Trying to come to terms with my Dissociative Identity Disorder is not always so easy, the harsh reality is of course I am more distressed about the ‘why’, than the alters. The ‘why’ being what caused me to have D.I.D, the fact is it’s not very easy to accept that I was abused and hurt nor is it easy to accept that I switch between alters, lose time, find myself in places when I don’t really remember how I got there.
Feeling confused, anxious and overwhelmed by my emotions and the complexities of D.I.D is all a part of my life now and I am slowly getting used to this diagnosis and who we are.
I realise that the past has shaped who I am, it’s led to negative thinking patterns and patterns of behaviours that are at best unhelpful and at worst self destructive. It’s also left a huge amount of pain, hurt and anguish which is not so easy to come to terms with.
Today I am having to face up to some harsh realities, the dawning realisation that I am somewhat different from many people who I might pass in the street. I have a condition that isn’t my fault, but which currently governs my life and impacts us in so many ways.
The diagnosis of D.I.D came just over five years ago, it wasn’t a label I understood or knew much about and yet by the time it came I had all the symptoms and yet I refused to admit I recognised any. I was switching but I didn’t see it, I didn’t understand that I was this person who suddenly became totally different. I can recall being in hospital and having arguments verbally with the staff as they told me I was angry and yet I didn’t feel angry, or I had done x,y or z and yet had no recollection of it so would deny it. Of course I wasn’t really aware that I was switching and if I was I guess I had an in built defence to be blind to the fact.
I would find myself in unusual places and couldn’t work out how I got there, I’d think I was losing my mind for not remembering. I would often see things suddenly get bigger, the people around me, furniture, other objects and I would feel unusual, more timid and afraid. I never thought I was switching alters or losing time, it didn’t figure in my thought process at that time if anything I really believed people were lying to me and that I was going mad.
I was asked once by a psychologist to sit and think with her about the different me’s others were seeing, and we used magazines to help us formulate a picture of the various parts that people around me were recognising. At that time she didn’t refer to them as parts or alters, just what did I think others were seeing, she steered me a little into thinking about what others had been saying but not in a way that made me feel I was being pushed into a new label.
I had no concept of Dissociative Identity Disorder I hadn’t heard of it, though by this time I now know I had completed at least 3 dissociative screening tools and scored rather highly.
The professionals had already made up their minds but I was just refusing to accept that I switched, or was anything other than mad, bad or different.
The original list of parts were a little toddler, a young child, a teen who got angry, and 2 adults, I think I still have the collage we made somewhere hidden in my loft. Then she left me with the task of thinking about who it was others were referring to when they pointed out I had switched or had done something I didn’t recall. It was a strange eye opening concept over the next few weeks as I began to realise that I had lost time, that I found myself in positions only a child would sit in, or when things felt big I felt small. But even then I still tried hard to deny any of this notion that I was actually the one being small, angry, confused and a multitude of other things too.
By the time they suggested I was formally assessed and the psychology professionals said they thought I had D.I.D, many months had gone by, staff and patients had seen different parts of me which I still didn’t see. I was confused, I felt perplexed and I felt as if I really didn’t know where time has gone and yet for the most part I was just blind to this chaos going on in my life. It was impacting me and yet I couldn’t accept I was unaware of what I was doing for chunks of each day, I wasn’t willing to accept that I became little and child-like, or angry and moody like a teen.
Yet in the wait for that assessment with still no understanding of dissociation or dissociative disorders I had started to recognise some things, but I didn’t want to tell anyone. I mean the fact I a grown women wanted to skip outside, or play on a swing was silly wasn’t it? I had caught myself colouring one day, well I came too and there were the crayons and the picture. I had found myself aware that I was doing some odd behaviours for an adult women, I didn’t have feelings as such but I experienced odd little snippets of emotion, so I could tell I had been angry by what I’d written and yet had no concept of writing it. It was strange, confusing and complex and I wasn’t willing to share these experiences with people, I really felt I was mad, truly truly mad. I imagined they’d lock me up forever if I admitted what I thought was happening, and yet here I was in a locked secure ward scared and afraid already.
When I was assessed I tried really hard to stay me, to not lose time, to give nothing away, but of course I did lose time and I switched. The specialist Doctors knew what to look for I guess and despite my best efforts they got the real me, the me that has Dissociative Identity Disorder.
One specialist well he called me ahead of our appointment a number of times and by the time he came he’d apparently spoken to at least two parts of me, I had no idea that this had happened but it helped him in his decision. He completed the SCID-D apparently and yet I didn’t realise that at the time I just knew he seemed to ask lots of questions that seemed odd and times very irrelevant, or just plain nosey.
The other a forensic psychologist spent hours with me, over two full days he saw me for about 18-20 hours. There weren’t breaks other than me walking to and from the medication room and bathroom stops, it was persistent, draining and demanding work. He tested me with a plethora of psychological assessments the SCID-D included, he asked me questions and tested my memory which all felt very odd and at times annoying. I guess because of the lack of breaks and the pressure of all the tests I switched, lost time, and he saw the real me. I can recall him telling me my answers had changed since we had done this particular test before, yet I had never seen or done this particular test before and I argued with him.
Looking back it all makes sense but then it made absolutely none, I can recall being given the diagnosis and thinking these professionals are stupid, they are mad, they don’t know what they are talking about. I rang my daughter expecting her to understand how stupid these Doctors were, instead when I told her she just said ‘That makes so much sense mum’, ‘ now I understand why my childhood was so chaotic’ I recall hanging up on her in anger and frustration and crying.
Just over five years on and I think I am now accepting of the diagnosis, yes I have D.I.D, I have parts, I’m fragmented and I have had a difficult past. But accepting doesn’t mean that I have fully dealt with the ‘why’, It’s full of grief and hurt and pain and so in my current psychology sessions I am slowly coming to terms with this ‘why’. I believe it’s a work in progress and all of me has a long way to go to fully comprehending the harsh realities of my life. I am in the first phase of therapy ‘stabilisation’ and I have a long road ahead of me. It has taken me a very long time to get to this place, to the point were I now at least accept in an non-emotional way the past but I think the journey to fully accepting and dealing with the grief is still ahead of me.
I’m no longer ashamed of my diagnosis, but I’m still learning about D.I.D, I’m still getting used to switching, losing time and often not really knowing who I am. Most of all I’m still getting used to my alters the various parts of me, I’m learning who they are, getting to know them one by one and accepting the alters are parts of me.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014