3 Ugly Truths about Dissociative Identity Disorder
I'm thoroughly exhausted by the effort I expend to shield others from Dissociative Identity Disorder. I'm worn out on cleaning up the messes that inevitably occur when all that effort just isn't enough. I don't want to apologize for those messes anymore just now. I don't want to explain. I don't want to make speeches about personal responsibility and how I won't blame Dissociative Identity Disorder for problems directly related to - surprise! - Dissociative Identity Disorder. There are only so many guilty verdicts I can receive before I start to feel a little worthless. And I can only try so hard to protect the people around me from DID before I'm depleted.
This is what the things can teach us:
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Isn't Fair, Kind, or Easy
The beautiful thing about feeling completely defeated by something is that hopelessness, as long as it doesn't last forever, has a way of boiling off the optimism that obscures some meaner truths:
- Dissociative Identity Disorder isn't fair. It's unfair to us, and it's unfair to you. We'll forget something really important to you, I promise. We might even forget you. Try as we may, some duty or responsibility will fall through the cracks. There's nothing fair about that for anyone.
- Dissociative Identity Disorder isn't kind. This alter trusts you, this one believes you're a threat and will relentlessly try to prove it. Doesn't feel good, does it? It's unkind. It's also not something we can change out of respect for your feelings. Which is unkind too, no?
- Dissociative Identity Disorder isn't easy. Television and movies have a tendency to make DID look rather straightforward - a single identity divided cleanly into easily definable pieces like dough under a cookie cutter. Alters announce themselves when a switch occurs, or there are dramatic costume changes to clearly delineate who is out and when. Real life DID usually isn't that simple. It's confusing, complex, and just when you think you've figured it out, it slips through your fingers once again.
I Accept the Ugly Truth about Dissociative Identity Disorder ... But You Don't Have To
I do the best I can to mitigate the amount of inconvenience, frustration, even heartache Dissociative Identity Disorder wreaks on other people who, by all rights, shouldn't have to pay the price for my inability to navigate life in a more normal way. But I can't change the fact that DID isn't fair, kind, or easy. Dissociative Identity Disorder is hard to live with, both for those with it and the people in their lives. I accept the consequences of that, whether that means losing friends, jobs, or partners. But I need a break from worrying about how my disorder affects other people. And for the time being, I think I've apologized enough.
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Gray, H. (2010, November 15). 3 Ugly Truths about Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2010/11/3-ugly-truths-about-dissociative-identity-disorder
Author: Holly Gray
If I do not persist in caring and apologizing, I am not also stopping the cycle of fear/lashing out/pushing away/etc.... I can recognize that it is not my fault I got this way, that it is not my fault I have caustic defense mechanisms- that indeed they are what helped me survive this long, that it's not fair. The world isn't fair, and neither is my life. But I CAN work towards accountability, towards taking responsibility, towards getting myself to viscerally understand that 'closeness' does not equal 'threat to be taken down'.
If my car's brakes give out (or I'm stuck with faulty equipment), or I didn't see the bicyclist because my attention was elsewhere, or whatever- I will still take responsibility for any injuries I've caused, no matter how many times. I will still apologize, even if the only thing I could have done to prevent it was not be on the road at all. If my dog bites someone, even if the dog is troubled, or scared, or scarred- even if I love the dog and we're working on it- I'm not going to stop apologizing when it happens.
I'm a deeply terrified person. I recognize that I have not developed skill sets to adequately deal with the stresses of daily life and normal human interaction. I have ghosted music teachers, therapists, doctors, friends, and workplaces at the slightest provocation- often because I am so fearful of being 'wrong' or 'making mistakes' in someone's eyes that I can't deal with the prospect of ever seeing them again. Even, perhaps especially, if they were right about the mistake or deficiency. I run away. I run away from legitimate and perceived threats, and so I also run away from legitimate accountability. I haven't really learned how to fail, and I haven't learned how to pick myself back up and try again knowing that they have seen my failings.
But if someone has seen the ugliness and cruelty, and is willing to try and work it out with me still, I owe it to them and to myself to try. To keep practicing, even when I'm tired. This disorder doesn't stop because I'm weary and feel poorly about myself, that is in fact part of the reason it exists.
But I'd rather be the person who helps plant seedlings after accidentally starting a forest fire. I am determined to at least try to make amends for the hurt I inadvertently pass on from those who have hurt me. It's not fair that they turned me into a walking fire hazard, and it's not fair that I have to put in the extra effort to clean up the lingering effects of their actions when I am forever burning myself.
