Melissa: I used to call the way that I was so variably different, my secret identity. I had no idea that part of that was a secret from even myself.
Melissa: We’ve only known that we have dissociative identity disorder for less than two years. It would seem though that little brother Chriss suspected this diagnosis since high-school?
Melissa: We’ve been learning some new information lately that brought on a few Wow moments. We invited Chris to speak with us for this episode about how he reacted to hearing that we have DID, as well as hear some stories and impressions from childhood that even we didn’t know about.
Melissa: Stick around after our fancy intro reel for an explanation of what we are going into, followed by, what was for us; groundbreaking.
Melissa: If you give us a listen and you want to find out more, you can find us over at thebagsystem.com
Melissa: We’ve made this site into our own dissociative rainbow. You can join the rainbow by sharing the website address and sending us the link to your post with a screenshot of it. We will add it to The Underground section on a dedicated wall.
Intro: *Static Noise*
Melissa: I have alternate personalities.
Skittle: It’s really funny!
Melissa: But what if none of this is real?
Imitation of psychologist: How do you feel.
SpitFire: Can she just get out of my face?!
Melissa: What if I’m not real?
Melissa: *Static Noise*
Melissa: The conversation you will hear between me and my little brother is one I’ve been eager to have. It’s strange to what degree I was not aware of my Headmates, but recalled signs that I look back on after the diagnosis. These signs begged questions with unexpected answers.
Melissa: I approached Chris a few months ago after remembering this bizarre game that we played as children that always puzzled me. We would go to a patch of dirt in the grass and I would say that my name was Natasha, then I would leave the hole and go inside the house. “What kind of a game was that?” I wondered. Well, it seems that Chriss had the answers.
Melissa: We will delve into that in the interview. After I was filled in on this mysterious game, I thought there must be more that I don’t know. I also wanted to find out what Chriss’ impressions were.
Melissa: I’m giving away a spoiler for the interview. The purpose is one of those “The audience knows what she does not,” kind of thing. You’ll hear Chriss mention multiple times in this episode about us taking psychology class. When he said this, I couldn’t figure out why he was referring to the class as though I were included. It flew right by my head because I dismissed it in thinking that it was a reference to his classmates, which, it sort of was?
Melissa: The kicker was that I was in the class with him for a year… And had no memory of taking psychology at all.
Melissa: Chalk it up to good old dissociation…
Melissa: We’re buckling up because we were anticipating a bit of a ride for this chat with little brother. We were so nervous to finally breach subjects that we have wondered about for a long time. There were developments in what we were aware of concerning our childhood, and also in terms of what our family knew that we did not; at least I, Melissa did not.
Melissa: Chris is my heart.
Melissa: What are the reasons that Chris suspected our DID long before we did? Let’s find out…
Beginning interview: *Static Noise*
Melissa: Maybe my first question, slash concept that I’d like to ask you about.
Chriss: I’m not sure where we’re going with it, but I’ll do my best to answer.
Melissa: Positive! I guess, one thing is, I had told you and Jess over a video call about the DID. I was kind of an anxious mess. I know that I’ve received a lot of support from family and friends regarding this diagnosis. And from the few conversations that you and I have had, I sense that I have yours too. And I was so afraid that day that I told you we had Headmates that you would think it was hogwash and that I was hysterical, but I’m thinking you’re a kinder soul than that. And I would love to hear what your first thoughts were that day when I told you about the DID.
Chriss: Well, initially, my first thoughts were, “Oh, holy crap. Here we go again for poor Melissa.” But, uh,
Melissa: What does that mean?
Chriss: Well, just because of everything that you’ve gone through already in life, that it just kind of like, “Chalk one more onto the board for one more stripe.”
Melissa: In other words, like another kick when you’re down, kind of thing.
Chriss: Yeah. But honestly, after it kind of settled in a little bit that you were actually diagnosed with this, it kind of made sense.
Chriss: It wasn’t a shock to hear that, that’s what it was. It kind of fell into line, so to speak, with just the way things have kind of been, like it fit. Like those times when we were kids that I would try talking to you about and you would have no idea what it was; what I was talking about. And I thought you were just being my older sister and kind of being cruel to me, somewhat, and not wanting to talk about it in front of others.
Melissa: Oh! I blanked it out. If we consider your first reaction was, “Hey, there’s another thing” then, was it a believed other thing, or was it a potentially, “Hey, possibly” other thing; like, did you believe it?
Chriss: No. That one, I pretty much believed right off the bat. Like there’s not like, it really, it made sense. It made a lot of sense, Melissa. Well, from remembering everything that we learned in high school psychology, things lined up. Like I, I knew already in high school that you, you did self-harm, that you were somewhat bulimic, different things like that, but there always seemed to be, like,
Melissa: Wait, wait, wait, wait. You knew back in high school. Because like, I wasn’t, I mean, I didn’t talk about the self-harm when I was in high school.
