I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I have DID and have been doing a bit of research into it. Those of you who haven’t heard of it, it is characterized by the existence of two or more distinct personality states that have the capacity to take control of the body, and the inability to recall personal information. There may also be other symptoms like: depression, obsessive/compulsive behaviour and eating disorders.
According to what I’ve read, the ‘alter’ is usually either protective or destructive. My most prevalent ‘alter’, who wishes to remain anonymous for this blog, first showed her face about five years ago (before I had started therapy) but also at a time when I had just realized abuse had taken place in my past. She emerged as the naughty side to me, the side to me that may not have been exposed otherwise. Sometimes she tries to take control too much so I have to fight it as she also has destructive tendencies. Body image seems to be her primary concern and if it means skipping meals then so be it.
I have another ‘alter’ who has become more prominent recently. This one is a lot more responsible and sophisticated than the other one. She cares for Paola, looks elegant, is confident and knows what she wants. She seems to be the protective part of me, looking out for me and ultimately not allowing me to get hurt. Her theory seems to be: “Men can’t use me if I use them first.”
Dissociation is something that children acquire and it protects them during traumatic experiences. Dissociative Identity Disorder is something that develops later in adulthood and is again a defense mechanism where the mind splits into two, allowing the other personality to deal with the bad experiences that we don’t wish to remember. It’s not necessary to integrate the personalities but is possible.
According to some studies, the 'average' person diagnosed with DID spends seven years in the mental health system before being properly diagnosed, due to misdiagnosis and lack of training on the part of therapists to spot the disorder. So that’s why it’s so important to break the silence and for people to be more aware of these personality disorders that aren’t “all in our head.”