Tag Archives: Multiplicity

Suddenly I Am

Sometimes, I am the wise woman. Inside, I am a college sophomore, though on the outside, life has moved on. I call myself Clarissa. I can talk up a storm about psychology and psychiatry, arguing that, yes, in fact autistic people can have multiple personalities. It’s a shame people tell me they can’t just because that person’s psychiatrist has told them so. It’s nowhere in the DSM-IV or DSM-5. In fact, autistic people are quite a bit more likely to suffer from trauma-related disorders like this.

Then suddenly, I am that autistic teen. Inside, I am 19-years-old, though on the outside, life has moved on. I call myself Carol. I am not your typical intelligent Aspie. In fact, I am quite severely autistic. I use repetitive language and engage in self-stimulatory behavior all the time. I can barely function at a day activities center for people with severe intellectual disabilities, even though I’m not intellectually disabled. I’m not gifted either, no matter what some people like to believe. I’m just average intellectually, but emotionally, I’m severely impaired.

Then suddenly, I am a little girl. Inside, I’m a shy and scared five-year-old, though on the outside, life has moved on. I call myself Little. By the time I first emerged, it was thought I was the youngest alter. I am not. I can’t breathe sometimes. Sometimes, I have to color inside the lines, and I can’t, because I can’t see very well. I am very scared.

Then suddenly, I am a precocious seven-year-old. Inside, I take care of the baby self (with help from the inner mother figure), though on the outside, life has moved on. I call myself Suzanne. As much as I want to help the baby,I also want my stuffie sheep meh-beh and beh-meh.

Then suddenly, I am that mother figure. Inside, I am 28-years-old, though on the outside, even now life has moved on. I call myself Esther. I sometimes go on Mommy forums as a child advocate, even though in real life, I don’t have any children. I grievethis fact, but don’t let it show.

Then suddenly, I am a childfree woman. Inside, I am 35-years-old, t hough life hasn’t caught up with me yet. I call myself Annemiek. I like to craft and like my childfree life with just my husband and Barry, our cat.

I don’t know whether switching several times a day, like I described above, is common in people with dissociative disorders. I don’t have a diagnosis of a dissociative disorder anymore, after all. To be honest, I don’t care. I have been told, when I write on this blog about my parts, that I’m obviously a really bad case of borderline personality disorder (BPD( trying to fake having dissociative identity disorder (DID). I don’t care. This is my experience and I don’t care what label best describes it.

This is not always how switching happens either. Usually, one of the functional adult parts is out in the body or “in front” about 80% of the time, though it depends which of the functional adult parts is. I didn’t describe either of the two current main fronters in this post.

It is also possible that multiple parts are out in the body at the same time. This can lead to what psychiatrists call identity confusion and also depersonalization and derealization, where you feel as though your body, mind or the world around you is unreal. The switchig I described above is called identity alteration. Then there is amnesia, which is a hallmark syptom of DID we don’t experience that often at all (so I don’t believe we actually have DID).

With this post, I didn’t mean to give you a thorough overview of dissociation. In fact, it was what randomly popped up in my mind when reading today’s prompt on The Daily Post, which is Suddenly. Like I said, I am not claiming that my experience is representative for those with dissociative disorders. It is just a tiny part of my experience, too.

Just One Thing

Last week, I started a journal-style blog to explore my inner world. As usual, I didn’t write in it much at all, so I’m resorting back to this blog. The reason I wanted another blog is because of the derogatory comments I’ve gotten here regarding my dissociation. No, I don’t have a diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder anymore and no, I don’t claim to be DID. I do however have insiders, parts, alters or however you’d like to call them. I don’t care what people think of this, or at least, I try not to care. To reclaim myself and my experience, here I’m sharing a post I wrote last week.

Manyofus1980 from Therapy Bits posed an interesting question: if the world could understand just one thing about your mental health diagnosis, what would it be? In the post title, the question is about your “mental illness” rather than your “diagosis”. This is important to my answer, as my short answer is: my diagnosis does not dictate my experience.

I have had countless diagnoses over the years, some of which I agreed with and some of which I disputed. I don’t even know what my current diagnosis is according to my community treatment team. According to the university hospital where I got a second opinion last spring, it’s autism spectrum disorder, recurrent moderate depression and borderline personality disorder traits. Of this, I doubt the depression, because my default mood is low. Then again, I do seem to remember feeling much lower than low in the months that I had my assessment at this hospital. The thing is, I can’t usually connect my feelings from the past to the present if they’re very different.

We didn’t really go into my trauma experience, as my assessment was primarily focused on autism. However, the university hospital psychologist did recommend I get EMDR treatment for the negative experiences I had in the process of moving towards independence. I have not had a trauma-based diagnosis since 2013 and that’s fine by me. I don’t need a diagnosis to justify my experience.

