How Could I Have been so Blind? Atypical Symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder

My wife and I have been dealing with her dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder, for the last 4 ½ years. But I have been married to my wife for 24 years! How could I have been so blind?! Were there no signs that would have given me a clue as to what was going on inside her?

This is a question that I have asked myself repeatedly when it was first suggested that Karen might have d.i.d. by her counselor. Note: the lack of clear symptoms in my wife is probably also something that the detractors of this disorder will gleefully point out as they continue their spurious claims that this disorder is entirely “therapist induced” (iatrogenic if you must know the clinical term).

I have looked at the “typical” signs a person may have d.i.d. and, honestly, from my perspective for the first 20 years of our marriage they didn’t exist. Now since the other girls have joined my life, I have learned more of the truth from their perspective. Karen has told me how she often “went to the seashore” during sex. But she claims she didn’t know everyone else didn’t do that. But I didn’t know she was doing it. And Alley told me a couple years ago that she watched the entire Friends sitcom (our son has validated this claim saying he could tell what time of the day it was because Friends was on) while Karen vehemently denied ever watching it because she objects to the loose morals of the main characters sleeping with each other. So was there time loss? Yes. From my perspective? Absolutely not! And whatever time loss was going on, it seems to have been minimal; certainly not enough to call it to my attention or our homeschooled son’s.

So, the million dollar question: looking back were there ANY signs that my wife had d.i.d. before the little girls joined us?

Based upon my 24/7 experience of how d.i.d. actually works, these are the signs that might have told me that something was deeply amiss in my wife’s heart.

1)      Sexual dysfunction. This is probably a classic symptom that something was deeply wrong with my wife because of HOW HARD I tried to be good to her in bed. She just flat out NEVER tried to reciprocate no matter how hard I tried to please her. And yet, I wouldn’t call her sexual dysfunction the exclusive domain of d.i.d.

But maybe the panic attacks were. There weren’t many of these during sex because I didn’t believe I had the right to demand sex from her, but every once in a while my frustration would get the better of me and I’d demand and she’d whig out. Again panic attacks aren’t the exclusive domain of someone with d.i.d., but it should have been a red flag to me that something more than simply being uninterested in sex, no matter how well I treated her, was wrong.

2)      Klutziness. This is one that I NEVER see on the symptom lists for d.i.d. but at least for my wife, it should have been. My wife was a klutz, and now that the little girls have joined us, I know why. It’s very apparent now that those moments of “klutziness” were due to an inopportune time of switching. It still happens today especially when the littlest girls come out and aren’t fully aware of what’s going on.

We just got back from a cruise last week, and they were all dressed up in Alley’s “sexy” shoes one night. Unfortunately Tina popped out twice and both times they fell because she wasn’t used to high heeled shoes. She’s still learning the motor skills that the older girls have. But Tina’s not the only one. ALL the little girls were klutzes when they first came out. Amy caused my wife’s body to be black and blue for an entire year. Alley nearly broke their arm when she was wearing a pair of high heels when she first was establishing herself outside. Sophia ran down our stairs and took a nose dive and nearly broke their arm again. And I could go on. Dissociative identity disorder, at least for my wife, has been a killer to her body. But as the little girls have moved to the outside and they are learning to work together, the klutziness is going away. Yeah!

3)      Love me/Hate me Relationship. In some ways Karen and I had and have one of the best marriages I have ever seen. Part of it is because of the Bible study you can down load from the top of this website. In spite of how my wife treated me, I believed that I was called to treat her like I wanted her to treat me; NOT like she actually did. And so we did everything together and our marriage was very strong in some respects.

And yet there was this “hate me” aspect of our relationship that baffled me. Like I said she NEVER wanted (or wants) to please me in bed no matter how hard I tried to romance her and please her. And she would also nitpick things I said in front of others, almost seeming to want to embarrass me and prove herself right. I understand now that it was Alley(Alexis) driving her treatment of me, but it was so subtle, I still only can see it in reflection.

4)      Stuck in a Rut. This is a sign that should have been a warning to me, though again some of this bleeds over to simply being a trauma victim. My wife was stuck in a rut: she didn’t seem to grow and develop in her personality. What she liked; she liked! And she rarely looked to widen her scope of likes and dislikes. She hoarded all the fun money I gave her for years instead of spending it to ease the frustration when we were first married and fairly poor. She was rigid in her theological convictions. Most of the “give and take” in our marriage consisted of me giving and her taking even with how we structured our daily lives. She always played things safe never experimenting outside of her comfort zone.

5)      Fibromyalgia. Karen and I have both wondered if her fibromyalgia is actually connected to the abuse. 10 years ago it nearly crippled her. It was so bad she was taking vacations in a wheel chair and I bought her a cane to keep for the days when it was excessively bad. But today most of the pain has receded and only her shoulders continue to exhibit the “mystery pain” that is a hallmark of this condition. Karen and I would never be adamant on this point, but she and I both find it odd how many trauma victims seem to have fibromyalgia and how hers has slowly dissipated as she and the other girls have gotten healed (and also when the stress of caring for my elderly grandmother was over).

And there you have it. This is my unofficial list of “why wasn’t I a better Sherlock Holmes and connect all the nearly transparent dots together so that I could have figured out my wife had d.i.d. and address it 20 years earlier?” Yes, so many of these dots could be attributed to other issues, but now that I have an intimate relationship with all my girls, I realize these were the symptoms of my wife’s d.i.d. and how the various girls displayed their presence before they emerged in their own right. As the girls are healing, many of these symptoms are receding.

If you’d like to add to my list, I’d love to have your feedback, especially for signs and symptoms that are atypical from what the professionals look.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

edit: 2/6/13 I wanted to include another symptom my wife had before the girls joined us. She was a very light sleeper and would “jump” anytime she heard a noise at night while in bed. I’ve been reading and I guess that would fall into the hyper-arousal category.

edit: 3/18/15 I wanted to include another sign, but this one from my son. When we first started this journey he made the comment that while growing up he often got blamed for doing things around the house that he did NOT do. He felt the d.i.d. explained why.

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20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. S. Harry Zade
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 14:16:29

    You also missed it for the same reason many therapists and doctors miss it: you never expected to see it. They say in medical school, “When you hear hoof beats, expect to see horse, not zebras.” That’s a good principle most of the time, but sometimes it is a zebra. There is controversy over how common DID is, but I still think it’s safe to say that it does not abound.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 19:03:32

      Hi Harry,

      thanks for stopping by and thanks for the word of encouragement. Somewhat my last paragraph was tongue in cheek, about being Sherlock Holmes, but not totally. The dots really were hard to connect and only in retrospect are they clear now. But how I do wish I had known then what I know now. Maybe it would have saved us 20 years of heartache without making ANY progress. The last 4 years have been stressful, but at least now I feel like they are stressful with purpose as my wife is finally beginning to heal.

      Sam

      Reply

  2. jeffssong
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 21:22:36

    Well, just guessing, but figuring that most DID folks don’t figure they’re DID until some time has gone on – for us about 24, 25 years old? – and then there’s a lot of “hints” we had and forgot; things we’d written – even for our wife! – and then promptly forgot again.

    So figuring that DID people have a hard time figuring out what is going on – it makes sense that someone outside of them would have a harder time figuring them out. Still, it makes sense: we kinda hide things (sometimes from ourselves!) in so many things, so many ways – there is the constant effort to present “normal” to the world while we are rapidly switching sometimes. Doesn’t always works. There’s been ‘hints’ in our behavior here and there; all the time. But the funny thing is, Sam (the adult ‘host’ / half here now) – I didn’t even realize it for such a long time. “Thought everyone did that” (thought like this).

    But on the other hand the times I went wild (frowning). That was another personality taking over while I screamed and shouted for ‘him’ to stop.

    Funny, things like that. It’s a difficult diagnosis.

    Loved that comment S. Harry Zade made about hoofbeats, zebras, and horses. So on the nail with that. So especially with DID where there may be layers and ‘stuff’.

