Tips For Partners Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder
Living with dissociative identity disorder (DID) presents unique difficulties, whether you're the one that has it or the person who loves the one living with it. I can only imagine how frustrating, confusing, even painful it must sometimes be to have a partner with DID.
I've witnessed how challenging it often is for my own partner and, if some of the comments I've received here at Dissociative Living are in any way representative, her experience is typical. But it's also largely ignored. Partners of people with DID don't get that much support or encouragement, primarily because only those who've been there can truly understand (Caregiver Stress and Compassion Fatigue).
3 Tips for Partners Who Love Someone Living With DID
As someone with dissociative identity disorder, my perspective is different than my partner's. I think that's what makes hers so important. Significant others are in a unique position to offer viewpoints and ideas that might otherwise be overlooked. When I asked my partner what she'd say to someone in a relationship with a person with DID, this is what she said:
- Know and maintain your own boundaries. You can't support others if you aren't supporting yourself. You're going to let your partner down sometimes. That's true in any relationship. When you let someone with DID down, the ramifications can be far-reaching and surprisingly painful. It may be tempting to make your own needs negotiable in order to ensure peace and stability. But that will backfire eventually by sowing the seeds of resentment and creating an unhealthy imbalance. Knowing your limits, and making the hard decisions required to honor them is vital. Believe me, sacrificing yourself won't heal your partner's wounds anyway.
- Nearly impossible, but try to learn how to not take it personally. You're going to be the villain to some no matter what. People with DID generally have trust issues that nearly incapacitate them in relationships. It's not unusual for protective alters to attempt to sabotage intimate relationships. That's not about you.
- Learn as much as you can, but remember all systems are different. There is no way to be in a relationship with someone with DID and not be profoundly affected. Living with dissociative identity disorder is just plain hard. It only makes sense to educate yourself. Not for your partner's benefit, but for yours. It's awfully hard to cope with something you don't understand (3 Ugly Truths about Dissociative Identity Disorder).
Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder Is A Choice for You
Those of us with DID don't have the option of walking away from the illness. You do. For my part, I'd like to remind you that no matter how it feels, DID isn't forced on you. You can leave, or choose not to get involved at all. Those of us with this disorder would spare you if we could. So when it gets rough - and it will get rough - please remember this: living with dissociative identity disorder is a decision you're making, not something we're doing to you. Blame us for our choices and behaviors ... not for having DID.
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Photo by Randy Pagatpatan
Gray, H. (2011, January 17). Tips For Partners Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2011/01/for-partners-living-with-dissociative-identity-disorder
Author: Holly Gray
Hi Jessica, I was wondering how things turned out for you. I am in a similar situation. I sure could use some advice.
Our relationship is only a few months long, and honestly, the hardest thing so far is just keeping everything straight. It's just him and one other alter. So instead of everything being drastically different, its stupidly subtle. Same gender. Same age I believe. The name is even the same just spelled different. I'm getting better at recognizing a switch and he's on medication so he doesn't come out too often. I have to help him remember things, because he'll blackout during a switch. Or since his alter isn't out much, he often forgets (or simply doesn't know) things about people or even their names. But I don't mind any of it and an actually excited to see our relationship grow. :)
My wife was diagnosed with Bipolar a month ago, but after reading this I truely think that she has DID. She went through hell all her life, being sexually abused and recently raped for the second time in her life. It is very hard, she often disassociates and swears at me, insults me and even hits me sometimes. It feels like she is getting worse, and she refuses to take her medication because of the side affects. She always says she can beat it by herself, very stubborn...What should I do? This is affecting our relationship and I'm thinking of getting a divorce...
I have a question for what you would do in my situation. I have been with my wife for 4 years, we have been married since June. She was diagnosed a year ago.
She has 2 alters, and they both hate my wife. We are afraid one of them is sleeping around.. I feel hopeless. Any advice?
Becoming a puppet in a relationship is not linked to whether or not one partner suffers from DID; if someone is going to become a puppet then they'll do so whoever they have a relationship with.
Elsewhere Holly makes a very important point that those of us who do not suffer from DID can choose to be in a relationship that causes us to need to understand and come to terms with the condition, but thise who di suffer of course have no such choice. If we become puppets it's because we choose to be and not because we somehow become enslaved because the one we love suffers from DID.
My partner suffers from DID and because I love her I'm going to do all I can to help her enjoy as stable and fulfilling a life as possible. If that means I must be selfless then so be it because selflessness is an important aspect of love. I will try to support her to be at peace with each of her alters and as far as is possible I will try to provide a supportive environment within which no part of her complex personality feels neglected. I am neither blind nor stupid and I choose to go into this eyes wide open in the knowledge that I might fail and one day she may switch and demand I leave.
Given the divorce rates around the world, the reality is that there is anyway no guarantee in relationships or marriages. But at least I have a choice whereas she, at least so far as DID is concerned, has none.
You might let her know so that she can discuss it with her Dr or therapist. I know my wife tells me when she knows I switch so I can track it as much as possible to try to find triggers to my switching. Rather she knows it or not something is triggering her switching maybe when she sleeps her mind races to much and that makes her switch and maybe her Dr could give her something to help her sleep better
I have a question. My wife has did. She was diagnosed 9 years ago. We have been together for 5 years and her alters talk to me when they are out. They have been very helpful giving me information she has blocked out. We are working to find a experienced doctor to help her. My question is...when she switches should I tell her that she switched? She often switches while she is asleep and wakes up in the middle of the night as one of her alters. So she doesn't even know she switched. She has an idea bc she is super tired although she slept "all night" but in reality she didnt. So do i tell her or do I just not say anything about it?
Thank you for letting me know. I'm sorry this blog is no longer. Maybe someone will want to take it over...such a valuable site.
