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Finding Strength in Multiplicity: Dissociative Identity Disorder

Rebecca Hilliard

Guest Blogger


Before being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), I had only a vague understanding of it, having heard about it in passing but always regarding it as a mysterious and seldom-discussed phenomenon. Even with a friend who had DID, the subject remained largely unspoken, shrouded in shame and stigma. When I received my diagnosis, I initially struggled with denial, reluctant to accept the reality of having multiple personalities within one body. The concept of alters and trauma seemed incomprehensible and unsettling. However, through months of discussions with my therapist and conducting personal research, I gradually gained insight, leading to a profound understanding that brought clarity to my past experiences and behaviors.


Breaking the Silence: Shedding Light on DID

DID is often accompanied by shame, stigma, and misconceptions, prompting me to share my own experiences to shed light on its reality. It typically arises in children enduring severe, ongoing trauma, with their developing brains fragmenting to create alternate personalities, or alters, to contain the trauma. For instance, during instances of abuse in my childhood, dissociation allowed an alter to emerge, bearing the trauma while I remained shielded within. These alters coexist within my body, with some systems comprising thousands of alters, each forming in response to various traumas. The development of alters varies widely among individuals, with no strict guidelines governing their formation.


Embracing Revelation: Unveiling Alters and Coping Mechanisms

My DID diagnosis came at 28, unbeknownst to me due to my alters adeptly concealing themselves. It was only when they felt safe enough to reveal themselves that I became aware of their presence. The initial years post-disclosure were tumultuous, as suppressed trauma resurfaced, and each alter vied for control. Over the past six years, we've learned to function cohesively, fostering communication, compromise, and shared time inhabiting our body. Most of my alters are children, remnants of traumatic experiences, necessitating therapeutic efforts to ground them in the present and alleviate their distress.


Challenging Misconceptions: Dispelling Myths Surrounding DID

Contrary to media portrayals, individuals with DID are not inherently dangerous; rather, DID develops as a survival mechanism against trauma. My focus remains on self-protection, not harm toward others, even after the trauma has ceased.


Reframing Perspectives: DID as a Survival Strategy

I prefer not to view DID as a disorder but rather as a coping mechanism born from trauma, with the real issues lying in the trauma and resulting PTSD. My alters played a crucial role in my survival, and I cherish their presence, grateful for their companionship and support. While living with DID can be isolating, resources like the WhiteFlag app, online communities, and DID-informed therapy offer invaluable support. You're not alone in this journey. Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram at @inthistogethernow_.


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