Being a victim of abuse has had many challenging implications on my life, Dissociative identity disorder is obviously the main one, however there are of course other psychological impacts of trauma which I still carry today. This week I encountered one head on in an unexpected situation and it has been a difficult time trying to grasp the reasons why I felt so distressed over someones rather insensitive comments.
I had cause to visit my GP this week and during the appointment issues were raised about my new Therapy, the Doctors main focus was upon what was the cost, and who was paying. There were also clear evidence of his lack of understanding of dissociative identity disorder and how it impacts my life., this isn’t an uncommon situation for many healthcare professionals seem unable to accept the disorder.
I was frustrated at the time and even a little angry but I didn’t expect the reaction it caused within a short while of being back home I realised I was feeling switichy and agitated, the next minute I was aware I had erupted in a manner I wish I hadn’t; taking out my frustration on those around me. I then proceeded to get very upset at the fact I had reacted badly and also I was feeling deep sadness at being misunderstood once again.
Even before I was diagnosed with D.I.D I came across the barrier of labels and the closed mindedness of many healthcare professionals. Psychiatry is clearly a system weighted against the patient and in favour of clinicians, its also very much a ‘them and us’ environment. As a patient with mental health issues you are not always treated with respect, and yet everyone expects you to give them respect.
During the period running up to my diagnosis, I encountered a different type of attitude – that of scepticism, my initial doctor telling me that D.I.D wasn’t real even though many of her colleagues had said they believed I had a dissociative disorder. There followed a period of much debate amongst the professionals as to the legitimacy of the diagnosis and since then despite having a number of medical professionals, including psychiatrists, forensic psychiatrists and clinical psychologists assess me as having D.I.D I have encountered on a fairly frequent basis the same lack of understanding and scepticism. I often wonder if the medical profession question physical diagnoses made by equally competent doctors as readily as they seem willing to question mental health diagnoses.
Much of this lack of understanding stems from a lack of knowledge, Dissociative Identity Disorder isn’t one of the key subjects taught in med school, even those doing psychology at University might never be told of Dissociation and/or D.I.D. So expecting my General practitioner to know about it is I guess asking quite a lot, after all GP’s get little enough teaching on mental-health.
But for me as a person with D.I.D it is actually quite hurtful when people question my diagnosis, because I know the impact this has on my life, I know being a multiple isn’t easy nor is it something I can just take a pill for in order to be fine. I have to work hard in long-term therapy to have any chance of understanding myself, my alters, my past and for any chance of moving forwards.
Having the diagnosis dismissed feels like you are being denied, for me at least it feels like my parts, my alters are being ignored and their very existence denied. I am only just coming to terms with my alters, acknowledging that they are a part of me and yet I felt angry for them when I felt they were being denied. I realise now I was being protective of them and that is a good thing because its time I learnt to accept them and if I can’t fight for them, who can.
So the GP’s comments showing a lack of understanding and awareness had made me upset, frustrated and a little annoyed, all of which I could comprehend, but as the day wore on the sadness inside of me just wouldn’t shift .With my Therapy time fast approaching I began to find myself more and more conscious of why I felt so unhappy and it wasn’t so easy to admit. The GP’s random insensitive comments related to funding had made me feel worthless and treated like a commodity.
I am sure many victim will have at times felt worthless and being put down or misunderstood well it reminds you of the feelings you held as a child, I felt worthless back then too. As a child I also grew up feeling unloved and unwanted, but most of all parts of me the alters that took my pain when I dissociated they felt like a commodity, to be used and hurt by others. The feelings aroused by the funding questions had made me feel like I was being viewed as a commodity again and that was the main distressing factor.
With help I was able to express how I felt and I was able to let out some of the pain of the past, crying not just for now but for then too, it was helpful to acknowledge I had felt protective of my alters as well when I felt they were being denied. I don’t feel angry towards my GP indeed I am keen to ensure he and those like him are educated, for it is only through awareness that people like him will grow to accept, understand and recognise Dissociative Disorders, and that has got to be good for everyone, not just me but those fellow multiples who come after me.
If you have experienced similar scepticism of a dissociative disorder from within the medical profession, feel free to share your experiences by commenting on this blog.
COPYRIGHT: DID Dispatches 2014