My name is Melissa, and I’m part of The Bag System, and we have Dissociative Identity Disorder. What was it like for me, not only to find out that I’m not alone in my head, but also, to inform the people I love? What about my family’s reactions? Was this entirely unexpected? Because we are going to speak with two of my siblings.
Or, what was the publics’ view when I first came out to my YouTube channel with my diagnosis?
While I was originally shaken, my path has been an evolving and winding one, that somehow, brings me back to shaken, every once in a while.
I have alternate personalities.
It’s really funny!
But what if none of this is real?
How do you feel?
Can she just get out of my face?!
What if I’m not real?
2019 ended with something of a revelation; alternate personalities. I thought, this was the four horsemen of the apocalypse. It turned out that what I thought was my damnation was actually the beginning of a new world. My acceptance and denial go in circles, chasing each other’s tails. A story that seems too out there to be true must be hogwash, or maybe, it explains exactly what I’ve been struggling with my whole life.
The average time before getting diagnosed with DID is seven years being lost in the psychiatric system; for me, maybe a little longer.
I spend years without knowing my current diagnosis. Many don’t know they have it, and just like me, they need to be informed. The average age of diagnosis for Dissociative Identity Disorder is 30.
Why now? Why, after all this time are the symptoms become obvious when they just weren’t this way before.
I wonder, might I have gone my whole life without knowing that I have DID; that I have Headmates, if it weren’t for the new trauma from early 2019. I think that what happened, kind of, it stirred the pot.
The more time goes on and the more I experience things, the more these weird, surreal, out-of-body out-of-mind experiences happen, that I’m just like, that doesn’t make sense if it’s not DID. The more it develops, the less doubt I have.
I have a YouTube channel under the name idranktheseawater, but I told my family a while before I spoke of my diagnosis in my videos.
We are going to speak with my Baby Brother Jason about his impressions on the way I informed him of having alternate identities.
(Jason)“How you doing?”
(Melissa)“I’m glad to be seeing you.”
(Jason)“Glad to see you too.”
(Melissa)So, what was this, in December, or something, 2019, I call you up and I say I have something to tell you and there’s something going on, and I’m really psyched out and I’m worried. I say, “Don’t you worry though.” I don’t know what you expected that I was gonna say though.
(Jason)I had no idea then and I have no idea now.
(Melissa)Still no idea what I’m going to say?
(Jason)No. No. I have no idea what I would have expected.
(Melissa)When I first told you that I had alters and before you spoke to Skittle, did you have a doubt in your mind that it may not have been true?
(Melissa)“You thought, Melissa’s telling me the truth?”
(Melissa)“You did? I kind of love you more now.”
(Melissa)“So, I was telling you about realizing that the girl in the mirror was actually a happy child who loved the new name I gave her until I could know her real name. What motivated you to say, ‘Hi’ to Skittle?”
(Jason)“I’m not sure what motivated. It just seemed the right thing. There was another person identified, so I thought I should address them.”
(Melissa) “How would you describe the tone that Skittle speaks? Does Skittle talk like me?”
(Jason)“No. It’s, it’s fairly distinct.”
(Melissa)“I kind of find like she burst out my my voice. Like kind like she just burst out and bubbled through my body, but I was like, bouncing on the chair; just kind of like, screeching!”
(Jason)*Laughter” “That sounds right from what I heard.”
(Melissa)“That sounds right? You believed me from beforehand so you have no doubt afterwards either. Even when you heard Skittle, you weren’t like, maybe she’s acting?”
(Melissa)You’re…you’re that good a person?”
(Jason)*Laughter* “Is that a bar?”
(Melissa)“But the experience of experiencing Skittle, which was really, like, huge, was such an impression, but then I came out of the conversation with you and I’m so grateful that you said Hi to her and that she reacted, because it really left an impact on me and, and on my concrete belief that this is real. And she really loves you. That was the most Skittle has ever spoken in one switch.”
(Jason)“That’s quite touching. And I love you too Melissa, and I love you too, Skittle.
(Melissa)Now, we’re going to be speaking with big sister Juanita on her impressions on if she ever doubted that I had alternate personalities, or on her interactions with my Headmates.
“When I told you that, “Well, it’s not bipolar. Well, actually, first, did you believe that I had bipolar?”
(Juanita)“Not really. No.”
(Melissa) “So, for me at least it helped me understand what was going on even though it was a complete lie. Because I needed to know what was happening and I needed to hold onto something in terms of, okay, this explains it.”
(Melissa)“But, for that diagnosis, you were like, Nope.”
(Melissa)*Laughter* So then when I come out, what is it, a few months later, I’m like, okay, it wasn’t bipolar. Turns out that I have alternate personalities.”
(Melissa)“Did you buy that?”
(Melissa) “Right away?”
(Juanita)“As soon as you said it, yeah. It made sense.”
(Melissa) “Did you notice switches later?”
(Juanita)“Yeah. Well, later on I recognized, okay, it’s this person again, or this one I haven’t met yet. There’s a few of them that I’d met over the years because I knew that it wasn’t you talking. They didn’t talk like you. They didn’t sound like you. They didn’t act like you. And I’m like, where’d Melissa go? When I mentioned those moments to you later on, like, more recently, you told me you didn’t even remember them happening, so it was definitely one of the others; I just don’t know which one it was.”
(Melissa)“Do you have any memorable moments of any of the others?”
(Juanita)“Well, yeah. I love Maggie when she comes out. She’s always so joyful. She’s always got fun things to say, and Skittle is amazing too. She’s so cute. Oh my goodness. She sees something and gets so happy about it and all giggly and stuff and the way her eyes turn and everything, it’s just,” *Laughter*
(Melissa)“Do you feel their postures are different?”
