You say you dearly love someone who has Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Here are ten actions to avoid.
I base this information on my experience of DID and the problems I have met in my attempts to have friendships with other people.
This list may not apply to everyone with DID.
1. Do not condescend. Condescension is not love and I notice it in a flash. One of the best lines I have ever heard sums this up humorously: I’m mental, not stupid.
2. If you know what the triggers are, don’t mess with them. Your friend’s mind is not a toy or a private freak show.
3. If your friend is triggered and tells you that he needs a time out; don’t take it personally. I call a time out when I feel overwhelmed and confused. It is my way of protecting my friendships. Don’t take it personally and don’t insist on making contact.
4. Respect the alternates and expect them to emerge. It comes with the territory.
5. Do not act in ways that foster the split. The worst thing you can do to someone with DID is play favorites. There is only one person. You have no right to use someone’s illness for emotional or sexual satisfaction.
6. Do not foster dependency. Your friend must learn to stand on his own. Be there if he falls, but encourage independence.
7. The child alters are sweet, but your friend is not a child. Do not buy toys for a child alter. This fosters the split and is counter therapeutic. Appealing to the dissociative child when you know it is wrong is abusive.
8. If you are honestly baffled by his behavior or feel threatened, call his psychiatrist. If his psychiatrist doesn’t have permission to talk with you, he can still listen. If you had a friend in the middle of a heart attack, would you leave in a huff? If a person with DID is suddenly destabilized and potentially harmful to himself and others call his doctor.
9. Expect your friend to have rigid boundaries and respect them. He may not know how to set his boundaries differently and he may react badly to actions that feel intrusive to him but seem natural to you. NEVER enter his space without an invitation.
10. Don’t expect a friend who is in psychotherapy for Dissociative Identity Disorder to ‘be there for you.” Expect him to do his best but therapy is difficult, painful and requires emotional energy. Make sure that you have other friends and other outlets for your own emotional needs.
One last comment:
If you are playing games with his illness and behaving in ways designed to worsen his symptoms, expect him to ban you from his life. This means that he’s getting better.
Consider going into therapy to explore why you need an emotionally dependent cripple as a best friend.