Robbin, We no longer have a moderator on this site and I do not have experience with what you are asking about. I have had my DID diagnosed for about 9 months and have been married for 22 years to the same man. I only have two alters and they are child alters. Although my husband misses me when the children are out, they do not act out towards others. It sounds like your partner probably has many more alters than I do. I would really encourage you to get counseling if you are still considering pursuing a relationship with this man. It will give you the support you need and a better understanding of DID issues that will help you make decisions based on the big picture of what is going on.
I really need some insight. I have been seeing a man with DID for about 8 months. It's an odd relationship. We have texted daily. We used to see each other every other week for intimacy but that has now trickled to once a month. It has lessoned since he has told me he has DID and the more alters he introduces it seems the more he pulls away. I have told him how honored I am that he has shared this part with me and that he is so very special to me. He has one alter that wants to engage in wild sex parties with him. I told him I wouldn't want to ruin my chances with others if I engaged in that with him. Also, the few times I have indicated that I want him as a partner he said as good as I am it cannot be because he is DID and I have only met a couple of them. However, he has introduced me to a few more since he said that. He also tells me that DID people are best solitary.
I am so confused. I'm trying to make some kind of sense of it all. I have fallen in love with this man and I can't even tell him because I am afraid I will scare him off. I do know he has been divorced 4 times and his longest marriage was about 4 years.
Do I engage in wild sex with his alter since he is the one that really likes me? would it ruin my chances with the others? His mains don't have sex because they have responsibilities. What hurts the most is we will be so non-sexually intimate via texting and yet he won't see me. Why is that? Can anyone help?
Hello Debra, I have been newly diagnosed (in the past 6 months) but have read several books and several articles on DID. In short, no, not every DID person cheats. Not every DID person has total amnesia during a dissociative episode (I have all my memories when another alter comes out but I do not necessarily have control). But, those people that do not remember what happens when an alter comes out does not mean that the alter will cheat on a partner. None of my alters have cheated on or even flirted with other men. Now, not all my alters happen to like my husband ( my abuser was my father) but that is something we are addressing in my counseling as my husband gets more and more comfortable with the idea of my having DID.
My husband and I are in counseling together and that really helps us communicate through issues like this. Are you and your partner in counseling together? It would also be helpful for you to have your own counseling during this time. It can be a very traumatic time for you also. Please remember to take care of yourself.
Is it a fact that all people with DID cheat? I have been I thought happily married to someone we just recently discovered has DID. I am now scared to death. Please someone explain this. Also, my husband denies knowing of ever cheating and I of course believe him in the states I have seen he would not cheat. He was abused horrifically and originally believed he was to fault for it or at least responsible and that some of it was consensual but that is now obvious it is not the case at all. There was no consent to what a dx sociopath does to a child. I may be reading these messages wrong but advise do not have a monogamous relationship? One Alter may not know what the other is doing?? Please someone help!!!
I'm 57, my girlfriend is 49. We've been in a relationship for about two years. The relationship is magical to say the least, in many ways. We enjoy many activities together. The physical part is great . Lots of affection, cuddling, hand holding and kissing. Her sex drive is very high which is one of the concerns I have. She is sweet, caring and thoughtful. We basically never fight. I found it difficult from the beginning of our relationship to bring up any issues. Seemed as if she has a wall which makes her unapproachable. In some ways it seems if she creates a wall so that she is not noticed or parts of her are not noticed. We've not had any intimate or personal conversations other than the ones I've initiated. At our stage of relationship I would think there would be talks of the future and how to work that out, etc. I did break up with her in February at which she pursued me with texts for two months which I ignored except for one in which I asked her to leave me alone. She didn't leave me alone though the attempts lessened. About a month ago she sent me an inoccuous, "hope you a are well" to which I responded. Well we ended up meeting and she said she had tried to make things nice for me. I responded I had everything I wanted from her except honesty and mentioned specific situations which she didn't respond to and I didn't push it There had been and seem to be a number of situations of lies, dishonesty. I'm almost certainshe is a pathological liar. Been many situations of suspicious activity on her iPhone and iPad. My INSTINCTS tell me something is going behind the scenes. Maybe she's on dating sites. I just dont know. Originally I thought she was sociopathic though I don't think so. I have confronted her and she denies everything. She seems very hurt when I confront her on my suspicions of her being dishonest. Strangely she seems to be apologetic to me where I would think she would be angry at me accusing her of such things. She is tactfully very manipulative.
I do love her though I need to end this relationship. I don't want to hurt her at the same time I don't want to be manipulated into staying in the relationship. Any suggestions on a kind way of ending a relationship with a person with DID?
I wonder if anyone ever responded to your message regarding your girlfriend. Hopefully by now, you're life is in a better place. I think that most DID victims are pathological liars. I think they have to be as a means of survival. I've just broken up with my boyfriend who I loved so much and I am convinced he has DID ... the lies I've learned, they blow my mind apart.
Hi, I just came across this forum and saw your message. I too just recently broke up with my partner that I loved dearly because he lied and cheated so much it was affecting my health. Can I ask you if you ever recovered from the heartbreak? Are you in a better place? please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I just wanted to say thanks for this post. I am currently in a relationship with someone who has DID and for the first time last week I experienced a switch in personality.
This website and the comments gave me some insight and a better perspective of my situation. I think the hardest part for me was not the switch itself but the aftermath.
My boyfriend is currently working on recovering his memory before the switch so at this point he doesn't remember me or he doesn't remember us. That's hard. How does one deal with that? I feel like I am talking to a stranger.
This is my first time experiencing a switch and him recovering so I'm not sure how to handle it and would like advice or information on such. I read some comments but still would like more insight if any could be offered. Thank you.
Hello. Thank you for your comment. I don't know exactly what to do in your situation. The only thing I can recommend would be getting a therapist of your own who you can talk to about these experiences. Someone who is educated about DID will be able to support you through therapy. I imagine it is very hard to deal with this situation. You may try going to therapy with him if you don't want to get your own therapist. Those are the only ideas I have. A lot can be researched online, as well. Good luck to you!
This weeb site really has all of the information and facts I eeded about this subject and didn't know who to ask.
