The following case study has been written by one of the Centre’s Young Champions who lives with dissociative identity disorder.
My name’s Willow. I’m 23 years old and can often be found paddle boarding by the beach when weather allows it. I enjoy spending time with friends and loved ones just like most 20 something year olds.
When I wake up tomorrow I may not have the same abilities I have today or be able to present myself in the same way. I could be hiding away like a terrified child or I might spend the entire day by myself reading novels.
I have dissociative identity disorder which means that sometimes, the part of me currently steering my personality and influencing my choices takes a backseat and another part of myself becomes present. This other part of me can have vastly different abilities, may be unable to do things I can usually do quite easily and can even have a different age.
Living with dissociative identity disorder carries with it a significant stigma. It is often misrepresented as the classic Hollywood movie trope of having a “split personality.” This often leaves me feeling vulnerable. Every day I lose time, I engage in activities and have conversations I am not aware of and unable to influence. This can be for 2 hours or 2 days. My ability to attend full time education was and is greatly affected and makes my dream of attending university seems impossible at times.
I am currently a Young Champion at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Volunteering with the Centre has given me purpose and drive. It allows me to engage in meaningful activities that make a difference to children and families living with other mental health difficulties and I am honoured to be involved in such fantastic work.
Being a Young Champion has allowed me to experience amazing opportunities. I am currently participating in a project centred around the heritage of Anna Freud and how this can be carried forward to the Centre of Excellence under construction in Islington, with a focus on engaging young people.
The support and assistance I have received from the Centre’s Participation Officer has been incredibly validating and empowering. It has allowed me to voice my own ideas and suggestions which I would not have been comfortable with sharing previously. I am beginning to accept that my future will be shared. It will be difficult and scary at times, but this does not mean my future will be any less valuable.