Archive for August, 2008

Karen Answers Cynthia’s Second Question

admin on Aug 28th 2008

Comment by Cynthia on August 25, 2008 6:30 pm

Karen, I sure would like to see you have another website in the future, where people could come together and discuss there abuse through poems, art work, music, and relaxation. I know I tend to feel so alone at times in this struggle with my abusive past. I sense you have such wonderful communication skills and would be great at helping others who are may be feeling scared and alone on their journey to healing.

Take Care, Cynthia

Dear Cynthia,

Thank you for your confidence in me, and for all your compliments. I appreciate each and every one. I do enjoy helping others, but I am not a professional therapist. I can only share my thoughts and opinions from my own personal experience. I like your idea about a Web site that could show art work, poems, and more. For now, I’m busy enjoying answering the questions posted here.

I know how lonely it can be at times dealing with the effects of abuse suffered in one’s past. I felt alone, too. Please know, it takes time to heal, and I believe everyone heals at his or her own pace. Have faith.

I wish you all the best in your journey,

Karen

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Karen Answers Caren

admin on Aug 28th 2008

Comment by Caren on August 25, 2008 6:49 pm
Dear Karen,

Breath taking read! I could not put it down once started. Do you still talk to Richard Baer or has he been removed from your life when the book got done because you are no longer his patient? He should be lucky you shared your story for him to write. What if you said no? Was he a psychiatrist, psychotictherapist or medical doctor?

My name is Karen to only spelled different,

Caren

Dear Caren,

Thank you for the compliment! Dr. Baer is very much a part of my life. We have a close and respectful friendship, a bond, that will never be broken, no matter what. I would never think to remove him from my life. And hope he feels the same about me. Since our therapeutic relationship ended, we have worked together with the book, and shared our journey with many. Good relationships never die.

You might think Dr. Baer was lucky that I shared my story with him, but it wasn’t luck that we accomplished all that we have. Dr. Baer had worked very hard, through many years of unconditionally taking care of me. I exhausted him. I was the lucky one to have him listen to me, time and again. I’m not sure if I could’ve handled caring for someone like me. I was horrible and glad he never gave up on me. I admire him. And it is my hope he’ll always know how grateful I am for all he’s done for me.

If I would’ve said no to the writing of my story… that would have been a shame. My journey was meant to be told. I believe, despite the horror I suffered, it is an inspirational story. Dr. Baer and I, together, have accomplished something unique.

Dr. Richard Baer is a psychiatrist, which is also medical doctor.

Karen

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Karen Answers Lily

admin on Aug 28th 2008

Comment by Lily on August 25, 2008 11:59 am

Hi Karen!

Congratulations on Dr Baer and your book making it to press! Do you have any idea how hard it is to accomplish what the both of you have? It’s unheard of. I bet there’s never been such a book written before, ever. I would like to know if telling your story causes you grief and sorrow and if Dr Baer continues to understand it’s not over until it’s over.

Lily

Dear Lily,

Thank you for your enthusiasm. Yes, Dr. Baer and I are aware how hard it’s been to accomplish all that we have. I believe there is a reason for everything, and that our story was meant to be written and shared. I’m not sure if there is another book written like ours, but I don’t think so. Our therapeutic journey is definitely unique.

I believe Dr. Baer tries to understand what I am still going through. He is always empathetic and supportive. We will always share a special bond, and he know’s it’s not over.

Karen

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Karen Answers Edward

admin on Aug 28th 2008

Comment by Edward on August 25, 2008 2:52 pm
Karen,

The world is unfair, people are unfair, and reality sucks.

Why kill a good thing and integrate? How do you deal with reality without dissociation? Do you ever hate that you survived? The book is awesome but must have been emotionally challenging with many ill effects. If you were to do it again, would you? I cannot stop wondering if you are, indeed, well?

