mental health

Meet My Multiple Mes

People with dissociative identity disorder have started presenting their selves on YouTube to rapturous fans.

Wyn, at home earlier this month. Photo: Maegan Gindi for New York Magazine
Wyn, at home earlier this month. Photo: Maegan Gindi for New York Magazine
Wyn, at home earlier this month. Photo: Maegan Gindi for New York Magazine

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Wyn felt her reality begin to shift soon after she joined the Army in 2011 at the age of 20. While in basic training, she had bouts of amnesia during which she would forget having met people she knew. Other times, she found herself suddenly acting outgoing or flirtatious for reasons she couldn’t explain. Wyn had experienced trauma in her childhood — something she still prefers not to talk about — and had struggled with symptoms of PTSD throughout her life, including depression and anxiety. But this felt different.

“I was falling apart,” she told me. Sometimes she felt “like someone else.” She would look in the mirror and feel “disconnected” from the face she saw there, she said. One day, a sergeant found Wyn sobbing in her car in a parking lot, preparing to attempt suicide.

After a short hospital stay, Wyn received a medical discharge and, determined to get better, moved back home to the midwestern state where she had grown up. She married a nurse named Andrew, whom she had met in the Army. She went to therapy, tried medication and EMDR (a form of psychotherapy that aims to desensitize patients to traumatic memories), but her symptoms didn’t improve. Six years later, despite being on “ungodly amounts of Xanax,” Wyn said, she still woke up some mornings unable to speak or leave her bed.

In 2017, Wyn began seeing a therapist whom she had met while attending group-therapy sessions for childhood trauma. The therapist suggested that Wyn undergo a psychological exam called the MID, one of three guides developed in recent decades to aid in the clinical diagnosis of dissociative disorders. Dissociation is a psychological phenomenon that all people experience — when you space out while driving home from work, you are to some degree dissociated from reality. But in extreme situations, typically in the aftermath of traumatic events, dissociation can become pathological. Soon after Wyn took the exam, her therapist diagnosed her with dissociative identity disorder, formerly called multiple-personality disorder, the most serious and controversial disorder on the dissociative spectrum.

By this point, Wyn had started to admit to herself that she’d long had “thoughts and emotions” that felt like they were coming from someone else. As a child, her panic attacks had sometimes felt to her like “bumps” of feeling from another person’s mind. In her late teens, she sometimes dressed as a man and introduced herself at drag shows as Daniel. But as Daniel, Wyn didn’t feel more like the person she was meant to be. Wyn felt like Daniel “was someone else entirely.”

Wyn is articulate, earnest, and upbeat, with pale skin and reddish-brown hair (she changes hairstyles frequently). She is the kind of person who cracks self-deprecating jokes about how much she loves anime. She knew how it sounded when she described being out of her own body, inhabited by others. She also knew she wasn’t faking how she felt. Once, she was in her car on her way to class when she had a distinct sensation that there was an older female presence inside her who had taken control of the wheel and was using Wyn’s hands to drive. Wyn found the experience so terrifying that she texted a friend for help.

The day after she took the MID, Wyn went to see M. Night Shyamalan’s 2017 film Split, a thriller about a murderer with multiple personalities, on its opening night. Wyn watched the movie horrified, feeling as though the film were telling her, “You’re a monster. You’ll never have a family.”

Later that week, “desperate for reassurance,” she went on YouTube and searched “multiple-personality disorder.” Wyn found channels run by young people with DID, including one called MultiplicityAndMe featuring a bubbly 25-year-old named Jess, who was from Wales and had blonde bangs, a supportive husband, and a stable job in the health-care industry. Since 2012, Jess had been posting educational videos that doubled as windows into daily life with the disorder. Instead of repressing her “alters,” Jess treated them as just another part of her — and her followers seemed to love her for it. She now has more than 200,000 subscribers.