Chriss: No. You didn’t have to.
Melissa: You… What?
Chriss: Do you not remember how, how that course taught us? (Pause) We went into like every different type of disorder and spent a class or two on each one, um, explored the different concepts behind them all. I started psychoanalyzing everybody in the family at that point. You know, you’re power empowered with the knowledge. So you just kind of start like, “Oh. Hey. Is this kind of, does this fit this person, does this fit this person? And you kind of use your family first because you know them best. So for me, it was kind of like, I kind of knew about this stuff then. I didn’t really say much, cause I didn’t really, wasn’t really confident enough to say that in my diagnosis. But as the years came, the doctors started to diagnose this in your and I was like, “Yeah. Okay. Well just, I kind of figured this. It’s no surprise.” I always felt like there was a missing piece in amongst that. Right? Like their, their diagnosis were, okay. They were good. Like, they were attributing to all the symptoms, all the reactions, everything, but it always felt like something was off, like something else just wasn’t quite matching.
Melissa: Okay. Can you describe a little bit, like things that you noticed about, we’ll say “us,” me, in terms of what gave you that feeling?
Chriss: The baseline changed.
Chriss: In, in an experiment, in a scientific experiment, you have a baseline; something to compare things to.
Chriss: Right? So you, you have your basic experiment where you don’t don’t do anything, don’t manipulate, don’t do anything too. So, to me it was like, okay, well, we have this, we know this stuff about Melissa. We know this stuff about Juanita and Jason and myself, and, you know. So that’s the baseline concept, right? Like I’ve seen over the years, the patterns that the, this, that. So eventually, it just kind of came to, the baseline in your case was a variable, as far as the patterns went. So when most of the rest of us, it kind of, it followed a straighter line, with you from day to day, it could change.
Chriss: But there was, seemed like there was multiple baselines. By the time this diagnosis was coming out last year, I hadn’t been spending much time around you. So, there’s no way that I would have been able to really peel that out of the woodworks, but having had it placed there was kind of like that candle light in the cabin window you can see off in the distance. Like, “Oh. Hey. Hey. There’s, there’s something there that kind of makes sense. Right? A guiding point; at least. It wasn’t a big shock, but it definitely fit the profile. There was a scenario that actually allowed for that baseline to be different because of this.
Melissa: Well, I’m looking for the English word for comportement; behaviour? It was like, I was very mild tempered, usually. And then sometimes it would just kind of go like 360, a split second. And then I would revert back to like, my calm self. And I was just like, “whoa, what was that?” And then I, I don’t know. I’ve always wondered about those things that I would change so much. And then I’d recognize sometimes that I would do things that I was so out of character. And I didn’t identify with in terms of the fact that I did them, or said them, or whatever.
Chriss: I do remember seeing some of those moments, but never really being able to place what they were. Right. Not being a psychologist myself, you know, like just having those few courses, it’s not like I’m licensed or anything to diagnose anything at all. Right. But if you’re equipped with the knowledge you can still kind of get closer to. I don’t know. It was almost comforting to know that they figured out something for you that actually made proper logical sense.
Melissa: I thought so too, in a way, because, it was like, okay, so now I can have appropriate help from my condition. Because, like, cause now we know what it is. We can’t treat what we don’t know. But I was also really freaked out, which you probably noticed that day,
Chriss: You found out that you are now, “we,” you know, a whole different concept behind the, we, them, they are, concept.
Melissa: I’ve said “we,” for like years and years. I don’t even know when I started that. Like I just thought it was a quirk. I didn’t know. If I were talking to myself, I would say “we.” I would refer to us as plural, but I never knew why that was, but I guess it makes sense.
Chriss: I used to kind of consider that a royalty thing.
Melissa: A royalty thing?
Chriss: Well, In the past, the Royals were meant to refer to themselves as we.
Chriss: Like the king referred to himself as “we.” That kind of thing. So to me it was just kind of like a, “like, oh, she’s playing with that.”
Melissa: You noticed it. You noticed that I would say that; like before this came out. Like you noticed that I would say “we.”
Chriss: Yeah. In amongst all the fun little things that kind of made me wonder about things.
Melissa: I was so sure no one just noticed. I was just, “Hey. That’s my quirk.” But I was just like, maybe, I…
Chriss: Patterns, Melissa; patterns.
