Accepting that you have a dissociative disorder is one of the most difficult parts of the recovery journey. The truth can feel scary, impossible, crazy, and brutally unfair. Denial is a lot easier.
Enter the Evidence Locker, a collection of personalized proof that you’re going to accumulate over time. You’ll fill it with things that remind you the diagnosis is real, and when a denial attack comes in, you’ll have the countermeasure on hand.
So, what’s in the locker?
Pictures of items you own, but don’t know how or why.
This might be clothes, tools to support a hobby you’re not interested in, books or movies you don’t recall reading or want to read at all. More common day to day examples are foods you buy even though you don’t like them, and items from digital loot boxes you don’t remember opening.
Logs from any online conversation or post that you were surprised by.
Everybody says dumb shit online, but when you find conversations in your history you don’t remember having, make a copy for the locker. This can be anything from making plans, to sharing your diagnosis online with a stranger.
Journal entries about discovering things from your past that you cannot remember doing.
This works especially well if you had a strong emotional reaction to the discovery. For example, maybe you found a note in strange handwriting, freaked out, tore it up and tried to forget about it for days but couldn’t. Focus on describing the emotions you felt when you discovered the situation, including surprise.
A list of any major childhood events, or people, that are missing from your memory.
You’re looking for things that most people can remember but you can’t, and you don’t know why. Remember that it’s easier to cope with no memory than bad memories. Some examples include:
- The name or appearance of close family members.
- The existence of childhood pets.
- Where you spent your time as you grew up.
- Blocks of time, like whole semesters of school.
- Milestones like birthdays, or cultural holidays like Christmas.
… and so on. Now, I’m not saying you should remember every teacher of every class from every year you were in high school. What a curse that could be. But if somebody or something had a major impact on your life, especially over a period of time, at least the facts should be accessible in your memory.
Pictures of things you’ve created, and don’t remember how.
It’s possible for different dissociative parts of your personality to have exclusive skills. This might happen if you learned and practiced a skill while certain parts of you were dissociated; only the parts who were ‘present’ learned the skill. Over time as connective barriers in the brain come down, these skills can become shared by all parts.
Pictures of clothing you own but don’t remember buying.
Not impulse buys or drunk-ordering memes on tank tops. We’re talking about shirts that are clearly being worn and cycled through the laundry, but you don’t like them or know where you would ever wear them in public. Take a picture of yourself wearing the item, and a confused expression.
The limit is your imagination.
Create a folder and start filling it with evidence.
If you’re struggling you can ask your therapist for advice, as they should be able to tell you why you fit the diagnostic criteria. Document it, in his/her/your words, and get it in the locker. If you have a trusted friend who knows, ask them to review the symptoms of the condition and see if they recognize any behaviors, or can tell you about any events that fit.
When you find yourself asking if this is all a delusion, open the locker and review every single item in it. Describe each item out loud, boldly.
Don’t let denial drive you to question yourself, your experiences, your sanity or your suffering. Kick it in the ass, and go about your day like the boss you are.
That’s what’s in my DID toolbox, what’s in yours?