When people think of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) they commonly confuse it with the self injury or suicidal tendencies of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or with the voices of schizophrenics.
Whilst around 50% of those with DID will have BPD as well, 50% of those with DID do not, and most BPDers don’t have DID, many don’t even have PTSD, and most people with PTSD don’t have BPD and if their PTSD developed after the age of 6 most with PTSD don’t have DID either. Those with DID tend not to have auditory hallucinations at all, the voices of their alters are inside of their heads, not outside of them and those with DDNos can have voices inside of their heads but unlike those with DID, may have no idea who these belong to so think they are schizophrenic. In fact dissociation is NORMAL, we all do it, and children under 5 do it all the time… those with disabilities, illness, dealing with abuse, or any combination of the three, dissociate from body, mind, emotions far more and for further into their lives than most people. Certain personality traits predispose some people to this more than others.
So what’s it like living day to day with DID if you don’t have self injury or suicidal urges? Sounds rather tame? Not really. Try dealing with breast cancer and associated treatment; mastectomies, chemo, hormone therapy, when 15 different alters have completely different mental and emotional frameworks for dealing with it… one was glad to get rid of the breasts because ‘she’ identified as male, another was devastated because she will never feel ‘pretty’ or a ‘real girl’ again, another was utterly pragmatic like a soldier getting the job done, another decided she was a monkey because monkeys didn’t get cancer, another was already communing with dead relatives in welcoming preparation for possible death, another felt they had let everyone down by becoming sick and some others tuned it all out, arriving in parts of it in great panic and distress only to disappear and return like ghosts… and me, managing my team through the process and trying hard to not do what came so naturally to me that I developed DID in the first place – dissociate from the body, the mind, the emotions, derpersonalise the everything to the point it felt ‘irrelevant’ so I could stay asleep, dormant, abandoning my alters to the chaos.
Its a challenge to be multiple in a singleton world in which most people presume you have one set of experiences, perspectives, thoughts, feelings, not 15 cohesive break away sets of these plus your own. It’s also a colorful world, sometimes amusing, sometimes a blessing, with 15 sets of skills and deficits, interests and aversions, attachments and traumas.
I created an online place, named after my own world, DIDville, in which I can let my multiplicity express itself without ‘tourists’, ‘wannabes’, ‘curiousity seekers’, ‘trolls’. Those living healthily with multiplicity or seeking to do so, or partners healthily supporting those with diagnosed DID are welcome. The rest of you, go find your own playground.
Donna et al
I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.