Notes to those newly diagnosed with DID:
Let us start out by saying that we feel being able to dissociate to the degree of DID is a God-given gift to help us survive. If we had not been able to dissociate to the extreme degree, we would not have survived. It may not feel like such a gift right now if you are early in your journey or even sometimes those of us who have been diagnosed for years may occasionally feel like that, too. But, it is truly a gift of survival and your inside family is ever so precious.
I know it is scary at first to realize you have others within you and to know that they have knowledge of things that happened to you that you do not remember. Just know that they are there to help you. They were created by your brilliant childhood mind to protect you and keep you as safe as they could in the midst of horrible circumstances. They are not your enemies. Because they are your system, they will not show you anything about your past until they know you are ready. As a very wise therapist once told me, “trust your system”. It is very difficult in the beginning because you don’t even know who “they” are, but just remember they are not your enemy and that they came to help you and save you. They won’t give you more than you are able to cope with. Their job was to take over and experience the terrible things in order to protect you. It is also their job to save those memories and feelings until you are ready to face them and then only at the pace you can handle. You are not alone in your journey. You have an inside family that has always been there even though you may just now be realizing they are there.
Even if you are recently diagnosed and you are an adult, it does not mean that the others just now arrived. They have been with you ever since you were traumatized and they came to help you. When I was able to after I was diagnosed, I was able to look back and see where certain parts were active in my childhood (what little of it I know of) and especially high school and college.
When just starting out, it definitely helps to journal. It helped me anyway. I would write and write and write until I would be exhausted. Later, I could look at my journal entries and see where the handwriting changes start and stop. It helped me to begin identifying each part of me according to their handwriting and tone of writing. At first, I didn’t know any names so I identified parts by characteristics like “the sad one”, “bunny girl” (becuz she loved our stuffed bunny rabbits), “angry teen”, etc.
Another idea you can do as you feel comfortable is to get some colored pens/markers and a journal and sit down and do what is called “open journaling”. When I do this, I will pick a color that I want to write in and start a meeting on paper with my system. I may write a statement or often a question and give others the opportunity to share their thoughts. The colored pens are there cuz different parts may like to write in different colors. The colors along with the handwriting changes also helped me to identify the different parts even without names.
For more, please see How I experience Dissociative Identity Disorder.