Spitefully, in addition to the altruism, I want to do all I can to thwart the efforts to cause misery, to turn a person to ash and embers. They have already hurt me, and cursed me to burn all that I wish to touch. Now that I know, I will do all I can to turn the soil when it happens, dodge sparks, and stop collecting kindling. I will not help them cause more harm, if I can help it. I am no phoenix, and I can't suddenly become water or a tree again at will. But ashes can help nourish the soil, and getting covered in mud and sweat from the effort might just help cool the coals.
Ironically the man I love is Ray and after knowing him 15+ years ive recently found out about the many alters which live with him. I started researching and came across this page and your post and after I read this it helps me have hope. I don't want to make what he goes through about me but I dont know what to do. One or two hate me and are so relentlessly cruel. One is 7. (He is 42) One is spiritual and knows I have found faith. One watches over him. One loves me like I always wanted. One tells me not to go while one tells me I am the problem amd everything is always my fault. The issue is where he claims no memory of things that take place selfishly I do. I remember each hurtful word. Gesture. Beautiful momemt that gets taken back. He never says he is sorry for the things that happen. That I need to understand. I try but I wonder at times if he knows he hurts people why not say he can't help it but doesn't mean them. How do you stay with someone with DID if they wont accept they have it or get help and the only one trying to help is the one they take it out on. I guess I just needed to talk to someone. To try to understand how to stay and how to help someone who suffers with what they call a crowd. How do I get to know the alters or know which one I am talking to amd is it ok if the mean ones surface to tell them I won't accept it (and how do I keep from arguing with them after?)
You just explained feelings I have been struggling to identify and put into words for years. I just apologize constantly and I’m so lost it feels like I don’t even know what’s right and wrong anymore. Everything I do seems like a huge decision that everyone’s happiness and perceptions of me is riding on. I often tell whoever I’m with to just tell me what to do and make my decision for me. And when I mess something up I run. If I stayed out too late I never come back (unless I have to then I’ll come back in a day or 2 or the last possible second). If I woke up late or no-showed for work I just stop going and don’t ever answer they’re calls again. If I stop liking a relationship or if I cheat on them (or have found a new love interest) I just bail without warning. I don’t answer phone calls and I don’t even answer the door when they show up. I’ve been this way so long but I only found out about DID last year..I haven’t seen anyone for it because the last therapist I saw when I was 16 said I was bipolar and then repeated my life story to me in her own twisted words that made me feel worse than I had before. I love my family and my boyfriend so much and want to be the best girlfriend/daughter/sister/etc. ever, MOST of the time..ok SOME of the time. I am always trying to make other people happy. But when I switch to someone who doesn’t give a f&@“ about anything at all I act selfishly and I hurt people. And I always have a reason for my decisions that doesn’t make sense to anyone else. I often wonder if it’s even my real reasoning or if I made it up later so I could live with myself. My headaches are only getting worse and my memory is unbelievably terrible.. I have been told way too many times that I’m pretending I forgot as an excuse. Or that I’m making up DID as an excuse to do “whatever I want”. The problem is I DONT want a lot of those things. And when they are said and done I feel almost suicidal, overwhelmed with regret and self hatred..I could go on for days about this..I am so lost. Reading this helped so much. If anyone wants to talk about this please reach out to me.
Dear Rae, I am profoundly touched by the beauty of expression and earnestness of intent in your August 12th, 2020 comment on Ms. Gray's blog.
I am old. In my 80's now. I lived as an only child sandwiched between a very ill , toxically damaging mother and a clueless, invalidating father, and a daughter who I believe has DID. I am sure I carried the damaging chaos of mental illness forward generationally though I live with strong subjective feelings of protective love. You bring me a calm, a sense that you, my daughter, and myself -- all of us are a living part of a spiritually rich yet damaged and suffering world. Perhaps it's the grace of your metaphors, the art of the way you frame your struggle with illness in the great process of life's renewal. Your commitment is awesome, as is your expressive talent. I'm grateful and full of good thoughts for you. --Leah
Thanks all for sharinh. I am new to dating a man with at least two clear alters. I plan to ask him honestly what his diagnoses are. I struggle to be around when one alter emerges, it triggers PTSD relatively easy in me.
