This week I have found myself in London trying to explain DID to a journalist. Funny how suddenly facing a microphone forces one to become more succinct and yet I do find it hard to explain dissociation and how it impacts my life. This got me thinking that maybe others would find it helpful to have a basic intro to DID.
This post is therefore a very basic guide to dissociation and DID.
1. Dissociation is something we all do, when we go on auto pilot or take a regular journey and suddenly realise we are further along than we thought.
2. Dissociation is only an issue when it becomes dysfunctional.
3. It is an effective survival mechanism blocking painful unbearable memories.
4. A sane reaction to insane circumstances
5. There are 5 types of dissociative disorder, dissociative depersonalisation, dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, Dissociative identity disorder and other specified dissociative disorder. The most extreme is Dissociative identity disorder (DID).
Dissociative identity disorder
6. DID means a person has 2 or more distinct identies with their own unique perceptions, thoughts, feelings mood and memory.
7. Yet each part is a part of one person, one body.
8. DID is often caused by traumatic events such as childhood trauma.
9. DID is not a personality disorder
10. It doesn’t mean the person has 3 heads.
11. Unlike the portrayals in the media people with DID in real life are no more likely to commit crime, harm someone or be a danger than anyone else.
Symptoms (based upon my own experience)
12. For me the symproms were many and varied and included: Loss of time, confused identity, gaps in memory, internal voices, feeling detached, disrupted sense of self and sense of place, self-loathing, denial of trauma, nightmares, flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, self harming. Broken relationships, often buying the same thing multiple times.
13. For someone with DID life can be very chaotic, and at times frightening.
14. International guidelines recommend that long term talking therapy is the only effective treatment for DID.
15. Long term talking therapy is very cost effective, research shows that it reduces emergency department visits, Crisis interventions and hospital admissions.
16. It is actually cheaper to provide therapy than to leave people with no provision.
Helpful sources of info.
First person Plural – firstpersonplural.org.uk
An Infinite mind – aninfinitemind.com
ESTD – estd.org