To dissociate is to separate – that is what it means according to the dictionary. That is, dissociating is disconnecting from something or someone. In individuals with dissociative disorders, this is their forte. Because they are too hurt to recall the trauma that they have experienced, they separate themselves from the reality and from their own identity. This is a coping mechanism that will later lead to a distorted sense of identity and the feeling of not knowing oneself, or having different selves for that matter.
Meet Anne, the playful. She loves going out when I’m asleep. She has many friends (I don’t actually know most of them) and she loves drinking and going to parties with them. She’s the reason why I can’t go to work on time, because she comes home at 4 in the morning and work starts at 9. But she’s okay. She doesn’t hurt me or anyone I love.
Meet John, the suicidal one. He’s the introvert. He’s just too shy to show himself, even to me. When he’s out, he watches television or listens to music. He’s responsible for the cuts on my wrist. I want to help him but he’s too elusive. I sometimes wake up in the morning finding his knife behind my pillow, and I wonder if there was anything I could do if he decided to end his life – my life.
Meet Alex, the lesbian. She knows I hate loose shirts but she keeps buying them when she goes out to shop. Her girlfriend thinks she’s crazy because she comes and goes anytime she wants, and sometimes she disappears for two weeks! She often brings her girls in the house and I hate it when I wake up and see them in the living room, eating my cereal and drinking my coffee!
And how can I forget George, my protector. He’s my father figure, because I never had one growing up. He’s always warm and very welcoming to friends and family. He loves to cook and take care of the cleaning in the house, so I love it when he shows. Everything smells good! I think he’s the only sane alter I know (relatively speaking).
I’m Lisa and I have multiple personality disorder. It’s a type of dissociative identity disorder where a person – like me – forms alters or other personalities to cope with the bad things and memories that she experienced.
I feel that these personalities have been helping me deal with my past, but on the other hand, they also destroy it, by being not me and doing the things that I don’t usually do. Some of them, like John, don’t want to go to work so he tends to make me lazy in the morning. Anne reinforces him by staying up very late when she goes to her friend’s parties.
I have been going to therapy for the past months. My mom says I should because I do need help dealing with my alters – the voices inside me. I also find other ways to help myself. I’m thinking of joining an anonymous chat service that I read from an online therapy community, BetterHelp. They say that sometimes it’s good to vent to a stranger because you can be honest about anything and everything. I think that’s true (but George disagrees).
There are days when I don’t feel like talking to my therapist, simply because I don’t want to. Perhaps that’s how I am. That’s how I can be. I actually have about ten personalities, but I just introduced you to four because the others I can’t really describe. I can tell you – it is difficult keeping up with all of them, but somehow I’ve managed.
I am a living example of someone who is mentally ill but still hopeful for what is called a future. I’m taking medications and it’s been helping me manage my symptoms too. “What kind of future do I have,” I sometimes ask. I don’t really know. I’m just thankful every day that I’m alive and have a family that loves me for what I am (Anne says she loves me too).
Yes, dissociative identity disorder can be cured, but it’s tough. Dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder (MPD), is a condition involving an individual having two or more distinct personalities, which may alter at an unknown time. The two or more different characters have their separate names, preferences, and temperament. Dissociative identity disorder is believed to be caused by severe and continued childhood trauma such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
Reports of mass shootings are becoming much common these pasts few years. No matter how gruesome and heartbreaking these shootings are, no definite measures are in place to prevent such occurrence from repeating itself. Extreme pressure on gun control legislation and the call for mental health awareness and on the accessibility of treatments are seen by the general public as a solution to these heinous and senseless crimes. However, experts believe that these tragedies are influenced by complex factors; many of these are still poorly understood. It is considered a myth that mental illness such schizophrenia will lead to mass shootings.
One of the most challenging mental health conditions is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder. To date, there is no medication to treat DID since it is not an organic disorder or a chemical imbalance. Psychiatrists would be prescribing medications to manage mood disorders that accompany DID. This article will provide information on the four most common drugs prescribed for DID and their corresponding medical implications.
