Taking Care Of Your Mental Health While Attending To The Needs Of Your Loved One With DID

Taking Care Of Your Mental Health While Attending To The Needs Of Your Loved One With DID

Mental disorder is a serious matter. Most people think that it’s a rare condition. However, mental illnesses are more common than people think. It impacts adolescents and adults the most.

From psychological functions to physical abilities, the effects brought upon by severe mental derangement may completely disrupt a person’s life. The battle against it can be a long, arduous process.

Source: pixabay.com

Dissociative Identity Disorder: A Mental Illness

Previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is one of the rarest mental illnesses. It is a condition that affects the personality of an individual where the patient loses touch with the present and true self. The emotions, behavior, and memories entirely change as the person develops two or more personality states or identities. 

DID diagnosis’s common signs and symptoms include drastic memory gaps, identity transformation, social and occupational impairment, and feelings of confusion. Other mental health problems such as depression and anxiety may also arise, if not already present.

The majority of those who suffer from this disorder are victims of terrible abuse and other traumatic experiences from their childhood.

There is currently no special medication available for DID patients. They receive the same prescription of mood stabilizers used to treat depression and anxiety. With this information, someone may experience it for a lifetime. It can be a terrifying notion, especially if someone becomes your loved one.

Having A Loved One Suffering From DID

Amidst the frightening thought that being with someone inflicted with DID is hellish, to both the victim and the family and friends, should not feel alarmed. TV shows and movie portrayals of the illness are often overdramatic and are in no way accurate and realistic.

Contrary to what the media shows, people with DID are more often calm but just vastly disoriented with what’s presently happening around them. There is nothing to fear about the dissociative identity disorder. It is much like other mental health problems that require the utmost and extended care, patience, and understanding.

Knowledge is an essential requirement when dealing with people who are undergoing mental disorders. If you are with someone who has DID, it is vital to be well-informed with the illness and not just the one party affected. 

Your support for your loved one with the disorder is as necessary as seeking an exceptional advocate or therapist to talk to in case their other identities claim dominance.

Remember that those with DID often slip in and out of consciousness, including them forgetting your existence momentarily.  So make sure that you can attend to their needs and show support to your significant other diagnosed with this mental condition.

As DID is primarily a coping mechanism of many victims of trauma, abuse, or violence, you must keep them away from any potential triggers. You may have to identify the triggers since it is often unique for each one. It’s necessary to address this with the help of a therapist. Talking about triggers may be difficult, but professional help will assist in creating a safe space for them.

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

As mentioned before, it could not be stressed enough how keeping mentally unstable individuals away from harm is a lot of hard work. Supporting them can be mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially draining. Hence, practicing self-care should also be a priority.

Looking After Yourself

Caring for someone struggling with mental health problems in general and not just dissociative identity disorder involves painstaking tasks that may give you the so-called “burnout.” Burnout is a real condition that affects many caregivers, whether a family, a friend, or a hired professional when their situation and responsibilities start to take a heavy toll on them. 

To be in charge of someone who requires twice as much attention and effort, such as dissociative identity disorder, is a laborious demand. The exhaustion you will feel over a few weeks, months, or years, if left unchecked, can cost you instability too. No one talks enough and accounts for the suffering of caregivers in the mental health sector.

Source: pexels.com

It is just as necessary for you to nurture your well-being. When your loved one gets diagnosed with or is already struggling with DID, you must acknowledge the sickness and not let it take over your relationship. Do not spend an ounce of energy nor time dwelling over how unfair the situation is or how you’d rather suffer; instead, seeing them in pain is already a pain for you as well.

Give yourself time. Acknowledge that you have to do other things aside from caregiving. Also, allow some time to reflect on what is best and what will work for you and your loved one. You can take small, baby steps to figure out things. The healing process of DID patients is a long one. You cannot and must not rush into anything.

Another critical factor is to not give up on what you enjoy doing. Most people drop everything they do, including their personal career and dreams, in a heartbeat for their loved ones.

Most believe that doing it will help them focus more on looking after their family or partner suffering from DID. But it is a major no-no. You must not forget yourself. Keep things that help you reduce stress and inspire you to continue to be hopeful.

