Multiple Personality / Dissociative Identity Disorder Support and Resources
As someone posted on our Forums a while back, "We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box."
Coping with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) can certainly be a challenge at times, but it doesn't have to be a story of fear, isolation, and despair. Many of us here at Fort Refuge are multiples (have split personalities), and some of us are high functioning members of society. We are all survivors, and come here together to heal from past abuse, cope with current life, and grow towards a happier future. You're welcome to join us on this road to success!
Everyone dissociates to one extent or another. This is normal and healthy. Sometimes, during a traumatic experience, one sort of shuts off. You might not have any feelings about what's happening, as if it were happening to someone else, or as if you were watching a movie about it. Or you might completely block out the experience, forget it entirely, as if it never happened. Or you might have many feelings about it, and remember certain images, as in a nightmare, but have no coherent account of what actually took place. These are various ways of dissociation that many trauma survivors experience.
DID (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is an extreme degree of dissociation. What happens is - your mind sort of splits up into two or more separate identities. As in - that horrible thing couldn't have happened to me, I'm a good girl, these things don't happen to good girls, so it didn't happen to me. But someone has to store this traumatic memory, so another girl splits off you, and she owns the experience. She might feel angry at you, for putting her into this situation. Or guilty, for not protecting you well enough. Or she may be unaware of your existence at all. Just like you might be unaware of hers. But once she split off - she goes on living with you, sometimes silently staying behind the scenes, carrying the memory. And sometimes actively taking a part in your life, changing things around to her liking, getting her needs met. This is just an example, each DID system is created for different reasons and operates differently. The common denominator is that you end up with one body and a few separate personalities, often unaware of each other.
There are many symptoms checklists, but basically it might look like memory gaps: you find things in your closet that you never bought, meet people who act like they know you while you have no clue who they are, find yourself in the middle of nowhere not remembering how you got there - it seems like you've been doing things that you have no recollection of doing. If you indeed have DID (see a professional for proper diagnosis) - this could be that other girl in action. While you were completely unaware, amnesic, - she went ahead and refreshed your wardrobe, made some new friends, took you travelling, etc. This is what DID is all about - having a few identities.
It might feel terrifying, to find out you're not the only one having control of your body. Who are those other people? How do you know what they might do next? They can quit your job, divorce your husband, move to New Guinea - and you're powerless to stop them. Seems like a horror movie, right? The truth is - most people aren't malicious by nature. There's no reason to feel paranoid. All those "alters", "insiders", "others", "littles", "middles", "bigs", etc - all these other people who share the body with you are a part of who you are. They are trying to protect you, in the best way they know how. What you all need to do is find a way to communicate with each other, set boundaries, negotiate priorities, re-define your goals, and work together towards them, this time as a team.
This is a hard and long process, and you can't do it alone. You need professional help, support from your family and friends, and a safe place to discuss your progress and setbacks with a group of your peers, people who are going through the same thing you do. This is when Fort Refuge comes into play. Many of us here have DID, we are constantly discussing various aspects of it and specific techniques we found helpful, supporting each other in a non-judgemental way, sharing tips, tricks, or just a good laugh (because even such a tragic thing as Dissociative Identity Disorder can have its funny sides, and humour is often the best medicine).
Here's a personal invitation to you to join our community. If this is your first visit, you can browse around the site, to get a feel of what we are about, but please keep in mind that most of the life is happening on forums and in chat, which are invisible to visitors, for obvious privacy reasons. Below are links to other sites that address the subject of multiplicity - we hope you find them helpful. We have a few articles ourselves, you can see them in our Library. Stay safe, thanks for stepping by, and hope to see you around!
Good sites about DID:
- pods-online.org.uk/: great site on dissociation, with a lot of resources.
- dissociation.co.uk: The Pottergate Centre For Dissociation And Trauma, another good site full of resources.
- The Manual - Jeff Vineburg: Loaded with lots of great stuff!
- International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation: Home for Professional studies.
- Women's Institute for Incorporation Therapy.: A psychiatric program for women who have acute symptoms associated with psychological trauma and dissociative disorders.
- Ernest and Allen:l From the Therapist and Author of Minds in Many Pieces
- Ralph B. Allison, M.D. : Psychotherapy of Multiple Personality Disorder
- Understanding Integration - an extremely elaborate and informative resource on integration.
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