" The M is Silent" by Erika Reva ( Guest Post )

I can tell you from experience opening up about a personal stigmatized topic like mental health is not easy. So I can not thank Erika Reva and her parts enough for sharing. Read about the true, transparent  journey of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Then get to know more about Erika and her parts in the bio below! 


 


“I don’t remember but I believe you.”  This short phrase is something I myself have solid memories of uttering all throughout my life, but especially high school and the years that followed. Dissociating through life and school years can be an unbelievable challenge, this is beyond true for people who do not know this is what has been happening; which for me, was the case. 
In our school years many of us know what it is to be stressed, bullied, and anxious about any number of things. Our peers can make life difficult and we begin to rely on the few friends or people we deem worthy of our trust. Our parents “don’t get it” nor are they always a safe option and very few relatives know of any form of a struggle occurring in our learning environments or social lives. This is problematic for so many reasons, but the one that sticks out most now is the isolation.
I had attended many different schools, but by high school I began to have a few people I became close with. Two in particular coat my memories from this time in life and one is still my closest friend some 18 years later! Yep, she’s often said, “You’re stuck with me. You know too much.” When she first said this it had never occurred to me that she was also someone who for us, knew far too much. 

“You’re not yourself today,” is something people had said on more than one occasion. What they were unaware of was how very close they were to the actual answers of what was occurring in my life. Not until my late 20’s would I find a diagnosis, but they were right there in that realm. They were my friends and peers some more important to me (& my parts) than others, but in my life, from the Monday morning bell until Friday afternoon bell rang and our weekends began. 
During the week I went to school, came home and could be found around any number of places. One specific destination was a place I can remember the sights, smells, sounds, and even tastes of the heavy stale air. That pool hall became my home away from my house.  What I was unaware of at the time was just how much of my school years were spent in this place. Like everything else in my life there were some major inconsistencies. You may have also found me at a coffee house further into the preserve area of the suburbs or the mall in the arcade – before they gutted it.  Oh and it was quite possible to find me in my old neighborhood, on the south side of Chicago depending upon the day(s) this was not limited to only the week days but blead over into the weekend. All these various places and people I’d spend my time with don’t seem like they indicate much, other than a teen with a diverse and busy social life, but for me… Well it’s very telling in hindsight.  I was living with Dissociative Identity Disorder – DID, and no one around me had any real idea. To this day most people in my day to day life don’t know this little well-kept secret. 

At this point in my life I was aware that something wasn’t right. What that was? I had no idea. I was missing time, big chunks of it, and people who claimed to know me well and claim me as a “BFF” were as unfamiliar to me as a stranger who avoided my gaze in the street. Having someone tell me another long involved dramatic tale of hate and heroics became more and more bizarre. At times, when I listened to these stories I would experience life further and further removed from them. A few moments when this occurred stuck out because I can remember catching people say, “I can’t believe you did that!” Guess what? Neither could I. How could that possibly have been me they were talking about? There is simply no way. I’m not a fighter, far from it. I’m not argumentative nor am I confrontational in any way shape and or form. They must’ve been mistaken. It was high school after all and if you’ve ever experienced a rumor you’re very much aware of how outlandish and far from reality they can become.

Years into therapy now I’ve come to find that while some people did embellish those stories, this was not always the case. Many of those seemingly far-fetched rumors people asked me about were in fact accurate. They were the truth. With DID life can be filled with many inconsistencies, when you’re unaware that some part of you ran off somewhere because you dissociated fully and quite literally weren’t there for those weeks, months, or longer then shit gets messy. Picking up the pieces of my life as an adult and attempting to get the jigsaw put back together is exhausting but well worth the effort. 

I could tell you that High School and College were difficult, but for me despite some bullying I can remember and all the massive gaps in between those extremes all I can say is I came out the other side. Especially now that I’m seeing a therapist. There is no shame in reaching out for help, had I done so in my school years my life could have been different, but that’s not what happened and now I’m the adult putting the pieces of my childhood together best I can. Through talk therapy my parts are now working more harmonious and with me included. It takes time and another unfortunate truth is it takes years.

While I am not what you’d call a follower, I can be ‘labeled’ as compliant but a moment later you may also say I’m the most frightening and “take-no-shit” person you’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting. That depends on the day and situation. By high school my head was so messy and chaotic with my obsessive odd thoughts and behaviors that I typically just did what people asked and observed what that looked like. With DID my life was fractured due to very early and continued childhood traumas so during high school my parts had years of practice keeping each other, me and even other people safe when need be.

 I find and have always found human behavior interesting, this hasn’t changed, but looking back I can see so many things that clearly indicate how wrong things in my life were and had any teacher taken those few extra steps my life could’ve been different. There were times when people clearly saw things weren’t right and being that I dissociated during these times I could not advocate for myself. My parts were simply trying to survive. It isn’t that some teachers, now and again, didn’t help, they did, but my parts had never once started a fight. They defended myself and other people they perceived to be weak. So consequences were very rare and minimal at best. Now that we have and do see a therapist regularly we will continue to use my voice to raise the voices of others who are unable to use their own.

We read a long time ago that you shouldn’t follow the masses because at times, the M is silent. It’s something that’s always stuck with us. This simple and amusing phrase is full of truth and something my parts had lived by since I was a small child. Now we are working towards what our own brand of “normal” is and I get to choose that path. It took a long time to get here but that journey was well worth the travel.

Be well, extend a hand to someone in need. Throughout my school years there were moments when people did the smallest thing and those memories are what I now remember and cherish. Be that lily pad for someone who may need something as simple as a kind smile or a pencil. Those two seemingly small things are what saved my life more than once.



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About Erika Reva: 


Erika is from Chicago, IL. She lives with Dissociative Identity Disorder as well as anxiety, OCD and depression. Her parts also deal with their own individual MH struggles. Due to her deteriorating physical health she has been restricted from working but continues advocating for animals and the mental health community. Her and her parts see a therapist and have been getting into the world of Public Speaking beginning last year when they started their "Living with DID Talks."
She still resides in the Midwest with her husband and their pet ferrets. 
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