    Anyway – sounds like you all are having fun. My littles agree with your wife’s on the constant reassurances for love. “We” can become quite clingy sometimes, LOL. But the wife loves all of their affection – and reassures us she loves us. Though unlike you we are not insisting (or really encouraging) her to call the alters by name or recognition. Kind of a balance in feeding the wolf kind of thing. “We” as a whole don’t want to reinforce ‘the symptoms’ – yet at the same time everyone wants ‘out’ once and awhile. Our wife recognizes some of our personalities by expression, mood, way of being. Some she does not. But for her sake we try to keep ‘us’ fairly consistent. Usually one of the three hosts (two old, one ‘new’). But others come out as well.

    Until later. LOL. Got some work I need to get done. Ya’ll have fun, take care.

    Reply

  3. world0called0erin
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 20:06:41

    As the old adage says, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Some of us used to ask a related question all the time, “How did no one notice this? How did no one notice how screwed up we were?” For a long time, some of us blamed our parents for not picking up on our odd behavior… But then again, we used to behave oddly on purpose in order to hide it too. That’s something we’ve come to realize: the beauty (and, yes, the frustration too) of DID is that it works best when it is hidden. It seems to me that the purpose of our system is to hide how broken we are from the rest of the world in order to appear put together and functional when in actuality we are scrambling around to get things done.

    — Morrigan

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Oct 14, 2012 @ 09:17:39

      Hi Morrigan!

      I think you are right about d.i.d. is set up to purposely hide the trauma: from the victim and from the rest of the world. That’s why I wanted to write this entry because you always hear about the hallmark symptoms, but my wife really didn’t have many of those. I wish she had. She just spent a lot of the first 20 years telling me that I was the one with the problem. And so I decided to work on my problems hoping that if I became a better husband, she would want to become a better a wife…and there did reach a point at which I think I kind of shamed her into entering therapy because she realized how badly she was treating me and fortunately her counselor recognized the still subtle hints when she got lost going to her sessions a couple of times and I don’t know what else but I know that was one of the big red flags to her counselor.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Sam

      Reply

  4. Leslie
    Oct 23, 2012 @ 22:39:18

    Sam, great post. I have DID and Fibromyalgia and I have wondered the same thing! Thanks for this and all your great posts.

    Reply

  5. Ben Whittaker
    Nov 07, 2012 @ 23:24:04

    Sam, thanks for making this type of blog.

    You replied to my wife Tracy on another post, so I thought I’d be active enough to seek out some help myself. Today I spoke to our Pastor about her condition, and some of the struggles I’m going through as a result. It’s my first attempt to reach out for help for myself in this struggle.

    Tracy and I have been together for about 7 years now, married with 2 kids. For the first four years, we couldn’t really place why our lives were systematically being destroyed. I was an alcoholic (now almost 4 years sober) so we fixed that. It didn’t help our situation, in fact it seemed to be making things worse. We sent her to a therapist, who labeled her as Bipolar, which seemed to make a lot of sense. Not all the pieces fit, but it was close enough and the medication seemed to help some.

    It’s only been a few months since a visit with her psychiatrist which involved me there, where her Dr. said it sounded a lot more like DID than Bipolar. The symptoms I described didn’t match her definition of Bipolar very well. That was our first giant eye opener.

    After that visit, Tracy and I have spent many a nights discussing in depth about what goes on in her head. We’ve identified about 8 personalities within her, each linked to a rather traumatic event in her past. For the longest time she thought it was normal, that the voices she heard were her conscious or something. I had placed blame on her shifting moods on the Bipolar, and had come to terms with a lot that that entailed. This was new.

    I’ll admit, a bit fascinating, too. My mind is very logic-driven, which makes her switching personalities a little disorienting for me. It’s like the most complicated puzzle of all-time, and my mind just wants to really figure this sucker out.

    Of all her personalities, they all seem to agree that they love me but one, and her self-destructive behavior has been tamed to a minimum. Not all of them like me, however. I recognize enough of the woman inside her in spite of who’s out to say I love her – all of her – I just wish to find a way to merge them all back into one person again.

    She’s been switching a lot more frequently as of late, but Tracy has been allowed to view what’s been going on more frequently. They’re talking amongst themselves a lot more, which I think is a good thing. They don’t always share with Tracy, but it’s a step in the right direction. Overall, I think we’re doing well considering how short a time it’s been since we’ve discovered the real issue at hand.

