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11 Truths You Should Know About 'Multiple Personalities'

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Eleven truths you should know about having “multiple personalities:”

1. They are a symptom of dissociative identity disorder (DID).

DID is a mental disorder described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). I didn’t invent the personalities. I was diagnosed with DID by two psychiatrists. Believe me, I wish I felt more singular. But I have a mental illness and this experience is not my fault.

2. There is no “typical” experience.

The experience of multiple personalities varies widely. The experience of DID varies widely. My version of DID is unique, but it is still valid. I have talked to several people with DID and everyone had a different experience. There is no “typical.”

3. We’re not dangerous.

At least no more than any other group of people. My personalities were created to deal with trauma. My personalities are trying to each have a voice and process traumatic events. None of us want to hurt other people. We are just trying to heal and live.

4. We have different paths to healing.

Some people with DID are trying to get their personalities to communicate and tell their stories. Some people are content with their current life experience. Some people are trying to merge personalities. I am working on merging my personalities, but everyone has their own method of healing.

5. Having multiple personalities does not make us “less” than other people.

Sometimes, I feel like less than others since I feel shattered into different parts. But all of my parts add up to one whole. My experience of myself may be different than yours, but I’m not “less.”

6. Having multiple personalities does not make us “too much.”

Maybe we’re kind of like diamonds. We have different facets, different layers, with different personalities that come out. We are difficult for people to understand. But we are just trying to manage life. We’re not “too much.” We just experience life a little differently.

7. It’s not like what you’ve seen in movies or TV.

It should not surprise you that Hollywood likes to sensationalize things. It’s not extreme and dangerous. We are just trying to live “normal” lives and cope with things the best we can.

8. We are not so much different than you.

I talk to people about having different sides. Someone might talk about their feminine and masculine sides, or their inner child or inner critic. I have different parts to me too; they just have names and personalities.

9. We might be afraid of losing control.

People get really nervous when I switch between people. Maybe they don’t know how it scares me too. I get scared I will switch to a different person and do something bizarre or harmful. I wish I could stay as my core self all the time. I am working on merging my personalities so I hope things get better. But for now I just pray I don’t switch in front of the wrong people. I crave normalcy and being in control.

10. We might struggle to have a sense of identity.

I feel like I continually have to explain myself to people so they know how to relate to me. It’s really hard because I don’t quite understand myself. Do I explain only myself or do I try to explain the personalities too? But I don’t know them that well, and they have their own voices. It’s confusing and please don’t expect me to understand it all.

11. We can live normal lives.

The world inside my head is pretty intense sometimes. But I still work part-time, go to grad school, spend time with my husband and friends and enjoy my hobbies. At school, I might spend the day acting “normal” and talking to people. But in reality, one personality has been yelling threats at me, and the other personality is triggered by things people said. So when I leave school I have to take care of everyone; I have to soothe everyone, so we can calm down and rest.

Life with DID is hard but always interesting. I crave normalcy and single-mindedness. Still, I accept this is me right now. I hope others can view me with compassion and accept me for who I am.

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Getty Images photo via Rachel_Web_Design

Originally published: November 27, 2017
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