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I don't know what's happening / Dreams with alters

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I don't know what's happening / Dreams with alters

Postby exul » Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:33 am

*** trigger warning: sex dreams, suicidal thoughts ***

I know I'll regret this when I'll publish it, and please tell me if this is the right forum to discuss the topic. I'll make sure to move this post to another section if needed.
And this will be long, I'm sorry (and sorry for my English too, not my first language).

First thing first, I do not have a diagnosis, and never had one. This is currently the 5th year I am in therapy. I changed 3 therapists, who never gave me an explanation for why I have suicidal thoughts almost everyday and have something which I define as depression, even if I am high functioning and nobody seems to notice (obviously). Nobody apart from my current therapist ever made me complete questionnaires or clinical tests and I don't know why, but I recently did the DES and the SCID-II (with some other thing that had to do with eventual abusive behaviours from my family/partner) and it turned out I'm "very prone to dissociation" (quoting her), and have symptoms from a bunch of personality disorders (AvPD, OCPD, etc.), but none of these is "clinically worrysome", so basically I'm sane and healthy. I recently talked to her about some experiences I had when I was a child (even if I don't remember more than half of my childhood and it is difficult for me to distinguish from dreams and things that actually happened), and turns out I had very strong dissociative episodes since I was probably 5 yo or so, and some very vivid an recurrent nightmares that made it difficult for me to sleep. Then I told her about my serious issues with intimacy and the fact that sometimes I hear "strong screaming thoughts" in my head after/during things like kissing people (that I like), or me undergoing a little surgery at the dentist, and that they won't go away if not after what seems like an hour. I described her the thoughts, and she told me that they are very very similar to the ones that abused people experiment when having flashbacks. Now, I don't have any memories or anything, but she told me that for her there's something more that I don't remember. I did EMDR therapy with one of the other therapists, but it didn't go anywhere.

Now, during this time (6 months or so) I messed up. What I mean by this is, I didn't care about my mental health or state anymore, so I just used myself as some kind of lab rat, and experimented a technique called voice dialogue, which allows you (with a therapist) to talk with your "subpersonalities" (sort of ego-states). I study psychology and I'll soon be in university, but this definitely doesn't give me the right to do such things. I don't know why I did it, but I began to talk with some "subs", which strangely I already knew fairly well because some of them are "characters" which I had in my head since years. One in particular, he's very similar to one of my favourite characters in a cartoon I used to watch when I was little. They all had names and very distinct personalities.
Now, I clearly had to stop doing this because I became conscious of some things I did/said during the day which I'd never do/say if that "part" of me didn't exist. In other words, I felt too fragmented and confused, because these parts tried to collaborate, but seemed reluctant to do so since they weren't in any way in tune with me; we were too different but they kept "coming out" during the day and I could not control them, so I decided to pretend this never happened and that they were all characters in my head, that I was convincing myself they "came out" when in reality I was just pretending and acting like them sometimes. I honestly didn't want to think about this anymore, but then some days ago I started having dreams in which I was one of them (let's call him X), and they were totally different from mine. X has somewhere between 15 and 17 yo, and he is very sexual. I definitely am not, and usually I feel very uncomfortable and dirty when I have those sort of dreams, which are never pleasurable. But when I'm "him" those things don't seem to bother me a bit, and they seem so vivid even when I wake up. I go by his name in those dreams, and the role I have is exactly the opposite from the one that I think I'd have in those situations. I still feel very uncomfortable and confused when I wake up, but not during the dream like I always have been.

I don't know what this means, if it means anything, but he's the one that seems the most "strong" (or one of the strongest) when he "comes out" in the dialogue and outside.

