Halloween Special: What is scary about Mental Illness?

First off let me begin this eye catching post with one word:  NOTHING!

The only thing Scary about Mental illness is the people who stigmatize against us and think they understand it when they really don’t.  You cannot truly understand any mental illness unless you have experienced it first hand.  You can learn all about them in school and pretend to understand but then a lot of the times someone will approach you with that one mental illness that was talked about as “severe” in school and all of the sudden you are scared of them.  I get this a bit because no one can truly understand these severe mental illnesses that seemed so debilitating when they learned about them unless they have dealt with them themselves.

Halloween special:  What is scary about mental illness?  Nothing and I can help you understand the mental illnesses that seem so severe and debilitating a little bit better so that you can understand that no matter what friend has a mental illness that seems severe and debilitating it does not always mean that it is.  Today is Dissociative Identity Disorder.  Yep this will be kind of a recurring thing for a while so that those who do not understand can have a better understanding.

So Dissociative Identity Disorder is the one I will start with first.  That is because it is often seen by the world as something that is severe and debilitating.  No one really learns about this in school when they are majoring in Human services because it is considered very rare.  The most I remember us discussing it was five minutes in Abnormal Psychology where the teacher told us we would never deal with someone who has it so we don’t need to study it.  It is also a very controversy illness that is still being studied and contemplated today.  A lot of people try to claim that Dissociative Identity Disorder is created by the therapist with someone who has severe paranoia.  This, to someone who experienced this before even knowing what it was, is (pardon my french) Bullshit.

Dissociative Identity disorder used to be called multiple personality disorder before they realized that a lot of the personalities were made by dissociating away from the body during trauma.  I used to be big on a site called Ivory Garden and they had some really great ways to describe it so I’ll give you kind of how I would describe it to someone who is scared of it.  First of all it is not scary, not at all, second it does not debilitate as much as Hollywood has made it feel.  I have a person who works with people who have Dissociative disorders and she told me out of all the people she has worked with only one of them did not work in a public environment.  That was because they decided to be a stay at home mom.

Sybil makes it seem like if you have this disorder you will forget major events and so you should not work or like you should be kept in a hospital the rest of your life.  (Both of these have been brought up to me by well meaning friends who just did not understand what the disorder consisted of).  When in point of fact there are personalities in your body just for when stressful things happen at work who will tell you what happened.  Also when another personality takes over (at least for me) I know who it was and I just feel like I’m watching them through a movie screen.  Anytime something majorly life threatening happens to us or someone we love and we dissociate there is a personality that keeps us in the know about what happened when we get back in my case.  Therefore if I switch because I have to give someone CPR I can describe the incident in detail as myself when I come back.

So how are the personalities formed exactly?  When we are born as a child we are called a blank slate.  During the time period we are growing up we form our own likes, dislikes, and personality based on the world around us.  With someone who has dissociative Identity Disorder anytime they dissociate it’s like starting over from birth.   So lets say a child is forced into taking pornographic pictures with someone and they don’t want to so they work to find a way to get away from it AKA dissociating.  Pretty soon everytime they are forced into taking these pictures they dissociate into the same blank slate of mind and that blank slate starts forming a personality based on the traumatic event.  In my case it was a scared, younger,  male personality.  So anytime a traumatic event occurs over and over a blank slate turns into a personality that deals with that traumatic event.

So how is Dissociative Identity Disorder treated?  You probably think you know the answer to that but let me give you one hint.  There is more than one way unlike what the book Sybil wants you to believe.  I personally made the decision against integration because to me everyone inside is a real person who I have become attached to.  So the treatment I have chosen is Eye movement Desentization therapy and working on building better communication with everyone inside.

Some of the treatment options out there are pretty interesting.  Hypnosis is not what I would choose as I already get in a dissociative state when I’m stressed all hypnosis does is reiterate that state.  However some people have been lucky enough for hypnosis to work for them.  Eye movement desentization therapy is used to help you feel the intense feelings you refused to feel back then because you were dissociating.  It does require intense emotions but the therapist will do a good job giving you a positive emotion after an intense session.  There is also integration which is getting everyone to merge, but for some of us with insiders that is the same as killing our insiders even though we are told over and over they are still there.

And lets see a therapy I would not choose to try on someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder is Cognitive Behavioral therapy.  We had a therapist try this on us in the hospital once if you have been keeping up on our posts.  He kept trying to tell us that all the different personalities were thoughts in our head that we chose to make real.  One of my angry personalities came out and actually was asked if we needed to talk to he staff at the hospital about us being a problem.  The next second I was out and crying because I was so confused.  The moral of this is not only do I feel the personalities are real but they too also feel like real people, and if anyone ever tries to tell them they aren’t they will lash back out and reeducate you.

I have Dissociative identity Disorder.  I have lived on my own since I was nineteen years old.  I have held down several full time jobs in that time frame.  I have formed good relationships with people I meet and work with.  I am often told by everyone I work with that I do a great job in what I do.  I am able to hold down a job and live on my own despite my disorder.  This goes to show that it is not as debilitating as the world likes to think.

I hope that this has given you all a better understanding of Dissociative Identity Disorder for when you meet someone in the future who has this and it scares you a bit.  We are not scary, we are people just like you, we want to be treated normal.  A lot of time well meaning people will look it up and there are all these sites about making sure all the alters are listening etc.  Anytime anyone has ever said something like that to us it has made us want to kick there ass.  Just treat us like we are normal, despite the fact that there are a lot of different people inside.  We do enjoy when people can tell who is out but we don’t expect it.

Happy Halloween!

End the Stigma (One reader at a time).







One thought on “Halloween Special: What is scary about Mental Illness?

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