Menopause and Dissociative Identity Disorder: What It's Like for Me and My Alters
This was written by myself and with help from my alters, working together. The alters’ commentary is in italics.
It’s 3 a.m. and we’re not happy. The body is hot. It hurts. We don’t like hurt. We roll over, and it still hurts. We get up. We are still hot and now we have sweat all over. Ick!!! The body is all icky!
It’s been like this for a couple of years now. Night sweats, hot flashes. Prickly sweat. For most women, this is an annoyance that can be treated with hormone pills. For some, it’s a minor thing that comes and goes and is gone easily. For me, and those who live with me in my brain and body — “the we’s” — it’s something none of us had to deal with ever in the past and it’s making life complicated.
The dissociative identity disorder (DID) diagnosis came at age 24, after a particularly bad stretch that included a divorce and the death of my dad from cancer. I got lucky, and found a good psychiatrist who had experience with DID. I worked with him for over 12 years, learning to integrate as much of the memories and emotions sectioned off in my alters as possible. I learned these alters were doing their best to protect me from the memories of abuse. We became a conglomerate that answers to our given name, and is able to function well in the world. Most of the time there is just one in charge, with occasional help from the back row, so to speak. A memory, a phrase, a sound — all of these may be contributed by one of the we’s.
We functioned well for nearly 15 years. We were even able to get married again, finding a real partner who understood us and wanted to be with us — all of us. And then, peri-menopause began to hit. The occasional hot flash, the wonky periods. And the up and down of mood. The we’s were not happy.
Ouch. Hot. Cold. Ouch. Ouch OUCH! We want to run away! We don’t like any of this! We want the body back the way it was!
A hysterectomy helped with the period issues. But with ovaries still in place, the process continued. And it got worse for all of us. Mood swings became flashes of memory, bad memories began to creep back into every day.
We turn around, and we are in a doorway. Doorways are bad. We don’t want to get hurt. We all get upset. And the body can’t deal with all of us. We get dizzy. We hear hurting voices. We want this to stop. We all go black.
Fainting becomes part and parcel of life. The dizziness. The shakes. It’s dangerous to fall, to wake up with bumps, bruises. Hubby is concerned. Should I think about getting medications? A visit to my new psychiatrist confirms new medications may help. He prescribes medication for depression and anxiety.
It’s better. A little. We don’t feel hurt as much. We don’t feel scared as much. But the prickly sweating is still there! YUCK!!!
I’m on small doses, and they do help. I function like I used to before the menopause started. Mostly. New symptom! Insomnia!
We’re awake. We want to do things, but we can’t. We can’t go out because it’s dark out. We can’t play music loud because it’s late. We can’t sleep. We don’t feel like sleeping. We get scared because when it’s late bad things happen.
Back to the psychiatrist. New prescription. Half pills. Sleep comes back, with a price.
We wake up sweaty. We don’t like it. YUCK!!! We want to go away from all this! We don’t want to be old!!! We are dreaming about bad things. We don’t want to remember the bad things. Go away. Go away.
Learning to live with all the body changes has been hard. Learning to live with the we’s going through all this has been even harder. But as we’ve all agreed, if we don’t do this together, we won’t get to be anymore. And being is very important.
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Thinkstock photo via natalie_board