Wyn found more DID channels. Many vloggers proudly referred to themselves as “systems” of personalities and to their birth name as that of the system “host,” deemphasizing the notion that any of their identities was more real than any other. Jess had four alters, all male, named Jake, Jamie, Ed, and Ollie. Together they managed which of them “fronted” at any given time, sharing airtime on her channel and answering their own Q&As. The systems in these videos pushed back on the idea that having DID made them bad parents or violent or that they were faking it. Instead of seeing their alters as fuzzy, scary presences, the hosts said, they had gotten to know them, and hosts and alters could communicate with one another easily. Many of the vloggers used they/them pronouns — in a plural sense.

When I first saw the YouTube channels, the videos seemed at once astonishing and mundane — then still more astonishing for being so mundane. One vlogger filmed herself organizing a hotel room for easy access to her boarding pass if she were dissociating when it was time to head to the airport. When Wyn first saw them, the videos gave her hope.

Of course, DID is catnip for YouTube. Vloggers have long found an audience by leaning into niche identities — imagine encountering someone who says they have 15. “If you’re not used to it, DID can be very striking when you see it,” even for clinicians, said David Spiegel, a Stanford professor and leading researcher of dissociation. The channels appealed to people like Wyn who had been diagnosed and were looking for validation and support, but plenty of viewers came simply because they were fascinated.

Ever since the release of the film The Three Faces of Eve in 1957, an exaggerated and often inaccurate depiction of dissociative identity disorder has been the norm in Hollywood. From 2009’s United States of Tara and 2015’s Mr. Robot to an upcoming Marvel series as well as books, DID is usually represented as alternately freakish and alluring, with the stereotypical patient (think Sally Field as Sybil) being a bright, attractive white woman with unpredictable urges that imply sexual vulnerability and a dark past. Most people think of DID as a plot twist, not as a medical condition that affects real people.

DID is not a debunked condition, nor is it widely contested by the medical Establishment the way chronic Lyme disease is. Some studies suggest that between .01 and one percent of the population may have some form of DID; of those, only a fraction have a dramatic presentation of their systems. (In the 1980s, DID researcher Richard Kluft estimated that roughly 5 percent of people with DID display their symptoms with dramatic “switching” between personalities.) The disorder is thought to form in childhood as a response to repeated trauma, commonly sexual abuse but also war, medical procedures, and natural disaster.

Getting the right kind of treatment is both difficult and crucial. Some symptoms of DID — like hearing voices or displaying rapid apparent shifts in mood and affect — are often misinterpreted as symptoms of schizophrenia or psychosis, especially in nonwhite people. It can sometimes take years of failed treatments to get a correct diagnosis. Studies have found that people with DID are likely to experience abusive relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, and substance abuse. According to one study, 70 percent of patients with DID had previously attempted suicide.

Someone who has yet to be diagnosed may not recognize their internal landscape as being composed of a cast of alternate identities; instead, the person might describe “a persistent quality of feeling like ‘not me,’” said Amy Dierberger, a psychologist who treats people with DID. Patients may say they feel as if they have different “parts, parts inside, aspects, facets, ways of being, voices, multiples, selves, ages of me,” according to one common treatment guideline. Sometimes these parts or voices argue, converse, comfort, or urge a person to commit suicide. Another frequent symptom is “losing time.” Patients realize they have made purchases or gone places they don’t remember. Clinicians now understand that all of a DID patient’s parts put together constitute a single personality. “There are different senses of self with different attributes, but there aren’t lots of people in one body,” explained Richard J. Loewenstein, another expert in dissociation. “You’re all aspects of a single human being and a single mind.”

The condition is both “incredible” and requires treatment that is “very unexciting,” Dierberger said. Talk therapy with a professional trained in dissociation is considered the gold standard. While a person’s dissociative proclivities may never fully resolve, therapists believe that if a patient deliberately tries to connect with the parts of the self in therapy and works through their traumatic memories with each one, over time the sense of being made up of separate people may fade. Eventually, some or all of the parts may begin to “fuse” together into a cohesive sense of self. “Everything we do,” said Loewenstein, “is unification.” Underlying the treatment is a fundamental medical understanding that experiencing multiple personalities in a single body is a symptom of mental illness.

