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DID Hoodie

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

What is Dissociative Identity Disorder? The Mental Health Stigma in the Black Community and how to overcome it.

DID Hoodie

Our owner originally created this illustration as a class assignment, to address a universal issue. The main issue being mental health with a focus on Dissociative Identity Disorder and an underlying issue of stigmas in the Black Community. With a few modifications she landed on the design printed on our hoodies. Part of the proceeds from these hoodies will be donated to organizations that are working to destigmatize and help African Americans who suffer from Mental Health Disorders.

Dissociating is a mental process that causes a lack of connection between a person's thoughts, reality, and sense of identity. Common cases are associated with daydreaming/zoning out or losing track of time. More severe cases are more individually characterized with emotional detachment from themselves and others, watching themselves live life through a TV or lens/ long-lasting and/or consistent out of body experiences, or even doing something or going somewhere without the memory of doing so, also known as "blacking out".

I keep smiling and nodding while people talk, but they don’t know I’m drifting, that my ears are buzzing, that my hand is searching for a flat surface to ground myself. Many times I come to myself in locations I don’t remember walking to.” - S.L.

Dissociating is sometimes a symptom for various mental illnesses like PTSD, bipolar disorder, and depersonalization/derealization disorder to name a few. The one that is the main focus of this article is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID),previously known as multi personality disorder. This disorder is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct personality states. These personalities may have divergent names, personal history or memories, and even differing hobbies/characteristics.

DID is believed to be onset by childhood trauma. In most cases, those who have DID have gone through some sort of tragic experience(s) at a young age. However, many cases are not diagnosed or reported until late teen and early adult life because humans tend to be maturing and more self aware during that time frame. A lot of the time, a child dissociates themselves from their trauma as a coping mechanism and survival tactic. That dissociation could then develop into another personality. Research shows that environmental and social factors increases ones vulnerability to dissociative disorders, NOT genetic, chemical imbalances.

There are a lot of misbeliefs about those who have DID. One of the major misbeliefs about this disorder is that everyone who has it, is suffering from it. Many people who have been diagnosed with DID live everyday, functional, 'normal' lives. This condition does not reduce someone's humanity or their everyday abilities. Of course their are difficulties with any disorder and it can cause confusion, miscommunication, and confrontation with friends and family. However, anyone with DID can continue living life with as much joy, care, compassion, love, and responsibility as anyone else. It is widely believed that those who have DID are fighting an internal battle of personalities that are always at odds with one another or that the developed personality always has negative thoughts to harm others and even the original personality. Though it may be possible, it is pretty rare. As mentioned before, many people who have DID went through some type of childhood trauma. In most cases the developed personality(ies) were subconsciously created to protect and help the original cope with what has happened/ is happening to them. Another misinterpretation of DID is that it can be 'fixed' or 'cured'. No medication can cure this disorder. Talk therapy and counseling may improve one's understanding of themselves and other alternate personalities but there is no 'cure' and no 'fixing' DID. You also may not know when you are witnessing a switch in personalities or a different personality in someone who has DID. It is commonly thought that a switch in alternate personalities is dramatic and obvious thanks to TV shows and movies. Unless you are in the know, it is very difficult to spot a switch or know if a divergent personality is present. Some alternate personalities in people may be comfortable enough to physically live, act, dress, and talk with their own individual and unique characteristics. Be that as it may, a large percentage of those who are knowingly living with DID have alternate personalities that try to conceal themselves and mirror the original/dominate personality.

For more myths and misconceptions about DID click the link below.

Many individuals are unaware that they have Dissociative Identity Disorder or have been misdiagnosed with other mental disorders. For those that do know and decide to share that with you, please continue to treat them with kindness and respect. Respect their boundaries and keep that information to yourself unless it becomes a safety issue.

Mental Health in the Black Community

Part of our tragic history as black people is the belief that we are inhumanly strong and can feel no pain. That lie was summoned to justify the horrors being done to us. Unfortunately that micro aggression continues to stand strong today. As stated by the Journal of Counseling and Development, higher frequencies of racial microaggressions negatively predict mental health and are significantly correlated with depression. Because of stigmatized beliefs, many healthcare workers and providers brush off symptoms of minorities and/or misdiagnose them. According to the American Psychiatric Association, among those with documented mental illness, 48% of whites are receiving the services they need compared to 31% of blacks. Another myth/stigma is that African Americans are less likely to report serious health problems. However, according to the US HHS Office of Minority Health, adult African Americans are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult whites. So how is a higher percentage of whites receiving care when a higher percentage of blacks are reporting serious MENTAL health issues?

Hmm... Why do we think that is? lists it out perfectly for us.

  1. Stigma

  2. Lack of diverse/culturally competent providers

  3. Lack of insurance

and many other reasons.

How to Overcome the STIGMA?

Have your symptoms been brushed off?

Have you been refused treatment?

Were you overall treated unfairly/unjustly?

Try these things below

1. Be persistent and consistent

You know your body and your mind better than anyone else. If a healthcare worker and/or provider brushes off your symptoms to a smaller condition, ask for another worker and/or check with other offices and providers. This way you can get more opinions and hopefully a more diverse thought process on what you could be dealing with.

Your nurse could also be the problem. Talk to your health care provider and let them know that your nurse isn't getting things done for you. This will get them to keep a closer eye on you and/or your nurse and possibly get you a new nurse.

Remain persistent. Your health is the most important thing and if you have to go to 10 different offices or providers to get an answer or treatment (you shouldn't have to) then so be it. Your health is the main priority.

2. Ask for it to be documented

If a healthcare worker and/or provider refuses to treat you, ask for it to be documented in your chart that you have been refused treatment and ask for a copy. For the most part, they will change their mind and treat you immediately. If not, it is legally documented and you can proceed with the next step.

3. Ask the provider, nurse, and/or doctor for their full name

Asking for a full name triggers the healthcare worker and/or provider that you will be taking legal action against them. In other words, you plan to sue them, if possible. Once again, your mental and physical health is the main priority. If you are not mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially ready to take legal action then wait to fight the legal battle at a different time. Keep your focus and remember that the main priority is getting the treatment you need.

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