Your Loved One Has Dissociative Identity Disorder?

If you have a loved one who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (AKA “multiple personalities”), you may have felt uneasy or even frightened at times. It can be disconcerting to think you do not really know who they are. It may be awful to think of the traumatic experiences they survived that led to the dissociation.

This is partly because for many people, the only understanding they have of Dissociative Identity Disorder comes from sensationalized depictions in movies or TV, showing DID experiencers as unpredictable, deceptive, violent–nearly supernaturally so!

But it’s important to take a pragmatic approach to understanding this experience and not to exoticize or blame your loved one.

In other words, they are not an exotic disorder. They are not their traumatic experiences. They are not possessed. They did not “cause” the disorder. They did not ask for nor deserve the trauma during which it developed. They aren’t “faking.” They are not a case for you to manage. They are a regular person who needs love, acceptance, and healing.

Everyone has “parts” –different personality presentations and experiences that are expressed in different situations. We all act at least somewhat differently at a job interview than at the club, or at church, or with a close friend who is very accepting, or in class, or around a judgmental neighbor, or around a secret crush.

The main difference is that for those who have DID, those different presentations have become dissociated from each other: there is a disruption of the underlying thread of memory and consciousness that most of us have between all our parts.

An important thing to remember is that while you may not like one or some of your loved one’s parts (and you don’t have to!), there are no “bad” parts. Every part’s feelings are a valid expression, even if not every part’s wishes should be acted on.

Nothing your loved one experiences is beyond the understanding of humans generally. You don’t need to be an expert in Internal Family Systems to connect with them. It’s useful to have some information, but primarily, just be a human with a loving connection. ❤

If you are interested in reading more in-depth about Dissociative Identity Disorder from someone who experiences it, here is an essay that is addressed to therapists but may also be useful for others who have loved ones with this type of dissociation:

TEN STEPS TO BECOMING A DISSOCIATION-FRIENDLY THERAPIST

 

 

Honoring 60 Years of Black Activism

Lancaster Black History Month Celebration!

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Depression Part 4: Just do the little bit that you can.

Part 1: Is It Depression?  Part 2: When Depressed   Part 3: Nurture Yourself Back to Life

Part 4:

Exercise: We’ve been told so often that we must exercise, that now we may hear it as a burden. Who can carry any more burdens when severely depressed? Who can go lift weights when it’s a struggle to get the bathroom and brush their teeth? But exercise is not supposed to be horrible. You can’t go wrong if you focus on exercise primarily as a way to make your body feel a bit better. It’s not some kind of punishment for resting, or for eating, or for existing in a body of any shape or size. It does not have to be within a contest. It is not a “cure” for mental illness, though it can help to improve your mood. It is an activity your body can like if done in a pleasant, kind way!

I often suggest to clients that if they are too exhausted to go to the gym or whatever their preferred exercise may be, just walk around the block. If that is still too much for right now, then just go outside and walk around the house and back in! Just do the little bit that you can.

There are very few texts that “get” how to approach exercise when you’re experiencing severe depression, but this excellent article really helps when you need to ramp up from zero: “Depression-Busting Exercise Tips For People Too Depressed To Exercise” (Sarah Kurchak)

Social Interaction: Maintaining social interaction can be a tricky aspect of depression. You need some level of social interaction to help stabilize your emotions and keep you woven into reality. If you are in a marginalized group, it is especially important to have supportive others to validate your experiences and keep you feeling sane, cared for, and safe. However, there is a HUGE difference between how much social interaction you need if you are more extroverted versus the amount you need if you are more introverted.

Extroverts can more easily harness the power of friends and family to help recover from a depressive episode: being around others will energize you and give you a bit of motivation. It’s straightforward. Seek out others to talk to daily and if possible, to see in person. It may be hard to ask for help, but see if you can ask for help with something simple. This could be something like dishes, child care, or taking you to the grocery store. You can also just ask someone to watch a movie with you or go for a walk. Ask several different people to do several different things. Being able to be in supportive company will be very useful in your recovery.

