Part 2 of 3 member it. Remembering anything felt impossible.
This is just a glimpse of my life. I survived more significant traumas during the next few years, and these mental health symptoms worsened and my crises grew. My childhood traumas that had been kept under lock and key critically underground resurfaced. I could no longer function, work, or care for my family.
It felt debilitating. I felt like a complete failure and that there was something irrevocably wrong with who I was as a human being. I felt shattered to my core, unable to identify any part of who I was.
After more suicide attempts and psychiatric hospitalizations than I can count or remember. I became locked away within myself, more depressed, hopeless, and shattered. It was like my life was no longer worth living, and I believed I would never get better (like many professionals told me) than I have ever been.
After seeing many unhelpful professionals and getting more incorrect diagnoses than I needed, my family and I decided that an out-of-state treatment recovery center was best. I was at that treatment center for 9 months. However, I was finally diagnosed with a “dissociative disorder.” I had never heard of it. However, eventually, some of my life began to make sense.
Almost 4 years later and 25 years of traumatic experiences, I have now been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).
In my recovery journey, I am beginning to heal and feel safe. I have learned that I am a survivor. In the most vulnerable, traumatic childhood moments, my DID kept me safe when none of the people or places in my childhood or young adulthood were safe.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is developed as a coping skill for chronic early childhood trauma. DID is typically formed from regular young sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or neglect. Other natural disasters and early related combat can cause DID as well.
DID can mimic other comorbid disorders such as PTSD, Bipolar, Depression, etc. Creating a cycle causing survivors to be misdiagnosed. Most individuals spend 6-12 years in the mental health system before receiving a proper DID diagnosis.
Survivors who develop DID have involuntarily built amnesic walls to protect and survive the horrific trauma. Thus creating “differentiated parts of self,” interrupting the psychological growth of the mind, created by a process called “dissociation.”
Dissociation is the mental capacity to shut off one’s thoughts, feelings, memories, and identity.
In DID, dissociation creates “parts” or “alters” with different ages, likes, dislikes, triggers, names, personalities, etc.
The survivor of DID experiences “switching” when one’s body and mind jump from one part to another. This can occur in years, months, days, hours, or even seconds. When constant switching frequently occurs from one part to another, it is called “rapid switching.” Experiencing rapid or long-term switching can leave the survivor feeling disorientation, detachment from body and surroundings, memory loss, and time loss.
There are many myths, stigmas, and biases about DID.
The media’s violent portrayal of survivors diagnosed with DID hasn’t helped the community’s or professionals’ stigmas regarding the diagnosis.
However, I want to clear the air: survivors with symptoms or a DID diagnosis aren’t typically violent. They are not mass murderers or serial killers. They don’t want to injure you or your family, just like any survivor diagnosed with a mental health disorder. They are human beings and should be met with kindness, compassion, and empathy.
DID isn’t RARE. Nearly 1-2% of the population has been diagnosed with DID (and that is only those diagnosed). DID is a complex diagnosis because of this disorder’s stigmas, biases, and hidden nature.
DID survivors aren’t attention-seeking. Most survivors with DID have a 70% higher chance of attempting suicide than individuals without the disorder. Survivors don’t want attention. Typically, they are trying to make sense of themselves, their body, their mind, and their place in this world. Most with DID attempt suicide multiple times and have a higher percentage of self-harming and/or self-destructing behaviors.
Those seeking treatment for DID are not attention-seeking and cannot “just stop dissociating.” This is a disorder which is characterized by amnesic gaps. Most survivors who have DID initially don’t even know they have their parts because the DID system and components are created to stay hidden to keep the survivor safe.
DID isn’t a disorder created by a therapist