A friend of mine commented that she couldn’t really hear my voice in my post about receiving my diagnosis (Diagnosis & a Donut). I don’t mind at all that she said this, I think she is right. So, I got to pondering why that was. Perhaps I should have ‘fessed up at the time of writing that post. Those things didn’t really happen to me. Oh, I’m not lying about what happened. It is a true and accurate account. The problem is, at the time it happened, I wasn’t really me.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (the condition formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder) is a weird one. When I was at my ‘worst’ I was starting to display symptoms of this particular trait. I didn’t realise this was the case until G~ (the guest writer from 2 weeks ago) pointed out that I had started referring to myself in the plural (‘we’, not ‘I’). Not being a member of the royal family, this was noted as somewhat unusual. There were other signs too. Ones that you might think I would pick up on. Arguments raged in my head for hours, days on end. The noise was unbearable (particularly when augmented by a soundtrack of various depressing songs. Even now Mad World makes me want to flee the supermarket). I never fully clarified everybody’s name or role, although I could pick out at least 3 different states. (Other people with this condition have far clearer boundaries and distinct personas, indicated by different styles of clothing, different tastes in food etc). I would switch quite suddenly between different personalities, meaning that I had wild mood swings. The switching was an odd experience. All the personalities were always present, but different ones were in control at different times. Rather like different people getting to chair the meeting. They were all hungry for power. Other versions would get side-lined. At worst, they got locked in a cell, or nailed to the floor in an abandoned attic room (yes, I’m speaking metaphorically, but it was a very real experience).
Sometimes I would have dissociative fugues – I would do things I couldn’t remember doing. I also refused to sleep in my own bed, as it belonged to ‘her’. These things came upon me gradually, stealthily, so that I didn’t realise they were abnormal. The things that happened during that period are difficult to write about authentically, because they didn’t happen to me. There are quite long periods when I have no emotional memory of what happened. I can recount the events, but only with the insight you can relate something you read in a newspaper, rather than actually experiencing yourself.
From a clinical perspective, DID is still quite controversial in all areas – causes, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. From what I have read, I am incredibly lucky. My symptoms are mild. I guess I believe that, like many things, DID exists on a continuum from fully separated multiple personalities at one end of the spectrum to a complete, whole individual at the other (termed ‘flow’, which is rather a good description, I think).
I don’t feel like that anymore. I rarely even think about it. On the whole, I’m very glad about that. Sometimes now, when I stand still and listen, I don’t hear anything. I cannot tell you how good that feels. I like the quiet. I am more stable. I am more ‘me’. I miss some parts of it. Many people who experience MPD (myself included) have a personality who is a rescuer. Invincible, capable, calm, adult and able to deal with anything. I rather miss her. I also miss the odd occasion when I found that one of my ‘alternates’ had done something really useful (food shopping usually, but once writing an entire scheme of work, which was awesome!!) On the whole though, it is good. The fractured parts have started to coalesce into one person. Not omnipotent rescuer woman, but also not the child who lay on the floor in the foetal position and was unable to speak. A year ago, I would have described my personality as smashed or shattered. Now, it is more like ingredients mixed together, but not yet fully realised as the finished product. I’m rather hoping I turn out to be carrot cake. I’m very fond of carrot cake. Or, if anyone out there is a sci-fi fan, I feel like the T-1000 in Terminator 2, gradually coming back together after he is frozen with liquid nitrogen.
I’m very lucky that this process is happening naturally, organically (or possibly as a result of my own research and understanding). Therapists, by and large, don’t like to mess with personalities. I understand why. The personalities serve a function. They protected me when I was at my most vulnerable. They have helped to keep me alive. So, I would like to thank them for that. But for now, your work here is done. I hope I won’t be needing you again. Hasta la vista, baby.
P.S. I’ve ticked another 4 items off my bucket list (+1 total failure!!), so that is still going and I promise I’ll update you next week.