LB Lee (lb_lee) wrote,
LB Lee
lb_lee

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When Healthy Multis Aren't Healthy

Being certified DID is WEIRD.

I was brought up in the "healthy multiplicity" community online, which basically argues that being multiple is not necessarily a mental illness. Which was a godsend to us when we were young and had "only" undergone the Raping Year--by DID trauma terms, that's nothing. We didn't feel traumatized enough for DID, and our memory seemed pretty contiguous, and "healthy multiplicity" gave us an alternative, allowing us to identify ourselves as multi without the huge therapeutic baggage associated with it.

A lot of our early comics and zines reflect this, FTMPD in particular. Within our tiny subculture, we became decently known for our viewpoint on multiplicity, on being an "example." God help me, there were people who saw us as someone worthy of looking up to.

And then the Bad Years happened.

Now we're certified DID, our memory has been exposed as not nearly as contiguous as we thought it was, and I'm no longer healthy. I don't know if I ever will be again. Sneak finally started counting and paying respects to our dead, and suddenly, we realized that no, our multi was EXACTLY like that shit in the books and manuals. We're no longer that healthy multiple that kids look up to, the one with the good job and a respectable life. We're disabled. And I am working at not being ashamed at that, because you know, sometimes that happens, but sometimes I'm still so ANGRY about it.

First, there's the personal side. I used to be PROUD of being multi. That's what our icon says, doesn't it? "Queer, trans, multi, proud!" But now that I've been through the Bad Years, and now that I know what my brain is willing to do to me in the interests of survival, I can't be proud of it. My brain is totally okay with editing my memory and free will if it keeps us alive, and apparently I'm more durable than other people here. Which means if the Bad Years come again, I will be the one charged to endure it, because I'm the most likely NOT to die.

Not a very comforting thought, is it?

And then there's the political side, which shouldn't have such a sway over me, but does. For years, I argued for healthy multiplicity, for multiplicity as a point of pride. How can I do that when I can't be proud of my own multiplicity, when I'm not healthy? When I may NEVER be healthy, and when pursuing that ideal of health might cause us major damage?

Although I still write, and make educational comics, and do plenty of things, I still feel like I've lost a chunk of what gave my life direction, and it gets me pretty angry. I no longer feel like I can be a part of the healthy multiplicity community, but I've spent too much time in it to be comfortable with the DID community. There's a lot of baggage with DID that I'm still not a big fan of, and I don't like a lot of the little tin gods that helped form a lot of the popular concepts of multiplicity. I am very critical about it and the mental health system in a lot of ways.

So basically, I've been at a crossroads for a while, and it's been really honking me off. I'm still not quite sure what to do with it.

At least I'm in a good enough condition to HAVE these kinds of problems again. At least my brain's allowing me to even be cognizant of them. There's that to be proud of, at least.

--Rogan
Tags: multi geekdom, philosophical claptrap, progress
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  • 29 comments
ach. I don't think I can say anything particularly helpful - I wish I could. Empathy.

I just read FTMPD. Whew!

(tech note: "Click the page to go to the next one" doesn't work on FTMPD: Pg. 3-4, which links to itself. Also, the title that displays in the browser is "FTMPD: Pg. 5-6".)
Son of a bitch, I thought I fixed that. *goes to repair* Thanks for letting me know! Due to the crappy site repair, it'll probably take half the day to show up, but it should be fixed.

And it's okay. Some things, I feel, can only be fixed with time, introspection, and growth.

--Rogan
(Sorry if this sounds weird or disjointed. I'm still groggy from a migraine and chugging some seroquel so I could sleep)

I never liked the term "healthy multiplicity", mostly because of the "healthy" part. I'll come right out and say that those of us with mental illnesses will never be "healthy" for as long as we're suffering from them, at least not by normal people standards. What we can manage is functioning. We can be healthy in our own parameters.

There's no such thing as "healthy bipolar". Bipolar is an illness, and that's that. It needs to be managed and, in most cases, medicated. But that doesn't mean that I have to hate every little thing about it. I don't. I have a perspecitve on the world that neurotypicals don't get, and there are arguments to be made that people like me enrich society. I'm pretty sure that the same thing goes for people with DID. And the good thing is, that perspective doesn't go away because I'm medicated and (for the most part) functioning.

IDK about how things roll in the healthy multi community, but do you really have to be perfect to be part of it? Do you have to achieve the same things a non-multi does to get your healthy multi badge? Because tbh I think that's just setting yourself up for failure. Besides, most normal people don't achieve this whole good job, always happy, dreamboat perfect life either. And then break down because of it, because our society is sick and twisted and puts people under unrealistic pressure.

I think you can be proud of yourself, and your brain. You're still here. Yeah, that's an achievement badge for lots of crazy people, and I refuse to hand that back just because staying alive is easy for the mentally healthy. They haven't been through the same shit I have. They haven't had their thoughts twisted until death seems like the only viable option to get out of hell.

So your brain has done some shifty things to keep you alive. IMHO, that's a good thing. Don't hate on yourself for that. The alternative is being dead. Better alive and without some memories and the occasional lapse of free will than dead.

I think it's a good thing that you can no longer see yourself as a role model or the poster child for healthy multiplicity, because that's some pretty high standards to hold yourself to. You're a person, not an ideal. And you can still advocate for being healthy while managing your DID. You can still point out the good things about being DID, like having a family right there in your head.

Also, you're totally entitled to change your POV on things, and fuck whoever thinks you're a class traitor for doing so. IMO, changing your POV now and then is a good thing. Only politicians and fanatics hold on to a certain POV even when presented with evidence to the contrary.
Personally, I do believe my own bipolar is healthy. I see it from a radical mental health and neurodiversity perspective, for sure.

But that certainly doesn't mean EVERY bipolar has to see it this way. And it isn't always healthy...but sometimes it is.

I respect your perspective, but just pointing out that it isn't true for every bipolar.

My radical mental health/neurodiversity blog: http://cheshirekit.wordpress.com

,

freetobeme18

3 years ago

Re: ,

fireez

3 years ago

Re: ,

freetobeme18

3 years ago

freetobeme18

April 21 2014, 14:36:10 UTC 3 years ago Edited:  April 21 2014, 15:24:57 UTC

*hugs*

I understand your anger, I can empathize with that. And you have every right to feel the way you do about this. Identity and belief shifts are often really confusing and frustrating.

But I also don't think you HAVE to only be part of one community, or even any at all.

Like, I draw some influences form radical mental health and Icarus, some from neurodiversity and ASAN, some from Paganism, and some from mainstream Western psychiatry/psychology. These are all very different influences, but in my own head, I've found a way for them all to make sense simultaneously. Sure, I'm not exactly the same as anyone else in any of these communities. But that's ok. Most people I've found, actually, do draw influence from a variety of different experiences in life, rather than fitting perfectly into a single group or movement.

I'm glad you're being honest about this. First of all, considering your history and position within the healthy multiplicity community, that's very brave of you. And I also think, from personal experience, as difficult as it may be right now, that processing all this will ultimately bring you some semblance of clarity (even if what you ultimately decide upon is nothing like where you started. That's ok, too...really.)

Personally, if you've read anything of my soulbonding and plurality filter here on LJ (which...I'm honestly not sure if you have or not?), you'd know that I have my own history of multiplicity as well that is somewhere in between "headmates/soulbonding" and "textbook DID". You'd also know that in my case, it was DEFINITELY trauma-based... in fact, my headmates only ever really show up at all when I'm actively being traumatized at that very moment. x.x I know this is obviously not the case for you, as you're always multiple, or other systems we know. But I just wanted to point out that you're not the ONLY one who simultaneously believes that multiplicity CAN be healthy, and that it isn't necessarily ALWAYS so. For me, it's a warning sign... one I must listen to and learn from, and if I do these things it will ultimately help me grow and prevent such trauma (to the best of my ability) in the future, but a warning sign nonetheless.

