brightlotusmoon: (Snow White Ruby Blood Dragon Witch)
[personal profile] brightlotusmoon
Some random rambling about my own mind, my imaginary friends, and how my mind likes to invent coping mechanisms that talk back.

One of my imaginary friends, Amara, who is the human coping mechanism in charge of all the neurochemical, neurodevelopmental fuctions, has been interacting with me more and more ever since Alicia (the epilepsy mechanism) and Serena (the pain, fatigue, psychological, neurobiological functions) urged her to show herself more often after I fell into a chemical depression with severe anxiety. Serena and Koan could only do so much.

Amara, at the beginning of her creation, was not even human; formless and elemental. These days, she is human shaped but she loves to take bits of my writerbrain as inspiration. Her ears are pointed and her eyes and hair change color with her moods. She likes to mimic my bone structure and basic figure shape, just with more muscle intensity. Serena says it's because Amara wants to show me that I am beautiful.
Also, when I saw a Google image painting of a woman with elf ears and a unicorn horn, posing with a unicorn, Amara insisted I make it my current Facebook cover photo. She made herself up to resemble like that character while still mimicking my features, including the horn that represents the third eye - just with chestnut brown streaks in her white-lavender hair and honey brown flecks in her intense blue eyes... although none of that is her true coloring. When she made herself human, her coloring randomly became alabaster skin, gold eyes, and pale flame hair, essentially inhuman. But she kept the mirror shape of my skeletal structure and body shape. She even plumped her lips, made her eyes bigger, and made her nose smaller, because she knew I desired that. It makes me smile, which I think she likes. She wears the same jewelry as me, the same clothing colors, the same makeup colors. She is determined to "reboot" the parts of my brain that are having trouble accepting the recent flooding overload of information about these disabilities and chronic illnesses. The name Amara means everlasting, eternal, immortal... which is why she was formless and elemental to begin with. I finally understand why I created her. And she wouldn't mind being the inspiration for any stories I write. I'm grateful for that.
She insists that my jaw, hair, and eyes resemble the jaw, hair, and eyes of Elena Risteska from Macedonia, which I agreed with and humbly accept with a simple thanks. The only way I even knew about Miss Risteska was through searching for shades of brown.
She just wants me to feel better, to feel my own positive human emotions. Since Amara is still learning about humanity, she looks to Serena for help. In my dreams, they have amazing conversations.
I'm so glad I created these characters. They help keep me sane, emotionally stable, intellectually stable, and psychically curious. Also, every time I meditate and concentrate on my third eye, I actually feel a short unicorn horn on my forehead.
I just love that my own mind is creative enough to make up whole people with entire personalities, back stories, individual appearances, individual likes and dislikes, and actual behaviors. They mainly come to me in sleep dreams, daydreams, and meditations. My psychotherapist adores the fact that they exist, which relieves me. It's just one of those things that I, Joanna, have in my brain to help me handle all the stuff that life gives me. Awesome.

Date: 2013-11-22 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It really is awesome!

I love that you can do this. I love that *I* can do this. So amaze. Very cool. Wow, imaginations.

Date: 2013-11-23 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, any person with a brain can have an imagination that generates their own friends. Please keep in mind that this is FAR different from a REAL psychological disorder that is dissociative identity disorder.

Yes, imaginations are cool, so long as you realize that it is imaginary, not real.

Date: 2013-11-23 08:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
How Joanna identifies is for her to say. I'll say that, from the outside, what she experiences looks a lot more significant than play, and serves a\ critical role in her ability to function. What she experiences is fascinating and beautiful, and I'm honored to be in a position where she trusts me enough to talk about it in front of me.

I assure you, with sincere respect, I don't doubt the validity of multiple people living in one body, and lament only that our language doesn't have good words for this sort of group/collective/partnership yet. THAT'S not imagination, nor did I mean to imply that it was; apologies if that's what was objectionable. I do respect the difference between DID or other forms of multiplicity, and imaginative play; I likewise respect the difference between something that arises as a result of illness/trauma and something that is deliberately chosen. [ profile] oneonthefence has a pretty good comment below covering the difference between DID and healthy multiplicity that's on-purpose cultivated that pretty much sums up my thoughts on that.

I wouldn't identify as DID, ever. I don't think I could comfortably identify as someone with multiplicity, either, though I've looked long and hard at what it entails, because I've been trying to understand this thing I do a little better, to make sure I'm not actually doing myself harm. There's nearly nothing out there about it.

I've worked pretty hard and steadily to create . . . isolated subroutines in my brain? That I can access when I need to, as a defense mechanism, a way to keep functioning when pretty much gutted by panic attacks or the bipolar or dysphoria. It keeps me functional when other parts of me are giving out and/or don't know what to do. So while I may talk about it playfully -- that's how I roll -- it's not for funsies. It's the only effective technique I've found to deal with certain very frightening and dangerous and deeply unpleasant things that are wrong with me, and I've spent years deliberately reinforcing it to make it stronger. One of the most miserable times in my life was when I was on meds that pretty much killed my ability to do it, and I could no longer interact with the parts of myself that I had separated out and walled off and carefully balanced to be more or less functional independent of my core persona. They were no longer capable of stepping in and even deliberately invoking them had nearly no success. That showed me just how critical it was, scared the everloving crap out of me, and was what started me looking into what it actually meant much more seriously.

So, no disrespect toward people with other circumstances is intended. No disrespect toward systems and the individuals that comprise them intended.

This is tremendously difficult to talk about because agreed-upon language to talk about it simply does not exist yet, and a lot of defensiveness exists among groups/collectives and individuals with DID or related -- for totally good reason! And I don't want to be a part of that "for very good reason." Shit's hard enough without me making it harder. So, yeah, I just want to make it clear that while I was being playful because that's how Jo and I are, I'm coming from a place of understanding and respecting the difference between what I do and what others experience, even as I acknowledge the weird parallels between them.

If, after this too-long (sorry) reply there's still an inkling I'm being disrespectful, well, I'm open to talking about that, because that's for real not what I want.

Jo's one of the few people I can/will talk about it openly with, as I feel about as safe in her journal space as I do in my own. I know about her coping mechanisms, she knows about mine. We respect each other.

To assure everyone that I mean well and end on a positive note, here is a picture of a fox cub keepin' on keepin' on.

Date: 2013-11-24 02:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Amanda, I love to bitty pieces. If you'll let me, may I give you part of my soul to keep? I feel you are a soulmate.

Date: 2013-11-24 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Er, Toby, honey, I NEVER said they were real.
Please PLEASE don't tell me you are assuming I am comparing THIS to DID, because HOLY HELL NO. DID is a fucking illness. This? This is just a healthy coping mechanism. Mandi herself knows that.

Date: 2013-11-24 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And it looks like I may need to write the word IMAGINARY in a big bold text, maybe a different font. Obviously I know the difference. I don't know if on your part it is worry or defensiveness for Mandi, but trust me, I am in no way saying I have DID.
Yes, I dissociate from emotions during clinical depression. I even depersonalize. I even experience derealization. But that is still not the same as DID itself.
I have CREATED and INVENTED these IMAGINARY friends that are NOT REAL in order to help me handle my clinical psychiatric and psychological issues. I need you to really really understand that. Please. Your darling wife can explain it more helpfully. I just don't want you to assume I am unable to separate reality from fantasy. I can, quite well.

Date: 2013-11-24 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That word, imagination. I do not think it means what some people think it means. We INVENT. We IMAGINE. We do have clinical mental illnesses, you and I, but we have deliberately, creatively, intuitively made up a bunch of characters that grew with us... through games, through stories, through dreams. And it is starting to worry me that this is being compared to something as severe as DID, which is destructive and unwanted. I don't mean the commenters in my post, I mean internet forum people in general. Trying to claim a self-diagnosis of DID is... creepy.

