The last few posts and this one as well, are parts of a letter I wrote to a friend who recently found out I have DID. I haven't told anyone apart from my husband and one close friend, but I was out with my one close friend and another friend who didn't know about it. Out of the blue she just announced that she finds multiple personality disorder fascinating and would love to meet someone with it. My friend didn't know where to look while I tried to explain that it's often not as dramatic as the media portrays it and that you might not know if you did meet someone with it. I didn't really do a good job of explaining it and was getting all a fluster and ended up telling her I have it. She was, of course, surprised but seemingly very interested and asked loads of questions, which I tried to answer but didn't do very well at!
So I got to thinking that I would send her some information on DID and then it kind of became an essay on DID from my perspective. So, I thought I'd put it in my blog too... for your benefit I've put it into bitesized chunks (my friend did not have the same pleasure).
This time, I am going to share some reflections on 'alters' and some of what I know about alters in my life....
I know I have parts that take control. Some people with DID, don't know that they have alters as there can be a separatedness of memories between the various parts. I am often aware of what 'parts' are in control as usually when a part takes over; I am still there inside me but in more of an observer role.
So I feel I am looking out through my eyes but it's not me that is controlling my body. For instance, recently I was having a conversation with someone I met at work. I could hear the conversation as though it was in the background but I wasn't connected with it at all. That was because a different part of me was out then. That was an alter I tend to call 'function'.
Recently I found myself going downstairs during the night. Again, I was aware of myself and what I was doing, but in more of an observatory role. I found myself jumping about the kitchen and doing silly whirls like a child and I thought: "that's odd!".
Sometimes, it would seem, I am not conscious of parts that take over. I struggle to believe this to be true but the evidence speaks for itself when I can't remember having done things that I can see I have done.
My ‘alters’ can be present without taking control of my person. I may be talking as a normal person but feel the presence of another alter with me and hear them commenting. I can also communicate with them if they are present as well. They are not always in my consciousness though.
The more I am becoming aware of my alters, the more I am learning to cope with them. It's almost like a family relationship. You get to know each person and learn what they like and dislike and you may find different people have different roles.
I didn't used to know anyone was there and just felt there was a lot of confusing stuff about me that made me just 'crazy' without explanation. Finding out that there is an explanation for everything and that there are other people like me was a huge revelation (a process of realisation) and in some ways is a huge relief as well (especially because D.I.D is treatable).
Now I am becoming more aware and am also better able to use my parts for my own benefit (you can ask me about this if you want examples). I really hated having alters and hated that I wasn't in control of myself all the time. I am learning now to be more compassionate as I realise that some of the alters I have been so hard on have actually gone through a lot to save me the pain of having to deal with things. Sometimes though it's still a real pain in the bum, especially if alters get into conflict with one another and start fighting in my head or when they cause problems in my everyday life.
Even so, at least now I know enough to be able to realise that if I wake up one day and am finding doing the simplest tasks extremely difficult and feeling like there's a whirlwind in my brain, it's because something is going on internally. I can then either just take it easy and warn David to be careful around me, or I can try to communicate with my parts in order to find out what the problem is or just to give some reassurance. Before I knew about D.I.D I might have just gotten extremely frustrated with myself or I might have tried to find a reason why I was feeling bad and then create issues that actually weren't the real problem. I don't know if that makes sense.
People with D.I.D can think of themselves in the plural. It is normal for me to refer to myself as ‘we’ when I am communicating with my alters. Obviously, I tend to use the ‘I’ with other people as it saves confusion but I tend to find it easier to explain things using ‘we’ because to me, my parts are different people, each with their own viewpoints and preferences.
Some people have names for their various alters. Some of my alters have nicknames but generally they all want to be 'Candycan' lol. I am still learning about who is who inside my head and I don't know for sure how many alters I have but there are several.
It's not likely my friends will meet many of my alters (there are a few that they probably have seen but are so subtle actually that you may not even notice much of a difference in me) but you may notice flashes of an alter if you're really observant (unfortunately the angry one and a child part can sometimes pop out) but I try really hard to control them.