I'm happy that you have found a good resource! I hope to keep the information coming. Thanks for your comment!
Sorry im in and out of a same sex relationship. I love my partner to bits id put her before myself. But recently have come to realise. Its abusive. The watching someone self harm the negative vile speeches they throw at you. The nightmares you have at night. Waking up in a bed with god knows what. Coming home to find seens of a horror film. Where is the support for the family and partners and how do you ever come to terms with this.
I lived with and was married to someone with DID. She told me when we got married but it wasn't until the marriage ended that I truly grasped the disorder and even still struggle with the person's struggles. Our marriage had moments of love, but very little intimacy. I'm not sure it's truly possible with people who have DID to be intimate. I tried very hard to understand it, but in the end I couldn't live without an intimate connection anymore. We felt like roommates rather than a couple. I wish there was more research into DID and help that could be offered. Deep in my heart there will always be a place for my ex with DID. I'm saddened that I felt powerless to do anything to help change.
Have been reading and learning... it is a very different situation in the parent child situation..my mother having this /and or severe bipolar with psychotic features. The damage done to children's mental health is tragic. Much work needs to be done in long term therapy for those of us who have had a parent with this disorder. My prayer is that there is full healing for all MI and illness when we reach our heavenly home.
I have been reading these comments and I have been identifying so much with a lot of the persons on here. The guy that I am talking to had DID and he has not committed to me but I know that he is talking to someone else. Recently he has told me that he think it is best for us to see less of each other because one of his alters has decided for them to start a relationship.
I am not sure if he sees me as a threat but most all of his alters gets along with him except one. they all appreciate me and he thinks i am a diamond that he has found, and even though i have known of the alter that isn't attracted to me from the beginning he has allowed us to get closer. So the fact that he is tearing us apart now confuses me. I have not asked him to get help or move out with or pressured him to commit. So i am finding this confusing. I know it is a choice especially since he told me that he has analyzed it and the odds are against me but i love him.
Not sure how I can reach him...it seems I've tried everything, but open to any suggestions. I can't stand that the system thinks I am the abuser :-(
This is Elizabeth from the posts way up above. It's now 3 years later. My former boyfriend with DID is still with this other woman. His entire system has blocked me from talking to any part of him, and he reacts with pure hostility and ugliness anytime I see him around our small town.
I don't think the other woman knows what she's dealing with, and I am still heartbroken that I can't even have a conversation with the man (or other alters, like the Little who also loved me) that I had a relationship with for over 7 years. The system has me completely blocked out.
Every now and then though, I will still see some very small "pop-outs" and he will wave at me like a little kid when he passes me in the car on the main road, or sometimes I'll see him standing in the distance, and he'll be looking longingly at me like he's going to burst out crying. But he can't seem to speak to me...
It breaks my heart, and I still want to reach him and be able to have a conversation with him again. I did have one conversation at the town post-office with an alter who not only did I not know, but who had no memory of us ever going to Hawaii together (we would go each year on vacation), and when I asked him why he left me for another woman, he said, very confused as to why I would say that, that he never left me for another woman. That WE were never together!
It was then that I saw the extent of his dissociative amnesia and why this alter felt I was "a stalker" who was always running into him. He had no memory of our 7 year relationship at all.
It still breaks my heart to see him with this other woman, and I still have never given up on trying to one day reach him. I live my own life now, but am always still open to reconnecting with him, to have some kind of connection.
I've tried emails, texts, letters, saying hello and always being friendly and as non-threatening as I can be when I see him around town, but the one who is out, or the ones who are out, not only don't remember me, but have developed some kind of paranoid delusion about me, and believe I am the abuser who is out to get them.
I am hoping that one day it will change, and the ones who remember me will come out again. I was always incredibly kind to him.
So, 3 years later...no change.
I have been with myso for 16 years Bout 8 years ago be was dn with did . He has a side that hates females and we have had so many issuez . I try to reassure him and try to give him love but he responds with hateful things he doesnt want to work and i have no idea what to do. He says i say things i dont or that like right now im talking to a guy. I try to show him what im doing but he refuses to look. Now he is on fb looking up females to talk to . I know i shouldnt let it bother me but i feel overwhelmed . What if anything can i do to help him see
thank you for putting up this article and all the comments ive been able to relate to so many of them in such a big way my partner has did i struggle to cope with her most of the time
Thank you for being here. I am in a relationship with the most beautiful soul who happens to have DID. We recently became very close we love each other, however, my being so close along with recent upheavals in his life has caused other alters to start coming forward. He did try to warn me away from him by telling me about the DID but I stayed and I don't regret doing so. I understood the concept of DID. Because of growing up in an home with physical abuse and being sexually and emotionally abused as a child, emotionally abused as a teenager, raped as a young adult and then living in an emotionally abusive relationship for my adult life, I split. However, I usually simply step outside myself and the other me(s) is a spectator like watching a movie but unable to feel the pain that she feels.
My background with DID is pretty limited. But I am one of the few people who can understand and recognize his pain. His DID is different from mine in that, mine work together to and for the most part protect the main me and I know when I split because I can sometimes tell who is in the room and who is manning the wheel (kind of like the crew taking turns manning the periscope of a submarine). With his some of his personalities try to hurt him and they are totally different persons, some know of the others but I think others don't.
My SO did tell me about the DID and tried to keep some distance between us because he was afraid to lose me. One of his alters is beginning to see me as a threat. That alter got a girlfriend and is using her to sabotage us and him. He wants me to abandon him to teach the others not to trust, I have not given in so far.
We live in the same home. He is my room mate. I would like for him not to have his girlfriend over because it hurts the main me. Last night I had a standoff with his GF and this caused me to split for the the first time in a year. I had to put the main me to sit in the corner while I deal with this because she is hurting too much, but, she really loves him so I need to handle this cautiously. BTW I do not think she knows about the DID and I don't think it is a bad thing he needs that and her right now. But I just don't want her in my home. I guess the question to you who have more experience with this is - Is saying that I do not want his GF in my home a reasonable boundary?
