Herschel Walker Visits Tripler, Speaks About Personality Disorder
August 13, 2013
Herschel Walker, retired professional football player, visited Tripler Army Medical Center Monday 29 July and spoke to an audience in Kyser auditorium about his experience with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, DID (formerly known as multiple personality disorder, or MPD) "is a dissociative disorder involving a disturbance of identity in which two or more separate and distinct personality states (or identities) control the individual's behavior at different times". Additionally, "When under the control of one identity, the person is usually unable to remember some of the events that occurred while other personalities were in control". Personalities are referred to as "alters" and those with DID may experience anywhere from two to 100 alters, although the average is 10.
Walker, who played for the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants before returning to the Dallas Cowboys and retiring in 1997, explained his journey into college and professional football and how he discovered he was suffering from DID.
Walker explained an event in which he came close to acting out of anger and aggression toward another individual. A bumper sticker on this individual's car that said "Honk if you love Jesus" stopped him and forced him to evaluate where this anger was coming from. He referred to personal journals and notes taken during his childhood that documented his experiences of being bullied and realized he had dealt with severe anger and aggression his whole life. At this point, he was officially diagnosed with DID and checked himself into a hospital where he spent 30 days. Time in the hospital helped him realize how much he had been suffering because of the disorder.
Today, Walker openly discusses his struggle with DID and says, "I ain't got no shame in my game…I may have 15 personalities, but I like them all". He reassures others who may be struggling with issues of their own that "there is no shame in asking for help" or admitting "I'm not perfect; let me go get help".
"Today I love myself, so no matter what you're struggling with, say 'I can overcome because I am a king or queen'", Walker said.
Walker expressed his gratitude toward service members. "I don't believe our service men and women get the credit they deserve" he said. "They are the reason we have what we have here". He continued to explain that it was important for him to share his struggle with DID at Tripler in hopes of encouraging others to seek help when needed.
"All you've got to do is just be willing to ask", he said. "I'm one of the examples -- I asked for help when I needed it".