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Check out Pt 1: How Do I Know if I Have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)?
When I was diagnosed with DID, I couldn’t believe it. It felt like I must be faking it. I was obviously just exaggerating symptoms and lying to the clinician, right?
Even though logically, I knew the recognition was coming from a genuine place of seeing me switch in therapy, experiencing amnesia, and even starting to put names to my alters, it felt unreal.
Self-doubt seems to be one of the universally experienced symptoms post-recognition of DID or OSDD-1b.
Add any doubt you receive after revealing your recognition to other people or seeing people online who present the way you do being called fake. It can be unbearable at times.
I still sometimes feel that creeping self-doubt after seeing comments discussing how a creator is “obviously faking” for symptoms that I also experience. That’s the danger of fake-claiming.
If your system has a host, this can be especially difficult. To a host, the world feels like a singular experience. Sure, you sometimes feel “influenced” in particular directions, but that’s just how most people think, right? Don’t people experience conversations in their head with people that don’t exist in the outside world?
(Note: Before you self-diagnose, please understand the importance of differential diagnoses and DID)
One of my favorite metaphors for being a system vs. not having distinct parts is to think of your thoughts like a tree. For non-systems, thoughts are like roots stretching from the ground to make a singular tree. There may be many different roots, but they’re all part of the same tree. For systems, thoughts are like the same root system that makes up multiple trees. Each is its own distinct tree with unique thoughts, still tied to the same root system but do not form just one tree.
That is to say, non-systems don’t have conversations in their head with people that aren’t in the external world. They aren’t “influenced” by other voices in their head. They have one singular voice. It’s the same voice regardless of where they are.
So, while the hosts in our system were desperately trying to cling to this idea that they were the only people there, a gatekeeper, Penn, decided to try to prove that we were a system.
He binged research pointing to case studies that fit our description to a frightening degree. He categorized photographs by alter to show the physical differences in our presentation. He examined evidence on different dissociative disorders and tried to log dissociative amnesia. It’s hard to know what you don’t remember.
I was consumed with trying to “prove” to myself that I didn’t have it. It was professionally confirmed, and I still felt there was no way. No matter how much evidence was presented, it felt like I was just looking for signs to trick others.
And then, one night, an event happened that made me never seriously question being a system again. I accessed memories.
I wish I could say that I magically recovered a significant portion of my past when I started working with my system instead of against it. But it was an external event that triggered a dissociative episode so bad I could see myself outside of my body.
And then I was flooded with memories of traumatic events like a psychological dam had suddenly been broken. I wrote and wrote everything that was coming to mind so that I didn’t lose it. At that moment, I finally felt like I couldn’t be faking it. How do you fake suddenly remembering years of your life?
Forcing Myself to Remember
Whether you’re a newly recognized system or questioning, some common experiences come up.
When you have dissociative amnesia, you can’t control when you remember your past. It’s so tempting to go digging for it, to try to intentionally trigger yourself to find out your own history. I’ve done it, and I’ve heard many others do it.
It feels like this, desperately trying to connect the events in your life:
Don’t do it.
I know, easier said than done. There’s a kind of distress that people without dissociative amnesia won’t understand. It feels like information that’s on the tip of your tongue, something you should know, but you just draw a blank. Only the information you’re blanking on is severe, stomach-wrenching trauma.
It’s further reinforced by trying to remember to “prove” you’re not a system.
“If I can just force myself to remember, then it’s not dissociative amnesia. I have a right to know my history!”
I can assure you, if you don’t remember it easily, forcing yourself to remember isn’t going to work. It’s like trying to force yourself to not be sad. Chances are you’ll only make yourself more miserable.
Siding with Abusers by Gaslighting Myself
CW: The following section contains descriptions of child abuse.
Something that seems true in almost all trauma victims is that they feel at some point that their trauma wasn’t bad enough to be “real trauma.” This goes for DID as well. Many times I’ve seen new systems say, “but my trauma wasn’t bad enough to create DID!”
When you hear stories of other people that experienced trauma, it’s easy to feel that self-doubt. It’s not like I experienced that. Mine was mild.
“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.“Iyanla Vanzant
Who does that voice sound like? Does it extend the same compassion you’d give a friend?
When you’ve experienced complex trauma, you internalize the voices of your abuser(s).
Every child develops a mental representation of their caregiver to self-soothe as they grow older. When your caregiver is also an abuser, you internalize a mental model of an abuser that is central to your understanding of yourself.
You may have heard your abusers say things like, “you’re being dramatic,” “it wasn’t that bad,” “you’re remembering that wrong,” and “I did what was good for you.” How else would they be able to get away with abusing others?
Your internalized abuser says those things too. They tell you that you do not remember things accurately or the trauma wasn’t that bad.
You’re not your abuser. Don’t gaslight yourself and give them that power.
Your trauma was bad enough. It was real. And your experience is not comparable to others because it’s what you experienced.
It Doesn’t Matter if You’re Faking
Chances are, this article won’t permanently change your mind on whether you’re faking being a system. You’ll likely go through the ups and downs of believing you are and aren’t.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re faking.
Wait, but what if I’m taking resources away from ‘real systems’? What if I’m spreading false information by saying I’m a system?
If the label fits and it helps you, use it. You’re not taking away resources by using resources that help you. It’s not selfish to use what works.
Both non-systems and pro-dxd systems can spread misinformation. Spreading accurate information is not a prerequisite to being a “valid system.” If you’re making it clear you are only speaking for your experience, it doesn’t matter if you change your mind later. You’re being honest about what fits and helps you now.
You’re not saying you’re a system to gain anything. You’re looking for answers that fit your situation. It doesn’t matter if “you’re faking.”
And if you’re seeking a professional diagnosis, it’s been demonstrated multiple times that people who intentionally fake DID (actors) can be easily distinguished by professionals from those that experience real symptoms.
It can be incredibly lonely and confusing when you first realize you’re a system. That’s why it’s important to find others that share your experiences.
Here are some of the groups I recommend joining:
- Dissociative Identity Disorder Support Group
- DID Uncensored, Dissociative Identity Disorder
- Inclusive D.I.D. memes
- CPTSD Sufferers and support
Here are some resources to get you started:
- Dissociative disorders – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology
- Entropy System – A Beginner’s Guide to DID
- Acrylic and Aether’s Best for Beginners
- DID Research
- 14 genders, 1 body: How to Navigate Gender Identity as a Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) System Pt. 1
- Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD) and DDNOS
- A Professional Educator’s Guide to DID
- Grounding 101: Featuring 101 Grounding Techniques!
- What is complex PTSD: Symptoms, treatment, and resources to help you cope
- Adverse Childhood Experiences
Learning you’re a system is a very overwhelming and exciting process. You are not alone in this process, and there are resources you can use to learn more about yourself. Please reach out through the contact form if you have any questions.
Congrats on getting a little closer to understanding yourself, and good luck on the path of self-discovery ahead!