Afraid of developing DID/MPD...
(New Jersey, USA)
Well, I've been living alone for the past year or so and it has been extremely difficult. I'm currently in college and living in an apartment over 2,000 miles away from my family and friends. I've always been a bit on edge, even as a child; my family is pretty loud and exciting, and maybe it has to do with genes or something, but that's never been me. I've always been the type that would rather stay at home and read a book or draw than go out and party, despite my upbringing.
Anyway, I thought that living alone would be fine, since I was used to solitude anyway. However, I've found that I've been more stressed in the past year than I've been in my entire life. Besides going to school, I stay at home most of the day. To go out to a restaurant and eat by myself is kind of pathetic...and it doesn't help I'm painfully shy when it comes to making friends. Because of this, I've been struggling with derealization/depersonalization, as well as intrusive thoughts, and now a bit of agorophobia. One intrusive thought that has stayed with me the most is the fear of developing dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder. Logically, I know this is pretty much impossible, since this kind of dissociative disorder almost always occurs to young children going through extremely traumatic events. However, the thought crosses my mind about once every minute and it terrifies me!
You mentioned thinking positively and thought stopping, but I've found it to be a lot more difficult than it seems. For instance, when I'm in class, I'll sit there just fine and randomly feel a panic attack coming on, and a rush of anxious thoughts. I try to stop each thought with a positive affirmation, but I guess I lack the willpower, and become mentally exhausted to where I just give up. Other times, I've found your advice to be very useful, especially when I'm riding the bus home. I don't know...I just feel so lost and I don't know what to do anymore.
Thank you so much for reading this, and thank you for this website. :)
Reply from Sound-Mind.org
Thank you so much for your email. As you well know, Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personality disorder) is something that can occur due to severe trauma during early childhood, usually extreme, repetitive physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse. It is highly unlikely that you are suffering from this, especially if you have never experienced those causes. I do, however, understand your fears. Anxiety habitually has people worrying about the "what if's" and tricks the sufferer into believing that it is a possiblity even when it most likely isn't. Fears of "going crazy", "losing your mind" and other similar fears are all based on the core fear of "being out of your own control". Let me assure you that you have much more control than you think you do.
I congratulate you on eating alone, if you indeed are! As pathetic as you feel it is to do so, it takes great courage for many and I also believe it to be a wonderful opportunity for growth! It really has much to do with your perspective and how you see yourself and others.
Shyness, making friends, and issues with social anxiety disorder make things a bit difficult but I assure you that it is something that can be overcome through cognitive-behavoral methods.
It is important to use a lot of repetition when using positive thought replacement and you are right, it can be very exhausting. That's why they call it therapy - it's real work that brings real results when you are persistent in your efforts. It helps greatly to keep a journal. Through journalling you may notice a common theme in your self-talk that you wouldn't otherwise notice. It helps us to get the thoughts out on paper. Good practice would be to write down your negative thoughts (most common ones first) and then for every negative, untruthful thought, you write a replacement thought that is positive, optimistic and truthful. Doing this exercise frequently everyday will get you into the habit of recognizing your automatic negative thoughts and get you into the habit of knowing what to say back to yourself. Try to use short responses to yourself as they are the easiest to remember when they creep up on you when you least expect them. Remember, negative, obsessive, scary thoughts cannot hurt you and there is no need to run from them - instead take the time to dissect them and then tell yourself the truth. You really cannot argue with truth can you??
Be good to yourself Angelique! Just keep working at it and don't give up! Anxiety requires much repetition and as long as you don't give up, it cannot win. If at anytime you need support or encouragement, please know that we are always here! One day at a time!