Illustration ‘5 People’ by Rau Illustration
These 5 ‘people’ or ‘states’ are not related to Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder). They are not separate personalities themselves, but rather, at least for myself, ‘shifts’ in behaviour and reactions to emotional stimulus.
For me personally, I find this is different to ‘SPLITTING’.
There is a permanent internal battle waged between the five people in my head. They fight daily and argue constantly over each other, vying to be the one in control. Some are more dominant than others, some only rarely make an appearance, but all take control at some point.
All of these states seem set apart from me; as if they are not me, and I am just looking in on them as they take control. In this sense, I often feel like I have no true self, just an amalgamation of various parts that I have no control over.
1. First we have the ‘Small Child’ – For me, this person comes out to play a lot. Whenever there is a strong mother figure in my life, or someone caters to my ‘scared and lost child’, I find myself losing all adult logic. I am 23 years old and yet I will behave as if I am 5. I become disorientated, lost, confused, and constantly seeking attention of those around me who can fulfil my need for care and support.
Small Child lives in fear. Fear of abandonment, fear of imagined loss, everything becomes dangerous and scary and I need a protector. I become defenceless and cannot do anything for myself; cannot think, cannot form opinions, I become malleable and easily persuaded into doing things.
2. Next we have the ‘Shell’ – The Shell is also a big contender. This is how I spend a lot of my days. The Shell isn’t real. The Shell doesn’t exist. So therefore, I don’t exist. I am hollow and decrepit. I tend to dissociate when The Shell takes over.
Looking in a mirror is impossible. It isn’t me. I am nothing. I am non-existent. The Shell lives in a constant state of non-being. The Shell feels nothing and is nothing. They are the void.
3. Then we have the ‘Manipulator’ – The Manipulator is not so much evident as the Shell or Small Child; but still sometimes makes an appearance. This person realises that they can get things through not-so-savoury means. The manipulator lies about every tiny little thing. I’m not even conscious that any of these ‘people’ are taking over, I just deal with the after effects.
4. There’s also the ‘Sulky Teenager’ – My belief is that my emotional growth was stunted and so I never matured or developed past childhood, which is why I feel that sometimes I am going through an angsty teenager phase for the first time.
The Sulky Teenager is pretty much what you would expect. Rage and inappropriate anger. Fire and brimstone. Nothing ever goes their way, nothing is ever their fault. They are slighted by everyone and everything. They are just an innocent bystander and the whole world is out to get them.
5. Lastly there is the ‘Invincible’ – This one is a tough one to deal with, as there is always the threat of another ‘person’ taking over. The Invincible feels like they can achieve anything and everything all at once. The Invincible is happy, jovial and friends with everyone. The Invincible starts a thousand projects and talks to everyone and is there for those that need her. Laughing, smiling, dancing, singing; everything seems so easy and free – how could I never see this light before?!
Unfortunately, there is always an undertone of fear with the Invincible. There is the fear that it won’t last long. The fear of the Shell creeping in, where I will suddenly go from feeling complete elation and greatness to feeling the hollow emptiness. Or the fear that something will trigger me and reduce me to tears in an instant.
When I am in one of these states, or shifting between them, I don’t have any control over them. I can understand them in theory, but I am merely an outsider to their thoughts, actions and behaviours.
I never truly feel like ‘myself’ whatever that may be. My ‘baseline’ level emotion is ‘nothingy’, that’s as best as I can describe it – a pervasive emptiness.
It’s a constant struggle to keep up; and never feeling truly like yourself. But with the right tools and skills training I hope to build up an independent identity that I can believe in.
Need a resource to read more about living with Borderline Personality Disorder? We highly recommend you check out Rosemarie’s ‘The BPD Informer’ for further reading.
Alternatively, you can access more about BPD by visiting Rethink Mental Illness here or if you are concerned you or someone you know may be suffering from this condition, please see the NHS site on BPD here.