Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Rose, By Any Other Name

When I was in college, I took Abnormal Psych - the entire semester in just one week, 8-5 every day. I was immersed in it and subjected to the Prof's dizzying perception of each "disorder" we studied. When he got to DID, he tore us apart. He stated the DSM IV was taking DID off of the books and sticking it on the "high" end of the PTSD spectrum. I freaked.

I had rented a temp apt and had no creature comforts - home was an hour away and I had too much homework to make the trip every day. I must have talked to my T at least 3 times that week. He knew I'd have a hard time with it but it was a required class. When I blurted out that the Prof insisted everyone diagnosed with DID should be (and would be) institutionalized immediately, even Mr.S was upset. He was upset for me and for what that meant for the Psych community. It wasn't till months (many) later that I began to understand what he had tried to tell me.

1) I felt like I had just been wiped off the face of the earth, the Prof had erased my identity.

2) I became even more afraid of being stuffed into a straight jacket without a soul to care.

3) I stopped trusting Mr. S. I'd already had dreams in which he coerced me into hospitals with barred windows and no doors.

4) I wanted to ditch school and run away - I attempted it twice.

5) Over all, I was terrified to leave my house. I was afraid someone would "notice" me, turn me in and I'd be arrested and thrown away.

All these conflicting thoughts and emotions tore at me for months and months. My therapy started over, more than once as I struggled with understanding and trust issues. I learned to trust Mr.S all over again, which wasn't easy. It was like pealing my own skin off and digging worms from my wounded flesh. I suffered a great deal.

One day in therapy, T told me something like, "He cannot take anything from you. You are REAL (one of my alter's issues is being real). He can't take that away from you just because he takes your diagnosis and moves it from one place to another."

I wasn't getting it, so he continued, "Okay, you will have Dissociative Identity Disorder even if "they" remove it completely from the DSM IV. Chances are, you might always dissociate regardless of what it's called. The DSM IV doesn't and cannot dictate disorders you can have. Just because someone says it doesn't exist, doesn't mean YOU don't exist."

I got it that time. And he's right. That proves just how much I struggle to exist. Oh, I don't want to be DID, but somehow, without the title of DID validating what is going on with me, I was afraid I'd be discarded and left without help and guidance. I know they can call it anything they want to - they need their labels - but I am who I am and like T often tells me, "It is so purely what it is."
Believe it or not, there are days when I'm proud of who I am and today - is one of them.

Ivory .


Vague said...

nice. wes glad u is here. :)

thesamesky said...

I'm proud of you too! :) I'm so glad that you are able to hold onto what T said about this. It makes me really angry too that your professor really had no idea, and his comment caused you so much pain. It's really not fair. But I'm glad that you have been able to come full circle and see it for what it is. :)

Ivory said...

@ Vague,
I'm glad I'm here, too. All of you are so nice. Thanks for caring...

@ thesamesky,
I've lived under thumbs for so long that thoughtless Professor really did me a job. I had littles fighting to avoid the class for fear of being hauled off to prison for the offense of existing. It was a difficult week.

Missing In Sight said...


Based on reading your posts, I think you and your alters have a lot to be proud of.

I dispise it when people discredit DID. When I was hospitalized last year, my psychiatrist that was treating me didn't believe in DID. That didn't make my members go away or make me stop dissociating. It just made me request a more enlightened psychiatrist.

You go, girl!

Stay strong and take care.

Rebecca of Missing In Sight

Kate said...

Hi Ivory,

I'm sorry that you went through that. I can relate and have gone through tailspins in my own life over this very same topic.

When I took abnormal psychology DID covered half a page of the textbook. I was devastated. It was very triggering for us and it made us feel as though we did not matter. Eating disorders took up more space in the book than child sexual abuse and it's aftermath.

Years later I had a co-worker who explained to me he was in abnormal psych and that his professor, at length, explained to them how DID did not really exist. I explained at length to him that it did and that I knew multiples and why someone becomes multiple.

Another multiple that I knew from a support group once told me how she had informed her therapist about me and explained how I wasn't really multiple because I had a lot of co-consciousness, so I wasn't really multiple anymore. Just like that she tried to erase me. It didn't work but it sure hurt to be invalidated and not accepted by her.

I'm proud of you too.

Good and healing thoughts to you.


Ivory said...

@ Rebecca
thanks for the encouragement! I truly cannot imagine what it must have been like for you to have a therapist who didn't believe DID exists. Tho it took Mr.S a very long time to share with me his diagnosis, he has researched and shared that with me, too. He also often tells me that he knows I dissociate, he believes me, and (best of all) that he believes one day, I will be at a place in my life that will allow me to be happy.

@ Kate
My class actually had a small chapter (only several pages compared to 150 pages on other disorders like OCD/OCP. He spent 1 1/2 days on it. I have a picture that was drawn by my 11 year old - when she couldn't take it anymore after I totally zoned out. It's so sad.
Thanks for caring, I appreciate it a great deal!

Just Be Real said...

Ivory, two thumbs up. I too am very proud of you dear !! (((Ivory))))

Ivory said...


:) Thanks!

The Beehive said...

I am a Psych and Education major, and I also took an Abnormal Psych class about two years ago. When we got to the subject of DID, my prof claimed just about all the same stuff your prof did. Interesting thing though, about a week later, I went into talk to my prof (at the time I was taking 3 of her psych classes, so she knew me well). We were talking about an assignment and such, and then the topic of my health was brought up. Within two minutes, I had confessed to her that I had DID. She then told me that what she had said in class wasn't how she really felt about DID, but how she was told to teach it, so students wouldn't diagnose every other future patient with DID. It was a strange experience for me, since I hardly tell anyone that I have DID. But your post made me think of my Abnormal Psych class and the way my prof acted in both scenarios. I wonder what your prof really thought?