Are You Concerned About Memory Lapses And Changes In Personality?
Are you a trauma survivor who is having a hard time coping with the event(s) of your past? Do you suffer from mood swings, lapses of memory loss, a dulling of the senses, or sometimes feeling as though you aren’t real? Perhaps extended periods of memory loss have you feeling confused, frustrated, or frightened. Or maybe people close to you have expressed concern about random, abrupt changes in your personality. Have you vacillated between feeling numb or detached and fits of intense rage? Are you struggling with suicidal thoughts, addictions, an eating disorder, or other self-harming behaviors? Do you wish you could gain clarity about your experience, learn healthy coping skills, and experience relief?
Understanding Dissociation And Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
Dissociation is the brain’s way of protecting individuals from painful physical sensations, overwhelming emotions, and memories of traumatic events. People with dissociative symptoms tend to experience disturbances in consciousness, memories, feelings, perceptions, and sometimes, identity. These disturbances may be brief (minutes) or prolonged (years) and impact memory, block sensory information, cause physical and emotional numbness, and distort thinking, perceiving, and even the level of consciousness that one operates within. While this may sound a little bit like science fiction and some people question the validity of their dissociative experiences, these symptoms are very real and unsettling for those experiencing them.
Dissociation is controversial in the mental health field. Some therapists and even experts in the field outright reject the concept of dissociation and especially, dissociative identity disorder (DID), which was formally known as multiple personality disorder. The arguments against the validity of the disorder include outright disbelief, accusations of fabrication, and blaming providers for “creating personalities” or inaccurate reports of their clients’ experiences and symptoms.
I, however, along with many other credible trauma therapists and experts, firmly accept that dissociation occurs and understand valid and effective means of treatment. I believe that dissociation can happen to an average person who has experienced trauma and that the symptoms associated with the disorder become a way to cope with overwhelming feelings, events, and memories.
Dissociation occurs on a continuum. On one end, it can be expressed through daydreaming, which is normal. On the other end, it can be expressed through DID. In these cases, usually due to prolonged and severe trauma, survivors may develop one or more distinct personalities to further cope with the aftereffects of trauma. When a person with DID switches personalities, the switch can sometimes be hard to detect and at other times, very obvious. Oftentimes, people with DID experience co-occurring disorders, such depression, anxiety, PTSD, unhealthy sexual expression, and eating disorders. And, some are misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia. While symptoms vary greatly, dissociative symptoms generally present through a dulling of senses, a sense of feeling unreal, feeling detached from the body, a sense of watching yourself, and memory loss for both brief and extended periods of time.
The good news is that there is help and hope. If you know or suspect that you may be experiencing dissociation or DID, I can help.
Dissociation Treatment Can Provide You With Guidance, Support And Coping Skills
As scary as dissociation and DID may sound and can feel, it is possible to manage and even overcome symptoms, as well as learn how to function at a higher level. Many trauma survivors are able to process their trauma and hold jobs, develop healthy relationships, and experience more joy and balance in their lives. Through dissociation treatment, determination, and hard work, you can face your trauma issues, increase your tolerance for distress, and learn healthy ways to cope.
In dissociation treatment sessions, I can help you develop an increased awareness about what and how you feel, both emotionally and physically. With support, you can develop techniques for practicing self-regulation, increasing self-awareness, and processing trauma. I provide a safe, nonjudgmental, and trusting relationship through which you can learn grounding skills, healthy emotional expression, and effective ways to cope with both basic and overwhelming stressors.
I also have the experience and training needed to competently treat DID. I have provided care to individuals, couples, families, and groups of survivors and their loved ones whose lives have been impacted by DID. I believe that in cases of DID, it is essential to provide psychoeducation, and develop interventions specific to DID, such as safety plans and a trusting and safe relationship. Addressing the parts, spirits, or fragments (or whatever way you reference the split parts of yourself) is also an integral part of therapy. In sessions, we’ll work collaboratively to tap into your own creativity and inner resources to resolve internal conflicts, decrease disruptive behaviors, and alleviate problematic losses of time and memory.
While dissociation treatment can take time and DID treatment may be a life-long journey, with self-patience and increased self-understanding, you can better understand and accept your experience and move forward with new, positive ways of feeling, being, and living.
You still may have questions or concerns about dissociation treatment…
I don’t know if what I’m experiencing is really real.
Not only do many of my clients ask me if what they are experiencing is real, but many mental health professionals question the validity of dissociation and DID. You are not alone in questioning your experience, even if you have already been diagnosed. While it’s not always clear-cut, dissociation and DID are real responses to trauma. If you have experienced periods of memory loss and/or loved ones have expressed concern about your behavior, it’s best to be proactive and seek professional help. Doing so can help you better understand your experience and provide direction, guidance, support, and relief.
I’ve heard that dissociation and DID treatment therapy are expensive and take a long time.
I urge you to consider therapy as a vital investment in your current and future wellbeing. Dissociation is unlikely to resolve on its own and left untreated, can negatively impact all aspects of your life. DID can be a life-long journey, and it’s important that you seek help if you are experiencing symptoms. While this kind of therapy does take time, your motivation and willingness to engage in the process directly impacts the quality and length of therapy. With help, support and effective treatment, it’s possible to process trauma, manage symptoms, and gain control of your life.
I’m afraid that talking about my trauma and dissociative experiences will cause me to totally melt down.
While it’s common to fear talking about painful, scary thoughts, feelings, and experiences, you are a survivor and you most likely can do this. Dissociation and DID treatment is a process, but you will set the pace of our sessions. I provide a warm and safe therapy environment and will not push you to share any details until you feel ready to do so. Although processing trauma, learning coping skills, and increasing your tolerance for distress will take work and a willingness to experience discomfort, there is hope for healing. With the right therapist and approach, it’s possible for you to experience relief.
DID And Dissociation Treatment Can Help You Build Resiliency And Experience Improved Functioning
I invite you to call me for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’m happy to discuss your specific needs and to answer any questions you have about DID or dissociation treatment and my practice.