book

Ask Leahpeah

Hi Leahpeah,

I just got done reading your book. Thank you so much for sharing your life with me and everyone in the entire world. There are lots of people like me that are so happy to have someone talk about it. I’m going to take it into my next group meeting and share it with everyone. I looked through the art therapy paintings you have on your website and wondered why you didn’t include those in the book? And I wondered if you ever did any paintings or drawings about getting integrated. I mean, about the actually ‘getting integrated’ part. Because I’m thinking about doing it. And I’m not so scared about it anymore.

Silent Night Owl

Dear Silent Night Owl,

Thank you so much for reading and thank you for letting me know that you liked it. It means a lot to me.

I did do a painting about the actual integration process.

integration

You might recognize the description of the rivulets going together into one large area from reading about it in the book. At some point in the near future I’m going to put descriptions with all the art therapy paintings so they make more sense.

I wanted a way to put the paintings in the book but it was just too expensive. Maybe if the book gets picked up by a publisher they can figure out a way to include them but in the meantime, I hope this will do.

Best of everything to you,

leahpeah

The Together Painting

together_painting_1

When I was in Seattle visiting my sister Rhoda, I finally took a photo of a painting that I had left unfinished at her home, which she had worked on and finished after I left. Which is fitting, because the painting was about new growth and finishing things. If she had not finished it, it would have been a most ironic painting.

I started it before I was integrated and then I left her home in such a hurry that I didn’t have time to finish it. I couldn’t wait to get back to Southern California and my kids. Rhoda always joked about being my 8th personality. And in a way, she was right. I had seven in my head but we have always been so close and I would never have survived my life if it weren’t for her. I can never thank her enough. She always tells me how strong I am but she was the one that was strong enough for both of us for years and years.

I think she did a lovely job finishing the painting. And she proclaims to have so little creativity…..

Ask Leahpeah

Hi Leah,

I’m half-way through your book right now – it’s a great read! Thank you for sharing your story.

I was just looking through your flickr photo albums – very fun to see pictures of you as a kid. I wonder, though, why you don’t have pictures of yourself as a teen? I’d be so curious what you looked like during 16 – 18, the part of the book I’m reading.

Kristen in Colorado

Dear Kristen,

Thank you! I did post some pictures of me as a teen on my blog but neglected to add them to the Flickr site. I have added them now and also a few more including me with some friends, my wedding invitation for my first marriage and one with my son, Devon when I’m 18.

Thanks for reading the book!

xo,
lpc

Meth

I started using meth about the same time I moved out of the house and away from my marriage and kids. I felt like a failure. I wanted to never think about anything that meant anything. I wanted an escape. Meth did that for me. I started out snorting it and after a while, when that didn’t keep me as high anymore, I moved on to smoking it. And I could never get enough. And I couldn’t think about anything else besides when the next time I could get high would be. I knew even as it was happening that it felt out of my control and stupid and that I should make myself quit but I couldn’t. I would think, ‘This is so stupid. I’m being so dumb.’ and then light the pipe and inhale deeply.

I drove to Seattle after not sleeping and contemplating suicide for almost 2 weeks straight. My sister took me in. I tried to quit using but it went on for a few more weeks. It was so easy to find and people were practically giving it away to strangers. It’s not easy to say no when people are offering. Eventually, my self harming took care of all of it. I cut my leg so deep and long with a razor that I needed emergency attention and lots of stitches. I went from there to a mental institution where I started getting all the help I needed for so many things.

This guy couldn’t stop until he used a rifle to blow off his face.

Ask Leahpeah

Dear LeahPeah/Kate,

I just read your book. It was pretty good and I liked it allot. But I have a question. If you are being so open and honest or whatever, then why did you change your name to Kate in teh book? Why not just keep it LeahPeah in the book? I mean, I know your name when I came to the website. So it’s not really hidden, is my point.

Signe,
Annon

Dear Anon,

Thanx for reading my book. I changed my name to Kate in the book for three reasons.

1st, when I started writing the book, I wasn’t planning on publishing it under my own name. I was going to remain entirely anonymous (like yourself) mainly to keep anyone from knowing who I was so they wouldn’t contact anyone in my family. That remained the plan for a very long while and most of the book was already written by the time I had changed my mind. At that point, I thought about changing it to Leah, which brings us to 2nd.

Leah was also one of the names I went by. Yes, it was my birth name, but before I was integrated, there were 6 other just as valid names that I went by. So, in deciding to switch it to Leah or keep it Kate, it made the most sense to use Kate since then none of the other 6 personalities would feel bad. After being integrated, I could easily see how it would be fine to change it to Leah which brings us to 3rd.

As I reread the book for the millionth time, looking for errors etc., I tried to imagine how I could change my name from Kate to Leah and still keep the present ‘voice’ of myself as strong as it was. For example, if I’m calling myself Leah before integration and also in the present tense, it might get a little confusing.

