Updated: Jan 8, 2021
For people who struggle to read white on black, check out the article on Medium instead.
You know that old mathematical formula? This one:
If you know it and complete it well, no matter how complex, you get the right answer.
On the other hand, there’s this new one the kids are using these days:
You get the right answer with that one, too.
If you use the first formula in a modern mathematics class, you are wrong, even if you got the right answer.
That’s what it’s like having, healing from and living with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Here are some DID basics:
Childhood trauma. Brain dissociates and splits into multiple parts or personality states. Walls go up between the parts creating amnesia and often, distinction between the parts. Parts develop as their own identities or sense of self, often with their own vivid inner memories/lives, especially if they’re introjects.
Introject: A part, or “alter” who was influenced by and ended up based on a person in the child’s life, be they real or fictional.
Question: Are parts separate people?
Technically no, they say each part is all part of one whole person, no matter how distinct the individual parts, no matter the lived experiences of the parts, and no matter what works for the parts.
The only way to heal is to process all the shared trauma and admit you’re all one person, then fuse to become that one person. Or, you do all of that except the fusing, but remember kids, ya gotta admit you’re all one person no matter what your lived experiences dictate, be it inside your head or out in the world that other people see.
Here’s the deal.
We were diagnosed in 2006 but we lived openly as “multiple people live in this body” long before that. Didn’t know DID/MPD existed until diagnosis.
Since then, we continued to live openly but had a name for it, and an explanation that made sense.
We have experienced life as different people. Different members of the system have lived different lives, around different people, doing different things. We are overt and florid, and are part of 6% of systems(1, 2)* for whom the DID is impossible to hide, always obvious.
*we had a better source a few months ago but an hour of searching our bookmarks and Google yielded no result, the damn thing’s lost.
Recently the DID youngins online have started standing up against the harmful rhetoric from some systems of “FUSION BAD, FUSION MURDER, GRRR U R KILLNG PEOPLE.”
In speaking out truthfully against that claim, they’re speaking a very true point: for MOST, but they say all, systems, alters and parts. Parts who are, in the end, parts of one individual. Parts who are one person, technically, in the medical sense.
They constantly hammer down the fact that to heal you have to accept that parts are all one person, and yada yada, you heal.
We’ve been functionally multiple, integrated minds, seamless communication and recognized shared trauma for years.
We do NOT subscribe to the “you’re all parts, and parts of one person/core” newsletter.
That was never our experience.
We developed separately, we lived separately and continue to live separately. We do not lose time unless an EP is having a hard evening, which happens rarely. We do not have amnesia unless we CHOOSE to, to maintain a more separate way of living.
We are all whole on our own. Any one of us could take over the body for good, without fusing, and live a solo life. We’ve done it before. We could do it again. But that solo life was not the life of the body, it was the life of THAT system member.
Note: we were all formed from various media sources as fictives originally, but developed far beyond our sources. We still identify with our original sources, and the lives we’ve crafted for ourselves vaguely relate to our sources. For example, a doctor studied medicine for a time, ghost hunter became host when we were working in paranormal investigation, character/actor combo source led a theatre company for a few years, etc.
Our entire life was crafted based on inner world experiences. We model our house on the inner world dwellings. Events that happen in the outer world also happen in the inner world, in real time but slightly tweaked to fit.
Almost every piece of money-making work we do is based on inner world/alter source stuff. (Acting, writing, art, etc.) And it’s glorious. Being separate people inside and out shaped our lives out here, what we do, the types of people we interact with separately and occasionally a few of us together.
The few times something has gone wrong and a new alter forced us to pretend to be one, forced us out of separation, or outer life went into ruin. Extreme illness. Poverty. Worst OCD symptoms constantly causing physical damage.
All we knew was separateness. All we know is separateness. All we have ever lived is separateness, and we HEALED by being separate.
We embraced a shared past — which lasted about 6 years before we were forced apart — and we embrace our ability to rapidly communicate if the outer world demands it.
We live fine as fully separate. We thrive this way. We could never be one, we have never been one, and the very nature of our development and the reasons behind it have proven we have never been and could be one.
