Dissociative Identity Disorder Disclosure: DOs and DON'Ts
The decision to disclose your dissociative identity disorder (DID) is a deeply personal one. Many, perhaps most, people with DID live in near silence about their disorder. They may tell only their family or no one at all. Some choose to share their dissociative identity disorder diagnosis not just with family but also friends. I belong to a smaller group of people who publicly say, "I have DID." What's comfortable for you may be unhealthy for someone else, and vice versa. With that in mind, what I offer you today isn't advice on whether or not to reveal your DID diagnosis, but a short list of DOs and DON'Ts - things to keep in mind when considering disclosure.
DID Disclosure DOs:
- Consider your motive. What do you hope to achieve by revealing your diagnosis? You're more likely to get what you want if you have a clear understanding of what that is. Additionally, your listener needs to know why you're saying, "I have DID." Otherwise, they may not know how to respond.
- Think about your audience. Who are you going to tell? A friend? A love interest? Allow the listener's identity and their role in your life to help shape your delivery. The way I told my partner about my diagnosis was significantly different from how I tell casual friends now, for instance. The depth, tone, and emotional revelation in your disclosure should be appropriate to your relationship.
- Plan ahead. When and where are you going to come out? What will you say? It might help to write your own list of DOs and DON'Ts for this part alone. It's best if you and your listener are relaxed. Think about what will engender safety and comfort, and what will hinder it.
DID Disclosure DON'Ts:
- Apologize. Your disclosure isn't a confession. By sharing your dissociative identity disorder diagnosis in an apologetic or embarrassed way, you tell your listener that DID is something to be ashamed of. Be honest, but keep in mind that how you present DID to others will impact their perception of it.
- Ignore the risks. Once I disclosed my diagnosis to someone who responded, "People don't want to hear about your problems." I was crushed and humiliated. In retrospect, it was a careless choice on my part. I hadn't prepared myself for such a caustic response because it didn't occur to me I might receive one. Ask yourself, how might my listener respond? Then be realistic about the potential consequences of those reactions.
- Disclose under pressure. Some situations are beyond your control. But if possible, come out because you've weighed all the considerations and decided it's what you want to do, not because you feel pressured.
Telling someone, anyone, "I have DID" is a big deal. If you choose to come out, take time to prepare. Think about what you might add to this list of DOs and DON'Ts for disclosing dissociative identity disorder. And remember that you have the capacity to determine what's right for you. Trust yourself.
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Gray, H. (2010, September 6). Dissociative Identity Disorder Disclosure: DOs and DON'Ts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, June 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2010/09/i-have-did-disclosure-dos-donts
Author: Holly Gray
I told my mother about the three of us, but she blew it off as if it were a phase. Any further advice that might help us convince them?
I opened up to a select few who was there at my hardest times prior to diagnosis but eventually they all faded away most of the time I manage to maintain control that doesn't stand out but as time goes on it becomes harder and harder to prevent switching so I recluse as my general integration becomes progressively more anti social with very little professional help other then a fortnightly call the more I attempt to control presence the more I struggle to maintain any stable sense of self sometimes switching abruptly with no memory and disappearing for weeks or days at a time if this is the fight I have for what is left I rather not subject those I care about to its effects
I just want to say my heart goes out to you and you are not alone beloved.
I was diagnosed with DID along with a plethora of other disorders when I was 17. I rejected most of the diagnosis, especially DID because I didn't want to have the stigma of 'that type' of disorder. After 17 years of untreated DID I have lived so many lives, with only pieces of memories attached. I rejected it to protect myself. I guess I thought I was anyway. Being who I am now, I've been trying to understand why I did that. The conclusion I've drawn is by rejecting the diagnosis I could reject the stigma and reject the trauma. I'm still not ready to face the trauma but hopefully I will be in time. The only reason I'm coming forward at this point in time is because recently, someone dear to my heart (who has lived in a different state since I was 16) has moved close to me and is angry that I'm distant and that I ignore them. It's my baby sister. I was 6 when she was born. I raised her and kept her protected from experiencing the same trauma I was subjected to. I moved out of our mother's home when I turned 16. Our mother then took her and my brother to live out of state with her father. My protection didn't reach that far and it seemed no one cared that she'd taken them there, to a home where my mother and her 2 sisters were removed from for varying types of abuse from both of their parents. When I threatened to gain custody I was cut off from all contact for a couple of years. That's when I spiralled and split. I never knew for sure if my siblings were being abused until this year. And I don't know how to deal with it. I had worked so hard and had engrained in myself to keep them safe at all costs that I can't function normally because I failed them. The guilt is suffocating. I can't look at them without wanting to break down. I see the effects of their trauma in their lives. It breaks my heart. I wanted so much better for them. I need to let her know it's not because I don't care that I'm distant. I'm terrified how she'll take it. All of who makes me, 'me' agrees that it needs to come out. I'd rather her know the truth than her think I'm just being consciously selfish. We've always been there for her, it's just now circumstances have changed and I'm struggling to adapt.
