Living Day-to-Day with Dissociative Identity Disorder
Living day-to-day with dissociative identity disorder is tough. People sometimes think that they can tell if a person has a mental illness like dissociative identity disorder (DID) just from observing their behaviors (Is Mental Illness Really an Invisible Disability?). But that's just not true. Statistically speaking, one out of every 100 people has DID.* Do you think you could pick that person out of a crowd? I doubt it because living day-to-day with DID isn't what you think.
Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder Is Not Always How It Appears
From the outside, my life seems rather typical. My alarm goes off at 4:30 A.M.. I get out of bed, take a shower, put on my work uniform, grab my backpack, and head out of the house, walk a mile up the main road to the bus stop and take the bus to work.
At work, I turn on my music and go about my tasks. I excel at my job, regularly receiving outstanding reviews from my superiors. When I’m finished at work, I go on the next activity. Some days, it's therapy and other days, it's class at the university. I try to fit in a meal somewhere in between. When I’m home, I do my homework and by 10 P.M., I’m ready for bed.
This seems like the typical life of a working person and graduate student, right? Except, I have DID, and each of the tasks I mentioned above is affected by my disorder.
Dissociative Identity Disorder and Living Day-to-Day
I struggle to get out of bed. I have nightmares, a symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which commonly occurs alongside DID. Before I take a shower, I reassure myself and my parts inside that we are safe; the shower is a trigger that often brings back memories of sexual abuse.
As I pick out my clothes to wear for the day, I often explain to my younger parts why we can’t wear that pink t-shirt or those bright, yellow sneakers to work. If you looked inside my backpack, you’d see schoolbooks and folders just like any other college student. You would also find coloring books, crayons, and toys -- all things my younger parts may need throughout the day.
As I walk to the bus stop, I have to battle the suicidal teenager inside that wants to run out in the middle of the road. I listen to music at work not because I enjoy it but because it helps to drown out the voices in my head so I can focus. When I’m having a hard day at work, an alter comes forward to help me so I don’t fall behind, allowing me to continue to excel.
Before I go to therapy, I hold a meeting inside to see if any parts have anything to say in session. Even though we exist as one body, each has his or her own thoughts and I make time for them to share as well. Before I go to class, we all agree that we have to stay focused so we can learn.
Meal times are times of disagreement. It’s difficult because I, as well as some of my alters, suffer from disordered eating. Someone wants to eat cake for dinner. Another doesn’t want to eat at all. Some days, it seems like a neverending battle.
I set time aside after homework for coloring, an activity that my younger parts enjoy. Before bed, I read a children’s book and let my parts know that we are safe. Even though my body is 30 years old, many of my inside parts are young and need to be comforted just as any child would.
Dissociative Identity Disorder Does Not Always Mean Dysfunction and Disability Day-to-Day
To outsiders, my life may seem like a lot to manage, but I have accepted the hardships as well as the benefits of being a multiple. You couldn’t pick me out of a crowd and know I had DID. With open communication and a lot of hard work on all of our parts, I have managed to lead a functional life.
Each person with DID has different abilities. DID doesn't automatically mean that you can't do something any other person can do. Never let any disorder defeat you.
*From WebMD: "Statistics show the rate of dissociative identity disorder is .01% to 1% of the general population. Still, more than a third of people say they feel as if they're watching themselves in a movie at times, and 7% percent of the population may have undiagnosed dissociative disorder."
Matulewicz, C. (2016, February 3). Living Day-to-Day with Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, October 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2016/02/living-day-to-day-with-dissociative-identity-disorder
Author: Crystalie Matulewicz
guys(no gender assumption) but i have to do an exibhition for a 5th grade topic and i am doing it on DID and I want to thank you all for unknowingly contributing
I have just come to terms with my disability, but I don't know how to cope with may alters. There's a lot of them, and I've tried to get in touch with all of them, but they are not cooperating. Does anyone have any advice for a fellow DID?
