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Dissociative Identity Disorder

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What do you really know about Dissociative Identity Disorders?

I could probably take a few guesses. You likely think that it is a mental disorder that causes an individual to have more than one personality, much like Cybil (the movie) or James McAvoy in the movie Split. Whose famous personality was “Patricia”. That could play into it.

Often people associate dissociative identity disorder (DID) with bipolar disorder. Many assume they are one and the same. Let me fill you in on something, they are NOT. There is a big difference between the two, there are also many facets to each one of these disorders. DID is a psychological disorder, whereas bipolar is a mood disorder.

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In this blog, I want to deep-dive into the variances of dissociative identity disorder. I hope this information can help STOP the stigma surrounding “split personalities”, being lumped into one category and even joked about.

I know hundreds upon thousands, laugh about this issue, let me tell you, it is not a laughing matter.

Dissociative Identity Disorder is a mental health disorder, previously known as multiple personality disorder, however, based on the different factors and stages, one who suffers from DID, may never actually develop another personality.

Disassociation happens when a person shuts off from a situation or even themselves. This is almost always caused by trauma. DID is psychological and can be from environmental or emotional stressors. Often it is developed in childhood.

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Disconnecting between feelings, memories, thoughts, senses, actions, or who he/ she maybe is a disassociation. Everyone has experienced episodes of such at one time or another in their lifetime. There are various forms, from daydreaming, getting lost (often while driving), to losing touch with reality, and even losing touch with surroundings. Typically, these are mild forms of DID.

In situations where actions are unbearable, (examples: crimes, rape, trauma, disasters), having the ability to disassociate helps the individual to cope during a time which otherwise may be unbearable. This is a numbness, so to speak, pretending as though the situation did not happen, one may forget the feelings of it, the memories, or even certain facts of the events surrounding the situation.

Within the realm of DID, there are levels. These levels are depersonalization, dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, and personality disorders (having more than one personality).

There are also 4 subtypes to Personality Disorders/ DID

Dependent Personality Disorder

Impulsive Borderline Personality Disorder

Petulant Borderline Personality Disorder

Self-Destructive Borderline Personality Disorder
(http://www.trueactivist.com/the-4-sub-types-of-borderline-personality-disorder)

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In the case of dissociative amnesia, the symptoms could involve both derealization and depersonalization. Both being acute stress disorders (PTSD included).

 Dissociative amnesia is not being able to recall information about oneself; this is completely different than forgetting. Related to a stressful event or trauma, it could be generalized (a complete loss of one’s identity), localized (unable to remember memories or specific events), or selective (the inability to recall specific events during a certain period).

Emotional neglect and abuse from childhood trauma are associated with dissociative amnesia. Memory loss or awareness of events may not be realized or recognized until much later in life. Often feeling that there are “missing pieces” and “timeframes”.

Someone suffering from significant recurring or ongoing depersonalization/derealization disorder may experience feelings of detachment from their mind, their body, r themselves altogether. They feel a sense of unreality. This is the “depersonalization”. Experiencing a disconnect or detachment from the surroundings is derealization. These both are altered mindsets. During these occurrences, the world may not feel real, people may not feel real, the individual may even feel that they are in another world. Reality is distorted; however, they are aware enough to recognize that this is an unusual experience and unlikely to be true. They become unemotional and lack reaction. This is a very stressful period.

Dissociative Fugue is where one loses their sense of self. They tend to wander or travel outside of their normal places. This is an uncontrolled and sudden unplanned trip away from home. They may end up in different cities, etc. They may even take on different identities or forget who they are and how they ended up there.

The most advanced DID is personality identity disorder. This is where a person is so detached that they become more than one individual/ personality. They assume different characteristics, facial expressions, actions, thought patterns, body language, some may even have different names at times. They may act like a child, they may not know where they are, they take on an entirely different persona.

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Some similarities shared with other mental disorders, that patients with DID have are:

  • Changing levels of functioning, from highly effective to disturbed/disabled
  • Severe headaches or pain in other parts of the body
  • Depersonalization (feeling disconnected from one’s own thoughts, feelings, and body)
  • Derealization (feeling that the surrounding environment is foreign, odd, or unreal)
  • Depression and/or mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Eating and sleeping disturbances
  • Problems with functioning sexuality
  • Substance abuse
  • Amnesia (memory loss or feeling a time distortion)
  • Hallucinations (false perceptions or sensory experiences, such as hearing voices)
  • Self-injurious behaviors such as “cutting”
  • Suicide risk — 70% of people with DID have attempted suicide

(https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9792-dissociative-identity-disorder-multiple-personality-disorder)

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Treatment is available for DID. It includes psychiatric and psychological, hypnosis, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, and antidepressants. There are cases where individuals are hospitalized, unfortunately, and do not respond to treatment.

