Living with dissociative identity disorder (DID) is difficult at best because of the turmoil and chaos having the disorder can bring into one’s life.
This article will focus on that chaos and some ways to calm down your system.
In the Beginning
Before and especially after receiving the diagnosis of DID, many people who live with the disorder experienced a drastic uptick in the chaos in their lives.
Nightmares, flashbacks, body memories, losing time, and fugue (traveling without knowing that you are doing it) can make life more complicated than it should be.
Those beginning experiences last for anywhere from a few months to years depending on the makeup of the person’s system. Polyfragmented systems (those with 100 or more alters) take more time and patience than say someone who has 3 alters.
That does not mean that people with less than 100 alters have it easy. To the contrary, having alters at all complicates things quite a bit.
Learning to Communicate
Opening lines of communication between the alters and yourself is vital if you wish to defeat the chaos you may be going through right now. Beginning an open and honest relationship with your alters is a path to ending fugue, losing money, etc.
A few methods to opening the communication involve using your imagination, some paper and a pen, plus playing games.
Using your imagination to create a safe place in your mind where your entire system feels safe meeting in is critical to opening up a dialogue. Mine is a warm sandy beach but yours could be any setting you wish that makes all of you feel safe. In your safe place you can sit and allow the alters to approach you. Remember, they are all you stuck in trauma-time not strangers from the street. It may take a long time for your alters to start speaking with you there, but if you are patient, it will happen.
Leaving a notebook with some crayons, pens, and colored pencils out for the other to draw on or leave messages helps too. Don’t be spooked when the others begin to communicate with you. It may seem that a ghost is writing you notes, but they are you and you are them.
Try playing games with your littles (child alters.) You can play hide and seek with an object (mind was a small plastic penguin my therapist gave me). Find games you can play that are safe and interesting. You can challenge older alters to a game of chess by leaving the pieces out on the board and making the first move. It’s fun, try it.
Anything you can do to open that dialogue will help end the everyday chaos that is negatively impacting your life.
Protect Your Alters and Tell Them You Love Them
At first, we all feel fearful of the parts of ourselves we find are changing our daily lives. But the alters have been there for years and helped us to survive severe and repeated traumatic events. No matter how it feels, the alters are not our enemies.
Our alters saved our lives and kept us sane in our traumatic childhoods and should be loved and honored instead of feared.
Tell your alters you love them often even if you feel resentment towards them or fear. In essence, you are telling yourself that you love you and that is a beautiful thing.
If you want the chaos to stop, become the leader, the mother or father of the group. The alters will resist this at first because, after all, that was their role for most of your life. You may find some of your alters are resistant to your attempts to mother and love them. Can you blame them? They have never experienced parental love so they may not believe you at first.
Keep repeating, into a mirror if you must, that you love them and will protect them. Tell them you will never, ever allow anyone to hurt them ever again.
Eventually, they will believe you.
Opening a dialogue with your alters is a vital step toward ending the chaos you experience every day. It will take some time and patience, but eventually your alters will come to you and share their memories and their fun side too.
Befriend and parent your alters. Love them as you would your real children and set limits on how much the older alters can spend plus where they can go.
My alter, Bianca, is 18-20ish and used to run up my credit cards and buy willy-nilly. Finally, upon the advise of my therapist, I told her I was giving her an allowance of $30 per month to start out until I could pay her more. There are rules to what she can buy as well such as no pornography, no alcohol, and no illicit drugs. This cooperation between us has lasted for several years and it has worked.
Never give up hope on yourself or your alters. Healing from severe trauma takes time but with determination and guts you can make it.
“This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” ~ Alan W. Watts