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Archive for August 13th, 2009

On my blog entry entitled Dealing with Diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a reader posted the following comment:

Hello All! I was recently diagnosed with DID. I keep bouncing back and forth between acceptance and denial. When I leave therapy I don’t remember much about the session but I am different. I can reflect back to that day and see that someone different walked out of his office and then I have flashes of different things I did for the rest of the day but no real detail or feeling is recalled. This happens to me on and off everyday. I believe they call this switching. My dilemma is this…a strong part of me still wants to believe my parents were/are perfect and good and my whole world. Another part of me is afraid that if I acknowledge this a dam will break open and my life will spin out of control. I fear losing control. Also…all of my parts are petrified of being discovered and their secrets getting out. There is a strong voice inside me shouting that “it is imperative that we all live like nothing bad happened”. I am so confused all of the time. Can you guys shed any light or info on this for me…you are all much further ahead than me. Thank you. ~ Nansie

What Nansie describes here is very similar to my experience with DID. You have a bunch of different parts of yourself in conflict, and you don’t know which “voice” to follow.

I went through this with choosing to trust a friend for the first time. I made the decision to tell her, “You are becoming a good friend.” Just the thought of taking this action kicked off what Nansie describes here. I kept switching with my host personality staying co-present. I would be nauseous. Then I would have a panic attack. Next, I would have diarrhea. If I thought to myself, “Maybe I should wait,” all of the symptoms would magically disappear. Then, I would tell myself, “No matter what, I am doing this,” and the carousel of responses would start up again.

Nansie explains the conflict of emotions well, which is really what DID is all about. In order to protect herself and/or someone she loved, she had to give the impression that her parents were great. However, they were hurting her, so she had parts of herself that were angry, parts that were frightened, and parts that were very sad. She could not give those parts a voice, so she split them off and stuffed them inside.

Now that Nansie is in therapy, parts of her want to heal, but other parts do not. The strong voice shouting, “it is imperative that we all live like nothing bad happened,” is a protector alter part that is trying to keep her and/or someone she loves physically safe. The alter parts in conflict are really herself in conflict, feeling so many things at once that are in conflict with one another.

Nansie – My advice is to read Chrystine Oksana’s book, Safe Passage to Healing. This is the best resource I have found to explain DID and the role of alter parts. The book is written for ritual abuse survivors, but the chapters on DID will be helpful even if you did not suffer from ritual abuse.

I would also work through the book with your therapist. I don’t know how vulnerable you are to triggers, but your therapist will have a better idea. Read through the book slowly because you are likely to switch whenever you read something that hits close to home.

I, too, did not always remember what we talked about in therapy. (I started taking a notebook to jot down points that I wanted to remember later.) My therapist assured me that this was normal. I was dissociating when we talked about very painful things. You are viewing yourself from the perspective of the host personality. You are so much deeper and richer than this one sliver whose job it was to believe that you were not being abused. Even if you, from the perspective of the host personality, do not remember the session, the parts of you who are receiving therapy do. Those parts are a part of you. Healing them is healing you. In time, you will integrate into your core, along with these other parts, and it will be much easier to believe your history. In the meantime, send them lots of love, and believe what they tell you. Love and self-acceptance is the key to healing from DID.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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