There are many things that I—a person living with Dissociative Identity Disorder—find difficult. Some of the complications are as a direct result of my condition whilst others are a direct result of my past and my own self-
When those scars were created, I truly believed I couldn’t live with the knowledge I had been abused, with the pain of the flashbacks and memories and the over-
The same awkwardness can happen when I lose time. Personally, I get frustrated with myself and it is something I really hate doing. Worse than losing time is the general lack of understanding or patience that follows—I cannot help the fact I lose time or say the same thing repeatedly. Losing time is beyond my control but it also puts me and my alters beyond the norm—and as such, we are open to criticism and judgement.
Being open and honest with people about losing time has led to some having a greater understanding, but this is a two way process and I have found some people can accept the fact I have DID, whilst others find it too baffling. Even those close to me find it frustrating on occasion, especially when I repeat myself for the fifth time. It is not easy for them to hide their exasperation. When I lose time close family and friends often notice me struggling and will usually give me a brief summary of recent events, in the hope that I can rejoin a conversation or activity. To the people around me I look perplexed, confused and at times frightened; like a rabbit trapped in the headlights of a car. To someone with no knowledge of DID these signs may not be recognised or would not be attributed to a loss of time, but to more commonly known conditions.
When I was an in-
Yet, sadly, medical people judged me too. Some still do. On more than one occasion, I was asked to undergo a breath test. I had not been drinking. In fact, I had been on an Alpha course, which they had given me permission to attend. But it often overran and so they assumed I must have been drinking or doing something I shouldn’t. It irritated me to be treated in such a demeaning way: undergoing breath tests, drugs tests, searches…All I had done was attend a local group, yet I knew complying with my jailers was the only answer. I say jailers because they held the keys to the air lock and they dictated when, or if, I could go out—even though I was a voluntary patient.
I am sure that I am not alone in feeling judged or labelled. We are, after all, a society fixated on labels and psychiatry is full of them. We do not seem to treat causes, just a set of symptoms. We treat people as objects rather than human beings with feelings and emotions: can this be right? Recently I spoke about this with a psychologist, as we discussed how I felt labelled by the mental health system. I recounted how in hospital I had expressed my frustration at not being allowed to get a hot drink when I wanted one. This had been deemed as trouble making and my subsequent actions as attention seeking. I was relieved that the psychologist seemed to understand why I had done what I had during my time in hospital. His response allowed me for first time not to feel judged by the medical profession. Instead my frustrations were validated. If a patient acts out in a psychiatric unit, staff see them as aggressive or troublesome rather than someone who is distressed and trying to demonstrate their feelings and frustrations. Looking back I can see that if they had offered to help me understand and explore why I had reacted that way, instead of labelling me, judging me and drugging me, it would have been far more beneficial to me, my alters and to the team.
Today, although I am no longer a patient, I still find at times that I feel judged. It may be the case that I am over-
Yes, it is chaotic at times and, yes, some days are better than others. Life for me and my alters is never easy but I am not asking people to give me special treatment. Everyone has heartaches or weaknesses that leave them vulnerable to judgement; I just wish people would treat us as they would want to be treated. Recently a neighbour and friend who has known me for just over a year invited me over for coffee and the issue of my having DID arose. They had noticed that I use pluralistic terms, for example ‘we’ instead of ‘I’, and this baffled them. So did the fact I would seem to lose track of conversations or forget things frequently. The opportunity to talk in a non-
You can find the original article and more from Carol Broad at http://diddispatches.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/feeling-