Tag Archives: communication

My DID Recovery Puzzle


TRIGGER WARNING: hard talk of triggers and recovery – be safe, my friends.

I am starting to see my recovery in a whole new light. Things are making more sense now. For so many years I was so frustrated and upset that therapy was taking so very long. I just wanted my insiders to tell me what they knew so I could deal with it and move on. I figured they would share whatever memories were necessary to share one at a time or something. It is not the way this has worked. I have often heard the analogy of peeling an onion when talking about therapy for someone with DID, yet I didn’t fully realize what it meant. I mean, I saw the analogy as referring to the parts of my DID system and how uncovering and meeting new parts/alters is like peeling the layers of an onion. What I didn’t see was how the memories also will come in layers.

First, I would get a feeling, something would trigger me and I wouldn’t know why. This goes on for quite some time, maybe even years, then the next clue which was maybe a dream near the triggering event would happen. The dream could have symbolism in it – in my case recently, snakes – add to that the knowledge of the recent trigger as well as noticing  specific insiders and their reactions gives me more information. Add to it, the more severe dissociation I have felt from my body within the last week since the trigger is more validation that something is coming to the surface. Today in therapy, I barely felt the couch underneath me. I told my T that it kind of felt like I was just floating above the couch. It was bazaar.

I should give a little update to what has recently happened so folks know where we are. I had a dream years ago that has always stayed with me. I won’t write of the details here because I don’t want to trigger and also because I don’t think I would be able to write that stuff without breaking down. There was a bed/table with a black cover over it in a room – like a bedroom size room. Needless to say, very bad things happened there. Well, when I went to my group therapy meeting one week ago, one of the therapists had left her energy work table up. It looked just like the bed/table in my dream except thankfully the blanket was blue or purple – not black. I was stunned when I saw it. Many of our system stepped back in shock.

Finally a little one, age six years old, steps out in front and points towards the bed/table and says, “What is that?”.

“What?” replied one of the T’s.

“THAT!” the little girl asked again pointing at it.

She said, “I’m sorry but you’ll have to be more specific.”

The little girl could not bring herself to actually say the word bed or table or anything like that so she said, “That thing with the blanket on it.”

The T responded saying that it was her table for doing energy work with clients and she has an early appointment the next day so she left it up for Group.

I felt some other parts come forward when she said that who then noticed the crystals. These parts are very much into things mystical and were immediately drawn. I was frightened as were many of our insiders and so we shoved internally as hard as we could – pushing them deep inside away from the bed/table and crystals. We could not bear it if they were to go over closer to it to look at the crystals.

I went through the Group session with all parts who were triggered safe inside. I’m not sure if they were still frightened, but I have a feeling that they were. I just had to push them deep down for survival’s sake. I could not freak out over a trigger in Group because, well, what would the other group members think of us? “Besides,” another part says to me, “triggers are everywhere and we deal with them all the time. So this one is in Group, same thing, we deal.” But, it’s not just any trigger. It is something that looked exactly like something in my dream years ago where terrible things happened to us. It would almost be the equivalent of seeing one of my perpetrators again.

We made it home and went on with our week dissociated from the trigger, though it eventually did resurface as the image of it came and stayed in the back of my mind. A few nights later, the dreams started coming.

First night, I was on a large bus with a lot of people on it. We were driving through a war zone. There were bombs going off, machine guns being fired, terrible things happening outside that bus. I just sat there watching, sometimes crying so hard but silent so that no one would hear. Sometimes I sat in the floor so I could be alone. I believe this was me catching a glimpse of what it was like growing up in a DID system. Often the bus analogy is used to describe a person’s system who has DID, everyone rides the bus and take turns in the driver’s seat. I had another dream that same night about a boy who had been a victim of war and was found naked with his privates cut or torn off. I saw him and was horrified and had to turn away. I wonder if he is someone in my system as this is how I have met insiders before. In the dream, I think he was dead.

The next night, I dreamed about snakes – so many snakes everywhere that I went. In the past, I have dreamed that there were snakes on the ground and I would fight them or try to get away from them. I was always standing when I encountered the snakes. This time, not only was I standing when I encountered the snakes, there were times when I was lying down. Once a snake crawled over my body and I screamed internally and stayed as frozen as possible for fear that it might bite. Another part of the dream, I went to sleep on the ground and woke up with snakes underneath my body, I could feel them squirming underneath my back. I connected this part of the dream to a feeling that my body has had for years in the mid-back area – a squirming and feeling like something was coming upon me from behind. It is always accompanied with great terror. A connection between a body memory we’ve had for years but never even fully realized it was a body memory and this new snake dream. A new layer is being peeled back. If you have been in therapy for sexual abuse survival, then I imagine you know what a snake can symbolize in dreams. I have always thought that was what it represented in my dreams.

