Pressure

There are so many things going on right now.  I told someone that I would consider dating them, I have a lot of homework, my room is a mess, and my system is pretty upset with me right now.  I’m not self harming but I’m behind in a lot of areas.  I’m isolating.  I’m really dysphoric.

I’m feeling crushing pressure from a lot of directions and don’t really know how to combat it.

Advertisements

I Work in Mental Health.

I have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and I work in a mental health facility.

Before you begin to wonder strongly about mental health facilities’ hiring process, my superiors do not know that I have DID.  I have never been diagnosed, despite years of therapy, due to the stigma surrounding the disorder.  I am currently considering diagnosis due to the activism I could do after being diagnosed, however that’s a topic for another day.

In the United States, it is not required to disclose your mental health past when applying for a job.  In the end, it should not matter to my employers that I have DID–it should matter that I am in a place educationally and experience-wise to work effectively with clients in a mental health setting.  I wanted to go over the best and worst parts of having DID in a hospital-type setting, specifically working with individuals in the midst of crisis.

The best part of having DID and working in mental health is how easy it is to leave work at the door.  Dissociating often means that even if I am not fully switching, I am emotionally distant from the situations I am in.  Because of the emotional distance, I do not get overly involved or emotionally invested or distressed by my clients.  I am able to take each moment as it comes and not hold grudges or get overly frustrated.  With younger, more manipulative clients, the ability to be emotionally distant can be very helpful.  Another wonderful side-effect of having DID in the workplace is that I can empathise with a wide variety of clients.  My traumatic past, struggles with self-harm and constant need to stay grounded are things my clients often experience daily in their life in the ‘real world.’  Being able to empathise, even if it’s unspoken, allows me to approach them with the kindness and respect that they ultimately deserve.

The downside of living with DID and working in mental health is that my alters, who do not come out during my work-shifts, are often watching from afar.  Impressionable young alters pick up on stims, compulsions and other behavior that might be happening on the facility.  If I am physically assaulted–which does happen from time to time–many things could happen.  Handling the aftermath can be exhausting due to the process of trying to stay grounded while someone else is forcing their way out to try to keep me safe (despite the fact that I am safe already and there are many other staff members around to help me).  DID is a survival mechanism; oftentimes being touched without notice can become a huge ordeal, leading to intense bouts of panic, fear, and flashbacks.

In the end, it is important to remember that no one works in mental health unless they have personal experience in it.  Working in mental health is a calling, it’s not a job that people choose to take because it looks easy or pays well.  It’s often thankless, ridiculed, and scrutinized beyond belief.  It is not always fun work.  It is not always safe work.  It is not always rewarding work.  DID or not, working in a mental health facility can be an amazing and fresh look at the vulnerability and fragility of humans at their worst.  Everyone, no matter what their experiences outside of a facility, deserves the best care possible.  It’s important to remember that almost everyone deals with mental health struggles at some point in their life, and that there’s always a chance that the roles will be switched.

Living with Fear of Christianity

I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Just get over it.”  We’ve all seen the “Just do it!” clip, reminding each of us that it shouldn’t be THAT difficult to, well, just do it.  Unfortunately the clip is wrong.  Sometimes we reach a point where just doing it is impossible.

For me, the point of inability to get over things is Christianity.  I cannot handle anything of Christian origin.  Most of our culture finds Judeo religious beliefs to be fully acceptable, and because of this, it is difficult to simply stay away from the religion–especially when living in a strongly non-denominational, ex-fundamental household.

So far I don’t know how to “get over” a trigger like Christianity.  I risk switching as soon as I enter a church, so I find it easiest to skip it all together.  I avoid prayer and Christian music as much as possible.  Although I have respect for those who are strong in the Christian faith, it has cast a negative shadow on my life.  Basic coping strategies mixed with avoidance will have to be enough of a band-aid for the time being.

Scheduling Specifics #1: Ideas on Bringing a Routine to Work or School

Bringing a routine to life sounds like a good idea in theory but it’s a lot harder to actually do.  Below are a few ideas on bringing up the fact that you need a routine to your boss or professor—something that can be anxiety provoking and difficult to do.  If you have suggestions, as always, please leave them below or contact me!