I don't know what this could be, and I have no idea what to do. I'm too scared to talk with my therapist about this.
Thank you for your patience if you've read this far.
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Re: I don't know what's happening / Dreams with alters

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:40 pm

It sounds like your therapist has some experience with dissociation and or at least knows how to recognize it. Just because you don't meet criteria for a personality disorder doesn't mean you're sane and healthy. Did your T say that or is that your assumption of what the results mean? It sounds more like she was saying that you have some kind of dissociative disorder.

exul wrote:I recently talked to her about some experiences I had when I was a child (even if I don't remember more than half of my childhood and it is difficult for me to distinguish from dreams and things that actually happened), and turns out I had very strong dissociative episodes since I was probably 5 yo or so, and some very vivid an recurrent nightmares that made it difficult for me to sleep. Then I told her about my serious issues with intimacy and the fact that sometimes I hear "strong screaming thoughts" in my head after/during things like kissing people (that I like), or me undergoing a little surgery at the dentist, and that they won't go away if not after what seems like an hour. I described her the thoughts, and she told me that they are very very similar to the ones that abused people experiment when having flashbacks. Now, I don't have any memories or anything, but she told me that for her there's something more that I don't remember.


This also implies that your T is aware of how much you dissociate and that it goes back to early childhood, so I think she will be open to hearing about your dreams and about "X." You could print out your post and give it to her--that might make it easier to discuss. Or you could just give it to her and tell her you want her to know this but you don't feel ready to actually talk about it.

exul wrote:They all had names and very distinct personalities.
Now, I clearly had to stop doing this because I became conscious of some things I did/said during the day which I'd never do/say if that "part" of me didn't exist. In other words, I felt too fragmented and confused, because these parts tried to collaborate, but seemed reluctant to do so since they weren't in any way in tune with me; we were too different but they kept "coming out" during the day and I could not control them, so I decided to pretend this never happened and that they were all characters in my head, that I was convincing myself they "came out" when in reality I was just pretending and acting like them sometimes.


It's very common to get that "I must be making this all up" feeling. If you look at your last sentence, you're basically saying that you decided to pretend that you were pretending that you had these other parts, rather than acknowledging to yourself that you knew they were real.

Denial can be very strong and can lead people into (retrospectively) amusing mental twists to try to keep it up. Such as when I've found myself arguing with other parts that I don't have DID--they're just wrong that I have other parts that have their own beliefs about things. :roll: :D

No one on here can diagnose you, but everything you're saying is certainly similar to a lot of what you can read on here of people's experiences. Your T sounds like she would be very open to hearing about all of this.
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Re: I don't know what's happening / Dreams with alters

Postby exul » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:43 pm

TheGangsAllHere wrote:Did your T say that or is that your assumption of what the results mean? It sounds more like she was saying that you have some kind of dissociative disorder.


I was lucky enough to finally find her who knew and explained to me what dissociation is, so yes, I figured she has some kind of experience with it. She didn't talk about any kind of DD, and she explained to me that for her the interpretation of the SCID results meant that all those symptoms could be connected to my anxiety. I don't know much more because I didn't want to bring up the topic again because it made me feel pretty good but at the same time bad because I thought I was faking something?? I don't know

TheGangsAllHere wrote:This also implies that your T is aware of how much you dissociate and that it goes back to early childhood, so I think she will be open to hearing about your dreams and about "X." You could print out your post and give it to her--that might make it easier to discuss. Or you could just give it to her and tell her you want her to know this but you don't feel ready to actually talk about it.


At this point I think I'll have to. I hoped that writing this I could receive some kind of negative feedback confirming that this is all in my head, but ,,, yea, I guess I'll have to. Thank you, I hope I'll be able to do it.

TheGangsAllHere wrote:It's very common to get that "I must be making this all up" feeling. If you look at your last sentence, you're basically saying that you decided to pretend that you were pretending that you had these other parts, rather than acknowledging to yourself that you knew they were real.


