Living with another individual can be challenging. What more if you have to live with two in just one body? We may have heard about dissociative identity disorder so many times, and this case is so complicated that most of us choose to ignore or refuse to understand. This is something more than just a condition that can be treated as this has hardly been understood fully. There has been a constant debate about its existence and nature. Continue reading “Living With Dissociative Identity Disorder” »
Hilda, an eight-year-old South American girl from the suburbs, was sent to the grade level guidance counselor for exhibiting bad behavior in the classroom. Aside from being overly talkative, she disturbs her classmates who are doing their school work. She often gets into petty arguments, physical fight episodes with male classmates, sarcastic when talking back to her teachers, and has bullied some kids in lower grade levels. These kids are smaller and weaker.
Dissociative disorder is a mental health illness that affects a person’s memory, identity perception, behavior, emotion, and sense of self. The disorder has a significant effect in almost all areas of a person’s mental function. When one is experiencing self-detachment and memory loss, the person is then suffering from dissociative disorder. Trauma experienced from the past can cause the development of this disorder.
Dissociative Disorder: Identity Disorder, Amnesia, And Depersonalization Disorder
Sidran Institute (Towson, MD) describes dissociation as the disconnection of a person’s memories, feelings, thoughts, and actions. (The institute also helps people further understand everything about the mental health illness.) As mentioned, dissociative disorder is related to past, traumatic and overwhelming experiences. This was then referred to as the Multiple Personality Disorder.
Dissociative Disorder: Signs And Symptoms
The person suffering from dissociative disorder has more than one personal identity. These identities come in with changed behavior, thinking, and memory. Such symptom is observable by other people around the person with the illness.
Symptoms can then cause problems on a person’s daily association with other people and have a significant effect on his work and personal relationships. It is also NOT a normal phenomenon despite cultural differences. There are cases wherein some countries consider this a standard spiritual practice. But in medical science, this is regarded as a severe mental health problem.
People with the disorder display preferences and attitude that shift back and forth all the time. The person has no control over them. As a result, the patient experiences stress. He will also become obsessed with his body (which feels different to the person at times). Even with their speech way and style, it’s different from one identity to another.
Sidran Institute psychiatrists and mental health professionals state that in time, a person with such disorder has this feeling that he has more than one identity. Each identity has its personality, perception and even memories. These personalities are entirely different from each other. Still, it is important to note that it’s from the same person. The separate identities created are called “alternate personalities,” “identities”, “states of consciousness” and “alters.”
The extent of this disorder can range from minimal to significantly disturbing. People experiencing this illness usually try to address it immediately to reduce the impact and effects of its symptoms.
Fact: “Although brain imaging is being used to help us better understand psychiatric disorders, they are not currently being utilized for diagnostic purposes.” – Colleen Cullen, PsyD
People traumatized by sexual and physical abuse, especially in their childhood years, have the most chance of getting this disorder. Those who get raped multiple times, get beaten a lot, and are exposed to traumatic situations are highly at risk of developing the illness. Self-destruction and even suicidal thoughts and attempts are common for people with dissociative disorder, according to Sidran Institute experts.
Dissociative Disorder Treatment
Sidran Institute suggests and recommends various ways to heal from this mental health disorder. With proper care and early medical intervention, people with dissociative disorder have high chances of overcoming the condition. They improve significantly over time which enables them to function normally and even live a productive life if the disorder has not permanently damaged their cognitive performance.
The usual treatment for dissociative disorder is psychotherapy. Therapy helps those with the illness to take control of themselves once the disorder occurs. If possible, psychotherapy may help people limit their symptoms. The specific goal of therapy is to help address the different aspects of the identities. Treatment programs used are cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and hypnosis.
Experts do not recommend medication to address the disorder directly. But some medicines can be prescribed to treat some symptoms of the said condition. They should be used with caution, though.
According to Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, “Practitioners can assist clients through therapies.” If you believe you are suffering from a mental health-related issue, make sure to try therapy or counseling as soon as possible.
If you know someone who has a disassociate disorder, make sure to remind him to become mindful in times of feeling anxiety. According to Ron Siegel, PsyD, “Once you’ve got some anxiety going, just breathe, and feel it. Notice how it feels throughout the body.”
Dissociative disorder is a mental health problem wherein the person experiences disconnection between himself and his thoughts, surroundings, memories, identity and even his actions. This disorder enables the person to have this involuntary escape from the reality that can cause complications in his everyday functionality.