The period following Wyn’s diagnosis was rocky. Although her husband was supportive, Wyn said, the situation was sobering for them both. She continued attending weekly therapy, feeling that she and her therapist now “had a direction.” “I was like, All right, what’s up? We’re going to fuse everybody!” she recalled. Her therapist cautioned that this would likely take a while. In the meantime, Wyn decided she would start her own video channel.

By this time, Wyn was beginning to learn more about the parts that made up her personality. Patients in treatment for DID often work to increase communication with their alters by writing to them in a diary or speaking to them out loud or in their heads. If patients have been denying their dissociation, this can be a profoundly disturbing experience. One young woman with DID told me that when she started communicating with her alters, she wondered “if it was ghosts, or I was going crazy, or if it was a parallel universe I had somehow tapped into.”

Wyn told me her therapist was impressed by her ability to connect with her parts almost immediately — some patients struggle for years to communicate — but expressed hesitation about Wyn sharing her experiences with the public. Her therapist seemed concerned primarily about how others might respond to her disorder, Wyn said; she generally felt like her therapist encouraged her to “keep [my diagnosis] low-key.” Therapists often worry that their patients, many of whom have histories of severe childhood abuse, will remain vulnerable to exploitation as adults.

But Wyn, who had recently gone back to college to study geology, decided she did not want to hide herself because of how other people might feel about her disorder. She said being upfront online felt like saying to society, “I’m not going to shut up.” Wyn’s brother is autistic, and she saw DID YouTube as analogous to channels for the deaf or autistic communities. “I have been watching the autistic community go from ‘Please just understand us’ to ‘We’re cool; we just have different ways of communicating,’” she said.

One of her professors had recently defined entropy in class as “something that randomizes and separates.” Wyn decided to call her channel the Entropy System.

In her first video, four of Wyn’s alters — whose names she now knew to be Daniel, Mistletoe, Kit, and Mi — front in succession. Wyn had learned how to allow them out at will by doing something she called “falling back in the headspace.” As each alter surfaced and Wyn retreated, she felt as if she were “letting someone else drive.” It was similar to what she had felt when the older woman’s presence took over her body in the car, but now she had some control over it. The alters filmed themselves talking about their ages, interests, and how they felt about being part of a system. Wyn edited the results and posted them in late 2017. The video is called Living Life With Dissociative Identity Disorder.

When she first watched a video recorded by one of her alters, she thought, Nobody’s going to believe this. But instead of mocking her, viewers crowded in like fans of a superhero universe. They commented on each alter’s different traits, tabulating their likes and dislikes, and asking questions of specific alters by name. “You guys are all so amazing,” a typical commenter wrote. “I couldn’t stop smiling!”

When she wasn’t in class, Wyn started spending “nearly all her time” online. She met other systems with video channels. Social and medical stigma, especially in the psychiatric community, was a constant topic. Wyn added “Ending Stigma Against DID” to all her intro titles. “There are still a lot of psychiatrists and therapists today that don’t believe the disorder is even real,” she cautions in one of her first videos. In the first two months, her channel gained 1,000 subscribers. Most of her videos had hundreds of comments expressing recognition and relief. “I’ll be 36 in a few weeks,” wrote one commenter. “I just got the official diagnosis on Tuesday. I’m burning through your videos like wild.” Another wrote, “Every time I hear you speak it’s like you voice everything I think.”

I found it impossible to watch those videos,” said Loewenstein, who founded the Trauma Disorders Program at Sheppard Pratt psychiatric hospital in Baltimore, of DID YouTube. He has a strident, almost gruff way of talking about DID, as though years of public misperception have worn him down. He has treated people with DID for 40 years.

Part of it, he said, was the way DID vloggers represented their alters. He thought the format — “this ‘all these people in one body’ stuff” — was inevitably sensationalistic, but his main concern (in addition to privacy issues) was that being public on the internet about DID could make dissociation worse. If the therapist’s job is to carefully help integrate the pieces of a fractured self, then intentionally cultivating the differences between the parts for an online audience and “interacting with these different states,” Loewenstein said, only encourages them to become more differentiated. “It’s completely anti-therapeutic.”