The words came out a little twisted, sorry :oops: but yea basically the only one that knows about this is my best friend that keeps telling me that they are real and that I should stop ignoring them, so I'm actually just confused whether or not believing this is true. If I hadn't had those dreams I bet I'd never found the motivation to write this post. Right now my biggest wish is to just live like they don't exist -

TheGangsAllHere wrote:Denial can be very strong and can lead people into (retrospectively) amusing mental twists to try to keep it up. Such as when I've found myself arguing with other parts that I don't have DID--they're just wrong that I have other parts that have their own beliefs about things. :roll: :D


Unfortunately I have had the same experiences before and even after I stopped "talking" and "interacting" with them. I'm sorry so many people have to go through this. I may have nothing wrong but this has been draining my mental energy so much it makes me angry, ugh.
Thank you so much for your help and your patience. I wrote too much :roll:
Have a beautiful day!
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Re: I don't know what's happening / Dreams with alters

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:39 pm

exul wrote:I was lucky enough to finally find her who knew and explained to me what dissociation is, so yes, I figured she has some kind of experience with it. She didn't talk about any kind of DD, and she explained to me that for her the interpretation of the SCID results meant that all those symptoms could be connected to my anxiety.


It's not enough to do the SCID. That's just a general interview. She needs to do the one that's specifically for dissociative disorders, like the DDIS or the SCID-D. Those are much more sensitive and specific for determining if someone has a dissociative disorder.


exul wrote: I hoped that writing this I could receive some kind of negative feedback confirming that this is all in my head...

Right now my biggest wish is to just live like they don't exist -


Well, the paradox with DID is that it IS "all in your head" but also TRUE.

If someone has alters but the situation isn't causing them any distress, then nothing needs to be done. But if there isn't enough cooperation or communication in the system, then it can really interfere in one's life, since all the parts are trying to get their needs met in ways that aren't necessarily the most efficient or successful.

So if they DO exist, it really helps to live as if they do.
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Re: I don't know what's happening / Dreams with alters

Postby exul » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:34 pm

TheGangsAllHere wrote:If someone has alters but the situation isn't causing them any distress, then nothing needs to be done. But if there isn't enough cooperation or communication in the system, then it can really interfere in one's life, since all the parts are trying to get their needs met in ways that aren't necessarily the most efficient or successful.

So if they DO exist, it really helps to live as if they do.


You're totally right, and I always thought that too. The problem with me is, I have many problems that may have to do with possible conflict between personalities, but I just don't know if it is "their fault" or if I'm just making this all up because I never had an explanation and maybe I desperately want one.
I talked with my T about this this morning, telling her about those "people" in my head describing them as subpersonalities, but that come out seemingly whenever they want etc.
She told me that it is normal and everyone has them, that I simply need to integrate them and accept them as parts of me even if they seem extremely different from me.
I didn't feel like contradicting her, and I'm starting to believe this is true.

I don't know what I should do now because she didn't tell me how to "integrate" them, but I assume she meant that maybe I should accept their desires and the things that they want to say/do and let them come out whenever they want since I am always seemingly in control of the body at least?
I'll see how this goes. I just hope that nothing bad will happen.

Again thank you for the support, I appreciate it very much!
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Re: I don't know what's happening / Dreams with alters

Postby lumpy68 » Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:09 pm

Dear Exul and company

I Want to begin with thanking you Exul for posting this and I hope the responses have helped with your anxiety with this issue you are experiencing. I have especially found this thread very helpful in so many ways myself. Great Job!

It's a very complex topic and can be seen from many different points of view at the same time. But in particular this seems to have caught my eye most...

exul wrote:
TheGangsAllHere wrote:If someone has alters but the situation isn't causing them any distress, then nothing needs to be done. But if there isn't enough cooperation or communication in the system, then it can really interfere in one's life, since all the parts are trying to get their needs met in ways that aren't necessarily the most efficient or successful.

So if they DO exist, it really helps to live as if they do.


You're totally right, and I always thought that too. The problem with me is, I have many problems that may have to do with possible conflict between personalities, but I just don't know if it is "their fault" or if I'm just making this all up because I never had an explanation and maybe I desperately want one.

I talked with my T about this this morning, telling her about those "people" in my head describing them as subpersonalities, but that come out seemingly whenever they want etc.