I think you should tell them ... my step daughter has DID and she had to take a leave of absence because her switching kinda got out of control ... she was so scared to ask for time off and the anxiety caused her protective alter to come out and she told her supervisor EVERYTHING .. including what happened to her by her moms boyfriend and everything ... but she was so relieved when the next day her supervisor met her with two small gifts and a very touching note about how they were pulling for her and she could come backs to work anytime she was ready. I think a lot of the stigma that surround people with mental health issues is relaxing and I think any relationship that is a healthy one has to begin with honesty and openness ... so I say give your sibilants a chance to get to know you and your system ... good luck and positive juju coming your way
You ALL are very brave! I read your story and this too is exactly ALL of our story. In my experience telling my sister was way more valuable and a positive thing then my fear of her knowing. History repeating itself was my biggest fear. There will be those who judge but they obviously don't belong in your safe space. I'm still trying to trust others even other siblings because of their reactions and treatment after but they were stereotypical fears which are not true normally. Having your sister there and by your side supporting your system works wonders for recovery. I've worked with my local mental health facility and I made their infomercial for reaching out for help, suicide prevention etc. My system hopes you are ALL doing better. =)
Hi my friend has been Diagnoised with DID... Just want to know should i engage in conversation when he is switched to another person?
Just trying to understand
I am also interested in the answer to this question. When my boyfriend switches, his alter is confused and scared and doesn't know why he is missing time or what's going on. This alter is him but much younger and naïve. Most importantly, he left his abusive home last year, but his alter doesn't know the abuse and wants to go back. Any help is appreciated.
For anyone who is interested, Heather Davediuk Gingrich is a therapist specialising in the treatment of complex post traumatic stress, including dissociative experiences such as those suffered by people with DID. She also happens to have a Christian faith, and writes about the importance of not retraumatising those with CPTSD with unwise and misplaced spiritual advice (which can constitute spiritual abuse, in fact). Her book 'Restoring the Shattered Self: A Christian Counsellor's Guide to Complex Trauma' addresses this issue well for those who have a Christian faith and recognise the need for sensitivity and an intelligent and trauma-informed approach to caring for those with dissociative experiences. In my opinion as both a client and a trained trauma counsellor, Heather's material is well worth reading. An Amazon rundown of her book can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Restoring-Shattered-Self-Christian-Counselors/dp/0830827129
I'm so glad Twitter lead me to this site today, and to your article. My DID is something I could have gone the rest of my life never talking about, and certainly never, ever, making public. Unfortunately, life demanded different of me, and I find myself swamped in trying to face it myself, explain it to everyone else, and learn about it on a professional level, so that I can adequately explain it to academic professionals who don't understand that one side of me doesn't even know she's in college! It's... overwhelming. It's overwhelming because I've known I had it DID since the age of 15, and I just started confronting it at the age of thirty. Still, I know more than most people, even professionals, and that is a devastating thing to swallow. I needed those professionals when I was younger. I still need them, and they are so few and far between.
People with DID referring to this condition as "possession" or worse, "demon possession" is the worst kind of portrayal of what this disorder really is, even if you truly believe you are demon possessed. It is not only destructive for those of us who are trying to wrap our brains around having more than one of us inside taking turns, but especially destructive for people who do NOT have the disorder who may be reading this thread to find out more about it. The last thing we, or they, need at this moment is some sojourn into the land of the occult.
If you really believe you are demon possessed, please take that to a different discussion, and let us discuss DID here.
How long can you have this--sometimes it is like a curse!
One of my favorite things to do is introspection. I enjoy studying myself and my ways of thinking, and always work to perfect my state of mind to be as logical as possible. I dissect my thought processes and analyze them. I will use both my (rather limited) knowledge of human psychology and my own observations of both myself and people around me to understand why, say, a certain thought came into my head at a certain time.
