I thought this might be a good idea, especially since I can add to it (or revise it) as I learn more. Also not to toot my own horn or anything but if this is helpful to anyone and you want to share it, feel free to! (But you really don’t have to.)
I also want to note that for two years after getting diagnosed I didn’t have therapy. I had a few sessions while I was still in a group home, but the therapist there was mostly absent. A lot of this has been learned on my own so take this with a grain of salt.
- Everyone has different ways of handling their system and no one way is better than another. This one was hard to get a hang of. When I was first diagnosed I was a sponge soaking in all the information. It was both helpful and hindering because I thought that I had to follow some set way. After months of coming downstairs and ranting at my mom about how this thing or that made me so mad and didn’t fit what I wanted, I figured out that maybe I should just not care about what other people say.
- Treat your parts nicely and things go smoother. That’s not to say that everything will always be calm and nice, but working as a team helps a ton. Relationships between parts are built slowly, just like real life relationships. I’m lucky, a lot of us already had a connection and the few of us who were talking when we were diagnosed were already close. Even now though, since most everyone had come back (I think???) it still feels awkward between some of us. Kind of like, hey you’re here and so am I but we don’t ever talk. It takes time, but don’t give up.
- Remember that you are all abuse survivors. This one can be hard. Kids can be annoying with crying and whining, teens can be too outgoing, protectors can be scary and sometimes mean. Sometimes you just don’t want to be surrounded by all these people! The noise gets to be too much, there are too many needs that are all over the map. It can be wild. Still, you’ve all been through some horrible stuff. Just think about that next time a kid part wants to buy that $10 stuffed animal.
- Sometimes switches just happen. You can really never know if you’re going to randomly switch for no reason. That being said, some systems switch more than others (or some less than others). We switch at least 3 times a day. More if someone who “shouldn’t be out” is fronting. It can be exhausting, but for some (like us) not switching can also be exhausting.
- You can ask for some alone time. You might not get it, but you can always ask. Going to the bathroom and don’t want someone talking to you? Want to watch a video without someone talking over it? Just ask. Setting boundaries with your parts can be good.
- Kid parts are developmentally kids. Don’t let them out unsupervised, don’t let them use the internet alone. Things you wouldn’t let a real child do, don’t let a kid part do either.
- A good therapist is KEY. There is only so much you can do on your own. You can take the advice of blogs and books all you want, but that’s not finding a way to re-box the trauma into better places so it isn’t breathing down your neck all the time.
- Find/build a support network. It can be blogs, twitters, facebooks, in real life people. Just find people you can talk to. Find people who are open to DID or who have DID. Don’t try and stick with people who don’t understand and who never will.
- Remember self-care. Basic stuff like eating, sleeping, cleaning yourself and your house. Get that down first, then move on to setting up times to read a book or paint your nails.
- Write things down! I’m still so bad at this, but it is so helpful when I do it. Even if I never look at the paper again, writing it down is so helpful to set it a bit better into your brain so it doesn’t fall out and go where ever all the stuff we forget goes.
- Stuff that helps people with Traumatic Brain Injuries can be helpful for DID systems. I don’t know how it is from a medical standpoint, but my mom has a TBI and she’s given me advice for the memory problems. They do help, but your mileage may vary.
- Healthy habits help. That’s a big one for memory stuff. If you form a habit it makes it so much easier to remember for everyone in your system. Stick with something for long enough and it will stick there.
- Flashback Advice: (I don’t have a funky pulling in sentence.) Scent can help pull someone from a flashback. Find one you really like and keep it with you or where you have the most flashbacks. Candles (be careful if you light it), essential oils (put a little on a cotton ball and keep it in something, they can be overwhelming right from the bottle), body lotion or oils (my personal favorite). A cold shock like holding or sucking on an ice cube, a cold bath, grabbing (or even going outside in) some snow. Be careful though, don’t stay in a cold bath too long (you can get sick) and if you go outside make sure someone knows in case you wander off. Heat like a heating blanket or pad, make sure they have a timer and are controlled so they don’t hurt you. I warn that a hot bath or something like that would be too dangerous. If you can’t feel the temperature you could burn yourself and seriously hurt yourself. Cold is better than heat!
- Get enough fresh air. Going and sitting outside in summer, going for a walk, even just standing in your doorway for a few minutes can help ease any struggles. Open a window if you don’t think you can go outside. Sitting in a stuffy room always makes me feel worse.
- When you work up to it, get a pet. I’ve always had animals, and I usually find taking care of them helps me a lot. Don’t get a pet if you don’t think you can handle to remember one (forming self-care habits is one way to prepare). Make sure to do research, don’t just put a fish in a bowl or a bird in a round cage. Make sure it’s something your entire system wants and will help with. Having a pet helps if you live alone too.
- Have an area to decompress. Whether it’s a blanket fort, or just your bedroom finding a place you can make your own and that is quiet and peaceful can be a great help.
This is the list so far. If you have any suggestions leave them down in the comments!
~ Kenny & Roo