I recently read a forum for those suffering with or caring for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). This is the first time I have read into someone else’s struggle with DID since my integration. I don’t know why it has taken me this long to read into other people’s journey, perhaps I needed some time to process my own. I remember when I was diagnosed I read books and websites on DID. I didn’t respond well. I found the information distressing and I became angry that I had DID. I felt trapped by the illness. Now that I am integrated, and I have spent some time reading this forum, I feel relief that God has set me free. Their conversations, perhaps strange to someone else who doesn’t understand DID, made sense to me. I felt a complex range of emotions – compassion, guilt in my freedom, anger with their suffering, overwhelmed and empathy. I could relate to their stories. Their stories are real. DID is not make believe; the alters really do exist. They are talking to a real separate/alternate personalities who live within their being. They are not freaks. They are creatively beautiful, incredibly talented and wonderfully made.
Reading the forum caused me to reflect on my time with DID. It was very turbulent. Things seemed to get worse before they got better. There were many times I thought it was too much and I just wanted it to end. Before every counselling session a war would arise inside of me. It took a lot of internal determination and external persuasion from God and others to get myself to each session. I remember playing Christian music loudly in the car to drown out the conversations in my head. The fight was enormous. I’d be fighting my mind, and my physical body which would be refusing to drive to the counselling room. Counselling was exhausting. The outcomes of the sessions were varied. Often I left the counselling room buzzing, I would call my husband and tell him of all the great things God had done. Sometimes those triumphs would spill over into the week and I would see some evidence of healing. Many times though the change that occurred in session would result in a new battle between the sessions.
It was incredibly difficult to see the world properly. I looked at life through a hazy bubble. I can remember times where I felt like I was a back seat passenger in my life; someone else was at the wheel directing my thoughts and actions. These moments were frustrating, scary and felt horribly out of control. I felt a range of emotions toward my alters. Some alters were incredibly difficult to handle and I would hate them. Then with time and understanding of why they behaved that way I would begin to feel love and compassion for them. I loved the protective care that a lot of my alters displayed, even if it was often was misguided. I always wished they were gone, but was terrified with how I would cope without them. I felt crazy, like someone had stamped the word “Insane” on my forehead. I was very worried how I appeared to others. I discovered post-integration that many people had no idea, they just thought that I went through times of depression.
The people on the forums spoke of confusion. I remember that confusion. ‘My girls’ were absorbing and demanding. They had there own names, conversation and interpersonal styles. Every alter had a different role. Some were connected in triads and worked together. Others had conflicting roles. Some where suicidal, others were focused on keeping me alive. Some were men haters, others were flirtatious. All but one hated God and the church. They were all so different – just like you and I are so unique and different. It was like having a very complicated family with me at all times. One minute one would be protecting, then that alter or another would be angry and yelling at me. I often felt humiliation, shame, anger or fear of who I was and what I’d done.
I met my alters slowly over time. Who knows what prompted them to reveal themselves. Perhaps it was the right ‘God’ time. Sometimes I think they watched from their secret place God and others love and care for the ‘revealed alters’, giving them assurance it was safe to appear. I can remember one saying after appearing, “The Daddy Jesus (as my girls called Him) who helped _______ they can help me too”. When a new alter appeared they often dominated and everything went out of control. The family ‘system’ changed; there were new rules. With time and interaction with myself, my counselor, God and others the new alter would settle and a respect would develop between them and others already in the family system. This didn’t mean that things would become rosy, but a better relationship with the new alter would open up opportunities for positive change. Without trust and respect for everyone involved, healing was not possible.
After reading the forum I can see what a complex situation I was in. At the time I didn’t realise how complex it was. The forum highlighted for me the plight of others who are ‘stuck’ with DID; trapped with these alternate personalities. Alters who are controlling, suffering and ‘protecting’ them from past and future trauma. It’s now about four years since integration. My time with DID seems so distant. There is life after integration. It is not without struggle, but it is very different. It has taken a while to adjust to living without the support of alternate personalities. Of late I have been discouraged by my ongoing adjustment to this new life. Disappointed that I am not ‘free enough’. Reading the forum has helped bring my current state into perspective. Looking back I see how far God has brought me – the privilege and freedom of being integrated! Those who are suffering are in the heat of the battle, perhaps wondering if it will ever end. With God and the support of a small few, I found the end of DID.