Over the years, I’ve come to believe that emotions are, more often than not, obstacles that come in the way of logic and learning. As I value an accurate understanding of the world around me over an emotionally comforting one, I constantly challenge my own emotions whenever they might arise, and work to suppress them however I can to favor a more logical mindset. This, in part, is how I’ve come to accept a nihilistic perspective on life, as I’ve come to understand that the desire for meaning is just that, an emotionally-driven desire holding its grounds in deep-rooted human centrism. I would rather focus on understanding the world around me logically rather than allow an emotional understanding of life to grow inside me and perhaps even take precedence over logic by asking loaded questions (like “what is the meaning of life”.)
As you might have expected, this emotional denial slowly chipped away at my own identity, as over the past few months, I slowly lost more and more of my emotional drives. I used to be able to manage this, as I somehow maintained a loose self of myself, despite almost completely barricading my own emotions away to favor logic and rational inquisition (and even then, I still had the emotional passion for knowledge and the drive to continue inquiring.) Slowly, even that turned into a purely pragmatic desire for understanding. I had managed to turn myself into an emotionless automaton dragging itself through life only for fear of death, constantly analyzing itself and the world around it. I barely managed to hold on to my sense of self.
Given a certain person (other than myself), I will (almost subconsciously) use my understanding of human behaviors to build my own model of understanding of that person’s personality, intelligence and way of thinking based on their external behaviors, essentially performing my own psychiatric evaluation of them. I often contrast my own way of thinking to what I believed was theirs, and if there was ever a difference in personality between them and myself, I would identify what aspect of personality was responsible and try to reconcile the difference by imagining how I could change myself to think like them.
A few weeks ago, I made a realization: so blank was my identity, so fragmented had I become, and such was my understanding of myself and my behaviors, that I could now will myself into being virtually whatever combination of my own cognitive capabilities I wanted to be. If ever a I felt like understanding how, say, my mother thinks, I would almost subconsciously rearrange my mind into thinking/being like her appropriate model (the one I had created based on her external behaviors and my understanding of how they correspond to how she thinks. For the sake of brevity, I will be referring to these simply as “models” from here.) I could do this for virtually anyone. It was like I had a superpower, like I was the absolute master of my own mind. There was no concept I couldn’t understand, no mental task I couldn’t achieve by re-purposing different aspects of my mind and/or rearranging my mental state. Or, so it felt.
But with this came a price. I had been completely fragmented, and was more or less, just a loose, ill-defined mess capable of taking on any mental shape. I had no core beliefs, no core opinions, no personal integrity and no emotional drives. Rather, I could become anything, hold any opinions or beliefs, and take on any personality. I could modulate my own intelligence, but had no desire to either allow it to flourish or decay. To combat this, I began creating a “catalyst” persona. Upon invoking it, I would immediately revert to a select form of mine from which I could then revert to my “true” self. Whenever I felt myself slip back into my mindless, selfless state, some part of me would invoke the catalyst, and the catalyst would invoke “me”. This, of course, stunted my personal mental growth, as I would constantly revert back to a certain mental state rather than evolve from it.
With each passing day, I would fragment myself further. I would constantly analyze every part of my mind, adding on to this “superpower” of mine that could enable me to mentally become anything.
By now, my true identity had been almost completely lost. I started noticing a strange phenomenon: I began turning into more of a recipient rather than my own person. Upon being presented with a certain character, I would begin to mimic their mind as I subconsciously believed it to be. I would temporarily be filled not with my own identity (which was too loosely defined for me to hold on to), but rather by this new, “fake” identity my mind had just created that would mimic that of the character I was presented with. It went to such an extent where I wouldn’t be able to access certain faculties of mine that I believed the other person wouldn’t be able to access (for example, if my model of the person I was mimicking implied they would have poor critical thinking skills, my own critical thinking skills would be compromised.) It felt like somewhere deep within me, my true self would expel me to the outermost surfaces of my conscious mind, and make me “play” a certain character, denying me of my full capacities. It was almost like my mind had taken its own fragments (which I had spent so many months separating and controlling), and labeled them as “belonging” to certain personas (rather than there just being one mind in control of everything.)
Because my grasps on both myself and reality are so weak, I can no longer tell the difference between the “real” me and these models which I’ve created. It even goes as far as feeling as though these made-up personas ARE me. You’d think that I’d be able to tell a fake persona from the real me, because only the real me would fully understand all my thoughts, experiences, and the fact that I’m just imagining these people.
