I was in counseling for several years before my counselor reluctantly supplied a diagnosis. I wondered for a long time about this. My boss at the time, demanded I give an explanation as to why ‘medically,’ I blanked out sometimes. All my previous bosses accepted the statement that at times I stopped functioning and it was best for everyone for me to go home. This boss was looking for a reason to fire me. Instead, he got caught squarely in the middle of a disability act situation. When I read what my counselor wrote, I read it 10 times trying to wrap my mind what was written, PTSD with dissociation at a severe level. I was a dumpy middle age woman that happened to be really good at computers. PTSD label seemed out of step. Interesting now that I looked back at the situation my difficult boss backed way off from me. It was one of my first experiences of someone treating my very differently after learning I had a label, a big scary label that most people associated with soldiers. I didn’t fit the image. I disappeared rather than confront. I looked calm….very, very calm. I didn’t drink, use drugs, or other recognized escape routes. I just disappeared. My counselor called it my “little luxury.” Took me quite a while to accept that my ‘disappearing’ did more damage than good. Like some of the drug commercials on TV, the list of known side affects is almost worse than the disease itself. I learned to ‘disappear’ when I was 5 years old. It was a powerful tool. Way bigger than what most 5 year old children need to cope. I had big problems at that tender age. I kept using the same thing over and over. I became more and more proficient at ‘disappearing.’ I organized my life to keep my separate worlds from clashing. Occasionally, they still collided but I learned and got better at hiding. Then all I knew to do was hide….and I had no where to hide at…..I just disappeared into my mind…..my children watched it happen not understanding what was wrong and why couldn’t mommy take care of them. My “little luxury” nearly destroyed me. Fortunately, I worked with a counselor that understood the necessity of giving me a better tool box with more tools than one. The ‘little luxury’ was given a label too, dissociation. The tool box included many many new items, rights and accountability, taking back my power, setting boundaries, expressing what I need in an “I” statement, and many more tools that worked differently at different times. I learned the value of staying connected to my emotions and how they could help me if I sat with them. Build a better tool box to give myself options that I never dreamed possible.
For another perspective on this theme check out Scott Williams. http://scott-williams.ca/2015/06/06/hammer-meet-nail/