Dirty word of the day: Integration

I know this will be a controversial post for some people. Many medical professionals do not agree with my views… which is fine because I do not agree with  theirs. 😉 Joking aside, many doctors, therapists, and even some people within the dissociative identity disorder (DID) community feel that integration is the holy grail of healing persons from DID.
To me? Integration is a dirty word.

If you have not read this blog before, I call my “alters”, my Helpers. Hence the name of the blog. 😉

Even now while writing this, I can feel my inner world starting to freak out. Anxiety, worry, a wish to run away, feeling overwhelmed, getting angry… that is what my Helpers deal with every time this word is said. I feel it too. Big time. I feel totally in control today and I am always out front when writing but I can still feel the weight of inner feelings especially when they are shaken up.

I can not speak for everyone else out there but I can speak for myself and I will express how I personally feel about the issue of integration. If you disagree, I’d love for you to write a blog on it and forward it on to me. I’d love to read other opinions. 🙂

Having DID is not easy. Every situation that happens garners my own emotions but then the Helpers step in with theirs as well. Have you ever been at a big get-together and try to get everyone to stop and listen to you? Can you imagine trying to come to agreements about certain important issues? There will be as many opinions as their are people. DID is a lot like that every day.
That said? Some of the same people who may drive you batty would also rush to your aid if you suddenly collapsed or started having real troubles coping. DID is a lot like that too.

I believe that my Helpers started coming in to existence between the ages of 2 and 4. I know for sure there were several there when I was 4 and 5 but I have a feeling they were there earlier. For me? I’ve never had a life without my Helpers in it. For the purpose of this blog, I will set aside all the confusion and thinking I saw dead people and just discuss my view since being properly diagnosed.

As much as life with DID can get hectic, I am never bored and never lonely. I have company at all times and honestly? I am not sure I’d enjoy life so much without it. I was once on medication that made them almost silent (and made me a zombie) and that was a very sad and lonely time for me. I am also ALWAYS full of ideas for new things and ways to use things that I myself may have never thought of.

I also have a huge issue with integrating these people whom I have come to view as such a big part of my life. Who do I get rid of first? Little “Hannah Banana”? My ever faithful sidekick Rielyn? Old man Oscar? Tilly who helped me birth a baby when I was too young to mentally handle it on my own? I am sorry but full integration is never going to happen because each of these Helpers are important to me as individuals.

I am also very aware that each of them is a part of me. A very compartmentalized part of me but still essentially “me”. While it would be all neat and tidy to roll the Helpers and I in to one person, I honestly feel I would end up completely overwhelmed. At least right now there is separation between all these opinions and emotions.

So what do I want? What do I feel is healthy?
Teamwork.
Rather than working on getting each Helper to integrate, I spend that time trying to work out the kinks in our relationships and certain actions. I will use Jenna as an example. She was always having issues with self harm and quite often these “events” were incredibly scary. I still have many scars. Trying to integrate her causes panic, more dissociation and more self harm. Working out a deal between us was FAR more productive. Jenna admitted in writing and through art that she often used self harm not only as a release but also in trying to fix old scars. A deal was made that if there was no self harm for 6 months, we would get a tattoo to cover one set of scars. 6 months later was another tattoo to cover more. Jenna LOVES her tattoo’s and I love them too. She found a new strength during a year of no self harming that she still possesses today. Integration made her run away and refuse help but making a deal with her stopped the harmful behavior and allowed me to take care of her.

One by one, we work out deals. We make rules that certain age groups MUST follow. No one under 18 drives. No one under 18 signs important documents. Only I (Heather) goes to therapy. If anyone has a concern, they can write it down and I will take care of it or help them with it. There are a few other rules that are for safety, friendship, being creative and so forth. These rules are enough for me to feel good about my team of Helpers.

There will always be mess ups, uncomfortable situations, missing time, forgotten occasions and other issues that persons with DID have but would full integration solve all of these issues? And what about all the PTSD triggers they help me through? How often I would have fled out of a movie theater, ran my car off the road at a fright, been unable to function at social events before I was able to stay more present? My life would have been far worse. I am sure of it. My Helpers came in to being for excellent reasons and I do not wish to thank them by making them null and void.  Also, I am aware of 34 Helpers… integration could or would take FOREVER. I’d rather live my life with my team. They help me and I help them. For me personally? That is enough.

Helpers

Rules

14 responses to “Dirty word of the day: Integration

  1. Hi Heather,

    you are not alone in your views on integration or the anxiety those in your group have. Since you asked for links, here’s an old one with another one in it as I’ve tried to deal with this subject. Good luck!

    https://samruck2.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/an-experts-opinion-about-integration/

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    • Awesome Sam! Thank you! It is nice to hear from you again. 🙂

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      • Yeah, sorry I’ve been absent…it’s been a struggle getting the latest girl into the family…still struggling with it and all the disruption that process has been to all the other girls…In reality she’s only been with us 9 months and has made great progress…it’s just hard that every time we think we are finally, permanently moving forward, another girl joins the family and I have to restart the attachment process.
        Take care, Heather.

