Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tolson 4 TEARS Cheers Survivor's Courage

The following story about Cindilin Pettibone was written by Karen Sucharski. 

“Your hair looks so cute,” I said to my friend Cindilin Pettibone as we met to go to a meeting.
“I know,” she said, then she leaned conspiratorially toward me, “I have no idea who got it cut,” she whispered.
This may seem a strange exchange to anyone eavesdropping. But Cindilin is a rare and strong woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.
Cindilin was sexually abused by her grandfather from the age of four to age 16. She was also repeatedly sexually, emotionally and physically abused by other members of her family. When she sought help from a trusted priest, he too abused her. 
When we attend group therapy she reads her various diagnoses off her Blackberry. They include PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder; anxiety; and depression. And, with all of this, she smiles. She has an infectious sense of humor and a strong work ethic...
Cindilin will be ... exhibiting her artwork, selling jewelry with inspirational messages including “Believe the Child” and one word affirmations. She has found a great deal of solace in her artwork trying and succeeding at quilting, photography, cross-stitch, stained glass, painting, poetry, cake-decorating and scrap-booking to name a few. Her favorite is the jewelry making and drawing she said. Her therapist said she has seen growth in Cindilin through her drawing. She used to only draw in black and white. But lately she has added some color. “I love color,” Cindilin said. But she was afraid of it. Her drawing was also one of the clues that helped diagnose her DID. She said when she wrote, her handwriting changed. “The artwork was not all done by the same person and it’s signed differently,” she said.

She doesn’t experience as much missing time as some DID individuals. She has what is called “co-conciousness” with many of her personalities. But not with all. She said, to date, she has more than 50 personalities that range from an infant to personalities in her 20’s and she believes she has more yet to come out. “It takes me an hour to get to sleep because I have to put 50 people to bed. Then I wake up in the night because someone wakes up.”
When asked if integration is her goal in therapy she responded, “I’m not there yet.” Integration of the personalities into the dominant personality is a scary proposition to many people with DID. “DID’s just really tricky,” Cindilin said.  She said some people say, “’Let your little people come out and play with me’ That’s not okay with me because I try to keep myself under control in a world that demands it.” She was quick to add, “That’s just my opinion.”
In the meantime she has her arts and crafts activities. “I have to wonder if, out of the depths of all my desperation, my creativity kicked in. There isn’t a craft I can’t do if I put my mind to it. Exploring my multitude of hobbies will always fill a space in my life as both a means of recovery and as pleasurable pastimes.” (to see a video about DID click here.)


Art by Cindilin Pettibone


Published with permission from CP
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