    There’s always soo much to discuss and questions to ask, but I wanted to give the groundwork on where I’m coming from. Any and all experiences are welcome to respond please!

    Ben

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 08, 2012 @ 12:46:33

      Hi Ben,

      I’m glad Tracy told you about my blog. My girls and I have been on this journey for about 4 1/2 years now and they’ve come a long way. We are doing things differently than many people do things who have d.i.d., but it seems to be working well. I just say that to let you know as a “disclaimer.” But I’d be happy to answer any questions you have or if you go back thru old posts, you will see the principles I use to help my girls heal. This blog is NOT about my personal reflections. It’s about what I do to help them heal. You don’t have to agree with everything to find something that might help.

      I hope to hear from you again.

      Sam

      Reply

  6. undercoverdid
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 02:23:26

    My first husband never saw it either- we were together for 5 years. My current husband married me knowing it existed. If the military has spent (and probably still does spend) a ton of money trying to create this in their elite soldiers, then there’s a good chance they know something the opponents don’t.

    Plus how often do you live with something and have no idea it has a name? My hip pain that drs have said didn’t exist, or was fibromyalgia symptoms- found out both my labrums were torn and in the 2nd one my ligament was torn too! Shows what they knew!

    There are many studies that do correlate fibromyalgia with childhood trauma. They are learning it has to do with the nerve system being over active and creating pain signals. I’m glad in your wife’s healing she is finding relief. The jury is still out on me, but they are finding nerve damage- which is why I am leary of the fibromyalgia term- I believe the group of symptoms exist, however, I also believe many drs get frustrated when the answers aren’t quick and easy and will say, “oh it’s just this and there’s nothing we can do.”

    The opponents of DID have their own agenda…it’s not they don’t believe it- many do- they want to suppress it. The rest, their minds are to closed to how they think “normal” is and don’t want to think of the possibilities, but also some cannot fathom the things that have to occur for a child to create this- they cannot believe monsters exist. Thanks for seeing and believing- I’m sure that has done bounds in the healing department with Karen and her others.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 15, 2012 @ 23:42:09

      Hi LH,

      good to see you again. I hope you are healing well. I hope they got your hip problems fixed.

      I think the opponents of d.i.d. are a mixed lot. There’s a lot going on inside the pro-d.i.d. camp that I find highly destructive and anti-therapeutic in spite of having the blessings of those in the highest layers of the established experts. And so the opponents look at that and think the cure is worse than the problem and so they throw the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe some day the experts will look to those of us spouses and significant others who are “experts on the ground” and get our input for what helps in the healing journey. I think there’s a lot of untapped wisdom that the professionals don’t use simply because someone doesn’t have a Ph.D. And sadly that keeps the entire movement from making better progress and helping those with the disorder and helping those of us trying to help but often suffering nearly as much in the wake of the disorder.

      Take care,

      Sam

      Reply

  7. undercoverdid
    Nov 16, 2012 @ 02:12:20

    Hi Sam- good to see you too! I hope they did too- I feel like a broken toy that should have been long tossed LOL!

    I think you have an interesting perspective on some who oppose DID. I have not experienced the ones you speak of. When I was in North Dakota they plain did not believe it existed and thought anyone who was SI/SU or thought they were DID was simply attention hungry and labeled them borderline personality disorder. There were a couple good doctors, but mostly they were ran out of town and the bad doctors remained. I’ve have come across many doctors from coast to coast and it is interesting how different ones not only view DID but how they approach it. Even in ND I was still diagnosed with it and near the end some of my “opponents” even started coming around to some extent. Some believe you must integrate, while others think cooperation is the key. Some believe you must air out every thing that happened while others believe their job is to follow the system’s lead. Some have loose boundaries such as phone calls and a hug while others have very strict boundaries.