But I can’t, and I believe this is ultimately because I’ve become dissociated from myself and reality. It seems I’ve now completely lost the ability to differentiate between reality and my thoughts/imaginations. Whenever presented with some given externality, my mind normally brings up all the associations I have with said given. But now, it’s like my mind has been wiped clear of all preconceptions or associations; like I might as well have just been born right now. The same goes for my memories; I can’t re-associate myself with the person living all my memories (the “real” me.) It’s like the person writing this now and the person who’s been living in my body all my life up until just a few days ago are two completely different people.
I understand that the person writing this isn’t the real me, or the “full” me. I’m living on the edge of my conscious mind right now. I also understand that any impression of being possessed by someone else (which I now constantly struggle to fight against) is also fake, and isn’t the real me. I’ve found that these “possessions” are the result of me believing that these “models”, who’s presences were once only limited to my imagination and could immediately be terminated by the real me, ARE me. The fact that I can’t reconnect with my real, past self, and that I’ve been wiped of all preconceptions and associations, means I’m now open to not just believing, but experiencing the presence of other entities in my mind. But I can’t convince myself that there’s only just one mind anymore. I can never manage to get over these possessions; like I’ve just become a recipient for whatever mental shape feels like manifesting itself in and occupy my head.
I honestly don’t know who, or what, is writing this right now. I know it’s definitely not the real, fully unified me.
I read the entirety of this comment and I couldn't help but feel an eerie connectedness with the content. I have done all of this as well, feels like an understatement. I study psychology and behavioral therapy. I soak up information like a sponge. When I am around people, I observe, analyze, calculate and then react. I hadn't thought about it as fragmenting myself though. I just assumed I was amassing information to use in the future, for whatever reason. I thought having a rational mind and controlling my thoughts could also lessen the affect emotions have over me. And it does, to an extent. But they are still there, muffled for some time. The only difference, and it's a minute difference, between what you've written and my perception is I get so exhausted from all of the different personality traits I emulate that I will detach from everyone and myself. It takes me a long time to process and digest it all. When I'm alone at home I just space out/shut down by reading or watching documentaries or playing a mindless game so I won't be able to go over it all again and again and analyze further to see if I missed anything and how to integrate the newfound information and what I'm supposed to do with it. Anything so that I'm not bombarded with all the extra emotional baggage of others that comes along with being so analytical and empathetic. I just have this need to help people so much so that I've pushed out my sense of self. I have limited interpersonal relationships because explaining this to someone else who can't grasp these concepts, is too much right now. I'm best when I'm at work because I know the parameters and expectations. My small amount of friends and family think I'm just being rude and take it personal. I am trying to get the nerve to explain to some of them. As a side note, I'm extremely impressed with your articulation and attention to detail. Though I know it can be so overwhelming that you become numb. I sincerely hope you find the answers you seek but please know you aren't alone.
When I was tiny, nothing made sense. Things like , "waking," to find myself inches from danger, from certin death that I will refrain from detailing. I kept being punished for these incidents, only to find myself in that spot again and again. That was the least of the things that made no sense. Then there was the voices, the kids I played with or the ones who I couldn't hear but could see. I thought I was just as sick as one of my parents and learned to hide those moments of waking up in the middle of the day, on my feet. I did quite well until the day I was volunteering to go to Nam. Yah well Uncle Sam notices such things as kids losing time and totally changing who they were in the middle of induction. That told me something I didn't like. Any way I finally found therapy. Problem now is none of my other's trusts anyone or anything, that wasn't born covered in fur, and Uses the sandbox.
In the end it all comes down to TRUST as to how well you and those you choose to reveal your illness to will be affected . A true loving caring and understanding friend or family member will not judge or freak out. Nor will it change their view of you . If it does change how they treat or view you then it is their problem. Human nature being what it is tells us that we all are effected differently and react differently in these situations. Some will have enough concern and compassion to work with you and even educate themselves so as to help preserve the relationship , some will not. Each one must openly and honestly decide if
they choose and to whom they choose to talk to about their illness. But you can be fairly certain sooner or later , the nature of DID will cause friends or family to notice something . They may come to you with an observation or concern , or worse start to avoid you.
So to me selective openness with those closest to you on a regular bases is a good thing. It will help avoid possible relationship problems later. All of us do well in my humble opinion to help remove our own possible stigma and the public stigma in how we react to mental illness by openly sharing . And in the end we have no control over how others will react. But those of us who deal with the illness 24/7 certainly must do our best to live full , happy lives ,not hiding sort of speak in the shadows as tho we are to odd or weird to live a meaningful life.