Bethany Brand, another leading DID researcher and therapist, was more qualified in her criticism. “There are many positives to it,” she said of YouTube. “People feel understood and like they’re not as alone.” But she too was concerned about the way displaying the disorder for public consumption might worsen dissociative symptoms. It wasn’t exactly self-harm, yet it certainly wasn’t self-care. “If their parts become more elaborated online, I certainly wonder if that will keep them from moving toward integration.”

People with DID, as Brand and other clinicians I spoke with pointed out, often resist the idea of letting go of dissociation. Although it is a resilient and adaptive coping mechanism, dissociation also cushions sufferers from painful realities. “It is really common for clients to be scared to death not to dissociate so much,” Brand told me. She wants to see her patients rely less on dissociation as a way of coping and for their involvement in their inner world to dim. “When people get sick of talking about dissociation, that’s something you want to see.”

I started talking to Wyn over Zoom around Thanksgiving 2020. If another alter was out at the start of our call, they would introduce themselves in the way someone else might share a fairly inconsequential but ever-so-slightly embarrassing piece of contextual information — almost how one friend might warn another that they’d had a few drinks before getting on the phone. “Oh and, uh, by the way, this is Kim Kim,” Kim Kim might say, head tilted, a few seconds in.  Wyn’s parts were on the same page about their internal experiences and life story. The differences between them were subtle, although not hard to recognize. Daniel spoke a little more deeply. Kim Kim frequently swore. But speaking to Kim Kim or Daniel still felt like speaking to part of the same being. All three, for example, often used the word phenomenal. (I’ve attributed most quotes in this piece to Wyn throughout for clarity.)

Kim Kim, who is one of Wyn’s main alters, was out twice when I called. Most of Wyn’s system switches were planned. (“I’ve been out front for most of the day,” she explained, “doing my own hobbies and doing chores.”) Kim Kim had a wryness that Wyn didn’t, and when she was out, she expressed an especially powerful yearning to be seen as her own individual. Online, she told me, she enthusiastically engaged with commenters and was delighted when they told her she reminded them of people they knew. Yet she had to spell it out to someone like me when she was on the call speaking through Wyn’s face, and sometimes I thought her bluntness disguised worry, as when she explained to me, with a touch of exasperation, that she could in fact remember everything from my past conversations with Wyn; the two “share a lot of memory.”

YouTube was good for explaining what it was like to live with DID in part because of its longform nature. It captures the texture of someone’s mannerisms and way of speaking more luxuriously than the tightly manicured squares of Instagram or the quick-hit format of TikTok. Wyn’s YouTube videos went into detail about how she helped facilitate communication between her alters (they wrote notes to each other in a green dollar-store notebook) and managed having a job (at the game store where she worked, she came out to her boss and co-workers without incident). All her alters worked collectively on this goal. “My rule was to be as honest and straightforward as possible,” Wyn told me.

On her channel, Wyn tried to strike a balance between encouraging people to take pride in their uniqueness and giving the misimpression that the disorder was somehow fun. In one video, she says, “I’ve been receiving comments lately of people saying, ‘Oh, I wish I had DID! I’d never be lonely!’” Her voice rises. “Honestly, that’s like going up to someone who was trafficked and being like, ‘Oh, I wish someone would pay me to travel!’” But she also did things that were fun, such as sorting her alters into Harry Potter houses using an online quiz or doing a spice-tolerance challenge that showed her alters having different reactions to a spicy pepper gummy.

For his footage, Daniel usually donned a flannel; Kit wore dark eyeliner. These were visible differences that some psychiatrists might regard as playing-up symptoms. Wyn told me she felt the separateness she portrayed was primarily for viewer clarity — a helpful visualization, not an exaggeration — mirroring what she already felt inside but would usually choose to conceal.