I am who I am. We are who we are. We don’t fit in a diagnostic box, because, well, we’re we.

Sometimes, we feel upset that we don’t get recognition from our treatment team (as far as we know) for our traumatic and post-traumatic experiences. I had a lot of difficulty answering my psychiatrist’s questions about this during my intake interview. I mean, most of the trauma we endured, didn’t leave visible wounds. I know that dissociation can be caused by attachment issues, sometimes even too mild to create PTSD. However, there is still a common belief that only prolonged sexual or ritual abuse can create alter parts. I try not to care. We are we are we, so deal with it.

"Use Your Words."

Last Friday, Neurodivergetn K wrote a post on the phrase “Use your words.”. I only read it today and, partly because I got triggered by this post, I am going to blow off some steam about this phrase. A lot may seem like a repetition of what Neurodivergent already said, but well, there can’t be too many autistics speaking up against NTs putting their own arbitrary standards of normalcy ahead of our needs.

As readers who’re familiar with me and my blog will know, I reside in a psychiatric institution. Its aim is rehabilitation. I’ve been on a ward that had an even more open rehabilitation-focused vision at least on paper, but staff there were much more willing to bend the rehab paradigm a bit to accommodate me than the staff on this ward are. Note that rehabilitation has two meanings in psychiatry, one in which the client is as much in charge of their care as possible, and the other where the client is trained to become (or appear) as normal as possible. I’m talking about the second meaning here, as I have absolutely no problem with the first.

“Use your words.” As I wrote in a comment on Neurodivegent’s post, this phrase is often accompanied by “You’re intelligent” or “I know you can do it” or some variation on this theme. Let me address these follow-up phrases too.

“You’re intellignet.” And now what? Firstly intelligence is not the same as speaking ability. Second, what if I weren’t intelligent? Would I be cut some slack then, or would my needs just not matter as much? A variation on this theme which I’ve come to hate almost as much is “You’re an adult”. It has its own implications in light of my multiplicity, discounting part of me that actually isn’t an adult. If I act like a child, maybe it’s because at that particular point I am a child? I know the staff aren’t going to buy into that since they’ve thrown out my DID diagnosis, but it’s not like I’m any less or more multiple now that we call it BPD.

On a related note, telling me that my abilities are incongruent, isn’t going to help me. I know they are. I know I’m sometimes able to do things that I can’t do at other times. I know I’m able to do seemingly complex tasks but not simple ones sometimes. I know I can have quite spontaneous-looking, appropriate conversations sometimes and barely make any sense of my words at other times. Telling me this is not possible is denying the obvious. Telling me this is not appropriate is like telling a blind person to look harder because they can hear fine or telling a person who is night blind that they should be able to see in the dark because they could see fine during the day. (I know many night blind people are also partially sighted, but I’m simplifying the situatioon a bit.) It’s not like developmetal disabilities like autism are any less real than visual impairment just because they’re more difficult to understand and seemingly easier to overcome through behavior modification.

Let me talk about that now: behavior modification. I was going to write a separate post on that, and maybe I will write one more. Here’s the thing: telling me to “use my words” will most likely get me to pull out a script. You didn’t know I had them, clueless neurotypical who knows me just enough to see my non-autistic appearance but not well enough to truly listen? I may have somewhat more elaborate scritpts than the example Neurodivergent gave, but I do have them. This is why, when I’m interrupted or distracted while executing the script for telling the staff I’m distressed and need help, I often end up having a meltdown. And this script gets interrupted a lot of the time, oftentimes even by staff. They want exact explanations of what I want or need from them, even if they know pretty well what I need. I’ve sometimes gotten to ask for my PRN when that’s not what I needed just because it was the shortest script in that part of my brain I could access. Asking for some quiet time with a staff member, which is what mostly helps me, is a much harder script to execute. Please know: “Can I say something/ I’m distressed,” is not okay. It’s got to be: “Can I please speak to you in a quiet place for a bit when you’ve got the time? I’m distressed.” Sometimes I think it’s NTs who are literal-minded.

People Aren’t Broken

After being told she’d be officially diagnosed as autistic, Autisticook wrote a post titled I’m Not Broken. I commented on this post, but wanted to expand on and generalize this a bit more.

I remember when in DID meetings, there were people who didn’t want to have DID, and people who felt the DID diagnosis somehow validated them. I fell into the latter category and was often told I wanted DID too badly. The people who felt their diagnosis was validating, often said it made them not be crazy. “I’m not broken, I was traumatized,” one person said, incidentally in the meeting in which I was kicked out for allegedly having imaginary DID.