The illness is common to people who experienced traumatic incidents in their younger years. Common symptoms include amnesia and having alternate identities. The indicators will depend on the nature of the dissociative disorder a person is undergoing. Whenever the person experiences stress, symptoms are observable.
Treatment of the said disorder includes therapy and medication, although medicating a person with dissociative disorder is not recommendable for all. Overcoming the illness is a hard and long journey that is why people with the stated disorder find ways to cope, if still possible.
Symptoms Of Dissociative Disorder
Dissociative Disorder includes the following symptoms:
- There is a loss of memory or amnesia. It occurs on specific events, personal information and even people the person knows.
- Self-detachment (personal and emotional)
- Distorted perception of other people and things around them
- Inaccurate identity perception
- Problems with work, personal relationships, and other relevant aspects
- Having a hard time coping with difficulties related to emotions
- Suicidal tendencies, anxiety, and depression – which also happens to be mental health illnesses, as well
Three Major Dissociative Disorders
Dissociative Amnesia. A significant memory loss identifies this disorder that even medical professionals cannot explain. There are events and people that the person cannot recall because of the said condition. This memory loss can last for a minute, hours or even months.
Dissociative Identity Disorder. This disorder happens when a person has that identity-switching episode. The person is experiencing the phenomenon wherein there are two or more persons inside his or her head. Each identity has its name, personality, and history.
Depersonalization-Derealization Disorder. This disorder manifests when the person is experiencing an episode wherein he detaches from himself and does his self-assessment from afar. It happens for a few moments which occurs many times in a year.
Causes Of Dissociative Disorder
Dissociative Disorder occurs as a person’s manner to escape from a traumatic event. This trauma can be both sexual and physical. The said abuse may have happened in the past or recently. Also, other traumatic experiences that may lead to the development of such disorder are unhealthy home environment and war.
Risk Factors For Dissociative Disorder
People who experience long-term abuse or severe trauma (like war, torture, kidnapping and painful medical procedures) have a higher risk of developing the disorder.
Complications Of Dissociative Disorder
The difficulties associated with dissociative disorder include:
- Suicidal tendencies
- Sexual dysfunction
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sleeping disorder
- Eating disorders
- Problems with personal relationships
If the person is having thoughts of harming himself or someone else, it is best to call a medical institution and the legal authorities right away.
Here are some things that you need to know about suicide:
- “Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 34 in the United States. – Marnie Masten, MS, LPCC, LSW
- “The signs that someone might be severely depressed to the point of considering suicide can vary depending on the person.” – Katelyn Arvin, LPC
- “The time has long since passed to consider suicide a public health priority and put all our resources to bear on helping people when they need it the most.” – David Covington, LPC, MBA
When To See A Doctor
When a person undergoes flashbacks on a traumatic experience, thinks about suicide and self-harm, and manifests an unruly and harmful behavior, he or she needs medical and mental health attention right away.
Coping Mechanisms And Treatment For Dissociative Disorder
Talk to a medical professional, a family member, friend or your church leader (if you’re religious) about your traumatic experience. Ask for related resources that can help you out with Dissociative Disorder like support groups and therapy programs like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program.
Look for community education centers and church programs that can help address your condition. See a medical and mental health professional immediately. Don’t wait for it to get worse. It is best to get into early intervention before it’s too late.
My partner was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. A mental disorder that can affect one’s personality and his association with other people – that’s D.I.D. In this situation, I then became the so-called “significant other.”
In the past, information on the said condition was quite limited, that is why I had to sort it out and find ways of dealing with it. In my 25 years of coping with someone suffering from DID, I learned many things.
As A Significant Other Of Someone With DID, You Have Many Questions.
Because of my experience, many spouses who are in the same boat as I am would like to know how I survived and lived with it. Well, I am urging you to ask me those questions, and I would try my best to provide the answers. However, it is also imperative to learn as much as you can about DID. Check official websites or from public libraries. As much as possible, I always tell him the truth. Leah K. Barison, LPCC says “By nature of telling a lie, you are keeping a secret.”
We Get Very Lonely, And That’s A Fact Because Of His Disorder.
Because of my partner’s somewhat eccentric behavior, we get a lot of complaints. There are times wherein I feel so isolated from others. Our friends would avoid us and even make excuses for them to stay away. Of course, we get very lonely. However, I discovered that dealing with this all alone will worsen the situation. I began opening up to my loved ones, and let other people know how we feel. We also have a once-a-week meeting with a counselor.
