(15 minutes) Dr. April J. Lisbon believes the differences in our brains can really be our super powers. In this episode, she speaks with self-advocate Melony Hill. Melony shares her journey with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
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DR APRIL LIBSON (AL): Hello everyone and welcome to another amazing episode of Finding the Superpowers Within. I am your host, Dr. April J. Lisbon. Ladies and gentlemen, every episode is phenomenal, but let me tell you today’s special guest, woo, powerful, impactful, influencer, and a true person who is authentic about who she is, about her brand, and her purpose in life. Today’s special guest is the amazing Ms. Melony Hill. Melony is an award-winning author, a philanthropist, and the founder of Stronger than My Struggles as well as the Crazy Like a Fox Tour. So, ladies and gentlemen without further ado—I’m telling you she is an amazing person to get to know and to connect with—the amazing Ms. Melony Hill. Melony, how are you today?
MELONY HILL (MH): I’m pretty good April. Thanks for having me.
AL: Yes, thank you so much for being on the show. So, we’re gonna just go ahead and dive right in because I know that your time is precious because you are a busy entrepreneur, but tell us a little bit about your diagnosis of differential identity disorder and exactly when did you first learn about it.
MH: Well actually I’m multi diagnosed, so I have dissociative identity disorder, which people say as multiple personalities. I also was diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorder. So, I have a plethora of diagnoses and they all play together. [Laughs]. I’ve been noticing that I had issues since I had my first blackout at seven, but no one really got me the help that I needed until I was in my thirties and it was thirty when I finally went to therapy and after maybe my first year in therapy, we were able to finally pin down the fact that I was really a Multiple, and that it stemmed from so many things from my past, but about seven and a half years into therapy, is when I was able to finally like come back to a place of stability and be able to talk about all of my diagnoses and my journey.
AL: Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. So, one of the things that I want to talk about is the fact that we really don’t discuss multiple personalities in our society. We are customary talking about bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, you know anxiety, and depression, as you mentioned, but typically we don’t talk about multiple personality disorders. So, for you, will you think through, you know your childhood, just a little bit? Not to go back through the traumatic components, but what are some of the things that you remember that you experienced as a child that may help another individual who may end up being diagnosed with DID in the future?
MH: Well, I think that it’s important to pay attention to the things people say to you, because we brush so much off as you know other people being funny. I used to always hear you only remember what you want, or you have selective memory, and never thought well maybe I should go get you know tested or maybe y’all should find out why I only remember certain things or certain people, like I was the kid so I never pressed it but you have to pay attention to what people say to you. Like, if you don’t remember that you’re forgetting everything but other people are saying that you’re constantly not remembering, maybe you should go and be seen or maybe your parents should get you seen because it’s not that your just a bad kid or a bad person and you just have a bad memory all the time, maybe you have a dysfunction that’s blocking your memories or keeping you from being able, because that’s what dissociative identity disorder is—it’s you’re not able to handle or process something that’s happening, so it’s like your mind splits and it creates another person that can handle it, so I don’t have access to their memories. It’s constant, you know. Also, I would say to be kind to yourself no matter what people say to you because other people’s perception of you is not always your reality and people will try to make you think that because you’re acting a certain way that you are a certain type of person or you must be this or you must be mean or standoffish or you might be just trying to process what’s going on in your own head and you don’t know how to get it out to them. You don’t know how to express that there are things that are happening that you just don’t understand. So, be kind to yourself, you know.
AL: That’s really good, that is really good. So as you think about the idea of parents cause I think you just mentioned about it a few minutes ago, what can parents do to support their child if they feel like you know they are having those black out moments? You know, what steps do you think may have been supportive for you as you were going through this process?
MH: Well I think for parents, it’s not to just to even look for blackouts but to look for differences in behavior and to really pay attention to your kids. Like it’s really hard today. We don’t have the nuclear family, so we don’t Mom, Dad, you know Mom’s at home. You know, we have mom working in a lot of cases, so we don’t have enough time to pay attention to our kids all of the time, but it’s really important to pay attention to the changes in behavior, the changes in friends, the changes in habits. Like, because when these things are happening is not necessarily, they’re just going through a phase, they might have switched, they might have a different personality going on. I didn’t know, but my sister said to me once, yeah well, I thought you knew because Cat lived with us for a year when you were like sixteen and I said what do you mean she lived with you for a year? She said yeah like you were gone. Like she would tell us my name is Cat and I guess my family thought I was going through a phase where I wanted to be called Cat. But she was like saying literally, I’m not Melony. I’m not your daughter like, I’m not Melony and no one heard it.
AL: Wow, wow. That’s impactful you know cause it’s one of the things that you don’t even Isaac school psychologist tried to remind parents that it is so important to listen to what your children are saying every single day without judgement, without bias because there is something that’s there that they need to get out and you are the only voice of reasoning. So, thank you for saying and helping parents to find value in listening to their kids and not talking over them. You know, finding value in listening to what your children have to say
MH: And not just that but trying to believe what you don’t understand–
AL: That’s good, that’s good.