It can be overwhelming to try to get in touch with all of them at once. It may be easier to find one to communicate with first. You can try direct talking, or writing in a journal. It can take time.
I share the same disorder. The logical part of me wants to interact with people with the same disorder.
I too have DID I want to start to get to know my alter
It all seems so strange especially when my alter makes me look so stupid. Thanks
Hey it's nice to know that I'm not alone my name is jasmine
I was wondering if you knew of any online groups for those with DID. I'm still partly in my Denial Phase and dont want to stumble across a bad one and be turned away from them for a prolonged period. I'm also not ready for face to face groups yet.
Any advice would be appreciated
HealthyPlace has an online forum, which can be found here http://www.healthyplace.com/forum/dissociative-disorders-forum/
There are also several groups on social media and Facebook which cater to different needs.
I am not sure if this is what is happening with me or not. I know that I have PTSD and have been diagnosed as bipolar, other than that I am unsure of. I honestly don't get out much at all. I feel trapped I this existence right now! I have no energy and everything is a real struggle daily. I know that things need to get done, but some days all I can think about is sleep. I really hate living like this because it is basically just existing. Help!! I need answers!
If you are concerned that you may have DID or another dissociative disorder (PTSD can also exhibit dissociative symptoms), you should bring it up with a mental health professional. The symptoms you described are present in so many disorders, it's impossible to give you answers just from that.
Have you tried keeping a log? That can help you keep track of your time during the day, your feelings, etc. and help pinpoint if there are any problems (dissociative or otherwise).
I mean Id love to know how those diagnosed with did see the world. My world is plagued with moments of forgetfulness followed by me explaining my unremebered actions by a certain narative. My world is so closed now that i only allow my fiance, my dad, and myself rarely in. My memory stinks. I get anxiety attavks nearly every day, but its so troubling i dont want anyone to know. My tears are preventing me from even spelling words correctly right now. I feel such a need to hide all this, im so embarressed of my feelings. I am in the VA health system as im a 8 1/2 yr air force vet. I feel as though my providers wish to attribute my experiences to my childhood, and although this may have began then, i feel as though they didnt manifest fully until my circumstance when i was 18 or 19. No message board has helped thus far. Looking for some guidance. Also hx of drinking because i felt it was the most convient way to pass without hurting those around me. They could just say she drank herself to death and not feel any guilt about it. That was 4+ years ago and scared the crap outta me but at least my loved ones wouldnt feel upset. Im expieriencing the out of body crap again so gonna take my serequil to deal and fall asleep with crazy nightmateres and backaches until i get to wake up from it all again. This kind of living sux...
I have been disgnosed with dissocciative disorder, nothing more, nothing less. Ive read up on it an not sure if i have fugue moments or did. I do experience life events as though im watching a movie, or not part of myself. I do escape when something slightly challenges my sense of self and often fly into a rage that i cant remember. I often also forget happy moments and random parts of the day. If a pic of me is presented to me of a spell of forgetfulness i either dont remember it or it strikes me as a long lost childhood photo although it may have happened two days prior. Ive been diagnosed with ptsd as well as result of a circumstance that happened when i was 18 or 19. Im not sure what im going thru and i wish desperately to have a name. I avoid the pyshicarist because i hate the long drawn questions about how i feel. Im 37 now and just want t hi is to end.
I couldn't possibly explain the experience of DID in a short comment. I will tell you that to have DID, you would need to have distinct alters, or parts (though you may not necessarily be aware of them). Are you familiar with C-PTSD? It would explain a lot of your dissociative symptoms combined with those of the PTSD.
It is very important not to stop trying to make friends.
Isolation is a horrible way to live.
Do not let your illness dictate who you are !!!
Even if you have tried and lost friends do not give up. Reach out and trust, if you are a person of faith poor out your heart to God.
No matter what ,YOU MATTER , You deserve happiness.
Sharing your life with others is healthy and very beneficial in so many ways.