I also came across an article online wherein Alicia H. Clark, PsyD said “It’s easy to fear that you are behind in some life race, and will never catch up to your friends, but nothing can ruin your intrinsic motivation faster than comparing yourself to others.”
I Love Him, And That’s Why I Choose To Stay Despite His DID.
We are still a typical couple despite my partner’s condition. Like imperfect human beings in love, we argue and squabble. We sometimes say words we don’t even mean and end up hurting each other. In my case, it is so easy to leave him, and one of the main reasons is his disorder. But I wouldn’t dream of it. We stayed because we love each other. Love conquers all, right? It can even overcome DID. Seriously. However, there are times when I wanted to be alone for a little while. I learned from Kevin Gilliland, PsyD that “There is a difference between time alone and isolation.”
He Is Not Dangerous; Not All People With DID Are Killers Or Criminals.
Sometimes, media wrongly sensationalizes how people with mental disorders act, in general. They make the person with such conditions look dangerous and harmful to others. But the truth is, these patients are not a harm to others. They need understanding and compassion from the people around them for them to move as frequently as possible in the society.
I suggest that you keep your hearts open and try to understand the severe situation. Most of the people with DID are just victims of wrongdoings from their childhood. They don’t need your disdain and your judgment. These people want to be understood and accepted.
Living With A Person Who Has DID IS Not All Bad.
Despite his condition, my husband is very productive. He learns things, applies them and creates something worthwhile. When he starts a particular project, he will accomplish it. He has lots of skills and knows how to work on many different things especially in the arts. He can be very prolific in his own pace. My husband is also not financially dependent on me. He even takes care of our rent.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is a disorder that can be surpassed by acceptance and compromise. It will be hard at first, but love will guide you through the circumstances. Listen to your instincts and since you know your partner well, eliminate your doubts. If you are getting help from a professional for the condition, then it’s one less issue solved. But remember, you are your partner’s best doctor.
Living with someone diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder can be pretty challenging. Aside from the odd behavior, you won’t feel completely safe around your loved one, and that’s the truth. No one can tell what’s going on in your loved one’s mind and that makes the person completely unpredictable.
However, if this special someone is indispensable in your life, then you cannot just get away or ignore the person forever. It is your duty to help him or her cope with that condition. With this, you should learn how to deal and live with your loved one.
Below are some tips on how to do it while keeping your sanity intact:
Gain An Understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Being knowledgeable about Dissociative Identity Disorder is your best weapon in dealing with it. You need to understand everything about the condition. By learning how DID progresses, you will know what to do when an “episode” takes place, and how to avoid adverse outcomes.
Details about this condition are obtainable through the internet, mental health books of the latest editions, and a psychiatrist, upon consultation.
Provide Reassurance To Your Loved One That Even With His DID, You Will Still Love And Accept Him.
Assuring your loved one that you are by his or her side no matter what will make the person feel secure. It can’t be helped that people with DID would get some bad treatment from other people. The stigma is disheartening. This situation will make your loved one feel insecure and even unworthy.
If this thought comes in often, it can trigger or even further deepen the development of the condition. But doing otherwise, it will help the person stabilize his or her emotions.
Talk Openly With Your Partner/Spouse.
Communication always helps, especially for people with DID. However, during your conversation, you need to be careful and yet honest at the same time. Be sure that your loved one will receive the message well by using non-offensive words so that it won’t trigger a shift in identities.
In short, you need to be respectful to your partner or spouse, and his alter egos to avoid complications. Choose your words well and think first before you say something. Your words and actions can have an impact on him and “them.”
Connect With All The “Personalities.”
Get to know the person not just from the outside, but the “multiple insides” as well. It will also help you ascertain how you can treat them without tripping into factors that can trigger an adverse effect.
Be Ready For Irregularities.
One characteristic of people with DID is that they can be very inconsistent. In such case, you need to be ready for it. Take note of everything the patient tells you and be observant.
Talk About Fun Or Love-Filled Memories.
During your talks, you can casually mention those fun and loving memories together. This act will lighten your loved one’s mood since remembering something good can always bring an incredible feeling. It will help your loved one feel sheltered and at ease.
Be Careful About Physical Touch.
Physical abuse is one of the standard causes of DID. That is why it is not a wonder if people with the said disorder find themselves uncomfortable with physical touch or contact. Note on this and be very careful. Know your loved one’s view on being touched. If he or she finds it troubling, then respect your loved one’s feelings.
