Having any diagnosis, whether mental or physical, can be a positive thing. “Used effectively, a diagnosis can help assess and treat a condition” because it describes symptoms and provides a way to communicate between providers and offers options to get help. It can even be a relief and positively affect your life.
But a mental health diagnosis can also have a stigma attached and cause people to be discriminated against and judged, especially when the condition is misunderstood or thought to be rare.
For me, in the beginning, the label was scary and made me think that I was crazy or defective. I felt embarrassed and didn’t get allow myself to get close to people, which made me feel isolated, ashamed and alone. I struggled to find someone that could help because there seemed to be a shortage of therapists that even believed Dissociative Identity Disorder existed, while others did not want to treat anyone like me or did not have the training.
So, though I didn’t give up, I still stayed silent for a better part of my life - until one day, the right clinical social worker (psychotherapist) showed up in my life; her name was Debbie. The day we met, I took my first step towards learning about the wonderful parts of myself that had amazing skills, talents and especially ingenious coping strategies to survive. Debbie told me that I would learn how to love all of the aspects of my personality and discover new ways to live. I didn’t think that that was possible, but she gave me hope.
It took me a while to get well, but I finished my master’s degree, became a therapist and wrote a book based on the method I developed to help people identify and embrace who they are, no matter what has happened in their past. Living with a diagnosis of DID has positively affected my life by giving me special skills and abilities that other people don’t have; unique, creative qualities that help me to empower people to move beyond a label because I understand from the inside out what it’s like to have a diagnosis without it having me!