What is life like for someone who lives with and loves a man who is symptomatic with severe Dissociative Identity Disorder? (ICD 9 code 300.14, 300.15)?
My partner and I had a frank conversation about the stress of living with me after a joint session with my therapist.
My lack of memory and the fear provoked by descriptions of incidents I can’t remember is “triggering ” and causes a switch.
I cannot describe what I cannot remember.
Were Kaiser doing its job my partner would receive a weekly call from my case manager so she could understand the true scope of the illness and make more accurate safety assessments.
The online Merk manual describes Dissociative Identity Disorder as follows:
“…chronic and potentially disabling or fatal, although many people function very well and lead creative and productive lives.”
With proper treatment, many people do go on to lead creative and productive lives.
I intend to be one of them.
I need a treatment team that includes an intensive case manager who understands the importance of sustaining my family system.
When I told my partner to call my Kaiser case manager when he has
fears he said, “Why? They do nothing. They blame me!”
We decided to work it out for ourselves.
This is a list of points that my partner and I agreed to about his relationship to my DID:
- He cannot cure the disorder, but he can take part in the healing.
- Getting better sometimes means more symptoms.
- When he feel resentment, take a break.
- Denial is normal but destructive.
- Everyone changes when a family member is engaged in psychotherapy.
- Love the person, even as you hate the symptom.
- Discrimination against the mentally ill is real — it only seems invisible because it is accepted.
- He may find it empowering to become more activist.
- He always has the right to say no.
- Mental health professionals have varied degrees of competence, integrity, and commitment
- He is not responsible for enabling the failures of the Nation’s Behavioral Health System
- I am a patient, not a consumer. There is a difference. Never forget that.
- It is OK to be angry when it makes you effective.
- You and your family member’s case manager should be in weekly contact, especially during a crisis.
- It is important to have boundaries and set expectations when speaking with care providers.
- The current suicide rate of 20% among people with PTSD related psychiatric illness is based on what’s happening to real people.
- A mandated hospitalization is NOT the worst thing that can happen to someone with a mental illness. It’s not the cheapest either.
- When it comes to safety, don’t take no for an answer.
- Never let your family member go to the hospital alone. Patients receive better care when the staff knows that someone is looking.
- Your family members illness is also an emotional trauma for you. If you decide to stay and take part in the treatment, you will need your own supports.
Update: My partner now attends a monthly joint session with my therapist.
Image and post (c) Rob Goldstein 2014-2016 all rights reserved