Patience Is A Virtue, Especially When It Comes To Sexual Intimacy.
If your partner or spouse has a DID, then know his or her views on sexual intimacy. If your loved one is not ready to be intimate or is uncomfortable with sex, you have to slow down. Be patient with him or her and don’t push it. Doing so can either trigger some negative or violent emotions or further deepen his or her trauma. This is true for people who experienced sexual abuse.
Have Fun With Your Partner.
Despite the condition, bear in mind that you love this person. Treat him or her the usual way and do things that you both enjoy doing together. It will ease the person’s mind off the condition and help your loved one feel alive again.
Here are some tips that you can use from therapists:
- Mara Hirschfeld, LMFT: “We can think of boundaries as a personal rulebook that informs others how to treat us, and specifically what is and isn’t OK.”
- Meredith Janson, MA, LPC: “It’s important to understand your partner’s reservations.”
- Mirel Goldstein, MS, MA, LPC: “I would recommend that couples share something vulnerable with each other each day because couples who stop being vulnerable and “play it safe” can find themselves feeling more and more distant from each other as time goes on and daily responsibilities compete with relationship needs.”
People with Dissociative Identity Disorder are difficult to handle. But if you are sincere with them and change up your approach according to personality, you will eventually get your loved one back.
Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID is one of the less researched illnesses in neurosciences. It is usually misdiagnosed or even taken for granted. It may be because of its rarity since its occurrence is statistically very low. But still, this mental health issue can develop on anyone. Your loved one or spouse can be suffering from DID, and with that, you need to know specific facts.
This article is a continuation of an earlier writeup in this site titled Misconceptions About Dissociative Identity Disorder: Understanding Your Spouse With “Multiple” Issues Part 1. If you haven’t read part one, it would be best to start there before divulging on this one. It will clear up several ideas and thoughts in your head and can be helpful in the future.
The title says “additional” because the previous article featured on this site discussed the 13 Things Your Spouse With Dissociative Identity Disorder Wants You To Know. If you haven’t read that yet, please go to that page first before you continue with this one. This article is a part two and is best grasped when you’ve read the first one.
Anyway, moving on and as promised, here are 13 more things your spouse with DID needs for you to understand. They too want to have a relationship with you, but their disorder is a mess. If you can take in as to why they are acting strange, you may have a loving married life.
Some Factors Can Cause the Switch.
Certain factors can push the switch from one personality to another. Once this factor is identified by the mind, there will be an automatic switch of identities.
They Cannot Avoid The Switch Triggers.
Most of the time, the person cannot avoid the factors that trigger the switch. One of the reasons for that is memory loss.
It’s Often A Subtle Switch.
There are times when the switch takes place without anyone noticing it. It is so subtle that the transition will shock other people. For example, the boisterous alter will come out when the shy identity can’t cope. It will be a strange moment for others.
Other Mental Conditions May Develop.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is related to the development of other mental health issues. People with DID will have a particular perception of themselves due to the reaction of individuals in their environment which can cause depression, anxiety, stress, and more.
No Specific Medication Or Treatment For DID.
There is no specific drug for DID, but there are medications that can help minimize the symptoms.
Psychotherapy Treatment Is Required.
There is only one solution to DID, and that is going through psychotherapy treatment. This treatment is rather expensive compared to other therapies but produces necessary action. Katrina Taylor, LMFT, said that you can get this benefit from going to therapy: “You might discover why you do all sorts of things today—why you say yes to things you don’t want to do, why you sabotage your performance when you can actually succeed, why you dwell on the negative.”
The Point Of Therapy Is Fusing Into One Identity.
The primary objective of psychotherapy is to capsulize all the identities into one to avoid further confusion and inconvenience on the part of the patient.
Pleasing All The Identities Is Difficult.
People with DID struggle to satisfy each of their identities. They need contentment to be able to have a satisfied life. When one of the personalities is not happy, then it causes a problem. “When pleasing others is based in fear of being unloved, it can become habitual and unhealthy.” according to Micki Fine, MEd, LPC.
Living With DID Stigma Gets Lonely.
A person with DID can live a healthy life. However, once people around him get to know about the condition, everything will change. It can be very lonely and can also trigger switches and other issues.
The Switch Is A Way To Get Over The Trauma.
