of just being an individual, which can compound the ever present stresses that no one – except for the people actually from the areas – want to talk about.

My PTSD came from a lot of different things I grew up with, from really crappy people to really crappy systems and circumstances as well as people and circumstances that were very well meaning but did more harm than anything. Then you had folks and circumstances that you seriously couldn’t tell which type they were: one second they’re helping you, next, they basically made you mastermind your own demise without knowing.

Now, from that PTSD basically came a garden plot for other issues such as OCD (not fun and riddled with tv-made myths), trichotillomania (that showed up first when I was around 10), and the most destructive one, Dissociative disorder, where I’m officially considered DD-NOS.

Because I’m lazy and saw a really good picture explanation from a tumblr titled “Trauma and Dissociation”, here’s the basic overview of what I am talking about and how the Dissociative spectrum works:

wpid-https%3a%2f%2f41.media_.tumblr.com%2f147f916ecf5da5343fe84e6ffb35b051%2ftumblr_nmlk13nfa41sivm54o1_1280.jpg

If anyone is going “Wow, this sounds totally crazy. Like, psychokiller crazy,” yeaaaaah, you try dealing with really violent and unstable environments for a vast majority of your life and let’s see how you turn out. Most people get scared of Baltimore because they saw The Wire or read The Corner (which is the source material for the HBO show and was also a HBO special itself), and they’re just reading about it or watching a cable drama, not actually living there so it should be no surprise I or anyone else could wind up with such a severe disorder. Also, not everyone is an amoral, violent nutjob out to murder any and every one…that’s moreso White guys from the middle class on up. Kids in the hood at least have valid reasons for being angry, but with less high-numbered mass killing sprees. My disorder can easily turn quite vicious when triggered (hence why I tell people to not trigger me) because it turns out bottling emotions like anger and frustration and more anger in the name of social upward mobility is unhealthy – eventually it tries to becomes another person.

Also, if you learned most of your psych knowledge from tv or movies, this means you have very little knowledge on disorders in all. Going off of that one (inaccurate) episode of Empire won’t teach you anything about mental illness, just that people who have it are somehow scary and should be both actively and passively shunned, preferably into silence and out of sight. Random youtube vids and vines would show that mental illness should be made fun of for kicks and giggles because picking on mentally fractured people is funny, kind of like cracking on a dying cancer patient. Media does not try to depict mental illness in its honesty. Instead it is used to be a short cut to making a tv show or movie look more “riveting” or like there is supposed to be a stunning plot present because the show creators were lazy and good writers are expensive. There is the Korean drama “Kill Me, Heal Me” which was based around the main character having Dissociative Identity Disorder (a bit different from Dissociative Disorder, I’ll touch on that in a minute) but still, the show didn’t showcase the illness correctly, it basically tried to hit on as many mental illness tropes as it could. I watch the show with my friend, who lives in Korea, and from everything I saw, it was pretty decent tv (from a K-drama perspective) but no way would a Korean resident feel empowered to say, “Maybe I should get help” or “hey, mentally ill people aren’t wacked out freaks but actual human beings inflicted with a condition because of their experiences.” Newp. Not at all. I still suggest the K-Drama “It’s Ok, That’s Love” however because, even though it is framed around schizophrenia, they did an amazing job depicting Tourette’s and schizophrenia in very humanizing ways, which is necessary. Especially since most media doesn’t do that. Or if they do, the casting looks like it was done by a Klansman.

Alright, I said that Dissociative Disorder is different from Dissociative Identity disorder, let’s touch on that. They’re both part of the same disorder but the different points on the same spectrum. The Dissociative spectrum, basically. It starts out at Dissociative but in the middle of the spectrum is Dissociative Identity Disorder (old name is Multiple Personality Disorder) and the end of the spectrum, a very rare formation of the illness, is Dissociative Fugue, where you basically forget who you are and build a brand new life, personality and identity. The basic part of Dissociative is that it’s not Dissociative if there’s no amnesia. All Dissociative is, in all forms, is the mind trying to disconnect from the realities of the trauma(s) taking place and thus puts the memories somewhere else, which causes the amnesia and gaps in the memory beyond reasonable stretches. This isn’t forgetting where you put your keys but forgetting whole chunks of your life. Dissociative Identity is where the mind is still trying to shelter itself but still forced to engage with the situation and/or environment, it creates a new person to deal with it. So now that person has one set of memories and personality traits (someone with DID can have many personalities, someone with DID-NOS can have many different personas (non-fully formed personalities, more like masks), we’re just going with one here) and the other personality has a different set and sometimes personalities don’t know about each other. Dissociative Fugue is basically the mind going “I’m just going to restart fresh” and do exactly that. The person will have no memory of the life they previously lived, they’ll possibly have a different name, they may even relocate to a different state or country, have a different personality, everything. Also, because DID is so “popular” in the public consciousness, many people will assume that DID is the end all and be all of the whole spectrum instead of simply being a notch, not the measure, of a bigger spectrum. So if someone says they have Dissociative, don’t call it DID. It’s like calling clinical depression “manic depression” simply because they share a word.