We are aware this is not typical and it goes against the very nature of the disorder’s formation — but formation and technicalities mean nothing in the face of just over three decades of our separateness and experiences in living this way.
It irritates the hell out of me, and those of us who allow DID to be an active part of our inner and outer double lives, when people say that embracing all parts as part of one person/whole — be it through fusion or just a part of your functional multiplicity journey — is the only way you can heal. We are living proof of the opposite.
We healed. We integrated. But we did it “wrong.”
We are an integrated system. We’re separate beings sharing a body, separate entities and streams of consciousness, separate lives and separate … everything.
The only difference between us and any other group of people is that we can hear each others’ thoughts and see what we’re all doing.
Let me give you a for instance. (Reference, anyone?)
Right now, I’m controlling the body and writing this, while watching my friend’s livestream and holding the body as if a toddler is seated on my lap out here. Inside, in the inner world, I’m taking typing tests, watching my friend’s stream, with a toddler on my lap.
Dean is excited about a TV show he’s chosen to rewatch. He’s cuddling with his family, it’s a Sunday afternoon for him although it’s nearing 8pm for me. They’re watching Die Hard. I don’t know why. None of us have ever seen Die Hard; I assume he’s planning to watch it out here. He’s on a TV-show and movie track right now.
I can see him vividly from behind, I can see Alan Rickman and a building on the screen but it’s static while Dean and his family move, laugh and drink.
Tess, a fragment, is blank. I get a blank, empty space from him with a sensation of floating, and flashes of his TV source, young and older.
On the other hand, Sanna, another fragment, is singing Back to Black and what I see from her is a lake. She’s been a lake for a while now.
Rory, another fragment, is more vivid. She’s writing — writing nothing — on a train that looks suspiciously like the Hogwarts Express but with tables. Her sole thought is “pregnant.” Her jumper/sweater looks like one my friend owns that I like.
Harry is nursing a one-year-old in a large rocker. His hand hurts; he doesn’t like holding the bottle. He’s humming a song by an odd band I’d rather not name.
Closer to home, Jake is listening to Elton John and I hear it as vividly in his mind as if I were listening to it too.
“John” whose fake name I dislike so much I must quote it, is not worried about an undertaking for tomorrow but if he keeps thinking about it, I can feel he’ll start to worry. He’s highly amused by an outer world event that also exists on the inside; out of all the thousands of people in the world, he had to be shortlisted with an editor he once worked with!
Yes. I can hear their minds and see what they’re doing in their respective lives and streams of consciousness. In no way can I become them, although I could probably switch if I tried. It would be with Dean or “John,” and if Dean were to switch with me I just heard his thought, “not without Jodie and a YouTube binge.” We all have our tasks in the outer world, I guess.
Aha! My phone has just told me about another friend’s livestream. “John” has crept in co-conscious but not yet co-fronting. Noble is listening in, although she was brainstorming ideas for a TV show she’s writing inner-world prior to the notification.
We are not losing time or experiencing switching headaches or brain fog. That rarely happens, usually happens on camera, and recently occurred in the street on the way to Aldi when Dean decided he didn’t have the energy to front the whole trip.
We are together, but we are separate.
We have no DID symptoms besides the fact that we’re separated people who share a body.
A handful of us experience PTSD symptoms from inner and, worse, outer trauma memories but it’s a minor part of our day to day lives.
We are no longer disordered, we are functionally multiple.
But since we’re separate, and we refuse to lie and say we’re one person, parts of a whole … we’re wrong.
We work, but we’re wrong. We’re mentally healthy, but we’re wrong. We’ve been dealing with this for decades, we once considered fusion and it was literally impossible due to the nature of our development … but we’re still wrong, in the eyes of the wider DID community of the afflicted and the books written by professionals alike.
We CANNOT be the only system that has healed and thrived by embracing separation over unity/acknowledgement of unity; we have found one other this way, and that was by posting in a forum, explaining our situation after reading something frustrating, and asking if anyone shared our experience.