Ruth is a UniSA student. She also has Dissociative Identity Disorder. She gave UniLifeMag her story, in her own words.
Are we victims of abuse? Hardly. We are survivors and what’s more, we have a dissociative disorder to show for it. I actually study with this disorder known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly MPD) and it presents its own unique challenges. The experience for our crew has been a rewarding one especially in the last 3 years.
Dissociative Identity Disorder occurs, to our knowledge anyway, when the formation of the core personality is disrupted by a painful event; more likely a series of them, as in our case. I won’t go through our “system map” at this stage, but will rather concentrate on our studies and how we function as a high achiever.
We have done so many short courses and started so many degrees it’s not really funny. When you are ‘inhabited’ by a few differing personalities it gets confusing. We all have our own personal likes and dislikes and I get the feeling of being torn apart by inner forces I can’t control at times. Media Arts and Languages are what we have settled on though, and we are getting great results. The core person, me, will tell you it’s easy but the others really have to do a lot of work to keep us up to scratch.
For example, in French 1A last semester, the core, who had attended most classes but not all, got afraid of dissociating at exam time. There was a general piking out at this stage and the others had to come in and learn all we’d ‘forgotten’ in 22 days. It was hard and we ended up in a lovely psych ward at the Lyell Mac with our French books under the bed sheets at night, hurriedly putting them away before the nurse’s hourly inspection.
I did World Music last semester too. At least that’s what it says on our transcript. I can only remember attending one class and there were about 60-70 students there. We freaked and never went again. Or did we? Its things like this I can’t face that I send my ‘crew’ in to cope with. We did miss a lot but I don’t suppose for a moment it was 12 weeks! We would like to see small classes maintained at the uni with more lecturers being employed to cope with extra numbers if possible.
Other challenges we face are things like remembering people. Just this semester a student introduced himself as being in my Australian Performance class. We had no idea. We had forgotten the subject totally, but we still retain what we have learned. Seeing people out of context is another problem. I will recognise my lecturers in class or in their office but unless I know them well, we will pass them on the street and not have a clue!
Basically dissociation is the art of forgetting. Luckily we have a pretty efficient communication system between the people in our head who don’t let us forget many details academically. In my French exam I forgot some verbs. I was afraid of that happening so had been prepared with our disability access plan to negotiate this situation. I had my pop music going in one of the lecturer’s offices where I was doing the exam and sung them just as we had prepared at home.
Our message to anyone with a disability or medical condition is to get registered with the Disability Officers and make the most of a plan. They can’t do enough for you.
Any student who has a disability, medical condition or mental health issue that impacts on their studies should speak with a Disability Adviser in the Learning and Teaching Unit. The service is free and confidential. Disability Advisers work with students to provide information and advice to help identify strategies to enhance each student’s participation and success. Services are provided according to individual access requirements.
To make an appointment please contact the Learning and Teaching Unit on your campus or throw them an email.