The DID elevator pitch:
We’ve got one body, but then there’s lots of different parts. All ages, male and female, and all different jobs. We range from age two to three all the way up to the body’s current age.
It’s kinda like if you were driving a minivan. You’ve got the driver, but then there’s someone in the passenger seat too, then everyone else in the back. The driver is in control, but gets influenced most by whoever’s in the passenger seat, but also by everyone in the back to different degrees.
Sticking with the minivan metaphor, let’s think about the driver. They’re in the driver’s seat, have control of the wheel, the accelerator, the breaks. They ultimately get to choose where to go. It rarely plays out that way though. The front seat passenger can give directions, argue with the driver over where to go, or reach over and grab the wheel. The backseat passengers can’t reach the wheel, but they can shout directions, throw tantrums about the decided destination, or even clamber into the front seat and fight for control of the wheel. Imagine the chaos if that was a real car on the road!
How we explain DID depends on who we’re talking to. Whilst in hospital last year we spoke to a number of medical students from a local university. Each of those interviews involved me needing to explain what DID was, and how it works for us. I can’t remember what I told them, but it would have been along the lines of ‘a severe dissociative disorder caused by severe and prolonged childhood trauma’ with a lot of emphasis on ‘I’m not psychotic!’. We have conversations inside, and can ‘hear’ each other, but they’re not auditory hallucinations. It’s like lots of thoughts in your head that aren’t your own. Sort of like when you’re trying to make a decision ‘Oh I shouldn’t buy that, I don’t really need it. But how cool would it be to have it? You know you want it!’