New Diagnosis

Exciting things are happening at the Madhouse!! Ok, I lied. I even faked the exclamation points. The things that have been happening are really exciting, but they are progressive – in the sense that progress has been made in regards to my health. Woo hoo!!

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in the fall of 2009 (I give a more detailed description of the symptoms in Word Wednesday, February 1, 2012). After talking with other clinicians and those who work in the mental health field over the past several months I began to doubt that DID was an accurate diagnosis.

There is no doubt that I dissociate – everyone does to a degree – zoning out, daydreaming etc. are all common forms of dissociation. I often daydream and I am the queen of zoning out, but I do dissociate more often and more acutely than the average person; especially when I’m in a stressful situation. However, I am always aware of what is happening when I dissociate. I’m not always completely “me”, I may have a more dominate personality type, but I’m always aware of my surroundings and what occurs during that time.

This does not fit the traditional symptoms of an individual who suffers from full-blown DID – they will lose moments, hours, even days from their memory. It is during these “black-outs” that the alter personalities or “alters” are in control. Someone who suffers from DID will no longer be in control of their actions or their body. I can’t even begin to understand how frightening that must be. My heart aches for these poor souls.

After doing some research, discussing my mental health with trained professionals, doing some soul searching and finally confirming my conclusions with a psychiatrist yesterday, I can firmly say I am diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD has been getting a great deal of media coverage as more troops are returning from overseas with mental health issues. Bear in mind that not every returning soldier has PTSD, but those who do, struggle not only with disorder, but also with the stigma. For more information on military PTSD visit Military Minds; a peer-run support group for military members with PTSD. The men and women who operate Military Minds are working diligently to educate their superiors, their military brethren and the general public about the very real effects of PTSD.

From the Sidran Institute:

Myths and Facts About PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a complex disorder that is often misunderstood. PTSD may develop following exposure to extreme trauma—a terrifying event or ordeal that a person has experienced, witnessed, or learned about, especially one that is life-threatening or causes physical harm. The experience causes that person to feel intense fear, horror, or a sense of helplessness. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD, but many people do.

MYTH: PTSD only affects war veterans.

 Although PTSD does affect war veterans, PTSD can affect anyone. Almost 70 percent of Americans will be exposed to a traumatic event in their lifetime. Of those people, up to 20 percent will go on to develop PTSD. An estimated 1 out of 10 women will develop PTSD at some time in their lives.
Victims of trauma related to physical and sexual assault face the greatest risk of developing PTSD. Women are about twice as likely to develop PTSD as men, perhaps because women are more likely to experience trauma that involves these types of interpersonal violence, including rape and severe beatings. Victims of domestic violence and childhood abuse are at tremendous risk for PTSD.

MYTH: People should be able to move on with their lives after a traumatic event. Those who can’t cope are weak.

 Many people who experience an extremely traumatic event go through an adjustment period following the exposure. Most of these people are able to return to leading a normal life. However, the stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life including mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Research suggests that prolonged trauma may disrupt and alter brain chemistry. For some people, a traumatic event changes their views about themselves and the world around them. This may lead to the development of PTSD.
MYTH: People suffer from PTSD right after they experience a traumatic event.

FACT: PTSD symptoms usually develop within the first three months after trauma, but may not appear until months or years have passed. These symptoms may continue for years following the trauma, or, in some cases, symptoms may subside and reoccur later in life, which is often the case with victims of childhood abuse.
Some people don’t recognize that they have PTSD because they may not associate their current symptoms with past trauma. In domestic violence situations, the victim may not realize that their prolonged, constant exposure to abuse puts them at risk.

I have been through a few traumas in my lifetime. I’m not a point where I’m able to discuss them openly with people; it is still too painful. I’m having difficulty just keying this paragraph. My legs are shaking, I can’t figure out what to say and I’m tempted to just scrap the whole post. I’m not sharing my diagnosis to get sympathy from people – that’s the last thing I want. But this is a reality in the Madhouse and I’ve invited you all to be part of it so I insist on being honest when I write.

I don’t think I can write anymore tonight, but I found this great image so I’ll share it.


About Holly

I hope you're able to glean something from this blog, a nugget of wisdom, a new perspective, a smile or even a laugh. I enjoy getting feedback so please comment, share your story with me too. After all, we're here to help each other.
This entry was posted in parenting, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, single parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to New Diagnosis

  1. Janet Singer says:

    I’m sorry you have suffered so much. Now that you have an accurate diagnosis, I hope you can get the right help. Thank you for sharing. I know it isn’t easy.

