What would you like therapists to know about the experience of DID? Most of this applies to PTSD too.
Fast answer: All of us are real. Telling me that some of myself is not real pushes me to not believe myself. I am real, all of me and me and me. I separated out to work like a tag team specializing in coping with one specific area.
Thought about it:
There is so much I wish counselors knew. I was blessed that my first counselor’s experience was extensive and varied. I wasn’t the first Dissosiative Identity Disorder client he worked with. I wasn’t his last either. He preferred family counseling, I had a whole family in me. I wrote an interim post about how awesome my first counselor was. He was a tough act to follow for the counselors after him. I had 3 more. One I fired. There is so much I wish the entire medical field knew about DID, CPTSD, PTSD and many other mental and emotional conditions experienced by people.
Here is a shopping list of wishes…I may add to this as I go along.
I wish the medical field in general knew we were real. Yup, read more than one article or book claiming that separate personalities is a fake. Sadly, some believe this to be true since one of the aspects of DID is people pleasing. If they believe they will be accepted by saying that their alters don’t exist, they will say it. It is sad that outside pressure is how DIDs are created and to survive saying we don’t exist happens. I was allowed to be real by my first counselor.
The counselor I fired didn’t believe my experience was real. I was livid, only lasted two visits. However, the experience underlined how little is actually taught to therapist about DID or PTSD and CPTSD is still trying to be fully recognized.
I wish counselors understood how terrified I was. I practiced over and over what I would say, not to rehearse a lie but to get past the conditioning I experienced to never tell on the threat of death. A child believes those threats are real possibilities. Opening up and telling the truth takes tremendous courage and energy, please, do not belittle those efforts because I practice to say what I need to say.
I realized I could write and write a whole shopping list of what counselors should know and do. However, reality reminds me therapists are human with their own prejudices, styles, histories, and short comings. At some point, every counselor will mess up and say something hurtful or wrong for a client. This is what I learned from my counselor:
1. My counselor is NOT my friend.
2. If I am not there to work on the hard stuff, don’t waste his time.
3. He has boundaries. I actually learned a lot about healthy boundaries because I kept running into his.
4. He can have an ‘off’ day and say all the wrong things for me.
5. He tries not to, but occasionally he will mix me up with another client. Called me the wrong name a couple of times.
6. He will not fix me. His job is to teach me how to fix myself.
7. His job is to work himself out of a job. This means he will teach me to function independently and the process of working out my own emotional problems.
8. He literally told me, “You are too messed up for me to completely help you work through all your problems, you are too messed up.” He was right. He taught me the process which is the name of this blog: Accepting, Coping, Thriving.