Loewenstein told me he questioned whether some vloggers even fit the diagnostic criteria for DID. “In an inpatient unit, when someone walks in and says, ‘I’m DID, look at my switching,’ my nursing staff says, ‘No DID person says that,’” he said. “They hide it. They don’t want it recognized.” Clinicians expect their DID patients to be profoundly embarrassed about how they feel. Brand, however, said some of those expressing pride on YouTube may just not have the same shame about the disorder that previous sufferers held on to — and they live differently because of it. Jaime Pollack, a childhood educator in Florida and the founder of the Infinite Mind, an organization for people with DID, meets hundreds of people with DID each year and told me that younger people tend to be “into full acceptance and full embracing. They have their YouTube channels, their parts on their name tags,” she said. “They are very open about it.”

Wyn had been involved with the DID community online for just a few months when a blog appeared accusing her of making up her disorder. “This individual is disgustingly fake and attempting to turn Dissociative Identity Disorder into a joke,” one post read. When Wyn learned it had been written by online friends, she “broke down in heaving sobs.”

Other people in the community defended her, and eventually Wyn was able to laugh it off. YouTube was still one of the only places where you could see a person with DID living in a way that did not seem dangerous or unstable, and Wyn wanted to keep it that way. The trolls “didn’t get to know how completely they crushed me,” she said.

Wyn had started working at the game store in 2018, after she graduated from college. Twice, fans recognized her at work and asked for pictures. Online, Wyn often fielded questions from viewers on how to start their own DID channels. (She advised them to be animated, with their eyebrows up and “energy in their voice.”) She started her own Patreon and set up a post-office box that overflowed with gifts of pillows, stickers, candy, and letters. Most were from people who said they had DID, too. One postcard read, “I have started to feel hopeful again for the first time in a long time.” Some of her subscribers started their own Discord server. She coined a name for her channel followers: “entropical fish.”

By 2019, the community’s top users had become something of an influencer friend group. MultiplicityAndMe, the Welsh YouTuber Wyn had first seen when she researched the condition, held a “DID Sleepover” at her house. Other vloggers filmed the visit and cross-posted videos on their channels. Wyn became close friends with two other systems with DID channels: Team Piñata, a nonbinary Californian with a nose piercing, then 27, and DissociaDID, a then-24-year-old from the U.K. named Chloe who had animated intro titles for all her videos and filmed with a ring light. DissociaDID was quickly becoming the most visible online, with well over a million followers by 2020. She and Team Piñata, whose videos felt more raw and who spoke about bouts of homelessness and not having a therapist, started dating long distance. Wyn found it “really impressive” that Team Piñata was working on healing themselves without the aid of psychotherapy.

Running an educational channel about a mental-health topic without any mental-health training could be tricky, and Wyn knew that some of her viewers saw her as more of an authority than she was. Wyn, DissociaDID, and others didn’t claim to be professionals, but several of Wyn’s viewers commented that they were clinicians looking to learn more about treating DID. Kelly Caniglia, a therapist I spoke with in North Carolina who specializes in the disorder, said she had received little formal training in treating or identifying DID while getting her master’s degree and relied on the expertise of other practitioners and her own patients to fill in the gaps. When we spoke about her approach to treating it, she said, “Pretty much everything I’ve talked about today I learned from the DID community.”

While Wyn wanted to present accurate information to her audience, she was afraid of being too open about her own mental health and giving ammunition to the trolls. Sometimes Wyn announced short mental-health breaks from her channel without going into detail. Taking a break wasn’t necessarily a bad sign, of course — it indicated in part that Wyn knew when to step away. And to a large extent, Wyn was doing quite well. She had graduated from college. She’d gotten a job. She lived a happy, secure life with a happy marriage. She had friends. Still, she said, “Mental health is unpredictable.”

The system in her YouTube channel: Wyn’s alters take turns with the camera. Top row, from left: Wyn, Ed, and Kim Kim. Middle row, from left: Kit, Little Bronwyn, and Mi. Bottom row, from left: Mistletoe, Lito, and Daniel. Video: Youtube

On her channel, Wyn encouraged other people with DID not to be nervous about the prospect of fusing their dissociative parts. In one video, she likened “final fusion” to blending different shades of paint into a beautiful new color. Loewenstein echoed this metaphor. “It’s not that everybody is gone,” he said of self-states beginning to cohere. “It’s that everybody is more here than ever.”