Ultimately, when you feel you cannot push through on your own, seek a therapist too.

 

How To Support A Family Member With DID

Finding out that someone close to you, such as a family member, has dissociative identity disorder can be frightening. However, it is a much harder situation for the person living with the disorder. It can be isolating, especially with the stigma around the topic. With this stigma, many people with DID find it challenging to open up to loved ones and seek professional help.

Where does this disorder root from? It is a mental disorder that is typically a result of trauma that the person has experienced. “Trauma can result in regression through an emotional withdrawal of the self from the material self and the material world,” explains clinical psychologist and author Ann Reitan, Psy.D. 

If you have a family member with DID, it is essential to learn about the condition. By doing so, you’re taking a step towards understanding and supporting them. While it can be challenging in the beginning, making an effort to understand the condition is a step. Here are some ways that you can do to help a family member with DID:

Source: pixabay.com

Understand Their Triggers

A person with DID undergoes personality shifts. The cause of these shifts is a trigger or an external stimulus, causing them to switch into another alter. These triggers usually have a connection to their trauma, which elicit a strong emotional response. It can either be sounds, smell, touch, places, songs, phrases, times of the year, or when among a group of people. 

Since these triggers vary from person-to-person, it is vital to be extra cautious. As a close family member, you may have an idea of what may trigger them. If not, you can cautiously bring it up and ask them directly. Also, try to learn the terminologies they use and avoid, so you know what not to use when talking to them.

Respect Their Boundaries

If a family member with DID is avoiding you, it may be best to respect that boundary. Do note that even a mild touch can trigger a switch. Try to approach them with caution, but if they tell you they’re not comfortable, don’t push it. Usually, they would be the ones to let you know when it is safe to interact with them.

Watch Out And Stay Calm During Switches

The switching between alters in DID typically happens subtly. In these cases, you may notice slight changes in the way they talk, or that they may seem off track. However, in some cases, the switch can be more evident and disorienting. It is as if they are an entirely different person in one moment.  

While this may be a shocking and confusing situation, it will be helpful to stay calm. Panicking can upset them, which may trigger hostility. As much as you can, try to act as if nothing happened, and you’re interacting just as usual. It may also help to talk to them after the switch, whether they remember anything or not. It can help you prepare for the next time it happens.

Keep Them Safe

Again, triggers may result from your loved one’s trauma. It is crucial to keep them safe from chances of this trauma happening again, which can occur in an abusive household. Understanding their trauma is always the first step, as it can help you save them from it early on.

If they’re harming themselves or have thoughts of suicide, let them know that you’re by their side. If they experience flashbacks and amnesia, you need to be extra attentive. These cases leave your loved one even more vulnerable. Try to talk to them about the things you can do to help them.

Never Stop Learning About The Disorder

Source: pickpik.com

Learning and understanding DID, and the condition of your family members open doors to recovery. If they see that you are willing to educate yourself about it, they will be more open to you. By doing so, you’re also working towards breaking down the stigma around DID.

Find A Support Group

Support groups are an excellent way for you to find people with the same experience of caring for someone with DID. Here, you can get advice on what are the proper actions to take for different situations. Or you can vent to them about the challenges you’re facing.

You can also introduce your family member with DID to a support group for people with DID. These groups are a great way for them to open up and find people with shared experiences.

Either way, it gives you a reliable support system so that you don’t feel alone in your situation.

Bring Up The Topic Of Treatment

As with any mental disorders, professional treatment is highly beneficial. With the help of a professional, your loved one can learn how to cope with their triggers. It allows them to manage better and prepare when switching between alters. Also, it is critical to get an accurate diagnosis for DID to create an effective treatment plan.

As someone close to them, you are the person who can encourage them to seek treatment. Bring up the topic to them gradually. While you may find it challenging to pursue them because of stigma, it is not impossible. First, try looking for reliable providers and talk to them about what you can do. If they give in to your suggestion, offer to accompany them on their appointments. 

Take Care Of Yourself Too

Source: flickr.com

Finally, don’t forget about yourself. It can be emotionally taxing to keep up with triggers and alters of your loved one with DID. One of the best ways to give support to them is to tend to your well-being. Forgive yourself on thoughts that you are lacking and be kind to yourself.

