This blog originally appeared: at https://www.youtube.com/@diwithoutthedisorderYouTube:
If someone had told me just one year ago that I’d be running a YouTube channel with videos of me giving talks and reciting my own poetry in twelve months’ time, I wouldn’t have believed them. I was the youngest child in a narcissistic family and was cast into the Lost Child and Scapegoat roles. My primary mode of survival was that of hiding. I am still mortally afraid of video chats, and even with my therapists, I prefer phone calls. Not to speak of actually being in the presence of another person, as in a meeting. So letting myself be seen AND using my voice is incredible progress.
I’ve been in therapy for a bit longer than three and a half years now, but for the most part of it, I felt like nothing was changing at all. On the contrary, things got worse. I was uncovering all of this trauma beneath my dissociation and was left alone with the unbearable, intense emotions, for which I had no vent. I was living in complete social isolation and in the last six months of my relationship with my first counsellor, she reduced the two sessions per week to one – though I already was aware that I needed more at that time, preferably three sessions per week. Truth be told, I don’t know how I survived those six months. It was pure hell. But then, when I think about it, I’m also astounded how on earth I survived all of these 35 years of abuse and trauma, with no safe relationship in it. I probably won’t ever comprehend the full extent of my own resiliency. It fills me with wonder.
35 is my physical age, though all of the personality parts of my Dissociative Identity are younger than that. Getting to know my different parts was and still is the most important aspect of my therapy (most of that happens outside the sessions). About a month ago, I shared with my current counsellor what I had learned about love from my parts. “I always thought I’d learn about love through a relationship with another person,” I said, “but now I found that I learned about it from the inside – through the relationships between my parts.”
About half a year ago, I learned about the UK campaign “A Disorder 4 Everyone” and Jo Watson’s book “Drop The Disorder”. The message of it resounded with me at once – that our culture’s obsession with the disorder and illness labels doesn’t help people who are suffering emotionally at all, nor does medication. The accompanying Facebook group is, so far, the only Facebook group I have found to be actually supportive. The more I learned about mental health services, the angrier I got. I had always stayed away from psychiatry out of my own instinct. Then, when I moved from the UK to Germany and became homeless, I experienced the full blow of people trying to convince me to go to the hospital and be medicated.
In the end, it was my righteous anger that inspired me to write a poem entitled “I Am Not Ill”. Receiving touching comments about it on the above-mentioned Facebook group encouraged me to record a video of myself reciting the poem. Having tried video counselling with another past counsellor had given me my first experience with this. And then my need to express my outrage and to make people aware of the inhumanity of the system pushed me to create a YouTube channel and publish my videos.
It’s definitely not easy. Trauma – especially in the form of the abuser’s voice in my head – tries to ruin things for me. Remembering what I want to say when recording a video is a huge challenge. It’s difficult to just let everything flow, let alone be natural when your mind goes blank due to dissociation and anxiety.
The other day, when I was editing a video, I felt a huge pang of compassion for myself, when I saw how I had gotten more and more frustrated during recording and consecutively had switched faster and faster between parts. Editing itself is a pain. Although I made huge progress in acknowledging my achievements and feeling pride and self-love, toxic shame and self-blame keep coming up. It’s triggering to watch and hear myself – my immediate reaction is to want to hide or to run away. But when I stick with it and keep going, it gets better. I get used to observing myself and even feel surges of love when I make certain expressions or due to what I say. Just as it would be with an external person I love.
Despite the dissociation, I also found that making videos helps me more with embodying my true self than writing does. Speaking of what I’m passionate about and what it’s like to be me – expressing that with my voice, face, and body language, is a powerful experience. Of course, you could take that embodiment a step further with dancing or singing, which are some of my greatest passions. But whatever you love doing, embodying your emotions and your true self are key to the healing process from Complex Trauma.
Laura is from Germany but has lived for several years in the UK. She developed a Dissociative Identity as a result of childhood emotional neglect and abuse. Her greatest achievements were to survive, leave her family, become aware of her trauma, and to start (and stick with) therapy. Her survivor’s mission is to raise awareness about her non-disorders and how trauma is interlinked with other social oppression. She discusses these topics on her blog “FemVegTrauma” and YouTube channel “DI Without The Disorder”. She is also a poet, singer, historical linguist, archaeologist, and lover of nature.