Yet over time, Wyn found herself questioning the idea that the only way to be healthy was to have one cohesive self. Some of her alters passionately opposed becoming part of one whole. Wyn had by this point watched every video by every DID vlogger she could find, and the content seemed like clear proof that people with DID did not always lead catastrophically dysfunctional lives. Jess of MultiplicityAndMe still reported suffering from symptoms of PTSD, but she’d also just had a baby and seemed to Wyn like any other young mom.

By October 2018, less than a year after she started her channel, Wyn decided that fusion didn’t fit her personal desires anymore. “What if I was in that position?” she wondered, speaking of how her alters might feel. “If someone told me I had to fuse, I’d be devastated.”

The psychiatrist and psychiatric anthropologist Laurence Kirmayer argues that the conclusions psychiatry draws about dissociation and its optimal treatment are inseparable from the values of western societies, particularly the emphasis on “autonomous and coherent personhood” and “on facing, owning, and integrating traumatic memory.” In other cultures, particularly in parts of Latin America and India where spirit possession is practiced, people are not necessarily expected to recover from dissociative episodes by “facing” or “owning” traumatic memories verbally. But here, someone who does not — or who cannot or who does not wish to — integrate her dissociative experiences into a coherent narrative, especially in talk therapy, is unlikely to be considered mentally well.

Instead of fusion, some people in the DID community, even those who said they were in treatment, said they preferred a term like healthy multiplicity or functional multiplicity to describe their treatment goals. The language expressed a desire to remain in a divided, dissociated state without any of the internal conflict that dissociation implies.

Most vloggers who espoused this framed it in a way that would be familiar to disability-justice advocates, who have argued since the 1970s that society’s barriers to access are what impair a disabled person, not their physical or mental differences. A lack of ramps, not an inability to walk, keeps a person who uses a wheelchair from accessing certain buildings. One YouTuber and activist in their 20s who calls themselves the Rings System told me they thought focusing on whether they would fuse was beside the point. “What I need is not to become the perfect epitome of health,” they said. “It’s for society to be accessible to me even if I’m not.”

In October 2018, 20 months after being diagnosed, Wyn decided she was ready to leave therapy. The decision didn’t have to do with her therapist’s not supporting the idea of “healthy multiplicity,” she said. Wyn just felt better, and she said her therapist encouraged her, agreeing that she seemed more “able to untie her own knots.” Wyn explained the decision in a video, What Did Therapy Look Like for Us?, wearing an off-white turtleneck and black eyeliner. “For the first time ever, I feel like a self-sufficient, confident human being,” she said.

That same week, Wyn proposed a holiday called “System Pride Day” in a video announcement on her channel. Some members of the DID internet community subscribe to the discredited idea that satanic cults have caused some people’s DID and, unbeknownst to Wyn, they also believe that dates in October have traumatic significance for people who have been abused as a part of cultic practices. Wyn’s announcement triggered a severe negative reaction from that corner of DID YouTube. Wyn received multiple death threats.

Soon after, Wyn was working at the game store and texting with her DID-vlogger friends when she suddenly started feeling like “a confused blob.” “We started being like, Wow, I don’t know who is fronting right now,” she said. Everything got blurry. “Then, all of a sudden, we felt energetic and personable.” A new, fully formed alter had emerged as part of her consciousness. “He was like, ‘I don’t want to talk to customers.’” Using a hard, bright voice, she imitated how the new alter sounded: “I’ll clean things because I don’t have to talk to stupid people.”

Usually, experts say, the emergence of an additional alter occurs when a person with DID is under extreme stress. And there wasn’t just one new alter; a second had also emerged. Wyn insisted that she didn’t mind. Even though one of the new alters “did not care, would not be emotionally invested in other people, and had no empathy whatsoever,” both new parts seemed to help Wyn block hateful commenters — something she couldn’t bear to do on her own. She welcomed her new alters publicly on her channel without acknowledging that internet hate had caused them. “I wanted all my content to be positive,” she said.

In the spring of 2020, right after lockdown, the divisive internet personality Trisha Paytas, who has about 5 million followers, made a viral video about DID, alternately lampooning the disorder and claiming to have it herself. Soon after, Kiwi Farms, a hateful, misogynistic forum where “lolcows” (or “crazies”) are “milked for laughs” and whose discussion pages frequently turn into organized trolling and doxxing, began to focus its attention on vloggers with DID. Kiwi Farms users delighted in dredging the internet for information about vloggers’ personal lives, and the trolls were tireless — the main discussion thread about DID YouTubers currently clocks in at 344 pages. Much of it was unilluminating, but Kiwi Farms posters dug up some offensive pornographic drawings that Wyn’s friend Team Piñata appeared to have drawn and posted on an old forum.

The drama escalated quickly, pulling in other YouTubers, and Wyn found herself opening her Twitter to 50 notifications, each one nastier than the next. “There were people talking about ways I should die and that I should get shot on sight,” she said. She added that it felt like “watching everything burn.”

Even after the messages subsided, Wyn started having panic attacks when she sat down to record a new video. Lockdown was in full swing, and she had nowhere else to direct her thoughts. She said she would “just sit at home and cry and be afraid.”

Last summer, Wyn decided to stop posting videos, which, she admitted, her husband, Andrew, had been encouraging her to do for a while. The emotional vicissitudes were too much to handle, and the community didn’t feel safe anymore. “I don’t want to go into more detail at this time,” she wrote on her YouTube community page. “We just need to protect our mental health.”

At first, when Wyn stopped posting to her channel, she felt ashamed to now be “just a retail worker.” “I was changing the world,” she said, “and then all of a sudden I had none of that.” She went live on Instagram from the game store one day, soon after in-store shopping had resumed in her state. “I miss my channel so fucking much,” she said. She was sitting in the back room of the shop, waiting for customers. She looked tired. “Even thinking about it, I broke down crying.”

Although Wyn had started a Patreon, she never made much money. What vlogging had given her was much deeper and more totalizing — she had only met other people with DID once or twice in real life. “It hurt from all angles at once,” she said recently. “When I lost my channel, I lost my purpose.”

Gradually, Wyn has started to feel better. She draws more now. For about six months, after being “fantastically depressed,” she went to a life coach. She also called her old therapist, but the therapist no longer had room for her.

Wyn now thinks that “being on YouTube was massively detrimental to our mental health,” but her feelings about her videos themselves and the ideas expressed in them hasn’t changed. Her channel remains live, a parade of pink-tinted thumbnails that continues gathering views.

Wyn expects to remain multiple for the rest of her life. She wouldn’t have entered this frame of mind without the influence of other DID-content creators, she told me. Her therapist had advocated fusion; it was all her husband knew to recommend as well. “I might have pressured my system into fusing against their will if I hadn’t been online,” she told me.

Wyn said she felt good. She also missed the beginning of two of our Zoom conversations, once because she had spaced out while doing an art project, she said, and the other time because she had spent the night tormented by “trauma nightmares” and gotten a terrible night’s sleep, although she now said this happened rarely. Things with Andrew were going well. Starting a family was still “up in the air,” she told me. “It has nothing to do with my disorder, though. It’s more that the state of the world right now doesn’t seem like the best environment for a child.”

She made one last video this spring to protest a new Apple TV+ show about DID called The Crowded Room. The first season will feature the actor Tom Holland playing Billy Milligan, the first person to successfully use DID to claim an insanity defense after committing several rapes in the 1970s. “If they want to humanize DID, focusing on the story of a serial rapist is not the way to do it,” Wyn says in the video. She looks angry and confident. Below it, she links to a petition to shut down the series. “There are tons of people who live happy, functional lives with DID who do not cause harm,” she says. “I’m one of those people.”

Meet My Multiple Mes