Chriss: But then again, until you have… Until you put all those little things together and actually look them, look at them under a different light, you might not put them together. But like I say, like a lot of things just kind of fell into place. Like, “Yeah. Okay. This makes sense for Melissa. Is REALLY makes sense for Melissa.” It’s kind of unfortunate because I can’t imagine living with multiple people in my brain, but honestly, like the progress that I’ve seen in her from you since this diagnosis is leaps and bounds… past the rest.
Melissa: Hmm. Thank you for recognizing that.
Chriss: What I’m about to say might be a little distorted in concept, but I find most people have the multiple personality type basis, but it’s not like there’s a border, a division between these personalities. It’s all one person able to display and demonstrate those portions of personality. With you, there’s barriers, there’s walls like different corners, different rooms; almost. Right? Which to me is just like, wow. I’ve heard of the way you describe it as being almost a village in there, sometimes. It does make sense that there’s more than just a couple because of the way that things have displayed themselves in the past. I’m kind of, of the opinion that a lot of your bigger incidents and such through life haven’t necessarily been the fault of one personality. Like, because of the fight for control and acceptance and not knowing. Different things, kind of got jumbled and together at some time points where it just made a mess.
Melissa: I had asked about something that was confusing to me a few months ago. And I was asking you about when we were dissociated as kids. I guess, well, “we” as in “I.” Cause we were playing this game that I perceived to be going into a little dirt patch in the grass and saying that I’d be Natasha, and that was it. And then we would, like, go into the house, or something. Cause it was just… that’s it. So you, you explained to me that there was more to it, and I was hoping that maybe you could tell a little bit about that.
Chriss: Well, essentially, you’re very much right. We would essentially be playing in the yard. You would turn to me and be like, “Hey, let’s go play our game.” Or actually in the beginnings of it, I remember you were, you would tell me, “Hey, let’s play a game.” And you came up with this concept of a portal where I would pass through the portal and then moments later, I would find you in this other realm, but you weren’t Melissa in this realm. You were Natasha. But yeah, I remember going through this portal into this fantasy realm of, kind of like the Bridge to Terabithia or Narnia, that kind of thing. Where it’s this fantastic world was beasts and creatures and castles and Queens and princesses and the whole, the whole thing, you know; magic’s. All that kind of fun stuff. And in this realm, Natasha really brought it to life. Like, the stories, the baselines to everything. And it was somewhat of a continuing story, kind of like the Chronicles of Narnia, where they would show up and it’d be a nice storyline and then, you know, action would happen and kind of come to a conclusion; at least most days, unless we got called in for dinner, and then we would end up going back out to conclude. Which, I always thought was interesting how you could break for dinner, remember dinner and then not remember our game again after; kind of thing.
Melissa: That would be interesting too. I have… No… I don’t remember having like….
Chriss: Being so young at the time, I thought you were just being my cruel older sister, right? Like, I was like four or five, kind of thing, when, when I remember playing this game? So, the memories are kind of foggy, but I do remember like, being really immersed in this realm, and really loving Natasha. Like, just loving playing with her and loving being around her. She was a fantastic playmate; taught me a lot as far as those realms went and how to behave and how to, how to act, and the kind of person that you would want to be, so to speak. So, I actually, I have very fond memories of playing these games with you.
Melissa: I, I remembered that. I wish I did. It was… I think that sounds amazing, but like, that sounds really cool because it’s, it’s right up the imaginary alley. It’s kind of a bond that I’m kind of alienated from, in a way. Like, I mean, we still have a really good bond; you and I. But it’s, it feels like remembering something like that… I mean, I might explode, or implode, because I already love you so much. Wow. I mean, why don’t I get to remember that. But, I guess maybe it’ll come to me sometime. Maybe it will be shared. But I’m actually really happy that you got to experience that with her, with us, and wow. That’s, it was such a mystery.
Chriss: If ever she wants to come out and talk and play, then I am more than willing to speak with her and see what she remembers. Maybe that would open things up for you.
Melissa: Maybe it would. I’m not sure if she fronts anymore or if she’s just kind of in the TownSpace, kind of thing.
Chriss: She was, as far as her personality went, she was very calm, reserved, composed, eloquent. Hence, where I mentioned the queen concept. The, the royalty… kind of stems from there too.
Melissa: Did we say that back then?
Chriss: Not, Uh. That’s kind of harder for me to remember, being so young; those smaller details. But it was more the mannerisms. The way you would hold hold yourself, and just general composure. Right? Like, it just seemed like, she’s taking on the role of someone with stature; kind of thing. Like it was, you played the part very well, is pretty much what I came down to. Like, you were a fantastic actress when we were kids. Like, really got into the games and such, and like, it was truly immersive.
Melissa: Wow. From that standpoint, at the time, you would have been thinking that I was acting like an entirely different person, but in fact I wasn’t acting anything, or we weren’t acting…
Chriss: No. You weren’t acting. You WERE a different person. TOTAL sense.
