After ten years of therapy, I was taken by surprise with a new diagnosis. I was expecting to begin my EMDR therapy for rape trauma; but instead my therapist diagnosed me with DID, formerly known as MPD, multiple personality disorder.
She explained that there are three phases of therapy; 1) Stabilization, 2) Dissociation and 3) Trauma. Reassuring me that I’ve done a wonderful job at stabilizing; Once stabilized, we then started to delve into trauma, using EMDR therapy. This is where the disassociation presented itself. First as a frightened child, then an angry teen, then later two different aged self beaters. One ten years old, the other in her twenties.
With my prior therapist, we had sessions embracing my inner child and my inner teen. Therefore, I thought the appearance of these other selves was the same kind of therapy; but, technically DID is the appearance of two or more personalities.
My first reaction to the diagnosis was relief. It made sense to me, and I was accustomed to working with different parts of myself and welcomed more of that thinking. Learning that there are parts of me stuck on some traumatic event and I needed to heal and integrate them into myself as a whole.
I spent the next few days in tears. It felt like parts of me were grieving and they were relieved to be acknowledged as they released the trapped sorrow.
Then I had a denial and disbelief phase. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. How could that be? How could I have different personalities? I binge watched United States of Tara on Netflix to try to pick up clues. It’s a show about a mother with DID, and her alters/personalities, vary from Alice a perfect domestic housewife from the 50’s, to Buck a foul mouthed, gun shooting male. Her alters dressed up differently and went out and got into all sorts of trouble. I am not like that, I thought to myself. Shoot, my personalities don’t get to dress up and do what they want! I remembered my therapist telling me she dislikes having to use the diagnosis because of the way Hollywood portrays it. I stepped back from the theatrics of the show and did some self analyzing.
I looked back on my life and observed how many times I easily shifted gears from one personality to another and how I have chunks of time I don’t remember, or how I’d be doing one thing and an hour later be doing something else and not remembering how I got there. I thought it was ADD, but could it be, it was DID?
I googled and found that DID is a disorder characterized by identity fragmentation rather than a proliferation of separate personalities. My therapist explained it this way too. That there doesn’t have to be full blown personalities, some are just fragments.
At first, I was frightened that I’d be taken over by someone; but, it has actually been entertaining and useful to let parts of myself come forth and express the individual emotions and thoughts of that self.
The diagnosis threw me for a loop; but, in reality, it feels like progress, and I don’t think it will be too long before I can integrate all my parts.
I plan to deal with this information the same way I’ve dealt with learning about depression and all the other diagnoses since my breakdown, and that is to learn as much as possible, be non-judgemental of myself, and continue my healing journey.