Dissociative identity disorder (DID) — previously known as multiple personality disorder — includes trouble with memory, emotion, perception, sense of self, and behavior, and can potentially disrupt every area of mental functioning.
1. DID is an often misunderstood disorder that causes people to behave and feel as if they have more than one "identity."
2. People of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds can have DID, but the biggest risk factor for developing the disorder is experiencing physical or sexual trauma during childhood.
3. People with DID often refer to their other identities as personality states, alters, parts, etc. and sometimes use the pronouns we, us, and our.
4. Different identities can have different genders, sexualities, skills, voices, personality traits, and even their own handwriting.
5. Those differences can be incredibly confusing, making people with DID feel detached from themselves — not knowing who they truly are.
6. DID can be incredibly misunderstood, and therefore, very isolating — sometimes that makes symptoms worse.
7. Most people don't realize they have DID until later in life, and it can be pretty scary figuring out what's going on.
8. And that's because a lot of times, they are misdiagnosed and treated for the wrong mental illnesses.
9. And one identity does not have to be inherently violent, like movies portray.
10. Memory gaps can happen when switching between certain identities, so not all identities are aware that the others exist.
11. When some identities take control, people feel like they're watching their body from afar, as if they're having an out-of-body experience.
12. There's not always one identity in charge, sometimes there are multiple identities fighting for dominance all at once.
13. Sometimes, identities are pretty good about working together to tackle the problems presented in everyday life.
14. But other times, they're the opposite and really don't get along, which can make things incredibly difficult.
15. There are certain triggers that cause people with DID to switch identities.
16. But it's hard because even if you know what your triggers are, it doesn't mean you can avoid them.
17. There are times where a change in identities is so subtle that the people around them won't realize there was a switch.
18. Living with DID can cause other mental conditions like depression or anxiety to develop.
19. There's no specific medication for DID, but there are some that treat the mental health symptoms associated with it.
20. The primary treatment for DID is long-term psychotherapy, which can get really expensive.
21. And the main goal of therapy isn't always to fuse all the identities into one, but to work towards a cooperative co-consciousness.
22. People with DID feel pressure to lead a life that makes all their identities happy and fulfilled, not just one.
23. Living with the stigma of DID can sometimes be worse than living with the symptoms.
24. In fact, some people with DID are thankful for the disorder, because it helped get them through brutally traumatizing times.
25. Having DID is NOT the same as changing the way you act around certain people or in specific situations.
26. DID, like any other serious illness, does not define you.
27. And last but not least, it is possible to live a happy, successful life with DID.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
To learn more about DID, check out the resources at the National Alliance on Mental Illness here.
And if you need to talk to someone immediately, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. Suicide helplines outside the US can be found here.