Thank you for sharing so that I know that we are not alone.
My boyfriend's alter is taking over and sabotaging our relationship. He is now in a another relationship. He is trying to get me to break up with him because I am the only thing holding him steady. If I do the breaking up it would mean that I have rejected him and he will spiral. I think at worst he wants to kill him but I am standing in the way; at least he wants to get me out of the way so that he can take over unopposed. Is this typical? I am laying down definite boundaries but sometimes feel like I am not being respectful to him by not cutting him loose. I know that our relationship is difficult for him because I see the pain that he is trying to hide. Is this typical?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I have recently found out that I'm pregnant..also recently found out that my boyfriend of a year has DID. He originally told me about one other altar, according to him this person didn't like females or sex. This altar for the most part was someone on his head that didn't show himself.
Last night he went out and didn't come home, after arguing I got a text msg telling me it was Steve..my boyfriends name is Steven..Steve is the altar..he told me I would not take his child from him..which I never considered..he said that he planted his "seed" in me to make sure he would live on. This has me really freaked out because it means that he has been having sex with me. He went on to ask if I knew who was in control,him or Steven. This is all freaking me out. Is it possible for him to be a functioning father?
First of all, I'd like to start by saying your blog has been immensely helpful to me. I don't have DID, but my fiance does, and a lot of what I know has come from here. Helped things to not seem like such a mystery, I guess.
But I guess I'd like some advice now. I've searched the web a hundred tunes over, and can't seem to find anyone in my situation, though I'm sure others exist.
Without getting into the long back story, I'm dating a girl who I'll call Sara. I found out a few months into the relationship that I was really saying aboy we'll call John. John and Sara can communicate with each other, transition easily back and forth (I can request John back, for example, and Sara is generally okay with that.) The only problem we're having right now is sex- John gets jealous if I sleep with Sara, but Sara has expressed that she's going to do stuff, whether it's with me or not, though she'd prefer me.
I don't really know how to phase what I'm asking but... do you have any advice about this situation? I know if Sara dos something, it's not John, but I'd still view it as cheating and I'd be heartbroken. But John would see me with Sara as cheating. In our entire relationship, this is the only thing that's caused us any kind of stress, and while we're not fighting about it, I don't want it to get to that point...
Thank you for any insight, and again for all the help your blog has provided me already.
I am so grateful to have found your blog. Thank you for the information that you post.
Thank you so much for this article. I have been in a relationship with someone with DID for 8 years now and for the longest time I have tried to crawl through the contradictions and relationship 'games' and endless questions about my trustworthiness and agenda and on and on and on. Yes, I have sacrificed myself time and time again to keep the relationship together, albeit that may not have been the best thing. We have a 7 year old daughter and for her sake I have kept it together. It has been Very Rough to put it mildly.
My partner has finally written a full article about her experiences and what is like inside of her and has trusted me enough to give it to me to read. It was hard for her to do this, I know. I think that she may have been encouraged by her psychiatrist to do this. I am not sure, but I suspect that this was the case.
Basically, what I am saying is that she has admitted to me that she has DID and she had never really done that before and nor had I researched enough on my own to put a name to all of this. Heretofore, I just saw our 'relationship' as the most difficult human relationship that I had ever known. It may remain that way from here on out anyhow, time will tell, but I can say that just putting a name to it all has helped me personally in an immense fashion.
Thanks for being one of the first stones to step on in my walk across the river to a broader, more comprehensive understanding.
Thank you so much Healthy Place and Holly Gray. This blog has been a lifesaver.
I finally became convinced today that my wife has DID. We’ve been married over four years. She has one daughter from a prior relationship who doesn’t know any other father than me.
What persuaded me away from the diagnosis for so long was the Hollywood portrayal. At first I thought, well she doesn’t introduce the alters with other names. And I hadn't noticed them dressing differently.
In addition, I had heard that the condition was “very rare.” It’s prevalence actually is close to 1-2% in the general population, which means its just as common as schizophrenia.
But many other things in her life and ours together finally convinced me enough to look into it more today.
We initially met and corresponded by e-mail. I wonder if writing is one way to communicate more systemically.
I appreciate the advice to establish and hold to firm boundaries. I’ve therefore established some written guidelines that must be maintained in order for our marriage to continue and prosper.
I love both my wife and my daughter very much. The worst thing however is that one alter is, at best, callous, and at worst, prone to violence. Although she usually only destroys furniture and other objects, she also may take to all-out fighting. The police have been called twice. The first time was about a year ago, when I called. A few days ago, she called.
I had slipped into being DID’s puppet. I really would love for our marriage to succeed. I’ve spelled out some basic ground rules in writing. Either we stick to them and our life together improves, or I must begin the search for a divorce attorney.
Thanks for all the advice. I know now that discussing the diagnosis with her would almost surely come off as a confrontation to at least one alter. She’s been very amenable to therapy in the past. But we've recently moved and she has yet to establish with a new one. I succeeded in finding some excellent group therapy which seems to be helping me quite a bit. Hopefully, she'll find a beneficial therapist soon.
She also has done much better to have scheduled responsibilities in her life. She even held the same professional job for close to a decade. But she’s had some difficulty finding even a volunteer job since our move. I’ve asked her to have at least 12 hours of scheduled time per week in volunteer, school, or employment. Since our recent altercation she has become very motivated to obtain even more work.
Questions for you & others familiar with having or living with the diagnosis: (1)Any way to improve our daughter's chances of avoiding it? (2)What are/is the best thing/s for me to do when the violent alter returns? And, (3) do you agree that writing, especially regarding important subjects, may help?
Thank you so much Healthy Place and Holly Gray. This blog has been a lifesaver.
I finally confirmed today that my wife has DID. We've been married over four years. She has one daughter from a prior relationship who doesn't know any other father than me. We'll be unable to have more children.
