This is somewhat of a sensitive topic for me but I’m also open to talking about it, about myself. For those of you who don’t know me or haven’t read other parts of my website: I have DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), which was formally known as MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder). Now, I find myself wanting to stop, and erase this blog post altogether. Feeling very exposed and vulnerable. Why? Simply, because of the INSANE stigmatism that is attached to DID because of Hollywood Movies, and not to forget the “psychos” who pretend to have DID. Why do they pretend? Easy! “IT WASN’T ME!”
Now, I can far easily talk for hours on DID, in general. I know a LOT. But… I find it extremely hard to talk about it, when it comes to myself, especially to people who haven’t gotten to know me yet. Immediately, my first fearful thought about what people will think is, “She’s a freak! Run!”… And then comes the mob, with pitch forks and the lot to “take out” this “monster”… THANK YOU HOLLYWOOD!!! (SARCASM)
Only once in my life, did I ever get the “look”… The “look” that EVERY DID person fears immeasurably. I broke. I cried. I embraced the “Hollywood claims” that I’m a psycho and a “freak”… And then, the following day, I was treated like a “normal” person again! Confused. I asked why… “Because you haven’t done anything that would scare me, or ‘weird me out’, so you’re obviously fine to be around.”… Okay???
In all honesty, as confusing as that dramatic change in response was, I was relieved. Confused. But relieved. They had looked past the stigmatism, and “weirdness of it all”, and saw ME. Yes, for me, what you see is what you get. I can’t, obviously, speak for every person, on this planet, who lives with DID because I have also read some very sad stories – NONE, I should add, that resulted in the person being a psycho or monster!!
On a side note here: Basically everyone that is in my life, knows I have DID… And as an extra note: NONE of them have ever been harmed! Nor do they get “freaked out”. I stress this, simply, because DID is NOT what you see in movies! To a degree, in the recent years, however, movies are becoming somewhat more accurate in their depiction of DID, but at the same time, still horribly wrong overall. No one in my life fears me, or my DID, nor are they swayed if a “switch” ever happens; rather, they find it fascinating and accept it wholly as “this is me”.
This can be an ever so long topic for discussion, and I will more than likely touch on it in other blog posts. But for now, let me tell you about me… My life, living with DID… And obviously trying to not write so much that it becomes a book. (Although, I have talked about DID in some of my books).
Now, again, I am simply sharing MY life with having DID and not everything I say will be common experiences with other DID people. Why does it vary? Two reasons, basically: Every person is unique and different, and so then their life of living with DID will be different too; And added, I have worked with my DID for numerous years and have learnt to maintain some kind of “normality”, at least, to the outside world. People who don’t even know I have DID, do not even suspect it, nor get “weirded out” when they are around me. I look normal and I act normal. I do live a pretty functional and normal life. In fact, the people who do know that I have DID, even often forget that I have it altogether because nothing “bizarre” or “weird” happens. I look and seem normal.
Let’s first look at why I ended up having DID. Without going into much detail at all… it was trauma, immeasurable and unbearable trauma that, as a child, I could not deal with nor escape from.
You can only develop DID under the age of 7 years old. If you faced trauma only later in life, after the age of 7, then it is completely impossible that you would end up with DID. However, if you had developed DID by/before the age of 7, then you are fully capable of further developing the DID that you already have, as well. Please bare in mind that not every person, who undergoes trauma by the age of 7, will definitely result in having DID. There are a few exceptions why as to why some do not develop it.
Let me back track a little, and try dumb it down, to help you understand what DID is. Firstly, no medication can “cure” DID but “some” medication can help prevent “switching”, but only to a degree and not completely. The only thing that truly can help DID is love, support, acceptance and a process of healing. DID happens when a child undergoes severe, repeated, trauma (sexually, physically, mentally and/or emotionally). Because the trauma is SO severe, and repetitive, AND the child has NO WAY of escape, the child’s mind, in desperation, basically “splits” itself. This split will form another fully functional person. This new person is purely “created” to take on the trauma at hand. What will happen is that the “original”/”core” child will completely blank out, in a comatose state, in the trauma scenario, while the new child will be fully functional and take on the trauma. When the trauma ends, the new child then “disappears”/”hides” in the back of the mind, and the original/core child then awakens – COMPLETELY unaware of the trauma that had happened (the core child will, however, develop symptoms from the trauma such as depression, etc, but they won’t know why). Now, the new child, most of the time, remains fully alert in order to take over any further trauma that happens. If repeated trauma, and different types of trauma, occurs then even more new children are “created”. Each new child is specifically “created” to take on different trauma, or excessive amounts of the same trauma. These new children are often referred to as alters, personalities or parts. They are basically people. DID, in lamens terms, is 2 or more people living in one body. Yes, its confusing and weird, I know.
