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Archive for August 12th, 2008

One of my readers named Emily asked me to post a survey for child abuse survivors who have more than one diagnosis. Since this applies to me, I am going to provide my answers here as well as send them along to Emily. (Emily – Sorry it took me so long to post this.)

Here is the message she sent me, followed by my survey answers:

Hello!
My name is Emily, I am 42, and I was diagnosed last year with dissociative identity disorder and PTSD secondary to child abuse and later an incident of sexual abuse. After years of depression, confusion, missing time, and thinking I was crazy. I have done a lot of research over the last year to help understand DID beyond the regular stuff you see on the internet – lists of diagnostic criteria, basic advice on treatment, etc. Since others found my research useful, I decided to share it in a blog that focuses on the research and my experiences, rather than just being a “diary” blog.

Recently, the question of admitting your diagnosis came up. I personally don’t tell people I have DID – I think PTSD is an “easier” diagnosis for people to deal with. I have seen others also “hide” a dissociation diagnosis. So, I wanted to take a completely unscientific poll J to see what other people do.

I am hoping you will participate in this short survey, and I will post the results on my website. Please send these questions with your answers to emilylonelygirl@gmail.com (completely confidential).

Thank you!

Emily

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Survey for More than One Diagnosis:

  1. What dissociative disorder were you diagnosed with? (dissociative amnesia/ fugue, DDNOS, DID, polyfragmented DID)
  2. What is/are your other diagnosis(es)?
  3. Do you share any of your diagnoses with friends and family? Yes/No
  4. Please list which diagnoses do you share (if any)
  5. If you don’t share all diagnoses, which DON’T you share? Why not? Is it because one is more “acceptable” than the other?
  6. How old are you?
  7. Do you work?
  8. Anything else you’d like to add or that I forgot to ask?

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Here are my answers. I will email them to Emily as well:

1. What dissociative disorder were you diagnosed with? (dissociative amnesia/ fugue, DDNOS, DID, polyfragmented DID)

My therapist only officially diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I self-diagnosed the polyfragmented dissociative identity disorder (DID). I did tell my therapist about the alter parts, and his response was that he has never met a person who endured severe trauma who did not dissociate in some way, including into alter parts. He did not want me to focus on labels. Instead, the focus was on healing.

2. What is/are your other diagnosis(es)?

Mine are self-diagnosed other than the PTSD. I have struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an eating disorder, and self-injury.

3. Do you share any of your diagnoses with friends and family?

Yes

4. Please list which diagnoses do you share (if any).

My sister and one friend know all. I have not shared any of my diagnoses with any family members other than my sister. (I have limited contact with family members other than her.) As for friends, I have shared the DID diagnosis with a couple of close friends. Most, if not all, of my friends know about the PTSD. I am very open about having a history of child abuse.

5. If you don’t share all diagnoses, which DON’T you share? Why not? Is it because one is more “acceptable” than the other?

I am very selective in sharing my history of DID. I have integrated and am no longer DID. However, I am still wary of sharing my history of DID with most people offline because their impression of DID is represented by movies like Sybil. I don’t want them to think that I am a “freak” or something.

PTSD is something that most people can understand a little better. I want people to know that child abuse results in that level of trauma, so I am open about sharing that diagnosis as a way of educating the public about the seriousness of child abuse.

I am more open about struggling with an eating disorder and OCD than I am with self-injury because those are more socially acceptable behaviors. I am also embarrassed to admit that I sometimes bang my head as a coping strategy. (I have cut down to about once every six months!!)

6. How old are you?

39

7. Do you work?

Yes. I am a stay-at-home mom who works part-time as a freelance writer.

8. Anything else you’d like to add or that I forgot to ask?

I find that what I am more willing to share has a lot to do with what the other person is able to handle. This applies not only to my diagnoses but to the forms of abuse I suffered. I am much more likely to talk about being sexually abused than being ritually abused because more people can handle the topic of sexual abuse than ritual abuse.

I write about the hard topics, such as animal rape, on my blog to help others who feel unable to share their own experiences. I also write about the hard topics to educate the public. For now, I only feel comfortable doing this under a pen name. I hope that my blog will help educate the public about these hard-to-talk-about topics so it will be easier for all child abuse survivors to talk about their experiences.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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