What persuaded me away from the diagnosis for so long, was the Hollywood portrayal of it that made such an impression on me when I was a child. At first I thought, well she doesn't introduce the alters with other names nor dress differently. In addition, I had heard that the condition was "very rare." It turns out it's prevalence is close to 1-2% in the general population, which is just as common as schizophrenia.
But many other things in her life and ours together finally convinced me enough to look into it more today.
Our initial courting was electronic. I wonder if writing is one way to communicate more systemically.
I appreciate the advice to establish and hold to firm boundaries. I'm even considering the composition of some written guidelines that must be agreed to and maintained in order for our marriage to continue.
I love our daughter very much and most of Tracey as well (yes, she has the same name as your partner). There's one alter that's prone to violence - usually destroying furniture and other objects, but also prone to all-out fighting. The police have been called twice. The first time was about a year ago, when I called. A few days ago, she called.
I had slipped into being DID's puppet. I really would love for our marriage to work. I'm going to spell it out in writing. Either we stick to the guidelines and our life together improves, or I begin the search for a divorce attorney.
Thanks for all the advice. I know now that discussing the diagnosis with her would almost surely come off as confronting to at least one alter. But she's been very amenable to therapy in the past. I'm going to insist that she get back in.
She also seems to have done much better to have scheduled responsibilities in her life. (She even kept a job for close to ten years!) We recently moved and she's had some difficulty finding a job. So I'm going to ask her to have at least 12 hours of scheduled time per week - volunteer, school, etc.
Questions for you & others familiar with having or living with the diagnosis: (1)Any way to discourage our daughter from developing it? (2)What's the best thing(s) for me to do when the violent alter returns? (3)How do I nurture love, respect, & compassion in both her and me?
I am a psychiatrist involved with a brilliant man who I did not realize had DID. I found out in our last phone call. He disappeared for two weeks which was frightening and confusing for me. Then out of the blue I started getting texts from him asking if he could move in with me and saying that I was his soulmate. I said we "we need to talk." He finally called and while playing the piano in the background told me that he had met a woman named Lisa whom he was living with now and although she was not his soulmate she gave great back rubs. I said "do you understand I am breaking up with you?" His reply was "are you breaking up with all of us?" That's when I got it.
Here is the rough part. Then another alter told me the details of his sexual abuse at age 3 by. a neighbor. He indicated he had never told anyone before. I gently said, "do you have a therapist?" He said, "you are my therapist." I said "no Honey I'm not." Then he went back to the piano playing alter and said he had to go and hung up.Late that night while I was asleep he texted "I love you. I miss you."
I don't know what to do. I don't think that trauma alter had spoken to anyone before. I think when he found out I was a psychiatrist he was drawn to me. He trusted me but is also sexually acting out at the same time. Any advice from the DID community would be much appreciated. Right now we are out of touch. I assume I will hear from him again, though. Obviously I cannot be his therapist but I do not want to betray his trust either.
Do you have a blog or own website?
I have read most of the comments in special yours Elisabeth.
I am glad I found this website. Off course I searched for some info on multiple personality (dis)order. For me it is an order. I have a guy friend, in fact he is the love of my life who appears to be having mpd.
We started hugging when he helped me because I felt depressed and it became for me a deep passionate love and much much more than I can describe here.
He constantly switches parts - often in the middle of a conversation.
It helps me a lot what I read here, it sounds so familiar. Unfortunately or fortunately I switch also. I am not certain what those switches are and I can never be totally certain if I am mp or if he is mp. I know you call it DID but I like the term mpd or plain mp better.
I also have been pushy with my friend. I just wanted him to tell me what is up and to say "yes I have more than one part" or "I am DID - do you know what that is?" I also have the feeling often, that he has NO idea that he switches. Once he says "I am clairvoyant" and he IS. Then he says "I am not clairvoyant" and argues with me when I said "yes you are". Then one time I made a comment to him that "you always change" and he says "You wouldn't want me to be always the same".
I truly love him. He often lets me know that he loves me too. Even if he did not tell me that... I can feel it. All parts of him seem to like me. I am most irritated when I sometimes be with HIM and then he is just a friend and has a wife and I am blablabla... Then next thing I know he holds my hand and looks so extra deep into my eyes and says have a good day my love. I know he means it.
He also has a part(?) who seems to be my boyfriend. This part seems to be younger.
I can not talk to him about those things, he seems willing to talk in many parts, but there is no time (I see him only at his business). Then a few times he arranged meetups where we could have some time together... and when we did he was the other guy. I am not always aware right away who he is. Then he may be very protective - I also feel this part is insecure. Ah ya - and he has the hell of an ego at times - that matches my ego very well.
All in all I meetup with him in exactly the same vibration as I am in. I am aware of the LOA also! So that's that.
I came to the conclusion - I wont push the matter of "why do you change and do you know it" any longer. Its just hard because the only "judge" that he is mp or DID is my own self. That should be enough I know, but I would like to communicate it with him. Fact is I love him more than I thought.
As a note aside - for me HE as a whole is the most precious best interesting loving kind special etc. person I ever met. I honor this person. I seek or learn and it is a spiritual practice. Honoring him seems at times or always be more important than his hugs and his touch. Another of my parts dies our of heartbreak for not being touched. Don't try to talk me out of loving him or out of stick to him.
So I am in a relationship with someone and have been for a little less then a year. I have DID and we are trying to decide whether or not having sex with my other personality would be cheating on me?.. What do you think?
I know how horrible all this is/was for you and wanted to say thank you for sharing, it really has been most helpful.
My wife and I have long known she was multiple, but for many years it was not on our radar at all - we both blanked it out and had married before the internet age. That she had been abused we also knew, but this certainly did stay on our radar.
Then a couple of years ago a significant family member died and not long after more memories of abuse returned, and with them came the alters. Gradually we started reading up, but as she became more and more unable to cope she started to seek help. She was denied medication or a referral by her psychiatrist, so eventually last October her union agreed to pay for a formal diagnosis, which came back severe on all counts.
