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New to all this, my husband has DID

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New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby DIDWife » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:22 pm

So my husband was diagnosed when he was about 13. He only has one alter, Billy. He never told anyone about his diagnosis until he told me, prior to our marrying. He absolutely hates talking about it, and since we never had any interaction with Billy, it was mostly out of sight out of mind. Recently, he got extremely drunk, and Billy took over. (forgive me if my terminology isn't proper, I have no experience with this) First of all, Billy hates being called that and prefers William (as in William Blake). He is extremely disturbed. He hates having been cooped up for nine years. He repeatedly took over throughout a few hour period. At times I could see my husband physically fighting him for control. While William was in control, he told me that the one I love was gone and was never coming back, he also threatened me with a knife. Every time my husband was back in control I tried to tell him what was happening, in hopes that being aware would help him stay in control and keep us both safe. Side note: My husband has had a very physically painful life, and William once threw him off a building as an attempt to "save" him form the pain. So he has a history of violence. Needless to say, this night was a terrifying experience for me. I could tell who was in control when, and William has a much more crazed appearance. I guess I was expecting an alter that I would be able to talk to/reason with, not what I actually met. I always thought that if he ever took control, I would be able to talk to him, and get to know why he felt my husband needed protecting, etc. But now I have no idea what to do. We've decided to quit drinking, but I have no idea what if anything will bring him back. My husband is a very strong personality, but I definitely fear losing him, especially to someone who might hurt him. My husband has no desire to discuss anything relating to William. He doesn't want to know what happened that night, although I told him that William had been there. Also He continues to want this to be a secret from everyone in his life including his family. I have no idea what to do! Any thought/ advice would be so welcome. Thanks you
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Re: New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby Una+ » Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:36 pm

Hello DIDWife. I am sorry your first meeting with your husband's alter was during an alcoholic rage, and that your husband is so much in denial. I can only begin to imagine how terrifying and hurtful that meeting was for you. At least your husband was aware enough to disclose to you that William exists. Or existed; did your husband think William was gone?

I am the host in my system. I became aware of two alters during a traumatic event at age 16, then mostly suppressed my awareness of them for 30 years. I was only aware enough to tell my husband before we married that part of me is a killer; I did not know it was DID. I started therapy this year and was diagnosed a few months ago. During those 30 years now and then an alter would take executive control and I would lose time, but most of their activity was passive influence of my behavior. One alter was completely suppressed for 30 years and then the first to integrate with me. I feel very acutely her/my rage and grief for the loss of 30 years of life. So I can empathize with William. I can also empathize with your husband. He may be entering a life crisis.

Your husband was diagnosed as a minor, so how is it that his family does not already know? What was the course of his therapy at 13 when he was diagnosed? It sounds like the therapy helped your husband (the host) suppress William. That often works, until it doesn't. The next time William gets out, if there is no alcohol involved, he is likely to be less angry. You may be able to reach him by talking "through" your husband. You might insert in conversation now and then "I'd like to hear what William thinks" or similar. William may be able to hear you, especially if you use his name. You could try asking for William at night, while your husband sleeps. However, your husband may have very strong negative feelings about your doing this.
Dx DID older woman married w kids. Alter 0 Una, host integrated w 3, 1, 5. Alter 1 preverbal empath. Alter 2 older man. Alter 3 Teen Girl in stasis 30 years. Alter 4 girl (?) behind amnesia barrier. Alter 5 girl in love. Others? Our thread.
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Re: New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby LittleRedDogToo » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:14 pm

Hi DIDWife,

Welcome to the board. Do you think your husband would be willing to go therapy if you two went together? Maybe if you point out how much of a worry it is to you, he would be willing. Good luck and welcome again.
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Re: New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby DIDWife » Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:16 pm

Thanks you both for your replies. Turns out my husband refuses to even talk about it now. He was very upset when I tried to maintain a conversation about it. He just wants to ignore it, and I'm not convinced it will stay ignorable. I have to respect his desires though, and I can't really do anything with him fighting me the whole time. I guess I need to know what I should do if William presents himself again. Should I try and get to know him, ask him what makes him different? Or should I just ask him for my husband back? I don't want to do anything that will frustrate him, or cause him to become angry, although that appears to be the only time he presents himself so far. But I can't very well go through my entire life trying not to make my husband angry! Thanks so much for the advice
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Re: New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby Johnny-Jack » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:59 pm

He just wants to ignore it, and I'm not convinced it will stay ignorable.
You are correct, it will not.
I guess I need to know what I should do if William presents himself again. Should I try and get to know him, ask him what makes him different? Or should I just ask him for my husband back?
Yes, I would definitely get to know him. Don't ask him what makes him different, but ask him who he is, when he spent time in the body. Ask him if he's willing to tell you anything about what happened to him. I wouldn't ask for your husband back unless it's absolutely necessary, like he has a pressing appointment or a job to go to. I would try not to let him know that you favor one of the two over the other, though that may be difficult. If William is to trust you, it's is important not to reject him. William is a critical part of your husband, likely a part that saved his life in some way. It's likely that he was at one time necessary to your husband's physical, mental or emotional survival. He deserves credit for this. If he isn't dangerous, you might thank him for all he's done (vaguely, because he may not like your husband).

