Dissociative identity disorder (DID): "Psychiatrists need to stop confusing this illness with schizophrenia"
Published Dec 14, 2022 • By Candice Salomé
MélieNéah, a member of the Carenity community in France, has dissociative identity disorder (DID) and alexithymia. She has always felt deeply out of step with the world around her, but it wasn't until she was 16 years old that she realized it was more than just a difference when she started having visual hallucinations. At that time, she decided to seek help. Today, MélieNéah is well taken care of and is learning to live with DID.
Discover her story!
Hello MélieNéah, thank you for agreeing to speak with Carenity
First of all, could you tell us more about yourself?
Hello, my name is Yuki. It's the name my alters (identities) and I share. I'm 22 years old, I'm training to be a special educator and I live alone. I love my cat who is very good company. I am passionate about karate and I love physical activities. I relax and recharge my batteries by engaging in creative activities
You have dissociative identity disorder (DID). Could you tell us how the disease manifests itself in your daily life? What are the symptoms?
One of my main symptoms is alexithymia* which I developed as a result of DID. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)** is a form of protection for the body in the face of trauma, and alexithymia is a continuation of this in terms of defense. I feel deeply out of step with the world today because of my emotional deficit. When I am too stressed or in panic, when I have to go shopping (the light and the radio in the stores are very stimulating for me) one of my alters (identities) takes over to help me. The alter in question is very protective of me and helps me in the phases of great stress that I may have in my daily life. When I see a dog, for example, one of my alters who is an eight year old girl manifests herself, becomes super joyful and starts jumping on the beds in my inner world (inner world where all the alters reside, I sometimes take refuge there when I am not well).
*Alexithymia is the inability to make connections between emotions and the ideas, thoughts, fantasies that usually accompany them.
**Doctors diagnose dissociative identity disorder based on the person's history and symptoms. People have two or more identities, and their sense of being themselves and being able to act as themselves is disturbed.
When did the illness begin? What caused you to seek help for IDD? How many times and doctors did you have to meet with to get the diagnosis?
I knew something was wrong with me when I was eight years old, a few months after a family member died, I started hearing a woman's voice in my head, it was very soft and reassuring.
I didn't find it strange, I was even relieved when I heard this woman reassuring me. It was a period of my childhood when I felt very alone at school, when I didn't feel at home because of my how different I was and especially because of being harassed at school which was a great source of my discomfort.
I wanted to consult a psychiatrist at the age of sixteen because it was at that time that other alters appeared and visual hallucinations too.
I consulted a child psychiatrist who wrote a letter for me to be hospitalized. I then saw the psychiatrist on duty at the hospital who told me "You are sick, you need treatment! She didn't give me a diagnosis, great!
I then saw another child psychiatrist who immediately wanted to give me medication without giving me a diagnosis.
I then went to two other psychiatrists until I met my psychiatrist who, after a year of follow-up, diagnosed me with Dissociative Identity Disorder and, a year later, with Alexithymia.
What is the impact of the disease on your daily life? How does it affect your professional and personal life?
In my daily life, my alters only intervene when I am too stressed, or when I am in a potentially dangerous situation to protect us. And sometimes in some of my social interactions, they are really protective! And, to this day, I have never experienced any manifestation of my alters on a professional level.
What is your current care? Are you satisfied? How is the disease evolving?
I see a psychiatrist once a month and that is enough for me. I live well with my alters now.
You also spoke of alexithymia. What does this mean? Is it related to dissociative identity disorder?
As I said before, for me, alexithymia is a continuation of DID
I have come to the conclusion, after reflection, that the host of the system feels, in the long term, feels less of th emotions because they pass through the alters and not necessarily through the host (in the logic that the alters are a means of protecting oneself against trauma, more precisely post-traumatic stress and the impact on the construction of the individual). It seems to coherently to me that alexithymia is a logical continuation of dissociative identity disorder. I was able to discuss this with my psychiatrist who agreed with me, he confirmed that psychiatrists have looked into this and have come to a similar conclusion.
IDD seems to develop as a result of traumatic events in childhood. Were you able to make the connection with certain events?
Yes, I was able to make the connection to the events and then I had many other traumas which caused other alters to come in.
Before your diagnosis, did you already notice that you were "different"? As a child, did your parents question some of your actions?
Yes, by the time I was six years old, I realized that I was different because of my difficulties in social interactions and I felt that it was much deeper than that. And, thanks to some reflection and my psychiatrist, we found a new lead: autism spectrum disorder, I am currently waiting to be tested.
Do you feel supported by your family and friends? Do they understand your daily life with the disease?
I am lucky to have the support of my close friends, my classmates and my dad. I have felt for a long time now that the rest of my family does not understand what I am going through and makes no effort to understand.
Finally, what advice would you give to Carenity members who are also affected by a psychological pathology?
Don't hesitate to consult and talk!
Any last words?
Dear psychiatrists, stop confusing IDD with schizophrenia and take an interest in alexithymia.
A big thank you to MélieNéah for her testimony!
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