People just can’t imagine what it’s like for us. We’ve all been judged for being dissociative. So, we’ve spent our lives learning how to hide the DID. We’ve been forced to call it something else, anything else, to rationalize it away. DID has been the cause of damaged relationships, misunderstandings, loss of jobs, loss of friends and deep loneliness. So, how much do we ever disclose?
I chose to tell my family and close friends.
They may not understand, but I’ve tried. I told my family and a couple of close friends, because I wanted them to understand why I did or said certain things. I’d rather they know that I’m not forgetful, or undependable, or low in character, I’m fighting a disorder that occasionally makes me that way. I want them to know that if I don’t remember something, it’s not my choice and I do deeply care about them still. I can’t control when I switch, and now they are starting to see it and can deal with it however they choose.
I find that during conversations I can tell them I’m sorry for not knowing about something we’ve already talked about. They seem to be more understanding, rather than mad at me. Honestly, it’s been pretty amazing. I’m hopeful that as time goes by my relationships with my family will only get better. I’m finding that I’m less defensive knowing that they know about my DID. I feel safer.
DID is a purely defensive position. We are defending ourselves by switching. I find that I’m not as capable of being loving and compassionate toward others. It’s hard for me to reach out toward others with an open heart, because I’m so used to waiting for the next trigger to come. This makes me seem and feel very self-centered and I don’t like that. I find I have to strive to be kind, loving and caring because it doesn’t come naturally to me. Some of my alters are that way, so I seem kind and caring, but I’m not that way. I’m always waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop.
I hate being defensive, that’s why I fully disclosed my DID to my family and close friends. It was just my personal choice. It may not be yours, and that’s okay. It seems that having DID is a lot like grief — everyone does it very differently.
Simon and I were trying to focus on reading a blog post as two of my alters, Gwen and Heidi, began arguing over which dress we were going to wear to our appointment. Gwen is a bit of a hippie enjoying lots of flowing, flowery fabrics and Heidi wanted to wear something solid and more form-fitting in her vanity. Gwen is concerned with all of our spiritual matters. She flows intuitively through life. Heidi is very different, more concerned with how we look. She loves doing my hair in long, wavy curls and painting our nails bright colors. Sometimes I can’t get her to stop watching makeup tutorial videos online.
I was sure Dr. McNally could help me, but I was scared. He’d worked with dissociative patients before, but this would be the first time I’d seen someone with experience. I had an underlying feeling that I could trust him, and things would work out. I was determined to give it my full commitment. Besides, I didn’t want to lose James.
I didn’t want to hide D.I.D. anymore. I couldn’t. James told me if I didn’t get help, he’d leave me. He’d put up with so much from me over the length of our marriage. Heidi was yelling at Gwen again when I stepped forward and told them we were wearing jeans and a sweater, period. Heidi was ticked as usual and Gwen rolled her eyes. Simon just wanted to stay right there leaning back on his favorite gray pillow casually scrolling through blog pages.
I suddenly sensed God telling me to get up and get ready, so I listened. I heard Him say, “Becca, I don’t want you to hide who you are. My people need you. This path you are on is sacred to Me. It will be difficult, and I will be with you the whole way.”
Holidays bring family around reminiscing days of old. Which sucks for people with DID.
At our Christmas Eve dinner, I stopped counting how many times someone asked me if I remembered when…. But I couldn’t remember. My siblings started staring at me strangely. I couldn’t be a part of the conversation and none of my alters were helping me out. It was pretty sobering.
The past is such a mystery to me. Now, I’m grateful to know I have been dealing with DID my whole life. I can say I understand when I can’t remember something that happened in the past. I understand that I just wasn’t myself, I was someone else. That someone else carries the memories and if I really need them, I’m sure I will be reminded. Maybe those memories will help me to heal. Maybe they just need to stay where they are.
Waiting to remember,
P.S.: I hope you remember your positive childhood holidays.
“Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Set your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept your correction.“
Once again, I got in trouble forgetting an important conversation. This time it was with my husband. Not good.
So, there is debate out there about DID and the Amnesia Barrier that exists between alters or parts. The Harvard Gazette published an article (A story that doesn’t hold up – Harvard Gazette) siting a study from a doctor setting out to prove the barrier doesn’t exist. Well, he says it does, but I say it does.
Here’s the thing: when we experience amnesia, it is felt with varying levels of remembrance. I believe our brain and spirit remembers everything we say and do. I also believe that we have a powerful ability to subconsciously and consciously block our memories in dissociation.
In the case of my forgetting a conversation with my husband, I was very adamant that I wasn’t aware of the discussion. I even told him I must have switched alters. He proceeded to remind me of just about every word we said, and I began to remember some through a thick cloud. I could only agree to remembering a few words in the end.
