"I had a handful of people living inside my head. Sounds bizarre? Not to me – I had always assumed that everyone else had people living in their heads too! ... I decided that speaking up about this condition was the best way forward!”
I thought everyone was just like me.
I had never grown up believing in imaginary friends, instead, I had a handful of people living inside my head. Sounds bizarre? Not to me – I had always assumed that everyone else had people living in their heads too!
The “people in my head” used to come forward and live my life for me. Whether it was school, homework, playing games or just hanging out with friends, I’d see them several times a day, almost every day. This was completely normal to me.
When I was 9, I began to have panic attacks whenever I would have to change clothes in public (this was mainly for things like PE! It was a nightmare!) and by the time I got to 12, I began to have flashbacks of an awful event that happened in my childhood. I began to have blackouts and started losing time. Little did I know, these amnesic episodes and panic attacks were some of the main symptoms of my disorder.
By the time I was 13, I was very isolated for my age, my blackouts were so extreme I couldn’t remember daily events – days would pass at a time without any recollection and the panic attacks grew worse. One day, a girl at my school told me that I “wasn’t normal” and I just could not comprehend it.
“What do you mean I’m not normal? You must have people in your head too!”
She didn’t. No one did. It was just me. At that point, I couldn’t have felt more alone.
I was confused about the person I was, my gender, my sexuality, my identity… My life was lived in utter confusion. I felt so isolated, but I was so scared of getting diagnosed with a mental health disorder. My uncle was schizophrenic and my father had battled severe manic-depression, I thought my family wouldn’t accept me if I had told them. So I kept it a secret…
I started to write about “the people in my head” as an outlet, every day I would come home from school and start typing away for hours at a time… It wasn’t until I was 16 that I understood what this condition was.
I had always had an interest in psychology, and it was only by accident that Google-results gave me “Dissociative Identity Disorder”, commonly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. I had met my now-fiancé at the time, and told him all about “the people in my head”… but to have it confirmed as an actual mental health disorder… I wasn’t sure whether to cry or celebrate. I had a name to it, now I could get help for it! But it wasn’t that easy…
The doctors that I visited didn’t know anything about DID, nor did they know of anyone who could’ve helped me. I visited countless MH professionals who gave me no answers, and by the time I came to University at 18 years old, I had decided that I wanted to specialise in Dissociative Identity Disorder – creating awareness and banishing the myths that so many people and professionals seemed to have. So I went on to study Clinical and Health Psychology at Bangor University.
I was diagnosed shortly after by two specialists in the condition, based several hours away. Armed with my new found documents, I decided that speaking up about this condition was the best way forward!
I began a YouTube channel (MultiplicityandMe) and started to blog about my “alternate conscious states” (known as ‘alters’ for short) and explain to the world about how I, and they, functioned on a daily basis.
I became lucky enough to start filming for a documentary called ‘Diaries of a Broken Mind’ with BBC Three, spreading the word of my disorder to over a million viewers! The documentary even showed my talks that I gave to future-psychologists at my university – it was a huge success and everyone is still talking about it!
I’ve learned that there are people out there like me, there are friends to support me – and most importantly, I need to stay positive - having DID automatically means that you’re never really alone!
If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org