She told me that it is normal and everyone has them, that I simply need to integrate them and accept them as parts of me even if they seem extremely different from me.
I didn't feel like contradicting her, and I'm starting to believe this is true.


I don't know what I should do now because she didn't tell me how to "integrate" them, but I assume she meant that maybe I should accept their desires and the things that they want to say/do and let them come out whenever they want since I am always seemingly in control of the body at least?
I'll see how this goes. I just hope that nothing bad will happen.

Again thank you for the support, I appreciate it very much!


The part in blue from your T is very interesting. It's to me both "true" and "false" at the very same time. :roll: Welcome to the world of "Dissociation" friend!

I will try to explain myself so that I don't seem so confusing on that specific topic I highlighted in blue.

"She told me that it is normal and everyone has them,

that I simply need to integrate them and accept them as parts of me even if they seem extremely different from me."


It is becoming much more accepted in the field of Trauma as well as human understanding that Yes Everyone has "Parts" and that is "Normal". Yes I agree with that statement.

However if everyone had them in the same way as us and that is "Normal" then they wouldn't say we need to integrate them...because it's "Normal" not to. So that part I say is false. She seems pretty knowledgeable so far and understand what she was doing so don't get me wrong. I do agree in many ways with...

"that I simply need to integrate them and accept them as parts of me even if they seem extremely different from me."

Although the "Simply" part is obviously not simple at all and is very lengthy and takes much therapy and years to be able to do in any significant way. But in theory I agree.

An example is right now a part of me is badgering me to get off of here and finish my chores I started yesterday. That is very normal and everyone has parts like that too. I should listen to that part and am going to surrender to it very soon hopefully lol.

However if everyone had their "Parts" take over at will without any control and are vastly different in age, gender, personality, identities, etc then "Dissociative Disorders" would not exist and would just be "Normal" and not be problematic. It would be "Normal" and the standard culture worldwide.

Now "Dissociation" in it's clinical definition as the following taken right out of the current DSM-5...
Page 291 - "Dissociative Disorders"

"Dissociative disorders are characterized by a disruption of and/or discontinuity in the normal integration of consciousness, memory, identity, emotions, perception, body representation, motor control, and behavior. Dissociative symptoms can potentially disrupt every area of psychological functioning. This chapter includes dissociative identity disorder, dissociative amnesia, depersonalization/derealization disorder, other specified dissociative disorder, and unspecified dissociative disorder.

Dissociative symptoms are experienced as a) unbidden intrusions into awareness and behavior, with accompanying losses of continuity in subjective experiences(i.e., "positive" dissociative symptoms such as fragmentation of identity, depersonalization, and derealization) and/or b) inability to access information or to control mental functions that normally are readily amenable to access or control (i.e., "negative" dissociative symptoms such as amnesia).

The dissociative disorders are frequently found in the aftermath of trauma, and many of the symptoms, including embarrassment and confusion about the symptoms or a desire to hide them, are influenced by the proximity to trauma. In DSM-5, the dissociative disorders are placed next to, but are not part of, the trauma- and stressor-related disorders, reflecting the close relationship between these diagnostic classes. Both acute stress disorder and post traumatic stress disorder contain dissociative symptoms, such as amnesia, flashbacks, numbing, and depersonalization/derealization."


Now given the broad definition it's very clear that indeed it is very "Normal" (meaning most common) that the general population does indeed experience "Dissociation", in the strict sense of the term. However culturally, it's not seen as problematic to the degree that those who experience it much more strongly do like populations like we see here.

An easy example is my ex partner of 25 years called me last week and we haven't spoken for over a year and I was catching him up to my current situation, and he is very "healthy" in terms of functioning in all aspects of his life. I was trying to explain what "Dissociation" was since it's not commonly known or understood even in "mental health" . I used his own life as a perfect example of it since it was very fitting...