Im 18 my girlfriend who just turned 18 this month has did...one nearly ruined our relationship...but when i talkrd to ger about it..she cried amd blamed herself...i felt so bad because i knew it wasnt her fault...i love her so much... We been together for 2 years amd tbh...her personality havent been a problem no more...i talked to them found things that her personalities had in common with me...i listen to their stories of their lives...but she wants to get help...so im here for that i wanna support her no matter what...i love her so fucking much...amd i told her...its not her fault amd it'll never be her fault...i told her there is no need to tell me sorry for anything that happens..it made her cried but not sad tears...it was tears of joy. Im the only one she ever met that accepts her for her.
I was wrongly accused of a serious sexual assault because a child alter revealed my client was seeking abuse as a prostitute. Whilst i was being investigated by the police my accuser continued to seek abuse up to 19 months later . This has distressed and broken me
I 55 years old, live with DID all m life. I was diagnosed in early 90's after years of many misdiagnosis. Therapy is the only thing that's helped me and medication for the anxiety and depression. To my knowledge, there is no medication or cure to treat DID itself.
Kim, Who told you that you just go to therapy and "cure" did??? You are ignorant and rude. As for this article it is beautifully written and touches on some great truths. I used to have did, dont anymore, which is the BLESSED or LUCKY result of medication only. I did EVERYTHING THERE WAS TO DO and there is no way I could cure my did with all of my hard work. Did is PAINFUL and no one would just choose to live like that if they could just cure it.
What medication worked for you
Somebody please email me. I'm losing my faith. I'm losing myself. Please
I hear you Ashley. Have you found anyone or anything that's helped you? There is hope.
I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I want to talk with you about it. My partner is DID and I have always felt so alone as his partner, I love him so much and want to be there for him the best I can, but sometimes when he switches I just feel like it’s too much... if you want to talk about it, email me at email@example.com
I don't know if this thread is still alive. My partner suffers did I have a hard time differentiating what is her and what is not. I love her. It is painful. I want to protect her but also my self. One day I want to leave the next I want to say. I am in pain. She is in pain. I know she deserves love but I don't know how to love her when I am constantly at war with her, with him, the constant lying. Persecuted in my own home. I feel so hopeless and helpless. Nobody understands, everyone says to run. I need help.
I was wrongly accused of a serious sexual assault by a client i had protected for 4 yrs she seeking abuse. Despite she stating numerous times i had saved her she accused when her 2 yr old alter revealed she was seeing a naughty man and if he hurts mommy ( client ) he hurts me. case was dismissed but abuse of client continued and police or no one appears to care despite my reporting this and providing evidence.
Just came across This article and posts. I'm a partner of someone diagnosed and have slowly realized all the above: she tries to sabotage me, contradicts herself, lies seemingly easily and consciously. But, this isn't her. Hard to know and remember but I'm doing it
That's a great mindset, that's how it was with my husband at first. Just patience and peraistance. Study each alter like a new person you're meeting, even aggressive ones. I now, after years, share a friendship with every dominant alter in any way I can. As for him, I'm schizophrenic so we're both not only dealing with our own problems but each others. Now I feel like I have more control over my life because of him and his alters all trust me, even ones that were the last you'd ever expect could escape severe aggression.
For me, I would be gone. Life is too short to put up with that. But everyone is different in how they handle situations. Some stay, some don't.
Anyone with any input at all? I'll be standing by....
Any one out there? Cause I can't find anything or anyone to answer that question. this is a struggle for her I know. Its hell for me. every single day.
Just curious to me how much infidelity are we to allow when the person with did don't know they're doing it? It opens the non did partner up to diseases and other problems. As well as pregnancys that may not be yours. Where is the line drawn? Because I'm lost.
You dont have to put up with that. DID is hard to handle it works when all alters remain faithful whether involved with you or distant.
Yes, this site is still alive. Our new moderator authored a blog about communicating with alters that I found very helpful. If you go to the latest blog then scroll down two or three you should find the article.
I'm no longer in denial. I need some tips to reign in "the troops." Is this site still alive?
You are just a big old victim of D.I.D aren't you??? It is curable and the only thing that prevents that from happening is that someone with this issue doesn't get help by nature of the issue. However, if one has the wherewithal to communicate about this issue, as you do on this site, then one has the wherewithal to get thee to a good counselor and deal with this properly. This is a very convenient mental problem to have it seems.
Taking that approach is fine as long as you stay out of a relationship with someone with DID. The complexity of the disorder often is caused by severe trauma usually during childhood. Everyone copes with things in their own way. Even with help people don't all of a sudden walk away smiling after a lifetime of abuse from a few therapy sessions or pills. These changes run deep in the person for a reason. My husband has it and I suffer from Schizophrenia so we have an inside look at each other's thought processes luckily. Good luck to you.