Introverts, however, may have a harder time with this. Since interacting with others can drain you of energy, you may need to be choosy about whom you contact and how you interact with them. It’s still a good goal to speak with another human at least once a day. But it’s okay if this is just talking to a friend on the phone, getting your change from the clerk at the corner store, or even calling a help line. If you have the energy to tolerate having someone in your space, it’s good to ask a friend for a little help. But make sure it’s someone who understands your limits and does not expect you to be entertaining or emotionally fulfilling to them. You can offer that later when you are not in a depressive episode! If it is still very hard to see people or even to just talk on the phone, you can start with just texting or emailing with someone(s) daily. But try not to let a day go by without communicating with others. And keep doing it.

Furthermore, you may also be considering medication.

Medications: There are a lot of non-medical things you can do to manage your depression, and medication is certainly not mandatory. However, medications can be a useful part of managing depression. They will not make you immune to sadness, but if you are especially low or “flat” or suicidal they may pull you up enough to get to your self-management.

Other people in your life may have a lot of strong opinions about medications, but this is your decision, not someone else’s. If someone tells you that you should take medication but you don’t want to, you do not have to. If someone tells you that you should not take medication but you want to try it, you may try it. That decision is between you and your physician, and you need to do what will help YOU to recover.

Most antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are prescribed by people’s primary care physicians, though often your PCP will require that you are also seeing a therapist if they are to prescribe psychoactive medications. A psychiatrist can address more complex psychoactive medication issues than your primary care physician. A psychiatrist may be necessary if you have resistant depression or other mental health issues, such as hypomania or psychosis. It may take up to three months to get an appointment with a psychiatrist, since they are in short supply everywhere. So if you think you may want a psychiatrist, don’t wait to start looking.

Now you have stabilized yourself as best you can! You have examined the four crucial life aspects influencing mental health (sleep, nutrition, exercise, and social interaction), you have considered whether you’re interested in medication, and you have begun doing what you can to develop a healthy rhythm in those areas.

For today, you are doing the little bit that you can. And you will keep doing it. It’s very hard to manage your mood at all when even one of these aspects is disrupted, so stabilizing them all is the basis of recovery.

Next part: Emotional Aspects: Mood Management

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Just do the little bit that you can. And keep doing it.

 

~You may qualify for our new sliding-scale fee discount.~
~Please contact us for an application.~

Choosing What Kind of Therapy to Seek

We receive a lot of mixed messages about what it means to “talk to someone” when experiencing distress. Does it mean going to a hospital? The ER? Inpatient? Outpatient? Is it mostly for people who are suicidal or experiencing hallucinations? Is it really just for rich people who don’t have survival stress? Where should you even start looking?

Call me biased, but I truly believe that in fact most people could really use some kind of therapy at some point in their lives!

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) has a useful graphic (below) to help figure out which path might be the most useful for you to pursue, based on your own preferences and needs.

To be clear, this is primarily about psychology / counseling, which most therapy falls under, rather than psychiatry, despite how therapy is portrayed in most movies and TV shows. (To better understand the general difference between seeing a psychologist versus seeing a psychiatrist, ADAA has a useful explainer here.)

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Did you find an approach that sounds like it might work for you? I hope so!

Intersectional Life Counseling and Therapy offers nearly all of these options: in-person sessions (individual and groups when available, and even outdoors!) as well as teletherapy sessions by video. (We do not offer text-based interventions.) See the chart below to compare them!

Compare Session options:

In Office Sessions Video Session Hiking (In Season)
Standard Rates

Discounts Apply

Pre-pay required

X

Open Path (limited means) Availability

Client Location Lancaster Service Area Outside of Lancaster Service Area (PA only) Lancaster Service Area
Intake Process Set up in-office intake assessment session via phone or email. Intake determines acceptance for therapy or referral. Set up video intake assessment session via phone or email. Intake determines acceptance for therapy or referral. Set up in-office intake assessment session via phone or email. Intake session MUST BE IN OFFICE.

