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The A-Z Blogging Challenge - H for Healing and Hiatuses

By Mia and Berlou


Healing hiatus

A break from the past’s pains pull

Moments of respite


Just over a week ago we thought we were doing pretty well with this challenge, we knew we would be failing in so far as we were not going to write 26 blog posts in April, but it was going ok, we were managing one every other day and we thought we could keep that up. 


Then some intrusive thoughts hit, quite graphic, abstract, and not practical thoughts about self-harm/suicide. They continued for a couple of days, and when we explored where they were coming from, we found it was a couple of our littles, and they were getting sick of us always thinking about or writing blog posts. 


We were also planning to write about healing for H, and we knew it was a big topic to tackle, and were trying to figure out how to narrow it down a bit. We could have focused just on our healing, and what’s worked for us, but given our little-driven hiatus, that gave us another H to work with.


Writing a blog post isn’t just writing a blog post and posting, for us, it’s days of ‘background thinking’ (the best way we can think to describe it), often it doesn’t feel like conscious thought even, just ideas swimming peripherally. Sometimes they get consciously examined, and occasionally a note might be made, but we seem to have the blog post as another open browser - and it adds to the many tabs open within our brain space.


Then we write, change direction, leave it alone and come back, edit, etc, etc… Then we post, and post links in social media. 


So then, we’ve done the blog post, we have the open tabs in our brain about social media, checking them might increase, checking our website stats and seeing how the post is doing, and considering the next one. 


We have no idea how people do things honestly, cause even this feels impossible for us at times. This is how far we got with our healing post before our enforced hiatus:


“Healing is a bitch. You think it’s going to actually make things better, and it does, but you’re also signing up for something that will take time, energy, and a lot of pain.”


Within this (already rambling) blog post, we’ll write a bit about our experiences with healing, and our experiences with hiatuses, and (hopefully succinctly, and quickly, we’re lucky the littles have permitted us to start this, god knows when it will be finished, it’s Monday morning now) bring those together and consider when and how we should take hiatuses from healing.


Healing 


Healing is a bitch. You think it’s going to actually make things better, and it does, but you’re also signing up for something that will take time, energy, and a lot of pain. When we have complex trauma and dissociated selves, we have so much boxed up that healing can feel impossible to navigate.


The definition of healing is short and sweet, “the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again”, and now we feel like we need to define ‘sound’, for ourselves: “in good condition; not damaged, injured, or diseased”.


So by healing, we’re undoing the damage, bringing ourselves back to “good condition”, without damage, injury, or disease… no wonder it’s so hard when we break it down like this. Even people without complex childhood trauma, which informed and impacted every second of their whole life, would find this difficult. But when we were ‘damaged’ at a young age, and then dissociated our ways through life to cope with the buried damage, there is so much to unpack and heal.


They say the only way to heal pain is through it, and unfortunately, we’ve found this to be true. Our healing mostly hasn’t been conscious, and we’ve often not known what we’re healing, but when there are intense and debilitating emotions radiating out from inside we assume and hope that’s what’s going on.


We’ve found healing needs to be approached from multiple directions. We need to heal so many layers and selves, and it’s so complex at times, it feels like a spiral. We keep crashing into the same pain over and over again, sometimes from different perspectives, sometimes from different times in our lives, sometimes it’s just a new level of pain unlocked that needs healing.


Healing requires a holistic approach - yep, the old ‘mind, body and soul’ situation. Many people with (and without) complex trauma are very aware of how much we hold within the body - the body really does keep the score - and for us, our healing began through physical modalities. 


Healing Physically


We’ve experienced throughout our healing journey just how physical trauma and healing is. There are many somatic therapies out there, many different approaches to the same conundrum - healing the physical when we live in a world of mind-body disconnect.


We aren’t going to get into the various somatic-based therapies there are, or the jargon, or so much more this post could be, because then it would turn into a book we’ll never finish! So we’re just going to talk briefly about the physical methods we have utilised for healing - MFR, yoga, and walking.


Myofascial Release 

Our system was revealed partly because of a mind-body therapy - it was when Amber was training in myofascial release (MFR) that she remembered Berlou’s trauma, and we don’t know if that would ever have made its way out of our subconscious and into our awareness if she hadn’t gone down that path.


We’d/she’d hoped that learning MFR would be life-changing, and it was in so many ways, we’re all here now living our life because she trusted her/our gut and did something so far out of our comfort zone that it had to be life-changing. 


We don’t practice anymore, and we haven’t received any for years, but we’re still connected to our body and try to stay present in it, feeling the feelings physically that can’t be translated into language.


We will say, before embarking on any kind of somatic healing, do your research, and be considerate about where you are in your healing journey, what you’re ready to find out, and if you have the right external environment to allow the time for the deep internal work. Amber had been working for years on her healing, was open to the energetic nature of self as well as the physical and mental, she was asking for answers, and they were provided in a very roundabout way. 


