Growing Older with Dissociative Identity Disorder

I turned 61 last September (2021) and have been looking back at how far I have come in my healing journey. After thirty-plus years of treatment, you might think I should be healed by now. For the most part, I am, but I still need maintenance visits with my therapist and psychiatrist to remain stable.

 

Because I am so far down the road, I think it is important to share what I have learned and thus this website and this article.

 

This piece is written to bring encouragement to those who are getting older while dealing with dissociative identity disorder.

 

The Road Less Taken

 

 

 

Thirty-plus years ago I was diagnosed with DID (1990). The chaos that ensued as memories spontaneously surfaced that were accompanied by strong and sometimes destructive emotions was horrendous. I didn’t think I would survive the drama and trauma of those days and I almost didn’t.

 

I found a wonderful therapist on my first try, a rare occurrence among the DID community. Usually, it takes upwards of eleven years to find a therapist who will work well with people like me, and although my new therapist didn’t have any formal training in the treatment of DID, she was willing to learn.

 

With her help, as time passed, I slowly learned to deal with my emotions and the flashbacks that occurred. It cost me over thirty hospitalizations and a seven-year stay in a psychiatric ward. I was very ill, and I almost gave up hope so many times that they are too numerous to count.

 

The Things I Regret

 

 

I cannot describe the pain I feel when I realize that I have spent more than half my life in therapy fighting for my life.

 

There are many things I missed out on because of my being so ill with dissociative identity disorder. For instance, I never had children and I wasn’t able to accomplish my Ph.D. I wanted to work for NASA as a psychologist getting people ready for Mars, but my illness got in the way.

 

I was married once to a man who didn’t understand at all my condition. I woke up married to him as I did so while dissociated. I felt so guilty that I remained with him for eight years. We divorced in 2001 and the loss of the dream I had with being married to him of a huge family died with our marriage.

 

Now I live alone and have no friends. Oh, I have many acquaintances, but no close chummy friends. I did have a close friend once and we were buddies for twenty-seven years, but she died of leukemia in 2014. I want to find another friend, but I have enormous trust issues.

 

Yes, I missed out on trusting others too.

 

I only point out what I have missed to help you to understand that I do get it. I’ve been where you are, living in the chaos that is DID.

 

I regret missing out on all these things, but I know it was not my fault. It was the fault of those who harmed me when I was a child. They are to blame for my lack. But I am also well aware that only I am in control of my life today.

 

I also regret that I haven’t healed faster than I have. I sometimes look about me and see people living their lives not knowing about the pain that is possible in the human psyche. I am envious.

 

Final Fusion Too Late?

 

I have reached the point now where I am approaching final fusion. I know, there is a huge controversy about fusion, but I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about it. Since the “I” word of integration is a no-no in the DID world, the more accurate term of fusion is used here.

 

What is final fusion? It is the point where every part of me is traveling in the same direction and cooperating fully. Final fusion is accompanied by quietness in my mind and, thankfully, a lack of chaos.

 

Now I know where my money is going, and I know what I have said and done where before things were out of control. No, my alters have not gone anywhere. That would be impossible since I am them and they are me. Instead, they have calmed down and trust me to make the decisions for them.

 

It took decades to get to this point and now that I’m in my 60s and have only about two decades to live, fusion is more important to me than ever. I still have amnesia problems, but those challenges are minor considering how it was in the beginning.

 

Final fusion isn’t scary. No one dies, no one goes away, and the alters are at peace with a lack of the hypervigilance we once knew. I rarely speak in the plural anymore (I know, I just did) because I no longer feel so fragmented.

 

Before you think differently, I want to state here that I am polyfragmented with over one-hundred alters. However, they are now cooperative and helpful in our healing instead of fighting me every inch of the way.

 

Is final fusion too late? No. It is right on time.

 

Ending Our Time Together

 

I didn’t write this piece to tell you how much pain I have been in in the past, and I didn’t write it to discourage anyone who has been in therapy for years. Healing takes time and it is worth every shed tear.

 

No, I wrote this piece to say to those who, like me, are growing into the senior citizen range. No matter how old we are, people with DID are courageous and worthy of respect. We have climbed through so much shit and we know life in ways that singletons can only guess at.

 

If you find yourself growing older with DID, don’t panic. You are not alone and the lessons that you are learning or have learned are invaluable to those who are just beginning their healing journey.

 

To all reading this piece I will say this; never, ever, ever give up. Life is too short to spend all your time mourning the things that you weren’t allowed to have. Look instead at the blessings you have today and try to dwell on them.

 

If you find yourself falling into self-pity or becoming overwhelmed, don’t feel ashamed. What you have been through and are going through is tough and you deserve time to grieve. Just don’t stay there, okay?

 

I’m striving to enjoy the time I have left on earth and will continue to share my struggles with others so that they can find the peace I now know.

 

“The great thing about getting older is that you become more mellow. Things aren’t as black and white, and you become much more tolerant. You can see the good in things much more easily rather than getting enraged as you used to do when you were young.” Maeve Binchy

 

“One of the nice things about getting older is that you come to understand that you can integrate multiple aspects of your life together. When you’re young, you think everything has to be binary, as that’s exactly how you feel at that age.” Min Jin Lee

The Choice of Gratitude

 

Catastrophic Thinking

 

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