Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder is the most severe of the dissociative disorders.

I’d like it if you would let me try to explain what a dissociation is and try to normalize it a bit because in reality we all dissociate in varying degrees.
Have you ever been driving and suddenly found yourself 5 minutes down the road or perhaps even at your destination with no memory of getting yourself there?  You have just driven a 2 ton vehicle with no conscious memory of it yet you got there safely (PHEW!!!).
Another example may be sitting in a class or meeting then suddenly realizing that you have not heard a single thing since about a minute in to it. Relate to that?
Those are basic dissociations and everyone does it. You are not weird or in need of help. You are just human.

Many people who have suffered severe trauma will dissociate to varying degrees. Some people know they were harmed but don’t recall the details. Some people feels as though they watched it from outside their body. Some people have no idea what on earth happened but have this foreboding sense that something did. It is the minds way of protecting itself. Extremely useful at the time but extremely maladaptive when the threat is no longer present.

For me, I jokingly say that I have a PhD in dissociation. My trauma was so severe and so constant that my mind got VERY good at “leaving”. I quite often have very clear memories of the beginning of a trauma but then the memory gradually begins to get fuzzy or non-existent. I recall enough clearly to know what happened but I also know there was much more to it that I do not recall. Quite frankly? I appreciate that. What I recall is bad enough.
Basically speaking, my mind did the “driving” for me so I didn’t have to do it myself.

There is a great deal of debate in the psychiatric field as to whether or not DID really exists. I am finding that for psychiatrists that focus on trauma and dissociation as their area of specialty, they have little doubt. It is the doctors that are more interested in other fields that seem to discount it. I mean no disrespect here at all but for those (doctors or not) who wish to just automatically discount what someone is going through based on opinion alone? I offer them to live my life for a week, then decide.

One key “feature” that really shocked me about DID was that I had no real awareness about any of these dissociations. I knew that I was missing hours or days at times but honestly felt that I was perhaps developing early Alzheimer’s, had a brain tumour or was just plain crazy. It never occurred to me for even one moment that there was some other “person” taking over so I could avoid a triggering situation. It actually took a lot of convincing by professionals that had earned my respect before I agreed to even consider it.

Something else that I did not realize is that DID is not really about having other people coming out. “Alters” are really just parts of the same person but there are walls between that side of you and others.
An example… you can have a part of you that is calm and sweet with your children then perhaps a bit of a hard-nose business person when at work. You might be a laugh a minute when out with your friends but more serious and quiet with the in-laws. All these parts are still you but they are different parts of you.
With DID, one part doesn’t know the other. The caring mother, the businesswoman, the funny friend and the sombre in-law have never met.

It is also very common for people with DID to have both men and women “alters”. It was explained to me that perhaps a more male attitude was needed at certain times. Maybe that more masculine “alter” was created to help protect me. Sometimes a man will say things or do things that a woman can’t or won’t. The opposite is true for men.

All in all, DID is not as scary, weird or unbelievable as I used to think it was. It actually really makes a lot of sense. It sure helped me to find out what was going on in my mind. It was affecting my life so much in mostly negative ways. That negativity was largely created because of fear. I panicked when I didn’t know what I had been doing for an afternoon, I tried to pretend that I remembered certain conversations because I didn’t want someone to think I didn’t care enough to listen to them the first time, I certainly would never admit that I honestly had no memory at all of an event that everyone else recalled so vividly that they could still talk about it with clarity days or even years later.  There was so much silence in my life because I was just so afraid to speak about much more than mindless chatter.

In my life? After a diagnoses of DID that I fought hard against? It all makes so much sense. The pieces have begun to fit together and rather than making me feel like I am split into pieces, it is actually doing the opposite and showing me that I am more whole than I ever thought. All my parts are within me and one day we will find a way to break the walls between us. My Helpers and I are silent no more.

8 responses to “Dissociative Identity Disorder

  1. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. Id prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you dont mind. Natually Ill give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok.
    I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

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  3. hi!,I like your writing very a lot! share we keep in touch more approximately your post on AOL?
    I need an expert in this house to solve my problem.
    Maybe that is you! Taking a look ahead to peer you.

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  4. Marian Coloroso

    I have been suffering from PTSD, Anxiety, DID, Major Depressive Disorder, 25 years of repression and other underlying problems for the last year and a half. You just explained this perfectly for people, or at least as I see it. I have weeks just disappear, I will experience no memory of things all the time. What I am not sure of is like you state, in the beginning it is simply a fight for survival…a way to escape what you can’t handle at that time. But what has been so damaging is the DID I suffer everyday. I don’t know if the threat is still there but I sure know my fear is. I tremble all day and night. And now dissociate into focusing on my fear. I know how real DID is. And it is so maladaptive, that I can’t seem to figure out how to associate with life long enough to hold my family and household together. All the medicines make me sleep 18 hours a day. I’m still pretty new to figuring out how to cope everyday. I have my good days and weeks and I have my bad. I don’t know how to fix this. So sign me up. It’s nice to have somewhere to read about this. I feel heartfelt sorrow for those of us who suffer. And you are right…move on? How? It has me held hostage. I feel it killing me everyday. Which brings even more of all the disorders. I’m not asking for a solution. I read tonight there isn’t one…that this doesn’t ever go away. Thank you for that news. Lol. It’s just nice to know there are others who get it. So thank you.

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    • Hello Marian,
      I am really happy that you feel my explanation fits your situation as well. One of the best parts of this blog for me personally is knowing that I am not alone.
      I am also still fairly “new” in knowing that I have DID (as well as the other disorders). I found out while hospitalized in February 2013.
      DID is maladaptive and damaging to our lives now but our brain learned to behave this way to help us in the past. It was adaptive and lifesaving for us then so I have chosen to be grateful for it even though it is maladaptive now. Being grateful seems to help my “Helpers” feel appreciated for what they did and they settle down a bit.
      What do you call your others? Do you know how many you have? Do you have good therapy in place?
      If there is anything I can help you with, please just ask.
      All the best!

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