**please know that this post has a high potential to trigger, please ground before you read.**
Born into chaos, hatred and anger
I knew the darkest evil of the earth
I saw the violence people unleashed
I felt the wrath of sick twisted people
The human mind can only take so much
Back then three pathways stood before me
Succumb to death or childhood schizophrenia
The third road was my only survival
The fragile mirror that resembled my mind
Crashed and shattered into many shards
Each one becoming a new aspect of me
A personality state to face each battle
Dissociative Identity disorder results when a child faces severe, traumatic and often recurring abuse and neglect. If you think back to your childhood I’m sure you can remember using your imagination a lot. I’m sure some can remember doing it for hours a day, maybe even more. I still don’t remember most of my childhood. I do remember some good things, happy things, fun things. But I also remember some very horrific things. Everything will return at the right time, but for now I have to work with what I do remember.
I spent probably upwards of 95% of my time in my own head, imagining different worlds, imagining myself as someone else or a strong knight that would save me from the horrible things that were being done to me and around me. I am so thankful for my imagination because I feel it saved my life. My first therapist who correctly diagnosed me as a multiple told me the way he and many other therapists see severe childhood abuse, the victim has three options. Like I mentioned above, the child can succumb to the abuse and die. The child can also have a break with reality so severe that they become a childhood schizophrenic and never again return to sanity. The third option is to allow the mind to shatter and split into other pieces. These pieces become alters and sometimes just fragments that all play a part to protect the host from death and insanity. Because I was able to tap into this “other world”, dissociate and allow the mirror to break I am still here today and very much sane.
The earliest memories I have of abuse was when I was four, attending the Catholic school our lady of sorrows in Michigan. I was abused by another child and also by an adult. I can remember what the adult did, but I cannot remember their face, nor can I remember if there were any other acts from any other adults. At home things were far from perfect. My biological father was physically and verbally abusive to my mother and never hesitated to lash out at her around me. I can remember lying in my bed too scared to get out, but worrying that if I did not go to my mother, that he would kill her and I would never see her again. I became obsessed with protecting her and would panic at the slightest thought of us being separated for any length of time. I remember telling my mother that I was so afraid I was going to die, but I wouldn’t tell her why. It was a perpetual, twisting, sickening and horrifying nightmare I could not wake up from.
There are many common misconceptions about Dissociative Identity Disorder and the people who have it. Just from a few sites that I like to read from here are a few:
1.) DID is rare. Nope. It’s not nearly as rare as people tend to think. According to what I have read DID is about as common as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
2.) People with DID can be spotted a mile away. This is very false. Most people I grew up around had no idea I had DID. It was obvious I struggled with anxiety and panic (per friends and family) however, no one had a clue about my fractured self. Multiples are in no way like how Hollywood portrays the disorder. I really feel that this is dangerous and unfair of Hollywood to encourage the survival and growth of the stigma that anyone who suffers from mental illness has to live with…especially people with DID. My therapist who diagnosed me informed me that most people with DID don’t even know what’s wrong for a long time and usually spend many years within the mental health system before they are correctly diagnosed. Unfortunately, having the wrong diagnosis for many years also means receiving the wrong treatment. This can be as deadly as someone with diabetes receiving treatment for a kidney problem instead of their blood sugar.
3.) People with DID are dangerous. This is very false and again can be blamed on Hollywood for the way they portray the illness. Just like any human being, people with DID can get angry, and yes, can lash out, but from my own experiences as a multiple and knowing other multiples this is completely opposite. People who have DID were violently abused as children and as adults often struggle with so much as saying no to another person.
4.) Schizophrenia and DID are the same illness. If I had a quarter for every time I was asked if my diagnosis meant I had schizophrenia I would be a lot better off financially than I am now! Schizophrenia is very different from DID. Schizophrenia is characterized by two or more of the following symptoms:
a. 1.) Delusions: false beliefs that the individual continues to believe in even when presented with evidence that it is not true. These delusions can be centered on being followed (I knew two people with schizophrenia who often worried that they had transmitters in their brains that allowed the government to track their every thought and movement). I can only imagine how scary it must feel to deal with this.
b. Hallucinations: seeing (visual), hearing (auditory), smelling (olfactory) and even feeling things (tactile) that are not really there. There are also very dangerous hallucinations called “command hallucinations” where the person experiencing them is commanded to do something. (Often to hurt themselves or someone else). *This can be a symptom of DID, I often suffer from auditory, visual and very occasionally tactile hallucinations*
c. Disorganized speech: this is often referred to as “word salad”. This can be words put together in a sentence that make no sense to someone listening.
d. Grossly disorganized, or catatonic behavior: Mania, stupor, rigidity of limbs or exaggerated flexibility, inactivity.
e. “Negative symptoms”: Acting in an inappropriate way in public, isolating, toned down emotions, speech problems and a few more.
