Even if it’s insisted that the labels are only for insurance purposes, they pack more of a punch than to be dismissed. These labels that are claimed to be just a way of identifying which code to use in paperwork and determine monetary matters have stories woven behind them. Generations worth of stigma, shame, and examples (or better yet, assumptions) of how anyone with this label is likely to behave.
Many people who enter therapy do so at the most vulnerable moments of their life. I know this was the case for me. Often times it takes hitting rock bottom to admit that help is needed, and it’s at these times we’re open to the most change and are the most impressionable.
I think it’s because I joined therapy through this nature that I was extremely effected by labels that were thrown into my world once I accepted my first label of having D.I.D. I entered therapy assuming that people within the field knew more about my experience than I did. That was my first mistake. Saying it out loud sounds rediculous, but when I think about the nature of therapy I do think it endorses this to some extent. Often times people with mental illness are characterized as unable to care for themselves.
I got to a point where I realized that nothing I was doing in my past up until that point was working to make my life the way I wanted it and achieve happiness, so I accepted that my therapists would probably know better than me. This entered a phase in my healing where I become extremely open to peoples’ suggestions, and although it’s good to be open to change this amount is definitely not a positive thing.
I started to join support groups under the label of D.I.D., and here’s some of the images associated with them that I saw.
A quick google search while writing this article brings these as some of the top images.
To me, these images bring about terror. They look like something out of a horror movie, and in fact another top image is the cover of Split, one of the most harmful pieces of media ever created for the D.I.D. community.
Before I had this label of D.I.D., I was aware of the other people I shared a body with. But never once would I have characterized it like these images. I saw the majority of the people in here as friends to me, felt no fear toward system members, and if asked to illustrate my experience would give you something like this.
This is a sketch we made of two of our past system members. For me, this is what being co-concious is like. Two of us, sitting next to each other, one unseen but maybe supporting the other, simply chatting, throwing random jokes into our thoughts, etc.
And D.I.D. was only the first label we started to delve into. Many others would follow as we felt that these labels could more accurately describe our experience and figure out “what’s wrong with us.” The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with us. We’re just different– learning, growing, coming together, and healing our past together.
The labels I once latched onto, I’m now trying to shed. We don’t fit into these labels and the ideas that go with them, and while they feel useful at times to communicate things in a very flat way to people who don’t understand our experience, they fall very short and come with a lot of baggage of others’ opinions.
To all the therapists that don’t focus on labels, thank you. What I’d really like to see though is a rethinking of how therapy works. A dismantling of a system that hasn’t worked and still isn’t working to humanely and compassionately help to hold space for people to heal themselves and be held and supported while doing so.
If so many out there know this isn’t helpful, why are we still staying silent and working inside its boundaries?