If this all seems really confusing, think of the mind like a desktop computer. On a normal computer, there’s only one account because it belongs to one person. But in the case of Dissociative, memory files, including vital ones, tend to get moved to distant and rarely used folders without the user knowing. And the user may never know what is missing until they need to pull up one of those files but keep getting 404 Errors and “File Not Found”. For Dissociative Identity Disorder, imagine the computer now having various user accounts. Now the computer will look different, have a different layout, so on and so forth based on user but it is still the same computer. Each user has fairly immediate access to their files and their files only and won’t see the files from other users, as if the computer is just for them. Now, it’s not that those files on the other accounts disappeared, they’re still there, but you have to dig deeper into the system tree to find them. Everyone still pulls their information from the same hard drive, it’s just all compartmentalized for personalized use. Sometimes different users know about each other, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes files cross, sometimes they don’t. For Dissociative Fugue, it’s like the computer going through a reformat, a hard restart, without knowing unless someone uses a data retrieving program on the harddrive to see what was originally on it before it got cleared.

Here is a video also about someone talking about Dissociative (actually, Disssociative Amnesia, to be exact), notice how the woman affected in the video responds to a memory about a traumatic incident in her life.

This is basically what happens to me. Memories locked away by Disassociation are usually not recalled, that’s the amnesia part at work. With therapy, the elderly woman could rediscover her memories but it’s not going to be easy because they were buried away for a reason. If it was DID, she would have another personality that would be able to remember the incident perfectly. Notice that she does not. It’s just plain Dissociative disorder, the bottom part of the spectrum.

Now I’m considered DD-NOS, as you read above in the picture, this means that I’m considered “Not Otherwise Specified”. It basically boils down to “I’m between place points on the spectrum.” I do more than simply forget/block out bad memories, I nearly become someone different while really disassociating so I’m not merely tagged “Dissociative”. The persona is not a full-fledged personality, complete with practically an identity of its own, so I’m not considered DID. I’m too close to the “DID” label for my comfort but I’m still not DID. Instead I’m just a potentially prime candidate to go DID if my disorder is consistently disturbed and I’m still in a volatile environment. This is why I stress to people that I don’t like being triggered, that I usually go out my way to reduce chances of triggers, go to a therapist, etc etc.

A mini, crappily made guide to best illustrate what I’m saying:

2015-05-13 17.59.59Yeap.

Since there are folks who are probably going, “Then this means that we don’t have to listen to you because since you’re mental, thus a terrible source of information about Paganism and metaphysics.” Nah, wrong. I learned metaphysics despite having PTSD and all the disorders that it basically brewed. I’m still sensible enough to explain and understand complex philosophical theories. It’s not like my PTSD rendered me unable to read and think. When not triggered, I’m pretty regular. As I explained in a past piece “My Peanut Allergy”, my disorders don’t start raising havoc if nothing pokes at them. However, I’ve been hyper-focusing on my disorders so I can get better faster instead of just saying, “‘Eh, I’ll worry about it later” since I’ve basically been saying that for nearly 10 years. Procrastinating on your health for a decade is never a good idea, let’s be frank. It just gets in the way of everything else and gets worse, not better. Not being fully invested in metaphysics, energy manipulation and psionics does suck but I gotta focus on getting better, which is remarkably difficult since the United States is still crappy when it comes to healthcare and affordability of said healthcare. Last I checked, America came 34th in Healthcare but no.1 in how expensive it is. And that’s with the major focus being on physical healthcare. Mental healthcare is worse, that’s certain.

Ah, wellz.