Edward

Dear Edward,

Interesting thoughts. Yes, reality is hard to deal with at times. But somehow we deal with it. All any of us can do is try to survive in the best way we can. I did when I created the alters to help me survive a horrific childhood. As a child using dissociation as a coping mechanism, I believe it worked wonders. As an adult, not so much. With alter help, I was spared the pain and memories of the abuse I suffered. However, as an adult this coping mechanism was no longer necessary and caused more chaos than it helped. I was exhausted, stressed, and depressed all the time. This wasn’t the way to live my life after surviving all that I did.

Integration was necessary for me to become one woman. Losing time again and again was no fun. I felt horrible not knowing what I had done during the day, and every night I’d worry whether I’d done something wrong. Since integration, it’s been very difficult handling everything on my own. Sometimes I again wish I could escape from myself. But I try to stay optimistic.

I’m not sure what you meant by: “If you were to do it again, would you?” If you’re referring to whether or not I would share my story again, yes, I would. Not only do I believe my story will benefit others, but it has also made me a stronger woman. If you’re referring to integrating, yes I would do that again, too. I really had no choice. I continue to do the best I can to live my life in full.

Karen

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Karen Answers Matthew

admin on Aug 26th 2008

Comment by Matthew on August 25, 2008 4:33 am

Dear Karen,

Switching Time has changed me. I was one of those people that had doubts about anyone claiming to have a dissociative condition. I would laugh and think, why does this person need so much attention? I once had a friend who claimed this. At first it was exciting, after a while knowing her drained me. I tried to care, helped her in every way I could only to believe she was a manipulative bitch who lied for attention. To my knowledge she destroyed everything and every relationship around her. I no longer supported her, we broke up and six years later I heard she ended her life. I bought this book because this is the condition she claimed to have. It was out of this curiosity that I bought and read it. I guess I still had many unanswered questions. That is, until I read this book.

I can’t myself know if my ex-girlfriend actually had multiple personality disorder or now called dissociative identity disorder but I do believe in your story, Karen. I believe in you and wish you the best in life. Sadness continues to surround me about my ex taking her life but at the time I believe she acted as if she had this condition to receive negative attention. I’m sure she had another illness, borderline personality disorder or possibly was bi-polar. Not that comparing is right. Understanding is what I sought and received through this book. She needed help this I know. I couldn’t help her. I heard she was in therapy when she took her own life. How sad for her therapist and for those who cared for her. Suicide destroys. It’s so sad she ended her life but I can now understand the pain of suffering from a mental illness. Thank you for allowing your story to be told.

Karen, you are right, the world needed to hear your story

Thank you, Richard Baer, for helping Karen.

Matthew
Newport News, Virginia

Dear Matthew,

Thank you for sharing your story with me and all those who read this blog. I am sorry for the loss of your ex-girlfriend. I can understand why you have so many unanswered questions. I can sense your sadness. Maybe your therapist can help you get through the mixed thoughts you have and help you understand them. It sounds to me as if you really did care for her, even after the your break-up.

I feel the illness I suffered is a mystery and part of the reason why I wanted my story told. I think there are many misdiagnoses of this disorder and not enough documentation to support true cases of multiple personality disorder. It is Dr. Baer’s and my hope that through our story there will be clearer understanding of the cause and effects of this illness.

I’m not a therapist and can only share my thoughts on the questions you’ve asked. Switching Time is not to be used as a guide for all those who may suffer from multiple personality disorder or dissociative identity disorder. Switching Time is just my personal story. But it’s my hope, through my experiences, others will find their own strength to heal.

I can understand how difficult it can be to befriend someone who suffers from a mental illness. I’m sure I have challenged a few of my own friends! It doesn’t really matter whether your ex-girlfriend suffered from borderline personality disorder, bi-polar illness, or MPD. The fact that she was seeing a therapist meant she was trying to help herself. I’m sure it was sad for her therapist to have lost a patient to suicide. I know Dr. Baer would’ve been devastated if I ended my life.

Thank you for believing in me and for coming to a better understanding of people who suffer from this illness.

