Last Friday, I had a discussion with my psychologist and a psychologist specialized in EMDR and complex or early trauma in general. The aim of the discussion would’ve been to figure out whether EMDR would be for me, but we quickly found out that it isn’t. The reason is that I have apparently recently been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID, formerly known as multiple personality disorder [MPD]). The treatment for DID is some kind of three-phase model, in which I’m in phase one and trauma work is in phase three. The first phase had to do something with getting to know your system, developing trust in the treatment, cooperation between the system mebers, etc., but I’m not sure exactly what was said.
It was quite a shock to me to hear my psychologist say that I meet DSM-IV criteria for DID. I knew that I will meet DSM-V criteria if they remain the same as proposed, but the DSM-IV is somewhat stricter. Particularly, I sometimes wonder whether my parts truly come out and whether I lose enough time. I know that I recently lost time after a therapy session in which one of my parts was present, but I thought maybe that was not real. However, my boyfriend told me over the week-end that, back in 2009, I used to switch and not remember that I’d reacted quite differently to a certain situation just before. Back then, I was not involved with dissociation at all, so it would be unlikely to be caused by internalized suggestion or some other mechanism by which I could fake.
I also feel bad, because I wonder whether I have enough trauma in my history to warrant me having a dissociative disorder. I don’t feel like my childhood was that bad, and I don’t believe that’s a matter of not remembering things. Then again, everyone has a different level of sensitivity to trauma, and my childhood was certainly overwhelming. That may be explained by the fact that I’m autistic and therefore more vulnerable to environmental stimulation.
Between the lines, there was some talk about my possibly not being autistic after all. My psychologist actually meant to wonder what of my problems is cause of the DID and what is due to the ASD. I worried that she was going to throw out my autism diagnosis, which not only explains much about why my experiences were traumatic to me, but also serves as the ground for my moving to the workhome next year. I feared that I could not go to the workhome, and where else would I find a safe place to live? I sent my psychologist an E-mail asking her for clarification, and she explained that there are indeed indications to support a diagnosis of autism, and that she is not going to throw out the label. That relieved me quite a bit.