Be Their Support System

As a family member, you are an essential part of the support system of a person with DID. We hope these tips help you make a more educated response to symptoms of dissociative identity disorder.

 

 

What Are You Gonna Do If You Are Locked Down With A Person Who Has DID?

Source: pexels.com

So, okay. We are now in the new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything is in lockdown, people are under quarantine, and most everyone is terrified to go out. What’s even more terrifying, for some, is the idea of living with a person who has Dissociative Identity Disorder. The first thing that comes to mind is James McAvoy in the movie “Split.” It portrays how, supposedly, a person with DID is so violent and unstable that he kidnaps and kills people for fun, and just because he could, due to his disorder.

Continue reading »

Dissociative Identity Disorder: Two Key Points To Remember

In the Dissociative Identity Conference 2019, Dr. Oriella Cattapan, a clinical and forensic psychologist and family therapist, dug deep into dissociative identity disorder (DID) and introduced a case study of a 40-year-old woman named Kate. She shared her knowledge about the disorder and how her understanding of it shaped her way of treating her clients.

Understanding people with mental disorders can be quite tricky. It requires the development of an inclusive perspective of a patient’s circumstances and past, just like how she discussed the emergence of DID in the case study of Kate.

Source: pxhere.com

Here are two key points you can learn from Dr. Cattapan about DID:

DID Requires Unfolding Past Life Events

It may not be the initial concern and diagnosis of a person who comes for psychological treatment.

In the case study of Kate, she was initially diagnosed to have depression due to bullying. It took about two years of treatment before it was fully revealed to Dr. Cattapan that certain behaviors manifest in Kate due to a long history of traumatic life events growing up.

People with DID may be completely unaware of their condition. Instead of being aware, people who suffer from DID find coping mechanisms to shut off traumatic or painful experiences from the past. This may lead them to display certain behaviors or identities unconsciously.

Source: pixabay.com

DID Requires Psychological Treatment

Psychotherapy brings about an open but structured conversation about possible traumatic experiences.

Psychological treatment could help in unearthing painful emotions and memories in a respectful and structured manner. As mentioned, psychological treatment for Kate aided in unwrapping her past, filled with overwhelming experiences and emotions. It provided a clearer picture as to why her mental well-being is affected.

Talking about life experiences through individual psychotherapy can form closure and provide healthy intervention in altering mental processes and outlooks about life and their past.

The Takeaway

It takes patience and great understanding to fully grasp mental conditions or human behaviors that may be viewed as “unpleasant.” What is important is to continually provide a healthy space that allows people to see through their thoughts and emotions clearly and to gain a better connection with oneself.

Caring For MPD Patient If You Have COVID-19

It does not bring me any joy to admit that fate has probably dealt the worst cards possible for my mother. She was abandoned at 4, maltreated by her adoptive parents at 10, married to an alcoholic at 21, and abused until her husband died. As if such ordeals were not enough, my mother got diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (MPD).

caring-for-mpd-patient-if-you-have-covid-19
Source: rawpixel.com

As unsurprising as that diagnosis was, it still felt a little challenging for my little sister and me to accept. After our father’s passing, after all, Mom tried to raise us as best as she could. She had three jobs but never missed any school performance. She would come home exhausted, but we never heard her complain. Though Mom was a hero in our eyes, my sister and I knew that our mother needed us more than ever.

At the time, my sister was about to go to college while I was already working from home as a ghostwriter. I told her that I would become Mom’s primary caregiver and help pay her tuition.

Was it easy? No. There were times when my mother would believe that I was somebody else. Sometimes, she would insist that it was the 1980s. Having a social life was out of the question, too, given that Mom was deteriorating so fast. I could not leave her for more than an hour.

Despite our family’s hardships, another problem came around March 2020. I was tuning in to the local radio station when the reporter announced that there were five COVID-19 patients in our neighborhood. They were workers at the grocery store where I always went to get our supplies.

caring-for-mpd-patient-if-you-have-covid-19
Source: rawpixel.com

I knew I was careful not to touch anything with my bare hands at the store, but I could not be sure about not catching the coronavirus. The thought of testing positive kept me up all night. It was not because I worried about my well-being but because it meant being away from my mother for weeks. Still, I had no other choice but to care for her in indirect ways, such as:

Make My Sister Go Home

My first course of action was to ask my sister to come home. I trusted no one except for my sister to care for Mom at that point. It would also prevent my mother from noticing my absence too much, considering she had company.