A while back on Tumblr, I learned that there was an app that helped with dealing with the depression and moods. Granted, what made this one different was that it would slip into your life and point out when you are sad and most importantly, tell others that you’re in trouble if you start to show critical signs of depression or a suicidal nature. This app knows that depressed people tend to become very withdrawn and thus are not likely to reach out for help in their more critical moments, which creates a negative feedback loop that plummets the person further and further into a suicidal state because they take the silence towards their self isolation (that they didn’t tell anyone) as a sign that truly no one cares and that since no one is coming for them, they must truly be a burden and that maybe ending it all would simply be the smarter choice that benefits everyone. This app keys in to those moods and starts making efforts to reach out.

It was super hard to find this app for a range of reasons One, I didn’t know how to look for it besides, “Mental health app that checks in on you”. I didn’t know the name from the Tumblr post and I definitely couldn’t find it. I tried out a lot of apps while I still tried to find this one. None were nearly as good, because they either didn’t feel very helpful, didn’t ask good questions or simply did too little. They all could be ignored during a time of withdrawing since they strongly depend on the troubled person to have the will to say something. Convincing people to reach out when they truly don’t want to is not an easy task.

Finally, I managed to find the app I was looking for called “Mobilyze!” It uses the accelerometer to see if the person is inactive (such as laying in bed all day because they’re stricken with a depressive mode), the GPS to see if they are staying at home too much like a hermit and even the frequency of calls and texts to help figure out if the person is going through a depressive episode. Picking up on this, it will give suggestions such as calling people, meeting friends or simply going outside. The app identifies risk states and tries to counteract them. Here, David Mohr, Ph.D, creator of the idea, wrote that the point of Mobilyze has two goals: “One is to support patients with depression in making changes in behavior that will reduce or eliminate depressive symptoms. The other is to develop a system that learns to identify patients’ states at any given moment, allowing Mobilyze to reach out and intervene in real time. Essentially, we are trying to put a therapist in the patient’s pocket.”

Listen to him talk more about the app:

I really like the intervening part of the app because it understands how a depressed person thinks and the fact that they draw into themselves and that self-isolation means that they will not willingly make the effort to reach out for help. However, when trying to find more info about the app (as in, I tried to find it in the Android Market with no luck), I would hit dead end after dead end. I even tripped over the official information page at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine[link] where there is an inactive link but a great description of the app’s function: “Current methods of care do not permit intervention at ‘critical moments’ – moments when a behavioral prescription is most needed, and when an intervention is most likely to affect adherence to the behavioral prescription.” Turns out, the app was renamed “IntelliCare”, possibly because there is already a non-related app already called “Mobilyze” Mobilyze ran out of money but Intellicare is a similar version of it.

After looking around for it, I managed to find IntelliCare and now I can talk about it. For starters, it’s a hub that is a series of apps (all free) so you can pinpoint what would work best for you. I downloaded quite a few because a lot of the apps interested me…that and I wanted to review.

This isn't even all of them, there are a lot of choices, which means there's a lot of versatility for a variety of people. This is good.

This isn’t even all of them, there are a lot of choices, which means versatility.

Yes, this looks like a lot but given a lot of people suffer from depression in different ways, having a bunch of options is great. Plus it helps the app learn about you. However, it is a lot so this is what I did instead: made a folder!

This is a lot better because they're all in the same place, which brings some order and makes it feel like one app truly

This is a lot better because they’re all in the same place, which brings some order and makes it feel like one app truly

Remember, you don’t have to download them all, just what best pertains to you. Actually, the Hub will even recommend at least two of the apps to you after a few questions and it all connects to the server. I first tried out Social Force because I really wanted to have the social safety net since I withdraw heavily when depressed. I don’t tend to reach out when I have a problem or when I’m depressed at alllll. I also have a tendency to be really withdrawn and just get into sordid moods.

Since I have a lot of the apps, let me review one by one:

