Did you meet Steven Spielberg?
Sadly, no. That is definitely something I would have mentioned on my blog and elsewhere had it happened.
What was it like to work with Toni Collette?
I’m sure it’s great. I didn’t actually meet her, either. I really always went through Diablo Cody.
Were your transitions between alters as dramatic as those depicted in the show? Are they always a complete personality change, or can it be more subtle, like a mood swing?
I’m not sure what you mean by dramatic. I haven’t noticed any head twisting or body convulsions during the switch, which is how I think most people assume it is like. Tara just closes her eyes and switches, maybe with a tilt of her head.
Or do you mean a dramatic difference between who she was and who she became? In that case, sure. That’s the way it works. That’s why you have alters, because they are so different. But, if you are in public, chances are you aren’t going to switch in an obvious way unless it’s pretty dire and unexpected. And mostly, everyone inside would want to try and act like everything was normal, and try and imitate whoever was out last, especially if you are with other people. People staring and asking questions can be really uncomfortable.
That being said, if you switch to an alter who doesn’t have co-consciousness with the other alters, and they were triggered to come out by something traumatic, they might not have the knowledge or ability to act like who was just out. And that could look pretty strange to others and be confusing for the alter.
Is it possible to transition to another alter and not have the other person (husband, kids) know?
Sure. If you have a few alters that have been really working to communicate and agree for awhile and aren’t holding resentments against each other and pretty much know the secrets of the other ones, they can act like each other pretty well. If you having DID is something your family doesn’t know about, they might just think you are having pms or something. Or that you are maybe on drugs. You never know.
When one alter is dominant, are the others aware of what’s going on at all?
Sometimes. Maybe. Yes. No. It all depends. : ) Everyone’s internal system is different. They might have some alters that are aware of some, but not all. Or all. Or none. It can be very complex. Or not. It all depends on the person.
When you become integrated, do you remember everything that happened to all the alters?
Pretty much. The reason you can become integrated is because there are no more secrets from any one inside. If you all have the same information and you are all the same age and you all want to become one, you can. I don’t know if I know EVERYTHING that has happened in my life previous to integration, but I don’t know if it matters.
Since your mind split again, do you think all the personalities you had growing up will come back or how about new ones?
I have no idea. I was surprised as hell that Claire was back again. I assume that she is back for a reason. And I guess if there was a reason for the rest of them to be back, they would be. But I can’t think of a reason. And as far as new ones showing up, it could happen. My mind automatically creates these alters for me in times of great stress or when I have overwhelming feelings that I don’t know how to process. I don’t ever know when that will happen, so I can’t prepare for it. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Do your kids know you are a multiple again?
Yes. They all know. Joe and I thought it was the right thing to tell them. They have been through so much with me and if there was a chance that I would be switching in front of them, and they weren’t prepared, I believe that would be a worst case scenario for the trust we’ve built up between us.
What does your husband think about it? Is he mad?
Joe has always been a very understanding and supportive husband. He married me knowing that the future could be uncertain. He suspected long before I did that my splitting again would be possible. I’m sure he is worried and sometimes anxious about what this might mean for our relationship, but mad? No. Not as far as I know. But it might be best to ask him.
Why are you being public about it?
Since 2002 I’ve been online and public about my mental health issues. I don’t hold things back because I know there are many other people out there who suffer from some of the same things. Because mental illness carries such a stigma with it and it’s been a taboo subject to mention, I wanted to go where few were daring to go and be a place where people could discuss it. Ultimately, that was the reason for starting RealMental.org. I wanted more of a community feeling centered on mental illness and the real people that live with it every day.
When I split again awhile back, I was unsure what it meant and unsure if I would stay that way. I didn’t talk about it for a long time in case there was nothing to talk about. But, when it became obvious that Claire was back for good, it was something that had to be included in the conversation. Keeping secrets is always detrimental to my mental health and I really try to not have them.
Is your life going to be worse now?
Worse? Different. More complicated, maybe. But, every alter I have is a part of me. I’m just being myself. And I hope that doesn’t mean it’s worse.
I went to buy Not Otherwise Specified and it’s not there anymore. Why?
UPDATE: Get it here.
I’m working on reworking all my journals, adding in missing years, and making it into what I hope will be a really great book. I don’t know when it will be available, but you all will be the first to know.
Thanks for all your support over the years, Leahpeah family.
UPDATE: More on USOT
5 Replies to “Ask Leahpeah, United States of Tara Edition”
Can you tell us some more specifics about Claire? I don’t remember details about her from your book.
I watched the whole series in a couple of days after seeing you talk about it and finally actually watching previews of it. Great story; it was really gratifying to know that they’d gotten input from people like you who could talk about their experiences in such a way as to be useful to making the show more true-to-life. I’m looking forward to watching future seasons. I hope they’ll continue to seek out your input.
Thank you for sharing with us. One thing I’m curious about – will your alters also be posting on your blog? I would assume it was your space alone, but like I said: just curious.
Best of luck sorting through the recent changes.
thanks for doing this q & a, i’ve had similar questions, and one that i’ll email you about.
I came by here a couple of days ago to see if I could buy a copy, and I couldn’t. I’m glad to hear about the book!