Writers With Mental Illness

Dissociative Identity Disorder: Host And Alters

Have you ever woken up to a natural disaster? Tornado sirens, an earthquake, rising flood waters? That is what it’s like for me, an alter, to “wake up” and suddenly have control of our body.

While I am generally aware of what’s going on, my presence tends to be limited to a “passive influence,” helping my alters make decisions internally.

No, Jennifer. Eating an entire pie is a BAD idea. That sort of thing. I don’t even like sweets.

In times of great stress, my alter sometimes retreats without warning, leaving me in charge of a situation that I’m not fully aware of. I can either take the time to attempt to piece together what’s going on, or I can react to whatever immediate threat I’ve been stuck with this time. This is my life with dissociative identity disorder.

DID alters and hosts

How Dissociative Identity Disorder Works

My name is Alex. 31 years old, living in Massachusetts, but that’s not what my ID will tell you. I am one of the several alters in a system with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Jennifer, “the host,” handles the day to day, with increasing difficulty. While she is normally in control due to a prior majority agreement, some days she can’t handle the constant stress. I have been around the longest and seem to be the default next in line for control.

When my host, Jennifer, fell in love with someone online early in 2012, they quickly decided they wanted to move in together despite barely knowing each other. My host is a very trusting, almost naïve person, refusing to see the bad in some people. She is often taken advantage of. Of course, it could also be argued that I’m just paranoid, which is probably true as well.

For five years, one of my alters lived through the ups and downs of being in a relationship while I simply watched… hiding my existence from an emotionally abusive partner, Watched the excitement of having a life together with someone, the depression of having their first argument, the fear that it wouldn’t last forever.

They had some great times together, but things were terrible most of the time. Jennifer’s partner decided in 2015 to just say “to hell with everything” and move to Colorado with no money, no job, and no place to live. Refusing to see that their relationship was already devoid of love, she quit her own job and followed along. All I could do was scream inside our mind. They had just jointly ruined their lives. What was the planned outcome? Homelessness? Starvation? Because those are the things that came from moving to Colorado.

Dissociative Identity Disorder And Relationships

For whatever reason, they continued to stick together. Maybe they needed each other, maybe Jennifer’s partner liked having an emotional punching bag around. So, that October, after having been homeless in Colorado for roughly a year, they decided to get married, even though it was obvious that it would never work. For example, my host is monogamous, but her partner wasn’t. That alone should’ve been a red flag.

In the Spring, they moved to Massachusetts with the help of one of Jennifer’s partner’s partners. Confusing, I know. Because Jennifer is fairly outgoing, albeit shy, she makes friends easily and quickly reconnected with old friends that lived in the area. Thankfully, one of them agreed to take Jennifer and her partner in.

dissociative identity disorder host and alters

Waking Up to Disaster

It was March, and Jennifer’s world was falling apart. This is when I “woke up.” Jennifer’s partner was becoming increasingly distant. She finally began to realize that their marriage was both hopeless and loveless. There was no going back. Her partner yelled and screamed, refusing to let it end, but Jennifer ended the relationship.

This is where I (Alex) come in. I’ve always been around, in my own way. But today, I woke up for the first time in years, out of nowhere. I was suddenly in control because Jennifer couldn’t take the emotional abuse anymore and was unwilling to say what needed to be said. She shut down and it was up to me to take care of things.

Salvaging Our Life

I’m not devoid of emotion, but my emotions are certainly less intense than my host’s. I don’t feel things to the same extreme, and I did not regard her partner very highly, much less have any love for her after witnessing how poorly she treated the person I consider my best friend and sister.

So, I dumped everything. Five years of complaints, five years of my own view on everything that had happened, five years of my point of view on their arguments. I’m certain she was confused why my alter suddenly brought up so many old arguments after they had seemingly been resolved.

I finally did what needed to be done, though. I told my Jennifer’s partner that she needed to go. And she did, finally, in a very dramatic fashion. Although she threatened to kill herself if Jennifer made her leave, I had to put my foot down to end the abuse. And she left that day. Jennifer wouldn’t see her again for another two weeks. I had to take control a lot during that time. My alter’s world was shattered. The person who had always been there to crack jokes with, watch silly YouTube videos with… she was suddenly gone.

empty room

Helping My Host Cope

After the breakup, Jennifer would wake up at 5 am, panicking from the dark and now sudden silent loneliness. She cried, she became depressed, and she even contemplated suicide. I did my best to reassure her that it was for the best and that things would get better. There’s only so much you can do when you’re basically nothing more than a voice inside of a head 90% of the time.

Leading up to the divorce was like watching someone steer your own life off a cliff. I woke up to smashed dishes, broken electronics, and more bad decisions. Thankfully, I “woke up” and ended it, and now I’m trying to salvage what’s left of our life. 

DID-host-and-altersAbout The Author:

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous. Resources are listed below:

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Recommended Reading:

dissociative identity disorder books
The 3 Faces of Eve

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