What Is It Like to Get Diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder?

As many of us who have DID know too well, finding a good therapist who will give the proper diagnosis is hard. We are often misdiagnosed with a myriad of different conditions, such as bipolar disorder, schizo-affective disorder, or borderline personality disorder.


This article will break down what it takes to receive the correct diagnosis.


Finding a Therapist



Finding a therapist who is trauma-informed and who will work with dissociative disorders isn’t easy. Some people don’t find the correct therapist and receive an accurate diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder for an average of eleven years. That is far too long for someone with DID to wait.


Some of the symptoms of DID are pretty severe. It isn’t the switching from alter to alter that causes the central part of the problem; it is suicidality that takes a toll. Suicidality is one of the most common presenting features of dissociative identity disorder, representing 72% of diagnosed people in North America.


Passive suicidality in the host plus outright suicidal thinking of an alter can make a horrific combination that can cost a person with DID their life.


One can see that finding help is vital, but there are few therapists, especially in underserved areas. Therapists who have treated trauma in their clients widen the scope a little bit. If they don’t know about DID treatment, perhaps they are willing to learn.


What You Must Know About Therapy



Once you find a therapist, do not expect them to give you the answers you seek. That is not their job; it is yours. I know that sounds draconian and may have made your heart drop, but hear me out.


If your therapist tells you all the answers to your questions about your life and tells you what to do, at that point, it becomes the therapist’s therapy. You would be highly influenced in the wrong direction because it would not be about yours.


I wanted to put this section in to enhance your experience and expectations from your therapist.


Getting Diagnosed with DID



After finding a therapist who will work with you, the next stage is getting formally diagnosed. No, you cannot diagnose yourself because you may not have dissociative identity disorder, especially if you are highly suggestible.


There are some tests your therapist or psychiatrist can run. These tests should only be done by mental health professionals because the results may vary, and they would see a pattern that proves you are or are not living with DID.


The best thing a therapist can do to diagnose their clients with dissociative identity disorder is observation. The therapist will watch for signs that you are dissociating in their office or if it is obvious you are forcing yourself to display your “alters”.


Another tool therapists use is the criteria for DID listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Indeed, therapists cannot charge insurance companies or the state and federal government without the diagnosis codes laid out in the DSM.


Inside the DSM is a list of symptoms one must have to obtain a diagnosis. If your symptoms line up with the list in the DSM, then you are diagnosed and can move on with treatment.


How Does It Feel To Be Diagnosed with DID   



Don’t expect to be overjoyed when you get the diagnosis. I know I was overwhelmed and frightened, but at the same time, I was glad what I was going through had a name and could be treated.


After the initial shock, I became all wrapped up in my diagnosis and my therapy. For a while, I ate and drank my diagnosis and forgot to live. It is, at first, frightening to work with a therapist on the emotions that accompany the memories of the abuse that caused dissociative identity disorder.


One phenomenon I have noticed among people who have DID is that we become somehow proud of our diagnosis. We may hide it from some people but flaunt it to others. We take on the last name of dissociative identity disorder as we allow our alters to take over and, as such, not healing.


So, what I’m saying is being diagnosed with DID has its good and bad points. On the good side, we learn that we are not crazy and that our condition has a name. On the bad side, we become so wrapped up in our diagnosis that we somehow feel special and as if the world owes us a living.


Ending Our Time Together


In this article, I have attempted to help my fellow multiples to learn about getting diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Doing so is a feat and is challenging to achieve as many therapists are untrained, and many psychiatrists do not believe it is a valid diagnosis.


However, DID is listed as a confirmed diagnosis, so the list of people in the mental health field who think of DID as real is growing.


I was diagnosed in 1990 by a very clever and excellent therapist. I know I was lucky to find her, judging from the number of people I’ve been in contact with who have been waiting to find the right person.


I was dumbfounded when Paula gave me the diagnosis of what was then called multiple personality disorder. I lived so attuned to my life as a multiple for many years that I forgot to live the rest of my life.


Sure, I got married and tried desperately to fit into living a life like everyone else, but I had a long way to go before I finally had an awakening. My awakening happened one morning as I was getting out of bed. I sat there pondering my life and discovered that I did not want to remain ill anymore. I was ready to let go of my DID persona.


I hope this piece has helped someone out there.


“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw.


“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw.




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