I have made a number of difficult admissions through this site. This is probably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever contemplated posting to a public site and it has nothing to do with BDSM but everything to do with me.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have been through psychotherapy and have been on prescriptions for psychoactive drugs at various times in my past – over the course of writing this blog, even. However, I have not been completely open about one of the more challenging aspects of my atypical neurology, and in order to be consistent with my mission, I have to be unflinchingly transparent and vulnerable, so here I am…
I have Dissociative Identity Disorder.
For those of you who don’t know what that is, you can follow the link above or just accept that it is the current accepted terminology for what used to be called multiple personality disorder. There is literally more than one person living in my body – though the degrees to which they make themselves known can vary tremendously.
The ways in which it can manifest are legion, and I have been in deep denial about my own condition for years, which created more than a few problems for me. I was able to conceal it from almost everyone, even from myself – perhaps most especially from myself, by being paranoid and attempting to control every aspect of every moment of every day of my life. I spent huge amounts of mental and even physical energy in just monitoring myself for consistency and trying to portray an unbroken narrative for myself and everyone who interacts with me.
It was exhausting.
I developed habits though… I repeat myself a lot, both in written and verbal communications. Most people completely fail to notice, but those who do tend to think that I am merely emphasizing the things that I want to say for effect – and often that is the case, at least in part, but sometimes I’m also doing it so that I can make sure that I will remember… I meditate – and when I forget to do that, or when life gets in the way too often and I don’t make the time – I suffer for it. I use drugs to force my mind into the state I want it to be in sometimes as well. Nootropics and psychoactive chemicals are my friends and allies.
The memory gaps are the worst thing.
I can be working, sitting at my desk, writing code and being in the zone, and then I will lose track of time and space and my consciousness will return and I will find myself in a completely different part of the office or in the kitchen or even in my car, completely unaware of hours of time that have passed where I have had conversations with coworkers, accomplished work goals, even eaten meals or used the bathroom. That happens with some frequency, and I’ve just grown accustomed to it. I have learned to ask leading questions and prompt people to fill in missing information for me in conversations all of the time, because when I’m at work, about a third of the time it isn’t really me there.
Sometimes when I go out to my favorite weekly event – Bondage a Go Go – I will end up finding myself at home in bed and not remember how I got there. Sometimes there are people with me throughout this entire process – my former partner would frequently accompany me to and from BaGG and spend the night with me, and often I would not remember things from some point after our arrival until the next day. Often pieces will come back to me, but sometimes they won’t – until my personality shifts again, and then all of the corresponding memories come flooding back in again, only to be lost anew when I shift again.
My personality shards – my alters – to use the common parlance, each have different motives and desires and personalities and while I am fortunate enough that these are almost always in concert with each other, sometimes they are not. Sometimes they even conflict with each other… and as you can probably imagine, this makes dealing with me difficult sometimes. I can seem like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at times, I’m sure.
Recently, this has all been very different though – and not in a very flattering way.
When I was suppressing the expression of personality shifts, I would minimize the impact, even when they happened. I would go on with life as if I was always the one at the controls and while I had gaps in my memory of things, I could usually fill them in pretty effectively and by denying the gaps existed, I was presenting myself and everyone around me with an unbroken narrative.
And that is how we experience the world, I’m realizing… I mean, I’ve always known this, but it is not something that I usually spend much time thinking about. We experience everything as a continuous story, beginning when we are born and ending when we die. This is the normal, expected, and understood way in which people live their lives – when you’re trying to explain anything to someone else, one of the most effective ways to do that is to relate it with a story.
With the exception of our daily sleep periods, humans experience their entire world as an unbroken narrative.
Except — I don’t. There are breaks in the narrative for me – every day. When I was not monitoring myself as much, and when I denied my interior pieces, I failed to notice this, but the narrative of my life is not unbroken – and there are pieces missing for me all of the time.
I had no idea how much this was affecting me.
To be experiencing so much missing time and to be openly accepting the transitions was causing my mind to fragment even more. Personality characteristics that are dominant with one alter were beginning to bifurcate more tenaciously and rapidly, leaving my dominant self, the one who I most often consider to be me, with the least agency that I can remember ever having.
The parts were growing at the expense of what remained of me.
For some reason that I can’t explain – maybe it’s self-selection bias, maybe it’s something else – the BDSM community seems to be home to many more people with DID than would match population statistics. I know several people in my local scene who also have DID and one of the more fascinating things to me is how the disorder manifests differently in different people.
Most of my friends and acquaintances who have the disorder have the ability to conduct conversations between their alters within their own mind. The only way that I have ever been able to have an actual conversation with a different part of myself was very recently when I was staring at myself in the mirror and having a conversation with myself.
My alter – who is known as Damien, though he doesn’t refer to himself that way except to note his presence to those in the know – would talk through my mouth at me as I stared at the mirror, and he would respond to things that I thought back at him – so anyone watching the conversation would only hear Damien’s voice, and I imagine it would have been really fucking freaky to watch.
Damien told me about the world as he sees it, a little bit about what he wants, and a lot more about how he wanted my former partner to succeed, and plans for how she can probably do that. He told me about his disappointment in me. He told me that he does not understand why I let myself get hurt, and he offered to take over for me. Permanently.
I almost let him.
It is something that I still think about. Since having that weird conversation with myself a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been unstable. I have a very hard time concentrating on anything at all. I can tell that he feels much more stable, more in control, more complete than he used to be.
A completely different alter – one who lives in a very different world than I do, and who believes in things like magic and supernatural connections between things – led Damien and I through a ritual that was intended to close some of the gaps in my memory and help him to cope with the fact that his carefully laid plans were falling apart and give him some broader context in which to operate.
As far as I can tell – from his perspective – it was a complete success. I feel slightly more grounded than I did, and it did return a small portion of the personal agency that I feel was eroding, but he is resplendent. He has been staying out of the light because I did not accept his offer to take over control for me, but his fear and doubt are gone, and mine still remain – and may be even greater, and while I don’t actually know if his offer is still valid, it tempts me even now.
But it is a terrifying thing. It feels like a lesser form of suicide. If I do this – who will I really be? I know that I won’t disappear entirely, Damien doesn’t when he is no longer in control – and he continues to learn and grow.
I am nearly certain that this is something that I have already done once before – not to let Damien take over for me, but for me to take over for the one who could no longer handle living.
I may very well be the result of a first suicide of this type, and the original progenitor me is still locked inside me somewhere, but he never comes out anymore – would that be my fate if I were to surrender to the more Dominant part of me?
Who knows? Perhaps it is all delusion anyway.
I’m still too afraid to try – still too afraid to know.
And so – I remain Rant. For now.