And yes, the process of being diagnosed, being taken seriously by professionals who knew what they were talking about, and the actual diagnosis, was triggering and played havoc with her system. We both hoped the formal diagnosis would enable her to access appropriate therapy, but as her psychiatrist refused to offer this or medication to calm her down it became like banging a head against a brick wall.
Eventually she flipped after one more rejection letter. I was out of town for a conference (for the 1st time in 9 years) when it arrived - the next I knew was a call to say the police, social services and the mental health team had been out because one of her alters wanted to kill herself and the kids. The kids went to friends and she eventually flipped back.
Then a couple of months later she disclosed memories so bizarre, fantastic, paranoid and seemingly contradictory I started to wonder if she might have paranoid schizophrenia as well. I made the suggestion to her and all hell broke loose - any suggestion I couldn't take all of her memories seriously, even if she herself would admit they couldn't all be true, was a red rag to a bull. There was an unholy row that upset the kids.
She calmed down after she talked to a good friend, and things seemed better between us. Next day was a beautiful spring day. It was Easter, so she took the boys out while I went for support counselling. No big surprise when I got back to find no one home. Only when I got a message to say her purse had been found, and I couldn't get hold of her, did I start to worry. Eventually after ringing round friends, her GP, and the mental health team, I called the police. Later that evening she walked into a police station with the kids, in a confused state, and accused me of abuse. The kids went to stay with friends while the police tried to sort out what was what. They spoke to her GP and tried to get her into hospital, to no avail, but at last the MH team agreed to medication. After a night away my wife moved back in, but she was changed. There was a new, over confident and manic alter in charge, one neither me nor her closest confidents had seen before. It later came to me. that day was the first anniversary of the death of her close relative.
After a few days, social services agreed to let me have the kids back, so long as my wife moved out and only saw them for a few, supervised hours a day. For a month my wife had to doss on friends' sofa's and floors before she was allowed into sheltered accomodation. It was a further month before she was allowed home, but by then the damage was done.
Though she is a lot calmer now on the medication, it only helps so much. I now understand that as soon as the kids were taken away from her, out came her strongest protector personality. Of course that protector hates me, and social services, but it is now the dominant alter. Occasionally there are glimpses of the old person, but that alter has so many difficult memories and thoughts to process, I don't blame her for not wanting to hang around long. I liken it to having a bang on her head - the shock of having the kids removed has changed her personality, and only time will tell if it will ever change back. For now I am living with a wife who considers us 'living together for the sake of the kids'. No other alters are allowed out, certainly not those who professed undying love to me. She has changed her politics and her religious beliefs quite radically too.
I choose to stay because of the kids, and because this is my home and their home as much as it is hers, and because of course I entertain the hope she will one day switch back after 15 years of marriage. Perhaps once social services are finally off our back her protector will no longer feel the need to be in charge. Therapy for her is still a long way off. In the meantime I have some support mechanisims in place for myself, though I could do with more.
I also found this website, which has some useful advice and suggestions:
The Significant Others Guide to Dissociative Identity Disorder
I also found a chat with another DID, who admitted to me that even though she was a married minister of religion, she had alters that did not follow her faith or want to be married to her partner.
Once again, many thanks for sharing, it has certainly helped me see what has been going on in my wife's life and our relationship a bit clearer.
Just found this and wish I had found it years ago! I have just left my husband who has DID last year. Couldn't take the confusion any more.
Elizabeth, other than the infidelity (as far as I am aware), your story and feelings read like mine. The confusion is just phenomenal! My instincts tell me one thing and the therapists and hubby something else. From the outside he looks like a lying, lazy, man who cannot be bothered to support his family (we have a number of children). I struggle with this, as that is how it feels on the inside too. Therapists tell me the opposite. He has states that adore me, although this is only lipservice. Deeds not words would be nice.
Whilst I hear what you are saying Holly, and in an ideal world that would be great. But when you have children that need a father, and need providing for, and their father half the time does not turn up, etc. It gets really hard.
I think I have learnt that, at least in my experience, that I cannot have any needs as they will not be met. Life must revolve around the DID partner. Again I really struggle with this. I have to meet the needs of our children too and cannot do that well if depleted all the time from fighting to go food shopping or whatever the seemingly harmless triggers are.
I couldn't see a way forward with him, and apart from him I am intermittently finding it hard as I feel the love and the glances and the teary looks (or is it just manipulation?). That is also the problem for me, I had a DID hubby that also lied within state.
It is lovely to read other people's experiences too and see Holly contribute from the perspective of someone who has DID. What you said Holly made an awful lot of sense. :)
Just found this Blog. My ex-wife was diagnosed with DID, however, it was aftershe quit attend marriage counseling. I continued to attend sessions trying to get a grasp on what was going on. The counselor was a bit hesitant to discuss his thoughts, but felt it was important given my make-up to provide information to give some clarity.
He then handed me a "white paper" study on DID and asked me to read it. Wow! It was her behavior right there in black and white. I believe that what triggered the "switch" was shortly after we were married she became pregnant and just after the birth of our son, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. The next two years was all about survival.
Following her remission, she began exhibiting what I now recognize as a switch. She became secretive, withdrawn and within 6 months abruptly announced that she was moving out with my step daughter and by taht time 2 year old son. Two years of chasing her and on again and off again counseling ended in divorce.
Later I found out there had been at least one affair, I am sure there were more. At this point she seems to have no attachment to me what so ever and thinks that we somehow came to a mutual decision to divorce. I saw her with a friend in the mall the other week. We passed by each other and I said hello, but nothing more. A few minutes later she texted me wondering why I did not stop and chat. I told her considering the circumstances that would be awkward. She texted again wondering why that was so "we talk all the time". Side note we rarely speak unless it is about our son, but I think in her mind we are some how still in some kind of ongoing friendship.
I hqve since read that those who live with DID often lose the concept of relation orientation or have no idea that the relationship has been damaged and have very little concept of the pain they have caused.
