Becoming One Against All Odds
September 2019 Issue
Interviewed by Patricia Mikouchi, adoptive mother of Christine Photography by Christian Lee
Against all odds is this month’s theme and Christine Mikouchi is a young lady who knows a lot about it. Her story shows us how intention, persistence and patience can overcome even the most difficult situations.
Adopted at age five, Christine left everything behind: Her birth family; language; Japanese culture; even her name. With this exodus, she also escaped an existence of extreme abuse. Finding her world turned upside down, Christine faced a mountain of obstacles. The first, and one of the most difficult, was the expectation to bond with a new mother, who was one of the few foreigners (American) she had ever seen. Unable to trust, and suffering from severe Attachment Disorder, Christine persevered as her new mother and therapist patiently guided her through barriers and resistance common to the bonding process.
Attachment Disorder was just one of many challenges Christine faced. Diagnosed with epilepsy, she was put on medications that made concentrating difficult and falling asleep easy. This. along with language issues, exotic looks and unusual behaviors made her the butt of every bully.
As difficult as all this was, it was in her 20s when she encountered her biggest challenge of all. She was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, a misunderstood and often negatively portrayed condition. Children who experience trauma may distance themselves from the horrific abuse by allowing an alter inner personality, or multiple personalities, to step in and handle various life situations. Christine had five distinct alters, each displaying their own gestures, interests, skillsets, genders, voices, appearance and personalities.
With the diagnosis, Christine was offered something she’d always wanted—control over her own life. I had so many questions that Christine happily answered.
What exactly is Dissociative Personality Disorder?
I’d have to refer you to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for a definition. For me it meant an involuntary escape from reality, a self-identity problem that took the form of having separate and distinctly different personas.
Why wasn’t it diagnosed earlier?
I’d seen many therapists, but I was in my 20s before I encountered one with experience treating Dissociative Personality patients. I felt comfortable sharing my journals and thoughts with him. When I was younger, I would only go to a therapist if I liked them, and I only liked them if I could manipulate them. This therapist couldn’t be manipulated. Also, my symptoms overlapped several disorders.
Can you tell us about your symptoms?
The most difficult was loss of time. I didn’t remember doing things I was accused of doing, or not doing things I should have. I was blamed and punished for lying, and I really couldn’t understand why.
Well, the therapist gave me three choices. I could: 1. Simply know I have this disorder and live with it; 2. Manage my disorder better; or 3. Integrate the five personas. I chose integration, which meant I had to face old trauma and engage in talk therapy. The psychiatrist was able to explain that integrating meant claiming each persona as a part of herself and integrate them back into one whole healthy person. Now, I am just me.
Who is “just me” today?
I work full-time as a beauty consultant and spend my free time volunteering with Programs for Exceptional People (PEP), Pockets full of Sunshine, Special Olympics, Island House and the National Alliance of Mentally Ill. And, I spend time with my supportive significant other.
Any closing words or thought?
I’m thankful I had a supportive team, I know there are wonderful organizations like NAMI and PEP that provide professional support, but we all need to step up and encourage one another.