(Juanita)“Yeah. Like, everything about them is just completely different. Like, I can see their face and I know that it’s not you. And Skittle, I know right away who they are. I just don’t know the other faces yet. For Maggie and Skittle, the entire atmosphere of your face just completely changes. Things that you never do, and they do, so your face moves completely differently when it’s them.”
(Melissa)“In the beginning, you could recognize afterwards when it was definitely something different.”
(Juanita)“Yeah. Ive been wondering for years though. I didn’t really think DID but I was thinking maybe something like it? Because you told me, at one point I had asked you if it was, uh, at the time I said Multiple Personalities because that’s what I thought it was called. I didn’t know about the name change back then. It was what, 7 or 8 years ago when you made the first video, mini movie? So around then, I asked you about it and you said, ‘No. That’s not it at all.’”
(Melissa)“Yeah. I don’t remember that. You would think I would remember being asked if I had multiple personalities.”
(Juanita)“One would think, yes.”
(Melissa)“So, you noticed back at the time that I was making that mini movie that I had characters in real life; and not just in the mini movie.”
(Juanita)“Yeah. I noticed them before and it just didn’t cross my mind. I just thought, maybe it’s just a different part of her personality, but when you brought the min movie out, I’m like, Oh! Maybe it is Multiple Personalities.” And then you just said, ‘No. It’s not’” So, I was like, Oh, okay, but then since then I kept on seeing things that like, but that’s not Melissa. When will Melissa come back? Their viewpoints and everything were completely opposed to yours.”
(Melissa)“So basically, I went and was like, hey. I have alternate personalities, and you’re like. Yeah. I know.”
(Melissa)“Basically. So bipolar out the window. Alternate personalities stamp of approval.”
(Juanita)“Yup. I love all those I’ve met so far.”
(Melissa)If we move onto YouTube. I was experiencing symptoms of dissociation that were beginning to show through stronger and stronger in my YouTube videos. People were genuinely concerned. I wasn’t sure how much longer I would be able to keep my secret. How much longer could I say, “I can’t say what’s going on.” Because that’s essentially what I was saying. “I’m sorry guys. This is one diagnosis I’m going to keep to myself. And I wasn’t sure if I could just keep doing that, or if I would eventually talk about it and say, “Yeah. I have DID.”
But, can I really say that? Some people did contact me and they thought maybe I had schizophrenia. I didn’t have schizophrenia. There were those that contacted me thinking, “Well. It’s either OSDD, or DID.”
There was that video where someone did guess my diagnosis; someone who shouldn’t have. I made a video labelled, “When I met my mind, I lost my fear.” I didn’t say in the video that I had DID, but some of the clues were obvious to a few viewers.
“You have multiple personalities. You’re a psychopath!” Repeatedly, called me a psychopath; used the old term, Multiplied Personalities. Went on to leave comment after comment. He was being angry, accusatory, mean. It turned into bitter harassment with sexual accusations about my basically being a prostitute? And it went downhill from there.
I wasn’t ready for the diagnosis to come out, and was this the kind of reaction I could expect if I said directly that I have DID? Would this be everyone? I was afraid, but nervously, after a few months, I came out to the YouTube channel that I had been building since the summer of 2007. How would they take it? Most of the reactions were positive and receptive, while others tried to be semi-polite while saying they’ve been watching for years, but they didn’t believe this bull-shit. I really wasn’t taken seriously by, well, we will say a percentage. I was taken as malingering, attention-seeking, wow, just another diagnosis! So, I wasn’t really seen as credible.
On the flip side, which is a much brighter side, most of the community welcomed not only me with my diagnosis, but the welcomed my Headmates as well. I can remember receiving comments on a few videos where someone would speak directly to Maggie, or Skittle, or Katie. On seeing those comments, my Headmates would come to the front to see the message for themselves. I could feel what they felt, which was partly surprise, because they weren’t used to be addressed as individuals. It was also partly the excitement and happiness. Even Katie, who is so sullen, would feel a certain recognition and warmth. I may not always have had the best of luck when it came to filling people in on what makes me act the way that I do, or the way that we do. Most aren’t so skeptical though. Some may have started out with some doubts and confusion, as I did when I found out. But in seeing the differences between my Headmates and I, and in looking back at the signs, I had found a strong support in them.
I’m also finding a fondness for my Headmates and finding an understanding of them and who they are. I sadly don’t always connect with them like I should, but I never regret when I do. The variances in who they are and in the loving interactions with each other are an example to me in how I’d like to treat those around me.
I can hear them talking to each other inside. I hear children crying sometimes, but other times, they’re laughing. I can hear the older ones running after the kids, calling out with the words, “Little girl!”
I’ve been learning not to neglect their needs, because theirs are just as valid as mine. I get embarrassed about switches, but if they can deal with me being on the surface most of the time, then I can handle when they need a turn to express themselves.
I’m learning about who they are as individual identities. Learning about their moods, dispositions, variances and likes.
I learned that a trigger for them to come out doesn’t have to be negative. Skittle only surfaces when there’s something that she’s interested in, likes, or is excited about, like diving through a pickle jar with her bare hand and giggling about it.
While I was afraid and worried about talking about having DID, and while some of it was in fact a thing of concern, it has mostly been a positive welcoming for my inner system.
I can see why. My Headmates are endearing, kind, and they love interaction if they feel safe to do so.
My family and friends have overall taught me to trust them. With the conversions recorded in this podcast with my sister and my brother, and how they believed me openly? My heart feels warm and grateful.
There are so many of us inside who are appreciative, that with all of us together, the response is a positive form of overwhelming.