A friend of mine is fond of quoting from an Adrienne Rich poem entitled Prospective Immigrants Please Note, “The door itself makes no promises. It is only a door.” Indeed, opportunity is only that. No matter the preparation, there is no way to know what life will be like on the other side of any door until we actually cross the threshold.
I’ve thought a lot lately about disclosure; and while there is relief in considering coming out of the closet as someone with DID, I can’t predict with real accuracy whether doing so will truly be the relief I envision.
Every mental health professional I’ve ever seen since being diagnosed with DID has advised me in no uncertain terms to be very wary about disclosing my diagnosis. Each of them would strenuously caution me to reveal my diagnosis only to those on a need-to-know basis, and only after objectively considering if they genuinely need to know. I seriously doubt any of them would support even blogging in anonymity. After all, true anonymity is a hard thing to come by.
Are all these professionals simply overly cautious pansies? Hardly. These are people who have helped many a client to remember their worth after disclosing their diagnosis and experiencing a painful rejection as a result. They also know better than most the very real stigma that accompanies mental disorders and how marginalizing that stigma can feel.
Then there’s the other side of the coin: fascination, which is a form of rejection in and of itself. When others express interest in me because of DID, they are seeing DID first and me second. Or third. Or fiftieth. And that kind of fascination begs the question: if I didn’t have DID, would they be this interested in me?
Beyond all of that is the reality that I am not my diagnosis. And with a diagnosis as heavily laden with mythology as DID is, it’s easy for both someone with DID and those that know them to lose sight of the very real human being at the center of the large shadow their diagnosis casts.
Let’s also not forget that awkward and sometimes humiliating faux pas, the overshare. It’s important, I believe, to pay attention to the line between appropriate candor and outright exhibitionism. Authenticity is one thing. Attention-seeking is quite another. Motive is important.
With all of this in mind, the question becomes not, “What’s on the other side of the closet door?” but “Can I continue to thrive on this side of the closet door?” If my shoes are too small, I cannot wear them. It doesn’t really matter whether I’ll like a larger pair or not, whether a larger pair will suit me or if all I can find are some embarrassing clunkers that go with nothing I own. I don’t have the option of wearing shoes my feet can’t fit into. Neither do I have the option of living in a way that has become too small for me.