Intellicare Hub
This app is the center of all the apps, the one-stop shop. That eventually gets annoying. I would like to be able to go to the other apps via this one, that would be nifty given it already tells you that you have pending messages…about a million of them it feels like when you have more than the dedicated two – and even then, the pending messages get annoying because you may have already checked in earlier in the day or there isn’t an update available for you to download like it wants you to. You can’t swipe away the redundant messages either, you have to click on them and get sent to the Google Play page to make the message go away. It’s understanding that they don’t want to be so easy rid of because a depressed person needs to be involved but I really would like more informative messages and those messages be a bit fewer. Everyday, the app tells me to call someone, go somewhere (even if I am already out and about), things of that nature. It’s a pest that could convince the person to simply uninstall the app because it’s not slipping into your life, it’s sticking out in a way that can annoy when it gets too much. Also, I think it would be nice to have a daily (or adjustable) mood check in, similar to the Sleep Diary in Slumber Time. That way, it can be more than just a static hub but something active as a mood diary, kind of like Moodlytics. That way the rest of the apps can interact with the person since they’ll have a better key in on the person moods, even if they’re not entering them at all (which can imply withdrawing). Also, the little Andy the Android avatars are nice but why is Andy the Android, a green figure, White in some decorations? Either add more (read: Darker) skins so that everyone (including the populations the psych field is notorious for ignoring (read: Darker)) can feel included in the app. It’s really not that hard to have various flesh tones if you want to make Andy look more human. Little things like that can convince darker skinned folks that maybe this app isn’t for them or that the psych field yet again is putting up another “Not for you” sign. This app should want to avoid this because as far as underserved populations go, they do not want to screw over bigger ones, which are minority populations. And I still don’t know what the point system is about or how to gain more points. The avatar is a teeny feature but it’s the little things that are the most important.

ME Locate
I now know that Mobilyze! and Intellicare are two different apps. I think I would have liked to try Mobilyze more because ME Locate isn’t as good as I would like it to be. When starting the app, it always zooms into a My Place, not to where you are. Perhaps it is a passive suggestion of a spot to go but it could be better. Plus, zooming in to where I am initially, instead of a My Place, would be more intuitive if I wanted to quickly add a new My Place so I can check into it in the future. Also, I would like the app to be a lot more intuitive in picking up when I am out and about – basically, not home. The app is to convince you to go outside, it doesn’t need to pester you anymore to go outside if you’re already there. The app can determine via pinging from cell towers (as explained in the vid above), to decide “Ok, this person is out and about, I can take a break.” It should only start getting really persistent if the person has not been outside their home for a set period of time or they fall in too much of a “Go To Work, Go Home, Wash, Rinse, Repeat” zombie-like habit, which can happen to depressives who are still going outside but mainly to do the very, very basics, such as working. Especially if the person starts indicating that they are slipping deeper and deeper in depression via the mood diaries. (Seriously, mood diary would be great to personalize the experience). Maybe to keep the app from getting too dormant, maybe it could have a basic pedometer.

MoveMe
I haven’t used MoveMe much but I think it could really shine as a “get active” app. I wouldn’t mind if the app reminded me to take a brisk walk or do knee ups or simply stretch once a day or every other day. Now, the app doesn’t need to turn you into Terry Crews, Laila Ali or Choo Sunghoon but even the littlest things can help when going through depression. Heck, I’ve noticed on Tumblr when a “Hey! You! Did you get some water? Stretch your arms. Don’t forget to take your meds if you haven’t! Look at this stop light gif and breathe. Alright, you’re good to go” posts are really super helpful because they’re pleasant reminders that express care and are not invasive at all. MoveMe should strive for that in regards to saying, “Did you stretch today? Don’t know how? Here’s some suggestions”. Actually, MoveMe can also have a pedometer option (which can share info with ME Locate if the user wants it that way. It needs to improve its reminder system as well, make it similar to Daily Feats with a secondary reminder if ignored because the person is out and about.

Worry Knot
I haven’t used Worry Knot much but I know part of it is due to my first impressions where it annoyed me. The part I found annoying was kind of the assumption that all worries could be calmed down with pleasant woobly woobly feelings. However, its aim is to prevent “tangled”/obsessive thinking where you are caught in a worry cycle, which it can be a little helpful of but perhaps could be tweaked better. I would suggest others to try out the app for themselves and see how they like it. It could possibly do well to also acknowledge triggers and how they work because they cause worry as well but may need more care. It’s useful but can be better.

Thought Challenger
Another app I didn’t really like all that much. I think what turned me off from using the app as much is saying “What is your negative or unrealistic thought?” The only part that bugged me was “unrealistic” because here’s the thing about perspective, folks: What may seem like an unrealistic worry to everyone on the outside can seem like a very, very realistic worry to the person with the thought. They need to go with another word because it shouldn’t really automatically guess that the person knows their worry is unrealistic, seems pretty real to them. It would be better to just say “What is your negative thought?” There you go, the user knows what that is and it’s broad enough that many users will understand it successfully.