5.) When someone with DID switches alters anyone can tell. This one ties into the above point about being able to tell who has DID and who doesn’t. Most times alter switches are very subtle. Most people have little changes in their personalities when reacting and interacting with other people, situations and perceived threats. One difference is that people with DID often have amnesia along with their personality shifts. As the host gains co-consciousness with other alters, the black outs happen less frequently and can also stop. *I have just recently integrated with Katie (my external protector), Jaenelle and Kordelia. I no longer experience black outs when I switch to Katie, Jaenelle or Kordelia. Our fragments of the mirror have been glued back together J * There is an exception to this one. Two of my closest friends whom I lived with for over a year got to see me switch on a daily basis, and so they became very finely tuned to my switching. If I came out of my room dressed in my beautiful braja clothing from India and was very smiley and easy going…they knew Jaenelle was taking care of us at the moment. The other exception is when a little is in control. Maggie, one of my littles, is 4 years old. She does not come out around strangers, only very trusted friends and our therapist.
6.) Dissociative Identity Disorder prevents someone from having a normal, happy and healthy life. There are many multiples including myself that can tell you personally how untrue this one is. Of course, without knowing you have this and therefore not receiving treatment for it can be detrimental. For years I deteriorated until I met my first therapist who has treated me for DID. Know that I am in treatment for DID and PTSD I have been thriving! I have two wonderful, sweet, beautiful children whom I raise on my own (although I co-parent my son with his loving daddy. We are no longer together, but we both work together to care for him and love him). I go to school full time for my bachelors degree in media arts and animation, I teach manga drawing classes and do a lot more. I am very happy and stable.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is an amazing, complex and misunderstood diagnosis that I have come to view as a coping skill that saved my life. I hope that someday soon it will be researched more thoroughly, be better understood and the stigma surrounding it die. If there was some way to physically kill and bury the stigma of mental illness, believe me, I’d do it. I am so sick and tired of seeing it claim innocent lives.
I have been mulling this over with everyone who is a part of my inner system since I began this blog…a few of my alters would like to say hello to everyone.
I’m Katie, or I guess as the rest of the system calls me…and I have to add, this is very embarrassing…”the badass”. I am 27 years old, I have short dark brown hair and brown eyes. I am the system’s external protector. My job is to make sure that the body, Ashley (our host) and everyone else inside is safe when we are threatened by something outside. I am not a force to be reckoned with. Please don’t get me wrong, a lot of people do, I am very loving and kind, I just have a hard time showing it in the right way sometimes. A very close friend of mine has enlightened me to the fact that I am a choleric personality type. I love the way Wikipedia has cholerics described: ambitious and leader-like. Yes, that is me. I wanted us to go to medical school, but seeing that all of us can’t stand the idea of 8 plus years of school I decided we would become a nurse. We got through our LPN program pretty far until Ashley started to break down from the heartache of seeing patients we couldn’t help in the nursing home. We made a unanimous decision to drop out and find something else. I admit, it is very very hard not to go back for me. I am the alternate personality that takes the brunt of verbal arguments/verbal confrontation. I am very happy to say that Ashley and I are integrated now.
My name is Jaenelle! I freaking love life, love, flowers, children, animals, being with nature, nice people, food…but only vegetarian food, art….music….lots of stuff! I am 19 years old, I have long wavy light brown hair and brown eyes. I really don’t like negativity, anger and sadness. I feel that life is too short to ever be down, and being around others who are negative and mean really bothers me. The energy around them is just…gross and ewww. I don’t mean to be mean about it, it just makes things hard for us. Sometimes I have been known to “put someone in their place” if they’ve been wrong to us. Some people call it sassy or having an attitude problem, but I see it as respecting us. Being free, happy and dancing makes me very happy. I would very much like to continue pursuing our art degree and open our own art therapy practice to help people, especially children who have been victims of trauma and recovering drug addicts. My purpose in the system is to keep us calm, positive, happy and to remember that there is ALWAYS a silver lining to every cloud. I like to remind everyone to go with the flow and everything will be a lot more peaceful and less painful. Heehee, I’m a water element…I think that’s kinda funny, anyway. sorry! Haha! I’m done talking! Oh yeah one more thing. Ashley and I have integrated as well!!!!
I’m Kordelia. I’m 17, but I feel a lot older. I don’t get anxious, I don’t get super happy and I don’t get depressed. I just am. I guess the one thing I struggle with is anger. I am very angry inside over all of the sick shit people have done to us and the body. It makes me wish that they had to feel our pain every day. When I come out, we swear a lot, and I know I need to work on that. In therapy, our therapist tells us its okay for me to cuss. So I do. It helps me express how livid I am. I say “dude a lot”. I picked that up from Jaenelle. She volunteered to be my buddy when it was suggested to us that we all pair up in a buddy-system style. She’s cool, and she is the yin to my yang I guess. See, lol, now I’m talking like her hippie-ass. My anger has kept the body alive during physical, non-sexual attacks on our life. I am the one who physically defends us if we need to. Ashley and I are pretty much integrated. That’s all for now I guess.
As we continue on our healing path I’m sure more of us will be comfortable with the idea of speaking to all of you. Most of us take turns writing every blog entry, but there are still many of us who are not comfortable with telling our specific stories, traumas and accomplishments. It will happen, but not right now. Thank you everyone for allowing Katie, Jaenelle and Kordelia to say hello. It means a lot to all of us.
Here are some good links to info on Dissociative Identity Disorder:
I highly suggest reading this blog too! http://traumaanddissociation.wordpress.com/
If you feel comfortable answering, what is your system like (if you are also a multiple)? Do you hold board meetings? (I know we do, every night)
I love you all! Take good care!