Date: 2013-11-23 02:49 am (UTC)
ext_5237: (lakeview)
From: [identity profile]
I have this but my therapist calls it disassociative identity disorder, it used to be called multiple personality disorder. All I know is it helps me cope.

Date: 2013-11-23 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), too. That's very different from chosen multiplicity, in which that person hasn't undergone severe trauma during childhood which causes the fracturing of the mind - resulting in our diagnosis of DID. I just want to make that clear since a lot of people try to compare the two, and they aren't even close to the same. Jo uses coping mechanisms which help her, but she chose that - which is good, because they help her! We didn't have a choice but to fragment during our youth due to trauma (I don't know you, but most DID cases are based on highly severe trauma before the age of 14), so our personalities split and each one takes on part of the trauma. So they are different - one is chosen, one is not.

Just clarifying, since I know a lot of people confuse the two. We didn't choose DID - people who were cruel to us made us choose it. Chosen multiplicity is another matter entirely - a helpful coping mechanism, but derived by the person who wants/needs it, and not by significant trauma early on in life to cause it.

Alters do help us cope because they take on the traumas we don't want to remember - even as adults. The goal, ultimately, is not to rely on them, but that's really hard to do. I know. I've been in therapy for almost two decades now, and have lived in trauma units to sort through my C-PTSD and DID, so if you ever want to chat, I'm here to listen.

Date: 2013-11-23 06:32 pm (UTC)
ext_5237: (multiple)
From: [identity profile]
I had a a couple of rather traumatic incidents and endured a lot of isolation as a child, and my therapists believes this is what spawned my multiplicity. I've known two other people (well, spoken to them on the net) who had basically generated their own multiplicity, one was because she lived in a very isolated area in Alaska as a child. In fact, that silly icon is my "multiple" icon, a friend made it for me. It makes me laugh.

I've been through the therapy merry go round a couple decades myself, diagnosed a number of things until they figured it out. Had a fantastic therapist along with help from a support group (which sadly disbanded long ago) which has helped me reach a fairly co concious state where we are all fairly aware of what is going on in the big wide world around us and know when it is okay and when it's not to switch up who's running the body, and we have some internal communication and a house notebook. If someone can't internally speak to the others they leave a note in the house notebook, and it gets checked every day. It works well for us except in times of extreme duress and stress and then everyones emotions at once is just to when my mother died last year. that caused some unraveling.
it's been a rough year around here, but at least some things have been taken care of.

Thank you for the offer of someone to chat with, I appreciate it. The same offer is open to you, your welcome to contact me if you need to talk to someone.

Date: 2013-11-23 07:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sorry to hear it. Yeah, unfortunately, actual DID does come from a traumatic and isolated childhood, and when kids are asked to keep secrets - it's appalling. I wish that hadn't happened to either of us. The "worst" of my trauma ended when I was 15, but 15 years of it was enough. Some major things happened after I was 15, but that only drove my alters out (one was out for two years in place of me, as the main person, because I couldn't cope with life), and I've been in therapy pretty much ever since. I'm 32 now, and it's been helpful, but my system isn't completely under control. I still find new alters all the time who hold their own secrets.

I hesitate to use the term multiplicity when it comes to DID, but that may be a personal thing. I still have a hard time saying, "I am fragmented, I am many." I rarely say "we," though I'll sometimes use it if a head-mate is chiming in on a comment. But one alter has her own journal, and just like you said, there's a shared journal at home so that notes between alters or between alters and myself can be written. Internal communication is going well for a few, but some resist, and some flat-out refuse.