I know that I know that one of my alters was present for the full conversation, and I wasn’t. I still don’t even know who fronted at the time. So, that Amnesia Barrier is real, and I do believe that the memories are still present with one of my parts.
Maybe I’m blocking the discussion because it was a hard one. Maybe an alter fronted to protect me from the conversation. Either way, I still don’t remember what happened and my husband and I had to rehash the conversation. Can I just repeat, Ugh!?
With words to remember,
P.S.: I made some fitting 2020 Christmas tree ornaments.
A few months ago I finished my book 21 Pieces. This was so hard to write. It really stretched me, because I had to work through a lot of my life having DID. I always learn when I write and this book taught me a lot about myself and how others live with DID too. I am very proud of how it turned out. If you check it out, I hope you like it.
Becca understands that she has Dissociative Identity Disorder (D.I.D.) and she has fought for healing for decades. She believes she’s been delivered of dark influences and has been healed in stages over the years with various integrations led by God. Becca is nearing the end of her D.I.D. journey into wholeness, but several personalities remain. Her struggle is in her own self-doubt that what she has experienced with healing, miracles and encounters with God are real. Or whether she’s crazy like she’s been told all her life. Becca has a long history of psychological issues, and several diagnoses without much resolution and she must rely on her own research and knowledge to get by. She is faced with marital challenges and starts to see a new psychiatrist, Dr. McNally. McNally is not a believer in Jesus or the spiritual realm and finds her voices and experiences with God to be psychotic. As McNally witnesses her integrations and encounters with God, his scientific world begins to crumble. By the time Becca puts the final pieces of her identity together, Dr. McNally finally looks beyond science and into supernatural territory.
Like DID, compartmentalization is a subconscious defense mechanism used to avoid distress and anxiety. This happens when someone has incongruous values, beliefs, emotions, etc. within themselves. Compartmentalization allows for multiple viewpoints that can oppose each other in the same person under different self-states. It can also be an intellectual form of rationalization for having opposing beliefs or values. And it can be a form of emotional detachment and/or used for denial.
An example of compartmentalization for someone with DID could be that one alter, or identity states believes in the death penalty where another doesn’t. Or more simply, that one alter likes sushi and another won’t touch it with a ten-foot chop stick.
We all compartmentalize parts of our lives. We often act and feel differently at home, or in the gym than we do at work. This can come in handy for homicide detectives, morticians, and nearly every first responder job. But compartmentalization can hinder our relationships, career paths, and ability to interact in teams and community.
Those of us with DID live in multiple diversely self-made boxes. And I believe that the more we get to know the different identity states we walk in, the more we define those alter boxes. This creates well-formed alters versus nameless fragments. And yes, we create them.
We unknowingly pull from our subconscious minds information we’ve filed regarding character and personality throughout our lives. And sometimes, we also make some conscious decisions as to what we are willing to accept or not in an identity states. That may not be a popular statement, but I do believe we have a responsibility to leave evil thoughts and characteristics behind. We have the power to be honorable, righteous and sanctified.
So, are we to blur the edges of our boxes for integration? Maybe. I think I’m going to try to open some boxes.
The recent DID YouTube controversy affected me too. In this episode I talk about how I experience DID and that it’s not something to desire. Life is only better with DID in the fact that it helps us to not have traumatic childhood memories.
I have recently had a friend tell me that I’m experiencing normal emotions and not switching alters.
I realized it’s easy to blame DID for poor character behaviors, blind spots and emotions of my core personality. I think there are times that I’m just having a bad day but want to say it’s a depressive-prone alter. By doing this, I’m not taking responsibility for my thoughts and feelings in the moment.
So, why do I think my DID is flaring?
I look at the people around me and they are consistent in mood or behavior and they follow a pretty steady and even narrow range of emotions. They get ups-and-downs but are always the same. I get way up and way down with a wide emotional range. Of course, I am also an artist/creative person, so lots of emotions come with the territory. However, I feel I can process the emotions best by compartmentalizing them into altered states of consciousness. I just can’t emotionally handle challenging information like I used to. So, I dissociate where others seem to stay even keeled.
I have come to realize that dissociation has been a great fallback when I get stressed. It’s my go-to stress fix now which really kind of sucks.
What are your experiences with daily dissociation?
P.S.: No wonder people say they have hundreds or thousands of alters….
We are invisible. We are suffering though we look well. People don’t understand that we are using more energy than they are because we are trying to cope and do life. It’s harder for us and I’m asking friends and family members of “DID-ers” to give us grace.