Last night, I had nightmares again. The only thing I can remember is waking up after seeing an extremely scary face in my dream. The face looked crazy in the eyes and had big teeth. It was right up in my face. I woke with a start and was terrified. I got up to go to the restroom. Now, I have many triggers when it comes to the restroom, one being that I cannot go in the dark and I definitely cannot stand at the sink with the mirror there and wash my hands in the dark. It always gives me the terrorized feeling in my back. Last night, I had the light on, but the sensation and fear were so close. This is all somehow connected. Years ago, I recalled in therapy tonight, I also saw scary faces in my sleep. It was when I was in 3rd grade (around) and had gone to church camp with a friend, it was night-time and I woke crying because I kept seeing the crazy, scary faces and they were laughing at me. The camp counselor talked and prayed with me and I slept with my Bible under my pillow to try to help with the nightmares. Interesting about that camp, I actually remember being very dissociated at the time not knowing the people who I shared the dorm with yet seeming to know them at the same time, getting confused and getting people mixed up, etc. This is one of the few memories I actually have of my childhood. Still, it’s more pieces of the puzzle.

In therapy tonight, I was asked if I got an idea of the age range of who was frightened by the bed/table. I got the idea that it was some older kids and that the little girl was the only one brave enough to come out and ask. Still, she was upset and scared, too. The little girl who asked about the bed/table was six years old, but I also got an internal image tonight of one of my four-year-old little girls. I think she is connected to all this somehow. I am beginning to think that this bed/table dream may have been more than just a dream……

DID recovery is like putting together a puzzle without having the picture to go by. Each piece means something even if I have no idea at the time. It’s so complex and therapy is hard work and exhausting. Still, I am happy to have made the realization that we are making progress in that our memory work comes in layers – one piece, one feeling, one trigger at a time. I guess my system knows it is the only way I can manage the information – in tiny pieces – and that’s okay with me.






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DID & Shift into Winter Crew


Hi,

Feels like we haven’t written in forever. We have several things going on lately that we want to write about, but for now we are just getting back into the swing of things…..

If you’ve read Summertime Progress in Life & Therapy, then you are familiar with the fact that we have two separate crews in our system, one that is out primarily in the summertime and another that is out in the late fall/winter time. Well, technically there is a third much smaller group that is out year round. Anyway, we are now fully into the winter crew. Mary is back, thankfully, and so housework and organization is getting back on track as is the yummy homemade foods that she makes. Cassondra is also back. She keeps track of finances and does things that need to be handled in an adult and/or professional manner. They work very well together as a team cuz their jobs are both kind of similar in terms of organizing things and helping the system stay calm.

I did some noticing this year. I noticed that the first week of November is when the ears started messing up again. We have been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease which is basically a fluid imbalance in the ears that causes some extreme dizziness at times.

The second week in November is when I started feeling the pain in some of my joints again…especially the right elbow which we suspect is due to a body memory because most often times when it presents itself there is a specific inside little girl around.

The third week in November, we noticed Mary was back full on. She was cleaning and organizing and got more done in a few days than we got done all summer! She also cooked a huge meal for Thanksgiving even though it’s just us and our husband, but then we love her homemade pies, cheesy homemade mashed potatoes, homemade rolls….well you get the picture. So anyway, needless to say that we LOVE the leftovers  🙂

Another thing we are noticing as the late fall/winter time and crew comes around is that we are more withdrawn. We are not as around online as we had been all summer. We still know of our friends online but seems there is so much going on internally this time of year that we find it quite difficult to socialize online. We still keep those options open on Facebook and Twitter cuz sometimes we are able to reach out either to ask for help or to help someone else. It is a lifeline that we cherish very much. It’s just tough this time of year.

I talked with our T last Sunday (yep, had a session on a Sunday. Cool, huh?) about how now that everyone is back around for this time of year, there is so much pressure from everyone to get time out to do what they want to do. I have felt like I’m in the middle of a whirlwind spinning back and forth as the next person switches out. Makes the term “roladexing” all the more real as I feel like I have been spinning like I’m in one. Our homework this week is to have a system meeting and try to figure out some way to manage our time more efficiently so that each group that has something they are wanting to do has a promised time to do it. That way it won’t be as chaotic. We have been successful with this before, though it has been many years now. The “scheduling”, as with most things for a multiple, has to be flexible as we are not always sure what will be going on from day to day.

