10 Things We Want You to Know: A Letter from a Multiple to a Singleton
Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder, is a condition wherein a person’s identity is fragmented into two or more distinct personalities. Sufferers of this rare condition are usually victims of severe abuse.
1. We’re not faking it. DID can be very complex and difficult to understand. Unfortunately, there is a LOT of stigma against it- not only in the general public, but in the medical profession as well. Please believe us when we say DID is VERY real. It is as real as the trauma that caused us to split.
2. Please be patient. We know sometimes it gets difficult and frustrating. Try to remember that it is also difficult and frustrating for us. We appreciate you being there for support.
3. No, DID is NOT the same thing as schizophrenia. They are two completely different disorders that are totally unrelated to the other. If you would like to know what DID really is, just ask!
4. Switching isn’t always as obvious as you think it is. Thanks (no thanks) to media productions like United States of Tara, there seems to be a misconception about what switching between alters looks like: drastic wardrobe changes, speech alterations, etc. Most of the time, you may not even notice a switch has occurred.
5. Please don’t make us feel bad if we don’t remember something. We can at least speak for our system on this one. Sometimes we just don’t remember things. It’s usually because someone else in the system experienced it. More often than not, later on we will remember.
6. We are not a circus act. Please don’t ask us to switch on command; it doesn’t work that way. Our disorder is not meant to be used for your entrainment and it is incredibly disrespectful to ask for such.
7. It’s okay to ask questions. As a matter of fact, we urge you to ask! The more we are able to talk about it, the more opportunity we have to fight stigma.
8. Please don’t share our DID with others that we haven’t explicitly told ourselves. As with any mental or health illness, it is inappropriate and may cause us to break our trust with you. No matter how open or closed we are about our alters, it isn’t in your place to share our personal information.
9. Don’t be discouraged if you have never met our alters. Like we mentioned above, we don’t switch on command (at least, I have never heard of a multiple who was able to do so!). If we don’t introduce ourselves to you, don’t take it personally.
10. It’s not all bad. Sure, therapy is tough, flashbacks suck, and amnesia is a drag. But sometimes, having multiple selves can be kind of fun. There’s always someone to talk to! We get to experience happy moments multiple times! We can unlock hidden talents that we didn’t even know about!
Additional Do’s and Don’ts for Singleton Friends of Multiples
DO speak to our inner children like children.
Do NOT ask “Who’s here now?” If we wanted you to know we would tell you.
Do NOT tell an alter that you don’t know to “go get” the host.
Do NOT expect consistency of feeling, thought, or action on any subject.
Do NOT tell anyone to go inside because you do not like their views.
DO set healthy boundaries.
If you are uncomfortable with something said or done, say so, and do NOTavoid us in the future without an explanation.
Be understanding that we have many crisis situations in our lives of healing from our abuse, i.e.: flashbacks, panic attacks, body memories.
Laugh, make jokes with us, really, it’s OK!
Do NOT assume anything if you honestly want to know about our “disorder” please ask, we’ll tell you the truth.
Do NOT treat us like “the freak you happen to know” around your singleton friends.
Do NOT use our difficulties as a subject of conversation with your singleton friends.
Sometimes we are paralyzed with depression, and cannot call you, clean our house, or get out of bed. Don’t take it personally.
We will fight being hospitalized….. even though we actually show that we need it at the time. Hospitals are extremely frightening for us.
DO be supportive of our healthy behaviors no matter how small the accomplishment may seem to you.
DO be encouraging.
When we ask to talk to you, we aren’t asking you to come up with answers to our problems. We don’t expect you to FIX it. Sometimes we just need someone to LISTEN… that is the greatest gift of all!!
DON’T tell us that the abuse happened a long time ago and for us to “just get over it!” That is a HUGE insult!!
For additional information regarding Dissociative Identity Disorder, please visit: