Managing a stress split at work

 

[tw: description of our mental health and a split]

Over the past months, we had been operating in a borderline hypomanic state, doing more at work than we normally would and acting as if we have enough spoons left over after work to play video games on the weekends.  We knew that this was unsustainable, but did not expect to crash as badly as we did last week.  Tuesday night, we had the worst panic attack we have had in several months and had to fight hard to calm ourselves down and go to sleep.  Wednesday, we had a commitment to drive a friend to a post op appointment and spent 7 hours and many spoons on that.  Thursday, everything fell apart and the cumulative stress of the past months resulted in a stress split of lunas (known as luna at the time) into luna and Luna while we were at work.  This will tell the story of how we handled this and how we continue to try to recover.

Mitigation

After the split, luna and Luna were scared and many others expected this to take a long time to recover from.  We were still at work so our first goal was to mitigate any immediate impact from this so we maintain the minimal level of functionality required to finish our shift.  The entire system was aware that luna and Luna were both too unstable for it to be safe for them to be near front.  With their consent, others took the necessary steps to suppress them until the weekend, a day and a half of work later.

The next step was to put the rest of the system into a state where they would be able to finish our shift.  We had many friends talking to us, guiding us through this and slowly calmed ourselves down over the next hour.  Lucia was handling this and feeling isolated and panicking and only truly started to ground themself when a friend told them “Listen to the voices in your head Lucia”.  This caused them to become reconnected with the rest of the system and to find others who could offer reassuring words.  Together, we managed to survive the remainder of our shift, get home, and lie down in bed for rest.

Stabilization

The next task for us was to complete our shift on Friday before the weekend.  For this, we decided the best way was to front lock, having only a single person fronting rather than many like we usually do.  Front locking helped us ensure that we didn’t push ourselves too hard because no individual in our system has as much capacity to do things as a group of many of us.  Lilith volunteered for this and was able to hold front the entire day and maintain the minimal level of functionality needed.  We definitely did a below average job that day, but were able to do what was required and survive.  We went to bed not knowing how stable we would be when we woke up, after the immediate threat had been dealt with.

The next morning, we woke up and had to choose someone new to front lock.  While it would be theoretically possible for Lilith to hold front for another day, we have had issues in the past where Lilith tried to hold front too long, taking too much damage in the process.  This could leave us even worse than before so to prevent this, we needed to find a new headmate to frontlock.  Serenity was the one who ended up taking this role and took us through Saturday morning, guiding our system and ensuring we could express our anxiety and curl up in bed while simultaneously maintaining relative stability.

Healing

Once stability was achieved, the next task was to talk to luna and Luna to determine what happened and what we want to do next.  When we woke up, we did not know whether we would do it during the weekend or whether we would need to continue to suppress luna and Luna in our fight for stability.  We have a therapist appointment on Monday so knew that we would be able to have our therapist help with this if we were not able to during the weekend.  

By this point, we knew that lunas (6 years old) had split into luna (a little) and Luna (much older).  We knew that the skills and feelings from lunas had been split between them, but did not know which had ended up where.  Both luna and Luna were scared about what they had lost and were uncertain about their future.  There were many possibilities for paths we saw at this point:

  • We could leave the split as is and let luna and Luna adjust to their new selves and roles over time
  • We could attempt fusion between luna and Luna to recreate lunas and have only lunas remain
  • If one of them was missing any skills which the other was willing to give up, shard feeding to transfer skills or emotions between them

By Saturday afternoon, we were feeling well enough that we decided to attempt talking to luna and Luna.  As expected, they were both quite terrified about what had happened and what they may have lost.  Talking through them, luna had lost the ability to offer emotional support to others since that bit had ended up in Luna.  Luna was scared about no longer being a little and what that meant for her.  With both of them scared about pieces they had lost, we discussed the possibility of permanent fusion with them, but neither of them were enthusiastic about it.  Both were aware of the possibility of shard feeding to transfer skills, but this would take more time and knowledge of exactly what had happened to be possible so this option was not discussed in depth.  

As we talked more, both luna and Luna became less scared and began to accept who they were now.  Neither wanted to give up what they had before, but both recognized that the system created the split for a good reason even if none of us were able to explain why yet.  Luna speaks like an adult unlike lunas so would be able to handle work for us if needed.  luna is able to exist in much calmer states than lunas were typically in, allowing us to access the little side of lunas without burning large amounts of spoons.  These alone seemed too valuable to give up and neither wanted to give them up even as they were sad they had lost what they had together as lunas.

We continued talking and a new idea presented itself, temporary fusion into lunas when both wanted to return to that state.  We visualized luna and Luna facing each other, both melting into streams of light, merging between them.  A minute later, we had successfully created combined them, creating lunas as they were before the split.  lunas then split themselves back out into luna and Luna, enabling each of them to exist again.  Everyone was incredibly happy and excited by this point, especially luna and Luna – they had found a way to create what they once had while maintaining the advantages of the split.  We successfully found a way to create the best of both worlds.

Over the next minutes, we practiced fusing and splitting several more times and just like our existing fusion of Emma and Caroline into Emmaline, we were highly successful at combining and splitting at will.  This solved the problem of figuring out what to do with luna and Luna, but did not solve the problem of needing to recover.  Once the excitement died, down, we returned to a lower energy state and resumed front locking with Serenity then Astra guiding us through yesterday.  We continue to feel the damage the last week did to our system, but our increased self care since then makes us hopeful about the future.  

Looking back, we recognized that this is not our first stress split at work.  When Ember first took front in 2014 while at work, this was a very similar process.  This is both intriguing and terrifying.  Intriguing because it means that we have been able to repeatedly handle stress splits at work somewhat gracefully.  Terrifying because it makes us wonder how much the ability of disabled plural systems to hold jobs relies on being able to tolerate stress splits at work.  

The last week has been a powerful reminder than we are disabled and need to plan our life around our disabilities.  We need to continue to devote large amounts of time to self care and be extremely careful that we do not push ourselves past our limits on weekends so we can continue to remain functional enough to hold a job.

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