They are missing something very important advice from this list of things not to do when you have dissociative disorder. Splitting ones mind into MPD aka DID is not only something caused by hardcore trauma physical, sexual or psychological abuse torture it is also the mental disorder that Cultist and terrorist organizations try to create in their victims intentionally so that they can brain wash them to be whatever or whoever they want and do what they want them to. Don't tell anybody you have this disorder unless they are family or best friends.
One of the worst things is when you're possessed AND D.I.D. and hardly anybody believes in both (if they even believe in one of them). If people would just honestly listen to us, it wouldn't be so hard! All on our own we've learned reliable ways to check each other for authenticity, and in the process, many malevolent spirits have been cast out while communication has drastically improved. Anyone could learn to check us if they cared to. Many of us feel that we need outside help to defuse some of our programming, but we haven't gotten that far with anyone we've disclosed to. They don't want to hear what it's really like. In fact, the most common response is for people to insist that "I" must take a stand against these personalities/demons/whatever and stop them from interfering with "my" life--but since they can rarely tell us apart, they end up saying it to a different alter each time! The willful ignorance is pathetic, yet it's us who have to deal with the consequences.
@Jeff & Friends I wish our trainers were as nice as your brother-in-law!
Im so glad i found this thread. Thank you to all who have shared.
Diagnosis came at the age of 47, I am now 58. Therapy has helped immensely, and I'm told I am now integrated. While that sounds wonderful and I've entered school and will graduate in 4 months, I'd like to know why there are still so many unanswered questions of what happened along with years of missing memories. Therapy stopped five years ago and I would love to hear some perspective on this.
Being possessed is nothing to be ashamed of; on the contrary it is much better to have demons cast out than to spend a lifetme thinking you can never be healed or taking drugs that make you feel worse. JESUS cast out demons throughout the bible and never made anyone feel ashamed. He just loved on them and made them well again. HE knows the trauma you have suffered and wants to heal your pain so that you don't need alters anymore. He will heal the memory of the pain and carry it for you. I have cast many demons out of myself and others and it is the most freeing experience. You become a new person. Ask Jesus to come into your heart and reveal Himself to you and He will love you back to health. God does not give us a spirit of fear, but power and love and a sound mind.
I am desperate right now..I tried to register but got it wrong! I just need to talk...I can no longer keep going with the weight of DID..over it..please help
Damien - Dont I deserve a life of my own too? I did help her through dark times, doesnt she owe me a little bit of happiness? And I really like Thomas, is that such a bad thing? Why is she allowed to have a relationship, but not me? Even if he is the 'original'.
I have never been truly diagnosed with DID, but I know I have it because I often talk with my alter (Damien) and we switch quite often too. My problem is that I cant tell my family because my mother told me that if I had any other emotional issues she would kill herself and I cant tell my psychologist because she might tell my parents. And that wasnt even the biggest problem. The biggest issue is that I have a girlfriend,but my alter has a boyfriend and my alter hasnt told his boyfriend about our disorder yet and its eating away at my girlfriend because she thinks of it as me cheating on her and its a mess. I dont know what to do anymore. I have tried telling my alter not to come out when his boyfriend is around and to not be so close to him, but he doesnt listen and despite slight feelings of hatred towards Damien, he does deserve a life too. He is a person too.
Thanks a ton for this!! You might assume you could just depend on "common sense" or practicality, but when the very thing is who you are and it feels like it defies logic.... well, you need some guidelines at the least! I don't plan on disclosing my DID to anyone else in the near future, but I have printed this to help me along in considering who and when.
The oddest thing about 'coming out' was my brother-in-law. I knew he had worked Army Intelligence and from that knew he was or had been working with the CIA. Strange thing is when I went down to Puerto Rico to see him (he is a native of that land) he kidnapped me; apparently thought I had something to do with the MKULTRA thing (which I may have; I was an Army child; born and bred into the culture - and there are some weird mysteries in 'our' lives). Apparently I was given psychotropics, starved down over 30 pounds in about two weeks, caged . . . lots of things.
The oddest thing is that it was probably one of the best things I ever did. It enabled me to 'connect' and identify the *purpose* of some of my beings, my "survival" alter; who 'took' the pain - all kinds of things. "We" came together like never before in order to survive and escape this thing (which we did, obviously). I think the guy was a former MKULTRA handler who became a bit confused (I was post-MKUltra; another program perhaps; a bit 'kinder and gentler'.) But he was a wonderful teacher as well! (Taught me that "animals are trained; people are TAUGHT" - was helping a couple of my 'littles' become more human). Strange days (and strange daze) indeed.