(Our book The revelation was named by Berwoo, and was a mix of a fun way to say ‘system reveal’ and because Amber knew her life was leading somewhere, she knew at some point the illusion would be shattered, she just had no idea how or why or when, she has even said “I thought God might speak to me, but also didn’t think that was likely”, so it was a revelation, with a little R, because I [Mia] said “It’s not exactly biblical”, lol.)


Yoga

We have been practicing yoga for about a decade, but it was when we were in our twenties and studying Psychology and Health Studies at University that we learnt about its benefits. Yoga doesn’t fix everything - like a cup of tea or a walk doesn’t, and honestly, that is frustrating. But we know we feel better when we do use it to connect with the body.


We didn’t practice for around six months recently, and the differences we felt physically were kind of extraordinary. We do keep stuff in our body, and when it wasn’t being moved around we could feel the stuckness within our joints, our chest, our shoulders and neck. Now we’re practicing most mornings, and life is still pretty crap, but at least we can breathe and aren’t feeling ourself getting more and more solidified physically. 


Yoga isn’t about being flexible, it’s about feeling the body, moving with the breath: it’s one of the few ways we’ve found that we can be mindful. Annoyingly even when we don’t want to do it, once we start we find that we are enjoying it, we might start by permitting ourselves to practice for 5 or 10 minutes, but once we get going we find we want to do longer.


As per the somatic work - we appreciate this isn’t for everyone and people need to find what works for themselves.


Walking

We know we’re lucky to live with a dog and live near places with trees and water we can take him every day. Everyone knows the benefits of walking, and there are so many, but again, they don’t fix everything, but it helps. 


For us, the routine helps. It did get hard recently after we moved away from the places we’ve been walking for ten years, but that has eased and we’re kind of used to our new home and location now. 


When we’re walking we listen to music - which also helps us a lot. And we try to be mindful, our phone is full of random pics, and taking that time to notice a pretty flower, or clouds, birds, interesting buildings, whatever, for us is a mindfulness that brings us into the present.


Of course, there are the physical benefits too, our bodies need movement and walking is one of the easiest and most accessible ways for us to get moving.


Healing mentally


It's not enough to just focus on the physical body though, sadly we need to get into our mind, explore our brains, pull out our memories that need healing, and try to improve our mental health as well... Some aspects to consider might be:


  1. Therapy: “Do you have a therapist?” is often the first question people ask when others are seeking advice online. Finding a trauma-informed therapist can be hard though, especially when we might have to battle for a diagnosis first, and finding a therapist or counsellor who aligns with one's values and needs is crucial. Resources such as online directories, referrals from trusted individuals, and community mental health centres can aid in this process. We aren’t going to get deeper into this here, we did quickly find a Carolyn Spring article that might be helpful though - “How to find a therapist for a dissociative disorder”.

  2. Self-care: As per healing our physical body, this is dependent on what works for you. For us, some of the things that help include: 

    1. Music - (both listening to and making) we often feel music and it helps us process emotions. We have regularly fixated on a song or album for days or weeks (occasionally months lol), we feel it over and over again, until one day we don’t. We don’t forget the feelings related to songs that we have had connections to though, and find it a nice tool to use to look back. 

    2. Writing - journaling is the obvious one, but there are other ways to write, and for us sharing is part of it. We sometimes feel that we can “write from the backseat”, and explore thoughts and feelings we might not be consciously aware of. Poetry is great for expressing feelings that there doesn’t feel like there’s accurate language for, we’ve written too many to count and still enjoy finding metaphors for feelings that we just can’t articulate. 

    3. Art/crafts - as per music and writing, art is a way we can express feelings we maybe couldn’t otherwise. It can also be a lovely mindful practice. 

    4. Nature - we’ve already mentioned our walks, but there really is magic to be found when we can appreciate the trees, or the birdsong, the flowers… The world continues to have so much beauty in it, despite all the pain, this can be so hard to see when we’re suffering, but it’s there.

    5. Pets and other animals/living things - Jason, our dog, has saved our life many times over, he’s given us purpose and meaning when we felt there was none, and makes us walk every day. We also enjoy feeding the birds in the garden, visiting a hangry goose and her duck friends, and have an ever-growing abundance of houseplants that we enjoy taking care of. 

  3. Mindfulness and awareness - being mindful can be incredibly hard when we have a dissociative disorder. Being consciously in the body might even be impossible for some selves. It’s ok to start small, being mindful while doing chores is one simple thing, or trying to be mindful while eating something - if even this feels too much for some selves that’s ok, it can be very hard. We can become more aware of ourselves and shifting emotions by noticing and feeling our body though.

  4. Building (more) resilience - strategies for building resilience can include: being open to change, growth and learning; cultivating supportive relationships; setting healthy boundaries, protecting our own mental well-being and honouring our own needs; and developing effective coping skills helping us to navigate stress and adversity. 


