Complex Trauma

Blogging about Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder and Complex PTSD – Ep. 106

Many guests who have joined me on the podcast come from a background of writing about their experiences. This method of coping paved the way, in many cases, to their to where they are today, and continue to aid in their ongoing journey of healing. For some, writing is an exercise in anxiety and simply too difficult an experience to endure because of the painful memories the come rushing back while exploring their feelings in this manner.

Writing is usually a solo activity, which in itself can raise the anxiety level to exponential heights; something of course we’d rather not experience any longer. For many however, myself included, blogging offers a way to get those deep-rooted feelings and memories out of our heads and in some ways, make sense of them. At the very least, getting these such thoughts out of heads, can help them seem not so intimidating.

My guest on this episode of the podcast, Shirley J. Davis, has spent a large part of her life writing, which has allowed her to exponentially aid her own healing journey from abuse which started at a very young age, and leading to Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Shirley Davis shares is a freelance writer, public speaker and grant writer who loves life, and hopes to help others to do so as well. Shirley lives with a severe mental health condition known as dissociative identity disorder but has made huge strides forward through many years of hard work and the help of a wonderful therapist. Her philosophy  has become that life is not just an empty journey to simply survive and then die, rather it is a wonderful adventure to savor and enjoy.

She  writes about healing from complex trauma and DID on her blog, , , and many other outlets including NAMI of Illinois, and the American Psychological Association. 

During our chat on the podcast, Shirley shares some of her survivor story, which includes abuse that started from birth, and continuing through age 15.

  • Her personal experience in life with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and how she interacts with her alters.
  • What prompted her to seek treatment, and what that treatment looks like for her in an ongoing basis.
    • The process of giving her struggles a name, and how this helped her make sense of her life.
  • Making sense of D.I.D., especially early on in her life when research and resources were not as readily available as they are today.
  • Her daily life as a survivor and sharing how far she’s come from the child who was abuse for so long.
  • Making her way to the Fusion stage of D.I.D.
  • Why writing has been such an important part of her life, including getting started with her own blog and CPTSD Foundation.

Be sure and follow Shirley J. Davis’ work on or simply google her name for the many outlets that share her work.  You can also follow her on Twitter @ShirleyDavis18.

Please consider sharing this podcast with someone who might benefit from hearing Shirley’s story and encouragement for trauma survivors and those with living with D.I.D., you never know the difference it could make.  Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP

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All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.


Podcast – Ep. 80 – Life with Autism, C-PTSD, DID, and Narcolepsy, with Kelli Gettel

Over the last couple of years that the Beyond Your Past Podcast has been in existence (including the previous name of Surviving My Podcast), I’ve had the pleasure of talking with dozens of incredible guests on a variety of topics. Everything from Dissociation, to PTSD, DID, Anxiety, along with clinicians and coaches discussing various trauma informed modalities used with their clients, and countless survivor stories that always leave me feeling so encouraged and honored to speak with such incredible people.

The power of sharing your story can never be underestimated. You never know how much you’re going to help someone who you’ll never meet.

This episode focuses on a topic that I have not yet covered on the blog or podcast to date; autism and being a survivor. So when Kelli Gettel contacted me and wanted toAutism_Awareness_Ribbon - beyond your past podcast share her story of living with Autism, PTSD, Narcolepsy, and being raised by a Narcissistic parent, I knew this was going to be an episode that would be as educational as much as it will be inspiring.

Kelli is an entrepreneur living in the central Pennsylvania area, and a parent of 3 children, including a 4 yr old who also was diagnosed with autism. As you’ll hear on the podcast, Kelli has overcome tremendous odds in her life, as so many survivors do, and wants to help others understand life with the challenges she faces. By doing so she wants to educate others that these are not reasons to stay silent, isolated, and living in fear or shame. Rather, by utilizing the power of research and learning about your situation, you can find ways to adapt and overcome, and reach others with a positive, stigma fighting message.

Some of her challenges we discuss on the show include:

  • Life as a female, living on the autism spectrum; including when she was diagnosed, the struggles of non-verbal communication with others.
  • How Narcolepsy affects her relationships, and how Narcolepsy can be a form of Dissociation.
  • Sensory Struggles; the challenges of not being able to filter out surrounding sounds and distractions to be able to focus on a single event or conversation.
  • Social Rules & Protocols – how she had to, and continues to learn how to interact in a social setting. Things that come natural to others have to be learned and adjusted too, which can cause struggles in relationships of all types.
  • Her ability to think in pictures; in her mind she sees life in the form of pictures and moving images, so trying to translate that into words and communicate her thoughts can be a huge challenge.
  • We also touch a bit on her life growing up with a parent who had narcissistic tendencies, and how she’s learning more about understanding her alters and using the IFS model to help.

As you’ll also hear how Kelli is so proud of her youngest son, who, diagnosed with autism, taught himself to read before the age of two and is a huge Beatles fan, knowing every song they’ve ever written and nearly everything about the band. Which also leads into our chat about some of the things that she wants to share about how she’s adapting to the daily struggles that multiple diagnoses can bring:

Education has been so important to Kelli; especially reading books to help understand what she’s experiencing, and make sense of the challenges in her life. She shares some of the books that she has found especially helpful; some of which you might recognize:

This was such an incredible podcast, and as you’ll hear there was no way we could fit in everything that Kelli wanted to share, in just one show. So be on the lookout for future episodes with Kelli as we dive a bit deeper into particular areas of her life.

If you’d like to connect with Kelli Gettel, you can reach her on Facebook. If you would like connect with her, she requests that you please be sure and let her know that you found her via the Beyond Your Past Podcast.

Thank you again Kelli for joining me! Your story is inspiring, your resiliency is amazing! I look forward to future shows with you.

Matthew Pappas, CLC, CPNLP

Thank you to my incredible sponsors of the podcast – and Daily Recovery Support







All conversation and information exchanged on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.