Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Depersonalization Disorder --- DID

I’ve had a few friends and blog readers ask me over the years about the possibility of my having DID. My Sister, who knows me probably better than anyone, even questioned it at one time. At first I outright rejected the thought. ~I~ didn’t have that. ~I~ function just fine, thank you. ~I~ certainly don’t have inner parts or anything like that.

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."

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has information on Depersonalization disorder - diagnosis, treatment, etc.

** Information from here and here.


Marj aka Thriver said...

Whoa, Enola! Can so relate to what you're going through with this. My "official diagnosis" is DDNOS--Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Helpful, huh?

I know, when I took the dissociative assessment, I stayed completely clear of anything that I thought sounded just crazy, so I wasn't entirely honest.

But, actually, finding out I have parts and can work with them is WAY better than just thinking I'm nuts.

My therapist now says I have "splintered parts" but not full-blown DID. I don't know how the heck that's supposed to work, but I know it's really kicking my butt right now, whatever the label.

Safe hugs ((((((((Enola)))))))

Danika said...


Interesting topic for the day -

I've been poking around your blog for the past few weeks and want to say thanks for being brave enough to put yourself out "in the world" as it is. A lot of what you write I relate to quite well, and find a lot of interesting similarities between us.

We're about the same age, though I don't have a husband or kids. We both lost an important Grandmother within about 6 months of each other. And so much of what you write I can relate to. I've only begun my journey in some ways. I've been working with a great therapist now for a year and it's taken this long to even get close to starting to admit some of the things that happened in my childhood, although by and large I struggle with saying the words.

I know that I dissociate at times - not enough to have full-blown DID either, but enough to think that there's something going on. So was a very interesting post, especially with all the research links you've put into the topic - I too like to have as much information as possible :)

Anyway - wanted to post at least one comment and not just be a rude poker arounder on your blog, since it's been very helpful to at least validate that what I feel/experience happens to others in similar ways.


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that I don't qualify for a dissociative disorder, but I also relate to the sense of sometimes being an external observer of my own life. I've more usually described it as not being centered or grounded -- being on the edge of my life.

I hope that your continuing reflection and research does bring some healing, help, and / or peace.

jumpinginpuddles said...

we did the test cause we thoguht it would be funny if we didnt come up as DID hmmm we werent laughing when it came up again DID.

but i have often thought depersonalisation is part of D.I.D or at least comes from teh same family of dissocation

Kim said...

Very interesting. Naturally, I'll be taking the quiz myself momentarily. I think your plan to sit with the information for a while is a good one. But I'm not sure I entirely agree with your statement that it's not impacting your life. I think you're just used to it.

austin said...

I got a 67.9%. There's a strong possibility I have DID. :-)

The thing about dissociation is this one must be taught how to recognize signs and alter their actions so that these stressors don't have the same affect on us. Unless we are taught how to deal with dissociation we have no ability to stop it. We can't turn it on and off because we will it or deny it.

Let me say this too E, your last paragraph said despite 4 different things happening regularly this isn't severely impacting your life. If it doesn't impact your life severely how does it impact those around you? For you it may feel like a coping skill but what impact does it have on your relationships, friendships, your job, etc? How does it make the other person feel when you insist something happened a certain way when it may not have? How does it make others feel when they walk in and see you talking to yourself? For you they may be coping skills but for others it *may* be stressful, question dependability and intent. Healing has as much to do with those around us as it does for ourselves.


Paul said...

Sometimes labels are helpful. Sometimes they aren't so helpful. Your experience is really what matters, though I do understand the desire to put your experience into some perspective. If you see a therapist and that therapist gets to know you, you will eventually know where on the spectrum you fall. I am DID, but I live most of my life kind of on the low end of the spectrum. Sometimes not.