Monday, October 16, 2017

Living with DID: Panda & Crew

Next up on our Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder series is a system and their father. People we had the pleasure of meeting via Twitter and a dynamic we found to be quite unique. 

For us, the truly wonderful thing about Bill is that his daughter has DID and he supports them. Through our conversations on social media we had explained to him that he is very much the minority.

Initially, we met Panda & Crew's father during a Twitter chat. He discussing on social media that he is the parent of a woman living with DID...Moreover he fully supports them and has a relationship with many of Amanda's alters. Which is something through the work we've done, that we found wonderful, as this is not typically what occurs for people living with such a complex mental illness. His support and their strength has brought something special to the blog today and we're pleased
to share their story with you.



Name/System Name: Amanda. Sarah is who we spoke to as she explained to us that she is the current host of Panda & Crew and has been for the past 3yrs. 
Bill- Amanda's father and not an alter


Body Age: 33yrs old. 

Alters: Sarah is 17yrs old and is the current host. The alter's ages range from 2month-48yrs old.

Number of Alters in the System: Sarah explained there are over 350 alters in Panda & Crew.

Diagnosis: They were diagnosed December 7th, 2010. Sarah knows the exact day because it is their birthday. Bill has known about them since 2011.

Prior Knowledge: Sarah and Amanda knew 1yr before their official diagnosis, but 80& of the system know of each other. 

Openness in Daily Life: Sarah and the others are open about their lives on their Facebook page, their father is one of their biggest supporters. 

"People don't always believe and are not accepting...It's difficult to see what they go through." -Bill

Relationships: They've been in a romantic relationship for nearly 10yrs. For the younger parts their partner treats them as his children; they call him "Unky Day Day."

School/Career: They are unable to work at this time per doctors orders. Sarah expressed to me her interest in psychology. 

Family/Relatives: They do know of Panda & Crew but other than Bill none are supportive.

Why Have you Consented to Discussing your lives with us?

"We want to spread awareness. What you see in the movies isn't real life." -Sarah

"They/We are more likely to hurt ourselves than other people..." -Bill & Sarah

Sarah, Bill, and Panda & Crew want people to understand what Living with DID is like for them. They want people to understand that DID can be different for everyone and they are an example of one system living with this disorder. They listen to music often and sing a lot. They love karaoke! Sarah is a terrible drawer and these are only a few of the things that make up who Panda & Crew are.

More About Panda & Crew: Their inner world is made up of a beach and mountains with many animals. Wolves, tigers and cheetahs are some of their favorite animals. In their IW (inner world) there are many families. Sarah herself has given birth (in the IW) in may. Many alters are adopted and that is where the families and sub families come from. 

They have experiences of IW sickness but not outward on the body. Anna who is 6 months old now only recently got over the flu. Anna decided she likes being a baby because babies are nurtured and cared for within the system.

While in therapy Amanda had expressed that she doesn't want to get rid of the alters as she is afraid to. Sarah said, they've all become family. They were seeing a therapist for a while but unfortunately that therapist's office was over 1 hour from their home making it too difficult to continue. 
"No system is the same." -Bill
"No Two People are the Same." -Sarah

Amanda had given birth to two children in the real world (external world). She has a 10yr old daughter and a son beginning high school soon. The entire system views Amanda's children as their own children, other than the little ones who view them as playmates. 

When Amanda's daughter was younger she would ask if ____ could come out and play, as her children did indeed have somewhat of an understanding that sometimes, "mommy wasn't herself." 

Bill: "Most everyday we talk on the phone. They all refer to me either as grandpa or daddy. (It depends on the part) With "littles" some conversation has been picking up." Bill had explained that not even he always can notice a switch when they occur. With the "littles" he listens to what they say and lets them talk about what they want and/or need to.

Abigail was one of the first Bill had met. They call her "funny bunny," she is a bunny rabbit and was only 3 years old. It was explained to me that via therapy Abigail was able to adapt more to her situation and mature some, to the age of 5 years old. They had stopped watching horror movies because of the abandonment issues Funny Bunny specifically was experiencing. 

Some Parts see themselves in certain imagery found in life.

If you could tell a Doctor Anything What Would it be?

-Treat each part as a person and individual to get to know them and what they need.
-Don't (always) push trauma talks. They'll tell you when they can discuss it. Our previous doc wanted to get to know each of us and what we needed. It could've really helped.
-Some of us need glasses, while others don't. 
-There are some internal alters that have some severe physical problems more so than what we deal with externally, but unless you spoke with us you may not know this and then wouldn't be able to help us all.
-Some parts are blind.
-We are coconscious often, but some parts are all alone. Despite trying to connect more.

Bill explained that he has seen some of the immense struggles they've dealt with when seeking help and some of the harsh ridicule they've endured. It is difficult for him to see this but he is always there for them. 

He tries to keep track of whom he's met and if there may be a new alter that Amanda or Sarah do not know of yet.

DID Myths?

Schizophrenia and Dissociative Identity Disorder are often confused, but not at all the same. Sarah had explained that in one of their previous relationships their ex told them, "Ya'll are crazy. Ya'll hurt people." By the statements he had meant people with DID not specifically Panda and Crew. Which is truly a shame and seems to be a large commonality when considering the information people who are unfamiliar with the disorder assume. 

Final Thoughts?

Bill helps a lot with the system. He assists them in being who they are and comforting them when they need it. 

At this point in our conversation we spoke with Abigail, Funny Bunny. She was out briefly and told me, "I doesn't like thunderstorm." Throughout our conversation there was a storm rolling and rumbling about in the background in their area. Funny Bunny had come and gone and Sarah explained to us that when they were around 9 years old a bad storm had made this fear of thunderstorms for them worse, but especially for Funny Bunny.

Sarah had shared one last thought with us and those of you who've been reading our ramblings or following us on Twitter for a while will find the statement familiar.

"Normal is relative." -Sarah

We hope everyone has enjoyed this latest featured system for October! Again, we thank everyone for their condolences and patience with us and the lull in our blog due to the grief we've been working through. For those who have asked yes, many times at this point, yes we will be discussing what it is like processing grief while living with DID. It is a tricky thing and we will need more time to work with our therapist before we can openly discuss more private matters that occur in our day to day life, such as this. 

Stay tuned for the next post coming up at the end of October on Mental Health and Sexuality. We had a wonderfully fun conversation with the amazing and informative Brittany Simon from youtube. I'd recommend caution and proper common sense when viewing her videos on Alternative Lifestyles, i.e. don't watch her videos at work darling people. ;)

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