I’m sat rigid, my muscles steel rods, and I have no idea why. We were talking about my family and now I’m reacting to something the therapist said, but even seconds later I can’t remember what it was. Something is thundering through my innards. The longer we talk, the more I want to curl up. My legs feel vacuous. There’s a faint, queasy sense in my middle. On the edges of myself, I am shutting down: the dissociation that blocks out information before I’m even consciously aware of it. So I just sit, stiffly. I can’t look at her. I don’t want her to see me.

I try to take a deep breath, but there’s only space for air in the uppermost part of my lungs. Really I want to run away. Or hide. Or cease to exist.

She bobs her head slightly forward, trying to find me because she knows I’m avoiding her.

Don’t look for me. Don’t find me.


Find the complete article in Carolyn's new book, 'Unshame: healing trauma-based shame through psychotherapy', available now!

A word of explanation

I had therapy mainly between 2006 and 2015. These blog posts are not verbatim accounts of sessions, but rather the client equivalent of ‘case studies’ - amalgamations of various sessions, ‘narratively true’ rather than ‘historically true’. Although often written for stylistic purposes in the present tense, they are very much from a past period of my life. Ideally they should be read within the wider context of other blog posts, articles and my book, to give a more integrated and rounded sense of where I was at, where I’m at now, and the process that took place between those two points. I have been on a journey of recovery, and the difference in me from when I was in therapy (especially at the beginning) to now is testament to the brain’s ability to recover from even the most appalling suffering.

My primary work now is writing, followed closely by training therapists, counsellors and other professionals to support survivors of trauma. Regrettably I cannot provide one-to-one support but our charity framework PODS (Positive Outcomes for Dissociative Survivors) provides a helpline and a range of other services: please go to www.pods-online.org.uk for more information, and https://support.pods-online.org.uk/start-here if you are looking for support.

For training, please see our range of live courses at www.carolynspring.com/live-training, and our online courses at www.carolynspring.com/online-training. We also publish a range of resources to support recovery from trauma, which you can see at www.carolynspring.com/shop. My first book, Recovery is my best revenge, is available to buy at https://www.carolynspring.com/shop/recovery-is-my-best-revenge-paperback/




  1. This is a very powerful blog, quite difficult to read but only because of the truthfulness of it. I learn so much from your experiences so I am grateful you continue to share them so vividly.

  2. Thank you. Your voice is powerful. It makes a difference. You are helping me glimpse what it might like to be on your inside. Perhaps the more I can understand, the bigger the difference I can make too.

  3. Carolyn,

    Your writing always stops me in my tracks, I relate to so much, I wouldn’t know where to start to tell you so just want to say thank you for giving me hope.

  4. Caroline, as with all your written work, I feel you have written all about me. I find this very difficult at times as I find myself reacting as it is me and you touch my hurt and shame like no other.
    Your words are amazing and you have brought out a little writer in me as I have written some words of my own and shared with my therapist. Thank you

  5. I always read your blog, and I always relate. I was diagnosed with DID, with borderline traits about 8 years ago. I began regression therapy and after the second session I never went back. I’ve struggled alot since then. I have one alter that is particularly dominant. Her name is lily. She’s a little girl with messy hair and dirty feet. She frightens me. I feel like I have other alters but i’m less in touch with them. I’ve just accepted lily and try to work around her presence in my life. Some days are harder than others but knowing that there are others out there makes me feel a little better. Thank you

  6. Tears come as I read your writings. I work with a therapist who introduced me to DID 7yrs ago… like you some parts do not want accept, I don’t want to have it, it’s hard and so confusing at times. I have only ever shared it with one other friend, otherwise it is something I keep locked away.
    It is so helpful to read your words and identify with your journey, it makes me feel not so alone or ‘mad’.
    Why I don’t tell others is due to shame, I don’t want my past trauma to label me as ‘mad’. I feel so ashamed at who I am…. although there was nothing I could do to change what happened… I survived but at a cost.

  7. Carolyn, every time I read your blog posts, I wonder, have you been inside my head? Which then makes me quickly jump ahead to, so I do have D.I.D. then? If you feel and think all of these things and I do too… I know I have D.I.D. but of course parts of me revolt at that idea and each time I read something from you, it feels like tiny glimmers of hope. That I’m not a completely hopeless case, an abomination. Thank you, I appreciate your time and words more than I could articulate.


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More from Carolyn…

Learning Mindfulness

‘Have you tried mindfulness meditation?’

The therapist is asking the question without humour or irony and yet I laugh explosively in response. I imagine a cross-legged hippy and am only vaguely aware of my stereotyping. I really do think that is what she means.

‘Not my kind of thing,’ I say curtly, suddenly realising that she is being serious.

Three types of trigger … three techniques for taming

All I did was walk into the kitchen and pick up a cloth. But the sudden waft of bleach flung me far, far back into some childhood memory. I switched to a traumatised part of myself. I had been ‘triggered’.

Who am I? – Questions of identity in dissociative identity disorder

I look up and I am in my therapist’s room. I look up and I am in the cafe area of the shopping mall. I look up and I am in bed in the dark. I look up and I don’t know if I am I. There is no thread of continuity between these places, these experiences. Who am I now, writing this, re-reading this, re-writing this?

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