Of course you sense that DID and alters cannot remain hidden forever without an eventual breakdown such as you you recently witnessed. It sounds probable that William holds some nasty abuse. Perhaps your husband doesn't want to know about it, or is aware to some degree (because he knows of "Billy") but actively is not willing to face his alter, because that means facing the abuse.

I would talk to William when he arrives and treat him as who he presents himself to be, because that's who he is. Let him know you would like to work with him and help him but you're limited in what you can do and that you are also loyal to your husband and want to keep his entire system stable. I assume William knows about your husband? If William ever presents dangerously again, it may be wise to to leave. When your husband tries to communicate to you to come back, you could use the danger you felt as a bargaining tool for him to seek therapy. It may feel challenging but it could also be self-preservation. Obviously these are just ideas I'm throwing out, you're the owner and best judge of your relationship.

There may be an approach you could use by way of analogy to speak to your husband about the potential danger of continuing to avoid his alter and his DID. You might very indirectly talk to him about a situation that parallels the perils of avoiding an uncomfortable problem. For example, you might talk about someone who didn't file their taxes for years, then lost their business and went to jail. You might know of someone who had a lump somewhere that eventually progressed to cancer before medical help was sought. Better if someone other than you were to tell such a tale it could resonate (though I wouldn't necessarily suggest setting someone up to do that!) Or rent a movie where that is the theme.

In the meantime, I would learn as much about DID as possible and I hope you'll feel comfortable to ask further questions here.
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Re: New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby DIDWife » Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:23 am

I'm so saddened that my husband is so tortured by this. William told me he had been trapped inside my husband's tortured mind. This seems like such a difficult thing, especially if one of the alters is violent towards the host as with my husband. The first time he told me, he cried, and seemed almost like a child. Then the other night when I had the first real interaction with William, when my husband was there, he kept telling me that William could not control him. He was very insistent. I was trying to tell him what was happening in hopes that he'd be able to stay in control as I was (and continue to be) very scared of William. At one point, William went for a knife, and I was unsure if he meant to hurt me or himself. I took it from him, and when my husband came back he again seemed almost childlike, asking me why I had a knife. He seemed scared of me, like I was intending to hurt him. I know that William is aware of my husband because he kept telling me that the one I loved was gone and was never coming back. This of course terrified me more. I'm terrified that my husband might one day prove to not be strong enough to remain the host, and that I'll lose my soulmate to a more violent person who doesn't care for me at all, or who I don't love. I can handle the alters, but I desperately want to remain in the happy relationship I'm in. I know the best chance of this would be for him to get therapy, and to integrate, but with his extreme unwillingness to do anything, I'm faced with very little option. From all the thoughts I've gotten from here, it seems that my best option would be to meet William when he presents again, and ask him if he is willing to tell me what happened to him (is it rude to ask why he's necessary?) and to try and treat him as a rational person even if he is (I'm sorry, sorry, sorry) crazy. I know it's rude to say that because it implies that my husband is crazy, which I don't think is true, I understand the mind needs protection sometimes. But the way William presents, I have no other word for it really. His eyes roll back, and he scratches and licks at himself like he's so ecstatic to be in control again. I don't feel like he's animalistic though
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Re: New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby Una+ » Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:54 pm

Eyes rolling back is common during switching. Not everyone with DID does it but many do. This is the basis for the "eye roll test" developed by Herbert Spiegel, intended to predict a person's susceptibility to hypnosis.

Scratching and licking sounds to me like William was enjoying being in the body and experiencing any physical sensation at all. Probably the most important thing for you to convey to him is that he is welcome. You have to accept him for what he appears to be in the here and now. One mystery of DID is that the alters are changeable.

For what it is worth, before I understood that I had DID I too would cry when revealing the "thing" inside me. Telling my secret was traumatic. In 30 years I told only twice, until this year. Now I talk about it more or less freely and the telling is not painful.

Your husband probably fears that he is crazy and you seem to share his fear. But DID is a rational, sane response to intolerable pain. There is nothing crazy about it. Give him some time to process what happened. In the meantime, you could read some of the memoirs by people with DID. I like the one by Robert Oxnam. He is an accomplished man with a PhD and leadership roles, whose DID came to light in midlife; he integrated, remarried into a large family, and speaks openly about his DID.

Wikipedia: Hypnotic susceptibility
Wikipedia: Robert Oxnam
Dx DID older woman married w kids. Alter 0 Una, host integrated w 3, 1, 5. Alter 1 preverbal empath. Alter 2 older man. Alter 3 Teen Girl in stasis 30 years. Alter 4 girl (?) behind amnesia barrier. Alter 5 girl in love. Others? Our thread.
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Re: New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby Patience » Sun Oct 16, 2011 6:56 pm

Hi DIDWife, I've read this thread and the other one you posted about how significant others handle alters. My heart went out to you. I am a woman who lives with a man who has DID, so I'll try to offer my 2-cents in hopes that maybe it will help you a bit. To start off with, I will tell you that to best of my knowledge, my SO does not have a violent alter as you describe with William. That I have met, anyway, buy he does have a very cold and emotionless protector.

