Then, as I began to read more blogs like Beauty, Ethereal Highway, Austin and JIP, I realized that they weren’t crazy – just different. They functioned quite well. They didn’t walk around with their heads spinning in circles like the girl on The Exorcist. In fact, many of their friends and family didn’t know they had DID. The symptoms and events they wrote about began to seem vaguely familiar and I found myself identifying with some of their experiences.
However, because I am very out of tune with my real self, I went back and forth. Were these episodes really me? Or me trying to be who I thought I was to be? Or the me that others made me as a child? Or was I just copying someone else in an attempt to fit in? I was very confused, and pretty soon I thought my head would spin right around like the Exorcist.So, as is typical with me, I turned to intellectual analysis. I began to read anything I could about DID. Some of what I read paralleled my experiences. But other parts did not fit. I discussed the issue briefly in therapy and my therapist didn’t seem to think it was an issue While I do have dissociative tendencies, it’s not quite severe enough on the scale to be DID. I’ve never been aware of more than one personality/alter, for example.
A DID diagnosis requires “The presence of two or more distinct identity or personality states, each with its own relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the environment and self” and “At least two of these identities or personality states recurrently take control of the person's behavior.” I don’t have that. So I put DID out of my mind. Didn't worry about it. Wasn't an issue.......
Then, recently Beauty wrote a post in which she mentioned Depersonalization Disorder. I am going to have to watch the movie she referenced because many things in her post hit home for me. Once again, I went the intellectual route and began researching. I tried the Dissociative Experiences Scale test – I scored between 40 and 50 depending on the day. The remarks said –
“Your answers to this Dissociative Identity Disorder screening test fall into the range with a higher association with DID. . . . High scores on the DES do not prove that a person has a dissociative disorder; they only suggest that clinical assessment for dissociation is warranted.”
I read more about this Depersonalization Disorder, in particular. It is a dissociative disorder, of the milder type. This is what it said –
Depersonalization disorder is classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, text Revision, also known as the DSM-IV-TR as one of the dissociative disorders. These are mental disorders in which the normally well-integrated functions of memory, identity, perception, and consciousness are separated (dissociated). The dissociative disorders are usually associated with trauma in the recent or distant past, or with an intense internal conflict that forces the mind to separate incompatible or unacceptable knowledge, information, or feelings. In depersonalization disorder, the patient's self-perception is disrupted. Patients feel as if they are external observers of their own lives, or that they are detached from their own bodies. Depersonalization disorder is sometimes called "depersonalization neurosis."
Depersonalization as a symptom may occur in panic disorder, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder, or another dissociative disorder. The patient is not given the diagnosis of depersonalization disorder if the episodes of depersonalization occur only during panic attacks or following a traumatic stressor.”
A simpler definition says this -
Depersonalization disorder is marked by periods of feeling disconnected or detached from one’s body and thoughts (depersonalization). The disorder is sometimes described as feeling like you are observing yourself from outside your body or like being in a dream. However, people with this disorder do not lose contact with reality; they realize that things are not as they appear. An episode of depersonalization can last anywhere from a few minutes to many years **The bolded red parts are what I most identify with. I am constantly feeling as if I am watching myself, typically from a position just over my right shoulder. The first time I'm aware of this happening is during one of the abuse episodes - in the car. When remembering my past, I do not feel connected at all. It's a very intense numbness. I used to think it was just a coping mechanism. But it's really more than that. I have trouble really figuring out where reality begins and ends.
I blamed my lack of connectivity on the fact that I had to be so many different people. There were a lot of different expectations depending on who I was around, and lots of different stories to keep straight. It got to where I couldn't remember what really happened and what didn't. However, this problem continued over into all areas of life. I often have difficulty figuring out what really happened and what I just thought might happen. Did I really do something? Or just plan to do it? Did I really have a conversation out loud? Or just in my head?
In intense situations, I detach - watch myself from afar. My "floating self" yells at my "body self," telling it what to say and how to act. Then later, I can't remember which is real.
Self-injury was my way of bringing the pieces together. The pain made me snap back into place. It was if the giant rubber band that was stretched out, comes back together. But I gave up SI.
I'll often ask my husband - Did I do this yet? Or, did I tell you this? I also accuse him of telling me something different, when really I was just replaying things in my head and testing out different reactions. Then I can't remember which was real and which was not.
So why do I care? What is the effect? If I have this depersonalization disorder or not? Does it matter? Will someone saying, "yes Enola you have this diagnosis," have any bearing on me? I'm not sure. There's the intellectual, rigid part of me that wants to know everything for sure - wants answers. But from a practical standpoint, I'm not sure it matters. It's not really affecting me severely enough to impact my life. Sure, people think I'm crazy sometimes when I insist something happened one way instead of another, or I get lost in "la-la land" or stare off into space, or talk to myself or someone else that isn't there. But that's been going on for years and I've learned my own little ways of coping. So for now, I'm not going to rush out and try to prove this one way or the other. I'm just going to let the knowledge sit and say "yeah, could be a possibility - I relate to some of that."