Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is arguably one of the most misunderstood and controversial diagnoses*, but for those who live with DID, it is very real and can be very difficult to manage. As much as 1-3% of the population lives with DID**, and I’m honored to talk to an amazing survivor and advocate here on the blog, about this very topic.
Having had the opportunity to chat with Erika Reva recently, I was so encouraged by her willingness to share and help others during her own healing journey of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder and Self Harm. Erika’s blog, TheWeInMe.com, is a place where she shares openly, and where all who read it can feel validated in knowing that they are not alone in their struggles. She writes from her own personal experience and gives us a unique insight into the world of DID.
Erika is a writer and photographer who’s spent her life working in the arts in some capacity, as well as working hard with different people, groups and organizations globally spreading awareness about Mental Illness.
For those that may not be familiar with DID – it is explained by WebMD as follows: Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct or split identities or personality states that continually have power over the person’s behavior. With dissociative identity disorder, there’s also an inability to recall key personal information that is too far-reaching to be explained as mere forgetfulness. With dissociative identity disorder, there are also highly distinct memory variations, which fluctuate with the person’s split personality…is likely caused by many factors, including severe trauma during early childhood (usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual, or emotional abuse).
The topic of our conversation centered around a blog article she posted, “Our Top 5 Self Harm Tips and Alternatives”. As I was contemplating a topic for us to discuss, this blog post jumped out at me because many survivors of abuse live with not only DID, but also use self-harm as a coping strategy. This is a topic that I have been wanting to cover on the blog for quite a while, and the opportunity to talk with Erika was something I simply couldn’t pass up.
In terms of Erika’s DID, we discuss each part having their own voice, story to tell, and unique way of getting of getting their message across to her. You will be able to see first-hand, what it’s like living with this disorder, and also be encouraged by her message of hope and healing. In particular, her passion and talent in the world of Photography and Art have given her a tremendous outlet as an alternative coping skill to the destructiveness of self-harm.
We also discuss her experiences with self-harm, and how her parts used that as a way to try and keep control of what was happening. As Erika points out, working with a professional has helped her to find healthy coping strategies and alternatives to self-harm. Essentially, ways for her parts to express themselves that did not involve any physical harm. She shares those with us on the podcast.
You’ll also hear how Dissociation plays a role in DID, and why the term “blackouts” may not mean what you initially think.
One thing that I found particularly fascinating as I talked with Erika, is how each of the points in her article are intertwined with one another. The strategies and skills in one area also help with the others. While each point is separate and unique in its own way, they all tie together as you’ll see when you listen to Erika talk.
I want to issue a trigger warning when you listen to the podcast. We discuss self harm in particular, as this can be a very sensitive topic. Please be kind to yourself as you listen. Above all, know that there is Hope. There is always Hope. Know that you are not alone and that your story matters. Your healing matters. Amazing survivors like Erika are living proof that our past, and even what we live with right now, does not have to define our future.
Please consider sharing this with someone who may need it. As always, remember that we are all in this together as survivors.
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media images created by Matt Pappas using Canva.