The Tools for Success for One Person
Who Has Recovered From Multiple Personality Disorder
– Sonya’s Story –
I “integrated” when the diagnosis was still “Multiple Personality Disorder” (MPD) instead of “Dissociative Identity Disorder” (DID) and have been out of the therapy loop for over 15 years. I consider myself healed and whole today, thanks to the tools made available to me. I am a believer that everything about me and my recovery, including what didn’t work, helped to make me a whole woman. On reflection, it is clear that things that worked for me during the active stages of early recovery do not work for me now. Also, there are things that worked only after years of therapy that would not have worked in the beginning.
I tried all sorts of therapies, programs and suggestions. Not all of them helped, though the fact that something didn’t work doesn’t mean that I wasted my time. In hindsight I can see that sometimes a seeming failure was necessary in order for me acquire the appropriate attitude of hopelessness or hope, desperation or humility, so that something else would work.
Here are some of the things that worked and some that did not, and in retrospect, all were the keys to my successful recovery from the crippling effects of my multiple personality disorder:
– Detailed Inventory. A distinct identification of each part, fragment, personality, etc. and its job and/or function was critical. After identification, I then made a list of the reasons I should accept it and how I could incorporate “their/its” skills into my own existence.
– A Need to Recover. Recognition of the seriousness of the disorder and that it is “abnormal.” If it had been considered OK, or acceptable, for me to be a multiple, then I could not have recovered. The more I tried to “live” with it, the sicker I became. It wasn’t until I recognized the need to recover from “something,” that I began to recover.
– Giving a Voice to All Parts of Me. Complete freedom of each part to express his, her or itself, including the dangerous parts and the child parts, was essential. This was tricky because many dangerous “parts” wanted me to remain ill; nevertheless they needed their freedom of expression, as well.
– Creativity. Art, movement, play, writing were all helpful in recalling events, processing them and healing from them.
– Relapse. When I first entered therapy, it was after being in a 28-day treatment center for drug addiction. After six years I relapsed with marijuana. The marijuana brought down many walls within me and also caused memories and feelings to flood back and forth between my parts and me. I learned more about my parts, my memories, my feelings, and myself during this relapse than during any other time. I am grateful for this relapse.
– Higher Power. Most important for me was an identification of a Higher Source, and the Helper-Parts, that kept me from dying back then, and kept me “relatively” safe during the therapeutic process. This connection will remain with me for the rest of my life.
– Group Therapy. The best thing I ever did was to join a group therapy process with other MPDs, although this wasn’t until after years of individual therapy.
– Being Fired By My Therapist. The main thing that finally catapulted me into completing the integration process was losing my last therapist. She fired me for coming to therapy under the influence. It was when I lost everything important to me, including this last connection to any hope of help, that I finally hit my bottom.
What Didn’t Work
– Hypnotherapy. Planned, induced abreactions to recall events (I experienced this at Spring Shadows Glen in Houston, Texas – a now-closed psychiatric hospital) didn’t work.
– Experimenting With Medications. Throwing medications at my symptoms, that is, trying different medications with no idea whether they would work, never helped.
– Lack of Effective Supportive People. While I had support in my illness, there were not many who saw or acknowledged the seriousness of my situation. These people, as well-intentioned as they might have been, helped to keep me sick, feeding my self-delusion and procrastination.
– Trying to Live a “Normal” Life. The biggest thing that did not work for me was trying to live a “normal life” without dealing with my past. I really believe that trying to appear normal only served to delay my recovery. It was only when I saw my situation as life threatening, that I began to see the need to change. I mean, I saw it as important and serious, but never “that” serious. My own experiences had involved cutting, burning, beating, and threats of death, but never really any “actions” in the direction of death. It was hard to acknowledge in my heart that this was truly a “life and death matter.” When I did, though, the foundation for my recovery was in place.
12-Step recovery only worked for me when all other sources had been exhausted. The Second Step (Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity) was particularly helpful. Before this step could work, though, I needed to see that I was insane not only with regard to alcohol and drugs, but with every aspect of my life and the way I was living it.
I found the whole concept of the personality defect in the Big Book overwhelmingly clear, especially the portion which refers to the Jekyll and Hyde personality.
Interestingly enough, my reinterpretations and applications of five of the 12 Traditions of A.A. to my own situation were critical to my integration.
- Tradition One. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity. I learned that my “common” welfare needed to come first; that my personal recovery depended upon MY unity.
- Tradition Two. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. I learned that, for MY purpose there is but one ultimate authority – the generous wisdom that expresses itself through MY conscience. My former parts are but trusted servants; they do not govern me or control me.
- Tradition Three. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking. I rewrote this tradition to be uniquely applicable to me.
“The only requirement for wholeness
is a desire to stop dissociating.”
Tradition Five. Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. I have concluded that “I have but one primary purpose – to carry this message (that recovery from MPD is possible) to others who still suffer.”
Tradition Seven. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. I now know that “I ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.”
My “complete integration” didn’t come about until after I had stopped professional therapy. Still, I did a lot of work in therapy that was invaluable and I could never have integrated without it. I trusted that I could be healed, whole and one person. I did not stop until this became my reality. Today, I carry the tools with me and I trust the process, no matter what.
Sonya Rogers Meador