Just goes to show: sometimes you gotta be careful who you 'come out to' - and I'm kinda weird. Even for a DID being, it seems (sighing). Oh well. It's been fun to tell - and not everyone has the same reaction. Some (most! actually) have been rather kind; some understanding . . . just this one guy, he went 'insane' or something.
Okay, weird life (wry smile) - and moving on (figuratively, literally, and symbolically) :D
I love your blog and I will sure post/read more. I dont have DID, but my ex boyfriend has.
To be honest during the whole relationship of X years I thought I was going crazy. (He did twice mention something, lets say something in the line of 2 other alters and futhermore, he was very secretive with what he has). I never believed in DID so I researched all the other ''disorders'' but I never felt at ''home'' there.
All the signs, symptoms, the change in body structure and so were there. I saw him switching in front of me, so many times (and thought wow I am seeing things, his body changed, I am going crazy), the memory loss and the ''lying'' about things and I literally went crazy. And of course he just gave excuses or blamed me for it all and stated he did not have that type of disorder I though he had...
Until he made a very big mistake. It took me months to figure it out, but I was finally sure I was on the wrong path with the other disorders. It was right in front of me, but I guess I was not ready to believe in DID and the way I know it was DID. Before I could not leave, because something was always pulling me, to stay searching and to open my eyes......
I wrote him I forgive him and if he is ready and wants to talk to me he is welcome. I feel sad my ex boyfriend did not trust me. Due to DID he lost a lot of relationships and I can understand how he is afraid people might find out. He knows - even if I have every reason in the world to hate him for the way I was treated by the alters that hated me- I never gave up trying to find what was/is wrong. I feel I have answered the call and I can let go of the pain....
I think it takes a lot of courage to tell and I guess if I had DID I would think really hard whom I would tell and can trust. I think that due to the people I knew/know in my life and a mild disorder I have I was open and did not cared if he had a disorder/ illness I was researching. If I never knew those people and did not have a mild disorder I think I would have left long time a go thinking he was a jerk.
I wish you all well in your journey. poppy
What remedies are there if you have been wrongly diagnosed? (United Kingdom)
How can you get the bastards to retract a diagnosis, because it could restrict your employment opportunities. Furthermore, they do not keep the information secret. They leak it deliberately and it could come into the hands of your enmies which will use it to demean you!
I'm not sure how a diagnosis can restrict your employment opportunities unless you're voluntarily reporting it. After all, your clinician doesn't have to know where you're applying for work. So even if this person were so grossly unethical as to go about deliberately trying to keep you from getting a job, how would they know who to tell?
I think I must be missing something. Can you give me a little more information about your situation?
Thank you for your article on DID. It takes a lot of courage for people to tell their story about DID, but I believe it is worth it when people are ready. By telling one's story, people are breaking the silence around this diagnosis and the trauma that causes it.
Hello. I have never been diagnosed with DID but I know myself that I have it. I haven't told anybody exept my own mother and she thought that I was possesed. This is the first time since then that I have said anything about it but it's good to know that I'm not the only person with this. I've been aware that I have DID for a long time and I always thought I was a freak and wrong,and if i told anybody else I'd be thrown into a padded room. It's good to know I'm not the only one
Thanks for your comment.
Though most people don't have Dissociative Identity Disorder, you're certainly not alone. Studies estimate that DID affects up to 1% of the population, and some suggest even more. It sounds so puny - 1% - and percentage-wise it is. But when you consider how many people 1% of the population is, you see that there are a lot of human beings out there that share your struggle.
You're also not alone in having been told you're possessed. I've actually not yet met anyone with DID who hasn't been told they were possessed at one time or another. I've also been told I was "channeling" spirits. It's not unusual to hear that kind of thing. In my case, both people meant well, but sometimes those comments are rather mean-spirited.
