Author’s Note: I apologize ahead of time for the tone of this piece. I had to write it in the third person so that I could post it elsewhere on the internet.
Learning to live with a severe mental health condition known as dissociative identity disorder is something most of those who receive its diagnosis with it will accomplish sometime during psychotherapy.
Working on the issues surrounding DID can leave those who live with the diagnosis wondering who they are if they are not caught up in a traumatic and dramatic mess that is their lives.
However, how many of the same people will rise above the diagnosis and learn to move on and live despite having the diagnosis of DID? That is the true question and should be the quest of all who live with dissociative identity disorder.
In this article, we shall explore the ins and outs of addiction to trauma and drama and the benefits of moving on and leaving it behind.
The New Identification of a Newly Diagnosis Multiple
It is extremely common for people who receive the diagnosis to feel two major emotions; relief, and a sense of identification.
The relief comes from finally having a name and some kind of game plan for treating what the person has been experiencing all their lives in terms of dissociation and its side-effects.
However, it is the sense of identification that causes the most harm. People living with the diagnosis of DID begin to identify themselves as special, abnormal, strange, and deserving of attention. All of those features can become highly addictive leading to a sense of entitlement and of being in an exclusive group.
Somehow, a sense of exclusivity and even superiority above those who do not live with the effects of dissociative identity disorder develops whether it is acknowledged openly or not. In fact, simply suggesting that a multiple might be identifying more with their diagnosis and others who live with the condition angers them and this can become a deadly trap for many.
The Danger of Getting Caught up in the Trauma
It isn’t only the sense of entitlement that does damage though, another culprit is getting caught up in the trauma that enslaved multiples in the first place.
It is so easy to become so engulfed in what occurred to a multiple in the past that they lose sight of who they are outside of their diagnosis. Being a victim of childhood trauma becomes the lifeblood and only focus of those living with dissociative identity disorder enslaving many to a life of feeling like damaged goods unworthy of life.
The trap of addiction to trauma is why so many multiples die by suicide because they are unable to see themselves living outside of the trauma that forced them into hiding in their minds in the first place.
The Danger of Addiction to Drama
Many multiples find themselves in the position of fighting against themselves by living solely in the drama that has become their lives. To be sure, psychotherapy is full of dramatic moments of self-discover, but when one lives solely in those moments and ruminates on them day after day, the drama can become a trap.
The danger of addiction to drama is that one forgets there is an end to the pain and suffering and that they are working towards the goal of leaving such stinking thinking in the past.
In other words, they forget they are in psychotherapy to heal not to rehash over and over again what happened decades before.
While multiples cannot and should not avoid the memories of what happened, living as though they are their entire life is tragic.
Finding a New Identity
It is vital that multiples find a new identity that moves them away from the drama and trauma of their history. This will take time and trial and error to accomplish but the end result will be beautiful.
Survivors who live with the diagnosis of DID are strong, resilient, and often bright individuals who have a lot to offer society and themselves. Exploring their interests and finding what their passions are is the first step in moving on.
Perhaps they would like to attend college or learn how to have a healthy intimate relationship. Perhaps they would like to change jobs or go to work for the first time. Exploring these options and more offers a sense of purpose and a new identity away from that of a person who suffers from a severe emotional disorder.
Focus on Hope
Hope should be the main topic of any discussion a therapist and a multiple have when they come together for a therapy session. Determinedly moving the discussion little by little away from the identity of “I’m a person with DID” to “I’m a person” makes all the difference in the world to the future of multiples.
There are no quick and easy fixes for ending the torture of DID and the effects will be with multiples forever. However, by not allowing the diagnosis to be the center of who they are, multiples can go on to lead a fairly stable and healthy life free of the trauma and drama of their pasts.
“Through a long and painful process, I’ve learned that happiness is an inside job – not based on anything or anyone in the outer material world. I’ve become a different and better person – not perfect, but still a work in progress.” ~ Alana Stewart