Having DID means suffering from memory loss and manifesting multiple personalities. It helps the person forget the traumatic experience. It becomes his release, and a means to relax. “Being in touch with those feelings is what allows us to do something different in our lives,” says Katrina Taylor, LMFT.
It Is Not About Changing Your Ways And Free Will.
Changing your ways and having DID are two different things. Switching personalities because of DID is unintentional on the person’s part, which is why it’s not about free will.
DID, As An Illness, Doesn’t Define A Person.
Just because a person has Dissociative Identity Disorder, he is less of a human being. This disorder will not define the individual. It may be a part of him, but it is not his only mark in this world.
Live With The Disorder.
People with DID can live semi-normal lives. Their loved ones need to adjust and understand the situation at all times.
Dissociative Identity Disorder may be an illness, but once the person and the people around him get educated on DID, life becomes manageable. A person with DID needs love, acceptance, and understanding. If your spouse has DID, for better or for worse, you have to accept that fact.
DID or Dissociative Identity Disorder is a mental health illness characterized by a person having more than one identity. People with the said disorder experience trouble in sorting out their emotions and self-perception. They also experience memory loss and split behavior.
Having this condition is never easy. It can affect everything in a person’s life – his relationships, career, and everyday function. That is why individuals with DID wish for other people’s infinite consideration. With this, there are things you need to know to further understand people with this mental health disorder. If your spouse has DID, please read this article.
They Have More Than One Identity.
People with DID have multiple personalities. Each personality has its character, preferences, memories and even a voice tone. Each identity takes place one at a time. You have to understand that.
Anyone Can Suffer From DID.
Everyone and anyone is at risk of suffering from the disorder. But this mental health issue is prone to people who experienced trauma during their childhood.
They Utilize Pronouns Like US, WE And OUR.
The present identity acknowledges all the other personalities and even treats it as a real person; possibly a friend.
Each Identity Has Unique Traits.
Each personality or identity of the person with DID has his own unique set of characteristics among alters. These identities are entirely different from one another.
They Are Unable To Determine Their True Identity.
Since there are many different personalities within a person troubled by dissociative identity disorder, he is often confused. The person has trouble determining his real identity.
Isolation Worsens The Situation.
Because of DID, individuals with the said disorder will seem odd to other people’s eyes. They tend to shy away and isolate themselves. Isolation will not help as it will only worsen the situation.
Late Diagnosis Is A Problem.
Discovery of this disorder on a person can happen during adulthood. If misdiagnosed or taken for granted, it will be too late to treat adequately. The person can be branded as “crazy” for acting strange when his personalities change.
Misdiagnosis Is A Bigger Problem.
Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder are quite similar to some mental health illnesses. It is the reason why it is often misdiagnosed. It must be corrected before one of the personalities creates a big problem.
Not All People With DID Are Violent.
The movies are misleading. Not all people with DID are violent, but there are some documented cases though. It is possible, but not generally common.
According to Gunnur Karakurt, LMFT, “Intimate partner violence (IPV) has serious effects on human well-being, and prevention of IPV is an important public health concern.”
They Are Not Aware That Alters Exist As They Believe It’s A Different Person.
Each of the identities has no knowledge that another exists within. They believe that the “alters” are real and are different people living among them. Thus, the person experiences memory gap.
The Identities Are Looking From The Outside.
When a specific personality takes control of the body, it’s like that person is out of the body witnessing the scenario from a distance.
Multiple Identities Can Take Place At Once.
There are times when more than one identity will fight for the control of the person’s mind. It happens a lot to some who are not under therapy. Jason B. Whiting, PhD, LMFT said “Being controlled and hurt is traumatizing, and this leads to confusion, doubts, and even self-blame.”
Some Identities Work Together To Solve Problems While At Times, They’re In Conflict.
There are times wherein identities work together to solve personal issues. They can work together in unison, but there are also times wherein they oppose one another. It will then make things more difficult.
Here are just 13 things that your spouse with DID “wants” you to know about him. If you get the idea, it’s not the literal meaning. It’s more of the need to be understood as to what the disorder can do to them and affect their behavior and personality.
On the next article, there will be 13 more things to discuss. It is in the hope of this article’s writer to impart knowledge to you so that you’ll know how to handle your spouse with DID. You have to let your husband know about these beautiful words from Erin Mendoza, PsyD: “Self-compassion is not tough love or false hope, but connecting the pain with understanding, curiosity, and a sincere wish for relief based in kindness and love rather than criticism and disgust.”