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My name is Erika Reva and I live with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). I am an artist, as are many of my parts and we live in the Midwest working toward combating the misconceptions of DID. I am an author and continue to write, some of my parts have had their work published, as have I. My parts are not monsters, I am not a monster. Though many of us living with this preventable disorder are made to feel that way, especially, when certain movies portray people like us as the villain. I assure you my parts and the systems of others wish far and wide to be safe, protected, to find the ability to heal together and help people, not harm them.
DID is a disorder where two or more distinct parts (Also referred to as: alters, identities or personalities) are present within one individual. The sad fact is DID is preventable because it stems from severe childhood trauma: sexual, physical, emotional and religious/cult abuse. In our often, very early developmental weeks/years of life severe trauma of varying types occurred and our brains were fractured.
Some of my parts astound me. Over the years they’ve worked with different groups across the U.S. in attempts to help all manner of people. They’ve worked with special needs children and their families in photography studios. Years ago, we traveled the country photographing disaster areas, and working with various reporters and media outlets. They’ve painted some astounding large-scale work, all the way down to teeny tiny pieces simply because they had to get it out of my head. One part in particular finally was able to get me the help we needed because I had given up on ever finding it.
I fully expected to one day find that I had an inoperable brain tumor and had ___ amount of time left to live. That didn’t happen. Instead I was finally, diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. As I have done all my life, I did my research. I read about it. I discussed this diagnosis with our therapist, a wonderful woman that we still see today. With her and the desires of a few of my parts, we began our “Living with DID Talks.” In an effort to end the astounding and misinformed stigma surrounding dissociative disorders, and DID in particular.
We stumbled across the #PersonifyME project via twitter and were pleased we had. I and my parts have always worked within the arts in some capacity and definitely had work that pertained to emotion. I myself am not the ‘standard’ of emotion. I don’t experience life in that way as a typical person would, but my parts are definitely emotional at times. The first piece that came to mind, one of my parts created, was a sketch a younger protector (a type of part within a DID system) created. She depicted the amusing chaos of her life and my head. What DID is like from her perspective. We hope our work is enjoyed and that perhaps this short synopsis of DID gave you some helpful insight.
This project is run in partnership with Things Dre Makes, and will run for the whole month of May – Mental Health Awareness Month. The idea is to personify a mental illness or difficult emotion you are facing.
Want to take part? Submit your entry here.