Who doesn’t know the inner voices that like to speak out, especially before important decisions – and thus represent completely opposing views. We all have different parts of our personality that don’t always pull together. But what if the whole thing doesn’t just happen in our heads, but is so pronounced that we consist of several distinct personalities? Then we speak of “dissociative identity disorder”. But what is it actually like to be many? 

The Bonnies know this very well; they have “dissociative identity disorder” and talk about how it shapes their lives on social media. They don’t know exactly how many Bonnies there are. But the whole thing only really becomes tangible when you get to know a few of them, when you hear them speak and see that really different characters live in one person. Four of the Bonnies took us exclusively into their world of thoughts. In the next few days we will get to know Tessa, Isa, Fiona and 46 a little better. Today Tessa talks about her life.

I’m Tessa and I’m ten years old. But I’ve been ten for a really long time, so I’m a bit more grown up than other children who are ten. But somehow not, because I wasn’t in the body for ten years in a row. I don’t really know how I’m feeling. I guess not so good because my body hurts from memories of the past. That’s always bad. I also always think it’s stupid to be inside so much – that is, not having access to the body. Everything isn’t so nice there, sometimes the others hurt each other. That’s why I prefer to be in the body, but I’m not that much right now. 

In “Dissociative Identity Disorder” multiple identities exist in one person. They can differ significantly in behavior, way of thinking and language and sometimes do not remember each other’s experiences. The condition used to be known as multiple personality. Roughly speaking, dissociation means a split in our thoughts, actions or feelings. 

The extreme form of dissociation is considered a trauma-related disorder. This means that it arises from traumatic experiences in early childhood. If small children experience persistent sexual, physical or psychological violence, it can happen that they are unable to fully develop their personality and instead split it into different parts in order to be able to process the whole thing better. 

Psychiatrists make the diagnosis based on a detailed anamnesis and special questionnaires. The condition is extremely rare; it is estimated that around 0.5 percent of people suffer from it. The diagnosis can be found in the ICD and is therefore considered an official diagnosis, although some experts view it as controversial. However, others suspect that the number of unreported cases of those affected could be much higher because many psychiatrists do not take those affected seriously. Once the diagnosis has been made, psychotherapy can help to integrate the parts of the personality or at least to establish cooperation between them.

When I’m in the body, my favorite thing to do is cuddle with Rufus, my dog. He likes me the most out of all of us. I also like to cuddle or play with our partner Meike. My favorite thing to do is go out for ice cream with our best friend Nicky. I used to be unable to taste anything, she practiced that with me. The first time I ate ice cream, it was really strange because it was cold food on a stick. We bought this at the gas station with a friend. The first time at the sea was also great. I’ve always wanted to go to the sea. And then one day when I wasn’t feeling well, friends just packed me into the car and we drove to the sea. And for once I was allowed to be there and didn’t have to hide. 

But sometimes I have to hide when I’m in the body. I find it incredibly sad that I don’t have any friends who are also ten years old because I’m in a big body. But I have friends who are older than me, which is cool too. But I’m always afraid that they won’t like spending time with me because I’m still so small. But I don’t think that’s true, they like me too. But sometimes I have to act like an adult when I’m in the body and we order food in a restaurant, for example. I’m good at it, but I don’t like having to pretend. In therapy I first had to learn that I was allowed to be there. 

But it’s also really tiring with so many people. I think I would find it cooler alone. Unless I was the boss, then it would be okay too. But we don’t have a boss. So it’s very stressful because many people are crying and sad inside and want a hug. But you can’t take care of everyone because there are so many and not all of them can get into the body and experience something good like I did. I’m sorry about that then. But I also think it’s stupid that I don’t have that much time myself. 

I’m glad that I don’t always have to be in my body, because that can be exhausting, but I still don’t have enough time. I would like to experience more with Meike and Nicky, play more with Rufus and things like that. A lot of people are also evil on the inside. But they don’t actually want to be evil, a therapist once explained to me, they are evil because they have experienced something evil themselves. They still hurt other people. It’s bad that you’re not safe on the inside either.

That’s why I hope that in the future I’ll have a lot of time in my body. But not too much. And can drink a lot of Fanta. And can do a lot. And that a lot of people understand more and know why I exist and what we’ve been through and that it’s bad and that people don’t think that I’m crazy.

This protocol is the third part of a four-part series on “Dissociative Personality Disorder.” We think: In order to even begin to understand what it feels like to be “many”, you should listen to more than just one of the personality parts. That’s why we let four of the Bonnies have their say – and take us into their world. In the next part we get to know 46. She is the only one of the Bonnies who has a romantic relationship.

Part one of the series can be found here. Part two of the series can be found here.