  2. Very good information, I hope treatment goes well and you start being able to discuss those events!

  3. Bourbon says:

    I’m glad you feel you have come to a diagnosis that suits you better. I have been diagnosed with DID and despite my massive denial sometimes (self-protective denial) I just know that it is right. Wish you the best on your journey to healing xx

    • Bourbon says:

      Oh, I feel to add as well that not everyone with DID loses a significant amount of present time. I don’t. I’m mostly aware at the time of switching though sometimes I forget afterwards. DID in 2012 is less about waking up in another city having lost a week of time i guess. These amnesic walls do break down. And they have with me. 🙂

      • Holly says:

        I wondered if that were the case, too, but the clinicians I spoke with didn’t agree. Maybe PTSD with dissociative characteristics would be more accurate.
        I’m glad to hear you’re progressing through the disorder! It’s progress like yours that gives hope to all who suffer with mental illness. Keep up the good work. I know it’s hard. Thanks for sharing this info with me. 🙂

      • Bourbon says:

        I think it depends which country you live in……… here in the UK under the NHS services DID just doesn’t exist. So it will always be a diagnosis of PTSD or BPD given. At the end of the day I guess the label doesn’t matter, as long as we have the support to get through 🙂

      • Holly says:

        I agree with the label not mattering. I’m in Canada, and here in Ontario, DID is recognized, just not understood. I’ve having trouble getting support because I’m intelligent and articulate. I’ve been told I “present too well” so have been turned away from support sources. I’m hoping the PTSD diagnosis, because it’s becoming more recognized, will qualify for some assistance. I hope you’ve found a positive support system.
        Just wondering, what’s BPD?

      • Bourbon says:

        Yes. When I used to end up in A&E in a mental health crisis because I could still present insight into what was going on with me I was never taken, I believe, seriously. I would be sent home; despite genuinely saying and meaning that I was a risk to myself. So I know what you mean there.
        BPD = borderline personality disorder. Overly used here to just represent anyone who has had trauma and has trouble present day with emotional dysregulation (just my opinion).
        I certainly hope you get the support services you need. Not really on that our intelligence is used against us! x

      • Holly says:

        It would be wonderful if the professionals, who are supposed to specialize in mental health, would recognized the symptoms wouldn’t it?
        The ER doc I saw last time I went in is someone I know from school days. He said that being intelligent can make some things worse, like suicidal tendencies. At least he got it.

      • Bourbon says:

        Being insightful can make things feel worse too. To always be able to know and feel what is going on for you. Not be able to just let things go. I know it’s exhausting for me x

    • Holly says:

      Thank you for commenting! I understand the massive denial. It took me thirty years to admit I needed help coping with the after-affects of childhood trauma. I wish you all the best on your recovery to wellness. big hugs

  4. Great news for you, Holly, and best wishes as you move forward. You’re strong, and knowing what you really are dealing with is the first step. Lots of hugs! XOXO-SWM

  5. Holly says:

    Thanks, Kasey. It is good to have some direction. Thanks for the hugs and right back atcha!!

  6. maiamajumder says:

    Wow, Holly. I feel that i learned a little bit more about you by reading this post, and I am so grateful for that. It takes a truly strong and beautiful soul to share your musings on the “madhouse” at hand… Do you think you’ll have better luck receiving support for PTSD than you did for DID? I read in a comment posted previously that you had trouble because you “presented too well” (what a premise – eek!). I’m eager, as always, to continue following you on your journey.

    With Love,

    • Holly says:

      Thanks, Maia. One day I hope to share more about my journey and I appreciate your encouragement as I start down that path. I’ve started looking into the support for PTSD and, yes, I think I’ll have an easier time accessing it. I’m feeling much more positive and hopeful for the future – feelings I haven’t had for a decade or more. Change and healing are just around the corner. Thanks for joining me on the journey. 🙂
      With affection,

  7. Hi Holly,
    I hope this message finds you well! My name is Gaby Acosta, and I’m the community manager for MSW@USC, USC’s Masters in Social Work program.

    Thank you for helping to raise awareness about PTSD and the impact it can have on our veterans.

    One question I had: I noticed there isn’t a link to the online program’s website — do you think it would be possible to add that in (just in case someone is interested after reading the article)? This is the infographic image source:

    Your site is such a great resource, and I’d love for your readers to be able to find more information if they choose to. Thanks so much for your time!

    MSW@USC Team

    • Holly says:

      Hi Gaby,

      I would be happy to post the link!

      I’m very flattered that you found the Madhouse and that you think it’s helpful. PTSD is so misunderstood, whether it’s military or civilian, I’m pleased to do anything that will help anyone suffering with this.

      Thanks for praise, it made my day.


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