Karen

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Karen Answers John’s Fourth Question

admin on Aug 25th 2008

Comment by John on August 21, 2008 11:45 am

Hello Karen,

Therapy is going well for me. It’s not fun by far but is helping. Since reading your book helped me recognize that I needed professional help I can understand how certain things from the past stay with you as an adult. Such weirdness to imagine that something that happened to me as a child can cause me a problem as an adult. I haven’t gone through anything like you have. I expect my therapy to be short term. I didn’t share my going to therapy with my girfriend at this time but our relationship is becoming stronger. I think it’s because I can see where my strengths and weakness are. I would like to encourage others to go for help when something doesn’t feel right inside yourself. When you talk to someone not related it’s helpful and you can get a much better understanding of yourself. This is what I’ve come to know.

Thank you, Karen for your ability to share. Dr. Baer must be proud of you.

John

Dear John,

Thank you for sharing. I am glad that you are working through your issues in therapy and noticing a positive change in your relationship with your girlfriend. I know what you mean when you say it’s weird how your childhood can affect you as an adult. And you’re right about talking to someone who can see things objectively.

Thank you for encouraging others to seek help when something within them doesn’t feel right.

All my best,

Karen

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Karen Answers Irena’s Third Question

admin on Aug 25th 2008

Comment by Irena on August 18, 2008 4:47 am

Dear Karen,
You see, I still feel protective of you, and the little girl you were. I am still in tears from time to time over what you endured and would never allow any child that was mine or not to suffer alone if the slightest sign were given me that she needed to be helped or protected. It’s exactly why in civilized and even tribal societies there are laws that protect minors, and I’d hope most responsible adult citizens take that personally.

When I was a teenager I had a very close friend who could have been you, Karen, but she never let me close enough to help. By the time we were 18 our lives had split in different directions – I felt that she was deeply ashamed of herself for what her father had used her for and intuitively I knew this is what limited our friendship and ability to evenly share like friends do. She had talked of her father a lot, we both feared our dads although mine was physical and alcoholic, he never crossed the line, but hers took it all. She had several younger siblings that she was excessively protective over and responsible for – her little twin sisters especially.

Underneath her overwhelming sadness, shame and painful shyness she was extremely cool and smart – we shared a passion for David Bowie and books but not enough to keep us growing together after high school. In her mind, there was just no comparison between us and our gapingly different personal lives, yet I was the closest person to her, at least that’s what I felt at the time.

Then I heard of her death, by her own hand a year after leaving high school. How misguided was I to not intervene? I think the revelation of her story while she was alive was an impossibility to her – just could not happen. I wanted to tell teachers and adults around me but in an all girl’s catholic school I remember feeling like the information I was carrying just wasn’t wanted by anyone around and was going to be dismissed as slanderous and damaging and I’d be punished for it. In any case, she’d have denied it vehemently if it went public. Nobody wanted to know.

I think most children don’t survive because they can not bear their own memories. Without good memories, how do you grow into a mentally and sexually healthy adult? This is why your story is so important and so needed. Dissociating saved you, that is clear. Thanks for explaining to the skeptics out there and suggesting they ask themselves a few questions. They obviously are drawn to, and need to read this book and ask the questions they need asked.

good luck with the paperback launch. I hope more people find it “light weight” enough to purchase. You’re going to keep inspiring people for the rest of your life. I have never fully realized the pain of losing my friend until now – it all connects. Thanks.

Irena

Dear Irena,

I’m so sorry that you lost your friend to suicide. I suffered many days feeling suicidal. Only God knows what prevented me from acting on it. The pain I carried everyday was too overwhelming to bear alone. I was often afraid, losing faith, and the will to live. Yet somewhere within me I made one last effort to seek help and found it. I believe Dr. Baer was God sent and just in time, for I surely wouldn’t be here now, writing to you, and trying to help others if I hadn’t made an unbreakable promise to Dr. Baer not to end my life. This didn’t mean I no longer wanted to end my life, because I did. What this promise meant was that as long as I felt cared for, I couldn’t. I continue to fight thoughts of ending my life. The difference now is I have faith and believe life is worth living if I only give it a chance.

