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Decreasing Dissociation in DID By Increasing Awareness

More awareness decreases dissociation in dissociative identity disorder. Read about 3 simple ways of increasing awareness to reduce dissociation here.

Decreasing dissociation in dissociative identity disorder (DID) relies on actively increasing awareness of the world around us. Dissociation is the process by which we separate ourselves from our experiences, memories, bodies, and very selves. When we’re dissociating, we’re disengaged from some or all of our own reality.

It’s not inherently a bad thing; I truly believe dissociation serves a valuable purpose, and not just in traumatic circumstances. But there’s no doubt that the chronic, severe dissociation intrinsic to dissociative identity disorder is problematic, disruptive, even at times actively destructive. By increasing awareness, by being more fully present in our bodies and minds, we can mitigate the damaging effects of dissociation.

Decreasing Dissociation Is a Natural Byproduct of Increasing Awareness

sapere-aude-croppedI used to approach decreasing dissociation by actively trying not to dissociate. To quote The Sound of Music, that’s like trying to keep a wave upon the sand for those of us with DID. In fact, I now believe that trying not to do something – whether it be dissociating, binging on food or alcohol, getting angry, self-injuring, etc. – is rarely effective. Resistance, as they say, is futile.

At first this realization left me feeling defeated and at the mercy of my disorder. Then I discovered that merely by actively increasing awareness, I could decrease my dissociation without fighting it. While increasing awareness does require some effort, dissociation decreases naturally as a result of mindfulness.

If one is tense, one simply observes one’s tension. You will never understand yourself if you seek to change yourself. The harder you try to change yourself the worse it gets. You are called upon to be aware. – Awareness, by Anthony de Mello

Decreasing Dissociation Simply by Increasing Awareness

Mindfulness doesn’t appear to come naturally to anyone, whether they have DID or not. Increasing awareness, therefore, does require some effort. When I engage in the following activities regularly, I see a marked increase in self-awareness, a more profound connection with my system, and a decrease in dissociation:

  • Exercise – Moving my body, particularly when I’m not distracted by anything else, calls my attention to my breathing, the feeling of my muscles contracting and expanding, the thump of my heartbeat. Exercise brings me into my body and the present moment.
  • Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) – Anxiety, pain, depression, dissociation – pick something that you struggle with, take a few minutes out of every hour (give or take), and rate its severity at that moment on a scale from 0 to 10. Without even trying, you’ll begin to notice patterns.
  • Physical/Emotional Check – I learned this one in an inpatient program. About every waking hour, I ask myself for a one-word description of how I’m feeling physically and emotionally. (Fine and okay are not acceptable answers.) This simple task creates a connection with my body and mind.

Increasing Awareness Eases the Symptoms of DID

It sounds elementary, I know. But that’s the beauty of it. Rather than wasting energy fighting dissociation, we can decrease its severity simply by increasing awareness. Give it 90 days. If you don’t find that the symptoms of dissociative identity disorder are less intrusive and more manageable I’ll be surprised.

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15 thoughts on “Decreasing Dissociation in DID By Increasing Awareness”

  1. Hi Pam (and Holly and all others!),

    I have been struggling with PTSD for around 10yrs at least and the whole thing has been like a huge blur. Time just flies by like i was in some kind of horrible dream where there was very little apart from fear, numbness and confusion. The more i thought i was becoming aware of the problem the more i would try to fight it and get even more wound up and anxious losing more time and basically missing out on life.
    Recently i have found information very similar to what has been said here about actively becoming aware of my surroundings and my thoughts and feelings rather than trying to force my mind to be quiet or stop the dissociation – that simply makes it worse and you end up being more confused.
    I found trying to start with the belief that i will be fine and will fully recover and that it wont be through some horrible exocrism type event! It is a natural type relaxation that your body does not forgot no matter how long you have had symptoms. Once you start with that thought (even if you only slightly belive it) just try to accept and be vaugely aware of all the weird feelings and thoughts that race around and then just go about your daily business (set yourself a few tasks to occupy you throughout the day). Check in with yourself occasionally and look back over the past few hours and try to get a sense of continuity and then move on.
    A big thing for me is to not make too bigger point of anything. Just let it flow and just accept and be aware – dont try to fight it cause you dont need to.
    It is honestly the only thing that has worked for me and it works a treat.
    Not sure if i made much sense but wishing you and everyone all the best.
    Also a big thank you to all that have contributed to this blog it is a shining light to a dark problem.

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