If you believe that you are suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder or know someone who is, please seek help by contacting the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-6264 or email info@nami.org for support.

I am NO an expert in the matter, although passionate and with experience, I wish to raise awareness and break the stigma.

If you have a story related to this blog/ article, please contact me at colorfulchaosthejourney@yahoo.com. I would love to further discuss or even have you as a guest!

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27 comments

  1. I have so many questions now
    Do the “personalities” know about each other?
    How is this treated? Can it be treated? What is the prognosis? Can the person reintegrate?
    Do the different “personalities” lead differrent lives?
    How do family or friends deal with it?

    1. The personalities can know about each other, however because they take on different personas it’s very likely that they feel the changes coming. It’s treated by psychologists (continued therapy) to include EMDR, hypnosis, anti-anxiety meds, anti-psychotics. Yes the personalities can live different lives, even to the point of one having illnesses that the other does not. It’s very difficult for friends/family to deal with, especially without proper knowledge or education. Due to it being thought of as a “mood disorder”, they think it’s easy to snap out of. It’s a psychological illness, mental, caused by trauma/stressors. The variant levels and stages determine the treatment and prognosis. Family/friends should be patient, they should know who to contact (health care provider/emergency contact, etc). In some cases, the individual may be effected by all of the levels, thus leading to full psychosis and complete personality disorder and delusions, etc. in those situations, hospitalization may be an option.
      Individuals that suffer from DID, do feel the changes coming on. I would love to complete a follow up blog as well.
      I hope I have helped with your questions.
      Thank you for reading ❤️

  2. After a recent trauma I’ve had a complete change in myself as if I’m someone else at times. I can’t stay focused, my doctor’s are writing it off on my a.d.h.d. and I’ve had a very traumatic past so I have PTSD but reading this has mean wondering I was recently hospitalized due to being suicidal. It’s like my life has totally changed since September 18th I can’t get that night out my head. I’ve isolated myself from family and friends. I hate going anywhere even to the store if I go if fast and right back home. I work but I’m finding myself zoning out missing stops. I see a psychiatrist and i’m on my 3rd therapist it just doesn’t seem to be getting better. I’m been on various meds with no luck. I’m just losing hope, but I pray alot and have Faith God is going to see me through this. Thanks for this blog it’s helped I’m going to show my doctor’s.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I will be posting a breakdown of other mental illnesses and disorders throughout this series. Unlike PTSD, dissociative identity disorder happens or begins with a childhood event and then is triggered per say. However, I am not a professional but it appears your PTSD may be induced and also you definitely need to let your psychiatrist know about your lack of hope. Dissociative Identity Disorder is the ability to disconnect completely from the/all trauma. You forget it, memory lapse, etc.. there are immediate resources available if you are in the Virginia area. Runway2Life is a wonderful source. Please let me know if you have further questions and thank you for being brave enough to share your story!

  3. This is a great informative post. I love that you are working towards breaking down stigma. I think it is time that people were able to speak openly about mental health without fear and worrying about what other people think.
    As a teenager a close friends mother had bipolar disorder. Knowing her and sometimes interacting with her when she was manic really opened my eyes to the stigma she faced in our community. She was an exceptionally wonderful person and it was shameful that all people could see or talk about was her mental health issues. This was many years ago. I hope things are getting better for people who live with this disorder, and people take the time to educate themselves a bit more about these issues.