In my journeys as an autistic, I learned a lot of what Autisticook describes: autistic isn’t broken. In my brief travels through the natural multiplicity community, I learned the same of multiplicity. Then I heard dissociators say they aren’t broken but traumatized, almost as if their perps are responsible for every single thing in the dissocitors’ lives that is remotely “broken”, and I cringe.

I don’t care who or what made you the way you are. People aren’t intrinsically broken, and using neurology or abuse history or whatever as a reason for not being broken, only makes other people, who don’t share this same attribute, look broken. Like, are people broken if their behavior can’t be directly linked to trauma or neurology? I’d say they arent’. Their behavior may be unacceptable, but so may the behavior exhibited by autistics or trauma survivors.

I am not saying you can’t use your neurology or experience as part of your identity. I do this all the time. What I am saying is that a diagnosis is at once no excuse for unacceptable behavior, and unacceptable behavior doesn’t make you broken regarldless of your diagnosis or lack thereof.

Requirements for the Proper Multiple

Tonight, I was talking on the phone to the organizer of the DID support group I was a member of for two years until I got kicked out for presumably not having DID last May. She guessed my diagnosis correctly, but went on to assume I’d imagined my DID. Well, I’m going to be completely honest here: I have indeed internalized some symptoms that I didn’t have before my diagnosis, like the amnesia, but I had known for almost ten years that I had parts when I was diagnosed. Did I imagine the splits when I was fifteen-years-old because I wanted to be crazy, while I’d never heard of DID back then? Well, I don’t think so. Of course, whether these emotional states are truly dissociative or not, depends on your perspective. The organizer got to saying incorrectly that BPD and DID have nothing in common. In reality, many people believe DID is BPD with more flair.

The organizer got talking of me quoting books on the furums. Well, that doesn’t say anything, does it? Just because I listed the criteria of BPD yesterday, doesn’t mean I don’t have BPD, right? Apparently, if you want to be authetnic, you’re going to have to have made up your own symptom list without any influence from literature. I wonder how this person, who studied psychology at university, did this. Apparently, people who’ve studied mental disorders in college cannot be diagnosed with a mental disorder themselves.

To air off a bit of steam in a healthy way, I’m going to repost and expand on the list of requirements for the proper DID’er that I compiled after being kicked out of the support group.

  1. You can’t use jargon like “co-conscious”, “inner self helper”, etc. if you’ve not had your diagnoisis forever. This is not supposed to be familiar language to a person just diagnosed.
  2. Even if you know you’ve got parts because you’ve established a fair amount of communication, you can’t walk into your therapist’s office saying you experience parts in yourself. In fact, you cannot have obvious dissociative symptoms. According to what I’ve been told, saying things happen to you but not quite to you, is not appropriate either (which is what I really came into therapy with).
  3. You must’ve gotten into therapy with seemingly irrelevant symptoms like depression, self-harm, etc. Then it’s the therapist’s duty to figure out you’re multiple, but they can’t just straight out ask if you experience parts in yourself. On occasion, they can, but you must be completely clueless to the fact that it’s not normal.
  4. You must have some doubts about your diagnosis, and you must fear that it’s all real. If you fear you’re fake, you’re obviously already a faker.
  5. You must not switch too openly or demand switches be acknowledged, cause DID is something that’s supposed to be hidden. Keeping the dissociation hidden must be an end in itself. Note that you won’t get a diagnosis of DID if the diagnostician hasn’t seen you switch.
  6. You must want to integrate.
  7. You cannot have littles who write properly. You also cannot have littles who write improperly but on the right subforum, cause how are they supposed to know where to write? However, you can’t have alterrs write on the main forum either. Why else would there be specific forums for alters?
  8. You must recognize just enough of what other DID’ers, who obviously all are not fake, say they experience, but not too much. You must be able to articulate your experiences in your own words, and others determine whether you use your own words.
  9. You must have time loss, but how you’re supposed to know you have time loss, is unclear. You can’t just say you lose time when others come out, cause how do you know? You cannot say you don’t remember something when asked, because then obviously you could pretend you forgot. I don’t know how a therapist is supposed to realize you lose time if they cannot ask, especially given that implicit memory is often intact in DID, so DID’ers act like they do remember what other identities did.
  10. In meetings, you must present as the host (with the birth name) at all times. You must be oriented to the present if you want to participate in meetings. On the other hand, you cannot actually be the person with the birth name, cause that person must’ve gone to sleep, been gone at an early age or be totally unaware of any others. How are you supposed to come to a DID meeting if you are clueless about other personalities?
  11. You must have survived horrific abuse, but in this partiuclar group, you cannot talk about it in meetings. You need to drop the occasional SRA reference to make clear that you are an authetnic survivor.
  12. You must validate others’ every experience, but you cannot say you can relate.
In short, you’re required to have just enough in common with other people in the group to be able to benefit from shared experience, but you cannot recognize too much or it’d be seen as imitating.