Healing mentally encompasses a multifaceted journey of self-discovery and self-care, and is so much greater than these few hundred words. Seeking therapy can be a pivotal step, engaging in self-care practices tailored to our individual preferences and needs can play a crucial role in promoting mental well-being. Noticing our negative patterns and working to undo years of limiting beliefs about ourselves can be incredibly hard, but we can do it with the right approaches and support in place. Ultimately, the path to mental healing is as diverse as the individuals who embark upon it.


Healing Spiritually


Personally, our spiritual journey has been interconnected with our mental health journey, and we’ll be exploring this deeper when we get to S. Finding spiritual healing and meaning for life is innately human, and when we have DID we might have some selves who feel themselves to be deeply spiritual. Embracing this aspect of self can be hard when we have been conditioned to value this physical reality above all else, but we can find solace, inspiration and comfort when we do embrace these aspects of being human.


Some considerations while exploring spiritual healing might be:


  1. Exploring belief systems - our belief systems and spiritual practices can provide sources of healing and meaning in our lives. By examining our own beliefs, we can allow self-discovery and introspection, finding comfort, hope, and a sense of connection to something greater than ourselves.

  2. Prayer and meditation - across various spiritual traditions, prayer, and meditation have been recognised for their transformative power. We might find solace, guidance, and inner peace through these practices, tapping into a deeper sense of spirituality and connection with the universe.

  3. Connection with nature - nature holds a special place in many spiritual philosophies. Spending time outdoors, engaging in eco-conscious behaviours, or embracing the beauty of the natural world can be rejuvenating and foster a sense of awe at all life.

  4. Mind-body-spirit connection - as we’ve been considering, healing is a holistic journey that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. Practices like yoga, tai chi, and energy healing modalities recognise the interconnectedness of these elements, addressing physical, emotional, and spiritual needs simultaneously to promote overall well-being and harmony.

  5. Finding meaning and purpose - in times of adversity and suffering, spirituality can provide a beacon of light, helping individuals find meaning and purpose amidst life's many challenges. Through spiritual practices and beliefs, we may discover guidance, support, and a sense of purpose that guides us on our healing journey.


Hiatuses: Navigating Breaks in the Healing Journey


It’s hard, because life doesn’t just stop when we start healing, and it hurts and can be debilitating. Taking hiatuses, breaks, from healing, can feel hard as we want to keep going, we want to keep healing. But healing is energy-consuming and exhausting - during the couple of years around our system reveal we lost over two stone (28lbs/12.7kg) in weight while sitting on the sofa, eating.


The process of finding and healing trauma is intense, and it’s ok to take a break from it. Some intersections between healing and hiatuses might be:


  1. Listening to our needs: Our recent intrusive thoughts showed us we needed a break, we could have ignored them and kept going, but that might have ended with us in a downward spiral we would find it harder to break out of. Things aren’t good now, but if we hadn’t taken that break we might well be battling serious suicidal thoughts at this point.

  2. Recognising limitations: Overwhelm and exhaustion go hand in hand with healing, it’s crap but this work is intense and breaks are necessary. Being aware of and balancing progression in our healing journeys and actually living now is important, changing plans and commitments is necessary if we need (or want) to.

  3. Reflecting on the healing journey so far: Healing is not linear, and it often requires periods of rest and reflection. Doing it all, fast, might seem like the best idea, but we also need time to reflect without the ongoing deep work. By embracing hiatuses as integral parts of our healing process, we can honour the complexity of our experiences and give ourselves the space needed to heal at our own pace. When we’re healing with DID, and selves are presenting with new traumas regularly, all need time to ‘just be’ and feel how far we’ve come. It might not feel like we’re getting anywhere, but by pausing and considering where we collectively were however many months or years ago, we can feel and honour the progress we’re making.

  4. Finding balance: Balancing the demands of daily life, with the need for self-care can be challenging. However, prioritising our well-being is essential for long-term healing and growth. By incorporating regular hiatuses into our healing and routine, we can maintain a sense of balance and help to prevent burnout.

  5. Returning with renewed energy: Just as walking and other self-care practices help replenish our energy and vitality, taking hiatuses allows us to recharge and return to our healing journey with renewed focus and perspective. It's okay to take breaks and prioritise our current mental health and well-being above everything else.


Healing isn't a destination, it's a life-long journey, and incorporating hiatuses into our healing is not a sign of weakness but rather a commitment to self-care and growth. By listening to our needs, recognising our limitations, and honouring the healing process, we can navigate hiatuses with compassion and resilience.


It’s now Wednesday lunchtime and we’re finally done, in case anyone wondered! We knew this would be big, and we wish it wasn’t so big but it could be so much more too, which is hard for us! Also, we don’t want to spend days editing... Hopefully, 'I' will be smaller… And now someone has just thought of the importance of play and relaxation in relation to healing... So that's 'P', we guess!


~ Mia and Berlou

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