    1. Thank you so much. Personally I do deal with many issues and my aunt (was also my best friend), was bipolar. She was the most caring person ever. She loved her children and family. When she would have episodes of personality disorders and dissociation, she would do things that were beyond uncharacteristic. It was very difficult to get help for her. She died at the age of 41 years old. If I knew then, what I know now, I could have done more. Knowing the signs of someone going into a manic high or low is important as well. There are also two types of bipolar. I’m debating now on my next blog.. it’s between bipolar disorders or PTSD. So many of these mental health disorders go hand in hand. It’s very important to be treated properly. I TRULY believe that is what is wrong with the world. People dismiss it, those with it are embarrassed, berated, confused and do not understand. I could have this conversation for days.. ❤️💗 thank you so much for reading and commenting

      1. I am sorry to hear about your aunt and that is a real tragedy and indicative of a mental health system that fails those who need it. Fortunately my friends mom did get treatment. There were a few funny stories of when she had manic episodes that she can now laugh about and in her case with the right help she has thrived! I think either of those topics are great ones, or maybe do them both eventually. I have an old blog post I did last year about PTSD, which you may find of interest:
        https://rakupottery.ca/2018/12/06/ptsd/
        Keep raising awareness and reducing stigma, it is a beautiful thing!

      1. Why thank you! 😀 The row of linkages at the top is where you’re gonna want to start. 🙂 Thank you for spending time you didn’t have to with us! M (And the gang)

  4. It really does seem like you want to end stigma but there is a lot of misinformation in this post.
    You say: “There are various forms, from daydreaming, getting lost (often while driving), to losing touch with reality, and even losing touch with surroundings. Typically, these are mild forms of DID.” – This is correct for the general term “dissociation”. This would be mild dissociation, not mild DID. Dissociating is a normal function of the brain, however, traumatic experiences can cause individuals to start dissociating at inappropriate times – which is seen as a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, and many other mental disorders. The only form of “mild D.I.D.” might be OSDD (Other Specified Dissociative Disorder) which has a few variations such as a person having alters but no amnesia between them, having an inner world but no alters, or only one fronting alter but others living in one’s head. D.I.D. is not the only dissociative disorder. It also can ONLY be formed through repeated childhood trauma before the ages of 7-9, according to the theory of structural dissociation. This is when a person’s personality is fully developed and therefore the brain can no longer put as intense amnesic walls up between parts. However, in cases of OSDD, trauma may be able to take place until the age of 12. It is not a mood or personality disorder, which is why the name was changed from Multiple Personality Disorder (to avoid further confusion) with the release of the 1994 revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).
    You say: “Treatment is available for DID. It includes psychiatric and psychological, hypnosis, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, and antidepressants. There are cases where individuals are hospitalized, unfortunately, and do not respond to treatment.”
    There is no medication that can be taken to help with D.I.D., however, D.I.D. is often co-morbid with (meaning it often appears alongside) P.T.S.D., anxiety disorders, depression. Though it should be kept in mind that co-morbid disorders may only affect certain parts of the D.I.D. system while some parts remain unaffected and are known as “Apparently Normal Parts” or ANPs. These are parts who are designed to handle day to day life and not be held back by PTSD symptoms related to the severe and repeated trauma that the individual must go through to develop this. Medications could be used to help with co-morbid symptoms such as anxiety or depression, but there is no medication to help with D.I.D. itself. And how can you say you’re looking to end stigma when you’re still making it sound like people end up spending their lives locked up because their brain works differently? I’m glad that I’m already seeing a professional I trust because reading something that says individuals have to be hospitalized and don’t respond to treatment would have made me not want to seek help and then I would have been left struggling on my own to deal with the discovery of the many people existing in my body with me.

    1. Thank you for all of this information. Everything that I have learned on my journey was after the fact and during the discovery process with my psychologist and psychiatrist. I’m still trying to understand it all

      1. It’s a dense and easily confusing topic so it’s completely understandable. I am by no means an expert on the topic and there are still many things about dissociation and dissociative identity disorder that confuse me as well. Thank you for keeping an open mind, since as I am rereading what we wrote, some of the statements said were rather harsh and I understand that that is usually not the best way to respond to things. I do apologize for the harsh tone and appreciate you taking the time to read and reply.

      2. I did a lot of research between the differences. There is a lot of dispute in the medical world still between DID, dissociative unspecified, borderline personality and even bi-polar.
        It is all very confusing. Especially when trying to explain it because of the contradictions. I’ve had childhood trauma, teenage trauma, adult trauma (if you see my other posts), so it’s likely I have a combination (lol) at times. I just thank God that I do have some answers pinpointed as to what I deal with.
        I truly appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I never mind another point of view. 😊 I also love knowledge and trying to understand. I put a lot of time into research prior to posting. It’s nice to have someone with further knowledge

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