Many members on our forums have asked, over the years, what it is like to be D.I.D. The following personal account is an attempt to answer that question – to help other members here at CS, and the ‘significant others’ of survivors with D.I.D., to begin to understand what their loved ones are experiencing. The article has been written (anonymously) by a member who has recently discovered that they are D.I.D.
When I first became aware that there were others inside of me, I thought maybe I was losing my mind. ‘Hearing voices’ in my head was not exactly something I wanted to admit to – especially when considering the association of such ‘symptoms’ with any number of mental illnesses!
I tried ignoring them. I thought I must be just imagining them or something… perhaps I just had an overactive imagination, and maybe if I ignored them they would go away. But, as time went on, it became harder and harder to do so. The voices were not going away.
I became increasingly worried about my sanity. I would hear someone inside singing a nursery rhyme over and over again, as if they were desperately trying to not hear something. Other times, I could pick out the sound of a small child’s continuous crying. It was frightening. Then there would be a very hostile, angry voice shouting insults, cursing and swearing (which was really uncomfortable for me because I didn’t swear).
Some of the voices started saying things – apparently to me. That scared me. It was easier to pretend that the voices weren’t real when they weren’t talking directly to me … but these voices weren’t just talking to me … they were inside me also! Again, I tried ignoring them, but doing so didn’t take away the panic I was feeling. Nor did it make it stop.
Not only was I ‘hearing voices’, but I was frequently ‘losing time’ – often several hours at a time. I was unable to recall what I had been doing during that time, or explain to my friends why I had no recollection of certain conversations. It is a frightening experience … and it added to my fear that I must be losing my mind.
This had happened a lot prior to my hearing voices inside, and I had learnt to improvise so as to not let on that I hadn’t been around etc. It was something that concerned me, but I had never told anyone about it for fear of being locked away. I just tried convincing myself that maybe I was a bit ‘slow’ or something, or that I had ‘zoned out’.
Other things started happening too, such as constantly losing everyday things and then finding them in the most unusual places – with no idea how they got there; or finding myself in strange places (like hiding behind the sofa or in the cupboard under the stairs) – but with no explanation of how or when I’d got there… or why.
I have known about the existence of DID for a number of years and have gradually developed a basic understanding of it. Being on a forum like CS makes it hard to avoid. I had spent time interacting with the insiders of some of the members, and had some experience in how to do so … But I quickly discovered that it’s one thing relating to DID from an ‘outside’ perspective … & entirely another when it becomes something directly associated with you personally.
When I realized what could be happening to me, I wouldn’t accept it and tried to find alternative explanations, and desperately tried to block it out. Eventually I realised that if this was DID and I continued ignoring the people inside, I could damage them further. I began to struggle with guilt and fear relating to the possible consequences of my denial. I was faced with what felt like an impossible dilemma: to allow myself to admit that I was experiencing these things and try to do something about it; or continue ignoring it and risk further damaging those inside.
I decided to try communicating with the internal voices. It was a long shot, and I was scared that I was even considering this option. Making that decision added to the already massive fear that I was going insane, but I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have much to lose in trying – if I was losing my mind, I was already well past the point of no return.
As the months went by, I began talking to the voices. They started responding. The first few times it happened, I panicked and freaked out, not knowing what to think. I quickly realised however, that if these voices belonged to child alters, I needed to keep at it. If I stopped, I risked damaging them and making a future relationship with them problematic.
I didn’t know what to do. I felt alone and isolated in this world in my mind. I was frightened and desperately wanted some help and reassurance, but the fear of being written off as crazy was bigger. I told no one. Nothing made any sense.
Things began triggering me in big ways that hadn’t before, but I had no idea why. I was having frequent flashbacks and nightmares of things that made no sense and I was terrified. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I started missing appointments with my counsellor on a regular basis without having any intention to do so.
I still didn’t tell anyone what was happening. I couldn’t even tell my best friend – the person I trusted most in the world. Part of me still desperately wanted to block it all out, and I knew that telling someone could make that option much more difficult. The other part of me was terrified and alone, and desperate for someone to help me.
Then one day, during a counseling session, my counselor asked me if I knew about DID. She suggested that her observations of me over the previous 2 and a half years were causing her to wonder if I was DID – and that it was now the conclusion to which she had come. I hadn’t told her what had been happening to me, and she totally took me by surprise. I panicked and didn’t know what to think. I still could not tell her what was happening. I was frightened to admit it, even to her.
I carried on in this outward state of denial for another six months. It became increasingly difficult to handle and carry alone, until I couldn’t do so anymore. I decided to tell my closest friend what my counsellor had told me. I was frightened that she would think it ridiculous or worse, that I was imagining it or making it all up.
We spent the next few weeks considering it, trying to piece things together to try to decide whether or not it was viable. We looked at alternative explanations to see if it was more likely to be something else. Eventually one of my child alters came out and introduced herself to my friend. When my friend told me what had happened it totally freaked me out. Now I didn’t have the option of keeping it all to myself. I wasn’t in control.
In a way it was a relief to have it out there in the open, but in every other way it was a nightmare. My life felt like it was falling apart. I didn’t know who I was anymore. Until that point, as far as I knew, none of my insiders had come out ‘as themselves’ and introduced themselves as someone other than me. I felt as though everything was spinning out of control. Things became more and more chaotic, inside and out.
As myself and my friend spent time getting to know the 2 insiders who I had been conversing with inside, we found more and more that these were very distinct, and whole personalities … people who were filled with the pain and grief of abuse. It became impossible to see this as anything but DID. I started seeing a therapist who is now working alongside both me and my insiders – helping us to adjust to such a different way of living.
Coming to terms with what was going on took a lot of time – and battling with denial and confusion was a major hurdle. I am still in the process of learning to live with DID and it certainly is not an easy thing to face. Sometimes it still feels like an impossible adjustment!
I am though, very blessed to have a close friend who has chosen to walk this journey with me! Having such continuous support and acceptance makes a huge difference. I don’t think I could do it alone.