totally understand. i also live in a conservative rural area where it might not even be safe to talk about this. i had never heard of this and misdiagnoses is very common. i love my husband but he will never believe in this since i was medicated for other things and did not go well. you are not alone. hang in. love, judith
Hello, I was diagnosed in 1990 with a whole host of mental illnesses. When I was 14 I watched while my mother took a shotgun, loaded it with a cartridge filled with buckshot and litereally blew her head off. I was supposed to die with her. At the age of 7 my mother made me make a suicide pact with her. We used to discuss different methods of suicide. I come from a number of small towns, and also from a long line of suicides. To date there are five family members who have suicided. Obviously there is a mental health issue in my family. I have a dissociative disorder, personality disorder, clinical depression, suicidal ideation, (it seems normal to me) post tramatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, eating disorder, panic disorder, psychotic disorder and on and on. I have finally stopped being ashamed of my mental illness. I am back in college, and I have to write a thesis. I've decided to write about mental illness and the stigma attached to it. I had to come out in class, and at first I was angry that in order to write this paper I had to expose myself. I'm okay with it now. I am not a mental illness, I am a person, that has special insights into the world. I live in a multi-dimensional world. It is unnerving sometimes to find out that I have been "away", but I just try to relax and know that someone in here is always "here" even if I don't know about it. Someone is always driving, and I'm now 46 years old. We've never been in trouble with the law, and I've never heard anything negative regarding the behavior of others. I'm not ashamed anymore. This is an illness, just as diabeties, I can't help it, I can just accept it and move on. Thanks for this opportunity to share myself, and thank you for sharing too.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
I applaud you for shedding the shame around your mental illness. I'm guessing it'd be almost impossible to emerge from a childhood like the one you briefly describe unscathed, in perfect mental health.
"We’ve never been in trouble with the law, and I’ve never heard anything negative regarding the behavior of others."
That's a remarkable record! Though I've never been in trouble with the law either, I've heard plenty of negative about alters' behaviors ... and my own too. And I don't imagine I've heard the last of it. Even so, though I may sometimes feel remorse about things we've said and/or done, I am not ashamed of having Dissociative Identity Disorder. Like you said, it's an illness.
Hello. I am scared out of my mind to tell anyone, and it's been eight months since my diagnosis. Only my therapist and husband know and while it makes sense to him, he hasn't completely accepted it. He is, however, very supportive.
Our town is very conservative, I have no close friends, and I feel it would be more damaging to my family if I revealed it. I'm sticking with depression and anxiety for now.
Thank you for the do's and dont's. That is extremely helpful should I ever decided to tell anyone else.
Thank you for your comment.
I want to reassure you that though eight months feels like a long time, in terms of adjusting to the diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder, eight months is not that long at all. It took me two years just to stop reeling, and another three before I was able to finally come to terms with the diagnosis. And while everyone's experience is unique, and there are those who manage to bounce back fairly quickly, it's common for this diagnosis to be initially destabilizing.
Making peace with the diagnosis does not have to mean disclosure. Not everyone is comfortable with sharing something so personal. And that's not only ok but completely understandable. I find it very hard to live with such a huge part of myself hidden. And since much of my work focuses on humanizing and demystifying DID, keeping my diagnosis private isn't practical. But for many people, like you, the risks of disclosure outweigh the potential gains. Giving those risks their due respect is wise, I think.
Hang in there. It gets better.
I managed to quite unintentionally shock the hell out of a guy I knew through school when he decided to tell me he had DID. In retrospect, I realize how much he'd wound himself up to talk about it. He said he had DID, and I nodded and said, "Oh, one of my closest friends from high school does, too."
Of all the things I could have said in response, I think that must have been the only one he hadn't psyched himself out to expect.
He and I actually weren't very close. He had been trying to work on getting ready to tell his family and close friends about his diagnosis, and his psychologist suggested he might want to find someone whose reaction wouldn't hurt him so he could practice disclosing to a 'new' person. He decided that I was nice enough that he didn't think I'd overreact. I was flattered that he thought of me that way, but man did the idea scare the hell out of me! I mean, if he'd guessed wrong, someone he only knew from taking a class together could have gone around blabbing it to all and sundry!
Thanks for your comment.
I can understand why he was surprised! People often don't take news like that in stride. That isn't to say they're usually dismissive or rude or negative in some way. It's just that often they feel awkward and aren't sure how to respond. Still, since coming fully out of the closet about DID I've been surprised at how accepting and just generally cool people are about it. Even if they do feel a little awkward, as long as I don't it helps.
I was already out as I'd written about three of my selves in my books, most notably Nobody Nowhere. But because my diagnosis was autism and I didn't have a formal dx of DID at that time, I progressively was encouraged to not talk about 'that stuff' and just talk about the autism side (even though the two were so bound up). There was a clear stigma/division, that 'well you're so useful re the autism side, so please don't tarnish it by requiring us to confront the mental health issues you had/have'.
I was formally dx'd with DID this year and because I'd already written about it, people didn't find the dx so hard at all. We've come a long way that people can understand one can be blond or diabetic or autistic for that matter and also have DID.
