Today I came across a patient who had a condition similar to the one I had many years ago. I think I was about twelve when it all started. Before I continue, my name is Lorena gills. I’m a psychotherapist and I want to share what made me go into the field.
When I was twelve years old, my parents got divorced. It was not easy for the twelve year old me to cope with it because my perfect family has been shattered and crumbled to the dust.
After about two years, my mum told me that she wanted to remarry and I wasn’t really okay with it since I still wanted my dad back into the family but then I agreed with her because it was nice to see her move on from the past even if I hadn’t fully moved on.
At first my step father was very nice. He took good care of my mom and me but I still had this fear in me whenever I see him staring at me in an uneasy way. Then he showed his true colors when he lost his job. He stated drinking alcohol at home, coming back home late and gets really angry if you don’t do as he says. He had even slapped my mom once. My home became a dreadful place for me so I usually made sure to stay in school very late. Then one day, I came home early since I thought he wasn’t going to be at home but I was wrong. He was in the living room filled with empty bottles of beer all around him. He was heavily drunk and I knew better than to disturb him. As I walked in gently, he came towards me and dragged me towards the sofa. I was really scared as he started touching me in my sensitive areas. I begged him to stop but he didn’t and I decided to use force. I was resisting him and was hitting him with all my strength and that made him really angry. He pulled my hair and was hitting me everywhere. He got really furious and hit one of the bottles on my back. I was starting to get tired because I didn’t have enough strength to resist anymore and I was praying for a miracle to happen.
My prayers got answered when our neighbor who heard the commotion came in and hit him with a stick which made him unconscious. After they called the police and arrested him I was told I was safe and nothing bad will happen to me again. My mum cried really hard and kept blaming herself for the incident but little did they know that was the beginning of my own internal torture.
At night, I would have nightmares of the incident and that made me develop panic attacks. It became so hard to sleep peacefully without seeing his face and when my body couldn’t take the battles again. The real me was forced to shut down. At times, I became so quiet and felt lonely unable to do things correctly and sometimes I became very fierce that even if what you did wasn’t really that bad you’ll get a serious thrashing from me which wasn’t my former behavior and at times it would look like I was stuck in the past when I still had my family complete and I would start asking why my dad wasn’t home. My mum couldn’t handle my condition because it looked like different people were living in the one body. The ever smiling, gentle and inquisitive Lorena wasn’t there anymore. It was like she never existed. Sometimes, it looked like I had forgotten all that happened within those two years of torture and sometimes I just see my step father everywhere wanting to kill me.
My mum eventually took me to see a psychotherapist when she saw the different ways I was behaving. When I explained my condition to the psychotherapist, I was told I had Dissociative identity disorder (DID). He said due to the traumatic experiences I faced, my mind developed different personalities for me. He told me there was the sadist me, the feisty me and the younger me who didn’t remember anything that happened during and after the divorce. He said it was like I had three different people living in me and the real me have been shut down.
I didn’t know what to do because the foreign personalities were behaving like the masters of my body and the original master was now a slave to them. I was terrified beyond words but the psychotherapist assured me that I was going to be fine. I was ready to go through the therapy to get rid of the other me that was taking strong hold of my body.
I started going through talk therapy. Where the psychotherapist asked me different questions to know my deepest fears. I also went through hypnotherapy in which clinical hypnosis was used to help access repressed memories and control some of the problematic behaviors which accompanied DID as well as help to integrate the personalities into one.
It wasn’t easy at first as I still had panic attacks and the feisty me didn’t want to leave but the my inner will to get better helped me to fight it off and I was able to be the gentle, ever smiling, inquisitive Lorena with a bit of the feisty side.
I got really lucky because most people with similar problems commit suicide just to end it all. That incident made me to be a better person and also help others with similar conditions.
Written by Bolawole oreoluwa, University of medical sciences, Ondo State, NIGERIA.