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Posts Tagged ‘Do People with DID Know That They Have It?’

Continued from here.

At the time that I first faced the reality that I had Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), I was unaware of alter parts ever being “out.” However, through therapy and healing, I came to realize that I (as the host personality) was just a tiny sliver of who I am. I also came to realize, in retrospect, that I did have interactions with my alter parts.

For example, I adopted my son. During the home study, the social worker asked hub and me if either of us had been abused as a child. We both replied, “No.” I immediately got lightheaded, and I was bombarded by “loud thoughts” screaming, “Liar! Liar! Liar!” I was perplexed but not alarmed that I had these “loud thoughts” rolling around in my head. It didn’t stop until I “thought” back, “As far as I know, I wasn’t abused.”

I used to joke that I had the world’s longest fuse. People could $@#% all over me, and I would just take it. I was the world’s biggest doormat. However, about once a year, I would blow. When somebody crossed a boundary that I typically accepted, I would suddenly have an enormous amount of strength and adrenaline, and I would tell the other person off. I would then be shocked that I had just said those words to the other person. I realize in retrospect that this was Irate coming out to protect me when people took advantage of me.

I would be having consensual sex with my husband, and I would get intrusive thoughts, such as, “If you close your eyes, they all feel the same.” I would be driving my car and get the urge to crash it into a tree. (I would always fight it and tell myself, “No!”, but I had no awareness that I was talking to an alter part.)

I stopped counting after integrating numerous parts, but I easily had several hundred parts (most personality fragments but some personalities, too). I used some techniques to access my subconscious mind, and I would “catch” some of my alter parts in conversation about what I (as the host personality) was ready to handle and what I was not. The weirdest thing is that none of this felt odd. Even without “knowing” that I had alter parts, I felt a certain amount of comfort in learning about them and even grieved when Irate integrated back into the core. I didn’t want to be “alone” in my own body.

As I have recovered more of my memories, I now recognize just how frequently I switched. I have tons of memories of S (my most sadistic abuser) walking down the stairs, closing the drapes, and then immediately opening the drapes back up. I would think it was a weird tic of hers to close and then open them right back up. I hold those memories from the host personality’s perspective. The drapes were the signal to tuck that part of me away. Then, it was safe to come back out when the drapes were opened again.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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See my last post, Do People with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) Know That They Have It? for the first part of the story.

For the next two weeks, I was constantly p@$$ed off. I was so angry (hence the name “Irate”), but none of it made any sense. I opened a dialogue with that part, which is how I learned the part’s name. “We” would have conversations in my head. I would think a question, and then I would “hear” a “loud thought” inside of my head that did not originate from me. It was really bizarre. I was so certain that I had never been abused that I was pretty certain that my sanity was snapping.

I had to accept it, though – I had an alter part. There was no denying it. The question I had was what to do about it. I certainly wasn’t going to tell anyone about it.

I did some online research and learned about dissociation. I then found a book in my local library about dissociation called The Myth of Sanity by Martha Stout. Before reading that book, I didn’t believe I could possibly have DID because I did not do all of the “crazy stuff” that Sybil, Eve, and Truddi did. However, as I read the book, I saw myself in every page and in every patient.

The book was clear that a person must experience severe and ongoing trauma at a young age in order to split off an alter part. I was perplexed because I “knew” that I was a virgin until my husband. I called my sister and asked if she had any memories of me being sexually abused as a child. She replied, “I have always had a bad feeling about mom.” In that instant, I recovered my first repressed memory. I could feel my body being violated, and I knew in the deepest part of myself that my mother had, in fact, sexually abused me.

I also related to the feelings of dissociation described in that book. I would frequently feel lightheaded around my mother. I chalked it up to being tired. I would then “forget” the specifics of the visit. I once drove four hours in the car with her. When I got home, I could not remember one thing we talked about, even though we talked the entire time. I had to face the reality that I had been abused and that I had an alter part (I had hundreds more but did not know it yet).

To be continued…

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and “Hearing Voices”, a reader posted the following comment:

I know I have these inner voices yet I don’t know if they are attached to actual parts per say-with names and history. I was wondering, (without being intrusive) if your personal work began with just the voices and then finding out more later?? I do believe that my voices have been with me for a very long time on and off but I choose not to recognize them on some level. ~ Kim

Kim actually posted three comments to the blog entry, and the underlying message I am getting is the question of whether people with DID know that they have it. The answer in most cases (before therapy and diagnosis) is no.

The whole point of DID is to compartmentalize the spirit so that some parts hold the pain, memories, and emotions while other parts have the ability to appear completely normal to the outside word. My host personality was a very cheerful one. I was always smiling. Happy children are not viewed as possibly being abused, so creating a happy and upbeat host personality to be “me” whenever the abuse wasn’t happening was an effective way of hiding my secrets.

I had no awareness of having alter parts or losing time. In retrospect (after entering into therapy), I came to recognize that I had huge holes in my memory. However, my multiple system was brilliant in hiding this fact from my host personality.

I first suspected that I had an alter part about a year before the flashbacks started. As I would lie in my bed at night trying to sleep, I would feel someone “step into my face.” It felt like my facial features were changing, and I could feel a separateness from myself and that other part. I have a very hard time describing the feeling. The best way I can explain it is to think about blowing bubbles, and two bubbles share the space that should be filled by one. That is kind of what it felt like.

I had always been drawn to stories about DID (Truddi Chase, Sybil, Eve White, etc.), so I had an idea about what was going on. However, it made no sense because I believed that I had never suffered abuse. The truth of the matter is that my host personality had been safely hidden inside whenever the abuse happened, so that part of my spirit truly had not experienced the abuse. However, the host personality was only a tiny sliver of who I am.

I just assumed that this was more evidence of me being “crazy” and tried to block it out. Then, a year later, my mother/abuser went into my then-two-year-old son’s room during the night, and that is when all h@#$ broke loose in my life. (I do not believe that she harmed my son, thank goodness.) A part that I later learned was named Irate took over and let me (the host personality) stay “out” in a co-conscious way. I felt like I had been shoved over to the side of my head. My mind was racing with the fear that my mother had sexually abused my child. I was flooded with a ton of emotions that made absolutely no sense because they were not “my” emotions, and the thoughts were not “my” thoughts.

This blog entry is getting long, so I will continue with the story tomorrow.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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