I know exactly how you feel about not telling the teachers or anyone else what you believed was happening to your friend. I believe you’re right that they would’ve dismissed it as slanderous and punish you for it. As a Catholic school girl myself, I was told numerous times, when I tried to share my pain, to “honor your mother and father.” I was also told I was evil and deserved to be punished by my parents. This was one of the reasons I drew within myself and dissociated. During these years no one wanted to hear anything and what could have been known was simply denied.

I couldn’t share the details of my abuse with my best friend either. My best friend of over twenty years found out about me when the book was finished. She was upset that I didn’t share the details of my past. After I explained I needed her to treat me as a friend and not pity me for all that had happened to me, I believe she understood my reasons for not sharing and thanked me. Don’t blame yourself for not being able to penetrate your friend’s wall of pain. She couldn’t let you come over. Like your friend, I felt shame and didn’t wish to bring my pain into my friendships.

It is Dr. Baer’s and my hope to inspire others to seek help. It is also my hope that through my answering these difficult questions there may be others who will understand the effects of childhood abuse, pay attention to the signs, and take the steps needed to help another child.

Thank you for your thoughts and sharing a bit about your pain. I’m sure others have experienced the difficulties in being in a friendship with someone who had been a victim of abuse.

Karen

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Karen Answers Cynthia

admin on Aug 23rd 2008

Comment by Cynthia on August 20, 2008 11:43 pm

I read this book and coming from a background of child abuse myself I could not stop crying after reading it. I came to the conclusion I may need some professional help because of painful buried memeories of my own abusive past. I would just like to know how do we forgive our parents and peopel who have abused us? Do we need to forgive the abusers in order to heal? Thank you Karen for your strength and courage.

Cynthia

Dear Cynthia,

I’m sorry that reading my story as left you feeling badly.. I can empathize with what you’re going through and am glad to hear that you’ve come to the realization that you need help. You just took the most important first step—accepting the fact you were abused. Please do seek professional help. I admit, it won’t be easy but over time you will find the strength to move forward. It wasn’t easy for me to acknowledge and deal with my own painful past. And it was even harder for me to accept that my own family members and their friends were abusers.

I know forgivness is something you can’t understand at this time. I will never forget what was done to me, but holding onto the pain from my abusers caused my spirit to be destroyed, along with my will to live. I had to let it go. How does one let go without forgivness? Since I’m not a therapist, I can only say that no matter how you think of it, those who have abused you should somehow be made accountable for what they’ve done. I believe my abusers knew what they were doing. How does one forgive when someone intentially hurts you? I’m not sure whether I really finally forgave them. My alters helped me let some of it go.

During my childhood I always thought I was evil and deserved the abuse I endured. It took many years to understand that I was the child, my parents were the adults, and the adults were supposed to take care of and nurture their children, not hurt them. I blamed myself and sometimes still do. It’s hard not to after feeling lost for so long. The pain does lessen over time. I can’t explain how talking about what happened helps the healing. What I do know for sure is that each time I spoke of how I was abused to Dr. Baer, the truth and the reality of what I suffered was exposed and I was able to deal with it. Whenever I kept these secrets hidden, they festered, and drew me into a depression, which led to suicidal thoughts. Once I heard myself speak the unspeakable, I felt a weight begin to lift off my shoulders and could begin to put the horrific childhood memory aside and simply understand the stark reality of what happened.

Please take care of yourself,

Karen

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Karen Answers Tony

admin on Aug 23rd 2008

Comment by Tony on August 18, 2008 11:48 pm

Hi Karen,

I never read such an intense book. How you survived childhood is shocking. How you survived therapy is pure craziness. What condition were you in after each session? Did anyone help you get to and from your appointments? I would of left sick most of the time. Dr. Baer and you had a perfect doctor and patient relationship. Is your relationship still perfect? The doctor I have for my therapy does not like me much. I wish he would tell me to find another doctor. I speak poor English. Can this be why?

Tony

Dear Tony,

Yes, Switching Time is an intense book to read, and I’m glad you survived reading it. Therapy is hard work. Dr. Baer and I had to work hard to keep our therapeutic relationship going. I’m not sure about Dr. Baer, but I assume we both were emotionally drained after each session. I always felt exhausted.

