• Dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder) is a complex psychological condition which can be caused by severe trauma. (Getty Images)
Marcela Del Sol is one of eight people living inside her mind and body. Two of her personalities are male, two are twins. They all come and go whenever they please and after they leave, she can barely recall what they did.
By
Marcela Del Sol

13 Oct 2016 - 2:51 PM  UPDATED 13 Oct 2016 - 2:55 PM

I was once loved and respected for my actions. Then came a label that didn’t read “strawberry or high in calories” but “ill”. Mentally ill.

Somehow an invisible label was sufficient to twist the person I actually was, into a scary monster who could suddenly rage and kill you with a chainsaw.

Funnily, those eyes so latently fixated on my mental health diagnosis, were the same ones that couldn’t see my condition…because the very source of their unfounded fears was not credible. In other words, had I broken my arm, I would have the plaster cast to ‘prove’ it. But it is my mind, and not a bone, that is shattered.

So I ask myselves: Who is really the incapacitated one here?

I live with Dissociative Identity Disorder. The condition used to be known as Multiple Personality Disorder, because that is exactly how it presents. Believed to be caused by traumatic events, the person with the condition will receive two or more different alters, or personalities, that take over the body of the person, leaving them with little recollection after departing.  

Because I have no real recollection of what each team member does when they ‘come in’, I will often find three cartons of milk in the fridge, or cold cups of coffee, that I had purchased all in the same day.

As you can imagine, the arrival of different alters go on to wreak havoc in the bearer’s life. One of the reasons for this is because the alters' characteristics – including name, reported age and gender, vocabulary, general knowledge, and predominant mood – contrast significantly with those of the primary identity. 

I live with a team of seven – two are male, and another two are twins. This colourful cast of characters boasts a range of special attributes, identities and their own unique energy. One is organised and studious, another passionate and infectious, and the twins are creative and flexible.

Because I have no real recollection of what each team member does when they ‘come in’, I will often find three cartons of milk in the fridge, or cold cups of coffee, that I had purchased all in the same day. I don’t remember where I parked my car and (how you search for it). I could be walking down the street and receive a friendly greeting, but it is a friend of another team member, and not of mine, so I don’t know the name or identity of the smiling stranger.

As if these situations are not enough to make my life challenging at best, downright frightening at worst, I also have the unrelentless stigma directed as those with a mental illness to cope with.

The reality of living with a mental illness erases the chance of making lasting friendships. People are afraid – or at the very least consider me as some sort of cartoon character with no feelings or useful opinions. I often find myself in the McDonalds drive- thru, ordering happy meals that I don’t want, just for the chance to talk to someone. 

While society instills your ignorant misconceptions upon me at will, I take small comfort in knowing that, rather than a victim, I am a survivor.

I feel okay to say I am asexual, genderless and prefer to define myselves as human beings who still use female toilets and menstruate.

I’ve survived a lot of trauma that I hope no one ever experiences, and when my head was full of pain, I was gifted  –and terrified to know - a team of people who exist only in my mind. They help me go through life without stopping, for too long, when certain things (a person, a question, a part of town) remind me of traumatic situations and/or make me feel unsafe.

You could say I go around with a few bodyguards who are always ready to save their damsel if in distress.

The result of my team’s existence means that, while I am over 40, I’m many ages. At birth, I was given a name and a designated gender due to my genitalia but none of these feel as mine anymore; I am a few women and a couple of men.

We are all straight though and attracted to the opposite sex, so we have refrained from sexual activity at all, to avoid conflict and uncomfortable situations.

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I feel okay to say I am asexual, genderless and prefer to define myselves as human beings who still use female toilets and menstruate.

There are days when it’s hard to even get out of bed. I felt nothing was worthwhile, because I was dislodged from society: I was an unwanted and ridiculed woman, walking around in high heels, talking to herself in a “thick” accent.

I’ve also felt embarrassed and rejected when ‘Chris’ goes for a walk in checkered shirts and construction boots, or when ‘Bella’ puts so many flowers on our head that we look like a display garden. The things you feel, fellow “mentally ill” sufferer, I have felt too.

But, those who laugh forget that it was society, not my mother, who created my condition, when I was raped, assaulted, crashed, ostracized and bullied.

I refuse to accept being re-traumatised by ignorance and stigma.

I am a caring, compassionate and intelligent mother. I am a writer, a social activist, a daughter, a sister and a friend.

I am a beautiful human being and we are here to stay.

 

Love this author? Follow her on Facebook or visit her website.

Marcela Del Sol is also the author of the book, Kaleidoscope: My Life's Multiple Reflections from Amazon.

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