I know from experience It is hard to make and keep friends when mental illness is in the way . But many people will warm up to you over time, some times it just takes a while for them to get to see your beautiful good traits, and not on what surfaces due to DID
I have found it helpful to tell new friends about my illness. Let them know what they may see in advance, and assure them you value there friendship and support . But if they notice you acting odd or saying or doing things that are hurtful,tell them to let you know and be patient with me. I would never purposely want to hurt you. Keep and use a good sense of hummer when talking to your friends about you illness . And in the end, even if you only find one person that values you as a friend and is willing to patiently and compassionately share life joys and pain it is worth it.
I wanted to say thanks for writing this blog! There's hardly any awareness and information out there about DID. It's just as common as schizophrenia but there's far less research done/being done on DID..... I really relate to your daily struggle; mine is similar but I don't always have control over my parts or know how to handle my anger alter. For the most part I can hide this disorder. I managed to get a masters degree and have a good job but I really struggle on a daily basis to appear "normal." I think from the outside it just looks like I'm very moody. I wish there were support groups for DID. I have a great psychiatrist who understands me but I haven't gotten any friends. I can't seem to be stable enough to maintain friendships, and, obviously, I wouldn't be able to hide this disorder if I were really close to people.
Unfortunately, DID is still a controversial diagnosis, which I believe has contributed to the lack of research and focus on the disorder.
I don't have control of my parts all of the time. It's definitely a lot better than it was in the beginning of my diagnosis, and even before my diagnosis. Sometimes it gets frustrating when you can't "reach" an alter. You just have to be patient. It takes a lot of time to work with all of your parts. A great therapist can help you manage as well.
As far as support groups and the like, I find that there are quite a few support groups online. I know it's not the same as face-to-face, but it does help somewhat to communicate with others who understand what it's like to live with DID.
So grateful to know of those who do not give up or give in to DID .I am bipolar , my dear wife of the last 45 yrs is doing her best to live as normal DID life as possible . It goes without saying ,between her illness and mine there is never a dull moment !
Both of us are doing our DETERMINED best to lovingly support one another. Any one who lives with or suffers from such mental illness as this knows how important LOVE PATIENCE , and determination is . The stigma that comes from those outside as well as your own, can if you allow or give in to it undermine your efforts to fight these illnesses. A good sense of humor is invaluable ,and to the best you can , getting professional help and educating your self concerning your mental illness It is impossible to deal with an illness you do not understand. We are very grateful as a couple to have each other and a loving caring family that supports us. We also have a very strong christian faith and spiritual family that is very understanding and supportive. We encourage any who suffer from Bipolar ,DID or any form of mental illness to do all you can to seek out those who will support you, and educate your self with information such as this web page provides to help you cope and lead a full happy life not a stigmatized life .
Thank you for sharing your experience Dale, and I completely agree. When I first received my diagnosis, I tried to learn as much as I could about it - both by reading books and searching the internet for information. Support is also a huge necessity for anyone managing life with mental illness. It doesn't matter where the support comes from (family, friends, coworkers, online groups) as long as it's genuine.
I have learned to compromise with my alters but I now know I ultimately have the final say so in any decision. I used to let my alters come out and take over believing I had no way to stop them. now I have to manipulate and use reverse psychology on them to get them to "behave" like I won't carry condoms so if my prostitute alter wants to turn a trick I tell her we can't because we don't have a condom. I erase the dope boys phone numbers that my drug smoking alter puts in my phone so she doesn't have a way to call and score any drugs. they'll wake me up in the middle of the night wanting a snack and its irritating because I have to get up for work at 7 but I let them have their snack only if they behave while I'm at work.
A friend of mine has DID, as you say, no one would ever know it if she didn't tell them. She's in her 60s, and deals quite well with her PTSD and DID, I'm quite impressed by her.
I am so impressed with your courage to manage your life so well and to share so I have greater understanding and empathy. Coloring for adults is "in"!
Thank you Susanne :) I am a big proponent of coloring, even for "normal" folks! I am happy to see that it is becoming an "in" thing.