We have had so much going on that every time I have tried to write/journal, I get pushed aside and someone else comes out to do something they want to do. So, I am guessing just having what little internal dialogue about it that we have has been helping some since I am able to write this today. When we were in therapy last Sunday, the internal pressure from so many having so many things they want to say was so strong that at one point we had to get a pen and someones were writing as we were listening and talking with T about another topic. Talk about multitasking!

I do know my winter crew much better than my summer crew so it is like getting my good friends back. I have missed them and there is quite a bit of comfort in the familiarity of loved ones. I am one that is around all year. I still experience memory loss as the shifts happen from crew to crew. Like now, I remember bits and pieces from the Summer crew’s time here, but not big chunks of it. I think I remember more this year than previous years because of all the blogging our summer parts did and I’m able to read those as well as the fact that since being with our new therapist, I have been making more of an effort to notice stuff.

Time to sign off for today. We plan on doing some more writing this weekend. Here’s hoping we can schedule it out! Hope everyone has been having a terrific week!

For the Newly Diagnosed Multiple


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.

How I experience Dissociative Identity Disorder


Things I would want others to know about me and how Dissociative Identity Disorder has played a big part in my life:

I survived severe abuse at the hands of more than one perpetrator starting younger than age 2 extending over several years into adulthood. To escape this abuse, I dissociated or floated away to another place in my head and through the genius creativity of a child created someone else to take my place. That person or part of me took the abuse for me. Then, I was able to continue in life not aware of what had happened. This happened over and over again until I had several other “mes” that often had their own name and had different experiences, likes, and dislikes. Some of them claim my family as their own, but most do not. I believe this is part of the way they separate themselves from the family that abused them.

In case you wonder how the parts of me get their names, it is all related to names I was exposed to. I would take names from favorite tv shows, books, movies, friends, etc. and apply them to the parts I created inside. This was all done subconsciously. Some parts have names that reflect what they do or how they feel. I have one insider who calls herself Worthless because that is the way she feels. I am still trying to convince her that she is not worthless and to help her find a new name for herself.

I would not be alive today if it were not for the ability to create these other parts. One reason is that my mind would not have been able to take the knowledge of all that was happening to me from a very young age. Having separate parts hold all of these pieces saved me from having to deal with it all at once before I was ready. Therapists have told me that not everyone has this ability to dissociate to the extreme degree. The ability tends to run in families. If I was not able to dissociate as I did, my mind would not have been able to cope and I would have developed some other mental disorder such as schizophrenia. Another way they have saved me is by keeping me safe from myself the many times I have been suicidal in my life. They are able to come out and protect me from doing harm to myself.

The different parts of me hold specific memories related to the trauma, but parts also hold other things. I have one part, Suzanne, who was able to hold the pleasure associated with sex. She kept it for me all my life so that I would still be able to enjoy sex one day. If I didn’t have her to hold that for me – my sexuality – then I would have immense trouble enjoying the gift of sex as an adult. Another part of me, Cassandra, held a strong passion for God. Even though parts of me were severely abused by an uncle who was a preacher and were very confused about God, Cassandra was there to be able to show God’s true nature and share His love with them. She is also one of our strongest insiders that has kept us functional and kept the faith.

I am currently coconscious with the majority of my system (the group of alters in my internal family). Coconscious means that when another part is in the “driver’s seat”, I am still able to look through the windshield (eyes) and see what is happening, sharing the memories. Often times, parts of me can be copresent which means more than one will be in the driver’s seat at once. We often do this when we go to therapy when more than one of us want to be involved in a discussion. The group of 2 or 3 that are copresent are there as representatives of the system. Then there are a few parts, more than I’d like, that I am amnesiac with. This means I am not aware of the things they do when they are in the driver’s seat. Thankfully these times are not usually a long period of time. Usually I may miss anywhere from 15 minutes up to several hours compared to the days, weeks, months, and years that may happen for some DID systems.

I have blank spots in my childhood memories as well as teenage years. This is because I had others in my system who would come out and live life for me when I was unable. It is also, of course, due to the times of trauma when others would come out and protect me from it. I have people tell me that I said things that I didn’t remember saying or doing something I don’t remember doing. That is very frustrating. Sometimes, I can ask inside and the one inside who did it or said it will share that memory with me and then I will be aware. Other times, I just have to decide whether or not to trust the person who told me because no one inside will own up to whatever it was.  I do appreciate the other person letting me know, no matter the frustration, because it helps me to know what I have been saying or doing. There have been times when my husband will be upset at me and I will have absolutely no idea what had happened because I wasn’t there when the upsetting event occurred. I usually have to wait for him to calm down to be able to tell me what happened. This is also quite frustrating and confusing.

