I Think I Have Dissociative Identity Disorder – What’s Next?
A dissociative identity disorder (DID) diagnosis doesn't always come as a surprise. You start out by ignoring DID signs and symptoms, until they can no longer be ignored. So you start searching online, and find out many of your symptoms fit with dissociation, and this disorder called DID. It can be overwhelming and confusing. So what should you do if you think you have dissociative identity disorder?
Advice for When 'I Think I Have DID' Becomes an Issue
Don't Be Discouraged by a Diagnostic Label
It is easy to become engrossed in finding an answer for your symptoms when you think you have dissociative identity disorder, but it is important to remember that a mental health diagnosis doesn't change who you are or what you experience. A diagnosis is meant to be a guide, not a solution. A diagnosis can help with treatment, but it won't cure you.
It can be overwhelming when you find out your symptoms fit with DID, but don't let that label define you. Having dissociative identity disorder doesn't mean you are broken. It doesn't mean you are crazy, dangerous, or somehow less of a person. You may just be one of the 1-2% of the population that has dissociative identity disorder.
Symptoms Won't Always Fit a Dissociative Identity Disorder Diagnosis
There are other diagnoses that have similar signs and symptoms to DID. Other specified dissociative disorder (OSDD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and depersonalization/derealization disorder are the disorders that have the most in common, symptom-wise, with DID.
A person may experience memory loss and frequent dissociation, but not have the separate identity states necessary for DID. Another person may experience a disturbed sense of identity and dissociation, but no amnesia. These symptoms may indicate a different disorder. That is why it is important to seek professional help if you suspect you have DID or any psychological disorder.
I've had people reach out to me, confused because they didn't experience every symptom of DID. They knew something was off, but felt invalid because not all of their symptoms and experiences matched the diagnosis of DID. While I can never provide a diagnosis, I can, and do, provide encouragement, support, and validation. There is no "classic" DID. Some people hear voices; others do not. Some people are aware of their alters; others are not. Everyone's experiences are different, and that's okay.
What to Do If You Think You Have a Dissociative Disorder
If you think you have dissociative identity disorder:
- Seek out help from a mental health professional experienced in treating clients with dissociative disorders and/or trauma. Trying to diagnose yourself can be frustrating, and in many cases, it can be harmful. Getting a proper diagnosis, whether that diagnosis happens to be DID or another disorder, can lead to more successful treatment and better symptom management.
- Reach out for support from friends, family, or other safe people in your life. You don't have to go through this alone. There is no shame in asking for help. You don't have to explain what exactly is going on if you don't want to; sometimes you need someone to just be there. Join a support group. Support can come from anyone, even people you don't know.
- Don't invalidate yourself. Try not to put so much emphasis on a label, that you invalidate your own experience. Instead, try reading others' experiences living with DID. You may find that you can relate more to real life stories than to what you find written in psychology books.
You are not alone in this DID journey. Remember that.
Matulewicz, C. (2016, December 21). I Think I Have Dissociative Identity Disorder – What’s Next?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2016/12/i-think-i-have-dissociative-identity-disorder-whats-next