Self-Isolate In Another Place

I also called in a favor from a friend who I knew had an empty house a few blocks away from ours. Most people would try to complete their 14-day quarantine in their respective homes, but I could not do it. Mom was there, and the coronavirus would not have an issue latching on to her.

Note that during my self-isolation, the hospital called and informed me that I genuinely got COVID-19. While I turned out to be asymptomatic, it did not make me feel better. I was still unable to come home.

caring-for-mpd-patient-if-you-have-covid-19
Source: rawpixel.com

Never Mention The Virus To My Mother

Whenever my mother’s personality was not switched, she would FaceTime me to know how I was doing. My sister told her that I had to go out of town, and she bought it, so I went along with it.

Before you say it, no, I did not want to lie to my only living parent. Despite that, I figured that letting her know of my current health condition would not be ideal for her mental health.

Final Thoughts

I only came back home yesterday, and Mom welcomed me with a warm hug that I knew so well. She had lots of stories about the last few weeks with my sister, and it made me glad to hear that her routine did not change at all. Although I could not look after Mom in person, I got to do it somehow by doing the things mentioned above.

Understanding DID: Common Reasons Why People Develop Dissociative Identity Disorder

Source: wikimedia.org

The 2017 Disassociative Identity Disorder Conference discusses the reasons for developing dissociative identity disorder. Dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is a mental illness that often develops in people who have experienced extreme trauma during their childhood. Affected individuals have alternate personalities that they may not be aware of. These alter have unique personalities and quirks that are different from the person’s usual character. The following are the most common reasons why people develop DID.

Abuse
About 90% of people with DID have been emotionally, sexually, or physically abused in their childhood. As they have to escape the horrors that they face in their homes, they disassociate themselves to cope with it. In some cases, people bury the memories of abuse that they forget it. Lucky for those who can immerse these traumas in their minds. There are also incidents wherein the alter mirror the conflicting personalities of the abusers.

Source: pexels.com

Neglect
In some cases, though, it is not an excessive amount of attention, as in abuse, that causes the development of DID; it is the inattention. Children who felt neglected in their developmental years tend to develop another persona to deal with the lack of emotional connection. It is critical to provide enough attention for kids, especially during the formative years.

Exposure To Natural Calamities, Accidents, Or War
Besides abuse and emotional neglect, exposure to highly unpredictable events also increase the risk of developing DID. Examples of these events are natural calamities, accidents that may or may not involve death, and war. People form an alter to tolerate the stressful conditions that they are facing and to escape the fear and pain that they are feeling.

Although it may be easier to dismiss and judge people with DID, it is better to treat them with kindness. Affected individuals have already experienced prolonged trauma in their childhood, and they need people who will understand and accept them. Knowing why people with DID develop their condition is one of the keys to understanding them and treating them with love.

The dissociative disorder often stems from mental injuries caused by traumatic experiences growing up. It is hard enough to go through distressing occurrences; much more, it is to deal with an illness as a consequence of it. Patients who are suffering need therapy and all the support they can get.

Living With Dissociative Identity Disorder

Source: cf.kizlarsoruyor.com

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 »

Understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder In Children (Is Online Therapy An Option?)

Hilda’s Story 

 

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. 

 

Source: flickr.com

  Continue reading »

Sidran Institute Psychiatrist And Mental Health Experts Talk About Dissociative Disorders

Source: pixabay.com

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

Source: pxhere.com

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

Risk Factors

Source: pixabay.com

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: Symptoms, Causes, Types, Risks, And Therapy Treatment

Source: pixabay.com

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

Source: pixabay.com

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

Source: pixabay.com

The difficulties associated with dissociative disorder include:

  • Self-destruction
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sleeping disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Seizures
  • Problems with personal relationships

Suicidal Thoughts

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.

1 2 3 5