Thank you for writing this. I can totally relate and identify. I've been recently diagnosed with DIDNOS and am currently undergoing trauma related therapies. This is NO fun and I have no one in my life to talk to about it without sounding like a crazy person or referencing Sybil. I appreciate your post. Thank you again for writing it.
I'm so glad you are out there. I often forget the source of confusion in my life
Please, any advice to one who has deep feelings for someone who fits DD-NOS but has not been diagnosed or has not yet divulged it to me. He openly speaks of 8 of him with me (6 male, 1child,1female). I can see the switchin. Some look 10 yrs younger. I do fear the times he doesn't remember of his life and stories that don't add up (incl rumors of embezzlement in our small town). He gets very angry when that topic comes up. I need answers. He isn't able to provide what should be public record (Pres.of civic organization but all records wiped out?? ) He works as mental health counselor and is very respected bt psychiatrists who have no idea of alters. Im going crazy. Some days im convinced he's a path liar and I'm his current target. Other times I am sure it's DID undiagnosed and don't know how to handle/ help/support.
PLEASE DO NOT TAKE OFFENSE TO THIS...is there info on on overlap of DID and crime by alters? I truly want to believe the best b/c there is so much good.
I can understand your confusion. It may help to know that people with DID are often perceived by others as liars. And it's no wonder; when someone witnesses you doing or saying something that you later deny doing or saying what else can that someone think but that you're a liar? It's understandable. Then there's the fact that having DID doesn't mean one can't also purposefully lie from time to time. I certainly have. I don't know anyone, DID or otherwise, who has never told a lie.
It also may help to know that people with Dissociative Identity Disorder are no more likely to commit a crime than people without it. Sensational stories about people with DID who *have* committed serious crimes have led the public to believe that we are, by nature, criminals. And that couldn't be further from the truth. Some people commit crimes. Some don't. Having DID does not increase the likelihood that someone will commit a crime.
Having said all of that, I have to ask: if some of what he's telling you is a matter of public record, have you considered simply researching it yourself? If his stories don't add up, and you feel suspicious about that (which is a perfectly rational response) why not investigate further? You don't have to rely on him to provide data that you can find for yourself. Maybe that feels a bit devious to you? If so, that's understandable. But from what you've shared hear, I'm inclined to think that DID is a secondary concern. It doesn't really matter if he has DID or not if you can't trust him.
I'm an alter and i found your video you did and I then found your blog in the description.
And you are so right and this post details what we have to deal with on a daily basis and none of this is fair but I find if we delve to much into our past things can get worse but what you have said has good and bad points, I'm glad that people such as yourself are not afraid to post and share there life with DID.
Welcome and thanks for your comment!
I honestly don't think it's the delving into the past that makes things worse (although dealing with traumatic material is certainly painful and has a tendency to make things harder before they get easier) - I think it's an over-focus on the past that we want to avoid. I believe the past lives with us in the present to an extent and because of that, contending with it is vital to healing. Where we get into trouble, I think, is when the present regularly and consistently takes a backseat to the past.
I hope to hear from you again, Rex. :)
I recently invested myself into 40 hours of intense, triggering training to become a prevention volunteer advocate for my local Sexual Assault Response Network. This training was not for the faint of heart and not all of the potential volunteers completed it. However I stubbornly refused to fail. My thinking was D.I.D will not keep me from helping...it will help me complete it. I wanted to prove that I would be a tremendous assett to this program. Even after
a terrible dissociative reaction at one training class, and after disclosing I was D.I.D to the trainers, they gave me the option to drop the class. I thought they were patronizing me and I was all the more determined to complete it....to prove and educate that D.I.D's are gifted and can be successful contributions to these organizations. I passed and am certified but sometimes I feel your comment on another of your posts better describes my accomplishment..."functionality at an extroidinary cost."
I covered my dissociative episode so well, my trainers never understood the real danger I was in...I didn't want them to because I felt they expected me to fail. And of course I had to prove them wrong.
Thanks for your comment.
I'm impressed at your tenacity! I understand that drive, that relentless focus on accomplishing something you or others aren't confident is possible for you. I think ultimately I'm trying to prove my capability to myself.
"However I stubbornly refused to fail."
I can't help but view my inability to meet some challenge or overcome some obstacle as a failure too. That's exactly how it feels, like I've failed. But either way the price can be high.
