What It's Really Like To Live With Multiple Personality Disorder

'I sometimes wake up bruised and there are photos in my phone I do not recall taking.'

Marcela Del Sol has six—yes, six—different personalities and they're all wildly different. In fact, two are male and one is a depressed female.

Since being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder a few years ago, Marcela has become a writer. 

How were you diagnosed with multiple personality disorder?

I started noticing unusual things happening around me. First, a sense of disconnection with reality. For instance, I did not have memories of incidents, but rather felt I had second-hand knowledge of things. I lost a sense of wholeness and this is the hardest thing to explain. Later, I would find bags of shopping with items I, as me, would have never have bought, such as male clothing, etc.

Can you describe your six different personalities?  

I don’t like to disclose their names, but I will number them. 

Part 1: She is a very audacious, self confident, flamboyant and sexy woman. She is, somehow, all I ever wanted to be but never dared to.

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Part 2: He is a strong, chauvinistic, disciplined male. VERY protective.

Part 3: They are twins. Interchangeable twins, meaning they can be two or join as one as needed. They are nurturing, warm, peaceful, peace-keeping, spiritual and very loving. One of them is very innocent, but not stupid.

Part 4: She is a depressive, not often out. She wears black and hides and suffers all the time.

Part 5: He is the most recent one. He is a very happy, supportive and upbeat male.

Tell us about your male personalities.

The predominant one is overly protective and extremely disciplined, very chauvinistic too, which is a real problem as I am a defender of women's rights and embrace my womanhood completely. There is also another guy within, but he is the opossite; supportive, funny, loving and a bit too clingy at times.

What are some situations you’ve found yourself in because of the six personalities?

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I sometimes wake up bruised and there are photos in my phone I do not recall taking, but this has now become a common language for us to tell each other's story to the rest. I have found myself going in the same places again and again only to be asked, "Did you forget something?" by the shop keepers. Or, "Why are you pacing up and down the street?"

Also, I have been greeted on the streets by people who are strangers to me, but call me one of the others' names. It is hard to come out with the whole story to explain to people why I can't remember them, so I just say I experience amnesia, which is true, but not completely detailed.

I love it when someone who knows about it comes to me and says, "I met one of your parts such and such. She is a sweety." I have a friend who keeps fantasizing about sleeping with all of us at once! It looks very weird and messy in my head, not sure how it does to him, especially since he does not know about the male parts.

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Is it difficult to make friends?

Yes! And a lot harder to maintain friendships. I think I have lost most of my friends and acquantainces but for good as the more protective parts decided to "clean" our life of useless and toxic influences. 

I live a very isolated life in Australia. I try to keep away from people as I feel unsafe to establish any type of relationship with people who might misunderstand and misinterpret what I live with. I have very few friends here, you can count them with one hand, but they have provided some degree of support and a lot of tolerance to us.

How does your family react?

I am extremely proud to have the most amazing and understanding children in the universe! My kids are aware of my condition and this has never negatively impacted our relationship. We are extremely close and enjoy a very loving and healthy life together. My daughter actually has taught me a lot about DID, and even gave me her notes about the "others" so I was aware of their differences, etc. My son once told me he thought it was funny and he thought it would be boring to have a "normal" mum. They are simply amazing! My book is dedicated to them!

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When I told my mother, her first question was, "Are you going to kill us when we go to sleep? Do they all sleep at the same time?" which was extremely shocking to me. I am very saddened by the stigma revolving around mental illness and conditions, but at the same time this encouraged me to write Kaleidoscope: My life's multiple reflections and show the world how capable people like me (with mental health disorders) are. We are not serial killers. In fact the only aggression I have experienced has been against myself and that is under control now.

The rest of my family does not know or prefer not to talk about it. I haven't specifically discussed it with them but they have read articles about my book, so I suspect they are aware of it.

Have any of your personalities ever gotten you into trouble?

Not to my knowledge! The most common thing that does not work very well is when we arrange to meet someone. If one of us does not like them, then we all do not show up. This can become really complicated because the person I was meant to be meeting (or someone else who knew about the arrangement) may spot me happily doing something else, instead of attending to my commitments and arrangements, but they don’t realize that it was not the “me” who has decided to do something else and miss showing up.

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Another thing is the constant change of hair colors and clothing styles. I have now come to see myself as a versatile fashionista, rather than be upset or frustrated about it anymore.

Do you give them different names?

I didn’t ever give them a name, they arrived with their own names already. It is like being on a ship with a captain and a crew, like being a world; a Universe with different inhabitants.

How do you treat it?

I was lucky to have the support of an amazing psychologist who was very aware of my condition and knew how to treat it. There is no known cure for it, just something called "integration" but it is not advisable for everyone as this conveys re-experiencing all the trauma that the "core" no longer remembers but the "others" hold.

Cognitive therapy is the most efficient way to keep it under control. Anti-depressants to treat depression, as this is an extremely horrible condition to live with.

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Do you have a job?

I am a writer. I used to be a Business Development Manager/Admin Support for a private business but unfortunately, I cannot longer hold normal hours, routine, responsibilities, etc.

What spurs the change from personality to personality?

There are certain things that trigger dissociation. This is something I am still trying to clearly identify and, unfortunately, I discover them the hard way: By being triggered. For instance, I was talking to a friend the other day and he asked me something about sexual assault, something that, to someone else, would have probably not proven to be a challenging conversation topic, but I spent the next 3-4 days in and out and under a severe depressive state.

What do you want people to know about the disorder?

I am not dangerous. We are not to be avoided but embraced in our different shades. We are different, but then everyone in the world is.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com.au. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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