Does this look like Disassociative Identity Disorder? (My mother) - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 03-11-2009, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My mother was diagnosed with PTSD a year ago. A doctor also suggested she might have DID. The trauma would have been from her childhood, but triggered by events such as my daughter's birth and my grandmother's death (among other things).

I'm trying to come to terms with my mother, who is a very loving and supportive mom (she raised me AP). But we have not been able to get along at all for a couple of years - it's absolutely painful. We both want to get along but there is some major tension I can't really define. So I'm trying to see if I can come from the perspective of her trauma and accept my mother for who she is, including the parts that are difficult for me to take.

So, I looked up DID (as just one of many things maybe going on) but everything is just really clinical and I don't know if I can identify what the doctor saw in my mother that suggested that. The one thing that stands out to me is that my mother, who is fundamentally a very loving and supportive person, can suddenly lash out and say something mean. And then she will absolutely deny ever having said such a thing. The denial can come even seconds after she said the thing. My DH has witnessed this more than once, and in fact was the one to recognize it as kind of pathological (I never really thought about it before, other than to be just hurt and confused when it happens).

The "episodes" don't last longer than for her to say the mean thing. After that, she will deny saying it and be extremely defensive. There is never any real resolution to the episodes (i.e. her apologizing or at least saying she didn't know what came over her or anything) but then again, my mother can't apologize anyway.

As an example, my mother, who loves me and was always trying to support my self-esteem growing up, and telling me I was pretty and looked terrific in this or that outfit, and so on - would sometimes just blurt out (when I was a child and teen) that my stomach was so fat I looked pregnant, and even though she struggled with her weight all her life (versus me who was thin up until now) she NEVER had such a fat stomach. But the few times I brought up what she said, she would vehemently deny saying it, and I would always feel so many conflicting feelings about it (including doubt and guilt for ever having accused her of such a thing). That example is the only recurring one I can think of but she's said other things, always either mean or agressive, that just felt totally counter to her usual self, and she would always deny it.

Last time she did it to me, about 4 months ago, she suddenly accused me of single-handedly ruining the whole day. There was indeed some tension already when she said it, but I think the accusation was still kind of out of left field. I lost my temper (yelling something like "I can't believe you'd blame this all on me") and her response was to say she never did any such thing (this is seconds later). I then repeated verbatim what she said, and DH also jumped in to confirm he heard those exact words. This was the first time I ever had corraboration. She was kind of unable to cope. Perhaps because she truly didn't remember, but she had two people telling her very strongly that she did say it. I don't think she said much more, but her face was just angry and miserable. I then regained control of my temper (I had previously resolved to let things go, because I love my mother and I know she's going through a hard time) and told her it was ok and hugged her, but she did not return the hug (was totally stone). That was a new response for me, and I hoped it would change how things were resolved, but it didn't. It was resolved the usual way: tension for a while, and then as it faded, pretending the whole thing never happened.

I have not witnessed her doing this to any other person other than me, but that doesn't mean she doesn't. Also, I'm thinking it's possible she only does it to me - the trauma came from her own parents (and foster-parents as well, later) and if the DID was a defense for her a child, maybe it makes sense it comes out toward me as her own child.

Anyway, does that sound like DID to you?

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#2 of 11 Old 03-12-2009, 10:49 AM
 
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Wow. I don't know. Its obviously extremely complicated. From just reading about DID, it seems that there is usually another personality present, that DID is the new term for MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder). It seems like the other personalities are usually pretty developed, have names and specific personalities etc.
It sounds like your mom has severe mood swings and can't recall them. Maybe that is a less severe form of the disorder.
Can you ask her psychiatrist for clarification? You are a close family member who has to cope with this and you deserve clarification, and also some support! I would seek that out right away because its obviously very difficult and you need to know not just how to help her but yourself as well.
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#3 of 11 Old 03-12-2009, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah, I did later read that it seems the other personalities are supposed to have a lot of details, names and ages and sexes and stuff. But the only glimpse I see of this is just a moment of verbal/emotional aggression, no more. But the seeming amnesia about it is still very odd. It's very possible she remembers it and is just not taking responsibility for her words, but even if that's the case, the adamence of her denials is pretty remarkable.

Anyway, I was hoping at least to be able to come to a point of empathy with her so I can, well, tolerate her a lot more. She's been through a lot and she's given a lot to me, and totally broke the cycle of abuse she's gone through - but she's still paying for it, it seems. I find that so sad. And when she's not here I can think like that, but when I'm with her, it's wonderful for a few hours, and then we just butt heads so bad. I have zero perspective on whether this is just a typical mother-daughter relationship thing, or if she just has control issues, or if I'm equally or even primarily responsible for the conflicts, or what.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#4 of 11 Old 03-12-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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Wow. I hear you. All I know is that in my life, it is VERY typical for my mother to push my buttons, big time and even though we are very close, it seems no one has the ability to get under my skin like her.
From what you said it sure seems as if your mom truly doesn't remember what she is saying though. Of course I can't be sure.
Maybe its possible that she has this temporary amnesia which sure, could be classified as a dissociative state and they feel the need to fit her into a category (because thats what they do). But maybe she just has dissociative tendencies and not full blown DID. There exists such a need to label everything. But perhaps its just not that black and white.
Whatever the case you definitely need to learn to cope, for your own well being if nothing else.
Maybe counseling?
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#5 of 11 Old 03-12-2009, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh I forgot to reply to the suggestion to talk to her psychiatrist. I dunno. Maybe I'll talk to her about whether I could provide any input for her therapy (her psychiatrist is an ass, though - so I'd probably talk to her therapist if anyone). I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to invade her privacy or her safe space, though. She's also in a different state than I am, but maybe next time I visit I might ask gently if she thought me coming with her to a session could be helpful to her - but if I did that, i would really only want to go in support of her, not with my own agenda. If I have my own agenda I'll get my own therapist (which is indeed something I've thought about).