So, once this child has DID, what happens next? Now let’s dumb it down a bit more, as I know it’s a lot to understand. Picture a person driving a car: You have the driver, a passenger next to you and some in the back seat too. Now, typically, the driver is the “original”/”core” person, and the others in the car are the alters or parts. The car is the “the body”. Now, while the road of life is going somewhat okay, the original person will be in the driver’s seat. Every now and then, one of the parts will give instructions or comment about what is happening on this road of life (called “co-consciousness”). If the driver gets exhausted (too much stress, etc), it is common for one of the parts to take over the driving seat, while the original driver goes to the back seat (called “switching”). The new driver is in control of the car (the body). Now, one of two things can happen here: The original driver can either sit in the back seat and observe what is going on around them (watching, but not in control); or they could pass out, completely unaware of everything going on around them. When something terrible happens (on this road of life) that the original driver isn’t equipped to handle, then another person will take over and drive the car (the body), until the scenario is over. Usually, in this scenario, the original person is knocked out into a comatose state, in order to protect them from even witnessing what is going on. This is a “dumbed down” explanation of the typical life of a DID person.
Do I like living with DID? Yes and no. Firstly, I was never given a choice as to whether I wanted to have DID or not, but without it, I would definitely not been here today. DID saved my life and, regularly, it still does. I have never known what it was like to be someone living without DID. Up until a number of years ago, I thought what I experienced in my life, within myself, was normal – I thought everyone was the same. To add to this though, DID is actually VERY common BUT highly undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. To think about it quite plainly: How many children go through extreme trauma in their lives? How many adults can say that they did not even undergo excessive mental or emotional abuse, at the very least, as a child? Now do you see how common it is? I know quite a few people who have DID, and at many points in my life, it felt like every second person I met, had it as well. Sadly, it is highly possible that they did, given the turmoil the world is in. But back to the question: Do I like having DID? Well, I have no other experience in life (of not having it) to compare it with. But I can tell you that there are moments where it won’t bother me, or it will help me, or it will comfort me, or it will make me laugh, or it will frustrate me. There are pros and cons to it, just like there would be pros and cons to not having DID… Either way, this is the card I was dealt for my life and I have to work with it, and make the most of it, as well as appreciate it because, like I said before, I would not have survived without it.
So who am I on a daily basis? What is my life like? Pretty normal and functional, I guess you could say. It was not always like that though. I had to make the decision, a constant one at that, to work with my DID parts to get to where I am now and where I want to be. When I was first diagnosed with DID, I had worked excessively with it. Why? Mostly, because it fascinated me. I’m curious by nature. In doing this, I learnt A LOT and even ultimately merged (healed) into ONE person… Just me, no parts. That was honestly frightening, in the beginning, as I had never faced life “alone”. I had numerous breakdowns. It was lonely. Then over a period of time, I ended up splitting off new parts because of new trauma. As mentioned before, once you have managed to develop DID, you can continually develop, or split, through the course of your life. It’s a coping mechanism built into the brain that has become a subconscious skill or survival tactic. I didn’t choose to split, it just happened. Actually, I didn’t even know I had split again, as there were no signs of it… Until another new traumatic event happened, and then hearing the news about what had happened afterwards. Believe me, my first thought by that point was, “Oh no! Not again! Seriously? I thought it was over!?” Nope. So began my life again with having DID and, again, I would not have survived without my parts. Now, because I had learnt, by that point, how to handle my DID and work WITH my parts… To work in agreement and unity… It was easier to deal with than the first time I was faced with this challenge.
How often am I co-conscious? All the time! This is when I have myself and one of parts “driving” my body. Either I will be in control of what is happening, and hearing instructions and comments from one of my parts; Or less likely, they will more in control. The reason I am co-conscious all the time is because my parts are very protective of me; not destructive by any means, I should add. I have been through A LOT in life, and they are my “bodyguards” and “counselors” on standby, to help in any way needed. And to add to this, I am very protective by nature, of the people (or animals) in my life, so my parts have taken on this character trait as well.
