2011 Blackerry shot of a graffiti mural in San Francisco's Mission District

Coping with DID: “I love All of You”

Dissociative identity disorder is a childhood onset, complex-post traumatic disorder in which the child is unable to consolidate a unified sense of self. Detachment from emotional and physical pain during repeated traumatic events results in alterations in the way the brain encodes memory.  This leads to fragmentation and gaps in memory. Exposure to repeated abuse in early childhood results in the creation of discrete behavioral states that can persist over later development, and evolve into the alternate identities of dissociative identity disorder. The Mayo Clinic

This morning as my partner left for his weekly visit to his ailing Mother he said, “I love all of you.”

I sat as wave after wave of love, pain, gratitude and fear passed over me, then I said, “We love you to.”

I am not an easy man to live with.

One must be willing to live with constant self-examination and bluntly stated opinions.

This September marks the beginning of my eighth year of psychotherapy.

Eight years later, I am someone new. I accept the DID, I accept the violence
that caused it and I accept that I was gifted with a mind that went to  extraordinary lengths to keep itself alive.

I am proof of the existence of the human mind and the will to survive and thrive.

A 2011 Graffiti Mural in San Francisco's Clarion Alley
Fighting Shadows

To ‘Seal Over’

At the long-term psychiatric hospital where I worked in the early 1970’s, we
used the term ‘sealed over’ to describe a patient who is skilled at hiding
his illness.

Most of us must learn to ‘seal over’ everyday distress and anxiety as a
skill of daily living.

Healthy people don’t often consider the energy and skill it takes to interact
socially and succeed in our careers.

An illness that impairs social skill is crippling.

We don’t think about what it means to lose our health and ability to work
until we must think about it.

Blackberry Photograph of a mannequin in a shop Window in San Francisco

What is Healthy?

I define ‘healthy’ as striving to become an informed citizen, having a balanced sense of humility, respect for the rights of others, a sense of compassion, and respect for life; which means the born, the fundamental right of all children to food, shelter, education, safe cities and schools.

I define healthy as doing my best to pull my weight; which means using my skills to dispel the lies that make it hard for people with DID to get the right treatment.

2011 Blackberry Photograph of Mannequins in a shopwindow in San Francisco

Mental Illness is Not an Act.

There are thousands of easier ways to get attention: one can write a good novel, produce a brilliant portfolio of art, write moving poetry, become a skilled surgeon, strive for excellence at any job that affirms your humanity.

If I’m trying to get your attention by destroying my life in public it means I’m sick.

A man who has to shoot schoolchildren to slake his rage is sick.

The question is not why people have mental illnesses, the question is why Americans collectively refuse to recognize mental illness as a set of real and
serious illnesses?

I cannot ‘think’ my way through DID or Bi-Polar illness.

Mental Illness is not a choice and the ‘well’ make it easy for the ‘sick’ to choose isolation.

Getting well in a sick world

I had the worst possible parents in the worst possible neighborhood in one of the most institutionally abusive and violently racist cities of the United States in the 1960’s, and yet I entered adulthood with a fundamental sense of right and wrong, and a fundamental understanding of our political system.

I was broken in a dozen different ways but I knew it was wrong to lie.

I knew it was wrong to hurt people.

I knew it was wrong to abuse the weak and innocent.

In that, I am healthier than 39% of the American people.

2011 Blackerry shot of a graffiti mural in San Francisco's Mission District

What does it mean to be well with DID.

Being well with DID means that I’m still in pain, raw and uncertain. I’m still anxious and often panic-stricken. But it also means I’m alive as I am supposed to be and better at managing symptoms. It means always searching for new skills and better ways to be healthy.

It means asking the unwanted questions.

Rob Goldstein 2018


48 thoughts on “Coping with DID: “I love All of You”

  1. This post touched me deeply, Rob. I had what many would call a ‘normal’ childhood (small town, good parents, friends) and have no experience with the horrors you must have faced.
    All that I can say is something I heard from a very wise lady not so long ago, “Love is Love is Love is Love.”
    If we just tried to insert a little more compassion into our world, imagine how much better off we’d be. {{hugs}}

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I tell this story I have in mind a child under the age of five separated from his Mother, placed in a cage, surrounded by strange and threatening adults who speak a different language. I think of the children in cages today and I wonder who will pay for the lifelong treatment some of them will need. I wonder how many will eventually die from the Trump administration’s scapegoating immigration policies. We never count the victims who die a decade or more after abuse, just as we don’t list homelessness as the cause of death when a relatively young homeless man dies of pneumonia. I know this is heavy stuff but needless trauma and suffering are the outcome of too many of our political decisions as voters. Right now, our government is abusing the children of people who’ve come here in search of safety. I hope that readers will think of them when they read this because we can’t save me but we can save them. Thank you for reading this post and leaving a comment, Jacquie.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I too define being healthy as being compassionate. 😊 I find that compassion, health, positive thoughts, attitude, inner peace..all of that is related to being healthy..along with eating and exercise of course. But I think that it all starts from the inside and oozes its way out..finding inner peace is where it starts and that to me is healthy, well the first step 😅 to becoming healthy

