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Let Us Introduce Ourselves

We are so grateful to DID.we.write for allowing us a space to share our voice. We first met through Instagram, and I’m not sure how, but we’ve become what I would consider friends. I first connected with their poetry. It was like a sign from the universe because I had already decided I wanted to publish a poetry book. DID.we.write inpspired me–us–through their authentic poetry and the fact that they self-published several books. We bought a copy of their poetry book, and read it all the same day. (We plan to eventually get the others, but budgeting is a very real thing).

My name is Shell, and I have Dissociative Identity Disorder. I’m pretty sure if you’re finding this page you know what DID is, but in case you don’t, here is a defintion:

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is the disruption of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states AND recurrent gaps in the recall of everyday events, important personal information, and/or traumatic events inconsistent with ordinary forgetting. Symptoms are not a result of accepted cultural or religious practices, or the use of substances. The symptoms cause significant impairment to the ability to function in multiple areas of life.

This is more or less how it is defined in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) - the holy book of mental disorders. I’m afraid my notes are so old that I don’t have the original source for this description. But hey, we’re not professional researchers.

Some terms before I share our story:

Alter - or alternate personality state, a distinct personality state in DID. Alters can have different personalities, beliefs, and tastes from one another.

Fronting - the alter that is currently in control of the body is fronting.

Switching - when one alter stops fronting, and another alter takes over.

Host - the alter that fronts the most.

As Shell, I am the host of the system. Our life has generally followed the trajectory that I have set. I am the one who got married, gave birth, and eventually divorced. I am the one who went to college and graduate school, although there was a lot of influence from some of the others. I am who the world assumes they are talking to when they interact with us.

Collectively we are FragmentDID. It’s not really a system name, per se. We don’t really have a system name, but we use FragmentDID across all forms of social media. We run an Instagram account, and make dorky TikToks. We share on Twitter and we post videos on YouTube.

We were diagnosed with DID a little over two years ago. I have always heard voices–for as long as I can remember. I always had imaginary friends that seemed to also interact with the real world, but I assumed I was just an extra imaginary child. Who was present shifted with different periods of my life. Eventually I was a 35-year-old with imaginary friends. I didn’t tell anyone about it, not even my therapists–I was too embarassed.

I had started looking into Maladaptive Daydreaming. I had planned on finally telling my therapist that that’s what I thought I had. My research into Maladaptive Daydreaming eventually led me to DID YouTubers. Nothing clicked, but I found it incredibly interesting. I remember watching them and thinking, oh my god, that must be so hard to live with. (cue internal laughter).

I still don’t remember what video triggered the events that would lead me to discovering the system. It was after watching the video, and while walking my dog, that I heard an extremely angry voice. The voice apparently didn’t like the mental connections I was starting to make.

“You do not need to know about this.” “Just ignore this.” “Stop digging.” “You don’t need to dig any deeper.” “NO!”

I was cooking dinner while all of this was happening, and ran into the bathroom to have a miniature breakdown. Eventually a calmer energy took over my body, and I watched as we walked back to the kitchen. Then people started arguing. I eventually learned the angry voice was Ricki. The calm presence was Mary, who I had thought was a ghost that possessed me in middle school. As they were talking here came Cameron and Megumi, imaginary friends that I’d had since high school. Except they weren’t imaginary friends. None of them were.

Emotions must have been running high because Ricki and Mary were alternating possessing the body as they argued. Ricki would take over, the body’s posture would shift, and he’d pick up our glass of wine. Then Mary would take over, a sense of calm would come over the body, and she would put down the glass of wine. This went back and forth a few times before Mary put her foot down and insisted that we had dinner to cook and a family to take care of and all of this could wait. I watched from the backseat as Mary took care of the rest of the evening.

This experience sent me running to my therapist. To her credit, she realized that what I was experienceing was beyond her credentials. After consulting with my psychiatrist, she helped me find a specialist. Because what I was experiencing was either schizophrenia or DID–and I knew it wasn’t schizophrenia.

Seeing the specialist changed my life. They identified the DID, and in two years I have made more progress than I did in my prior 13 years of therapy. It took a while, but I started communicating with the others. I learned to recognize when I dissociated, and eventually when we switched. I can now have conversations with the others, although not as freely as they have with each other. I still have just enough denial to create barriers to communication.

I was right. Living with DID is fucking hard. But I was also already living with it. But DID is a very sneaky disorder, and it is meant for the host (and sometimes others in the system) to not know about the DID. This disorder is created to seperate trauma from the host personality, so that the host can continue to live a “normal” life. Knowing you have DID kind of defeats that purpose.

When I first discovered the system, I thought there were five of us. At last count we are 23 that I know of, and I know there’s others I’m not allowed to know about yet. But I’ve reached a place where I’m learning to be patient with the system. And I think the others are learning to be patient with me.


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