Hi, my name is Nicholas, and I live with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).
DID is a severe form of dissociation. Dissociation is a mental process by which your mind creates a lack of connection between your thoughts, emotions, actions and sense of identity. You don’t feel as though you are present within your own body leading to many gaps in memory and other difficulties.
Often multiple personalities (or alters) are formed, al living within one body. However each alter can fully take over at any time. It’s thought to be a result of repeated traumatic incidents, memories or emotions, especially in childhood, which are too painful for the mind to process, and so the different personalities or alters within the one mind are formed subconsciously to cope with those experiences.
For me, DID is not just about having different personalities, or alter egos who fight for your affections on a constant basis, or being cool or edgy.
A day in my life involves blackouts; complete amnesia about events that another alter was present for.
It involves identity confusion to the point that looking in a mirror can be stressful because you cannot recognise the person staring back at you.
It’s having thoughts and feelings that are not your own, but someone else’s.
Feeling crowded in an empty room, unable to think because the noise in your head from the alters are deafening.
It’s being triggered by something and not knowing why. Was it a reminder of the abuse you suffered, or just a phobia from another alter? Will you ever know?
Then there are flashbacks and panic attacks, which can happen at anytime and often for no apparent reason.
It’s needing a calendar just to try and adhere to a schedule.
It’s having a journal because you’re not the only one in your body that is suffering.
It’s about therapy, often intense, just to try and figure out what happened to cause this, before even beginning to process it.
Life with DID is full of missed appointments, disappointed friends and family, broken relationships, money getting spent faster than you know how to earn it. All of this because I’m constantly sharing my life and body with other people whether they asked to exist or not.
Anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are just three disorders that commonly co-exist with DID.
Despite all of the challenges DID creates, I managed to find a therapist who helped me get on a more stable path in life, where my alters and I work together instead of against each other.
We’ve learnt how to properly manage money, how to schedule appointments, and stick to our schedule.
It’s not perfect and mistakes still happen, after all we are only human. More over, we’re a few humans living in one body.
However, I have found out through living with DID, that mental health is so often stigmatised, which often adds to the struggle. This happens especially when it comes to DID, due to it being a lesser-known mental health diagnosis.
Even to this day, despite having a professional diagnosis, people still question the validity of mental health disorders. Too often we’re trivialized as ‘dangerous’, ‘attention seeking’, or just to ‘get over it’. It’s not very often that we get an opportunity to speak the true reality of these disorders.
That’s why I wanted to reach out and share my story, in the hope that it’ll raise awareness of DID, and help decrease the stigma attached to it.
I don’t want my future to be controlled or made more difficult by the stigma attached to my diagnosis. I am not my diagnosis, I just have to live with it.
I have hopes and dreams for my future just like everyone else.
I would really like to see the purchase of my own house; a safe place for my alters and I to be ourselves, a place free of judgement, questions and awkward stares which becomes a daily occurrence.
I’d also like to find a romantic partner that is willing to look past all my perceived ‘flaws’ and love me for the person I am.
Above all else, the one thing I would like to see in my lifetime is the end of all stigmatisation of the mentally ill.
Often we’re simply kind, caring souls who have a lot more going on than meets the eye, who sometimes needs extra support because of it, but who doesn’t need a help in hand from time to time?
For more information about DID, or to find out how to access support, please use the links below:
MIND – a UK mental health charity
NHS – Nation Health Trust (UK)