MH: –to understand that you may not understand what’s going on but to believe it may be happening.
MH: Believe what you don’t understand. You know, just trust that your kid is your kid, the one that you raised and wouldn’t lie to you about these voices or these things like not remembering. Trust what you don’t understand sometimes.
AL: That’s really good, that is really good. Now, I know you’re an entrepreneur, but I am just thinking through some of the processes that there are some people with multiples who have to work in a traditional 9-5 job, but what do you think may be helpful for someone who does have to work a traditional job? What kinds of supports and services do they need on the job, either from their coworkers and or their employer?
MH: Well see, I used to have a job.
AL: Okay, good!
MH: I used to work, I used to work, so I can tell you because before I was diagnosed, I was working. I only stopped working after my diagnosis because I finally realized why I couldn’t function traditionally, so I always had really good jobs like corporate and you know benefit plans and things, and I still kept not fitting in because I was anti-social even in situations where everyone was friendly. I still had that—you only remember certain things like you’re friendly on some days and some days you’re not. It was things where one of me feels the pain. I had fibromyalgia socks and I suffered from chronic pain. Some of me don’t feel that pain so some days I would come in wearing my back brace and I would need the pillows and some days I don’t. And so, you know, they would be like, oh you are lying about your illnesses and the pain that you’re in, so you need someone to understand at your job that you are a multiple and that you may experience different moods, different things with your body that you may even look different. I look different some days and they have to understand that you’re not trying to be funny, you’re not different, you’re you. It’s just a different version of you and to try to not make you feel bad or to point it out and to make you feel uncomfortable because you don’t know what that may trigger, and it may bring another person out who’s not, you know, as coordinated as the one who decided to show up at work.
AL: Wow that’s good. That’s really, really good. So, another question that I wanted to ask you is this: Tell me only one or two things that you would tell your younger self about this journey. About being a multiple.
MH: I would say, stand in your truth.
AL: That’s great.
MH: I wish that I would have stood in my truth a lot younger, I really do because I went through so many unnecessary things because I didn’t get the help I needed earlier because everyone else told me was nothing wrong with me so I told myself there was nothing wrong with me, and if I would have believed that something was really wrong with me, I wouldn’t have ended up in a lot of situations because I would’ve gotten a lot of help earlier and learned to deal with who I am and maybe even got the medicine I needed earlier. You know, and I would also tell myself that everybody isn’t who they appear to be, so it’s okay to guard myself, but I don’t have to hide myself. I can guard myself, like I really wish that I would have learned how to manage my emotions versus running from them, so maybe I wouldn’t have so many personalities.
AL: That’s great advice, not only for people who are multiples but for people in general. You know, stand in your truth and believe it. You know, don’t shift yourself to appease other people because it’s going to end up impacting you, you know. That’s the real truth right now.
MH: It did, you know. Amen.
AL: That’s the real truth right now. So, before we end, I have one question to ask you. Where do you see yourself three to six months from now after doing this show?
MH: Well, because I work with other survivors like myself helping them to break past their stigma stereotype and shame that’s associated with their illnesses, I am working on my first docuseries with another person who has an amazing superpower and I’m excited to be able to say in three to six months, hopefully, I’ll be debuting my docuseries. I’m working with a new program because in Baltimore I’ve been running a therapeutic writing workshop for the last three years—actually July will be out three year anniversary—and I do it free for the community because we need a place to express ourselves and I find that journaling is a really good way, so I help them use writing as a technique to heal, and so I’m working on this new program for them and I’m really excited that I’m doing beta-testing for it in July. So hopefully in three to six months I’ll be traveling, Covid will be gone, and I’ll be traveling and taking this around because I really wanted to have it in other communities.
AL: Awesome. That’s wonderful. So Melony, if you wanted to reach out to you and connect with you to either learn more about Stronger Than My Struggles, Crazy Like a Fox Tour, as well as the upcoming docuseries that’s gonna come out this year, can you share with us your social media information as well as the best way that we can contact you?
MH: Well, we make it really easy. So we’re StrongerThanMyStruggles on everything, you can go to Strongerthanmystruggles.com, go on Facebook, on Instagram, and then Melony Hill, you can go to Melony Hill.com and I’m on Facebook as Coach Melony Hill and hopefully you’ll reach out to me because I love talking about these things as you can see. [Laughs]
AL: Yes, I love it. Well, once again ladies and gentlemen, today has been nothing short of inspirational, impactful, and extremely empowering today. I would like to thank our guest Melony Hill for sharing her superpower of not only Differential Identity Disorder, but also depression, anxiety, as well as even fibromyalgia, something that we don’t really talk about, but that does exist. Thank you so much for authenticity and once again ladies and gentleman, please be sure to stay tuned for some more amazing shows because as you can see, we have some wonderful millennials and gen Zs who are changing the game of what we call life. Thank you so much and be sure to share and to like and to tag Finding the Super Powers Within. I’m your host, Dr. April J. Lisbon. Have a great day.