It is interesting, baffling and still painful even after 3 years of being seperated and divorced. A part of me feels sorry for her because of the full life that she is missing, but I often wonder if she is even aware of what she has done and it impact on her, me and the children.
Do people with DID HAVE MOMENTS OF CLARITY? I guess the key word is moments...
At any rate prior to the divorce I confronted her with a video tape of her and another man having sex. Of course even with the evidence right in front of her and viewing the video 3 times. She still denied it...probably to be expected. Q
All in all I still love her and pray for her daily. Maybe the only help she is getting is from my prayers.
Thanks for your Blog! It is rare to have so much insight into this disorder...
I'm currently in a long distance relationship with a woman I believe has DID. Before evolving our relationship to a more intimate one, Sadie and I were close friends for over 10 years. Since we lived 500 miles apart, we'd often talk on the phone, sometimes half through the night. We became close enough to share things with one another which we hadn't shared with anyone else. I've known for 6 years she felt like there were other "people" inside her head talking to her, influencing her and "making" her do things. She lives in a small town, where unfortunately mental health resources are limited.
2 years ago, she had a breakdown and was referred to the local mental health clinic. She's been in therapy ever since. She has NOT yet been diagnosed with DID. So far she's been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar-depression, Severe depression with psychotic episodes. The frightening thing is that they are still trying to treat her with medication to diminish what they think are delusions or hallucinations, which only seems to complicate the problem.
Three days ago, she became overwhelmed by the noise from and influence of the "voices". She began to consider self injury or suicide, "to find some relief" as she put it. In that state of mind, she says she's willing to "either silence them or all of us". She called me immediately and had her sister take her to the emergency room. She's been down this road a few times before. This time she packed her bag for an extended stay ahead of time. After one night in the small town hospital under restraints and sedation, they transferred her to a behavioral unit 100 miles away.
This has been the cycle of her life for the past 2 years. She gets overwhelmed and seeks help, they put her into a ward for a week or two where they try different medication combinations and send her home when they think she's stable. Only one psychiatrist has mentioned the possibility of DID, he however was in from another state filling in. She never saw him again.
She was always honest with me about the alters, and is learning about what triggers them to come out. She has what I believe is the typical aggressive protector alter. This alter admittedly holds Sadie's repressed memories from her, and believes she's protecting her in doing so. Some days it's as if she's tormenting or manipulating her by using the memories as collateral. (That's my deduction which I won't share with Sadie. I think she needs to find her own conclusions.) The alter doesn't like me, I think she feels threatened by me and our relationship. In my first experience with her, things didn't go well. I have since learned to embrace her as a part of Sadie and always greet her courteously when she comes out. I'm finding she's less aggressive this way and stays out less, usually no more than a few moments. Sadie wishes she never came out at all.
My fear is that Sadie may never get the level of care she needs in a small town. Due to family commitments however, she intends to stay at least for the next several years. She's an extremely intelligent person. She's researched every disorder she's been diagnosed with, each time coming to the conclusion of "maybe I have this, but that's not all there is going on in me."
Thank you for having this forum available for patients and especially for SO's. I'll be bookmarking and coming back to visit often. The more I can learn about how best to manage my role in her life, the better it will be for the both of us.
The Karen & Tracey above are you the authors of the book, 'Amongst Ourselves'? I am currently reading it so I can better support my partner. She has DID & PTSD. Thank you for this book if you guys are it is my first feel fortunate to have stumbled on to it. It was recommended on a website I was researching DID on. It is written perfectly for me to understand she is interested in reading it when I am finished from me talking about it to her.
Our relationship is a complicated one. We have been friends for over 20 years. We reconnected via Facebook through a mutual friend. Me my current relationship was over years ago. She is in one that is ending too that has been over for years as well.
After long talks and sharing we released we'd fallen in love. We connect on every level imaginable. In the near future we will be living together but until that time we are apart. :-( She revealed to me her condition I was not scared off in the least. I've been researching the disorder and supporting her wholeheartedly.
Right now though she is in crisis (again) she has gone deep into her system. Her therapy is not going as she wants. Her relationship is a mess he causes extreme stress fighting with her, yelling and doesn't support her condition in fact doesn't believe it is real or even her past is real! In the book it talks about having a safe system setup before trying to recall these memories that is not there. Every time she goes to her Dr. she is in crisis for days this time it is three days and counting. She doesn't want to interrogate but learn control and communication within her system as spoke of in the book. Her current Dr. is pushing interrogation.
I am researching here to find a new Dr. for her. She needs to have this in place before she can move obviously. It is a daunting task but I am totally up for it. There is nothing I would not do for her to support her.
So two things if someone can offer any advice on selecting a new Dr.? Plus she will joining me here be living in Ottawa, Canada if anyone knows of any Dr. treating DID here? OR some place to find such a therapist has to be a psychiatrist to be covered my medicare here.
Secondly how can I try to reach her especially long distance when she is lost inside the system? I have contact with several alters that trust me. She has supplied me with a list of all the alters she knows of with there job in the system. There are 13 but 3 unknown one is dangerous to her safety have exchanged with him (it) not sure of its sex? All others are supportive of her one is very young hides never met. We chat online and txt. She is still in the abusive (emotional) relationship there so our contact is limited. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
I am not afraid of a little work. I also support her through thick and thin. We are both Christians. I know this is not the story book romance but neither is DID a happy story line either. I know that with my positive support, a better therapy approach plus our shared faith she will have an easier time of it. Until then I need to know how best to support her and help her long distance? Any ideas there would be great too.
God Bless you All who are DID. On Christians sites they say it is a gift from God used to save the survivors life - I believe that. Your fortitude to move forward living successful lives is promising a great power of example. She strives for this herself. Each and everyone of you amaze me as I pray for her endlessly daily. I'll include you all in my prayers tonight.
First of all thank you for this article. It really helped with some of my worries and put things into perspective. Just recently I came out, and even more recently my close friend and I decided to start dating. She has DID, so I was doing some research when I found this article. I would love to hear more from your partner. Thank you again.
