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Re: Anxiety vs Dissociation

Posted by Craig on April 8, 1999, at 4:47:28

In reply to Re: Anxiety vs Dissociation, posted by Elaine on April 7, 1999, at 0:33:01

I got as far as 1980 in my last post, so I might as well attempt to bring this up to date to answer your questions, Elaine. From then until 1988 I was in therapy for multiple personality disorder that was intended to "integrate" me. Instead of improving my functioning, the fight over which one of "us" was going to reign began consuming my life. Previously, I had my life compartmentalized in a way that there was somewhat of an internal understanding about everyone's purpose in this system, but now things turned into chaos. My doctor gave me the old line about, "Sometimes you have to get worse before you get better" and, while I certainly got worse, I definitely didn't get any better. My anxiety level went sky high, I couldn't concentrate on my job or manage time. I began to work 12-14 hour shifts trying to accomplish what my co-workers were able to finish in an 8-hour day. At that point, my psychiatrist of 13 years decided to refer me out-of-state to Dr. Bennett Braun, who ran the Dissociative Disorders unit at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. The two months I spent hospitalized there were nothing short of terror. (If you'd like more description, I'll write about that another time.) Since I refused to be hypnotized or cooperate with what I considered to be his bizarre treatment methods, I was one of the few fortunate patients who got away from him. (Did you read the online article yet in Chicago Magazine that I cited in my last post?)

By the Fall of 1988, I'd had enough of psychiatry and therapy. After 17 years, including 12 psychiatric hospitalizations, I'd lost my faith in it all. I quit seeing doctors and basically dropped out of society. I've been living with my parents and am ashamed to say that I haven't been employed for 11 years now. However, if it's any consolation, neither have I been hospitalized during this period....which is an accomplishment for me. It's not the kind of life psychiatrist's recommend, but it's the best option I have. Getting this computer is about the best thing that's happened to me and has given me a chance to prove that I'm not incompetent. If I could figure out a way to work out of my home using a computer, I think that's my best shot at being employable again. I seem to function best when I'm alone here and don't have to worry about not meeting the expectations that people have of a typical 43-year-old. In my basement, nobody can see if I'm dissociated or not, so it hardly matters. Under these conditions, I can function in my trance state better. Since this obviously isn't an option for most dissociatives, I can't really recommend this kind of life to others. Have I failed or should I just accept that this is the best I can manage?

Early last year, I began descending into a deeper depression and had to admit that I couldn't cope with all this by myself anymore. When I got a referral to a highly recommended psychopharmacologist, I decided that this was my last chance to find an answer to that question before giving up. I wanted to rule out other causes contributing to my illness instead of seeing a psychiatrist who would just focus on the dissociative aspect. This new doctor feels strongly that I am bipolar and we've been trying a lot of new medications for that, the latest being Lamictal. If we ever find anything that has an effect on dissociation, I'll post it.




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