When I was first diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder), I was shocked. Sure, I had had many dissociative problems over the years but the idea of multiple personalities made no sense to me. But my next psychiatrist agreed with the diagnosis.
Ironically, now that I have a psychiatrist who doesn’t believe in dissociative identity disorder (DID), I have suddenly had a series of discoveries that revealed to me I have multiple personalities. Some people with DID prefer to call them alters, selves, or people. I like the term personalities.
My psychologist calls my experience DID. He has helped me become more self-aware and understand the personalities. I know I don’t fit the typical version of DID, since I am co-conscious and usually stay dominant, but whether I have DID or an unspecified dissociative disorder, I seem to have multiple personalities.
I want to share my experience of dissociation so that others understand us better. Here are 9 reasons why I believe I have a dissociative disorder that includes multiple personalities.
- My experience feels different than hallucinations. As part of my bipolar disorder, I have had hallucinations while manic. The hallucinations always feel outside of me, like spirits or voices speaking to me. These personalities feel like they are inside me.
- The personalities constantly surprise me. If the personalities were my own creation, they wouldn’t surprise me. I have a method of interviewing them to find out what is going on with them. Often when I ask them questions I am surprised by the answers. So they are somehow different from my core self.
- I switch between personalities. Sometimes I switch on purpose, and sometimes it just happens. Like when I have a flashback I flip to my child personality and then have to gradually pull myself back. I’m co-conscious with them, but if I want to, most times I can switch to them and experience life as one of them, until pulling myself back.
- My voice and behavior changes when I switch. This is how my psychologist helped me discover the personalities. He noticed that in session sometimes my voice, my posture, and my level of eye contact would abruptly change. My 8-year-old personality can’t comprehend a lot of words and concepts and doesn’t understand metaphors. When I flip to her I speak in a quiet, high-pitched voice and always look down and to the right, and it is literally impossible for me to make eye contact. My personality T makes very intense eye contact and tries to be manipulative/seductive. I usually can watch them from my core self.
- The personalities seem to have been created for a purpose. It seems like they were created as a way for my brain to survive trauma. In order to survive, my brain created these different parts, to hold the memories, emotions, and thoughts, until I was able to receive all of them and make sense of them. It was a survival technique. I am trying to figure out what purpose each personality has. But it doesn’t seem accidental. It seems like I have this problem for a reason.
- The personalities can affect me without my consent. My 8-year-old personality and sometimes the 20-year-old personality cause me panic attacks, sometimes because they are triggered and sometimes on purpose, to get attention from me. They also cause me flashbacks when triggered. Sometimes they make me zone out if someone is discussing something they don’t like. All of my personalities can cause me to physically twitch or convulse when they get upset by something. The twitching is their way of trying to communicate.
- I am able to affect the personalities, but not control them. I can affect how the personalities act since they are part of me. Unfortunately, I can’t control them. They think independently and often fight against me. Although I am able to be a powerful influence, they are still outside my control.
- The personalities can show emotional and psychological growth. I have been helping my 8-year-old personality think in a less rigid manner by having her play a CBT app on my phone. It has helped her with her cognitive distortions. I have been helping my 20-year-old personality find her voice. Recently I’ve come to a new understanding of my personality T, and finally, I see her showing a little compassion. I see how they are changing for the better. It has been incredible to witness.
- The personalities embody elements of me. They are each different from me, but they all have some similarities to me. I can see myself in all of them.
I want to raise awareness about dissociative disorders so people can understand what it is like for us. I believe one day I will be able to merge my personalities and find wholeness. Understanding them seems to be the first step.