top of page

Discovering my Dissociative Identity Disorder and learning to thrive with it!

June 1988. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I had been dealing with a great deal of stress and anxiety. I was a full-time student at the University, majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in Accounting. I worked part-time at a daycare center on campus after classes. And I also worked evenings at a local newspaper in my hometown, selling subscriptions to the local public. Of course, this was before the internet, so newspapers were still the primary news source.

I was running from myself, but at the time, I had no idea from what and why? I was running a marathon in my mind. My anxiety was sky-high. I went to the clinic on campus and discussed what was going on. The doctor prescribed me an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication. I began taking them sporadically, not as the label said, still wondering why it wasn’t helping. I was 22 years old and had no insight into medication and how it worked. I think that was the first prescription medication I had ever been on.

I had no insight into myself, and I just wanted to escape. I was confused about what that would even look like. My relationships with friends were volatile. And my relationship with my family of origin was non-existent. My family was the root of the problem. I had suffered from the abuse of my family for years, and I was terrified. I was terrified, but the question was, what was I so terrified of? I was constantly paranoid. Always questioning my safety.

I had moved onto campus in an apartment with good security, still unsure of my fear. But the apartment overall felt safe to me. A U-shaped complex with a locked gate and codes to enter the complex. As soon as I entered the gate and heard the close of the lock, I could relax. It had a massive pool in the courtyard, and I was invited to spend Saturdays and Sundays in a chair listening to tunes with my headphones. I never made it to the pool. I wanted to, but I never could relax enough to let myself enjoy it.

That evening my fear, paranoia, and anxiety were so high that I went into my apartment and locked myself in. I felt terrified. But of what? I asked myself over and over with no answer. I had no idea what I was so afraid of, and at the time, I just wanted to escape. I remembered the medication and felt desperate. I wanted to rest and end the pain that engulfed me. I opened the bottles and took the medication that had been prescribed to me. The problem was that I took all of it.

As fate would have it, the intercom sounded in the living room, but I didn’t answer. My friend came over to check on me and realized something was wrong. She saved my life by calling 911. I was admitted and released from the hospital after two weeks. At this point, I needed to decide what was next in my life. I

decided to go to a private hospital a state away. I felt like checking myself into a safe place that would give me a chance to figure out what I needed to do and how to stay safe.

I walked into this hospital alone to understand why I felt so desperate and scared. I needed a safe place to examine what was going on with me. It felt like a whirlwind as nurses and doctors asked a million questions. The biggest one was, “Why would you want to kill yourself?” I had no answer. I was utterly unable to answer any of the questions they had of me. I curled up in a fetal position on a small couch in the community room. I remained there for the rest of the day until one of the nurses led me to my room.

I had nothing that was mine beside a toothbrush and pajamas. Everything I had brought with me had been checked in, and I could not access it without a nurse present. So I crawled into bed, pulled the covers over my head, and cried. Crying was something I did a lot when I felt out of control. It was my only release of emotions.

The following day came fast as the light came through the windows of my room. I didn’t want to open my eyes. I didn’t want to get up. Getting up meant considering why I wanted to end my life. I honestly didn’t know why! Upon opening my eyes, I saw a stick drawing on the wall of my room. Right next to the desk, they were not very good. What kind of hospital would allow children to draw stick figures on the walls of adults’ rooms? It just didn’t make sense to me. What was going on in my room?

I went to the nurse's station to ask about these drawings. I was met with “it's time for breakfast” and was shuttled off to the cafeteria. I ate breakfast and continued to ask about the drawings but never got a direct answer about the stick figures. My days would be filled with therapy, group therapy sessions, and discussions with medical professionals. My doctor seemed brilliant and told me I didn’t need more medications. He said my anxiety and depression were based on trauma. Trauma, I questioned. What trauma?

I was given a friendly therapist I would see daily while I was inpatient. She listened to me. And when I complained about the drawings in my room, she would agree that it was bizarre that they were there. It became clear to me that I was unaware of things happening around me. Many things were not adding up even after being in a safe place. My therapist decided to do some things that would help me come to terms with what was truly happening with and to me.

She shared a video with me. A video that she had set up in my room in the night. I could see myself getting ready for bed and going to sleep. Then after a few moments, I can see myself getting out of the side of the bed. I would go to the desk, take markers, and draw with the markers on the wall. I realized that I was the one drawing the figures all this time. But how was this even possible? How was it possible for me to draw pictures on the walls and have no memory of them at all?

She explained that I had D.I.D. Dissociative Identity Disorder, known at the time as Multiple Personality Disorder. That inside of my brain were others. Others could come out without me even being aware of them. For me, it would just be missing time. But for other parts of me, they needed to express themselves. She explained that trauma before age five would result in a stuck personality. And that during my stay at the hospital, she had met and experienced numerous parts of self, as they are called.

In 1988, Multiple Personality Disorder was a controversial diagnosis. A few years later, it was changed to Dissociative Identity Disorder because it was a Dissociative Disorder. Movies and TV had given M.P.D. such a name for being a dangerously unstable diagnosis. After being diagnosed so many years ago, I have been very selective about whom I tell. I was afraid of what people would say. Such judgments came from people who had no understanding of trauma at all. It has taken me many years to come to terms with my parts of self. To accept my diagnosis and the truth of my past.

Acceptance was the key to dealing with my childhood. I had to accept that I learned to dissociate at such a young age and continued to do it if I felt trauma or anytime I felt I was in danger. It has only been in the past few years that I have come to terms with my disorder - that my D.I.D. allowed me to survive my trauma and has allowed me to be married for 35 years and have a family.

I needed to allow my trauma to affect my life and others positively. I have implemented the Kansas City Trauma and PTSD Support groups and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Trauma and PTSD support groups. In-person support groups are available to survivors of trauma. I created a Trauma and PTSD support group. An online social media platform for survivors of trauma and individuals with PTSD. I have become a spokesperson for Trauma Informed Care within the medical community. Informing nurses and doctors on how trauma affects a person. How they can help someone that has been affected by trauma. My trauma has allowed me to educate on Human Trafficking and the effect trauma has on trafficking victims/ survivors. It has also been instrumental in my advocacy with Mental Health Organizations as a peer support specialist and the peer influence on others dealing with Mental Health Challenges.

It is so important to ask a survivor:

‘It isn’t about what is wrong with you; it’s about what happened to you!’

258 views0 comments


bottom of page