Aspire
I don’t use Aspire much. I think they should include a “Happy” path because I know many, especially folks in my generation, would appreciate a guide to that path. To just not be depressed or feel bogged down, to be happy. The app looks promising, however.

Daily Feats
This one is really good, not that invasive and you can set a reminder to put in your daily feats. You can edit the list as well as make feats of your own so you can personalize your progress. I have no complaints here, it’s really nice.

wpid-2015-04-08-12-17-22.pngwpid-2015-04-08-12-20-14.pngPurple Chill
For some reason, this makes me think of Prince somehow. I don’t know why but it does. Anywhoodle, I think I should get into this app more. It’s really has potential. It talks about deep breathing and techniques as well as how to’s. There’s even a breathing dot mediation that has a moving dot for you to follow as you learn deep breathing. The app will ask you how stressed you are now and proceed to tailor your experiences in relation to how frazzled you feel to maximize your use of the app. That’s not all, there is also learning how to practice mindfulness, muscle relaxations, mediations for sleep and more!

Slumber Time
This app keeps track of your sleeping habits and it’s pretty nifty for the most part. You fill out a sleep diary (which you can be reminded of, similar to Daily Feats) when you wake up but the best part is that for the app to track the noise, temperature and lighting in your environment, just flip the phone on its side, it’ll record everything, which can help you determine when you went to bed and to sleep. However, don’t use the alarm function, it is glitchy in that it will make the app shut itself off. Also, it would be nice if the app had a pinch zoom for the graph so it was easier to read, especially for those hard of seeing. That and straighten out the jumble of numbers at the bottom of the graph. Surely, they mean something but looking like a numerical error pattern, it’s looks incredibly glitchy, even if it is not. Maybe shade part of the graph to represent night and day. Also it would be wise to let people put in the times for the naps they take in opposed to whether or not they simply took them and for how long because it is a big difference if you took one power nap earlier in the day or at the end of the day and if you took a couple naps instead of just one.

wpid-2015-04-14-17-31-55.png

Social Force
This is what sold me on Mobilyze: the fact that if you became too depressed and the app knew it, it would intervene on your behalf and inform people that you really could use someone to talk to. This is important – crucial, even – for depressives because they withdraw from people and tend to take the fact no one is reaching out to them (because they didn’t know their friend was in peril. They could be just taking a social media break or something) as proof that no one cares about them and that they are truly a troublemaking burden that should just stop existing. Now, Social Force lets you build up a network that you can contact through the app itself. You can also pick and categorize friends by what kind of friend they are to you.

wpid-2015-04-08-12-03-15.png

The various colored circled show what kind of friend they are to you. Are they great for emotional support? Practical support? Somebody to hang out with? So on and so forth. Once you pick them out, they will show as circles on your Social Force screen so you can contact them for easy access.

wpid-2015-04-08-12-07-04.png

Of course, the graph will change as you interact more and more with people. However, if you don’t have anyone, that’s ok. There is a little how-to guide on how to meet people and develop positive support circles.

Now, I haven’t neglected the app enough or shown a strong enough depressive state to see if it will intervene on my behalf like Mobilyze would (if it doesn’t, it needs to be in there! That was the selling point for me!) but it does tell me nearly every day to call or text someone. If you’re already being social and out and about, I think they shouldn’t have to be so frequent. It’s annoying. There’s times it has popped up while I was talking to people right then and there. Maybe once or twice a week, especially if I’m showing a depressive mood, which then it should ramp up to maybe three or four times a week and intervene on one’s behalf if they reject the “Hey, you should contact [someone]!” at least three times. Especially if the person has ME Locate and it has determined that the person has not been out or just been doing the walking dead crawl (Home – Work – That’s it) so they need to be social to break the trend.

Now, ultimately, I think this app has a lot of promise, especially since Mobilyze sadly ran out of money (steam). I would recommend people to download the app and give it a try. There is a lot that I have not mentioned in this review because there is so much to the app, such as how it recommends apps based on your initial questionnaire and gives you a “how are you feeling” questionnaire once in a while. It’s free to use, actually has a lot to it and very beneficial.

What I like about the app is that the writing is not too technical. It understand that the average person using the app will not be some psychology expert but a normal person, it helps the app be less intimidating and easier to use. I didn’t like the description of “Magical Thinking” for when experiencing anxiety, however (I think this was in Thought Challenger or Worry Knot). It would have been better to call it “Assumptive Thinking” since it is indeed making assumptions which fuel worried thinking. I’m Pagan so of course I would find that reference odd.

