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Ten Steps Toward Recovery

STEP ONE OF: " TEN STEPS TOWARD RECOVERY" Carolyn Spring shares her story as a survivor of abuse. She has been diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder which is one of the ways a victim is able to survive intense and continual trauma. She is an awesome lady and I encourage all my readers to visit her site for some excellent resources about MPD and more about Carolyn.


Timelines characterize my life: before my ‘breakdown’ and after it. Almost out of the blue, on a sunny day in April 2005, my life changed forever and the dissociative walls and barriers which had held my trauma at bay for 32 years suddenly collapsed. It heralded the arrival of flashbacks, body memories and the appearance of dozens of separate parts of my personality. Life has never been the same since. But in those early days and months, I had no guidebook for what was ahead, no route marked out on a map for me. Someone recently asked me what I would say to myself, the ‘me’ of eight years ago. What would I tell myself of what is ahead and what advice would I give? This article is my attempt to answer that question. I believe passionately in recovery from Dissociative Identity Disorder: not because I am ‘recovered’, as if that exists as some finite point of reality, but because I have been moving towards recovery for the last eight years. DID is perfectly logical: a creative way of surviving otherwise unendurable trauma. And the brain that learned to cope using dissociation can now learn to cope using other strategies: our brains are ‘plastic’ and geared towards new learning. My life is very different now from the first few years after my breakdown. And there are ten things that I wish I could say to that newly-dissociative me—ten things which I have found invaluable in making the journey from eight years ago to where I am today and which I am sure will all continue to guide me for a great many years to come too.

Step 1. Find a therapist

It took me over a year to find a therapist. In those first thirteen months, I exhausted my narrow friendship circle and I nearly lost my marriage because I didn’t understand what was going on and nor did anyone around me. The weight of trauma that causes DID cannot be carried alone and nor can it be carried by well-meaning friends. Therapy is a safe place to bring and process my trauma. It is a safe place to bring and explore the dissociative parts of my personality. It is a safe place to bring and explore the templates for relationship that I have grown up with. Dissociative disorders are caused by trauma and so recovery must at some level involve dealing with that in order to move beyond it. The ‘symptoms’, the experiences we have in our dissociative lives—the flashbacks, the body memories, the emotional ups–and–downs that we cope with through self-harm or addictions or numbing, the switching, the amnesia, the voices, the denial, the distress—they are not a normal, ‘ideal’ way to live. I want to resolve my ‘symptoms’, resolve the trauma that had given rise to those symptoms, and learn how to live. All the self-will in the world hadn’t got me to that point before I started therapy. I needed someone else to stand outside of me and help me see what is true and what is only perception. Long-term, un-pressured, un-rushed, without-agenda therapy has been the single most helpful thing on my road towards recovery. I just wish I had started it sooner.

Step 2. To be continued.


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