He is married (happily) with a young daughter and their business is doing very well as well as his other main profession which is very high profile. His Father divorced his Mother when we were in 3rd grade because he was Gay and came out of the closet. His Dad is a Most amazing person and have huge respect for him across the board as does his son (my ex). The "Dissociation" comes in because he is deeply "Closeted" about being "Gay" although he is now comfortable being "Bi" with his wife now. But he has never come out to her, (even though they met when his ex GF caught him texting to another guy and his current wife was there when it happened!), nor even his own Gay Father and he is now age 50 like myself! He openly admits to me that he is "Living a Dual Life". One "Part" of him is Very "gay" and keeps that very secretive, while the "Other Part" of him is living what even he calls a "Fantasy Life" as a straight married man with a family. The two shall never meet. That is "Dissociation" on a very deep level.

However he has somewhat recently come to terms with this and has resolved all his inner conflicts about this "Split Personality" he is living and so is no longer causing him any suffering. He is happy with his arrangement and enjoying both "Parts" now guilt free. So in light of that I wouldn't say it's a "disorder" and in some ways has "Integrated" his two opposing "Parts" to work together. Not an "Honest" one but he is at least not in Denial internally any more and he is happy about it all now. It works for him and so am very happy for him. I may feel very sad that he has been missing out with a deeper connection with his Gay Father as a Gay Son, but that is his choice and hope he doesn't come to regret it later.

When I described "Dissociation" in those terms for that is very much by definition an aspect of it, he understood instantly and was curious about my own? He had a wonderful childhood and and is very "healthy" but we have been together since we were 8 years old and well understands that I was not so lucky as he was. I tried as best I could to describe my DID and in light of his own experiences with it was very empathetic and understanding.

But if we understand what "Dissociation" is and then look around us we will see it just about everywhere in all walks of life etc. But the key aspect here is does it cause suffering in our lives to a degree if it clinically impacts our relationships, social, status, employment, sexuality, and so on? If it does, then it meets the basic criteria of being a "disorder".

So although it may seem easy to "Integrate" these different "Parts" of ourselves in theory, in reality even someone who is as "healthy" as my ex is, it took him 40 years to be able to do it to just a small degree, and hope he continues to grow so that he can have an even more meaningful healthy relationship with his own father whom he adores. Simple perhaps, but Easy it is not.

Sorry for my very personal examples of "Dissociation", but I felt it was perhaps a good way to express how common it is and even "Healthy" people can suffer from it like my ex did for 40 years until the last few years when he "integrated" to a small degree his opposing "Parts" which had been at war internally all these years. When we were in our early 20's together I chose to cope with mine by coming out and he chose drugs and alcohol which nearly destroyed him but then got clean and sober and has been for decades since. But he still struggled deeply and it certainly did have a very negative impact in his career, social, sexuality, relationships etc, so clinically truly was a "Dissociative Disorder" although was not acknowledged at that time.

He had a very wonderful childhood and his only serious "Trauma" were his parents getting divorced at a tender age because his Father was Gay, and his Mother being very bitter about it and it affected him deeply because he also was and so had great shame and guilt about being one of "those' in the eyes of his Mother who never knew he was too.

Far cry from my own childhood, so mine is much much worse as a result, but it nearly destroyed him due to the way he coped with it, so am not minimizing his in any way shape or form.

I apologize to anyone here that may be offended by me seemingly "Stretching" the definition of "dissociation" in this example, but in truth it really is valid and those like Dr Onno Van der Hart, Dr Ruth Lanius, and Dr Bessel Van der Kolk use it exactly as I just did as well and so in light of this I find it helpful especially to those who are first coming to terms of it and may feel comforted that it's a very common part of the human experience and not as rare as even we think it is. Trauma and Dissociation can express it's self in so many ways and doesn't have to look like what we think it is here. It's commonly expressed through somatic or medical disorders instead as well. But that is another thread on it's own.

I hope this has been helpful and again I sincerely apologize to any who may have found my examples or views offensive as a result.

Now I must abide by my other "Part" that demands that I finish yesterday's chores. :)

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