Mental Health Disability for Dissociative Identity Disorder
It's okay to request mental health disability for dissociative identity disorder (DID). Dissociative identity disorder affects each person in different ways -- including his or her ability to work. While many people with DID are able to go to school and work regularly, other people have a more difficult time. Severe mental illness can keep you from working, and DID is no different. For some, mental health disability with DID is their only option.
Mental Health Disability Is for Impairment in Functioning
Like many other psychiatric disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), one of the criteria for a DID diagnosis is significant distress or impairment in one or more major areas of functioning. This can be social functioning, educational functioning, occupational functioning, or otherwise.
There is no concrete definition of what exactly impairment in functioning looks like, but most clinicians agree that any negative impact in these areas constitutes impairment. Failing grades in school, fights with others, inability to hold a job, or not being able to work full-time are just a few examples of how functioning can be affected (Mental Illness as a Disability). For people with DID, there may be impairment in only one area, or in all areas of functioning. There is no right or wrong.
Mental Health Disability Is There for a Reason
Many people with DID work, but for others, full-time work is just not possible. Symptoms can be severe and persistent enough that working is not realistic; then mental health disability becomes an option. Frequent dissociation, derealization/depersonalization, trauma reactions, and other DID and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms can impair one's ability to work.
A mental health disability is not about a lack of trying. Many people with DID want to work. Many people try to work and end up losing their job or quitting because they just aren't able to do everything they need to do. Some employers are great at understanding and may work with employees who need time off or extra assistance -- but that is not the case everywhere. Sometimes, work may be an impossible feat and even a risk to safety.
Admittedly, the stigma of receiving disability exists, but there is nothing wrong with not being able to work. DID can affect someone just as any physical illness can. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just can't overcome your symptoms, and that's okay. In these instances, it may be necessary to apply for mental health disability with DID.
Applying for Mental Health Disability Benefits with Dissociative Identity Disorder
The mental health disability application process can be difficult. It takes time and effort to finish all of the paperwork, and there is no guarantee that disability will be approved. But help is out there. There are free and low-cost services that help people fill out forms or to file appeals if you are denied. Your local social services can assist in providing other forms of assistance if you find yourself unable to work. Don't be ashamed of your DID and don't be ashamed to ask for the help you need.
Remember, everyone's DID is different, and everyone's ability to work is different. Don't judge others for what they can and can't do, and don't judge yourself if you find yourself unable to work. You and your system are the first priority.
Matulewicz, C. (2017, August 3). Mental Health Disability for Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2017/08/when-dissociative-identity-disorder-becomes-a-disability
Author: Crystalie Matulewicz
Having any mental health diagnosis on your medical record can be a help or a hindrance. While doctors and medical professionals aren't supposed to judge based off of your mental health diagnoses, there are some out there that are dismissive of other health issues (physical ones) or brush issues off as being part of anxiety. In that sense, it can be damaging.
However, depending on where you are and your specific needs, having your DID diagnosis on record could allow for mental health treatment coverage if you are insurance.