        Sam

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  2. I agree with you. Teamwork is the better option. I don’t want to say goodbye to any of my crew either. This has become especially clear since talking with you about it. 🙂

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  3. I had no idea that was what integration meant! I think i would find it similarly offensive if i were in your shoes. I think, to a certain degree we all own our own mental health, and sometimes we know instinctively what is right for us. I realize that there are exceptions to that thinking, but man, taking what i know about you. .. many would see DID as dysfunctional or something to be fixed, or “integrated”, i guess. .. but to me, i see a person whose mind, body, and spirit stepped in to save you from the impossible situations you had to face. To me, that is amazing, a super power, am awesome extra skill you have. Not poor mental health but EXTRA mental health. .. because you were able to do what you needed to fucking survive! And yeah, i would find it equally appalling, were i in your shoes, to be told that the pathway to health was to undo all that. Especially when you have found your own way to function. Who is to say it is wrong? I say fuck those guys. You be you. ALL of you!

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    • You are just great! Thank you for your very passionate reply. I appreciate you understanding how it feels to me. I am not saying that my path is for everyone but for me? This is what works. I like that you called it a superpower. I may use that in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s so interesting! I don’t have DID but I have struggled (and continue to struggle) with dissociation, and feel like I am often trying to gather up my scattered pieces and hold them together. So when therapists have encouraged me to try to look at pieces of myself separately (“Let’s just take these pieces apart and try to look at them one by one” for example, or “Imagine your grief is apart from you and you can look at it from the outside”), I get really upset. Integration is what I am striving for, and to have someone misunderstand so completely, and act as if I am “doing it wrong” when I won’t comply with THEIR view of how I should be handling things, it is very upsetting. I am trying hard to NOT be separate, and resent the push to “dismember” myself (my word, obvs, not the therapists’, haha!). So I know what you mean. I think we all have an instinct toward health, and we often really do know what will work best for us, under all the layers of crap we’ve learned. It’s inspiring how you are holding on to what you know will work best for you right now. Thanks for sharing this.

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    • When trying to be more whole or integrated, it is really important to look at each piece separately. The part I think therapists do not pay enough attention to is getting that piece back together after you looked at it. I like to explain it by using fruit. LOL
      If you go to the grocery store to buy pears, you look at each pear separately. You pick it up, look at its colour, see if it has bruises or yucky bumps. If it is good, you put it in to your bag. If it isn’t, you place it back on the shelf with all the other pears. Only the best you can find go home with you.
      Looking at your parts is much like this. Take a good look. Keep what feels right and is good for you then put the rest back on the shelf and leave them there.
      As for looking at grief from outside you? That is weirdly worded. I often try to see my grief (or whatever issue) from my own eyes but look at the situation as “How woudl I react if this was someone else?”. Usually I woudl be far more understanding and compassionate with someone else. I try to use that bit of input to tret myself more gently.
      What do you feel in your gut about how I have explained it?

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      • I really like your fruit analogy. The way it was always explained to me (or, to be fair, the way I always heard it) was that it was actually taking myself apart and laying out the pieces to look at. Or pulling separate aspects of myself away from each other to view them separately. But your fruit analogy makes me think more of looking at IDEAS about myself separately rather than actually taking MYSELF apart, if that makes sense. Like, when you look at pears, all the pears are still in a pile together. They are each viewed in the context of the other pears around them rather than being torn away from the context and viewed in isolation. And the pile of pears (the “me”) isn’t damaged / dismembered by looking at each pear as an individual item. I will think more about this. Thank you for the very helpful analogy.

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  5. This is how I feel about it as well

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  6. This is my world with DID. We do the “family meetings “. We call it being co-conscious…aware of me, aware of them. We all work together. I was very fortunate to have a therapist and psychiatrist who agreed that integration was not for us. For us, it works.

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    • Amazing. Thank you so much for your comment! It has been really nice to learn there are others that feel as I do. I am working on becoming co-conscious. It takes a lot of time and effort at first. Do you have any thoughts on how to create or encourage co-consciousness?

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      • I think the family meetings have helped the most. It has a lot to do with setting boundaries, for both them and you.They understand, now that if they touch the keys or bills, we can’t go anywhere, because I can’t afford it, or I can’t lock the door, and I won’t leave the door unlocked. Making it where all the “insiders” understood just why the rules were in place helped. I’ve kept the rules as simple and as few as possible. Keeping it for the “big things” so that no one feels overwhelmed.

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