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so amazing, Robert… wise, compassionate, valiant, loving, moral, kind, and so full of integrity… I can’t stop myself. This is a beautifully written post and the way you share your heart, wisdom, and experiences with such grace and honesty is why this WP community loves all of you. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Funny, over a decade ago, I was diagnosed as an integrated multiple personality. Yet, when I read the description of D.I.D. my heart skipped a beat because this is precisely what I experienced. My love to you, dear brother from another mother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for telling me that. It’s such a weird and often dispiriting set of symptoms. Taking the time to remember my very real blessings is so important. Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Posts like this are why you’re so beloved here in our WP community. You’re inspiring and thoughtful in the best ways.
    I’m sorry you had to become so many to save the one, but you’re worth preserving. You’re a beautiful soul. (All of you)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a powerful piece Rob. I admire your spirit for enduring your unfortunate childhood and dealing with your demons and sharing of yourself and overcoming and ongoing work on yourself! You are a great example for others, sharing of yourself here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Debbie. Let’s not forget the children who are being abused by the policies of the Trump administration as I write this. We can end the torture of these children by demanding accountability from Trump and his abusive sycophants.

      The thing I found so confusing as a child was that I knew the adults around me knew what was happening and they did nothing to stop it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is double outrage!!!! And one thing you don’t have to remind me about tRump’s stolen children. I’m politically active daily. I follow every breadcrumb.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Very honest, clear and thoughtful of you to share Rob as there are so many out there who are adrift in a sea not of their making. Life is tough enough with a healthy start in life physically, mentally and emotionally. But if any of those elements are missing or are replaced by the negative versions, it takes a strong spirit to become whole. You are doing an amazing job and I am so pleased that you have someone by your side who loves all of you…besos Sally

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sally. I’m very lucky. Child abuse lasts a lifetime. I have spent my whole life working to undo the damage of the first five years. Every abused child grows up to a life of pain and confusion and our culture adds insult to the injuries by blaming us, calling us weak and depriving us of access to treatment. If we don’t want to spend money on mental health services to adult then we should focus our attention on ending child abuse.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The problem with child abuse is not so much the parents but communities that enable the abuse. In the case of effeminate boys or children of Latino or African American descent, the abuse is from institutions that reflect an accepted social pathology: imagine you’re five year and witness a gunman murder your classmates with an assault rifle. Now imagine hearing ideologues dismiss your horror and suffering as an ‘act’. All of this leaves scars.

        In many ways I was lucky to be abused in a differently sick society; I didn’t have to worry about being gunned down in elementary school. Thank you for the comment, Sally.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It is a real credit to your spirit and mind that you have come through such a tough past with the integrity, ethics and feelings you do, Rob. PTSD is very hard for the sufferer and the family. My oldest son has chronic PTSD and OCD for reasons I will share some day. I am proud of him and proud to know you too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Rob, this is a beautifully done post. You’ve not only chosen the images well, but they grow in complexity as you pin down more details of the illness, driving the point firmly with each one.
    You’ve mentioned doing a book of poetry… but have you ever thought of doing a sort of “companion text” that could be complimentary reading to a more technical/medical text? Having read a few of what I call your “technical posts” I can easily see you doing something like that.

    I never realized that DID always starts in childhood. But thinking about it, It seems like people tend to have at least one child alternate… so I suppose it would have to.

    Well done, my friend. And thank you for reblogging my Saturday post. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A companion text? I’ve just googled it. Thanks for noticing the images. I recently found an old hard drive with thousands of blackberry shots, all of them taken in late 2011 when I started walking to my therapist.

      I’ve got so much unprocessed stuff….

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Hi Rob,
    You are the one that lead me to your site and I believe it was because you saw something in common with me. Perhaps I’m wrong. If you will notice, I too came from an abusive home; physically and mentally by both parents. I’m not sure I understand what DID is. Begining in 1980 I have been in and out of therapy, mostly for clinical depression and anxiety. For me writing, my books were my final therapy and I can close those hurtful and suffering years of my life. My husband and I have been together 35 years and had it not been for him coming into my life, I think I would still be suffering. I look forward to exploring more of your site, writing, etc. HUGS

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Much love to you for sharing this. I struggle with a disassociation disorder as part of my Complex PTSD. It’s not as extreme as DID but still frightening. Thankfully I have a wonderful therapy group, supportive friends and family.

    I wish you well; because you deserve a better future, than what was done to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Very bravely and clearly put across, Rob. And I think you and your partner have a special relationship and strong bond.
    On the subject of sealing over – I saw my dad do that in a lesser way when he first started with the symptoms of dementia. He knew what was happening to him but didn’t want others to know and used all kinds of disguising strategies. It must have been exhausting as well as stressful for him.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If one is acute, it’s exhausting to seal over. My partner and I have worked on this since it began in 2012 and there were a few times when we wondered if we’d make it. He may be the only person in the world who knows all of the alternates. I’m grateful and know I’m blessed. Thank you for your comment, Mary. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t know how the switches looks to other people but I sometimes have memories of my partner’s interactions with my alternates. One Bobby was teasing him and my partner said, “I know all about you. You’re one of those bratty kids who likes to get loud in Church.” They laughed and I came back. It’s filed away as a good memory. Bobby felt loved.


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