Many people find it hard to believe when they meet me that I have a challenging mental disability because of my positive and outgoing nature. But I do and I learned to stop feeling ashamed about it and empowered myself enough to find ways to live with this disability. I have no control over when the episodes happen and it is extremely annoying to experience these episodes. I just do my best to make sure there is safety when an alter personality is out. I have 14 different alter personalities that I know about and any time any of my altars are out, I am completely unaware of what is happening. It’s like being asleep and waking up to find yourself in a different place than what you last remember.
My altars range in ages from 5 being the youngest to 25 being the oldest. None are violent in any way. A few of the younger ones tend to be afraid of people they don’t know and if they come out while I am alone or away from people they know, then they tend to run and hide until they see someone or something familiar to them. A couple of them are unable to speak (or refuse to speak and we don’t know why) and use their own methods to communicate what they are trying to say. I also have an altar that used to self-harm all the time until my fiance Scott showed her enough patience and love and taught her other ways to deal with her need to self-harm. They all have their own names and their own memories. They are their own individuals completely separate from me. The physical abilities of my altars often baffle my friends and loved ones because when they are out, they run, climb, walk and just do many things I myself am not physically capable of doing. The altar’s physical abilities reflect their ages. I just pay for it once I’m back. The things they are able to do puts my body in a world of hurt that they don’t feel but I do. I have often come back feeling so much pain that leaves me unable to move for quite some time. These are the times when tears of frustration and pain begin to flow.
I was diagnosed with MPD in my 20’s when I was hospitalized for self-harming behaviors. I would tell them that had no idea what happened to me or why. I felt completely devastated by the diagnosis. I was a single mother raising three sons alone. I was blessed at that time to have friends who loved and cared about me and my sons and they stepped in to help. Once they learned about my diagnosis their only reaction was “Well, now everything makes sense!”
I became very proactive in learning as much as I could about this disorder and how to live with it. It is almost impossible to find a psychotherapist who is experienced with treating MPD. Without that experience, a therapist can cause more harm than good. It has taken me many years to stop being ashamed of having MPD but I have finally reached that point. I don’t know if I would ever be able to live alone because of my altars, but I take each day as it comes. Having Wally my little rescue dog the past 2 years has made a huge difference in my episodes. Sometimes I wonder who really rescued who.
I am open about my disability in order to bring awareness and hopefully put a stop to the negative stigmas of having a mental disability. Movies and shows about MPD are not accurate and only cause people to believe the negative stigmas. By putting a face on this disorder I hope to change how people view others who suffer from this. With knowledge comes understanding and with understanding hopefully acceptance.
If you ever have any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to ask. I do understand people’s curiosity and even skepticism. I can’t stop what happens to me, but I hope to be understood and accepted just as I am.