Severe depersonalization and derealization are part of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder. And in general I don’t feel like I have any control over my dissociative symptoms. But something interesting happened recently that has me thinking about the role my choices play in my pathology. I’ll tell you all about it but I have to tell you these two other things first or else the original thing won’t make any sense.
I like to make digital collages. I use polyvore.com’s web-based application to make them. (It’s easy to use, super fun, and I totally recommend it to anyone who likes to play with color and images and textures and space.) I made this one last May for a faux photos contest: It’s a fake picture of me. Lizard is a nickname my father gave me (my middle name is Elizabeth). And though that child isn’t me, she looks prim, awkward, and inwardly melancholy enough to play the role.
I don’t have any real pictures of me as a kid. None. No school photos, family pictures, nothing. And it’s not because they were never taken, it’s just because … well, I don’t know why. I feel like I must have had some at some point. But I’ve no idea what happened to them. I would like to have some because I think mementos like that are part of how human beings build a sense of personal history.
Sometime during my hiatus the polyvore website hiccupped and evidently some of the images went all wonky because when I came back from said hiatus and looked through my collages I found several were not as I’d left them, including the one above. Now it looks like this:
And that strikes me as terribly amusing. After all, this is how I see myself as a child. Invisible. Leaving no trace of my existence in my wake. Or maybe it’s fairer to say this is how I prefer to see myself as a child.
Investing in Dissociative Symptoms
You see, depersonalization and derealization aren’t things that just happen to me willy nilly. I also invest in them. As much as I’d love to know what I looked like in kindergarten, I haven’t gone to any great lengths to find out. I haven’t exhausted every avenue, knocked on every door. There’s a reason for that. And it’s not just because I have Dissociative Identity Disorder … it’s also because, without even meaning to, and without any conscious awareness of ever doing so, I colluded with DID. I partnered with it. I decided, in millions of tiny, imperceptible moments throughout my life, that I’d rather not know.
And that is the real reason I don’t know what I looked like in kindergarten. That is the reason I created a pretend picture of myself for a polyvore contest. Because yes, I want to know. But not badly enough to find out.