Most people know dissociative identity disorder more for its older name, multiple personality disorder. However, most people who have heard of it do not believe that it actually exists and that it’s not a true illness. Some even probably think that the stories about DID are so unreal that they think they’re all made up.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much research about DID but it is not considered a rare disease. It is as common as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but only that there is little information and studies done about it. DID is real. It is active and it is increasing in number. Though it may not be obvious when someone has a dissociative disorder, they can be diagnosed with their symptoms. They may have accompanying panic attacks, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse. Ultimately, the hallmark of this debilitating illness is the state of dissociation experienced by the individual.
Indeed, dissociative disorder is quite a unique disease – unique mainly because of the alters and the web of symptoms and illnesses that overlap within an individual with this condition. And although being unique and different is a good thing, this trait is not at all considered a positive one for a person with DID.
What Makes DID Different From Other Illnesses?
It is the only disorder that involves having multiple identities formed within an individual with DID. The key point here is dissociation or the individual feeling detached from his own body, a defense mechanism used by the individual to forget the trauma that he or she has suffered in the past. The many fragments of identities have very diverse characteristics, and this causes the main person to feel that he doesn’t know who he really is, and he loses his sense of himself.
Some DID individuals are pushed to committing suicide because they become frantic and confused about the ‘voices’ that they hear in their head, the “alters” fighting over each other, attempting to influence their main man to do what they want to do.
Reports have shown that a person can have up to 44 different identities!
People with DID often forget that they did something – not because there is an abnormality in their memory like in the case of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, but because they are being forced to not remember the undesirable things that happened to them.
A woman with DID describes her experience as terrifying. She was lying on her bed and feeling afraid again because she was imagining the man who abused her when she was a child. She saw the man right in front of her, just at the foot of her bed. She closed her eyes, wished so much that she could escape through her window and out to the backyard. Suddenly, her wish was granted. She was right there, her feet stepping on the wet grass, outside of her house, and she didn’t know how she got there.
These other identities or alters that the individual has formed are his ‘defenses’ or his go-to helpers who shield him from the pain and anxiety that he would feel whenever he would recall the trauma that he had gone through. He thinks that these identities are what keep him from facing the reality, which is also one reason why these identities become stronger than him. While other people with mental illnesses seek friends for comfort, people with DID find protection through their alters.
Among the myths developed by people about dissociative identity disorder, the most false of all is that DID is worsened with treatment. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation stresses that with long-term psychotherapy and other creative approaches, people with DID do recover, and their panic attacks, anxiety, depression and other dissociative symptoms can be resolved. There is hope for improvement and success in their lives, despite their unique downsides.
Dissociative disorders often times resulted from an early trauma that was already repressed in the unconscious mind. When the person experiences severe stress or anxiety later in life, dissociation symptoms appear either as a form of evading the situation or manifesting as effects of trauma from previous years.
Dissociative disorders have a good prognosis when treatment is started early and expert treatment plan is in place. Once diagnosed with the mental health state, there are several treatments that can be utilized. This article will discuss three types of treatment pertinent to dissociative disorders.
Put on the shoes of Kevin Wendell played by James McAvoy from the 2016 movie entitled “Split” or the book character “Sybil”. Both characters suffer from dissociative identity disorder (DID) which was formerly known as multiple personality disorder. People diagnosed with DID have two or more personalities or identities. Each of them has its own unique patterns of perceiving things. Transitions from one identity to another, also known as switching, are often triggered by psychosocial stress. Most commonly, these people have experienced post-traumatic stress as well such as sexual and physical abuse, especially during childhood. Hence, it became a very controversial disorder even until now. So how do we support or help someone with DID? How do we keep them safe and free from harm? Here are some helpful reminders of anybody with DID and how to handle the switching of alternate personalities.
Get to know the different alters
The different alters or personalities have their own unique characteristics. Take note that there can be amiable alters as well as violent or destructive alters. Speak to the current alter and allow him/her to tell you their own story. It is crucial to know what the perception of the alters is to the host.
Show compassion and understanding
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms every time a person change alters. It is also essential to recognize the distinct characteristic each alter displays by asking questions to help with identifying. Please note that you must do this in a very non-judgmental manner. The person must feel the genuine understanding and empathy as it can reduce their feelings of stress and anxiety.