How often do I fully switch? Fully switching to the point of me being unconscious is a bare 2%-5% of the time. It rarely happens because, simply, we have learnt to work together. The times where I have been knocked completely unconscious, is basically for three reasons: Firstly, when I am faced with new scenarios that I am not equipped enough to handle and it would be too devastating if I tried, as I would then split further; Secondly, I am exhausted and they give me a “time out breather”; And thirdly, well, they can be fascinated or bored, and also want to be in control at times to experience life. Now, to add to this, the time period for fully switching is only a few seconds to a few minutes for me, simply, because I have worked with my parts enough to stop frequent and long periods of switching. I have healed from a fair amount of issues and learnt how to handle “life”.
So what are my parts like? Very much like me, actually. I found that all my parts hold true to a vast number of core character traits and basic instinct or morale. A fair amount of my parts are very anti-social too, so no one ever sees them and, rather, they prefer to be “the voice in my head”, if I need them. But overall, they all remain true to the core person that I am. When you get to know me, as a person, you will see that there really isn’t much difference between me and my parts.
What do my parts do when they fully switch with me? In general, I avoid any scenarios where I can foresee that I’ll end up traumatized, or having reminders thrown at me of memories from my past. So, in unpredicted traumatic circumstances that I don’t know how to handle, my parts switch and defend me, or defend someone I care about. None have become violent, I should add. In 99.9% of the rare full, general, switching scenarios, it would be simple things like making someone coffee, and other simple things like that.
What happens when it comes to my work/my job? It’s quite helpful, generally. My parts help me cope with stress or help me resolve issues regarding work that I am, personally, baffled by. Some of my parts are HIGHLY creative and others HIGHLY logical. I am both 50/50 right and left brain, so when any of my parts do help with work, they enhance the side of my brain that I need to use.
What happens in relationships with my DID? Firstly, I am a very reserved person, so even when it comes to friendships, I limit myself as to who is in my life, and deemed as “friend”. Secondly, my parts and I work in agreement with whoever is let into my life. They can instinctively see why someone would not be safe to have around… Simply, because they have more experience than I do because of trauma. When including a new friend into my life, or a partner, all my parts are “on board” with this decision. This is a long topic on its own, but I have never encountered issues, with my parts, when it comes to having people in my life. We are all on board, all in agreement, in the decision. It has to be this way, as ultimately, it could end up being destructive, as I have heard how other DID people battle on this topic. It all boils down to “working together” and being in agreement.
Do I have issues when I have a partner? Nope. Firstly, when I find myself even crushing on someone, my parts are crushing on them too, and the rest are simply not bothered and anti social, so they don’t even play a part in the relationship. Secondly, none of my parts have caused issues in a relationship, and if there are upsets that I’m feeling in the relationship, my parts generally feel it too. My parts still do not, however, interfere to make matters worse. They do offer suggestions and solutions in sorting out the upsets, or they help me cope through those times, if there are no solutions. Either way, they do not destructively interfere. To interfere would only, ultimately, cause me more harm at the end of the day and as I mentioned, they are protective. My parts also, strongly, do not interfere in a relationship because the person that I’m with is important to me and, at the same time, important to them too. So, rather, I have learnt from my parts on how to handle any upsets when they arise.
I can see I have rambled on about DID, so I will end this potential book here and touch base again in another future blog post. But, to sum it all up, even though DID might seem weird and bizarre, complex and confusing, I can only be grateful at the end of the day for my parts because without them, like I said before, I would not have survived my life. And even though I still carry the fear of the “look” from the stigmatism Hollywood portrays about DID, I have to remind myself that everyone who knows me, doesn’t see DID that way, and that not everyone will even ultimately resort to being fearful or weary of me either; and that they will look past the stigmatism and “weirdness of it all”, and see ME. And even though it can sometimes be frustrating to me, simply because I don’t feel normal, I need to remind myself that there are a lot of people in the world that have DID, knowingly or unknowingly, and have not managed to live a stable, functional life, as I have manage to. It’s all a work in progress, but then again, everyone’s life is a work in progress too.