Every month I go to a drop-in peer support group for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). I started going in September, after I was discharged from a hospitalization that was three days of hell. I was desperate to figure out how to work within this system of ours and I thought that talking to other people who were dealing with the same issues might be a good resource. My first meeting was terrifying. I didn’t know what I was going to walk into and I had lots of pretty scary ideas. I wasn’t wrong, but I wasn’t right, either. In the last six months I’ve met many people with DID who are as varied as humanity itself.
This particular group tends to be mostly females, but there are certainly males that attend. I’ve met people that are on full disability, barely able to string sentences together, struggling to survive each day. I’ve also met lawyers, doctors, professors, therapists, artists, students, etc. who have lives that are far more stable than many “singlets” I know. There are Black, White, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern members. There are people who identify as gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, asexual, and everything in between. Some are teenagers, others are well past retirement age. Some of us are married, others are single. Some have kids, others don’t. There are able-bodied individuals and people that use a variety of different assistive devices.
Among each of us there is also tremendous variability in how our DID presents itself. Some individuals have almost full integration. Others won’t even say the dreaded “i-word”. Some have complete amnesia between the most commonly presenting part (the “host”) and other parts. Some have full co-consciousness and cooperation among parts. Some were diagnosed 20 or 30+ years ago, when it was still called “Multiple Personality Disorder”. Others, like me, are brand new to their diagnosis and trying to navigate all that comes with it. Some are going to therapy three or four times a week, traveling long distances and spending tremendous money to manage their symptoms. Others have run their course in treatment and feel they no longer need therapy. And still others, sadly, don’t have access to the resources to get the help they desperately want and need.