Mel’s Corner: The Diagnosis….
Often times I can be asked questions about how it is living with a spouse with dissociative identity disorder, well let me assure you it’s never a dull moment. When I met Dana over 8 years ago and we started our relationship just a few months after that, neither one of us knew she had DID. She had been given many different diagnosis at that time and even had someone give her a rule out of DID, which we quickly dismissed, she just didn’t seem like a “Sybil”. The first time I met an alter, I had no idea. I thought it was just a PTSD flashback. There would be 6 years pass before the official diagnosis. The latter of those years proved to be very challenging.
I’ve learned to appreciate each alter and the specific needs and talents they bring. For instance, there is only one alter who likes ketchup, everyone else hates it and often blocks the alter who likes it from getting ketchup. I learn likes and dislikes when it comes to food, and there have been times that one requests a certain meal only to have another come out while I’m cooking or we are eating and decide they want something else. I’ve learned to cook what Marshall and I want and that usually works out.
In the early days of diagnosis, there was one alter who had no idea who I was, but that has been the only one who had no idea of me. Now that’s not to say that I’m the “spouse” to everyone. To the littles, I’m “Momma Mel”, to others “I’m a friend”, and even others see me as ‘the one who takes care of Dana.”
Around the start of 2012, Dana started having large gaps of time missing and often times during this time there was a lot of aggressive/ angry behavior. At one point it was thought she might have a seizure disorder. We had started psych medications to stabilize her mood starting in 2010, however if a medication worked, it only worked for just a short time. We even tried lithium and ended up in the hospital one month prior to our son being born for lithium toxicity. That was one scary time. Even the mental health system was no help. We were on our own trying to figure this out and get help that was desperately needed.
In September 2013, when dissociative identity disorder was first given as a diagnosis, I was a bit in denial. I had to take everything in and then decide for myself based on the research and facts, did this diagnosis fit? Having a masters in counseling my first go to was to see if Dana met criteria as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. I kept an open mind and I started to consider that this might be correct. The more I met alters and got to know them, the more this diagnosis made sense.
Most people would have no idea that Dana is a multiple. In fact I would say unless we came out and said it, most people wouldn’t have a clue that she is a multiple. The switching is very subtle and sometimes it’s not until later that I put it together that I’ve been talking to someone other than who I thought. They like to try to trick me into thinking they are someone else in the system at times. I’ve learned to adapt but even now I have moments of difficulty. I’ve been told that the roughest time is in the beginning and the system will settle down and things will get much more manageable. I’m starting to see that take place, I think in time we will learn more about how to deal with this disorder.