THIS IS VICTOR JANZEN
He is a mental illnesses, mental health & addictions community reforms advocate, outside his day job as a project manager in the technology sector, mental illnesses activism is important to him & his family. He resides in Ontario Canada.
First things first. The American DSM-IV psychiatric manual states: “it is a disorder characterized by the presence of two or more identities or personality states that recurrently take control of the individual’s behavior accompanied by an inability to remember important personal information … it is a disorder characterized by identity fragmentation rather than a proliferation of separate personalities” :529 (Read more: http://traumadissociation.com/dissociativeidentitydisorder). Okay now that the boring stuff is out the way… are you prepared for my perspective of living with this? I will attempt to share the good, the bad and the ugly of this disorder.
I would like to make this clear from the onset… DID is not something to be afraid of and must not be discouraged to have conversations about. It must be noted … Hollywood sometimes embellishes their interpretation in order to keep you in their seats and sell a good story on this topic.
My DID was discovered late in adult life probably because at eighteen years of age I decided to bury my entire childhood trauma for thirty years. Now my official or primary diagnosis is CPTSD, DID and BPD (if you do not know these acronyms Google DSM for a definition). I will go on record to say that there are a lot holes in my past memories from all aspects of my life. For most people, this would be a little jarring and in the beginning of my mental illnesses adventure it was because I lacked the understanding in order for “all” of self could be understood. Considering as of writing this I have suffered nightly episodes for the past 33 weeks of self atomization on my four pillars (Emotional, Mental, Physical and Spiritual). These episodes last on average anywhere around two hours and beyond. The importance of mentioning this is I have often asked my circle of care whether these episodes are CPTSD “living” flashbacks, my DID cast of characters attempting to reintegrate with this version of conscious self or a combination of both. Well so far… we do not know what we know… LOL… it makes life with me quite the adventure at times.
So let me introduce you to some of the cast characters and perhaps what I know of each.
1. HARAS – we have known each other for forty-five years. He is extremely intelligent, always listening (probably watching me write this paper without my knowledge) but violent towards me. From the perspective of outsiders, this would be called “self-harm” or “attempted suicide”. But I don’t see it that way because HARAS is not me.
2. The Beast – we have known each other just as long as HARAS – he is an animal of pure anger and rage with one target… me. Now the differences between he and HARAS are as follows – he has never tried to kill me and does not use weapons.
3. The Poet –Now to me he is an interesting cat. His poetry is interesting and according to others he is quite good. In this way, I am blessed with a unique ability to be used as a physical vehicle for this entity to express himself through poetry. I will share some of his writing later.
4. The Warrior Chief – his age is unknown; he is a wise old aboriginal man who comes to me through visions in my dreams or through is words via emails… again sent to my circle of care without my knowledge and the only way I find out is certain members of my circle of care send them back to me for my review… to be analyzed, processed and reflected upon.
5. Little Victor – with this one it is difficult to state how many there are… nevertheless what I anticipate is they are of various ages (between four and eighteen) and of multiple emotional states (Angry, Sad, Brooding etc…) all representing certain traumatic events throughout my childhood.
Perhaps you are wondering how this makes me feel? After long deliberations and considerations, I find myself radically accepting that this is my norm. It is true the body does keep the score on all four pillars (Emotional, Mental, Physical and Spiritual) to a certain degree. I used to think this as an annoyance and it made me quite angry and ashamed; however, now I embrace it. I want to know more. My cast of characters exists for a purpose as antagonists, protectors and teachers. I
am always learning from the anger, the beautification of wordsmithing, and from my nightly episodes. All of this has given me several opportunities to change my perspectives, give a sense of purpose and most importantly it allows unconditional and absolute freedoms to truly understand freedom from judgments and prejudices so self will be understood. Lastly, the only time I have been completely concerned for my wellbeing occurred recently (within the last month or so) when ALL my characters came out to play at once where the Beast and HARAS decided to attack us all. I will tell you the physical manifestation was an ugly and disturbing thing to witness; however, it was the first time this version of self was able to hurt HARAS… sent him and the beast retreating into the darkest of dark shadows within me. Overall, I take that as a win, yet I can never let my guard down as he will return once again to claim my head, but this time he is in for a fight as I made a promise to my supporters and circle of care, I WILL fight for every sunrise.
Through my circle of care, we are working towards the goal of integrating these streams of consciousness into Victor so I can relate to them in a healthy way. So that I can begin to live a good quality of life. A life without expressing myself through this cast of characters and instead, I will be ONE with the pain and trauma from my past. Victor is kind, intelligent, hopeful, caring, and compassionate – and that is enough.