Okay, so I’ll try to make this short and concise. I have these people (really they’re more of voices) in my mind, and they all have names and personality traits and even different hand writings, and when I think about them, I can picture exactly what they look like. Sometimes, I’ve even seen them in my dreams. They have conversations, sometimes amongst themselves and sometimes with me. They “take over” my body when I get stressed or anxious, or when they want to do something. When it happens, I typically can’t control it. Sometimes I can try to, but it doesn’t always work. But, when it happens, I don’t entirely dissociate. Most of the time, I can still see and hear everything going on. It’s almost as if I’m doing these things, but I’m also not. They usually say and do things that I would never even consider. It’s like someone is just controlling my actions and I can’t really do anything about it. But sometimes, either when I’m very anxious and stressed or when they don’t want me to know what they’re doing, I DO dissociate. However, when this happens, I typically can remember some of what happened. But the way I remember it is strange, when I first “wake up,” it’s like a polaroid picture developing. The memory of what just happened fades in slowly, but a lot of parts are usually blurry. Sometimes, one of the people in my head will fill me in on what happened. The first time I ever spoke to one of them was this past December, but it didn’t seem strange to me, I liked the company. And looking back, there have been a few things that lead me to believe that they’ve been around much longer than that. The biggest reason why I question the possibility of DID is that I don’t remember having any traumatic experiences. I really don’t remember any of my childhood before the age of 8 or 9, besides a few random moments, but I assume that if something traumatic happened to me, I would either remember parts of it or my parents would know about it. I had been seeing a therapist for depression not too long ago, but she seemed to disregard it all the first time I told her. The second time I brought all this up, she said we would talk about it more, and then I never saw her again on account of my parents abruptly ending my therapy sessions without even telling me. Anyway, I was wondering your opinion on this? I hope I’m not being any trouble, and thank you!
A: Thanks for writing in with your very detailed question. Although I have personally treated several clients with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), there are still many mental health professionals who are very skeptical of this diagnosis. The DID literature reports that clients are often misdiagnosed for several years before getting an accurate diagnosis, therefore leading to the appropriate treatment.
I’m glad that you have been in therapy and I’m glad that you were persistent in bringing your symptoms and concerns to the attention of your therapist. However, I’m very concerned that your parents ended your treatment abruptly and it makes me wonder why. I hope that you will be just as persistent with them and request to return to therapy. In some states, minors can receive a certain number of sessions even without parental consent. Since you are nearly an adult, this might be an option for you if your parents refuse to support you in continuing counseling.
Even though DID has been linked to early childhood trauma or abuse, in my experience, some clients don’t have any memory of the traumatic events until further along in therapy (and some never remember exact details). Sometimes our mind does what it needs to do to protect us and sometimes the traumas occurred before we were old enough to form concrete memories.
I would suggest that you start keeping a journal about your experiences and symptoms, ask other trusted adults (in addition to your parents) about your childhood, and get back into counseling. You are still young, so getting help now regardless of diagnosis, will help you learn coping skills and improve the quality of your life.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Jun 2014
Counts, H. (2014). Could I Possibly Have DID?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 2, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/06/13/could-i-possibly-have-did/