In fact... we seem to be on the same wavelength yet again, as I was just about to post an entry to ye olde multiplicity filter for the first time in like a year or so. Stay tuned! ;-)
Hmmm, if you haven't posted anything on it in a year, I'm really not sure if I have or not. I knew ABOUT it a little, from what you've told me in person, but I'm not sure I remember anything about it online.

Obviously I can read your mind. MAGICAL MULTI.

--Rogan

freetobeme18

3 years ago

I don't have much to contribute, but thank you for sharing. The comic in particular gave me a lot to think about. I have to admit I was surprised at some of what I learned because it's so far outside my frame of reference, but that makes it all the more valuable for me. Obviously this isn't about me, but I thought maybe it would help that you're helping to educate people like me who know very little outside the neurotypical mainstream.
No problem! Feel free to check out our other comics; we've done a good few of them for the specific purpose of education.

--Rogan

ljlee

3 years ago

Eh. We feel that you're still a good name to follow even if you aren't strictly the traditional healthy/functional/natural plurality model anymore.

We're of the opinion that diagnosis and struggling isn't mutually exclusive to the healthy/natural/functional community either, even though the older crowd did kind of see it that way.

I'm not particularly fond of the use of healthy in that way either. We get that yeah, recovery is possible, but recovery in general doesn't exclude still having massive setbacks with the exact right triggers (got that reinforced for ourselves collectively last week).

Recovery model/"healthy"/"functional"/radical psychology/ex-patient/neurodiversity models sometimes seems a little like misnomers to us, even if the viewpoint is quite helpful.

We got into the old healthy plurality model a lot later than most systems, so we're more new-wave plural, which seems to be more in line with recovery psychology and doesn't seem to exclude the possibility of diagnosis or functioning deficits.

I generally tend to figure, if our collective understanding is that 70% functioning is perfect enough, then if I'm functioning somewhere around 10% (which is common for me at least when i'm around), then i'm at least going somewhere; maybe it's kind-of crap compared to that collective ideal 70% but i'm still here and that's progress enough for me.

- Nico, on behalf of Dreamers with a couple other folks inputting past-data into this reply
Yeah, and as I'm getting more into disability activism and such, that's becoming really clear to me. As far as identity changes go, this one isn't that extreme, but it's still rather infuriating.

I guess I'm trying to balance the neurodiversity model with my own deficits and setbacks. It's a complicated, frustrating little thing.

--Rogan
It's difficult to feel healthy in a society that determines "health" and "success" based on one's career, monetary worth, relationship status and to a large degree looks - all things that can and do change over the course of a lifetime. Also there is no room for being multi and healthy/successful in mainstream (non-multi) society hence it's difficult to feel good about yourself and your system and to have pride. What society views as respectable is something I do not agree with, but for a long time A has felt the way you do. Through therapy and just us working on those issues she is feeling a bit better about herself and about our system. I personally don't get into all the labels in the multi community, so DID/MPD/pluralism/ whatever doesn't carry a lot of weight with me. I think in any community that is outside of non-*insert whatever label* mainstream society people get too caught up in labels and placing themselves in nice little neat boxes, we were never a fan of this. You can be a success and have a respectable life even on disability, if you need help at this time, you need help there is nothing to be ashamed of, again people throughout their lifetimes will need help at one point or another - it's not as cut and dry as society would lead you to believe. Showing a weakness or needing/asking for help is a part of life. If you like you can PM me, I have been working with our therapist and with A on the same issues you mentioned in this post.
Yeah, I'm working on it, just workaholism dies hard, and part of me is still furious that I can't do the things I used to, even if really, I should just be glad I'm still not dead.

I'm trying to use disability as a springboard to do the projects I've always wanted to, it's just aaaaaaargh.

(PS: Sneak is ready to take on your commission now! You should send us a PM with a brief description of all the system members you want covered by your logo; I know about you and A, but hasn't there been at least one or two other folks floating in and out?)

--Rogan
I want to clarify something about what we think a "healthy multiple" is.