Chriss: Right. So, like looking back at things, it’s like, “oh, she was just, not aware.”
Melissa: I was so not aware. I was not aware.
Chriss: It’s not like it was ever something that I held against you or anything. Right. Like, kids are cruel to each other sometimes. Right? Like I’m like, “whatever. She’s just, she doesn’t want anybody to know that we had these adventures, these games. And you know, I, I justified it as a child, so it didn’t bother me so much… Because we still got to play the games.
Chriss: I can throw in a little bit more as to the transition back though. Sometimes it was an immediate, like, as soon as we’re done the game, you’d jump back into the portal and you would be you. Other times, you would end up standing in that patch for a few moments minutes before you would swap over; I guess you could say now.
Chriss: Like, there was sometimes a delay; like a time delay. Very often. You’d be able to just run into an area and then you’d be coming back out, running to me, and we’d be going there for lunch. Other times, it would take you four or five minutes to swap back. So there’s that too. That also kind of made sense once I found out the diagnosis too. I’m like, “Okay. So that’s just kind of the delay. That was Natasha trying to release control so that she could just give back to you, I guess, the reins for that time, so that you weren’t, she wasn’t discovered. Because I was told by Natasha that this was, this was, our thing.
Melissa: Your thing?
Chriss: Yeah. That we weren’t to share the story either. Right. So I never really talked to even our parents, or Jason, or anybody about it, because it was supposed to be our thing…
Melissa: Well, it’s still our thing because no one else got to play that with us.
Chriss: Yeah. Yeah. Essentially. It was always our thing. And I always held that dear. Cause it was, it was fun games, fun times, you know. We were kids. We were playing. We were having a blast. That was, to me, that was a big part of growing up.
Melissa: Wow. I’m fond of this story here. It means a lot to me. It means a lot. I don’t think I had that much psychology class or maybe I didn’t have the same one as you did. Cause we were…different levels of…
Chriss: Melissa. We took both terms together.
Melissa: We did?!
Chriss: We took Psych 11 and 12 together… And we were in the same freaking classroom.
Melissa: How is that possible?
Chriss: Because of the way they had the classes.
Melissa: I don’t remember taking psych.
Chriss: No. We had it with Ms. McKay. One of our guidance councillors.
Melissa: Huh? Well, we took psychology? (Laughs).
Chriss: Yes. Yes. And by the way you passed…
Melissa: I passed.. I passed. Did I pass well?
Chriss: I can’t remember. Did I pass well? I think I got like 86 or 90% in that class, so…
Melissa: Go you!
Chriss: And I think you, I’m pretty sure, you were somewhere up there too.
Melissa: Wow. But you know, there’s a lot of don’t remember about that year. Like about my childhood in general. There’s a whole bunch of things that I don’t remember. Like, big gap. Maybe that’s just one of them.
Chriss: Essentially. But if it helps, I always kind of figured you were a slightly different person at school than you were at home.
Melissa: Yeah. Well was, I was a lot more shy,
Chriss: More shy, more reserved.
Chriss: Right. So, your personality traits were a little bit different at school than there were at home. Hence where I say, like your baseline would change. Right. Whereas with Juanita, with Jason and Trevor, and, it was more stable.
Chriss: Like it was the same personality here, there, and everywhere. But you could see where, where like that personality kind of clawed and bowed and twisted, right. Whereas with you, it was more of a complete contrast from one place to another. And depending who you were with. Everybody has that Id and super ego. So ultimately, everybody has multiple variances of their own personality, from one end of the spectrum to another, but usually on that same baseline personality.
Chriss: Right. So, as I’ve said before, like yours just seem to kind of bounce baselines. So the diagnosis definitely still, it answers a lot of things. It seems like it really fits in with what’s been going on with you through your entire life.
Melissa: Hmm. That’s encouraging to hear in the sense that, it’s scary sometimes to think that you’re like opening up about something this important, and that the person that you care about thinking it’s hogwash. I find myself quite fortunate with you Juanita, Jason; I find myself quite fortunate.
Chriss: Yeah, absolutely.
Melissa: Thank you.
End Interview: *Static Noise*
Melissa: Since speaking with Chriss, I’ve wondered which of my Headmates Natasha happens to be. After hearing the description of her as poised, eloquent and kind, I have my suspicions on this wise playmate. Perhaps, one day. I will know for sure.
Melissa: Back when we first brought up the topic, Chriss told me how Natasha showed him that, no matter what happened, there would always be someone who cared about him.
Melissa: I understand so much now. I told Chriss, “I always wondered how it was possible for me to love you so much. I think, because more than one of us loved you…”