Amanda's Reviews > The Sum of My Parts: A Survivor's Story of Dissociative Identity Disorder

The Sum of My Parts by Olga Trujillo
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Nov 28, 11

bookshelves: abuse, mental-illness, incest, nonfiction-memoir, standalone, arc, glbtq
Read from November 22 to 27, 2011

Olga was a young, successful lawyer in DC when she suddenly started having inexplicable panic attacks and episodes of blank stares or rapidly moving eyes. She sees a psychiatrist and is diagnosed with a moderate case on DID. On the spectrum, she has multiple parts but not exclusive personalities and still has a central core. These parts have kept the memories of her extraordinarily violent, abusive childhood from her consciousness thereby allowing her to function, but just barely. In her memoir, Olga tells what she has now remembered of her childhood and how she has now discovered she managed to function and be surprisingly resilient. She then delves into her long-term therapy and how she has come together into mostly one part and usually no longer dissociates.

Since Olga has a centralized part that has integrated most of the other parts, she writes with clarity and awareness of when she dissociated as a child, the process through therapy, and integration and her new life now. This ability to clearly articulate what was going on and how dissociation was a coping mechanism for her survival makes the book much more accessible for a broader audience. I also appreciate the fact that someone with a mental illness who is Latina, first generation American, and a lesbian is speaking out. Too often the picture of a person with a mental illness is whitewashed.

That said, this clarity and awareness does not carry us entirely through the present. The end of her therapy, her big move away from DC, her coming out process, etc... are not clearly or concisely covered. These are all big issues and seeing how someone with DID deals with them would be beneficial to advocates and those with mental illness alike.

Overall this is a well-written memoir of both childhood abuse, therapy for DID, and living with DID. Olga is an inspirational person, overcoming so much to achieve both acclaim in her career and a happy home life. I recommend it to a wide range of people from those interested in the immigrant experience to those interested in living with a mental illness.

Check out my full review.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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