“But I wasn’t like these people–and I didn’t want to be like them!  No, I most definitely could not be classed as a person suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder.”                 

When I first began therapy with my present therapist, she let me know that I was a “multiple,” and I didn’t believe her.  No, I didn’t believe her.  After all, I did not lose chunks of time, wake up in places I didn’t remember getting to, and often experience times when I said or did things that were oddly out of character for me.  Like many of you, I had read “Sybil” by Flora Rheta Schreiber and had seen the movie, and I’d seen “Three Faces of Eve.”  I’d even seen television programs featuring characters who, in an altered state, had committed crimes they didn’t remember committing.  But I wasn’t like these people–and I didn’t want to be like them!  No, I most definitely could not be classed as a person suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder (the current term for “Multiple Personality Disorder).

Now, however, after working with my present therapist for three years and after reading works on Ego State Therapy, particularly those essays written by Helen and John Watkins, some of which are available on this website  http://www.clinicalsocialwork.com/overview.html, I have come to understand and accept multiplicity, including my own, as being commonly present in people who have been traumatized over a long period of time and who suffer from Complex PTSD.  Also, in her overview of Ego State Therapy as presented on the above website, Helen Watkins uses the terms “covert” and “overt” when she discusses ego states, the “overt” being used to describe the ego states as they often are experienced by people at the most extreme end of the DID spectrum, people who might be called “true multiples.” 

People like me–and perhaps like you, if you have been diagnosed with C-PTSD–may have ego states that don’t really “take over” one’s self to the point where time is lost and memory gaps occur but instead are “covert.”  In other words, one may not be aware of these ego states and the power they possess, but they are there, and they do their work quietly, usually.  Now, almost three years after having begun work with my present therapist, I have become aware of many ego states within me.  I have also become aware of the need to make peace with the ego state that has probably been the most influential, my five-year-old self, an ego state that seems to contain ego states that my adult self does not contain.  In fact, lately I have had the distinct sense that I have two psyches within me–my adult psyche and a child psyche containing ego states related to childhood traumas.  It has been fairly recently that I have made this discovery, and now I am attempting to bring my adult psyche and this “ghost” psyche closer to one another.  They may never be completely integrated, but I think that if I can bring them closer, then they will not be so isolated from one another.  That, I sense, will be good.  I believe that if I can accomplish this, I will feel more inner peace–a goal worth reaching! 

For three years, now, I have been working hard in therapy.  Has the effort paid off?  I can’t answer that because I’m still in the process, but I have proof that my efforts are paying off!  If you have read my previous posts, you know that my PTSD symptoms have been alleviated.  They are not gone, but I don’t expect them to be completely gone.  But I can be in crowds, ride public transportation, and be around people I don’t want to be around, and the symptoms usually don’t bother me anymore.  Also, in general, I feel stronger and more confident in my abilities.  My shame level has dropped.  I can hold my head up when I’m around people I don’t know well, and most of the time now I can look people in the eyes when I speak to them.  What a difference these three years of therapy have made! 

Yes, I am a multiple, and I believe it and accept the fact.  My goal is to “reduce my multiplicity.”  In other words, I want to draw my ego states closer to one another so they communicate more effectively amongst themselves and so when I make decisions, no matter how relatively inconsequential, all my “parts” are in sync with one another.  I want to increase my feeling of well-being and my sense of confidence, and I can do this if I can get the parts of my psyche to operate and to cooperate more closely with one another.  That’s what I’m accomplishing with all my hard work in therapy.  And it’s worth the effort! 

Some people have told me that they accomplish a feeling of well-being and gain confidence by taking pills.  Sometimes, when I think about all the money, the time, and the effort I’m putting into therapy, I wish I had chosen to go that route.  But then I think about side effects and about the possibility that my body may eventually reject medication, and I vow to stay on the track I’m on now and do the work therapy requires.  Besides, therapy is interesting!  I enjoy the process despite the dark times I encounter on occasion, and I enjoy the discoveries I make about myself and about the condition called C-PTSD.  And I like the fact that I can write posts that might contain information useful to others. 

So what is the value of admitting to myself that I have multiple ego states, each ego state having its own “personality” or carrying its own history of experience? What is the value of admitting that I am like Sybil but not to the extreme end of the spectrum as Sybil was?  For one thing, knowing this about myself and admitting this is fundamental to my progress.  After all, if I were to remain in denial and deny that I had separate ego states, some perhaps more isolated and less able to communicate than others, then my progress in therapy would go at a snail’s pace.  Did my therapist brainwash me into accepting my situation?  No, she did not!  I have come to the truth on my own as I have progressed in my therapy.  The concept of ego states, as put forth by John and Helen Watkins and others, makes sense to me and serves me as a metaphor for the neurological conditions in my brain.  And the fact that I have been able to use my mind to conceptualize and interact with my ego states to the point where my PTSD symptoms are alleviated is amazing, truly amazing!  If it takes admitting to being a “multiple” to achieve inner peace, then I’ll admit to it gladly! 

Therapy helps!  It requires making a commitment to yourself and your future health, but it’s worth it–even if you are seventy-three years old, as I am!