How Could You Explain DID To Someone?


Recently I was with friends, one of them my best friend who doesn’t know that I have DID, and we were discussing someone we know who has been displaying some odd behavior that seems to be rooted in mental illness. My best friend said that this person implied that they are talking to people in their head and my friend said it sounded like multiple personalities.

Of course she probably has no idea what that means other than what she’s seen on TV but it got me thinking again about how DID has been sensationalized in books, movies and TV and how it’s affected the average person’s concept of the illness and more importantly of the person who has it.

I think people are very frightened of someone with DID. I know the last friend I took a chance on telling I had it reacted badly. I don’t tell anyone anymore and I honestly worry that even my husband who is very understanding, secretly is a little freaked out by me even though he’s never said so. But that could be me projecting my own fears because even I can be a bit freaked out sometimes because I don’t fully understand myself.

I do however know that I don’t go around dressing like a lumberjack or an old lady or a child randomly and I don’t kidnap people (I just saw a trailer for a movie by M. Night Shyamalan about a man with DID who kidnaps girls for some reason).

So back to my original thought: for the average person like my friend, how would I explain DID in a non-scary, no I’m not going to kill you someday, no you don’t need to be afraid of me being around your children, way?

I was thinking of the root of my DID; where it came from, the events…well the original events, even though other trauma added to it: the sexual abuse from my uncle. I would use that, but not the details, to explain DID.

*I actually came back to this spot after I wrote my explanation because it became more personal than I expected. I don’t go into detail but I say things about trying to tell someone and not being believed etc. that may be triggering so I decided to come back and add a warning*

I would say…imagine that you’re 4 years old and someone much older and much bigger than you does something so scary and so terrible that your little 4 year old brain can’t take it, it’s too much, but you don’t die, you live. What would your little 4 year old brain do to live? 

Well there’s so much terror and fear that part of your little brain breaks off and says “Okay, I’ll handle this part.” and it goes away from the others. But there’s also anger because someone hurt you so much but you couldn’t fight back because you were so little. You were only 4 and no one helped you. In fact, one of the grown ups left you alone there. You tried to tell someone who loved you but they didn’t believe you and you’re so angry!!! But you’re only 4, your little brain can’t handle all of that anger, so another piece of your brain breaks off and says “That’s okay, I’ve got this. I’ll hold onto to all the anger.” And it goes away from the others.

But that’s not all. There was sadness…so much sadness…you were all alone in that room…you were all alone in your room because you couldn’t tell anyone…you were all alone your whole life…You were 4 years old. How would your little 4 year old brain handle so much sadness? It can’t so another part of your little brain comes forward and offers to hold the sadness for you. This one is different though because sometimes the sadness is so deep that it spills out and the little girl cries and but she doesn’t understand why.

The bad thing that happened was so bad that lots of pieces of the little girl’s brain had to come forward to take the weight of her feelings because she was only 4 and then she was 5.

Some of the pieces got names like Nikki and James  Other pieces just are and they’re okay with that. They did their job. The little girl lived.

-That’s how I would explain DID to someone. I don’t think it’s scary. I think it’s a logical way for a child’s brain to handle a ridiculously horrifying experience. In my case, added trauma later in life added more alters but the core process is the same. It makes sense to me.

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in abuse, Alters, Child Molestation, DID, dissociative identity disorder, Incest, Multiple Personalities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Trauma and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to How Could You Explain DID To Someone?

  1. Freasha1964 says:

    Makes sense to me, too. It is basically what I might have said, if I had to explain, though I don’t have it.

    • CimmarianInk says:

      You make my point though Freasha, whether you have it or not then, if it makes sense then that’s what I want, so thank you for letting me know how my sort of spontaneous explanation went over haha.

      • Freasha1964 says:

        It occurs to me that you might add that your “normal” personality (you get to elaborate on that; it might be long 🙂 ) has no awareness of the alters – before/unless integration is accomplished.
        And another thing: I am quite sure that no one, not even the Dalai Lama, fully understands themselves. In fact, I believe that the hidden part of the psyche is much deeper than the part we are aware of. This fascinates me, just the same.

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Excellent points Freasha! I was thinking so much about the alters that I completely forgot about the host and integration or even co-consciousness! And yes, goodness who ever understands themselves!?

  2. Alexis Rose says:

    Thats a really good explanation!

  3. I ask them if they’ve ever seen the show Quantum Leap. That’s DID to me. However, there’s a short film called DID from the Inside Out that does an incredible job of showing what it’s like. I can’t find it on youtube anymore but I do have it downloaded. I figured it would someday get taken down so I downloaded that bad boy! My therapist and I watched it together, it was that powerful and true to life…I mean other than the murder part. Like you said, we aren’t killers and we don’t switch for the fun of it or to have publicity. We are very private with it in our private lives. Online is a different story.

    • CimmarianInk says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard of DID From The Inside Out??? They really need to do more true-to-life films or projects about it except that I think some people are fakes so some accounts of DID are fakes made to be more exciting for effect you know?

      Like you said, we’re very private. I once felt that I was going switch in front of my husband and I about freaked!!!! How in the world could I do that on command for a camera crew?

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