Welcome to another week.
In order to raise some awareness about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and how child abuse can trigger the condition, we are sharing a powerful poem which we think describes the condition with grace and serious artistic brilliance.
Dissociative Identity Disorder, or Multiple Personality Disorder, is described by the Mayo Clinic as a mental disorder which involves “experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. People with dissociative disorders escape reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.”
A person might experience DID as a reaction to trauma, in order to help block painful memories. It’s an incredibly sophisticated defense mechanism, but it is not without its challenges. Stressful events can make symptoms associated with DID worse, and it is not always the case that all of a person’s alter egos within DID are friendly or supportive.
Childhood trauma and child sexual abuse are routinely reported in patients with DID, as well as emotional abuse and intentional neglect.
Amber Estwick is a performance poet, and is the author of “Fragmented”, which explores the relationships between four alter egos who live inside the mind of a woman called Sarah. The poem’s themes include child abuse, neglect and adoption proceedings.
Here is a little about Amber and why she chose to write “Fragmented”:
“My name is Amber Estwick, I’m aged 34, almost 35. I started writing performance poetry from the age of 13 while living in England and had continued for a while in Trinidad. I then took a long break from writing, but on the 6 of October 2021 I decided to make a comeback. I chose to write this poem as I find it fascinating how the mind works to protect you.”
Ever been fragmented into 4 different people, all coming from different stages of your life when you need them the most to take center stage to engage in situations that you know you can’t cope with alone? Have you ever been the host, the system of alters that can instantly take over? They have been Sarah’s saving grace from all the situations she has to face.
Sarah has one backpack containing 4 outfits that all 4 hand pick and one baseball bat for Jake. Jake is the all inclusive one who doesn’t care for a clothes change but just needs a baseball bat, he is fine with just that..
Jake came when Sarah was going through a stage that everyone around her considered a phaze but that phaze never went away now that Jake is here to stay he just comes forward to support Sarah and has a beautiful relationship with a lady called Tracy, whenever he comes through to the front line Sarah’s hair goes up into a knot showing what she calls Jake’s under cut..
Jake doesn’t mind dresses but hates to go out he mainly stays inside where they hide but lately Tracy wants to take Sarah out so Jake takes his baseball bat to scare off anyone that wants to attack.
Alice is Sarah’s saviour from addiction, she has a strong southern accent and always says no sir, no maim, Alice is the name Sarah is not home today, she don’t need a line of coke, she don’t need pills, with the grace of the almighty Sarah doesn’t even drink no more and then Alice will close the door..
Marcie-Jayne has been with Sarah since Sarah was 16, Marcie is the part time artist because Sarah was told being and artist will never pay the bills and you will never be good enough to take your work far, so Marcie always paints and signs her name giving Marcie all the fame.
Sasha has took over being Sarah’s 4 year old son’s mum, because once Nate ended up in foster care, Sarah hated the social worker and the situation got harder to take so Sasha is now in charge of trying to bring home Nate.
Sasha is the no drama type she struggles to rewrite the wrongs that Sarah has made, every court paper Sarah attempts to write Sasha screams just let me do it, you can’t win back my child with a statement as crap as that…
Sasha loves Nate a lot more than Sarah, Sarah drifted off at the first hearing of the word adoption but Sasha saved that little boy and with the right medication Sarah can bring him home but Alice always comes to court and reminds them of Sarah’s addiction so it’s taking longer than Sasha thought it would because Alice won’t let pills touch Sarah’s lips, they always argue about this, two in the morning, two at night then Sarah wins the fight but Alice says no those 4 pills will turn into more.
Sasha and Alice are always at constant war..
The social worker wants the case to end but the thought of losing Nate makes Sasha wild but the social worker says Sasha, Sarah who ever you are today you are fragmented, separated do the right thing by Nate and let him be adopted, every time the paper comes out Sasha shows and says Nate is mine and Sarah will prove herself in time..
Then there is Lilly, Lilly has never grown since the day Sarah turned 6, Lilly is forever 6, she knows how to create the best hiding spaces, Lilly was the very first who came to stay within Sarah when Sarah was just 3..
Me is Lilly get away no shout at RaRa she used to scream at Sarah’s Abusive mother, hence why Lilly has grown a lot of un-wanted affection for Nate’s social worker and always whispers she wants to save us and Alice will then shout no she wants to take Nate then Lilly crawls away and hides, Lilly knows every hiding spot, Lilly loves every door that can lock. Lilly doesn’t like Alice because Alice shouts a lot…
Lilly never comes when Sarah is with Tracy come to think of it no one but Jake comes..
Tracy is the Calm within the storm, Tracy is Sasha’s worm place when the world considers Sarah wrong but Jake he stays to keep Sarah strong…
By Amber Estwick
You can follow Amber and read more of her poetry on her Facebook page.
If you have been affected by DID or need to talk to someone, you can contact the mental health charity MIND, which has a helpline (0300 123 3393) email address (email@example.com) and postal address: Mind Infoline, PO Box 75225, London, E15 9FS.
Ian Josephs said:
When I was young poetry used to “scan” and even rhyme sometimes !
I got lost halfway through Amber but I’m sure your heart is in the right place !
Hi Ian, this poetry does rhyme…. but the formation is very sophisticated. This is advanced poetry and it’s not for everyone. It’s also the case that to be able to detect the beats and rhymes, you have to have a little rhythm 😉
Paul Brian Tovey said:
I do think hyper-fragmented states caused by child abuse can become deeply aided by poetry which can in turn attempt to integrate parts of the broken story bearably ..The problem with child abuses is the pain of them creates the “defence” of dissociation…
More crucially underneath is, it is the “unreceived” child-Self which the abuser ignores in the child which needs the hope that it can finally emotionally integrate even through the dis-integrative effects of child abuses “by being seen at last” … “By being felt” (received) ..
People inside empathically receiving therapy can unravel slowly and weave themselves back into themselves by feeling tragedy slowly but only if the therapist can do the job of showing organically receptive empathy that the “child” inside the abused person can receive ..
There’s a lot of crying to be done that does in fact go way back to childhood and mourning that was never seen nor heard … The greatest pain is the loss of care/love/kindness and that has to be accessed to finally come to progressive senses of rest..There are certainly layers too of “primal betrayal” to feel if one’s family has done the abuses..
It’s damned hard work and many child abused people who do it will certainly recognise the insanity of the abusers as a twisted mind wreck they have to feel and go through ..Poetry can help … Building back the internal tolerance to events and scenes and finally pain and tears ..
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