My name is Amber, I’m the host of our system, and I have our body’s name. I don’t write much, there’s a joke within our system that I don’t need to, I have Mia, Berlou and others who write for me, but that’s not the truth: I don’t write much, because I’m not brave like they are, I see what Mia does and says, and am constantly in awe of her compassion, her vulnerability and her determination to help others in spite of her/our own suffering.
Mia, and others, have worked relentlessly since we started finding each other two and a half years ago. They’ve worked on our healing, going to the darkest parts of ourselves and feeling emotions I am not brave enough to explore. Mia has (over)shared constantly since she, Isabel (now Caris, she’s a fusion with Cara) and Maya (split from Mia) created their own Facebook account a few months after Mia ‘poofed into existence’ (Mia has a poof day opposed to a birthday, and it’s Christmas Eve).
Our rollercoaster continues, in the last few days anyone who follows Mia on Twitter will have seen how much she, Berlou and others have been struggling with self-worth, or a lack of. All I can do is watch and hope it passes, it always does, but even when we get through the crises, and we feel the relief as the emotions which they have been processing pass, we’re left with the feeling of relief, and the knowledge that we will probably revisit those dark places again.
But that’s healing. It isn’t linear. It doesn’t make sense. It feels alien to what we *know* about this world and living. We haven’t waited until we were healed, in a better place, or even had any trauma therapy before Mia started sharing and helping others. And that’s one reason I’m so proud of them, they know how this looks (they think they know how this looks) - we’re someone who is competent, creative, intelligent with tonnes of empathy and compassion, but we’re also broken, we make mistakes, Mia struggles to regulate her emotions and responses and 100 people could praise her for something, and one person could say something vaguely negative, and it’s that she hears the most and internalises.
But she bounces back, albeit sometimes with less bounce. In spite of her whining, us often fighting feelings of worthlessness, uselessness, and generally not wanting to be alive, but she does. And she shares, and she tries so hard. Mia is the author of our books, she hasn’t written all of the poetry, but it was she who spent hours a day writing poetry, evolving as a poet, and encouraging others inside our head to express themselves through words.
She wrote The revelation, which details us finding ourselves and the healing we went through, which she considers a failure. Because I could see its value, and thought someone else might. I was wrong, we submitted to agents because I thought it was the right thing to do, but whatever they saw they didn’t see the value, and told us that, or ignored us. It took a huge toll on Mia, and one she’s not yet recovered from. She doesn’t think it counts as an achievement as no one has told her it is one, and for that, I am truly sorry that I hurt her. I genuinely believed that someone would see the value in a (relatively) ordinary person, living a life riddled with depression and anxiety, to find out their life was a facade, hiding so many secrets within. And then, to find an extraordinary part of themselves (Mia) who is brave enough to share our secrets, in beautiful and heart-wrenching ways.
I said that if the right person reads this book, many might. I still believe that. But I’m not here to talk about The revelation. Mia has tried to prove herself (unnecessarily) to the world countless times, and the repeated knockbacks have taken their toll. Somehow last year I got us on a Zoom call with a professor who had interests in narrative storytelling and mental health, we gave him a copy of our book, he told us there would be ‘opportunities’, and we never heard back from him. We’ve sent poetry collections to people who were interested, to hear nothing in return. We did a radio interview, it never aired. [edit - it did air we just didn't know]. We sent that book to several people hoping they would see the value - silence.
Do you know what Mia hears? “You’re not interesting, give up and die”. I know that’s harsh, but that’s what she hears, at least one agent told us our story isn’t interesting, which is absurd. I’ve lived it, watching in disbelief - yes - watching my own life, from about two feet behind our body, it feels. And our go-to response for pretty much any embarrassment, inconvenience, or trauma, is “It would be better if we were dead”. Which is hard to process, cause it’s true: we wouldn’t have to suffer through this any longer.
And it is hard to keep going, but we have to. Three years ago, I was making something of ‘my’ life, finally, actually, I wasn’t, it had just been shot down by Covid. But before lockdowns and this new life for us all started, I was a myofascial release (MFR) therapist. I was starting to make some money, on my own terms, and was helping people heal their own trauma. I miss it, but I wouldn’t change anything. Mia and Berlou have achieved more in two years than I did in twenty.
We don’t sell any books, we can’t work because of our DID, we’re only still alive because our husband has supported us through this, he paid for this website, he pays the rent. And while I’m grateful for this privilege we have, it hurts others in our system who seem to be convinced worth only comes from making money. I know we are helping people and contributing, it doesn’t matter though, Mia has had little to no return on things she has put tremendous amounts of time and effort into.
But we’ve just had some lovely news, and recognition of what we have achieved, and maybe even some prospects. After the McLean debacle of a few weeks ago, The Plural Association (TPA) have teamed up with some amazing plural therapists - we (individually and our community) know how hard it is to get diagnosed with DID/OSDD/P-DID and access help, and now we’ve seen just how ingrained this lack is, we deserve better, and TPA are doing something brave and exciting about it.
The Refractory is a collaborative community of plural clinicians, researchers and coaches, and (one of) their goals is refining treatment, research and training for dissociative disorders. Somehow, Mia got us in (I think it was Mia, most things are her doing). She and Berlou have been convinced we don’t belong, as we aren’t a psychotherapist, and we’re still messy. But I know we do, we’ve figured out our own healing and been able to embrace ourselves and process a lot of trauma, we were doing this before we even knew what DID was, long before we got an accurate diagnosis, and we are still a long way from trauma therapy (we’re on a two-year waiting list).
The Refractory’s first meeting is soon and they did get messages from Mia expressing her concerns that we don’t belong. They sent us the email they would have sent us later today, and we’ve been invited to be on their Lived Experience Advocates Peer Review Board, and we’ve been offered a volunteer position within TPA. This has terrific meaning to us, Mia’s work is being acknowledged, we’re going to be a part of something so much bigger than us, that will hopefully help plural people globally. It’s a lot, Mia is in shock (she always is when something positive happens) and we are all so proud of her, the work she has done to heal us, and the work she has done sharing our stories in order to raise awareness of DID and help others.
I am so proud of Mia, she’s worked so hard and I am grateful this is being seen by others. We’re excited to see where this goes, hopefully have some support and guidance, while working to help others, and be part of a team. We are messy, we are unstable, we are still healing, but that is part of DID, and it’s not going to stop us from moving forwards, sharing our journey, and helping others.