I also know this experience from the outsiders point of view because I am 100% certain that my mother has undiagnosed DID. There were a great many times growing up when I would be sitting in the living room talking with my parents. I’d bring up something that my mother had said just a few minutes prior and she would blatantly deny that she said any such thing. I remember being so confused because I knew what I heard and I remember often times desperately looking to my dad who would kind of laugh and tell her that she did say it. I never understood my mother until I was able to understand myself(ves) and how DID works. Then, so many things started to make sense!

It has been said in the past that DID is rare. Well I can tell you that it is far from rare. If you watch the video I have on my blog about Understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder, you will see that it is as common as schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder. You could know someone who has DID (and that person may or may not be aware of it themselves!) and just view them as moody and having a bad memory. While there are many people who have DID and are on disability unable to work, there are also quite successful and functional people with DID who have careers as doctors, nurses, lawyers, psychologists, etc. Unfortunately, most of us don’t “out” ourselves as having DID to more than just a few close friends due to the terrible stigma that is still attached to this condition.

I hope that I have helped explain some of what Dissociative Identity Disorder is like. It is a complex condition and takes a while for someone to get a grasp on all it entails.

Work and Multis


So, I’m wondering….. I’ve been struggling this year at work with feeling unliked (even though some insiders know that isn’t true) and feeling like I don’t have friends at work (even though some insiders know we have one or two friends at work). The overwhelming feeling when we come to work is that we are the outsider and we look around and see other folks engaging in conversation, doing nice things for each other, connecting, etc, and yet we feel completely and utterly invisible. This morning is a really good example of this. Our one friend that we have did recognize us and talk to us when we first arrived which we are forever thankful for and almost thanked her for acknowledging us but thought that would be too weird or facetious or whatever the word would be so we didn’t say anything, but we were very thankful cuz since she did say something to us and gave us some eye contact we knew we weren’t invisible at least to her.

I have broken down at work more than once this year due to feeling like I wasn’t accepted or liked or wanted or didn’t have friends here at work. I wondered if this was something that other multiples struggled with at their jobs?? Do we, as multiples, have a difficult time seeing our workplace as just that, a place that we go to work and not as a place to go and socialize to make friends? Maybe we get the two mixed up? I know I do….or at least I think I do. I see other people making connections and seeming to form friendships here at my workplace so I think that it is the normal thing to do, but when I try, I seem to fall flat on my face. It doesn’t help that most multis that I’ve ever known have huge trust issues anyway to start with, huh? ::sighs::  Any comments? I’d like to hear from other multiples who work and what their experiences might be like? I feel like we are regressing because we weren’t always like this…..

Journaling Techniques


  • My favorite technique is to use different colors to write in to represent different parts or groups in the system. (I know handwriting can tell a lot, but so can the colors a part chooses to write with.) We’ve used colored pens and thin tipped markers…..some of the kids like to use crayons.
  • Keep your journal out and easily accessible so that those you may be amnesiac to will be able to pick it up and write in it, too.
  • When you need to know something, ask someone inside by writing the question in your journal and leaving it open for others to answer. (this can work for parts you are amnesiac with)

DID coping skills Updated


I thought that I would write a blog entry about things that help us DID’ers. Please feel free to add anything that might be of help to other folks with DID.

  • I use my cell phone alarm in the mornings when I get ready for work. I set it for about every 15 minutes and then I also set it to go off 5 minutes before I have to leave. This is very helpful when we lose time and it causes us to be late.
  • Lists, lists, lists. Post it notes are awesome!!!
  • I also use my cell phone calendar to keep track of my appointments. I set the scheduled appointment to have an alarm to remind me so I don’t forget important events.
  • I use a dry erase calendar with different color markers to help me remember events, even small things such as medication refill dates. It helps to have it where I can always see it.
  • An email program such as Outlook is good cuz it has a calendar with reminders on it. This can also help one keep track of life. If I remember right, it also has to do lists and such. These have been helpful for me when I have different parts inside who need/want to do things. I jot them onto a to-do list and then that way it is more likely they will get their time.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, although I know there are LOTS more. Will blog more on this later!!