If accepted for therapy may schedule for hiking or in-office sessions as desired.

Insurance Reimburses Depends on insurance plan Depends on insurance plan Depends on insurance plan
EAPs cover (Quest/M&S)

TBD

TBD

Helps you get out of the house!

X

Please contact us today by email or phone to schedule!

 

Immigrant Families Finding Therapy

Because of the many layers of stresses and even traumas associated with immigration, immigrants and their families may face high levels of mental distress. This includes things such as traumatic events that were severe enough to make them leave their home country in the first place, as well as the great difficulties in adjusting to a new and sometimes hostile environment.

In today’s social and political climate, stresses and traumas are higher than ever, making mental health support even more crucial. But as challenging as getting started with therapy can be, it can be even harder for immigrants and their families.

This piece by Lauren Hodges explains why, and offers MANY great suggestions to help you or a family member get mental health support!

 

 

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New Year, New Location, and New Sliding-Scale Discounts

Dear Lancaster, the past year was a year of many transitions for Intersectional Life Counseling and Psychology!

Some of you have already begun attending sessions at our peaceful new location at 237 N. Prince Street! If you have not yet been to the new location, you may be glad to know that although we moved, we are still downtown and accessible.

Another change we are implementing is that for our 2020 rate update in February we are pleased to begin offering sliding-scale need-based fee discounts.

If you believe you might qualify for the discount you may apply to see what your rate would be. It’s a simple application form and any client or prospective client may apply. Please email us for the simple discount application form to see what your discount would be. (There are no obligations or mailing lists.)

(Note: if you are already an Open Path client, you’ll just fill out the sliding-scale discount application annually in Feb/March to maintain your Open Path status. We currently have a waiting list for new Open Path spots.)

Happy-New-Year-2020

Juneteenth: “America can never be free until her people are free”

If you are interested to watch the proceedings live today, you can view them here:

 

You Are Not Your Trauma

 

An early experience of trauma can have effects that you may not start experiencing until adulthood. It can feel “crazy”! But having PTSD symptoms doesn’t mean that you will always feel that way. It means that you have emotions and reactions that are ready to be processed so that you can begin healing.

While healing from trauma can be a lifelong process, you can often start feeling better in many ways right away! You are still a whole, worthy human being, rich in the capacity to enjoy life in your own ways.

If you are ready to start processing, please review our quick chart to see how you can access our therapeutic services from anywhere in Pennsylvania!

 

Keep Yourself Sane When Things Feel Crazy

 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed about recent events. There are a lot of really overwhelming, scary, and depressing things happening! What can you do to maintain your balance, stay grounded, and keep a sense of optimism?

Dr. Glenda Russell is a licensed psychologist and researcher in Colorado with whom I had the great fortune to work during my training in Michigan. In the short video below, she has some really important and reassuringly concrete things to say about moving forward during frightening times.

This clip is only five minutes long, but it can really help.

 

Did you find this message encouraging? I hope so, and I hope you have friends and loved ones to connect with!

If you need additional support dealing with symptoms of depression, PTSD, or anxiety from a qualified therapist, please review our quick chart to see how you can access our therapeutic services from anywhere in Pennsylvania!

You Are Already Worthy!

 

Calling yourself “lazy” or “unproductive” is usually an internalized message of shame from your formative years. The message is “If you would just ‘will’ yourself to do more, then you would be acceptable and worthy. Otherwise, you must just be a bad, unworthy person.”

The fact is, you are already acceptable and worthy, without doing anything to “earn” that worth. Now, you might feel better or happier if you were doing certain things, and they are certainly worth trying, to see if that is the case.

But feeling terrible about yourself is not a good motivator for anyone! In fact, it is likely to worsen your exhaustion, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and concentration, which will make it even harder to do whatever it is you would like to be doing.

If you are ready to start healing your self-worth, please review our quick chart to see how you can access our therapeutic services from anywhere in Pennsylvania!