How Writing a Book Helped Sarah Recover From Dissociative Identity Disorder

I asked Sarah Olson to be my guest blogger. Sarah, like me, has chosen to write a book in order to share with others her story of childhood trauma.

Sarah’s form of dissociation was particularly severe.

A child’s brain does whatever is necessary to survive trauma. First lines of defense are daydreaming, numbing, forgetting, going dead inside or floating out of body while looking down at “another child” being abused. When all these strategies are insufficient, the child’s brain creates “other children” to suffer the abuse. The “self” remains unaffected. All the bad stuff happens to others, known as “alters.” As new, intolerable abuses occur, more parts split off to form more alters.

Here then, is Sarah Olson’s message:

Triumph Over Trauma: Writing to Heal

I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (then referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder) in 1991. That year my life fell apart. I suffered from insomnia, and terrible nightmares when I couldn’t sleep. I had drug-free hallucinations. I feared that someone inside me would succeed at killing me. I believed that my lifelong fear of being crazy was being realized.

The one constant and saving grace in my life since childhood was my love of writing. When life went nuts on me, I began writing letters to my therapist, Howard Asher. He welcomed them. As my also-abused sister and I became increasingly estranged, I wrote to keep a record for someday when she would be ready to know what I knew about our early life together. (Sadly, she’s still not ready.)

The letters and transcripts from taped therapy sessions began to pile up. I had such little confidence in myself, but worked up my courage to tell Howard I wanted to publish my writings because they might help someone else. But I felt flawed because I was “nobody”; I have no psych credentials. In one sentence, he opened a door that kept me moving forward with my recovery for years. He said, “So write it. It’ll be great! And if you want a credential, I’ll write a foreword for you.”

I was stunned. I would never have presumed to ask for that.

It was a level of validation and affirmation I’d not experienced in my life. It became a backstop that gave those crazy-feeling years some meaning and purpose. My book, Becoming One, was published in 1997. While most of my personal trauma work is behind me now, when small dissociative puzzles arise writing always helps me to sort them out.

Sarah E. Olson is author of <ahref=”

Becoming One: A Story Of Triumph Over Multiple Personality Disorder</a>, and blogs PTSD resources at <a href=”“>Third of a Lifetime</a>.

One comment

  1. As an author and advocate against child sexual abuse, I would really to read this book. It is on the list to buy. Thank you for sharing your story to help others heal.

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