My life with polyfragmented dissociative identity disorder
For most of my life, I have experienced episodes of time loss and what my family and friends termed as "moody" behavior. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Attention Deficit Disorder. Then they began adding other diagnoses: Bipolar Affective Disorder, rapid cycling type was one that just did not react to the medication because I didn't have that disorder. This went on for decades.
I was almost 50 when I found a psychologist who specialized in dissociation and they tested me. There was no doubt. I didn't just have any "dissociative disorder," I had Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a mental injury (caused by complex PTSD) that had previously been referred to as "Multiple Personality Disorder" or MPD.
While researching this disorder, I came across this quote, "DID is arguably one of the most misunderstood and controversial diagnoses in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). But it is a real and debilitating disorder that makes it difficult for people to function." OH HOW we agree with that statement!!! Although previously thought to be a rare disorder, it has been found that 1 to 3 percent of the general population actually meet the criteria for a diagnosis of DID, making it just as common as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Also, not all personalities are obvious changes, it isn't like the movies or TV shows that have been produced about multiples.
"Some people with dissociative identity disorder (DID) have very little communication or awareness among the parts of their identity, while others experience a great deal of cooperation among alternate identities." I, or WE, have some parts who are more co-conscious than others. There is a "crew" who take control of the daily activities of the body and mind and have to cooperate or we don't get out of bed.
The most comprehensive description that I could find that really explained D.I.D. was on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website:
Dissociative disorders are characterized by an involuntary escape from reality characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, identity, consciousness and memory. People from all age groups and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds can experience a dissociative disorder. Its estimated that 2% of people experience dissociative disorders, with women being more likely than men to be diagnosed. Almost half of adults in the United States experience at least one depersonalization/derealization episode in their lives, with only 2% meeting the full criteria for chronic episodes. The symptoms of a dissociative disorder usually first develop as a response to a traumatic event, such as abuse or military combat, to keep those memories under control. Stressful situations can worsen symptoms and cause problems with functioning in everyday activities. However, the symptoms a person experiences will depend on the type of dissociative disorder that a person has.
Symptoms and signs of dissociative disorders include:
The symptoms of dissociative disorders depend on the type of disorder that has been diagnosed.
- Significant memory loss of specific times, people and events
- Out-of-body experiences, such as feeling as though you are watching a movie of yourself
- Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide
- A sense of detachment from your emotions, or emotional numbness
- A lack of a sense of self-identity
Our particular diagnosis is D.I.D. which includes this description on the NAMI site:
Dissociative identity disorder. Formerly known as multiple personality disorder, this disorder is characterized by alternating between multiple identities. A person may feel like one or more voices are trying to take control in their head. Often these identities may have unique names, characteristics, mannerisms and voices. People with DID will experience gaps in memory of every day events, personal information and trauma. Women are more likely to be diagnosed, as they more frequently present with acute dissociative symptoms. Men are more likely to deny symptoms and trauma histories, and commonly exhibit more violent behavior, rather than amnesia or fugue states. This can lead to elevated false negative diagnosis.
The way OUR diagnosis was explained to us was that we began to "fragment" or split into "alters" when we first underwent trauma as a baby. My physicians and therapists agree that we were under 6 months old when this happened. Because we have a very intelligent and creative brain, the way that our psyche coped with trauma was to create other sections that didn't have to remember the trauma. When a trauma reoccurred, there was an "alter" to take the abuse, the main personality had little or no memory. The more traumas happened, the more alters were created. It is still our brain's way of dealing with trauma: We split, creating another alter. One more name added to the long list.
In the years since the diagnosis was confirmed, we have discovered the names to more than 30 alternate personalities or alters. There was an overwhelming feeling that there were more than existed. Then a doctor gave us ketamine during a colonoscopy and our brain exploded in disassociation. Come to find out we are a "polyfragmented system" being divided into more than a hundred parts, most of which are unnamed.
As we progress in therapy and in this process of recovering from the trauma we underwent as a human, not just a child, we will be sharing more when we learn it on our website, MyMEsBlog.com. We appreciate your support and your interest. Thank you.