Em's Story

DID and eating disorders


Dissociative Identity Disorder is a difficult diagnosis to receive mostly because many psychiatrists do not believe in the diagnosis. I can assure you though it is very real and once you see it and learn about it, it makes a lot of sense. It is also often co-morbid with eating disorders, addiction and bipolar disorder all of which I have struggled with over my 38 years of life.

I remember my first experience of hearing the dissociative voices was at 6. This was also the time when I started having body image issues. Dissociative Identity disorder presents as a result of severe trauma suffered from the age range of 0-6. I heard the voices but I also became them though I wasn’t aware of it at the time. At 6 I had trouble finishing my meals because I was very sensitive to taste at this time so my mother force fed me and this proved to be continuously problematic as an adult in eating disorder recovery. At 6 I would get waves of disgust over my whole body so I learnt to disassociate from my body completely. Most of the time I felt like a walking head and the only thing that brought me back was severe illness or pain. This is called a somatic disorder. I had about 4 dissociative parts in my childhood. One was very young about 3 or 4. One was older about 8, one was a big boy about 12 years old and one was a big girl about 13. The younger voices were kind but always scared while the older voices were controlling and mean. These older voices became associated with my eating disorder as I moved into my teens.

I now have 6 dissociative parts. 2 adults as well as the 4 children. Part of my eating disorder recovery has been learning to sooth myself and the distressed dissociative parts particularly the younger children. I have experienced anorexia nervosa, ednos, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder over my my lifetime. I still struggle today but my quality of life has improved. I’m finding for body image and somatic disassociation that trauma focused yoga therapy and massage has helped. I’m also currently well enough to study part-time which has given me confidence, motivation and activated my critical thinking again. I have been fortunate enough to have received psychotherapy for 11 years which has been helpful particularly with my relationships, while unpacking trauma and learning to self-regulate my emotions. I also learnt that I could tailor methods of therapy to my personal needs rather than follow strict steps for DBT, CBT and ACT.