Join a support group
Creating an environment where they feel supported and having a sense of belongingness is important. As previously said, switching of alters is triggered by stress. The group can provide learning opportunities in recognizing symptoms and managing it to avoid harm to self or others. Online therapy and the accessibility of online therapists are very helpful in this digital age. They are readily available to provide information and education to persons living with dissociative identity disorder like how to effectively handle situations when the patient is under extreme stress that might trigger switching alters. People living with DID also have the tendency to develop frustrations and disappointments. That is why it is crucial that they also receive an equal amount of support and understanding. There could be an enormous amount of pressure and burden on their shoulders. Therefore online therapists can aid them in handling these challenging circumstances.
Dealing with patients with DID require tons of patience and understanding. Apart from being compliant to treatments and medications, keeping them safe and providing a less stressful atmosphere are very vital for their condition. The most important factor to consider is being there for the patient. Sometimes these people don’t need somebody to solve their problems for them but someone who is there to support.
It’s disturbing to know how people label people with suicidal thoughts. People who get suicidal thoughts or feelings are not cowards. They are currently experiencing a bad patch in their life and they don’t know how to work through it or how to escape it. Family members of such individuals and everyone else need to be supportive of the one who’s suffering. For those who feel suicidal, it’s usually because they see it as their only option or way out. However, they need help and plenty of support. More importantly, they need to be told and shown that there is a way to deal with their issues and there’s always a way out.
People who feel suicidal are usually experiencing depression. They also feel helpless and hopeless. The fact is depression can be treated and suicidal feelings can also be dealt with and one can overcome it. If you have been feeling suicidal, you need to realize that there are people who love and care about you. No matter how much pain you’re going through, there’s a solution for every problem. You can make a difference in your life. You can also start building one and enjoy it to the fullest!
Why Suicide Isn’t an Option:
Emotions are constantly changing. Whatever you’re feeling now won’t last forever. You just need some help with coping with your situation and also overcoming depression. Think about all the things in life that you love. After committing suicide, you will miss out on all these pleasures in life. Would you really want your loved ones to experience the pain and grief of losing you? Take all these factors into consideration whenever you are feeling suicidal. Here are some tips that can help you with putting an end to suicidal thoughts:
Seek the Help of a Counselor or Mental Health Professional
Licensed counselors and therapists can help with treating you. They can also help you with coping with any problems that you’re facing. A psychiatrist can assess you and diagnose you if you are suffering from any mental health conditions.
Keep a journal and write about your feelings or whenever you’re feeling down. Journaling is therapeutic and it’s easier to express your feelings in a journal than to another person. Sit everyday with your journal and write away!
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
These harmful substances will only aggravate suicidal feelings, stress, and depression. Some people find it to be an escape for all their problems, but in reality, this only makes matters worse. There’s a healthy way to resolve all your issues.
Go Online, Join Support Groups or Start Your Own
Connecting with people in this day and time is so easy, so make the most of it. You can either start your cause locally or join an online support group. You can meet people who are faced with similar issues as you and you can help each other.
Plan Your Life
Start planning your life ahead. Find a job or study. You can even do this online. Save up money for something big. It can be anything – a car or an overseas trip – whatever makes you happy.
Spend Time with Your Loved Ones and Do Things That You Enjoy
Spend as much time as you can with your closest friends and family members. Find a hobby, enjoy nature and even try new things. Do anything that makes you happy, if it’s in a positive manner.
Live a Healthy and Well-Balanced Lifestyle
Eat healthy food. Ensure that you include fruits and vegetables in your diet. Try and fit exercise into your daily routine and also get plenty of sleep. Do breathing exercises whenever you’re feeling anxious and take some time off during the day to relax and de-stress.
People have this common misconception that a low self-esteem only occurs in teenage girls or young girls. This is false. A low self-esteem is a common issue that is endured by both men and women of all age groups. Some of these issues might have even begun from an early age and carried forward right up until adulthood.
You’re not alone and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. You can deal with a low self-esteem and start feeling better about yourself.