I suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or Multiple Personality Disorder. I have hidden myself away from life for years. There are many groundless myths about DID, so with newly found courage, I started this Blog with the hope it will educate and persuade people to understand that I and others like me are not monsters. While movies are great for sensationalism, the reality of DID is much different.
I have always known there is something different about me. I didn’t understand the extent of my uniqueness until 4 ½ years ago when I sought the help of a therapist. Two years earlier, my life had begun a steady downward spiral of panic caused by the confusion of lost time and disturbing dreams. I desperately searched for a way to make things right. First, though, I must explain what Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is.
Have you ever heard of Ockham’s Razor? It is a theory stating that when trying to understand something obscure or difficult, like DID, we shouldn't over analyze the facts, because the simplest explanation tends to be the right one. I don’t want to quote from professional literature or simply attach links, so from society’s point of view, dissociative identity means an identity (personality) has separated or moved away from something or someone. That's pretty simple, although…
I would rather explain DID from my side of the textbook. Dissociative Identity Disorder means much more to me than a personality or identity that has separated from me. It means there are issues separate from mine, dreams unrealized that I’m not aware of, desires different from mine, and needs sought other than mine; all of which might preempt mine at any given time or place.
There is also Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that ruins some of my days by way of triggers. There seems to be a never-ending flow of triggers leaving me shaken and reliving trauma I sometimes don't remember, or emotional confusion I can’t explain to my friends. It might be a song, the way a man looks, a smell, a sound, a black bird, or a screaming cat, the list is very long.
My therapist explained DID to me in the simplest way he could by mimicking a church finger-rhyme. He clasped the fingers of both his hands together, pointing the forefingers upwards. He then recited the rhyme, “This is the Church. This is the steeple. Open the door, and here’s all the people!” He had turned his hands upside down and wiggled his linked fingers during the recitation. He explained that his fingers were like most people’s personality – united. As he slowly pulled his hands and fingers apart from each other, he explained to me how my personality became fractured by the unbearable trauma I experienced as a child. In order for me to survive, the injured parts of my personality pulled away from each other. Unable to find their way back again, they learned to function, survive, and grow on their own – separate from me, even in spite of me. Often, when I experience anxiety, fear, pain, or uncertainty, I cannot access my whole coping system, as do most people, instead, I have a personality best suited to deal with the task at hand, so she steps forward, leaving me behind, safe and hidden in my “White Place.”
Survival. That is the key word and though it seems simplistic in idea, it is trauma driven.
Dissociating is an extreme way of surviving something one cannot cope with, understand, or accept. It involves intense fear, hopelessness, and helplessness. As a child, I learned to focus on something outside of myself so completely as to not hear, feel, see, or know what was happening to me. It is similar to daydreaming except so profoundly focused that no external sound or movement can “break the spell.” Whichever personality is out is the one who makes the decision to give up that position and step back, allowing me to become fully aware of myself again.
This is the first time I have braved the world with the truth about myself. I have lost much as a direct result of the effects of DID. I am hoping what I write here will open eyes, soften hearts, helping others to understand that people with DID are no more crazy than anyone else. In my world – I’m as normal as you believe you are, however, our differences cannot be appreciated until they are understood.
Every weekend, I will post an entry addressing a specific issue that many people take for granted - unless you are DID. Occasionally, there will be short shorts throughout the week of daily revelation or issues. Next week: Ever Lost Your Keys?
Because I believe education opens the mind and frees the soul, I encourage questions and comments.