The 5 Best and Worst Remarks About Our Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personality states within a single body. More than simply being “in a different mood” one day, with DID there is no continuous sense of identity. If a non-DID individual is in a different mood, it is generally assumed that they still think of themselves as the same person they were when they weren’t in that mood. Not so with DID. The “I” we use when we speak out loud refers to whoever is in control of the body or “driving” at the moment. That could be very different from the “I” from 10 minutes ago, or the “I” you had coffee with last week. It really is like multiple people taking turns in the same body.
Since DID is controversial and portrayed rather negatively in the media, I’ve compiled a list of the five best things and the five worst things people have said to us regarding our DID.
The Five Worst:
1. “So, some part of you…”
No. Not a part of me. An entirely separate person, thank you. Some people may be alright with this language, but we are certainly not. Evander is Evander, and not a part of Justice or Serick or any of the others in our head.
2. “Have you seen Split?”
I haven’t, actually, but I really am tired of people with DID being portrayed as murderers.
3. “I heard that’s actually pretty controversial…”
Yeah, me too. When I hear that, I feel invalidated and unwelcome. I will be far more reluctant to disclose anything to you ever again.
4. Labeling host vs alters (and subtypes of alters).
Perhaps other people/systems have different feelings about this, but most of us feel dehumanized when we’re labeled. Saying that one of us is a “protector” or a “gatekeeper” really cuts away the complexity of our personalities. Certainly, some of us are more protective than others, but we are more than that role. We have hobbies, likes, dislikes, favorite foods and we take our coffee differently. We are people with thoughts, feelings and beliefs. It also hurts when one of us is perceived to be more “real” or “important” than the others, or that the supposed host “created” us.
5. “It’s just weird.”
Lots of things in life are. It may be out of the realm of many people’s “normal,” but it’s ours. We get by day to day by pretending to be one person. This takes a lot of effort and energy. We’re trying our best to present a uniform and consistent face to the world when we’re really very different. This is because we’re afraid of being seen as weird.
That being said, we are fortunate enough to have some amazing people in our lives who have said some amazing things…
1. “I love all of you. I’m not going to choose.”
Our beloved husband. We’re so lucky to have someone who accepts us and loves all of us for our individual differences.
2. “I believe you.”
An immediate and firm “I believe you.” It was amazing to open up to someone and have them believe it without question. We were scared and vulnerable, ready to be called “crazy” or reminded of the controversial status of DID. Instead, we were believed. It felt wonderful.
3. “I look forward to getting to meet all of you.”
Feeling welcome and safe is wonderful. Feeling like it’s OK to be the one driving and feeling like it’s OK to just be ourselves, however that may be at the time, is so freeing.
4. Being called by our names.
When people know we have DID and know who’s driving at the time, we love being called by our individual names. It’s affirming, welcoming and makes us very happy.
5. “Put together, you guys can do everything!”
We have very different interests, hobbies and specialties. We have a scientist, an author, a musician, a baker, a leatherworker, a martial artist, a painter, a poet, a counselor and an activist, among others. We speak a little of several languages. It’s hard to divide the time among so many pastimes, but we manage it and we’re proud of each other’s achievements.
So, remember to stay positive, everyone. Be welcoming, be accepting, be loving. Be proud of your complexity, because it’s amazing.
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Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash