DID & Plurality and Comorbidities: Understanding the Intersection of Trauma, Chronic Illness, and Mental Health
Chronic illness is an umbrella term for a range of health conditions that are persistent or long-lasting. These can include physical conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis, as well as mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
For those with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and other forms of plurality, chronic illness can be a particularly complex issue. Trauma and chronic illness are often intertwined, with traumatic experiences being linked to increased risk of developing chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune disorders.
In addition, chronic illness can also have a significant impact on mental health. Coping with the physical symptoms of chronic illness can be exhausting, leading to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and depression. These feelings can be compounded for those with DID and other forms of plurality, who may also be coping with the challenges of navigating complex internal systems and dealing with the effects of trauma.
It's important for those with DID and other forms of plurality who are dealing with chronic illness to seek out appropriate support and care. This may include working with healthcare professionals to manage physical symptoms, as well as engaging in therapy and other forms of mental health treatment to address the impact of chronic illness on mental health.
It's also important to recognize that chronic illness can affect people in different ways, and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing chronic illness. For those with DID and other forms of plurality, it may be particularly important to work with healthcare professionals who understand the unique challenges of living with dissociation and internal systems.
Plurals who are dealing with chronic illness face a range of complex challenges. By seeking out appropriate support and care, and working with healthcare professionals who understand the unique needs of those with dissociation and internal systems, it's possible to manage chronic illness and maintain good mental health.
Navigating Complexities in Comorbid Physical and Mental Health Care
Living with comorbidities, or multiple chronic conditions, can be challenging in many ways, including when it comes to seeking appropriate care. When someone has both physical and mental health conditions, they may need to access both medical and mental health services, which can be complicated by the lack of coordination and communication between healthcare providers. Additionally, physical and mental health conditions can often have overlapping symptoms, which can make diagnosis and treatment even more difficult.
Certain comorbidities can present unique challenges when seeking care. For example, a physical hospital may not be equipped to handle someone with sensory disabilities or certain mental health conditions. Similarly, a mental health facility may not be able to provide appropriate care for someone with certain physical health conditions. This can leave patients feeling frustrated, vulnerable, and unsure of where to turn for help. This is not your fault — it's a failing of society and systems of care, that's barely being addressed worldwide.
Furthermore, stigma from healthcare professionals can also be a significant barrier to receiving appropriate care. Some people may feel that their physical or mental health condition is not taken seriously by healthcare providers, which can lead to inadequate or inappropriate care. This stigma can also create a sense of shame or embarrassment, which can make it even more challenging to seek care.
When practitioners think that DID doesn't exist, finding out that you have DID they may come to doubt all your other complaints or diagnoses as well. This can create significant barriers to getting appropriate and timely care for serious health challenges. It may be wise to keep this information from our physical & medical professional teams — even though we would hope we could be open in case of any necessary accommodations we need for proper and appropriate whole-person affirming care. This is not the world we live in, which is really tragic.
While it's important to acknowledge these complexities and challenges and to work with healthcare providers who are knowledgeable about comorbidities — often we're taking a gamble on getting appropriate comprehensive care. Advocating for oneself and seeking out providers who are willing to listen, collaborate, and provide individualized care can be crucial in managing both physical and mental health conditions.