It's a truly traumatic and painful illness for us and those who love us, which is just why I wanted to chime in and say, "This is different from what Jo and her friend are describing." They didn't have that trauma - luckily, and I'm glad they didn't - and have created a system by choice. Our circumstances are truly psychological and clinical, as the diagnosis shows, and I can't imagine wanting to have DID (not saying they DO, but people do tell me how fascinating it must be. Yeah, right...). I've lost years of time, my ability to work, and two alters are determined to harm me. So it's rough. But this year, physical health issues have overtaken the mental ones, so self-harm has been minimized, which I'm quite thankful for. I just don't know a lot of people with ACTUAL DID who talk about it openly and don't use it in an imaginary sense. Even in trauma units, a lot of people wanted to integrate or were co-conscious, and I left a bit left behind. My alters won't integrate, and I'm only co-conscious with a few. So it's a challenge. But at least I'm informed, and I know reality from the imaginary. And I have a two-year-old, so keeping my life and my time in check, as well as continuing in therapy, is vital.

Thanks for your comment, and I wish you well. Definitely let me know if you'd like to chat. I'm around some of the time. :)

Date: 2013-11-24 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Exactly. Fucking exactly. Thank you. You get it. My chronic illnesses are real. As a child, I went through all sorts of therapy and pain, but I don't see it as "trauma" - I think I just deliberately created and kept up my imaginary characters - and, as an adult, those characters changed themselves in different bits of my brain. They never take over. They never speak through me.
They are all me, all parts of me helping me cope with stuff... and maybe that is the only possible connection I don't know. The main difference may be intentional versus unintentional - maybe?

If I had DID, I certainly wouldn't talk about it like how I wrote in this post. You get it.

Date: 2013-11-24 02:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
THANK YOU, Mandi. Thank you.

And this is EXACTLY why I specifically prefaced my post with "imaginary friends" and "created characters" instead of, say, "alters" or whatnot. The difference is is so vast and intense that there is no comparison. I made my "head people" up by myself. BY MYSELF. That is NOT a disorder.

Thank you for helping to clarify.

Date: 2013-11-24 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is NOT Dissociate Identity Disorder. This is not even a disorder. Some people call in a form of Healthy Multiplicity. It does not exist as a disorder in any form.
When I say "imaginary friends" I mean it. They're not alters nor are they other personalities.

Date: 2013-11-24 05:19 pm (UTC)
ext_5237: (lakeview)
From: [identity profile]
I didin't mean to offend, one of the problems of communicating on the net is it's hard to tell tone.

Dr's and such use the term and classification "disorder" I prefer to replace that term with "coping mechanism" but unless the person I'm talking with already knows that, it creates some confusion so at the beginning of discussions about this kind of stuff I go with what people would have normally heard..

Everyone has coming mechanisms. Some people smoke, some people compulsively clean house, some people get deeply involved in religion, some people do drugs, some people read, some people drink, on and on and on. I myself don't understand why MY coping mechanism is a "disorder" to the world when it is harmless. It can be a little confusing to people who don't know about me sometimes, but unlike some of the things mentioned above, it does nothing to harm my health or possibly other people's health.

It was late when I read your post and I've just gotten out of hospital (damaged a vertebra in my back, causing nerve issues in my legs) and I thought I read it to understand that these beings who are in your headspace take on independent behaviour that is not an idea that originated from you. (Something about one changing their appearance to please you and surprising you?) I guess I took that as they are or perhaps have expanded from something you had willfully created to having some sentience of their own.

the disassociative spectrum ranges from everything to that state of road hypnosis you get on a long trip where you miss your exit because you had kind of tuned out and were lost in your thoughts to the being shock from having seen something awful or been in accident all the way up people who are completely unaware of anything and catatonic.

I gather now that the people you are referring to are more like characters you might have created for a book, only they are a part of your every day life function. That is a different state than DID, just some of what read came across as they operate independently of you thinking "character X could have been like this or done that like that" and that made me wonder.

This kind of stuff is different for everyone, part of my initially mentioning it was myself just wondering what variation point you were talking about.


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