I live with Complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Both are difficult disorders to live with and make life very complicated for both myself and my family. Through psychyotherapy I have learnt strategies for learning how to cope with my complex ptsd.
The most difficult condition for me to manage at the moment is DID. With the help of my psychotherpist these are the methods we are implementing to try and manage my very difficult and dangerous alters.
Recognize the nature of my illness. I am a single, whole individual with different identities. Each separate identity (or “alter”) is my own, even if I feel that I have no control over them. Recognizing this basic fact will give me a sense of personal identity and help me learn how to manage my condition.
Identify the cause. DID is most common in women, and it is almost always connected to childhood trauma, often in the form of brutal and sustained abuse. As painful and difficult as the process might be, understanding the cause of my dissociation may help me to heal.
Accept that my alters are real, at least for the time being. Others may tell me that my alters don’t exist, that I created them myself. To a certain extent, this is true – they are aspects of my own personality, not independent people. However, if I am living with DID, these alters feel very real. For the time being, it may be best to acknowledge their apparent reality and learn to cope with their existence.
Expect to experience amnesia. Because I have DID, I may have two kinds of amnesia. First, I may have forgotten or blocked out painful or traumatic life experiences; recall that many people with Dissociative Identity Disorder had such experiences as children. Second, I may develop amnesia and a sense of “lost time” whenever one of my alters takes over my consciousness.
Know that you may experience fugue states. Because one of my alters may take over at any given time, I may find yourself away from home, unsure of where I am or how I got there. This is called a “dissociative fugue.”
Understand that depression is common in people with DID. Because I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, I may also experience symptoms of depression: disturbed sleep and appetite, persistent sadness, and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts.
Be aware that anxiety is also common in people with DID. Because I have Dissociative Identity Disorder, I may also experience symptoms of anxiety. I may notice that I feel very worried or panicked, sometimes without understanding why.
Look for other mental health symptoms. In addition to amnesia, fugue states, depression, and anxiety, I may notice other psychological symptoms: mood swings, for example, and a sense of numbness or detachment from reality.
Watch for auditory hallucinations. People with DID sometimes hear voices, which may cry, comment, criticize, or threaten. I may or may not understand, at first, that these voices are coming from inside my head.
Understanding all of the above helps me to understand and live with DID and realise I am not alone in my experiences.