Mental Health: Friendship and Dissociative Identity Disorder

This was my post for mental health week.

I think I’m late.

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This post is directed to abuse survivors and their families, but don’t
let that stop you from reading it.

My therapist sent me a copy of 101+ Ways to See DID, by Kathy Brody, a specialist in treating Dissociative Identity Disorder.

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101 Ways To See DID by Kathy Broady MSW

These are a few of the symptoms described by Kathy Brody that I experience:

feeling completely blank
the sensation of not having a body
a sense of seeing through the eyes of other people
an inability to recognize myself
confusion about age
and hyper-vigilance.

I have trouble

maintaining relationships
connecting to others
being touched
and physical intimacy

I have numerous perspectives and completely opposing interests.

For every yes, there is a no; for every trigger, a chorus of reactions.

A sense of being alien in a world that makes no sense is one of the most painful and pervasive of my symptoms.

Am Illustration

Life with DID is exhausting.

When I tell people I have DID, I expect them to believe it, but most people don’t, and some of my friendships fail because of it.

Kathy Brody describes recognizing or refusing relationships as one of the symptoms of DID.

People take the sudden loss of connection personally, and I understand why.

I do have close friends in real life, people I’ve known for most of my life, and I have a partner who loves and accepts me; I am blessed.

The worst thing a friend can do to someone with DID is act in ways that make the symptoms worse.

I have a relative who knows the history of my abuse and used that knowledge to trigger me, when I realized it was intentional I cut that
person out of my life.

My rule for family members is if you say you love me but act in ways that make the illness worse; you really don’t love me and need to get out of my life.

It was a struggle to gain the insight to set limits because I was raised to believe that I was responsible for all of the bad things that happened to my Mother.

I was not allowed an opinion or a mind of my own.

An MRI that shows the location of patient's alternate selves on her brain. The patient is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder
The MRI shows the location of the patient’s alternate selves on her brain.

DID is not invisible, not even online.

Bloggers can’t see my facial expressions and mannerisms, but my blog’s long time followers are familiar with my various writing styles and images.

My skills come and go, such as the ability to write or build computers or make images.

I have different vocabularies and reading interests, and some of me
doesn’t read at all.

The range and intensity of my emotional expression are more than most normal people can understand or tolerate; and I am frequently asked if I  know how old I am.

The answer is no, and why does it matter?

Art by Rob Goldstein

What DID is:

DID is a childhood-onset disorder that begins as a result of extreme
abuse.

DID is a symptom of a broader cluster of symptoms called Complex-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.

DID is a psychiatric disorder that only improves with psychoanalyses.

What DID is not:

DID is not multiple personality disorder.

DID is not a bid for attention.

DID is not something my therapist is imposing on me.

DID is not borderline personality disorder.

DID is not pathological narcissism.

DID is not hysteria, an excuse for bad behavior, or the result of negative thinking.

DID is not a choice.

DID is not ‘clinging to or refusing to let go’ of the past.

People and governments that sexually and emotionally abuse children are evil.

It is not the past I can’t release; it is the confrontation with evil.

Please vote wisely this year.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2020

I am not a doctor, my experience with DID may not be the same as yours. If you think you have Dissociative Identity Disorder please seek professional
help.


If you or someone you love is feeling suicidal please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Mental Health: Our Useless Rights

For this post’s purpose, I define a severe mental illness as a chronic medical condition that affects behavior, insight and judgment.

Picture it:

A filthy young man, confused and raging on Market Street, collapses at an intersection and rolls into traffic.

The police arrive.

An officer drags him to the curb and asks him if he has plans to hurt himself or anyone else. The young man shakes his head no.

The officer asks if he knows his way to the local soup kitchen and homeless shelter.

The young man shakes his head, yes.

Because he affirms that he is not an immediate danger to himself or others and claims he knows where to get food and shelter, the officers have no legal basis to mandate treatment.

The police drive off, and the young man rolls back into traffic.

The police cannot stop a sick and confused young man from obstructing traffic because it would violate his rights.

In 1963, President Kennedy signed the visionary Mental Health Centers Act, which authorized funding for a community-based care system in every state and county.

“I am proposing a new approach to mental illness and to mental retardation. This approach is designed,   in large measure, to use Federal resources to stimulate state, local, and private action. When carried out,  reliance on the cold mercy of custodial isolation will be supplanted by the open warmth of community concern and capability. Emphasis on prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation will be substituted for a desultory interest in confining patients in an institution to wither away.” President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

In 1965, Congress approved the Medicaid Act, which offered higher reimbursement rates for community-based care, later the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provided financial support for people with mental illness who were trying to live in the community.

Passed in 1967, the Lanterman Petris Short Act prohibits involuntary civil commitments for the mentally ill in California unless a person is an immediate danger to himself and others, or is gravely disabled, generally defined as unable to access or make use of food and shelter.

The Community Mental Health System was supposed to replace or serve as an adjunct to State Hospitals.

By 1967 most cities in the United States had an active community mental health system.

That changed in the 1980’s.

The Lanterman-Petris Short Act fails in seven of its nine intents.

It does not end the inappropriate involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders because inadequately staffed for-profit prisons replaced the State Hospitals.

It does not provide prompt evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders because treatment resources are underfunded or don’t exist.

It does not guarantee or protect public safety.

It does not protect persons with mental health disorders from criminal acts because homelessness increases crime risk.

It does not provide services in the least restrictive setting appropriate to the needs of each person receiving services because there are no services.

In theory, people with mental illnesses have the ‘right’ to the services and supports we need to live like people without disabilities, but we can’t access services and supports that don’t exist.

For people with serious mental illnesses, the Lanterman Petris-Short Act is an excuse to deny treatment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act is a joke.

We don’t need access ramps; we need access.

Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease have a similar set of symptoms, but no one would say an Alzheimer’s patient has a human right to wander our cities in a daze.

No one would say an Alzheimer’s patient deserves to suffer.

Mental illness is not a civil rights issue.

Mental illness is not a moral failure.

Mental illness is not a result of toxic thinking.

Mental illness is not a choice.

© Rob Goldstein 2020

Mental Health: The Struggle to be a good person

People have described me as flaky, high maintenance, difficult, hysterical, confusing, compulsive, and dishonest.

That last one, dishonest, is a common reaction to people with DID.

People tend to go with what makes the most sense based on what they know.

Most people know nothing about the mind, much less states of mind.

The other words on that list are alternate descriptions of the symptoms of DID.

Gaps in memory look flaky, but they’re more than forgetting. These gaps
are the same as not knowing.

High maintenance means I require more medical supports and more patience from friends and family.

Panic attacks look like hysteria.

Personality switches are confusing because my alternates have different interests.

However, the words people use aren’t all negative.

People also describe me as loving, intelligent, empathetic, compassionate, loyal, strong, and honest.

That last, honest, means I say what I think is true based on what I know or think I know.

The goals of treatment for dissociative identity disorder

My ultimate goal in life is to be a good person; it’s an ongoing project and a choice I have to make every day.

What are the words people use to describe you?

(c) Rob Goldstein 2019