Now, this is over but next week is Ask Black Witch! Send in your questions! Remember, good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated! Send them in!

Due to the fact that I have triggers thanks to C-PTSD mainly, I sometimes have to explain to others when those triggers get tripped. Problem is, it’s still 2015 America , mental illness is still widely stigmatized. Making the average person understand triggers is pretty tough because since it’s associated with mental illness, people’s brains start cramping up and giving out error codes, making them act super weird about those who have such conditions. Y’know, in a way that they don’t act when someone tells them they have a conditional physical aliment with a reactive element.

Like an allergy.

I have started to explain to people that having a trigger is like having a peanut allergy: It’s a reaction to something common and, based on exposure, it could be a small reaction or something worth hospitalization but it doesn’t define the person at all (even if it does get occasionally misunderstood by people). No one goes, “Dude, you have a peanut allergy? How do I know you won’t just up and die on me? What if you eat the wrong kind of M&M or have a piece of caramel, not knowing it was from a peanut brittle? I read that people who have it can’t even eat at restaurants because of possible cross contamination…. Can I see you eat a Reses Pieces? It’s mind over matter, man. I’m here for you.”

No one treats a person with a common allergy like a peanut allergy as if they are stricken with a horrible malady. It’s a simple peanut allergy, not rabies or Black Death. Yes, if the person has slight cross contamination (yes, I know it’s different for different people but stick with me) they may encounter symptoms of exposure but it’s not a promise to be life threatening, especially if they take something for the accidental exposure. If they mistakenly eat something related to peanut, like eat foods fried in peanut oil, have peanut butter-centered candies or anything like that, then yes, they’re probably going to need to check into a hospital before having to upgrade to a priest. Does this mean the person can’t be trusted doing simple things like going to the grocery store or dealing with work? No. Are they sick? Not really. They just have a condition that stays pretty invisible when not triggered. For a peanut allergy, the trigger is the peanut. Something so common that everyone knows that the peanut itself isn’t to blame nor is harmful in and of itself but understands that still, the allergic person can’t have it all the same.

What does this mean for the allergic person? Well, they can lead pretty normal lives with only real miniscule changes. For example, they have to check the back of snack wrappers to see if there’s a “Caution: May Contain Peanuts” or “Caution: Processed in the Same Facility As Peanut Products” warning on the back. That’s not odd at all, they can even do it while food shopping with friends, no one will shift uneasily about it. Probably not even give it a second thought, it’s just their friend checking the food for their own health, not a big deal. When they eat in restaurants, they may have to ask what oil the fried food was made in to ensure it’s not peanut oil. Granted, it will probably earn the person sneers as a health nut or some pretentious yuppie trying to throw their weight around but no one is going to consider the moment memorable or defining of the person’s whole entire life from that one moment.

Basically, like an allergy, a trigger can be no big deal, it just depends on how you handle it. A person could freak out about knowing that someone can’t have a Snickers because oh wow, it’s not everyday to learn someone can be easily felled when approached with a pack of airport peanuts. Same thing with a trigger. Just because someone has a psychological trigger, it doesn’t mean they’re broken people, it just means they have a condition that needs some care but besides that, they’re a perfectly normal person.

In using this, I’ve noticed how receptive people are to using the “think of it like a peanut allergy” allusion. They relax now that they understand how a trigger works with allergies as a frame of reference. When people see a psychological trigger in the same vein as an allergy, they become less fretful and act more normal. Even the questions about the triggers become more normal, more similar to what a person would ask if they discovered someone had an allergy. They wouldn’t act as if they need a whole briefing on the condition or anything, just that it’s there and something their friend has to be aware about. No one who mentions that they have a peanut allergy has to answer questions or explain when they first discovered that they were allergic to peanuts and how bad it was and have they ever had to be hospitalized for it and for how long. No real prying questions. And if they did get prying questions, it would be the asker and not the person asked that would get the odd looks for the questions, as if to say, “Why are you asking so many questions about the fact they can’t have a Babe Ruth? Are you their doctor? They can’t have peanuts, why is it such a big deal?”

It’s a lot better when people don’t freak out about mental illness, it makes it easier to treat and manage, even cure sometimes. It’s the removal of an unnecessary stress, meaning the source of the problem can be dealt with without the unnecessary nonsense that comes with people acting out their stigmas about mental health, regardless of whether they know it or not.

%d bloggers like this: