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A Fractured Mind
My name is Jennifer.
Or at least, that is the name of the person writing this.
Inside of me, there are 6 other people who all have their own personalities, ways of looking at the world/themselves, and a job. Together, they form my "system."
Together, they help me function in the face of unbearable pain.
But let's back up a little.
Maybe you've heard of the condition I'm describing? It used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder. Now it's called Dissociative Identity Disorder.
In the media, those with this disorder are shown as bizarre, dramatic, violent, or other unflattering ways.
In truth, we're very hidden and quiet. The whole purpose of the system is to help me (Jennifer, the host) live my life, so why would we want to go flaunting ourselves?
Here are a few of those living in the system:
Allison (age 14) -- Cheerful, carefree.
Luke (male, age 16) -- Angry, the protector.
White (ageless) -- Wise, maternal.
You may ask, how can several people share the same body? That's impossible!
You're right, because we're not actually separate people in the sense you're thinking of. We're all the same self, but broken up into different pieces who have over time developed their own identities.
Why did we do this?
It's because of a thing called dissociation.
Dissociation is more normally called "spacing out." You've probably done it. Daydreaming is one example of normal dissociation. It's a way of "checking out" when things get too stressful. You may feel like you're living in a dream, that you're watching your body from above, that you aren't real.
But there can be a time when you dissociate too much, and that is when it becomes a disorder. DID is the most severe of dissociative disorders. It usually comes about because of severe and repeated abuse beginning early in childhood.
When you are hurt badly (in any way) over and over, you quickly figure out that you can't physically get away from the pain. So you take your mind away (dissociate) for a while. Eventually, you may do it so much that you actually split up your mental self into another part to hold the emotions and memories of the abuse.
After the abuse is over, these parts remain to help you function and keep further hurt from happening.
You may have heard of an alter "coming out." It's the term for when a personality comes to the forefront and takes control of the body for a while. Sometimes this may cause the host personality to not remember minutes, hours, days of their lives, and can be very scary.
We are very lucky. When parts come out, we know what they are doing and they will come back in if asked.
If you met me and talked to me in person, I would seem very normal. That's because we work very hard to keep only Jennifer or White out around other people. We let other alters have their time out to do things they like when we are alone.
We are always trying to be strong and survive.
Healing from the abuse that happened to all of us is the first step. We do that in therapy, with a wonderful therapist. Learning to manage the system and work together optimally is another. We may discover new alters along the way who are, for now, hidden. We will learn to work with them and love them too.
Some therapists think that in order for those with DID to recover, they must "integrate," or fuse the alters together to make one whole self. We disagree. One of the wonderful things about being multiple is always having someone to talk to. You form extremely strong bonds with them. Imagine knowing all of the thoughts, feelings, and memories of your best friend and living together 24/7. That is what it is like. Integrating would involve the loss of these parts. To us, that is an unbearable sorrow to even think about.
We can learn to live the way we are. We are not crazy, weird, or a freak.
We are strong, capable and wise.
I wrote this so others would know that we are.
Jennifer, White, Black, Luke, Allison, Elizabeth, and Noah