Most of the time I drove myself to and from sessions, and when unable, Holdon, an ex-alter, made sure I’d get home safely. There were a few times, when I felt confused, that I’d call Dr. Baer and he would put me under hypnosis, over the phone, and ask Holdon to drive us home. Switching was not always a perfect system.

A perfect therapeutic relationship? Is there such a thing? I don’t think so. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have needed therapy. But, if you’re referring to that together, Dr. Baer and I succeeded, made a commitment never to give up and built our relationship on respect and trust and accomplished it all, then yes, it was, if not perfect, absolutely good enough.

I’m not a therapist, but I feel you should talk to your therapist about your feelings that your therapist doesn’t like you. It could very well be that he’s waiting for you to bring this up. I surely don’t believe he doesn’t like you because you think you speak poor English. Therapists never say much, they just listen. That’s what they do. Please share your thoughts with your therapist. This could be one of the reasons you’re in therapy.

Thanks for your compliments,

Karen

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Karen Answers Jacqueline

admin on Aug 23rd 2008

Comment by Jacqueline on August 18, 2008 1:50 pm

Dear Karen,

I am so glad I read Switching Time. I am a college student interested in psychology. This semester I enrolled in an Abnormal Psychology class and noticed your book on the recommended reading list. I just finished picking up this semesters books and needed to go to Barnes & Noble to pick up this one. I had some time so while sitting at the coffee shop decided to glance through it over a cappuccino. Needless to say, three hours later I was still there, engrossed in reading your story. Iʼve never in my short life had done this. My curiosity got the best of me so when I arrived home I did a search for more information and came across your website. I couldn’t believe my stroke of luck and hope to write my paper on this illness. Itʼs not only a fascinating human experience but the therapeutic relationship between you and Dr. Richard Baer is unbelievably remarkable. Thank you for having the courage to print.

I would like to know how you came to explain the details of abuse to Dr. Baer? Did he ever ask you any specific questions regarding the details of abuse you suffered? I can’t imagine how one would bring up such horror in a conversation? Studying the mind brings me to wonder how the recall of past memories affects the therapeutic relationship. How exhausting was it for you to talk about your past? Do you believe it was worth the effort to share the details or not? Last question please: After sharing the details of abuse were you able to let go of your pain or have a relapse that thru you back into a depression?

Thank you for surviving one hell of a life an to be able to share your journey so that the rest of us can learn from you.

Jacqueline

Dear Jacqueline,

Thank you for sharing your story of reading Switching Time. I love hearing stories like this. It gratifies me that Switching Time could be a recommended book for an Abnormal Psychology college class. I’d be curious to know how your class discussion goes. I can imagine the controversy.

You asked some really intense questions. I’ll try to answer the best I can. Dr. Baer never once asked me to share any specifics or details of the abuse I suffered. In the beginning, I would share memories through my alternate personalities. All of my memories were fragmented, but during integration, the fragments combined into complete memories. Dr. Baer gathered the many pieces and understood all that had happened. It wasn’t so much the details that were important, but the emotional trauma that caused me to dissociate the pain in the first place.

I don’t believe I brought up the past; I believe my alters did. And, yes, it was extremely exhausting to share each abusive episode. I feared, time and again, that Dr. Baer couldn’t handle knowing what happened to me and would stop caring for me. I always worried I’d make Dr. Baer ill, so I’d try my best not to stress him. Don’t get me wrong, he never showed signs I stressed him, I just assumed I did. Sharing what happened to me was such a difficult part of our therapeutic relationship, but it was necessary in order to heal.

One day I made the decision to journal some of the details. I felt this would be important for both of us. I decided to write the details of the most damaging sixty three episodes. It was an exhausting, emotionally traumatic thing for me to do, but I needed to. Being abused an average of twice a week for over thirteen years, I had lots of memories to draw upon. I also felt Dr. Baer had the right to know. Upon completion, Dr. Baer and I briefly discussed each one. Once we were finished, we never talked about it again. I felt relieved but at the same time worried that Dr. Baer wouldn’t be.

I wish you well in your class and look forward to hearing about your discussions.

Karen

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