Does Someone You Know Have Dissociative Identity Disorder?
With more than 1% of the population having dissociative identity disorder (DID), it's more likely than not that you know someone who has DID. He or she may be open about his or her diagnosis, or you may suspect the disorder even though he or she hasn't admitted it. So, what should you do if you think someone you know has DID?
People with DID vary in their levels of openness about their disorder. Some people are openly multiple. They are comfortable letting anyone know they have DID. Other people with DID are more private. They may disclose their diagnosis to close family and friends, but they do not share their diagnosis with the public. There are also people who keep their DID a secret from everyone, including friends and family.
Things to Consider When Someone You Know Has DID
Respect Boundaries Regardless of a Person's DID Disclosure
Not every person with DID is willing to disclose a DID diagnosis. Mental health diagnoses come with a lot of stigma and misunderstanding, especially DID. People with DID already struggle with safety, and disclosing their multiplicity may be seen as a risk to their safety. It's best to let them know you are a safe and supportive person, instead of asking them about their diagnosis outright.
If you do ask someone about a DID diagnosis, always respect the response you get, even if it may be denial. You never know a person's reason. Someone may not actually have DID, or the person just may not be ready to disclose. Whatever the response, don't push the issue. Be respectful of the person's right to privacy. Continue to support the person, and when the person is ready, if the person ever is, he or she will open up to you in his or her own time.
You Can Be a Source of Support for Someone with DID
If someone you know has DID, be there for the person. The diagnosis of those with DID doesn't change who they are. People with DID are human beings, people just like you and me. They have needs, and one of those needs is social support. It's okay if you don't know what to do -- you don't have to be their therapist--just be a friend. Listen. Don't make assumptions. Learn as much as you can about DID. Be patient. Reach out and provide a helping hand.
Every person with DID is different, and each of us has different needs. One of the best ways to support people with DID is to ask them what they need. It could be a listening ear, or maybe even a hug. Maybe they need a ride somewhere or a safe person to spend time with. Maybe their younger parts need someone to comfort them. Don't be afraid to ask. Even seemingly little things can make a huge difference for people with DID.
There Is Support for You If You Know Someone with DID
While it is important for you to be a source of support, it's just as important for you to seek support as well. If you feel overwhelmed, don't be ashamed. It's okay to take a step back and take care of yourself. You can talk to a therapist or social worker. Reach out to supportive friends and family. There are also numerous online support groups dedicated to family, friends, spouses, and loved ones of those with DID. You are not alone in this.
Remember, a diagnosis doesn't change who someone is. That person with DID is still the same one you knew before -- he or she just happen to be more parts in one body.
Matulewicz, C. (2017, January 18). Does Someone You Know Have Dissociative Identity Disorder?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2017/01/when-someone-you-know-has-dissociative-identity-disorder
Author: Crystalie Matulewicz
She either is my best friend or she hates me so much she actually tryst to hurt me. She has told me that in her past she has suffered some mental trauma because of fights between her parents. I do know that in most cases trauma is the cause for peoples DID. It's really confusing me and sometimes when she's being her "other self" I guess it makes me really upset and because I have autism I'm not that good at coping with stuff like this.