The holidays (bah Humbug) Films, the media, and an attempt at giving brief yet admittedly scattered pieces of living with Dissociation. The movie Split is discussed, so possible TW. <3
With the whirlwind of things going on this month many people don’t take into consideration that those living with mental health can’t simply turn these things off.
“Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, can’t we just take a break?” I heard this very comment today. Let’s examine this for a moment. Take a break… This statement involves so many things; first and foremost I would desire nothing more than to simply do this. Based on your question I can see the need and deep hope to do just that, have a break. I will do my very best to push aside my struggles to make your day better. Make no mistake this is done in attempts to benefit you, another piece that many living with mental health problems will often do. It’s appeasement not truth. Bare that in mind the next time you ask a friend or whomever for a ‘break’ from who they are.
Upon hearing this request it pained us. I live with DID and for me emotion is something I struggle with. Yes I can understand them, what they are, the logical reasons people experience them to varying degrees at various times of the year as well as, most of the whys they occur. My struggle is not within the realm of comprehension but more so I find it exasperating people rely on them so profoundly in their lives and decision making. I think it would be a fascinating experience, and one of the very few experiences in my life I’ve not yet to encounter in the way that the typical human does, but I digress.
It fascinates me. It confounds me but before my head explodes in an assault of various connecting words I’ll continue…My mind works as a words vault. The best analogy I can give is that of an endless crossword puzzle complete with distinct clues and side stepped definitions. In addition, there will be synonyms and antonyms for each word clue currently in focus but then it begins to swirl and chaos ensues. In these moments I can ‘feel’ (physically) my parts begin to do what they do, but after years in therapy I can talk this through and typically calm the storm before I lose time. Something that I still continue practicing to this day and I imagine in the years to come I will continue to work at this and I assume become better at it as I put this information to practice. I tend to become better at things as I learn more about them; for me living with DID have become one of those tasks. Luckily I do find the brain an interesting thing and so we continue in our therapy and the pursuit of finding what our ‘normal’ is.
For now, my life consists of various writing assignments, as well as: painting, drawing, crocheting (I find this helps keep my hands worked out, due to some unfortunately extensive nerve damage) where was I? Oh yes, having discussed some various life goals and challenges etc. with my therapist as well as discussing these in and out goals we are pursuing and focusing a bit on speaking about what it’s like Living with DID. “Our talks” as we’re coming to call them, which still sounds odd to me, but none the less, the talks are focused, for the time being, on what it was like for me being unaware of living with DID and what it was like for my parts. Attempting to juggle the push and pulls we put upon each other and the challenges there in. We are focusing on speaking to ‘baby doctors’. Meaning psychology students who are nearing the end of their time as students in the hope that people living with DID can find help in a more helpful way and that they never experience some of the tremendous horrors we faced in our pursuit to wellness. These things should not have occurred. They should not continue to happen to others and their parts.
That being said, it brings me to my final point… for now. The representation of Dissociative Identity Disorder in the media and one of the questions that we’ve been asked countless times, “How do you feel DID is presented in the media, such as films, books or other?”
Well, when I was first asked this question I had nothing to base it on as I had never seen or read anything on the subject. Yes, I was familiar with Sybil (another question asked after my previous response) but for me, living with DID was like living a life of redacted information. Now that time has passed since the first talk we gave, I have familiarized myself with a few different things portraying people with DID. Sybil, The United States of Tara or Frankie and Alice, for example, are not my current concerns… What has been brought to my attention (apparently, again) this week is the new movie, Split, from M Knight Shyamalan hitting theatres January of 2017.
His portrayal, in the movie trailers, of a man living with 23 personalities as this horrible monster I find very troublesome. Yes, it is apparent this man (James McAvoy) is living with DID, from what the trailer shows we, the viewer, can surmise he’s kidnapped three teenage girls, is seeing a therapist (perhaps one of his own identities, this is unclear, but being a Shyamalan horror/thriller many different conclusions can be drawn if you’re a fan of his work) his various parts (or alters, as some refer to an individual’s parts) attempt to help these teens, openly speak with them but ultimately assist in their being held captive. Being a fan of the horror/thriller film genre and Shyamalan’s movies specifically I am on the fence about this one, as I and others like me will be directly affected by this film.
Living with DID is not some gruesome fun 90 minute thrill ride. There can be real fear and dangers to living your life, especially when you’re unaware what is occurring; all you know is you’ve had black outs/lost time your entire life, this is not true for all but was in my case until I was diagnosed. I’m both intrigued by this film being made but also, troubled and concerned. I base my concerns off of the dozens of messages I’ve already received on my Twitter page where I openly speak about my life with DID. My followers and those who’ve seen interviews I have given and things we’ve written on the subject have been reaching out asking if we’ve seen the movie trailer, what my/our thoughts are, those in crisis and then messages from others coming from a place of fear, misunderstanding, and uninformed hate.
People should not need to experience such unimaginable crises. A friend, who lives with DID reached out to us having seen the trailer. The last things she remembered were seeing this film’s trailer. What should have been an enjoyable evening out with friends at her local movie venue turned into another moment of her life of lost time. She returned to many troubling problems. We will not be stating them here, she is ok, and they are managing, having reached out to their therapist.
My seemingly somewhat scattered and long winded point is this. Dissociative Identity Disorder needs to be better understood. The stigmas surrounding all mental health disorders needs to be erased and in instances of dissociation people more often than not live in fear from the many judgements thrust upon them, an example would be movie’s such as Split. Don’t base your understanding of what myself and the many, many others like me go through on a movie. Those living with DID, as I do, want someone anyone to ask, “Why?” It is a simple thing to ask someone. DID can look quite different from individual to individual; all people are different but this can create problems when seeking answers and a diagnosis. DID is not something chosen, it is something that occurs in early childhood due to various severe and repeated traumas. It needs to change and I for one am perfectly accepting of that roll that I seemingly stumbled into. Information and knowledge are the keys in the understanding of all things; the simple solution is stowing away your fear and judgement and simply ask the questions.