Iain C.

@iain-c | contributor
My name is Iain and I live with dissociative identity disorder (DID). I want to contribute stories that help people see DID as just another way of living — not like the crazy, dangerous, tragic characters on TV. Our minds work differently, but like most people, we want to live a good life, have friends, be loved and make a wonderful difference in the world.
Iain C.
Iain C. @iain-c
contributor

Going to the Airport With Dissociative Identity Disorder

Flying isn’t easy for me. I have dissociative identity disorder (DID) from childhood abuse so the loss of control, close contact with people (for hours), new situations, and TSA agents looking me over, all combine to create a trigger-rich environment. Since DID is about having multiple parts inside, I have to monitor these triggers on lots of levels. If things go really wrong, fearful child parts, rebellious teen parts andaggressive protector parts can take over, making a total mess of routine airline travel. Even when things are going well, I have to be alert (but not tense – breathe, breathe) the whole time. It’s exhausting. But the alternative is having a scared 6-year-old part run away from the airport (Chicago), a teenage part refuse to get on the plane until a missing playlist is reconstructed (DFW) or a protector square off with someone who’s standing too close (Denver). Being far from home and comforting things doesn’t help. Neither do security procedures. Each time I approach security, I wait in fear that a TSA agent will feel the need to pat me down. Can I keep the kid parts from flashing on the abuse? Can I keep the teen parts from making snarky comments about what looks to them like bullying? Can I keep the protector parts from slugging someone and sending us to jail? Recently, the TSA announced their new procedures “…may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.” More intimate? To me and thousands of other sexual abuse survivors, the regular pat-down is almost more than we can handle. I appreciate security keeping us safe and, generally, TSA is pretty professional. But now there’s another thing to worry about at the airport. If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via John Rowley

Iain C.
Iain C. @iain-c
contributor

How the Movie 'Split' Fails People With Dissociative Identity Disorder

What if someone made a movie about you – only you were the villain? Not a brilliant, super-villain who is kind of cool, but someone horrifyingly bizarre and dangerous. That’s what M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie “Split” is doing to me and everyone with dissociative identity disorder (DID). Whatever happens with the movie — fame or flop — the ads and trailers are already driving home the message that everyone needs to fear people with DID. What all this means for those of us with dissociative identity disorder is getting hit with a cultural tidal wave of suspicion, intolerance and abandonment that starts now and lasts long after this movie makes its money and leaves town. Once again, people with deep psychological wounds get mis-cast as the perpetrators instead of, more realistically, victims of violence. Along the way, it lowers the odds of us having friends, finding love, working at terrific jobs and getting care. At the same time it ups the odds of abandonment, rejection and someone protecting themselves against us with misguided force. In fact, while people with DID are organized differently inside (instead of one identity, we have several “alter” identities) we’re no more likely to hurt people than anyone else. Our alters are there to protect us and to help us function in spite of our emotional wounds. This movie makes people with DID the next in a long line of cultural scapegoats. Audiences will sit through it, shivering delightfully in the dark and be reassured once again that all the evil in the world can be blamed on “the crazies.” Pass the popcorn. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Image via the “Split” Facebook page.

Iain C.
Iain C. @iain-c
contributor

What to Know About People With Dissociative Identity Disorder

Not long ago I was doing pizza and movie night with some friends when that thing I hate happened. A character in the movie, wild-eyed and demented, was revealed to have… dissociative identity disorder! (cue the creepy music) Some of my friends shuttered, some laughed, others scoffed. They didn’t know someone with dissociative identity disorder, or DID, was sitting right there on the couch, slice of pizza halfway to my mouth. I wanted to tell them DID isn’t like that. I wanted to explain it’s really just another way of being human. It’s our way of managing life and not a joke or a threat to them. In the end, I realized my friends didn’t know enough about DID for me to even begin the conversation. Here’s a list of what I wish everyone knew so we could really talk. 1. We’re not all ax-murderers like you see on TV. We were overwhelmed by pain and suffering when we were children. It changed us and now our minds work differently than yours. But just like you, we want to have a good life. 2. We have different identities/alters inside one body. They are different ages, have different feelings, ideas, talents and agendas. We work very hard to maintain a functional system that gets us through the day. 3. Switching between identities/alters isn’t very dramatic. Most of the time the switches are internal, seamless and invisible. And, unless you’re our therapist or a really close friend, they’re none of your business. We’re handling things the best we can. 4. When we lose time, it’s really lost. We’re not faking. If anything, we’re pretending we know more about what happened than we really do. 5. If a teenaged identity/alter takes over, they’re not an adult pretending to be a teenager. They’re a real teenager. Demanding they think, act or decide like an adult isn’t going to work. Relate to them based on their age and unique personality. 6. The adult out front isn’t the real us. They are the identity/alter who’s best at getting along in the world. The real us is all of us together. 7. If you’re dealing with us in a crisis and kid identities/alters come out, don’t ignore them and try to force an adult identity/alter out instead. If we could get an adult out front to run things, we would. Help the kids feel safe and our system will stabilize. 8. When the system feels threatened, protector identities/alters can come out. They may be angry, cold or determined to escape. Please don’t take this personally — we’re just overwhelmed. The best way to help is to back off and let us get safe. 9. We already know DID is “controversial.” You don’t need to remind us some people think it doesn’t exist — which sounds a lot like we shouldn’t exist — which sounds a lot like what we heard from our abusers. Not good. 10. There’s nothing wrong with the way I am. We’re different in some ways and like you in lots of others. We share the same world and want the same good things you want. We’re not “crazy” or weird — just a little complicated.