My Experiences with Dissociative Identity Disorder
December 17, 2015 at 9:47pm
I feel like I need to write about this because it's something that keeps me awake at night and I've never really tried to express my experiences in writing. In fact, I usually like to keep it a secret that DID affects me at all because of all the stigma surrounding it. I want to write this to help eradicate some of this stigma, both as someone with experience and someone who has general interest in studying the topic from an objective standpoint.
First off, I'd like to start by saying that my particular type of DID doesn't manifest itself as multiple personalities as much as it does in other people. I do recognise that I have multiple personalities in of myself that affect my behaviour, and I occasionally refer to myself as an "us", but from an outward perspective it's probably barely noticeable. I know that others who experience DID may have symptoms manifest in this way, though.
Second off, I'd also like to disregard the idea that my gender identity has been affected by DID. If anything, it's the other way around; when I began struggling more with gender dysphoria, my DID symptoms began to manifest shortly after. I just get the whole "gender dysphoria is caused by identity disorders" schtick too often for my own liking. It's even in the DSM. Why is it in the DSM. Stop being the DSM.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about my experiences, so here are some fun little insights in to my life:
I find it very difficult to empathise and sympathise
Now I don't know if I'm just flat out sociopathic or if I'm just too distanced from the world (I favour the latter, if you care to know), but I struggle greatly with understanding complex emotions on a personal level. Which is weird because I seem to be the person my friends approach when it comes to talking things out.
It's also weird because what I do feel, I feel strongly. Maybe I'm just dense, who knows. c:
I'll put it like this, when someone asks me how I'd feel in a certain situation, I draw a blank. Like, there's just nothing, I feel absolutely hollow. And I hate that about myself. You know when your parents try to teach you not to do something because "how would you feel if someone did that to you?" and to answer truthfully, I'd have to say "nothing, maybe mild irritation".
That doesn't go down well with parents, by the way. Don't say that. It's not the right answer.
My substitution for empathy and sympathy are observation. I can't truly understand how you feel and I should never claim that I do, because I don't. But I can hypothesise how you feel, because I've observed other people feeling the same over analogous situations.
I'm trying, okay?
I feel confused a lot. Everything confuses me oh god what
This is where the whole "multiple personality" thing starts getting mashed in to dissociation. I refer to a "change of personality" as "waking up", because that's what it feels like, and it's impossible to know when it'll happen.
Suddenly I'm somewhere that I have no idea how I got to and I don't know why I'm here or what I'm doing. If you've ever had a long conversation with me, you might notice that I sometimes take 10 minutes or more to reply, and that's usually because I've "woken up" and not even realised I was talking to anyone.
This causes lapses in memory that would be hilarious if it didn't freak me the hell out. It's hilarious in hindsight though. I guarantee you I've spent several spans of time just pausing and staring at my screen for a while trying to recollect my thoughts. The fact that it's almost 5am might not help with that though. |D
But yeah, I change the topic a lot (nice segue. thanks.). That's because I'm having multiple conversations with the same person, if that makes any sense. I can have a perfectly coherent conversation as far as I'm concerned and the person I'm talking to is just going
"wtf, what are we talking about?"
because they've lost all the context from a conversation that, from their perspective, we had in the past.
The people who talk to me frequently, thankfully, seem used to it.
Oh yeah, and it means I stumble over my words or just completely change sentence mid-thought.
I forget literally everything
It's not that I'm not paying attention, it's just that some information is lost in transit.
What is time?
I don't understand time.
Time doesn't flow in a measurable way, not for me at least.
There is relative time, but not standard time. To put it this way, the current point in time is on an infinitely dividing scale from 0 to 1 (0 being the beginning of recorded time and 1 being the end of recorded time. 1 will never occur in our lifetime and we don't know how far along the scale we are, but that's where the relative theory comes in to it). I understand that events occurring closer to 0 are in the past, and events occurring closer to 1 are in the future. However, imagine that the divisions in unit aren't equal. Two units forward may not be the same as two units back and the following two units may not make up double the first two. That's how I experience it. If I weren't so dependant on the actions of others, I would scrap every last clock I own.
