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Stigma and Misconceptions

The time to talk about suicide and dissociative identity disorder (DID) is now. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in adults. For those with dissociative identity disorder (DID), the Cleveland Clinic asserts that 70 percent of sufferers, more than any other mental health condition, have tried to die by suicide. Discussion of suicidality is no longer optional. It is imperative that we end its stigma and discuss it now. There are 12 coping strategies and skills you can use to help those who are suffering and wanting to die by suicide. What specifically can those with DID do to help themselves and their headmates cope with the overwhelming desire to end their pain? (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
I have been asked recently, "Can I voluntarily give myself dissociative identity disorder?"  For most of us with dissociative identity disorder (DID), our first reaction is to wonder why anyone would ever want to develop a disorder that can be so challenging, if not debilitating. The truth is, however, I have shockingly come across individuals inquiring how they can develop the disorder. Well, the answer to whether you can voluntarily give yourself DID is unequivocal.
Intimacy can be such a tabooed and feared topic, especially for those of us with dissociative identity disorder (DID) who have been subjected to years of prolonged abuse and unwanted touch. The very idea of intimacy denotes something very private, closely personal, and not prone to discussion. However, if true healing is to be obtained, those with dissociative identity disorder must discuss concerns of intimacy, closeness, and vulnerability in order to help heal and to have his or her needs met in their relationships. 
Antipsychotic medications for dissociative identity disorder (DID) are sometimes used although DID is not treated with psychiatric medications like other mental illnesses are. However, there are medications that can help alleviate the symptoms that tend to go along with DID. These symptoms include difficulty sleeping, panic, anxiety, depression, and mood instability, among others. Antipsychotic medications are one type of medication commonly prescribed to people with DID, but they carry a huge stigma. Does taking an antipsychotic medication when you have DID mean that you are psychotic?
Life with dissociative identity disorder (DID) is most likely different than you've imagined. Perhaps you've heard the horror stories or seen the movies portraying us as killers, psychopaths, crazies, or dangers to society. Perhaps if you have been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, you might have compared your experiences with DID to that of others, wondering if your symptoms are "right" or if you're "normal." People are curious about the disorder because of the common misconceptions about DID. What is real and what is concocted? What is a day in the life of someone with dissociative identity disorder truly like?
There are hundreds of articles describing what dissociative identity disorder (DID) is, but there aren't many articles describing what DID is not. With all of the misconceptions and stigma out there about DID, it is just as important to write about what DID is not as it is to write about what DID is. Let us clear the air about DID.
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) and other dissociative disorders go hand-in-hand with signs and symptoms of dissociation. You can find these signs of dissociation included in many lists, and in books like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). But symptoms of dissociation aren't always so black and white. The reality of dissociation goes beyond the obvious signs and symptoms of dissociation that you read about.  So what is dissociation really like?
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) remains a largely misunderstood diagnosis, and one of the things people need to understand is that dissociative identity disorder doesn't make you violent. Previously known as multiple personality disorder, or MPD, DID has been the topic of several television shows, books, and Hollywood films -- including the new movie Split, set to be released later this month. These portrayals, however, are not always accurate. Characters with DID are often portrayed as violent and dangerous, but that is not the reality. Dissociative identity disorder doesn't make you violent.
I am living with dissociative identity disorder and I can't just "get over it." Would you tell someone with diabetes to "just get over it?" Dissociative identity disorder (DID) and other mental illnesses are illnesses. They all have causes, treatments, and greatly affect the individuals that have them. Mental illness is not a choice. It cannot be switched off and on at will. No one can wake up and decide they aren't going to be mentally ill that day. So why do some people expect those with mental illnesses like DID to just get over it?
Embracing the individuality of alters in dissociative identity disorder (DID) is often misunderstood by people without DID. One assumption is that alters are voices a person with DID hears in his or her head; this leads people to confuse DID with schizophrenia. Another assumption is that alters are imaginary friends made up in one's mind, yet unlike imaginary friends, alters are not consciously created. Lastly, many people believe that alters are different mood states or aspects of a person's personality. This isn't accurate, either (Mental Illness Myths And The Damage They Cause). The reality is that alters are individual persons existing within and sharing one body. Embracing the individuality of alters is key to DID treatment and recovery.