The Bumpy Path of Healing

The past several months have been incredibly difficult and very humbling. With the work I have done around the country, in writing my book and writing this blog, I thought I was past the pain. I thought I could always take the broad view. I became complacent, thinking I'd never do anything to hurt myself.

A Girl's Best Friend: Dogs and DID

A psychiatric service dog can help interrupt dissociation, help a person remember to take medication, retrieve objects, guide her from stressful situations such as crowded areas, even physically brace her if she becomes dizzy, lightheaded or dissociative.

The Power of Culture

Without knowing, Popi created for me a hierarchy of values that helped me to survive the terror he inflicted on his family in the name of culture and in the name of respect.

An Infinite Mind

It was a magical experience to be around people who understood the pain and the power of living with DID.

My Dog Griffin: The Antidote

He is the first dog that I have allowed myself to love since I was a little girl.

Good Reads on Healing, Trauma & Dissociation

The novel tells the story of Little Miss So-and-So. The prose poetry's rhythmic quality felt intimately familiar. I found myself captivated by the main character, surprised to find such a perfect illustration of dissociative identity disorder (DID) from the inside out. Chris' words clearly captured what it felt like in my head to be divided.

Dieting and DID

I've talked with other survivors of child sexual assault about how hard it is to eat well. Since many of us were "rewarded" with food after we were abused, we were conditioned to crave a "treat" after getting through something very difficult.

It Gets Better

Each time I come out of the darkness I revel once again in the light and my newfound strength. I have overcome it and when it comes again, I will ride that out, too. In the meantime, I enjoy the peace of feeling happy, sane and stable.

Getting Through Sexual Abuse Scandals and Depression

The child sexual abuse scandals at Penn State and Syracuse University can be hard to hear for anyone. For those, like me, who have been sexually abused by people we trusted it can have a profound impact. It may remind us of our own abuse, bring up flashbacks, nightmares, grief and mourning. Depression is usually where I end up.

The Bumpy Path of Healing

The past several months have been incredibly difficult and very humbling. With the work I have done around the country, in writing my book and writing this blog, I thought I was past the pain. I thought I could always take the broad view. I became complacent, thinking I'd never do anything to hurt myself.

My Divided Mind

When my mind was divided it was organized like a house with many rooms. Some rooms were created to hold unbearable memories, to keep them away from my consciousness. It wasn't until I started healing and integrating that I understood how different it felt to be a person with a divided consciousness rather than a person with a whole sense of consciousness.

A Matter of Faith

I stared up at the painting of God on the ceiling searched his eyes. "Was he a kind God?" I needed to believe he was. I had been told He had a plan for each person and only bad people had bad things happen to them. I followed all the rules. I was good. "How could there be a god if this all happened to me?"

The Sum Of My Parts - A Memoir

I felt lost and scared without Doña Graciela and thought about her all the time. I knew her schedule very well and imagined myself in her house, just through the wall, holding her hand as we went down the steep basement stairs. I worried that, without me, she would fall and no one would be home for hours to help her. I worried that she would burn herself while ironing.

The Sum Of My Parts - A Memoir

I heard Doña Graciela tell my father "I can hear you through the walls," she scolded. "You know better. Your role as the man of the house is to protect and provide for your family, not to beat and scare them." She appealed to his faith: "God will forgive you, Alejandro, if you stop and repent for your sins."

The Sum Of My Parts - A Memoir

My divided mind was starting to look like a house with rooms that had enclosed the memory of my father's attack so I could get up, get out of bed, and spend the day with Doña Graciela.

The Sum Of My Parts - A Memoir

My mind was like a house with different rooms to hold different aspects of what I experienced. It kept the attack away from my consciousness so that the next day I could function. One room held the knowledge that my father raped me. Another, the physical pain. Others held the look on my mother's face and the panic I felt.

The Sum Of My Parts - A Memoir

Doña Graciela lived next door and took care of me while my mom worked. I loved my days with her. She hugged me all the time. She made me feel good and capable. She helped me become who I am today. Read about how she helped build resilience in me.

The Sum of My Parts, A Memoir

"My mom spoke to me in Spanish, the only language I knew at that age. 'Olguita, I found a job and I won't be home to care for you during the week.' A surge of fear and panic rushed through my body because I knew my father had forbidden her from working."

When a Loved One is a Survivor of Child Abuse: Part Two

Last week I described some of the ways that people helped me talk about what had happened to me as a child and by talking about it, begin the healing process. These people weren't clinicians, they just wanted to help me: people like my husband, friends and co-workers. Consider this a starting point to your discussion--not an ending point.

When a Loved One Is a Survivor of Sexual Abuse: Part One

We all know people who have survived child sexual abuse or rape. We often encourage survivors to speak about their experiences, but we might not think as much about how to be on the receiving end of the story. What should we say? How do we talk with a survivor in a way that helps him or her heal and feel okay about having told someone?

The six therapeutic tools I found most helpful

I marvel at the skill of the psychiatrist who helped me heal from Dissociative Identity Disorder. He used a number of creative strategies to help me learn what I needed to do and to help our working relationship. Because of his efforts, we clicked and our work was successful for me. Here are the tools I found most helpful

Dissociating is like watching your life from 50 feet off the ground

Anyone who has dissociated most of their life will have trouble recognizing that they are dissociating. It becomes a way of being. For me it was an automatic response. I couldn't stop and I wasn't sure I wanted to. I liked feeling numb and calm. When I was dissociating I felt no fear, no terror, no pain... and no joy or happiness. It was addictive.

DID Starts with Dissociation

See the deep stare in my eyes - that's dissociation.

The Unraveling: DID and Me

My DID was developed by the time I was three years old.