Dear dancing phalanges (if you don’t understand that reference, click here, you’ll be glad you did),
After much struggle, I finally found a counselor to help me and I am so thankful for her. We have been working on my mental health and though it has only been a month I am already feeling small differences. My counselor, Erin, is smart and compassionate, exactly what a counselor should be. Surprisingly, she’s a psychology student, but despite her still being in school she’s better than most of the counselors I’ve ever had. I am fortunate she was assigned to me.
During my last few appointments we have been discussing one of the problems I have that I really hate talking about, for fear that people will think I’m either crazy or lying. Or both. After speaking with her and realizing that this is surprisingly not just me, I’ve decided to come out about it, so it’s super transparent Eleanore time. Aside from having PTSD, Anxiety Disorder and depression, I have struggled with disassociation for as long as I can remember. I understand that this makes very little sense. Allow me to remedy that.
There is a disorder called Dissociative Identity Disorder, known more commonly as multiple personality disorder. This is not the illness I suffer from. What I do suffer from is dissociation between my soul and my body; at least, that’s the easiest way to explain it. It makes me feel as if my soul and body are separated, my soul happily floating in the atmosphere while my body hops about the Earth. When I was younger, I used to imagine my soul swimming about the galaxies, an airy and carefree version of myself tethered to me by only a thin string of stars. I explained this to a few people, all of which thought I was being imaginative at best and strange at worst. So, I stopped talking about it while continuing to living feeling as if I was not a whole person.
My dissociation also affects my senses. When I touch certain items it seems as if I can’t completely feel them. I’m only feeling 50% of what is really there. Extremely smooth materials such as tiles, satin, and leather bother me because not only do their textures make me uncomfortable, but it also seems I can’t get much sensation from them. Things that are textured such as stone, carpets, and beardy faces, however, are my favorite things because since they are a bit more rough, I can sense them more. If you have a beard, beware, because I will try to touch it. I’ll ask permission first of course, I’m not a weirdo, but I will work to be as convincing as possible that I should be allowed to do so. #sorrynotsorry.
When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease I struggled with numbness and tingling in my hands. I had found out that nerve damage was often associated with Celiac Disease and was worried that my hands would go numb forever. However, as I received more care the numbness improved, and while my hands still shake and hurt many days, I’ve never been diagnosed with any nerve issues in my hands. While this was somewhat of a relief, it also made me frustrated as I could not figure out while I often felt like I couldn’t sense half the world.
Several counselors I have had before would mention disassociation here and there, but would never think much of it. Until I saw Erin, it became a fact of my life. I was doomed to feel disconnected from my soul, from my world, unable to feel all that I wanted to. Somedays it is worse and some days it is better, but it never fully goes away, and with my attitude, it never would. As I became more comfortable with Erin we began to dissect my disassociation, and to my relief she helped me to discover that this problem is actually symptomatic of PTSD. She explained that it was as if my whole being was attempting to protect me from experiencing more pain than I’ve already had to deal with. This made everything worse because my lack of senses depresses me, which in turn makes my disassociation worse, which makes me more numb. After we contemplated my situation she gave me the idea to find something I can keep on me that is a texture I enjoy, so that when needed I can touch it and bring back my feeling.
Since finding a cute, beardy hipster guy to follow me around forever might be a little weird, I thought for quite a while what I would ideally have on me, and I settled on a ring. I’ve always liked rings, and it would be something easily carried while remaining inconspicuous. The material that popped into my mind was Marcasite, a type of pyrite stone. When my siblings and I were younglings, all three of us had rock collections. My sister had a beautiful, dark piece of pyrite that I was always quite jealous of. Thinking about it now, I liked it so much because of its texture; rough enough to allow me to feel while not being painful or uncomfortable. Marcasite is used to make jewelry that often looks like this:
It’s the perfect texture and I would get a ring such as this but the whole being poor as balls things means that I can’t afford a damn thing. I felt particularly frustrated until I realized that I had an entire box of beads and everything I needed to make a ring myself. So, I broke out the beads and made my disassociation ring. It looks like this.
I’ve ended up absolutely loving it. As soon as I put it on my finger, I began to play with it, and I have been doing so ever since. While I hope that I can get a marcasite one eventually, for now, the little black beads hanging out on my finger are a lovely start. It’s comforting for my anxiety and my dissociation, and while this is a very tiny step thanks to a very tiny ring, I’m hoping that it’s the first of many on my way to being healthier mentally and physically. The idea that my dissociation is something that can be treated and helped gives me so much hope. While I wish I could eventually knock off every single illness on my list, I realize that’s not entirely possible; but if I can remedy just a few and refrain from getting any others I’ll be more than satisfied.
Here’s to all of us being on the way up, and as always, a step closer to living the best versions of our lives despite that which deters us.
You have become what you have always been,
Life, figuring out, peripheral visionNo words we can speak, our paths have been chosen.
But all the trails that we trek, should lead us back to here.
Because our love comes again,
Just when I’ve broken down I found love can come again.
You gotta believe that love comes again,Just when I’ve broken downI found love can come again.