Honestly I don't even know if I want to know. That sounds awful, but child abuse is something I have been EXTREMELY sensitive to since DD was born, so much that just hearing of some incident or other in the news or whatever will cause me actual trauma. I can't sleep, I can't cope. My mother has hinted at some stuff but I don't think she's ready to share it with me yet (if ever) and I don't know if I can handle it.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#6 of 11 Old 03-12-2009, 09:29 PM
 
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Gosh yes I wasn't even thinking about how that would be an invasion of her privacy. Duh! I am so used to my uncle who is paranoid schizophrenic and my grandmother who pretty much takes care of every single thing for him and is always talking to his doctors. But of course that is not the norm (thank goodness!)

I so know what you mean about being sensitive to child abuse. I am starting to get a bit better now but I haven't been able to watch the news really since becoming a mother because I am so empathetic with the suffering of others that I was not ok after hearing about it for a long time. I can't wrap my brain around the fact that I live and have a family in a world where that happens.
I can imagine how hard the prospect of hearing about it happening in your own family would be.

Sorry you're dealing with this. I hope it helps you sort through things getting your thoughts down on paper so to speak.
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#7 of 11 Old 10-29-2009, 11:46 PM
 
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laohaire -- I realize this is an old thread, but your description of your mother sounds exactly like mine. Even down to the part about always having had a good relationship with her until recently. The only exception is that my mother's angry outbursts have started lasting days. Sometimes a full week. We thought it was bipolar disorder, but her psychiatrist says it's PTSD. Complex PTSD, actually. Maybe there's some DID in there. The personalities don't have to be specific with names and stuff all the time. But that was just from something I read briefly. I'm not a clinician, so I can't say for sure.

I'm wondering how she's doing and you're doing now? My mom was recently in a mental hospital. Long story. Never in a million years would I have expected that to happen. Her behavior and mood swings are totally out of character for her. It's definitely mental illness, we're just not sure what.
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#8 of 11 Old 10-30-2009, 01:17 AM
 
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I just wanted to add, I have DID, and my parts generally don't announce their presence, or tell people their names. Most people close to me have no idea about the parts, although they may notice odd quirks- they think my memory is sometimes poor, or that I'm a bit silly sometimes. The alters are created to protect the child from abuse, a home that doesn't understand a normal child sure isn't going to understand a kid with DID, so the personalities generally all respond to the given name and try their best to remain as unnoticed as possible. In real life it is rarely anywhere near as flamboyant as Sybil or Eve or The United States of Tara.

The behavior you described- saying something and then denying it, sounds like it could be dissociative. DID is not the only diagnosis that shows such symptoms though- PTSD, Complex PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder are all also known for dissociative symptoms. I think its something that your mother and her therapist will figure out together. Multiples try very hard to appear normal so I don't think you can necessarily rule it out based on what you know.
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#9 of 11 Old 10-30-2009, 01:45 AM
 
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Perhaps another added reason is maybe your Mother is going through Menopause? I am but I don't have anything mental otherwise. Let me tell you, it can do weird things to you. I am usually a very passive person, but when the hormones get out of whack, I get these mood swings that are way out there, one moment perfectly calm, the next not pretty. Thankfully hubby of 32 yrs. read up on it, and can deal with me. Just throwing that out there.
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#10 of 11 Old 10-31-2009, 09:40 AM
 
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My mother does this as well. She is bipolar and has suffered from PTSD, both from an abusive childhood and a violent marriage. I don't push the things she denies doing, but my sister does. I really believe in my mother's case that she knows she did it, but she doesn't want to admit it. When my sister presses with details and my mom is backed into a corner, then she will just start crying and tell us that she knows we wish she were dead. Then it's the guilt trip about how much she sacrificed for us. She's been this way my entire life.

The difficult part for me actually isn't what she says. I learned long ago to brush that aside. It's the difficulty in continuing to believe myself that she said those things that's frustrating. Even when there are 2 or more people there who can confirm, I start to wonder sometimes if I'm imagining it.

As for DID, my understanding is that it's extremely rare. I understand why it happens, but I think it's really a last resort type of coping mechanism.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#11 of 11 Old 10-31-2009, 03:19 PM
 
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My initial reaction is to say Borderline Personality Disorder- but I have more experience with that than PTSD. I've never seen BPD without manipulation, though.
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