I hope that made sense and thanx for your email.

best,
lpc

Reader Comment

Jenn says:

Leah,

Just read the book and couldn’t put it down. I read it in three days while pretending to still be a mom and wife and do the daily things. I’m overwhelmed with your bravery and honesty. I think you’re very amazing and wonderful and hope to some day meet you in person. It’s hard to find the words to express my feelings regarding your story. I’m so glad that Rhoda let me borrow your book. My mom now wants to read it. As a woman who has struggled with minor mental issues, I’ve been given hope that they are conquerable. Your strength is staggering. Your story miraculous. Thank you so much for sharing it.

dear jenn,

thank you so much for your words. my whole intent in writing the book is to help others understand mental illness a little better and to give hope. if the book does that, it’s all worth it.

best of everything to you and yours,
lpc

Not Otherwise Specified

Book
My book is now available. Click here.

Reviews:

Not Otherwise Specified, a memoir of one woman’s struggle with multiple personalities goes beyond the conventional story-telling of one’s life, of detailing one’s family and one’s hardships and the lessons learned along the way. This retelling of the fascinating yet heartbreaking journey into the many minds of mental illness will grip you instantly and leave you wondering how someone could have survived to tell the story.

I read this book as a daughter and as a mother, as someone who grew up under some of the same paternalistic religious standards that when abused can wreck the lives of those whom it is supposed to help the most. Here Leah shows the circle of being a daughter and then becoming a mother herself, the intricacies of those relationships and how laying blame is not the way to move forward or to become healithier. She beautifully illustrates that half of the cure for illnesses whether physical or mental is to take them seriously, to recognize that the illness does exist, and no one can come away from this story without seeing straight into the demon of a impaired mind.

Having experienced a mental illness myself I think the fact that she tells this story with such clarity speaks to her ability as a writer. There is so much confusion and doubt and frustration that accompanies the daily ritual of dealing with depression and anxiety, even more so with eating disorders. That she is able to detail those experiences from the perspective of separate personalities, that the descriptions are so exact and recognizable is profoundly astounding. I could not put the book down because I had become almost emotionally attached to each person in her body, feeling the pain of one personality and the joy of another.

This memoir will do nothing but provide a better, more sympathetic, more compelling face to the mysteries of multiple personalities and should help eliminate the stigma of mental illness in general. Here is the human side of a seemingly unimaginable tale, one that left me
looking at every person I meet with a little more sympathy. If only every book could leave me feeling that way.
Heather Armstrong, www.dooce.com

My first session with Leah felt a little bit rushed to me. She announced that she was “multiple”, told me some about her inner world (i.e., names, ages, and functions), and told me she/they were ready to integrate. I must admit that my past experience working with people with DID followed a somewhat different pattern. Usually, after a couple or more years of therapy, testing (of me), trust building, catastrophe and catharsis, the decision to integrate was finally broached, then negotiated, and finally completed. To have someone walk into a first session and say they just wanted a little help integrating was a shocker. But, Leah meant it. And, of course, for her it was not a quick decision. She had worked for years with another therapist in California, she had written a good portion of this book and she had used her art for years as an integral part of her therapy.

Even so, we did work fast and effectively. Introductions were made, fears were laid to rest and integration proceeded smoothly. While our relationship was brief and her final integration unusual ( in that I was very new to her life and system); her story in many ways was not unusual at all. At the heart of it was a deep sense of shame. A shame of such monumental proportions that it must be hidden. Secrets of shameful events were guarded and kept under wraps. Whenever the mind resorts to such creative but extreme measures as the making of alter-personalities, one finds secrets so shameful that the rage naturally engendered by such events is disguised and displaced. In every case you will find a “Samson” or a father (or some other powerful, significant adult) who does “things” to a child that simply cannot be talked about. These things must be hidden or denied or distorted.

I felt honored and privileged to be among of the first to read Leah’s manuscript. It is a work of great integrity and honesty. It takes one to that private place where you see all the confusion and desires and complexities of the human condition in the raw. It was started, I believe, to serve Leah in the very difficult task of facing herself (we should all be so brave!). I hope now it will serve others in their own journey to health and integrity.
Steve Clancy

My Book

My book is almost ready to be available to the masses.
Maybe next week.

Reactions have been mixed.
I recently heard from 2 siblings that they are very much against my book being read by anyone and are hurt that it was ever written at all.
My mom would like it if I would rewrite it and take out some of the specifics and content that makes it slightly hardcore.
A few members of my family have decided to not comment.
And one sister would go hand it out and preach about it if she had the wherewithal to do so.
My husband is supportive yet slightly removed since he has read only parts and isn’t sure what the fuss is about.
His parents will probably be embarrassed by it.
My kids can’t read it yet since it contains graphic content and it is so particular to them. Well, maybe the oldest could now. I’m not sure.
My sister won’t let my adult-aged niece read it since she thinks it would harm her. How many more situations like that will there be?

How do I feel?
I feel so strongly that it is needed and right.
I get a stomach ache when I look at what happens to people that tell their stories.
It’s me. It’s my story. It’s real and good for it to be available to others.
It is strong and could potentially hurt someone.
The same could be true of many things: ocean water, roller coasters, rock concerts, snow skiing/boarding, driving…….
The benefits could be endless.
What I would have given for a book like it when I was in high school.

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