Thursday, August 17, 2017

Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder: Shima

This series continues to show us [The We in Me] the great need for something like this to be more available to the general populous. Through these discussions I am also learning various things that hadn't before occurred to me. Yes, I live with DID but that doesn't mean everyone's system is the same. No two traumas are alike and they definitely impact every individual in different manners.

We're pleased to bring you  the second Featured System of the Month--Shima. We met them, via Twitter and through our correspondence became thrilled with their agreement to share their story and life Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder and the accompanying struggles that entails.

Name/System Name: "Me, myself I go by Shima."
Image is of Shima, created by: Head mate-Nick
Twitter: N.O.

Body Age: 21
System Members/Head Mates: Ages are under 10 and some unknown adults. We use the term "alters" or "sys members" or "head mates." Some use variations of these internally. There are over 20, but Shima is aware of more though she can't communicate with them...yet.

Diagnosis: Shima is an example of a system that knows they have DID and are trying to seek help. Which, anyone within the mental health community or Dissociative Identity Disorder can tell you is no easy feat. They don't have the opportunity to find doctors or the financial stability it would take to even go yet, but they are working on this problem.

Work & School: Work was incredibly difficult with their mental health struggles and unfortunately they're limited due in part to physical health as well. They hold a high school diploma, but haven't yet gone to college. This is something Shima has been considering, but likely later on when things are more stable and a diagnosis is finally received. Once this occurs they'll be able to obtain more of the help they need i.e. the balance/stability. This is a common and glaring problem for many living with DID.

When switching is constantly going on and you can't keep up with consistency needed to maintain course loads or work it is of no surprise these things cannot be balanced for many systems.

Openness in Daily Life: Shima had expressed to me that basically anyone considered a friend to the system would be told of their lives, but only if it's deemed safe to tell the person. Most people who know Shima,[non-relations] know that they live with DID.

Relationships: There aren't any external romantic relationships, but from what Shima knows there are internal relationships.

Sexual Identification: People would assume she but Shima would identify as both male and female.

"I have a brother and he has a sub-system."

This amazing work was created by: Johnny (Shima's Brother)
System Structure: Shima, "I have a brother, but most of us aren't related. My brother does have a sub system of 2 siblings though." Shima continued on to explain that most within the system are friends and support each other when they can. As for littles within the system they are considered adopted family. Something we've seen within other systems as well and I think that is truly a wonderful thing. As some of you know at this point, relatives are a touchy subject, but chosen family is a crucial piece of life and living, in my (Erika) personal opinion.

"It's a thing. People want to share their experiences with others. Connections. We want to relate experiences to others." -Shima

Shima and her head mates shared that they wanted to talk with me (The We in Me) because of connection and shared experiences. People need to know more about our lives and they wanted the opportunity to delineate what their lives are and not the many negative portrayals thrust upon our community via the media and misconception.

As far as Shima and Head mates are concerned their lives are relatively mundane. There isn't a set routine to maintain structure and balance at this time, but Shima is hoping that once a doctor is found and formal diagnoses are given they can begin to heal together and maintain a life.

"Still trying to get stable from problems we had one month ago. People who would front a lot haven't started coming back from that yet..."- Shima

Usually it's just Shima, as far as s/he knows but Shima expressed they don't do much. Wake up, eat, spend some time drawing and hop on social media for a while. Shima told me an amusing story that occurred the other day that they wanted to share...

"A few days ago, I think, an alter I didn't know 'runs out' or ya know, 'pushes me out[of the way]" and all of a sudden a fully lined sketch of a cat girl was on my page. I think she said, she drew her friend, but she's also a cat girl so I'm not sure."

This is something I myself [Erika] have experienced and know many others living with DID also encounter. You may begin a project or set yourself up to work on something, but then hours go by and Wham! There it is...something entirely different from your intended creation. It is definitely one of those aspects of living with DID that tend to be interesting and yes, at times that can be frightening depending on the individual person or system.

Shima created these.
If you or your Alters could tell a doctor anything what would that be?

I guess for one's that like to believe this doesn't exist... I don't know. I'd say there's weirder things in nature that can happen to people, far more than having different beings within us. Some Lizards for example, can change their sex whenever they want in order to reproduce. So, weirder things can happen...Try to actually listen to people. They give their opinions without knowing or understanding fully what's up.

To me this was a crucial point for Shima to bring up as nearly every system we've spoken to at this point has had a negative encounter with doctors...and yet, we still--as a community-- continue to go. There can be many reasons for this and I'm certainly not stating all, but people know more often than not, what they need and how to gain that. Despite struggles time and again people need help and healing within the DID community, unfortunately this isn't something you can stroll into any Psychologists office with and state, "Hey, I need your help. Here is what's been happening for me and from what I can tell, have read or have heard from the people in my life, I'm living with DID. Sometimes I'm not "myself" they say, and then the long discussion of those instances...

Which is unfortunately not the case and we would very much like to change that. I can walk into any office and state, this is what's happening, this is why, I think my arm is broken. The doctors will give me an x-ray and proceed from there... I don't understand why this doesn't occur with DID. If my arm isn't broken after viewing the x-ray but merely fractured then the doctor would proceed from there and give me the answers and help I need for what is wrong, in my mind the same should be true for DID. Utilize the criteria and discuss the options. I am aware not everyone has DID, but for those that do life could begin so much sooner if walking into an office was deemed a safer endeavor than it currently is.

DID Myths

"If you have DID you're secretly hiding a killer within you." -Shima

The biggest myth that stands out to Shima is that it's obvious. "No you can't have it, I'd know..." We've heard this before and to Shima it is an utter oddity. Shims went on to explain a few key points here as to why that is.
  1. DID is defense mechanism-not made to be obvious
  2. Helps get us by
  3. Hideaway-
Another issue Shima took in regards to the many misconceptions circling Dissociative Identity Disorder is that it's called rare. Rare can very much be a relative term and so if it is only 3% of the population that's still millions of people!

We like to create characters. Artwork is a great outlet!


  1. This is a great article, Erika. Thank you for your work and for helping me understand DID better. More power to you and Shima!

    1. Thanks, Laura! That's very kind and I'm glad you found it insightful.