There’s an aspect of my mental health that I haven’t written about here, because I wasn’t sure what to say or where my experiences fit. I was afraid of the reaction, and I didn’t want another thing to explain, educate people about, and argue with idiots over.
So I’m just not going to explain beyond what’s in this post. And if you can’t accept me or take me seriously after reading this, go away.
I am a collective, but I don’t have multiple personality disorder/DID. I sometimes describe myself as “we,” but only with a few people. Mostly I’ve trained myself to present an “I-face” in public.
I’ve done a lot of research about both dissociative disorders and natural/healthy multiple systems. I’m closer to “median,” but I have weird experiences that don’t seem to fit there either.
I’m sharing an excerpt from the FAQ page on Astreasweb.net. It’s the closest I’ve seen to my experiences.
“I sort of feel like I might be multiple but sort of not. I feel like I’m somewhere in between.” “Is there such a thing as borderline multiplicity?”
Some people describe that experience as “median”.
“What is median? I also hear the word ‘mid-continuum’.”
To be median is to be neither multiple nor singlet. Many people feel the idea of a continuum from singlethood to plurality to be inaccurate, so are seeking a term to replace mid-continuum (which was originally about dissociation).
Probably the main characteristic distinguishing medians from singlets and multiples is the presence of more than one person in the body, but without the independence of persons in a multiple system. Persons in a median system may be dependent upon a single individual (who may have created them at some point), and unable to exist without that central person. Some people in a hosting situation might think of themselves as median. Others describe something like Kiya’s situation. A median might feel that something like “there are many of us, but we are really all Karen” or “aspects of Karen” is close to an accurate description for them.
(Beware: many therapists will tell members of multiple systems that they have no independent validity but are really all aspects of the frontrunner or host, or whomever he (the therapist) believes to be such. “You’re really all Karen, you know.” If you do not feel that this is true for your system, be true to your experience before taking a therapist’s word for it — he is, after all, outside your system, and very probably a singlet, one who has never experienced multiplicity and doesn’t know much about what it can be like.)
One of the reasons I’ve been confused about it for a long time is that I’m a writer. I have a complicated relationship with my characters. I know I “made them up,” but many of them become independent from me and interact with my collective in helpful ways. They are my mental guardians, protectors, and sometimes mediators between aspects.
Mike is my mental guide/guardian right now. Mike isn’t exactly part of my internal collective. He knows he’s fictional and would tell me to go to a doctor if I started saying he WASN’T a fictional character. He (and other characters) come to my headspace when I/we need them, but they live independently in their own worlds.
I know their worlds exist only in my imagination. That’s not the same as
“headspace.” My headspace is like a big lounge or a train station, depending on the level of activity.
I used to think, “oh, I must just be making this up or imagining it, because some of them are characters and characters aren’t ‘real’.”
I finally realized that what I’m describing has a lot in common with the phenomena of fictives. (More on that here and here.) It’s not entirely identical. I’ve never seen anyone describe it happening with their OWN characters, and I don’t/couldn’t absorb a fictive from somewhere else.
In response to common questions about multiplicity and trauma:
I DID experience trauma. I think I was like this already, and I would have been no matter what. But it doesn’t matter, because this is how I experience the world now. I don’t want to integrate or change this experience.
I’ve also hesitated because this topic makes everyone I know uncomfortable. Some of my most progressive and open-minded friends, who will go to bat for EVERY POSSIBLE MINORITY EXPERIENCE IN EXISTENCE squirm and make “rape” “consent” and “body autonomy” arguments when I mention that maybe it’s possible that a plural person can be healthy, so I’ve never felt safe talking about it.
When I was in college, all my psychology professors– even the one who had done extensive work with patients who presented with dissociative symptoms– insisted that ALL multiples wanted to integrate, deep down. If the patient said otherwise, they just had to get past their resistance first. And “median” wasn’t a thing. It was “just some attention-getting strategy or delusion.”
I’m tired of people dismissing my experiences because they don’t fit with some weird social conditioning around consent. Consent and body autonomy have nothing to do with whether plurality is healthy.
I’m sick of justifying the way I experience the world or pretending it’s all my imagination/roleplay.
I’m tired of hierarchies of acceptance in the mental health and disability communities.
If you are sick of the shit, you’re welcome here.