Being healthy in this sense is not about whether you have memory continuity or a job. Or whether you are or are not in therapy or on medication. It is not about how you got to be multiple. Plenty of trauma-split groups are doing well, look at Truddi Chase&. It's not about never having problems or troubles in life; it's about what you do about them when you have them.

Healthy multiplicity is about choices. Your choices will not be the same as the next group's yet both of you may be "healthy multiples". If you have issues (abuse-related or not) for which you need to be in therapy, then it's healthy for you to be in it.

We've been in counseling off and on for several years, first with a counselor we didn't disclose to and now with a professional who knows about us. We actually asked the late Lynn Wasnak for the names of ones in our area who would be understanding that this is how we are, and wouldn't go all "omg u must integraet ~~~1". Our choice to do this was healthy given our circumstances. But we have had to accept that we have probably been diagnosed with DID just because they have to put something on the record, even though we have no insurance. That's what it is officially, which is why we continue to work for change.

As a group you seem to us to be quite mature and self-aware (I don't mean aware of the others, I mean in terms of insight and self-understanding). You've been in some tough spots, but you've also come out of them. You're in contact with reality. You have plans for the future, you have an occupation, you're artists who have created (among other things) stories exploring and explaining yourselves to yourselves and others. I think you guys are someones who set a good example.
Yes, I agree with this :-)

Anonymous

April 22 2014, 15:22:17 UTC 3 years ago

Oookay, sorry for the out of the blue comment from someone you've never actually talked to, haha. I actually pay attention to your tumblr and your writeathons here without actually watching/friending/whatever anywhere because then you might notice me. I'm THAT socially awkward. I'm still not even using my actual livejournal account so people can't click on me. Yeaaaahhh.

But as someone who discovered the whole multi thing through you guys (and thus finally stopped shoving out and trying to kill off my headmates because they were crazy ~delusions~, so thanks for that), I just want to tell you that I think you're STILL someone to look up to. Seriously.

I don't mean to sound really dismissive of serious concerns and health issues, but in general, hardly ANYONE meets the standard of "perfect productive and healthy human" that you seem like you're still trying to hold yourself to. I don't have a single friend that doesn't have severe depression or anxiety disorders or bipolar or eating disorders or whatever else, often more than one of those at once. Even people that look "perfect" often have things going on in the background or at home that they just don't let other people see because it would ruin their ~healthy~ image.

I don't know more about your current situation than whatever you've said publicly (because, again, super awkward), but it seems to me that ANYONE would have had a breakdown under those circumstances. That your brain picked the multi stuff to cope and stay alive doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad or a disease in itself, just that that's what ended up being how you got through it. Does that mean it was fun and happy sparkly sunshine? Nope, doesn't sound like it. But everyone has breakdowns and copes in different ways, and I don't think this being what ended up happening makes you a ~bad multi~ or something. I mean, maybe tmi, but when I get extremely stressed or upset I literally start beating myself up to get it out, and at least it stops me from yelling or hitting anyone else. That doesn't mean it's good, but because it doesn't involve the multi stuff I'm probably still considered ~healthy~. How much sense does that make?

Honestly, to pull back a little from the big issue, "disabled under extremely stressful circumstances" is a pretty common experience. No one should force you to feel like you have to be PROUD of it, but I hope you can avoid feeling ashamed. It happens, and it's okay.

I feel like the "healthy" multiplicity label is way too much pressure. It seems to me like the main point should be that this is a thing that happens to some people which doesn't necessarily need to be "cured" back into being one person, not that multi people need to be perfect examples of health or never ever need help with it or else they're a terrible bad example and not like ~the rest of us~, we're soooo healthy and thus more socially acceptable~~.

I guess the entire point is that I want to reassure you that some anonymous creeper here still looks up to you guys. You've made it through a lot, and I don't think survival, however painful it was, made you into a bad example that can never be proud again. You made it, and that's something to be proud of.
Sneak/Miranda: Aw, sweet anon, you can unanon if you like! We no bite!

Rogan: You make some valid points. And yeah, I'm kinda worn out from the effort of being socially acceptable, I really don't have much intention of going back into that morass.