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This blog entry completes a series of three on the topic of my experience of becoming aware that I had dissociative identity disorder (DID). You can read the other blog entries here and here.

One issue I wrestled with in the early years of healing from child abuse was how I could have had DID for my entire life without having any symptoms or signs. Once I took a retrospective view of my life, the DID was the missing link to many questions I had always had about my life.

I had the symptom of people knowing me who I did not know. I apparently bonded with a high school sophomore while I was a junior at band camp. I have no memory (other than what I recovered through flashbacks ) of attending band camp at all, although I was always aware that I had attended band camp. I have always remembered this sophomore going out of her way to say hello to me by name and being baffled by who this person was and why she thought she knew me when I did not know her.

I had the symptom of people having strong feelings toward me with no explanation as to why. In my freshman year of college, one student in my dorm HATED me and would harass me by leaving ugly messages on my door. My friends asked me repeatedly why this young woman hated me because – believe me – she was NOT subtle about her intense dislike for me. I had absolutely no idea why she disliked me so badly. I even asked her one time and tried apologizing for however I had offended her, and she was not receptive in the least. She said I knew darn well why she hated me – I truly did not.

In my sophomore year of college, my ex-boyfriend spread rumors that I was pregnant with his baby. Since we had never had intercourse (I believed I was a virgin), I was baffled as to why he would say such a thing and assumed he was just trying to ruin my reputation.

I would visit with my mother and have no recollection of what we had talked about immediately afterward. I would try to remember the annoying things she said to tell my husband, but I simply could not remember. I also thought I had blood sugar issues because I would feel very lightheaded whenever I was around my mother.

My husband would tell me about conversations – sometimes long conversations – that we had that I did not remember. I believed I was talking in my sleep, but he said I seemed awake during these conversations. I had no recollection of those conversations even after his prompting.

Yes, the signs were all there – I just wasn’t ready to deal with them. I was so determined to believe that I was a “normal” person who had not been abused that I found a way to lie to myself and hide an awareness of having DID.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Yesterday, I began answering a reader’s question about whether I always knew I had dissociative identity disorder (DID) or alter parts. You can read the first part of the story here.

I did not question that Irate was real or that she was an alter part. I knew about multiple personality disorder (had never heard the term DID) and that it was linked to severe child abuse. I couldn’t understand why I would have an alter part because, as far as I remembered, I had not been abused as a child other than comparatively minor emotional abuse.

I researched what was going on with Irate “stepping into my face” and that floaty feeling I would get around my mother. I realized the term for the floaty feeling was called “dissociation.” I went looking for a book to explain why I would dissociate. I read Martha Stout’s The Myth of Sanity and was perplexed because I related so much to her DID patients but “knew” that I had not suffered from child abuse.

I finally asked Irate to explain why I had an alter part, and that’s what kicked off my healing journey. I thought Irate was the only alter part, but then I “met” more and more parts. My multiple system consisted of hundreds of parts, many of which were personality fragments (smaller parts holding only one piece of a memory or only one emotion).

What I had read about DID was different in many important ways from what I was experiencing. Martha Stout’s book was one of the most helpful resources I found because it explained that DID is on the extreme end of a continuum of dissociation. I had trouble accepting this label for a long time because I was convinced that my experiences had not been “bad enough” to cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which was not as far along the continuum as DID.

Before reading Martha Stout’s book, I thought DID was several separate people sharing a body, which was not what my experience felt like. For me, it felt like one big piece of my spirit had been shattered into many smaller pieces. Also, as I stated, many of these pieces were not “whole people” but, instead, just fragments of different feelings or experiences.

Once I started having flashbacks and knew for certain that I did not have a conscious memory of the abuse, I faced that I had no idea what had actually happened to me as a child. My focus shifted from struggling with labels to struggling with how to manage and heal the many memories that had been “uncorked.”

Final thoughts on the topic tomorrow…

Image credit: Amazon.com

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