In light of recent events and indeed subsequent comments and conversations, this evening I thought I would tackle a subject which is very difficult for me and one which is without doubt very complex and difficult to understand. That of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
But before I do I need to make it clear that I can only really approach this from a personal level as a sufferer and not in any way as any form of expert.
Likewise I need to make it very clear that in what I am about to share I must, if I am to stay true to my heart share graphic and disturbing imagery, albeit in words rather than pictures and so I really do ask tha you think very carefully before reading any further.
The above having been said, let me try to explain my understanding of this complex and potentially life shattering disorder in the only way I know how….
When The Golden Thread Snapped…
Twelve years old. Well as close to it as to make the difference insignificant, and there are things in life you just don’t see, just don’t know about. And why should you? You are young and are not such questions the usual reserve of the older and the wiser?
Like what makes you uniquely you? Ah yes the age old ever-elusive nature vs nurture question.
Is it your genes? Is it your personality? Your intelligence? Your knowledge? Is it the sum of all your experiences? All your memories perhaps? How you have learned and developed to the place where you now respond to things the way you do? Your family influences perhaps? Or those of your friends, peer-groups, authority figures, heroes?
Is it your hopes, fears, dreams, ambitions, securities and insecurities alike?
Or is it all of those things? All woven into one invisible golden thread like some strand of character-based of personality-based DNA to which you unknowingly and automatically cling to and follow and which inevitably helps you navigate your way through life?
But then how much notice, how much attention does a child pay to such considerations? And what happens when something so shocking, so abhorrent, so incredibly traumatic happens to that child?
When an older friend takes him overpower him and rapes him? What happens to that child then? When something so incredibly alien something unbelievable happens.
“Noooo! Don’t Do it!” His mind shouts in the muffled terror trapped behind the sweaty palm that both holds him down and gags his voice. “You can’t be! You wouldn’t!”
The struggle to break free from the overpowering horror in his mind mirrored only by the struggle of his smaller weaker body being desperately overpowered by the stronger older boy who wa once so loved, so valued, so trusted.
“Noooo! This can’t be happening!” His mind calls out as the silent traumatic horror floods his awareness overwhelming his ability to even process what is happening. “Not here! Not now! Not by you! Not to me!”
It is all too much for his young mind to handle. For any mind to handle really. In one sinister alcohol soaked, evil filled moment his world, his very reality has shattered.
In that short horror filled space of time he has been catapulted from the world he knew to a world he was never meant to know. A world where nothing makes sense and from where no way back seems possible.
And what of that invisible golden thread? That woven strand of character-based of personality-based DNA? Did it survive? Did it stretch such an incredible distance between the safe and secure world that was and the horrific evil-filled that is? Or did it snap?
Heck even if it had survived, somehow stretched across such a span, could the child of the world before this all happened even recognize, even know, even be able to face the irreparably damaged child of that world?
No there can be no connection, no thread, no association between them. Whether that golden thread had snapped or not it had to be seen as having snapped, had to be treated as if there was no way back, no connection, no association between them.
If the child of this world was ever to survive there must be no way that he would ever have to meet the child of that world ever again.
What you have just read is just one situation of many, many situations which can lead to Dissociative Identity Disorder.
It is, and I accept that my personal involvement adds to the severity of it, an extremely severe and disturbing incident and it is important that we remember that we all deal with things differently and what seems traumatic to one person may not seem as traumatic to another and vice versa.
It is important to remember this as things which we ourselves may easily cope with or even dismiss can just as easily cause great distress to others and thus may result in a similar condition.
Additionally whilst this is only one incident it does not mean it was the only incident and indeed we also have to bear in mind that sometimes those incidents can many, long and protracted.
As I said, the situation above, whilst I have for the sake of sensitivities tried to reduce its impact on you the reader, was horrific and caused the separation or dissociation that features as a key part of Dissociative Identity Disorder.
But of course, whilst that dissociation, that separation, may have been resultant, or put in placed or perceived, there is still a connection and in fact always will be – even when denied. And of course the child of that world is indisputably still part of the child of this world no matter how much the child of this way may try to convince himself otherwise.
Something which is often proven when circumstances – smells, sounds, situations, reminders, trigger that lost dissociated child to surface once more.
And of course just as much as the child of this world deserves, and so desperately needs to heal from what happened, so too does the child of that world so desperately need to heal and so fully deserve to also have that healing.
But ask yourself this, if you will, if you were to have experienced a trauma such as this would you willingly want to relive it or be reminded of it? Could you easily and readily re-unite with the child of that world or indeed that world itself?
A diagnostic part of Dissociative Identity Disorder is in fact that when the ‘child of that world’ (or the ‘other’, ‘other personality’, ‘alter’, or ‘little’ as they are often referred to) surfaces the ‘child of this world’ – even in its adult and now state – (ie you) refuses or cannot cope with associating with it or its world and thus completely separates. This often leads them to have no awareness or memory of what happened all the time that child or personality is surfaced or present.
And it is perhaps worth noting that this lack of awareness can also tragically lead to behaviours and circumstances where more situations arise and more dissociations occur.
But ironically it is that self-same separation – which had allowed the child of this world to survive – that will be the very thing that stops him from fully healing unless the two are reunited and able to face that which happened together and thus become one once more.
The fact is however that this is a long, hard and often painful process often requiring the facing and reliving of those situations in order to integrate the dissociated child once more and accommodate that healing.
Coping mechanisms along the way, both inside and outside of that healing process, are numerous and varied and indeed and this can often add to the confusion that surrounds this condition.
So there you have it. My personal experience, understanding and look at Dissociative Identity Disorder. I truly hope it has helped and I again apologise if my account was too graphic for anyone, I really did try to limit the graphic nature in presentation.
Other sufferers and indeed mental health practitioners and experts may have differing perspectives, experiences and understandings and if so I welcome their comments.
But what I do know is that there is hope and there is healing and that both are worth reaching for.