Was that too convoluted? Maybe. Sorry if you read that all. I wasted a nondistinct unit of your time.
This sort of falls under the whole confusion thing, but I feel like it deserves its own honourable mention for screwing me over so many times.
Speaking of time, the world passes me by. It's like a really elaborate movie.
I do really dumb things.
I say a lot of things I regret, I think out loud.
I'm probably going to regret this journal post, to be honest.
I already regret that time analogy oh god.
I don't feel connected or coherent.
This relates to the elaborate movie thing I mentioned earlier.
I feel no connection to the real world. None at all, nope. Faces don't seem human, clocks may as well not exist. I think that's why I feel confused so much, actually. I don't recognise anyone until I recognise them as a person. I often find that I can't read because the symbols lose all meaning. I'd be okay with being blind.
I do feel connection to other people. That's my anchor to the world, and it's probably why I can never remember whether I talked to someone face to face or if I talked to them via virtual means. You all are as real to me as anyone I know personally, I recognise your individual personalities and quirks more than I will ever recognise your face or voice.
Isolate me and I would lose my anchoring to the world completely, I may as well not be here in that case.
Ironically, despite being unable to empathise with people, I can connect to them and just understand them. It's different from empathy or sympathy, but I don't think there's a word in the English language to describe it.
While this is all well and good for the people I'm friends with, and while this provides and anchor to "reality", it also works against me because people don't have to have a physical form for me to form these connections.
I frequently form connections with lots of things, characters, numbers, music, art, colours; notice a pattern?
None of the above have physical forms.
I can spend hours, no, days without communicating with people over in this "reality" because I'm in my own reality communicating with anything and everything else. That reality in many ways is more real to me than the reality here on "earth". That's not only unhealthy for my well being on "earth" (lack of focus, being unable to communicate effectively, lack of (or too much) sleep, foregoing food, etc.), but it also means I tend to ruminate on things to an almost obsessive degree. I become anxious and this only ever perpetuates my need to spend more time on my own. I'm sure you can see the problem with this.
Also, therapy and counselling doesn't work. If you can't actively participate in speech-based therapy, it won't work. The whole foundation of speech based therapies is patient participation. I really don't know why therapy is a recommended treatment for identity disorders. It's dumb.
I spend so much energy trying to logically understand how things work or communicating in my own reality that I have no energy, physical or mental, to spend in "reality
It's no secret that I'm exhausted. All. The. Time.
I realised a little while back that my grades started dropping at the same time as my energy levels dropped and symptoms of DID set in. It's only snowballed from there and now I'm either hypersomnic or insomnic and every muscle in my damn body hurts. Hurrah!
It's incredibly frustrating, to be honest. I'm not an ambitious person in the slightest, but I really would like to do something with my life. I want to draw, I want to play music! I want to be a content creator that people look to and go "hey, that guy's pretty awesome!".
And really, don't try to flatter me with it right now. I know it's not something I can do when I'm like this. I will know if you're lying or exaggerating.
I rely on calculation, and it makes me sad. Really sad.
I see things that other people don't see because of their rose tinted lenses.
I embrace almost certain outcomes that nobody else wants to accept, because I recognise them as inevitable.
I worry too much for the people that mean the most to me, because I ruminate on the worst outcomes.
Am I pessimistic? I try not to be, but it's incredibly difficult when you take a step back and look at our world for what it is. When you feel so far away that nothing could harm you, and then suddenly.
Well that got dark fast.
Are you okay?
Fine. The realisation of how ridiculous I must sound just hits me sometimes.
Seriously though, what now?
I don't know, I didn't really think about how I would end this off.
You all can seize the day better than I can, so grab a portion on my behalf, cheers.