Learning to Live with DID

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First, let me begin this post with an apology.

 

Several months ago, I stated I was going to begin a series of posts about the ten stages involved with learning to live with the effects dissociative identity disorder. However, life got in the way and I didn’t carry through with that promise.

 

Well, I’m about to finally finish what I began.

 

I have already posted an introduction and stage one, and here is a recap of those posts.

 

The List of Stages of Learning to Live with Dissociative Identity Disorder

 

The Ten Stages of Recovery 

 

There are ten stages that are experienced by people living with the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder while in therapy. These steps occur in a different order with some being experienced several times.

 

One: Suspicion That Something is Wrong

 

People living with DID often know all their lives that something isn’t quite right about how they experience the world. They have experienced the effects of amnesia in relationships with friends and family. Also, they have faced severe episodes of depression and anxiety without understanding why. These things come to a head when their brains reach maturity and the memories so carefully stored away burst into consciousness.

 

Two: Discovery

 

The buried memories and knowledge of the existence of alternate ego states becomes known to the waking-self. The memories of the trauma from the past come up voluntarily and uncontrollably.

 

Three: Chaos

 

It is at this point that many who live with the diagnosis of DID seek professional help. The chaos of living with the realities of what had been their childhoods becomes difficult and dangerous. The emotions, flashbacks, and the feelings of worthlessness and helpless can cause these folks to feel suicidal and to make attempts to end their lives.

 

Four: Grieving

 

A grieving process begins in this stage. People with this disorder grieve for the loss of what they had always thought was a normal childhood. They must now face the knowledge that they had suppressed the truth, that their early lives were marked by unspeakable acts perpetrated against them by people they knew and loved. Because of this realization, many feel a great deal of despair and loneliness.

 

Five: Learning

 

In this stage of therapy, the person learns coping and grounding skills to deal with the memories and flashbacks. As each memory is worked through, they will fade into the past where they belong.

 

Six: Reaching Out

 

Reaching out to others who have also experienced childhood trauma is central at this stage of change. Reaching out is important because of the loneliness and isolation. Speaking with others who understand their sufferings both in the present and the past, helps them to accept that dissociative identity disorder is not “weird”, but rather the logical outcome of early childhood trauma.

 

Seven: Dependence

 

Inevitably a person who is struggling with the severe issues that accompany dissociative identity disorder will grow in dependence on their therapists. This is not harmful if the professional that is helping them is well-seasoned and aware of this propensity by adults who faced horrendous abuse in childhood/

 

Eight: Acceptance

 

After facing what happened to them and experiencing the emotions that accompany them, the person living with the diagnosis of DID begins the process of accepting who they are today. These people will face a struggle, as they will want to go back into the denial they have emerged from because of the pain. However, once they accept that their past experiences are not the ruin of them, but what has made them resilient human beings they grow in their self-image and self-esteem.

 

Nine: Resolution

 

There comes a day when the people living with the DID diagnosis decide they have relived all they need to understand well what happened in their childhoods. They make the choice to allow their pasts to fade into the background and become part of who they are and not their identity.

 

Ten: Moving On

 

Finally, after many years of hard work, trauma, and drama the person living with this diagnosis begins to seek a future free of their past. They reach a compromise within their system where one alter is the leader and cooperation begins in earnest. All the person’s personality, while not consolidated, work together for the common cause of a happy and fulfilling life.

 

A Recap of Stage One

 

One: Suspicion That Something is Wrong

 

People living with DID often know all their lives that something isn’t quite right about how they experience the world. They have experienced the effects of amnesia in relationships with friends and family. Also, they have faced severe episodes of depression and anxiety without understanding why. These things come to a head when their brains reach maturity and the memories so carefully stored away burst into consciousness.

 

Now for Stage Two: Discovery

 

Stage Two: Discovery

 

The buried memories, knowledge and existence of alternate ego states become known to the waking-self. These memories and emotions of childhood trauma begin to surface involuntarily and uncontrollably.

 

There are two beliefs among those who do not fully understand dissociative identity disorder that seem to permeate both professional and popular literature.

 

One is that a person living with DID is totally unaware until entering therapy that there are alters. While this may be the so in a small number of cases, it is not true for the majority. While people who are diagnosed in therapy with dissociative identity disorder may not understand what has been happening well, they know that there have been many incidences in their lives where unexplainable events have occurred in their lives.

 

For instance, someone states with fury that they have done something they do not remember having done.

 

The second misunderstanding it is only after treatment begins that the memories of childhood trauma surface. Again, this may be so for some cases. However, the reason people who live with dissociative identity disorder begin seeking help is because they are having flashbacks and emotional outbursts. Also, they seek help because they are feeling severely depressed and anxious without apparent cause.

 

Personal Perspective

 

I began to suspect that the way I saw things and lived wasn’t “normal” and that something in my past had caused the lack of peace I felt.

My suspicion began young. I had many things happen to me that didn’t compute. My little friends would complain that I had done things or said things I just didn’t remember and I felt lost and alone. I would sit for hours and contemplate my behavior feeling puzzled.

My friends were so adamant that I had done those things, but the actions didn’t fit my usual self, and I just couldn’t understand. I spent hours at a time lost in my little world, spaced out so far that I was unaware of my surroundings. My teachers complained that I daydreamed a lot, but I knew I wasn’t thinking or fantasizing about anything during those times. I was just simply not there.

When I began having horrendous flashbacks at age twenty-nine and felt overwhelmingly depressed and anxious, I sought professional help. I began seeing a highly trained therapist who did some careful observations of me during our sessions.

I had a hard time staying in the room with her and didn’t remember even going to our sessions for the first several months we met. It was frustrating and frightening to me that I had no memory of driving to and from her office, or that I had even attending those office visits.

After a period of several months I point-blank asked her what was wrong with me and she carefully and quietly told me she believed I may be living with a problem called (at that time) multiple personality disorder.

 

While I was floored by this diagnosis, I was also relieved. As we discussed what DID was, I felt relieved at finally understanding the strange occurrences that had plagued me all my life.

It was after I began to understand myself, that I wasn’t crazy but experiencing the effects of childhood trauma, that the healing could begin.

 

Thanks for Reading My Blog

 

I will try to add a new stage with discussion upon it once a week from now on. Please remember, these are only my opinions and I am not a mental health professional. Everyone experiences life and DID differently, so my story will never match up completely with that of someone else.

 

Thanks again for reading my blog, it means the world to me that you take time out of your busy lives to care enough to come here and read my writing.

 

 

 

 

“If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes, only then would you realize how special you are to me.” – Unknown