Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review(s)

One fiction, one non-fiction.

I don't read a lot of non-fiction.  I have to be deeply, passionately interested in the subject before I will be able to force myself to read non-fiction, and even more interested than that to read it sequentially, from one end to the other.  (I don't read in order much.  I hate suspense.  If, in Chapter One I have fallen in love with Twinkle, and then the author starts hinting that Twinkle will come to a Terrible End, I have to find out what happens before I can continue finding out what happens.  I tried to stop reading like this when I started writing, because I was aware of just how much agony and angst went into what order to put things in, and how to build a story but - I just can't.  I'm sorry, all my writer friends.  Comfort yourself with the fact that I dearly love Twinkle, who you created out of pixels and wine in the wee small hours.)

1.  The Sum Of My Parts, by Olga Trujillo

This was not an easy read, especially the first six chapters.  It is the author's own first person account of recovering repressed memories of physical and sexual abuse, and her journey to wholeness.  She spends the first six chapters talking about the abuse, and how she, as a very young child, dissociated in order to deal with trauma.

The rest of the book talks about diagnosis and recovery, delving into her being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and what that looked like for her during the process of healing.

The book is accessible and relatable without subsiding into sensationalism, and a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand more about the effects, both immediate and long-term, of severe, sustained trauma on very young children, or anyone seeking to understand more about Dissociative Identity Disorder and how that might manifest itself in a healing adult.

2.  Set This House In Order, by Matt Ruff

One of the things that is true about Dissociative Identity Disorder is that there are as many ways of doing it as there are brains that are doing it.  This engaging, well-written novel is written from two points of view, both people who have D.I.D. - one who has been diagnosed and is well on the way to establishing a workable system, and one who has no idea what her issues are.  I appreciated both the diversity and the lack of sensationalism- again, an accessible read, with characters I cared about, and although it is fiction, another good resource for anyone seeking to understand more about D.I.D.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Because Heather asked

Over at my sister-in-law's blog, she weighed in on the suicide topic that is so prevalent on the Internet these days.  You can read her post here: http://heatherplett.com/2014/08/forgive-us-for-our-blundering-attempts-at-love/.

I wanted to answer her question.  "Tell us how to love you." Actually, I didn't want to answer her question because all I know is what has helped me, and I'm just one person, and I'd hate for anyone to think that there was something wrong with them if what works, or worked, or might work again in the future for me didn't work for them.

Here's the thing.  I have a mental illness.  I've probably had it most of my life, if I understand the way this particular illness works, but I've only known about it for a year and a half or so.  It's been quite the ride, learning how to live with who I now know myself to be. 

Mental illness is isolating.

The particular brand of mental illness that I live with is even more isolating. 

There have been many days when I am convinced the world would be a much better place without me in it.

I have learned to sit with the feeling.  There have been days where I sit in one spot for literally hours because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, if I move from where I am, I will hurt myself.  But here's the thing:  EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS CHANGING.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that if  I sit with the despair long enough, it will lift.

1.   I need to be reminded of that, on the worst days. Everything is always changing.  A really bad day doesn't mean the good days are all gone.  A really bad week doesn't mean the good days are all over with for the rest of my life.  It's just a bad week.  And it doesn't negate the good that came before, and will come after.  (The flip side of this is that I need to remember that a good day doesn't mean the bad days are all gone, either.  There's going to be a combination of both good and bad for the rest of my life.)

2.  I have a list of people to call when things are bad.  I signed a contract with my psychologist agreeing to ask for help if I need it, and to call the people on my list until I get a live voice, or the crisis passes.
One of the nicest things anyone has done for me, in recent memory, is to put herself on my list of people to call.  It's one thing to have a list - it's quite another to have the courage to use it, especially when I'm already sure everyone I've ever met is tired of my issues.  Having someone on the list who has volunteered to be there is such a blessing.

3. Force me interact with you, especially if you think or suspect things are hard, or if God is nagging you to call me.  Don't ask me what I need - I probably don't know.   Just hang out in my space., all matter of fact and stuff.  Having you sitting on my couch staring at me just might derail the train of thought that is currently winning the battle in my brain.

So those are my answers.  They won't work for everyone, but one of the things that I am learning is that I am far less unique (and therefore alone) than I think am, and there just might be something here that benefits someone else.

And now, because today is a good day, I'm going to go read in bed until I fall asleep.