    Have you noticed all the movies and tv shows about the military having super soliders, or about adults who as children were in experimental programs where they were trained to get special abilities? I keep finding new ones and I watch them and they skid over the worst parts- they show some, but they don’t show how much breaking down of the child they have to do. It’s like the “media” is trying to open the eyes and minds of the general population through movies and TV about people like us- because if it can be created…it can occur. anyway- i think i got off on a tangent 🙂

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 16, 2012 @ 17:52:57

      Yeah I keep seeing stuff on tv and the movies; maybe they portray things accurately but never like our experience and I’m glad I’ve sheltered my girls if the mental health pros are anything like they are portrayed on the big screen. It would terrorize my girls to be institutionalized. Besides my girls aren’t “mentally impaired”; I just have to help them break down the dissociative barriers and then teach them to talk each other and that is MUCH better accomplished at home as they interact with me and my son than in any institution.

      Ciao!

      Sam

      Reply

      • undercoverdid
        Nov 16, 2012 @ 20:01:46

        Oh I agree- been there done that! I’m talking shows like Alias, Dark Angel & Fringe and there are many more if I thought about it- it’s amazing me how many references there are to dissociation- do they say it, no, but if you understand it, you’d see it and the many references to the military/CIA programs that have been run to try to create it.

  8. Keith
    Nov 21, 2012 @ 22:27:54

    Hi Sam,

    about the Fibromyalgia. One of the most unusual manifestations of trauma is in body memories, where the memory appears to show up physically. The first time I witnessed this, a friend physically felt thrown back and bruises actually appeared on her arm. Overall it seems logical that a lifetime of trauma takes it toll on the body in a more general sense.

    When we prayed about this, together with weariness, tiredness and exhaustion and other similar things, the Lord had us work on it through pampering!

    I would regularly prepare luxury indulgent baths, with all the radox (bath salts) and bubbles you could ask for. The Lord taught us to use anointing oil in these baths. First I was instructed to undertake a complete fast for a week or two, praying for a small bottle of olive oil, specifically for this physical healing process. Then for at least a year, every other day we would run a bath and pray over it anointing it with this oil, praying for her to receive, healing life energy and vitality from Heaven.

    I think that there are several other “mystery conditions” that may find their explanation in DID trauma. If you have an insider that is extremely young, a baby that is used to sleeping all day, and not doing much. This might manifest as symptoms that could be interpreted in the UK, as “ME”, I think you call it “Mono”.

    I would bet my bottom dollar if I had one that “Trich” would be anderstandable and treatable if addressed as a symptom of dissociation.

    Many people believe there is a connection between self-harm and dissociation, which if true, given the present epidemic, indicates that the amount of dissociation out there is enormously underestimated.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Nov 26, 2012 @ 20:00:50

      When I re-read the “signs” of d.i.d. from the ISSTD guidelines for those with this disorder, it’s no wonder they say in the guidelines that it typically takes 7 years of being in the mental health system before a proper diagnosis occurs. My wife barely exhibited ANY of the signs that ISSTD is looking for. Thank God my wife’s counselor got it right within a couple of months! I agree with you that d.i.d. is probably “enormously underestimated.”

      Sam

      Reply

  9. Sandra (@SandraHeretic)
    May 26, 2013 @ 22:57:22

    I don’t have a dissociative diagnosis of any kind but I’m pretty sure there are several of us in here. I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (resignedly, by a neurologist who was tired of looking for what else might be wrong) and Chronic Fatigue (CFS/ME/post-mono) and Migraine. Every woman I have ever known with Fibro has sexual abuse of some kind in her history. I also have all those other things you’ve listed: denial about sexual dysfunction, clumsiness and weird injuries, inability to develop (similar but not quite the stuck in a rut), restless and wakeful sleeper.

    Reply

  10. Glenn
    May 30, 2014 @ 15:06:48

    The symptoms mentioned in this article are the same with my wife. In addition, my wife has forgotten where we live and driven by the house with me standing outside. She will say something in conversation and then promptly forget she just said it. Mysterious physical pain, bad bruising without knowing how it happened. In a way this whole d.i.d. thing is scary even after dealing with it for a while.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Jun 02, 2014 @ 17:29:27

      Hi Glenn,

      I’m glad to hear your experience is similar. I get a little frustrated when most of the literature looks for the “big” hallmark symptoms. This disorder is all about flying under the radar and so I’m not surprised she kept those dramatic ones hidden.

      Sam

      Reply

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