  • The first thing I’ll say is that you don’t have to disclose that you have Dissociative Identity Disorder (or whatever other dissociative disorder you might have) to your employer or your professor. In many cases, individuals don’t get the help they need because they’re scared of disclosing anything that might help them gain that support.  Comorbid disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other more socially accepted mental health or even physical health problems can be used to explain why you need certain things, especially if you’re looking at getting special accommodations at school.
  • Restrict your availability at work. Even if you’re available from 9 am to 9 pm to work an hourly job, don’t tell the job you are available that whole time.  Instead tell them you’re available during your best or most aware hours during that time.  If you’re more mentally capable to work from 9 am to 12 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm, let them know that you’re available from 9 am to 12 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm.  You’ll get the hours you need still as long as you put enough days on your availability, and are willing to work shorter or more shifts in order to get a better routine.
  • Don’t be afraid of taking a consistent day to yourself during the week or the weekend. If you and your system needs time to regroup and take a mental health day during the week, don’t feel afraid to do so.  Instead of having to call in sick every other week, you’ll avoid burnout and have a predictable, expected day to work on homework, schedule appointments, or do other things that you want or need to do.

As I said, I’d love to hear how you handle scheduling and routine around work and school.  It’s an area that my system is really struggling with right now because we have so much going on during the day, almost every day.  Obviously our solutions won’t work for everyone, but hopefully they help someone figure out the massive task of keeping routine with a high-functioning system.

Pros and Cons on Working with DID

This week is a really good one to talk about the working with DID because it’s been a very difficult part of my experience with my system lately.  I’ve come across a problem recently that has involved dissociating strongly after a certain time of night, whether I’m at work or not.  It’s something I’m currently trying to ‘fix’ to some degree so I don’t feel as out of sorts while working.  Working while completely zoned out or feeling vertigo or pushing others out of the way so you can stay in front is not an easy task.

I came up with a list of pros and cons to working with DID because it’s probably the best way to look at it.  Getting a job is the easy part; compiling a resume, or cover letter, and filling out applications is not a difficult thing to do.  Going to work—getting there on time, acting fairly similar, communicating enough that there is a shared understanding of what’s happening at work—is the hard part.  The obvious pros are as follows, followed by cons.

Pros to working with DID:

  • Having a job, and being able to support yourself or at least have a little extra spending money if you’re currently living with someone else.
  • Getting your mind off of outside situations by focusing on work—not sure if anyone else does this, but I can get hyper-focused or obsessed with certain things. Because of my nature, I have to be careful not to become a workaholic (especially since I’m a student and work two jobs), but it does feel nice to be able to focus on my job and not worry about outside life for a while.
  • It shows you and your system that you can do something important, whether it’s anything from customer service to IT.
  • It can decrease anxiety because you don’t need to worry about what you might be doing if you lose time at work. When you’re at work, your system knows it has to follow a certain set of rules in order to help you keep safe.

Cons to working with DID:

  • Someone might find out you have DID. I’ve heard numerous ‘multiple personality’ jokes around the workplace in the past months, increasing with the movie Split (movie review to come at some point!).  It’s hard to listen to jokes like that without speaking up and reminding people that other individuals might have systems, and that they aren’t cold blooded murderers or act five years old constantly.
  • Jokes, lost time or triggering situations in the workplace can become very difficult for systems. Increased anxiety can happen because of the work environment—if this is the case, it might be good to evaluate if you’re working in the right position.
  • Dissociating during work. This is the one that I’m currently dealing with, as I said above.  I’m not often actually switching but I’m severely ‘zoning out’ and the only thing that I’ve found to help is to lay down and let myself sort of dissociate completely for a while (basically take a ten minute nap where no one is out).  I can’t do that at work so I have to power through the haze until I can clock out.  If this is happening to you, it might be worth disclosing certain important parts of what’s going on to your superior so they can help you find a better work schedule or tell you if you can step out for a while if you need to.

I hope that my thoughts on working with DID are helpful to someone, if they are I’d love to know.  If you have any other pros or cons to ad, I’d really like to hear them.  Stay safe and have a good day!