I generally don't tell new people I meet though. Its generally on a need to know basis. Otherwise I might say that i live with PTSD and dissociation rather than DID. Because people who aren't multiple just struggle to imagine the experience, perceptions of the person with DID.
Thanks for your comment.
"We’ve come a long way that people can understand one can be blond or diabetic or autistic for that matter and also have DID. "
Good point. Honestly, people are far more easy going about it than I ever expected. The stigma and mythology around Dissociative Identity Disorder is still alive and well, but I don't encounter it nearly as often as I would have predicted. And even when I do, it's so heavily overshadowed by all the support and understanding (support and understanding I wouldn't receive if my diagnosis were still a secret, mind you) that it doesn't hurt me like it used to.
"Because people who aren’t multiple just struggle to imagine the experience, perceptions of the person with DID."
True. It's difficult enough to understand when you have it, let alone when you don't. Even so, some of the most helpful insight about DID I've ever received has come from those who don't have it and don't even know that much about it. In some ways, their lack of knowledge is a good thing. They come to DID with fresh eyes, and a unique perspective.
Hi. Caroline is my pen name. I have DID and am now in production for publishing a book, taken mostly from my journals of therapy sessions. I used a fake name for the book because I still feel uncomfortable disclosing my DID to others, but I wrote the book to hopefully help people like me. It's called "Coming Present: Living with MPD/DID and How My Faith Helped Heal Me". I hope to get through all the production stuff and have it available for Christmas sales. I know from experience that telling someone can have consequences. I too have been told I was possessed, faking, a liar, seeking attention, etc. But I have had the best therapist, and she has helped me to become confident in myself, and I have shared the truth with a few more family and friends. I spent decades in silence, and I don't want others to wait so long to get psychotherapy. Telling my children was probably the hardest. I don't think I could have written the book under my real name, and I have been in therapy over 9 years. Even though I am now said to be integrated, I still consider carefully who I tell.
Congratulations on your book! I don't think there are nearly enough resources for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I'm glad there are writers like yourself helping to meet the deman for information and support.
"I know from experience that telling someone can have consequences."
Yes. I will go further though, and say that disclosure nearly always has consequences. Sometimes those consequences are painful, sometimes they're healing. But telling someone you have DID is not the same as telling them you're an accountant, or the mother of three, or that you paint in your spare time. It's a big deal. And I think it's appropriate to approach disclosure with caution.
But I also know that for some people, a very few, living in silence is far more uncomfortable than being called a liar or attention seeker. I'm still a little stunned to find myself in this category of people - those who are "out" about having DID. But here I am.
Thank you, Caroline, for commenting. I'm looking forward to reading your book!
I have DID and am very careful about who I tell. Most people I just say that I have a mental illness and that I have anxiety and depression. I used to live in a Senior Citizens building and when I really got to know some of the other residents and they would say they had been depressed, I would tell them about my depression which would lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. When my depression and anxiety would leave me housebound for days and days and I would then go to the common room and people would ask me where I had been, I would say I had been hybernating. I had a friend who told everyone in our church she had MPD (many years ago) and they all told her she was "possessed." Now there is support for you. I mostly take the opportunity to educate the public about mental illness in general when I talk to people who are saying things that are WRONG!!! We're all in this together and we need to break down the barriers.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
I thoroughly respect your caution when it comes to disclosing your DID diagnosis. For years I kept Dissociative Identity Disorder to myself and a very few people. Even the thought of revealing my diagnosis to others terrified me. And I rarely discussed it with those very few people I did tell. In fact, I went through a period when I refused to discuss it with even my therapist most of the time. It was a weighty, lonely secret. But one I didn't feel I had the option of disclosing.
I'm not sure why I'm able to live completely out and open about my diagnosis today. I suppose there are a lot of reasons. But I haven't forgotten what it felt like to need to keep my diagnosis as private as possible. It was almost like DID was a living, breathing, and highly vulnerable thing and I was charged with its protection. It's dramatically different for me now, but I'm all too aware that my situation is rare. And I have respect for the choices of others, like yourself. Like you said, we're in this together.
"I had a friend who told everyone in our church she had MPD (many years ago) and they all told her she was 'possessed.'"
I don't think I've met anyone with Dissociative Identity Disorder who hasn't been told, at one time or another, that they were possessed. I remember the first time someone told me. It hurt me deeply and took a surprisingly long time to get over. It's interesting to think about now, because if I heard the same thing today I doubt I'd care much at all.