I sympathize with your situation, and am in a somewhat similar situation. The personality that is taking control is not "my husband" and we are still working on that. I've search so long for a site for spouses/SO of DID and have found nothing beyond "this is how you survive divorce"...I can offer you a website if it would help.
Would love to hear more. Do you have a blog, etc?
You can read the rest of my HealthyPlace blogs here: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/ and you can find my other blog here: http://dontcallmesybil.com/.
Thank you for reading!
No, that actually makes a lot of sense, and what I had a feeling it was about! See, I didn't realize I was pushing back then, because the part of him I'll call "Good Guy" was so unbelievably relieved that what he was dealing with all his life actually had a NAME. He was so questioning, and interested, and concerned, and actively seeking information by now researching and researching on his own. I would then get confused when the other part (the aggressive part I call "Stud Guy") came out and told me to LEAVE HIM ALONE, because the other part would come back and want to continue asking questions.
Not only did I know which part to follow, but I have always had the very, very difficult time of being able to tell who is telling me what -- I can't always tell the difference between Good Guy and Stud Guy, so don't always know when he has switched, versus just being the same person who's changed his mind.
But, yes, in retrospect now, I plainly see that I pushed and threatened him. It was so hard though! He would tell me he felt threatened, I would tell him "then we completely don't have to talk about it (DID), and I'll only bring it up if you ask" and then he would ask! But what I didn't see was that one part of him wanted to know, and the other part did NOT, and I see now that perhaps one needs to align oneself with what the system can deal with as a whole.
It was just completely confusing to me.
I was also pushing so much, because "Stud Guy" was acting out sexually and deeply threatening our six year relationship, and the other parts of him had no idea.
But, now it's a mess. The Protector won't let anyone in the system talk to me (except for pop outs of "Good Guy" who doesn't seem to totally know what's going on) even though I still see the body frequently around my small town. Stud Guy is now with someone else, putting up an ultimate devastating barrier. I see the truth of what's going on with his DID, but can't do a single thing about it, and I do still love all of him and wish we could work this out.
I also see, as I'm glad you mentioned Holly, that Stud Guy is "my guy" when I look at the whole system. He has just always hated me, even before the DID talk, and I've never been able to see eye to eye with him. He has always thought, simply by me being around, that I was trying to prevent him from being the "Stud Guy" he is, and have 100% freedom to sleep with other women, because he didn't recognize that there was another part of him that was committed and in a serious relationship with me. He would frequently come out and tell me he HATED MY GUTS because I interfered with him being "free."
I'm really glad Leigh asked the questions she did, and I'm glad you answered them. You've given us a much clearer picture of your situation. I want to gently offer a few thoughts ...
"I interacted regularly with other alters, and knew that some parts knew about each other and accepted that they were many, and some parts firmly thought they were the only one and would get very aggressive when I tried to show them otherwise. I had finally convinced one of his main parts, the one I was mostly in the relationship with, to get help."
You knew he was multiple, you (understandably) encouraged him to get help. But your wording tells me that you pushed it. Some parts would get aggressive when you brought up DID, and the words "finally convinced" suggest that you made a real effort to get him to believe he has DID and seek help. I understand why. You were trying to help. But DID systems are designed to go undetected, most particularly (usually, not always) to the person with DID. The aggressive response you received is a clear message: My psyche is not prepared to deal with this right now. Back off.
I see partners make this mistake a lot - and to be clear, I do believe it's a mistake - they see a problem they know can and ought to be solved and they point it out; then when they're told, in essence, to leave well enough alone, they don't. They push. And push. And then when some other part of the system is more receptive to their information, their dedication is renewed, and they push some more.
I'm going to say this bluntly and it's for every partner of someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder: if any part of your partner's system tells you, aggressively, to back off - and I don't care if what comes out is denial or skewed thinking, it's still a message to back off - then you would do well to leave it alone. If that isn't possible, it's a good time to think about whether or not you can stay in the relationship with your partner *exactly* as they are. If not, the solution isn't to convince them to do anything different - even if you're utterly convinced doing something different is what's best for them (would you like it if someone presumed to know what's best for you?) - the solution is to move on.
You also said:
"I loved him with my entire soul - all of him, knowing he’s more than one.This current dominant alter is the only one I’ve ever had a problem with…and he’s never been so out and dominant than like this."
I think that perhaps some of the struggle is coming from your view of this particular alter as someone other than the man you love. You are separating them, saying I love my partner, but this alter is getting in the way. That alter *is* your partner, even if he says he's not. And I wouldn't be surprised if he feels incredibly disrespected and like his boundaries have been violated ... you said he had DID, he said No, don't talk about it, you didn't listen. Do you see? You love all of him - so treat this aspect of him with dignity and respect. If you cannot be with him without him acknowledging he has DID and going into treatment, that's 100% understandable. But it's just as understandable that he can't be with you if you won't allow him to decide what's best for himself, even if that's denying what is to you an obvious mental illness.
This aspect of his identity became so dominant because it's main focus is protecting the psyche, not your feelings. And unfortunately, you became the threat to his psyche he had to protect against.
Does that make sense? I understand it may be both confusing and painful to hear.
Thanks Tracy for adding your comments. I'm really just trying to understand versus "deciding" what to do about the relationship. I will probably stick around long enough to see if he switches, and to see if during that switch, he will go back into therapy.
If he does, that's one choice, if he doesn't that's another. I do think that this is an alter who is doing "the cheating" and that this switching of hosts came about because of the trauma of the diagnosis which sent the system into chaos. Before that, he had been stable (in terms of who was the dominant host) for years.
So, for now I'm just watching from the background, and praying that he switches back sooner rather than later, and that that part (who's the most co-conscious) will want to get help, AND...that the other parts will let him.
I loved him with my entire soul - all of him, knowing he's more than one.This current dominant alter is the only one I've ever had a problem with...and he's never been so out and dominant than like this.