From what you describe of William, he sounds like either a Protector or maybe an Persecutory alter. Just try to imagine though, if you can, being locked inside your body while someone else was calling the shots. Imagine how trapped you would feel not being able to do what you wanted to do, or with whom you wanted to do it. That's how William feels being locked up inside for so long. He has to come out and take control of the body. It also seems that he mistakenly has believed in the past, that if he could just kill your husband, he wouldn't be locked away ever again. He doesn't realize that in killing your husband, he would also kill the body they share.

It also looks to me as if you have met another alter, a little one. In my personal situation, very frequently after a Protector comes out, a little will emerge afterwards. Perhaps feeling bad and sorry that I got reprimanded by the Protector. There are usually more alters than two, but of course it's possible.

In your other thread you asked how to deal with these alters. First..always with the respect that each of them deserve. They are separate people, although they share the body. All of their opinions are valid and should be treated as such. I hope the next time you deal with William that there's no alcohol involved. Maybe you can get more of a feel for what he's like. Second...no judgements. If he feels that you are willing to discuss whatever he needs to talk about (no matter how painful) it's possible with time he will trust you and befriend you.

Like I said, my SO does not have a violent Protector, but his was nasty enough. With time he has grown to trust me, though he can still lash out. It's his job. It's what he does. He protects again anything perceived as a danger to the system.

The other people that answered your post in this thread have given some excellent advice, too. Learn as much as you can about DID. No system is the same, although there are similarities. There is a wealth of information to be had online and through books.
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Re: New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby DIDWife » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:31 am

Patience wrote:From what you describe of William, he sounds like either a Protector or maybe an Persecutory alter. Just try to imagine though, if you can, being locked inside your body while someone else was calling the shots. Imagine how trapped you would feel not being able to do what you wanted to do, or with whom you wanted to do it. That's how William feels being locked up inside for so long. He has to come out and take control of the body. It also seems that he mistakenly has believed in the past, that if he could just kill your husband, he wouldn't be locked away ever again. He doesn't realize that in killing your husband, he would also kill the body they share.

It also looks to me as if you have met another alter, a little one. In my personal situation, very frequently after a Protector comes out, a little will emerge afterwards. Perhaps feeling bad and sorry that I got reprimanded by the Protector. There are usually more alters than two, but of course it's possible.

In your other thread you asked how to deal with these alters. First..always with the respect that each of them deserve. They are separate people, although they share the body. All of their opinions are valid and should be treated as such. I hope the next time you deal with William that there's no alcohol involved. Maybe you can get more of a feel for what he's like. Second...no judgements. If he feels that you are willing to discuss whatever he needs to talk about (no matter how painful) it's possible with time he will trust you and befriend you.

Like I said, my SO does not have a violent Protector, but his was nasty enough. With time he has grown to trust me, though he can still lash out. It's his job. It's what he does. He protects again anything perceived as a danger to the system.

The other people that answered your post in this thread have given some excellent advice, too. Learn as much as you can about DID. No system is the same, although there are similarities. There is a wealth of information to be had online and through books.


Thank you so much for the advice. I really appreciate it, especially coming from someone in a similar situation. William is definitely his protector I would say. My husband first found out about him because William would write him letters. That's how we know that the attempted "suicide" was to protect him from the pain of his life.
I've been thinking about the possibility of a Little, but I don't think he has one. The few times he reacted this way, he called me baby and interacted with me just like my husband does, he also identified me as his wife and by name. William on the other hand, knows my husband is also there, but he doesn't identify me as his wife. He tells me my husband is gone. I do hope to win him over someday. Most people like me, why wouldn't he :D
Not every situation when I've had flashes of William have been alcohol fueled. Once when we were arguing, he held me by the throat and told me never to talk to my husband that way again. This all adds to my fear of him. Also my husband has mentioned times when he could "feel" William. These were also times of great anger, like watching my friend's boyfriend rough her up. I later asked him why he hadn't stepped in, and he told me William would have killed him.
I can't imagine what it must be like to be trapped in my body. Just like I can't imagine what it feels like to know that your careful control might snap at any minute and everyone around you would be in danger. It breaks my heart. I wish they both could exist in harmony. I really hope someday my husband decides to work towards that. I just hope no one gets has to get hurt to bring him around.
Thanks again
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Re: New to all this, my husband has DID

Postby Una+ » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:15 am

Hm. Years ago my Alter 1 was a lot like your husband's William. The only reason Alter 1 did not kill someone was because my Alter 2 intervened. They were Schutzhund and handler. For decades I feared that if I ever lost control I would kill or at least seriously harm someone. Over time I became better at modulating anger, especially taking action before I reached the point where Alter 1 would take over. Also, I (with help from my system) was able to handle extreme threat situations without violence. Alter 1 grew less reactive, although still very much on guard.
Dx DID older woman married w kids. Alter 0 Una, host integrated w 3, 1, 5. Alter 1 preverbal empath. Alter 2 older man. Alter 3 Teen Girl in stasis 30 years. Alter 4 girl (?) behind amnesia barrier. Alter 5 girl in love. Others? Our thread.
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