Some questions from Frank et al and a few others...
How did you come about figuring out separating the members of The Crew; or figuring out how many there were?
The simple answer there is mapping. That's the term for it anyway. Early, early on, when I was still in the "Oh hell no" stage of acceptance, it was suggested we try to figure out who was there and why. I basically sat at the computer and tried to remember all the different times and places where i just knew I wasn't me. If that makes sense. From there I tried to figure out what triggered it and what was the purpose.
I continued using mapping for several years. As my knowledge of The Crew grew, the map changed. The more they shared about themselves, the better able we were to understand their function within the system.
While I did have help with the mapping, I mostly did it on my own. For all my confusion, I know my mind better than anyone outside it. The Crew helped in this.. but I did have the support of a doctor and therapist.
Do you think it's beneficial if we try this (providing it doesn't involve a white coat...)
The thing about the mapping worked for us because in getting to know them and what their purpose was, we had a better understanding of how to work together. Don't get me wrong, just knowing someone was there didn't suddenly make her part of the team. It took years to convince most of them that working together to heal was the best option. Some refused to acknowledge they weren't the only one. Others quite literally only existed in a moment of time, as if frozen in place... for them, the rest of us (inside and out) worked to free them from that place and bring them to the present. A lot of it was convincing everyone that life was no longer what it was then and it was safe to be in freedom.
I guess it depends on your goals. You are clearly able to function and go about day to day life (most multiples do... the idea of the non-functioning cluster-fuck is incorrect for the majority of us) When you begin exploring inside, stuff gets stirred up. If you don't have some solid support in your life, functioning through it all may get harder... much harder.
How did you come up with ages?
Initially it was gut feeling. So and so was in such and such an age range. As they began to communicate, they gave their ages themselves. Over the years, some of them aged along with me. Others, Like Reese and Stephanie, found an age they liked and stayed there. Stephanie never could see the point of aging past 18 if it meant the world would insist on adult attitudes and behavior. She liked being a teen, thank you very fucking much.
With a couple of the younger ones, we let them "choose" their age. Amelia was 5 when we first came to know her. She later jumped to 8 because that was "big girl" age and where she wanted to be.
For the ones we call "Inside Helpers", they were more or less ageless. They didn't need a number to define their function or abilities. In my mind's eye, Levia always reminded me a bit of a younger, less severe version of the matron in "The Secret Garden"... long, black dress... no nonsense... had a job to do and that was that. But I could never quite look close enough to guess an age... because it wasn't needed.
There are NO rules to DID beyond the criteria you find in the DSM-IV. Certain things have to fit to be considered DID but beyond that, every system is different. The beauty of DID is that you have created within yourself a way to function and survive things that would make others go batshit. It can be whatever you need it to be to get through.
What is the most significant thing you gained from separating/categorizing your personalities?
Less confusion. Plain and simple. It cut back on the chaos. It also made it possible to develop relationships with each other. We were no longer contentious neighbors, existing side by side with different goals and agendas that clashed and made life hell. It added to the stability and made working together a possibility.
Okay, now the stuff scribbled in my notebook last night...
Still on the subject of separating them... I really was fortunate to have both a doctor and a therapist who had lots of experience with DID. Even if it did take blackmail and near force to get me to see them. *sighs*
Some of the girls just were. They'd been around long enough to have developed into completely distinct beings with their own abilites, memories, likes, dislikes, etc... Others emerged as specific emotions or memories came up in treatment.
On the subject of existing together...
There were, at times, groups who were aware of things at the same time. They call this co-consciousness. Having that shared consciousness is a good thing. If we had complete amnesia every time there was a switch, I'd be missing more than 3/4 of my life... at least. Sure, there were times when I lost awareness but it was less and less as we got to know each other.
In my teens, Reese, Stephanie and I existed side by side, though I was not aware of it then. All I really understood was that I was sometimes a spectator in my own body. It wasn't until I accepted them as needed parts of me rather than enemies (and the same for them with me) that we would intentionally work together.
We ended up building sort of a sorority house inside. Everyone had their own rooms and the common room, or where we'd be when we were "out" was the kitchen. If you were in the kitchen, you could see and interact with the world outside my head.
On support systems...
Mine has been pretty erratic over the years. Charlie, being my only constant. These days, I have my immediate family but haven't seen the doctor in 18 months or more and the therapist since 2007 or so. My childhood family are all aware of the DID but I only ever really talked about it with my oldest brother (he passed away in 2007). I took the chance to talk to the rest of the family and while they accept and agree DID is the only thing that really makes sense, they remain guarded against things they would all prefer to leave firmly in the past.
The support in my life now comes from the incredible family of people I have come to know online. Some of these people have been with me since the month I first started blogging in '02. They walked with me through the whole journey.
When my husband was rushed to the hospital last month, my church family prayed and provided meals for the family... but it was through facebook that I had the support that kept me from crumbling in my what ifs and fear. Of my best and most trusted friends, the nearest one still lives some 500 miles away.
Something I wanted to clear up about The Crew's blog...
Only the entries that have italicized notes at the top were written before I restarted this process a couple of weeks ago. The period from 1998- June 2002 has been largely a blank to me. Going back to those early years and acknowledging them is, for me, part of laying the past to rest and completing this journey in recovery.
In your We Freak Out post, you wondered why I had so many and you so few and if you were normal.
DID isn't that simple. There really are no rules. It's your mind and it functions as you need it to. Having more or less personalities/alters/states of conciousness/blah blah doesn't make you or them more or less real. You are.
I've known people who continued to split well into adulthood. Chris Seizmore (of Three Faces of Eve) never had more than 3 at a time... but every few years, the three would "die" and three others would take their place. She's in her 70's or 80's now and still living as a trio.
I didn't want to live like that. I didn't want to be defined by my brokeness. I refused (once I knew I had the power to do so) to create someone new with every new overwhelming crisis. I could have. It would have been easy enough to excape myself that way... but I wanted to heal.
You are no more or less normal than anyone with DID. You are unique in who you are and in how you have dealt with the shit in life. That's okay. The few people I've met (and you'd be surprised how many) who fit some cookie cutter mold of DID were usually Munchausen by Internet. Their mental illness wasn't DID... it was their compulsive need to be interestingly
and attention grabbingly sick.
In other words, screw normal. You are the person and people you are because that's how you kept from going hopelessly insane when you were a kid. You utilized the most intelligent and creative coping mechanism there is. Yeah, it ain't exactly healthy or easy... but you've gotten this far because you were born with a special set of gifts that enabled you to grow up and not become a sociopath.
We are highly intelligent, creatively gifted and imaginative people. That's not normal, with or without the DID. So again, I say screw normal. I don't want it.
Hope this helps.