Yeah it's not fair and it's even worse when family and those you love played a part in the trauma that led you to split and become multi.
We are also sick of trying to keep up the front, the lies the who knows what deliemas. If your feelings get hurt you know what, suck it up because we have enough on our minds we don't need to hear why it's hard for YOU! People need to get a clue and take the initiative and research about this and spread the word so there is better understanding in the mental health field, community at large and in our friends and family relationships that really shouldn't have to be so complex.
The media sattention is good if those doing the acting and discussions are INFORMED and do it properly because having DID and dissociative disorders is HELL! There's some pretty special lovely moments, but they are far and few in so many ways. Also on the flip being multi has a lot of benefits like having a team around so you're never truly alone (that can go both ways), with my team we split up tasks so no one is struggling and bombarded all the time. I as host still am out 98% of the time and as the birth personality as well have to deal with more than a lot of non- birth personality host systems out there. But then there's a day where the littles have been out and leave me notes and presents and my husband has stories to tell me and it just warms my heart.
So there are good aspects and bad but at the end of the day we shouldn't have to apologize for being US. Singletons hardly ever apologize for them being singular minded and unable to keep up to the speed us multi's can with things ;)
"If your feelings get hurt you know what, suck it up because we have enough on our minds we don’t need to hear why it’s hard for YOU!"
Thank you for unabashedly saying that ... I have felt that exact way on so many occasions. Most of the time I'm pretty receptive to hearing about how my disorder negatively impacts those around me, assuming the delivery isn't attacking or finger-pointing in nature. But sometimes it's just enough already and I need a break. In those moments, I honestly don't care if other people have a problem with my DID. If they don't like it, they can leave. I'll survive.
"But then there’s a day where the littles have been out and leave me notes and presents and my husband has stories to tell me and it just warms my heart."
That's so cool that you get that kind of communication from other members of your system - notes and things. I'm a little envious. Many of us do communicate purposefully now but it's a relatively new awareness. For a long time trying to develop internal communication felt like talking to walls. It's much better today but still, it'd be nice to see a note from someone just because instead of out of necessity (e.g. telling me about an appointment or something).
I'm not sure Holly about what things are like for them. I'm glad you agree. And I don't exactly know what the statistics are. In the hospital setting it's usually about 1:1.
I think it's a good idea to take a break from worrying how your DID affects others once in a while. I know that when I hear myself apologizing every 5 minutes for whatever reason, someone inside me begins to feel very resentful. It doesn't do anyone any good to get to this point. Sometimes it just has to be all about you. And thanks for the suggestion of writing a letter to my blocker. I haven't tried that yet but it certainly is worth a try.
"I think it’s a good idea to take a break from worrying how your DID affects others once in a while."
This is the lesson I'm learning lately.
"And thanks for the suggestion of writing a letter to my blocker."
You're welcome. I know what works for one might not work for another, but like you said, it's worth a try.
I think this is why it's so important to be as honest as you can with the people in your life who are important to you about your DD. It's even better if they can learn about the DD's, so that they know what potential things to expect. The DD's are difficult for everyone, that's why they call it a disorder. But there can also be moments of joy. Sometimes it's difficult to remember the joy when faced with a usually loving partner, who has been triggered into a very defensive reaction... that's no fun for all involved.
I know I've referred to previous partners as my abusers names in the midst of flashbacks... I can only imagine how awful that must have been for my partner and the young one in my system who was so confused and lost in time.
Great post Holly... a tough subject.
Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that learning about dissociative disorders is important for people who are sharing their lives in some way with someone diagnosed with one. And for those of us with a dissociative disorder, of course! I, for one, feel much better in my 6th year of treatment than in the first few because I'm much better educated about my disorder. The problems are still there, but I have a better handle on what those problems are and their sources. Which helps me feel less of a victim to DID.
"Sometimes it’s difficult to remember the joy when faced with a usually loving partner, who has been triggered into a very defensive reaction… that’s no fun for all involved."
No fun at all.
Great post Holly.
The only thing I would say that is missing is that there are a great many of dissociatives who are not diagnosed as DID, but rather DD-NOS. Their plight is not any less severe than ours with DID.
So, my point is only that everything you say here that applies to DID, also applies to DD-NOS. I'm not sure what the statistics are though...
Thank you. And thanks for pointing that out about DD-NOS. I couldn't agree more. In fact, I wonder if there's a special kind of struggle for those with DD-NOS that stems from the catch-all ambiguity of the diagnosis itself.